Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Language Explosion

Seth's vocabulary has been expanding rapidly, and he's transitioned from single words, to stringing words into phrases, into using common phrases such as "What's this/that?" It is so cute.

As much as I love babies, I love this stage too when they start to grow into their personalities.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Potty Training

Three kids and three very different potty training experiences.

In a nutshell. . .I tried to potty train Sarah before she was ready. I wanted it, and that that would be enough for her to want it too. Wrong. We started much too early and I refused to give up. It was a horrible experience in every way, for all of us.

From the time she was born, Emmy has felt she needs to keep up with Sarah in every way. Using the potty was no different. A few weeks shy of her second birthday Emmy informed me that she had pooped on the potty. There was no looking back after that and during the day she stayed dry and clean.

Seth falls somewhere in between the two of them, but probably on the easier side of things. He also seems more textbook, based on what I've read and know about potty training.

We've never not allowed him in the bathroom when one of us is using the toilet. We've also been reading him books and talking to him about potty training for months now. Around his second birthday, I brought the potty out and had him try sitting on it. It was clear, he had no idea what it was for or why. At various times over the last few months, I've had him go without a diaper just to gauge his readiness. Finally, this past weekend, things seemed to click. As long as he's not wearing a diaper, he will use the potty (at least for pee), when he feels like he needs to go. 

When we try putting underwear on him, it provides him with a false sense of security and he goes in it instead, or at least starts to. He also doesn't tell us when he needs to go, he just walks over to the potty and does it, or he goes in his underwear or diaper. Daycare needs him to be able to them when he needs to go, so they won't work with him too much just yet.

Fortunately, Sal will be done teaching June 12 and he'll have a a couple weeks to work with him prior to our first summer vacation. I'm not opposed to using pull-ups on the plane or as a back-up method until we get back home. We are all committed to making sure he's fully potty trained before Seth returns to daycare in August. Please keep your fingers crossed. I do think he's ready for this though.

It will be so nice to put diapers behind us.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Travel Planning

Our itinerary is coming together.

Day 1
We will fly into Las Vegas, grab our minivan, and drive 40 minutes to Hoover Dam. Sal wants to take the "dam tour" and I'm forcing the girls to go with him. They may hate it, but it's only an hour, and it will be a good experience.

From Hoover Dam we're going to return to Vegas via Henderson, Nevada to have lunch with one of my friends.

Emmy wants to ride the roller coaster at New York New York, and Sal is on-board with that idea. I'd like to explore The Strip a little, but then we also have to consider that the California border is only a half hour or so from Las Vegas. I feel like we should do it just because we can. Remember when we drove to Mississippi from Alabama for the same reason?

I know we will be tired from being up extremely early and then flying for 4.5 hours, but I'm keeping our options open.

Just wait until I post pictures of our hotel/resort for this first night of our trip. I didn't realize what I was booking when I clicked. It should be amazing.

Day 2
Because of the time difference, I'm counting on the kids being up early. Really early. This will be our Grand Canyon day, but we are hoping to make a couple of other stops along the way. I plan on us arriving at the Grand Canyon in early afternoon.

We might need a nap at that point, but I'm hoping we can squeeze in some sightseeing beforehand. We have a room booked right on the rim with partial views of the canyon. Either way, this is the night of the Star Party. This is one of the best locations in the US for viewing the heavens. I'm ridiculously excited about this, even though I have virtually no interest in outer space. Hopefully Sarah will be impressed. Highlights this year, according to what I've read, will be seeing Jupiter and Saturn.

Day 3
Depending on how much sightseeing we did on Day 2, we may need to spend the morning at the Grand Canyon to see the other points of interest on our short list. Our next stop is Sedona, three hours away. Our only must-see there is the Chapel of the Holy Cross which closes at 5pm. Otherwise we just plan to relax and enjoy the hotel pool.

With three kids, I imagine we'll have a lot of pool time on this vacation that otherwise Sal and I would just skip in an effort to see as much of the area as possible.

Day 4
I booked a family session with a photographer for 9am. I'm not one for buying souvenirs, but I love having pictures taken and that's how I justify the expense. Sal and I had pictures taken in California, and of course we booked Memory Maker when we went to Disney last year.

I googled Sedona area photographers and found one who is reasonably priced. . .with ties to Pittsburgh. Her dad grew up in the South Hills. I'm hoping to go back to a location that she had used for a maternity session in the past. I told her I want images that were obviously taken in Arizona, the red rocks, etc.

After pictures, we will need to head toward Phoenix since we plan to see a Diamondback's game, of course. Along the way I'd like to stop at Montezuma's Castle in Camp Verde.

Day 5
This day hasn't been completely planned out, but we are thinking about spending the day at a water park.

Day 6
We travel home. Our plan leaves at noon, Phoenix time and we'll arrive in Pittsburgh by 7pm. Fortunately, it will be a somewhat shorter flight coming home.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day was low-key and laid back.

The girls were excited to give me necklaces that Sal helped them choose. While I'm wearing them in the picture here, they didn't make it into the photo unfortunately. Emmy also made me a coaster in art class (also no picture).

We tried to hit the Millvale Diner after Mass, but they were packed and seemed overwhelmed so we postponed dining out until dinner when we went to Eat N Park.

It was sunny, albeit a little chilly, but we did spend some time outside and went for a long walk after a weekend of indulgence.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hit the Reset Button

Seven years ago I hit the reset button on my life and made the decision to divorce my then husband.

It felt like I was standing on the edge of a huge cliff and tossing my life, which felt like bits of paper run through a shredder, into the air. I didn't know how, when, or even if those pieces would ever come together again. It also felt necessary, and more importantly, it felt right.

Hindsight and time can be wonderful gifts.

I have an amazing husband. I have a little boy. I feel settled and at peace. Life isn't perfect, and never will be, but day-to-day life isn't exhausting or mind-numbing.

I learned some hard lessons, and will pay for some of my decisions for the rest of my life, but I will never regret resetting my life.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Why Arizona?

I've been "out west" a couple of times, and each time I was quite happy to return home. I always end up missing "green." What I've seen of the Southwest is brown. Shades of brown, brown upon brown. I'm not a fan.

I'd like to think now, that I'm pushing 40, that I can learn to appreciate the landscape and colors of the Southwest. I'm certainly going to try.

The Grand Canyon is somewhere I've always wanted to go, and fortunately Sal feels the same.

I had assumed airfare to Las Vegas would be inexpensive and when you're talking about flying a family of five somewhere, cost is a big factor. Another key reason we chose the Grand Canyon, was to expose Sarah and Emily, and to a lesser degree, Seth, since he won't remember this trip, to a completely different view of the United States. All three have visited 16 states, but all have been in the eastern US. It may get warmer, or colder, depending on where you're traveling, and the vegetation starts to look different, but it's pretty much all green and various degrees of hilly. I want them to see just how different the United States looks and to get an appreciation for just how big our country is. It's fitting that Sarah is currently studying the Southwest in Social Studies, and it sets Emily up for next year when she's in fourth grade. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Booked

Sal and I decided late last summer that we'd really like to visit the Grand Canyon in the near future. We booked a room on the rim in October for the night of June 21, and started planning from there.

We planned to fly into Las Vegas, make a big loop through Arizona, and eventually wind up in Las Vegas via California. Once we started looking at airfare, this all changed.

Flights to Las Vegas aren't as inexpensive as they used to be, as I would quickly realize. Airfare was around $200pp one way. For a family of five this is prohibitive. It was even more expensive to come home. Over time though rates dropped and it became apparent that it's cheaper to fly home from Phoenix on a weekend, than from Las Vegas. When you think about it, it kind of makes sense.

Southwest announces sales every Tuesday, but it's not until Thursday that prices drop. We're right around the 6 week mark now, which historically is the best time to book domestic flights. Overnight the cost per person to fly from Pittsburgh to Vegas dropped $20, which for us, is a savings of $100. That's significant.

I must have blinked at my screen and double checked the dates fifty times just to believe what I was seeing. I booked our flights as soon as I recovered.

Our flight is $113pp and I don't feel like it will come down much more than that. If it does, Southwest will reimburse us in the form of future flight credit. This is fair, especially since I haven't booked return flights.

The downside to this rate is that we ended up with a less desirable time, 5:10am. However, this is the flight time that has been the cheapest since we started looking, and it really came as no surprise. It's ridiculously early, especially when you're traveling with three children, but the advantage is that we'll arrive in Las Vegas early (6:40am their time) and have a full day ahead of us.

Due to the time change, we'll be on the road early Wednesday morning, which will end up being a bonus since it's our longest day of driving. I imagine the kids will get into the new time about the time we have to come home. A five or six day vacation doesn't give you a whole lot of time to adjust.