THE BIG MOVE

Long time no see, friends! Howdy FROM TEXAS!

I have missed writing these past couple of weeks! Needless to say, our little family has been busy busy busy. We have travelled over 2,000 miles, seen majestic national landmarks & made it back to our home state of Texas. And can I just say, “Ahhhhh it feels so good!” We have only been back for a little over a week but it feels great to be home. There’s just no place like it!

I am so excited to take you through our whole moving experience- especially the road trip. It was all a huge whirlwind at first. Let me fill you in a little bit….in case you are just now tuning into the blog, my husband, Tommy, is a Marine and just recently graduated from recruiter’s school. The anticipation of waiting to hear where we would be stationed next was intense. Tommy had put in a special request for Fort Worth, Texas, where we were born and raised. We prayed hard for it and had tons of prayer warriors behind us through it all. I remember Tommy calling me the day he found out and he said, “Are you ready for this?” At this point I had no idea what to expect. The Marine Corps is so incredibly unexpected [my fellow spouses can attest to this]. So, honestly I was expecting the worst. He just sat there for a minute and said, “Killeen, TX baby!” I was sitting at the table eating lunch with the kids & I jumped up so high with pure excitement and joy flowing through my body. I was crying tears of happiness and relief. We were finally going back H O M E.

The next couple of weeks after we found out, we were basically just chillin’. Tommy was finishing up his school & I was constantly looking for houses to rent in the new area we would be living in. The amazing thing about this whole set-up was that we didn’t have to pack or move ourselves. The Marine Corps was going to do that all for us…or so we thought. About a week and a half before our expected move date, all of the Marines in Tommy’s class found out that the movers that were supposed to be scheduled to move all of us were backed up, therefore would not be able to move anyone out until middle or late July. That was just not going to work for us. We had a house lined up, a road trip planned to see all of these awesome places in almost a week & NOW you choose to tell us this?!

IO mad guy

You’d think I would get used to things just not going my way after almost 4 years of being a Marine Corps spouse, but no. I was livid. And extremely stressed out, to say the least. After getting some advice on what to do from a family friend of ours who is also a Marine, we decided to go ahead and move ourselves.

So I had about 5 days to pack up our house. Which in hindsight was not bad at all, but in the moment it was immensely overwhelming to me. All the while, my husband was working on getting the moving truck, towing trailer [for my car] & making sure we had all the funds necessary to make this move of ours happen. If you have ever or plan to ever rent a moving truck out of California to anywhere else in the U.S., I have a little tip for you…don’t do it. It’s so insanely expensive. My husband ended up buying a cheap flight to Vegas, picked up the moving truck there, drove back to our house [about a 5 hour drive] & we packed up and moved out 2 days after. See…whirlwind, I warned ya. It was way more inconvenient on our part, but much less in regards to money [like 3 times as less]. It was definitely the smarter route.

A friend of ours joked that we were proof that Murphy’s Law truly does exist. The journey leading up to our move & even some happenings on our road trip was just one chaotic mess after another!

DAY 1

Then we headed out on our trip. Once we knew we were going to have the moving truck we debated on whether or not we wanted to still make our stops along the way. I was so looking forward to seeing the Hoover Dam & the Grand Canyon. We finally decided, “Why not?!” We had four whole days to kill [what my husband “rates” for this particular move]. The first day, our goal was to make it to the Hoover Dam. Tommy was especially excited about this stop. We were all packed up & ready to head that way!

It took us a good 7-8 hours to get to the Hoover Dam. Another little road trip tip- if you are going to be traveling a long ways with toddlers in a car, just be prepared to stop A LOT. Especially if one or both of those toddlers is potty training. Both of the kids did amazing in the car. We watched Coco maybe 30 times, but they were calm & kept themselves entertained the whole way. Paislee had zero accidents the whole time, too! We were & are still so proud of her for that! Huge milestone in her potty training journey!

Anyways, back to the Hoover Dam…it was a huge heartbreak. TIP- check the websites of any major landmark or stop you plan to make before you go on your road trip. I say this because we failed to do this & we were not able to see the Hoover Dam in result. The Dam closes at 5:30. They are currently doing some construction & they close from 5:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. What really sucks is that we literally pulled up to the gate at 5:30 on the dot. Tommy was so bummed. I felt terrible. So, do your research people. Learn from our mistakes!

We were still super excited about the Grand Canyon the next day, though. We drove a little more to our hotel in Kingman, AZ & called it a day. The kids also slept really well in the hotels. They went to bed a little [sometimes much] later than their usual bedtimes, but that’s just all part of it. We weren’t too concerned about bedtimes & nap times. The kids never have trouble sleeping in the car either. So sleep was not an issue on this trip!

DAY 2

We woke up the next morning & made our way to the Grand Canyon! The kids were in such great moods that morning! And so were we. We got some decent sleep & were very excited to get back on the road again.

This is the day it started to rain. It rained almost the entire day. Except for the time we were actually at the Grand Canyon [we can thank God for that 🙂]. I will try not to spam the next portion of this post with the beautiful pictures we captured, but I can’t make any promises! It was so majestic & serene, y’all. I can’t begin to explain how big it actually is. There are no words to describe it. It was true proof of God’s handy work. We are so blessed to have been able to take the kids [and the dogs] to see this.

It’s like you almost feel like you can touch Heaven. That’s how magical & peaceful it is there.

Tommy went out on this cliff where you could get some awesome shots of the Canyon. I was too much of a chicken to go out there myself, although I did try.

It was a wonderful day. The kids are still so little & couldn’t really appreciate the beauty, but it was still such a memorable moment for us as parents & something we will always remember doing with them!

img_1149

img_1146

But you better believe that Paislee remembers this! It was the highlight of her trip to the Grand Canyon, if you ask her.

And of course we had to get the kids matching shirts! I got the smallest sizes they had…I just couldn’t help myself.

img_1160

Day two was our favorite road trip day! It was filled with tons of fun & lifetime memories!

DAY 3

This day was filled with lots & lots of driving. This is the day we made the most time. And it rained all. day. long. This is the day we finally made it to Texas! This was the hardest day for me. I was getting so tired of driving. And although the kids weren’t having any real meltdowns, they were constantly dropping something that I couldn’t get for them. Their snacks, their blankets, the cups, their toys. Everything. And I was driving, so it was hard for me to pick whatever it was up for them.

Something that made the drive so much easier was the walkie talkies that we bought before we left California. So if the kids did drop something, I could let Tommy know immediately & we could both pull over to the shoulder really quick so I could grab it. It was so much easier & safer than picking up the phone & calling each other every time we needed to stop. It was also helpful in just keeping the other person in the loop of cars passing or something coming up that I couldn’t see because the huge moving truck was in front of me the whole drive there. I would highly recommend getting a pair if you have to drive separately on a road trip with someone. The ones we purchased are down at the end of this post 🙂

Then we made it. To Texas. The homeland. The promiseland.

img_1195

We were a little excited, could you tell??

We started the day in Albuquerque, NM & ended the day in Abilene, TX. We drove a lot, but it was so worth it. Because the next day would only be a 3ish hour drive to our new home!

DAY 4

The final day had come! We were going to see our new house today! No more driving. We would get to sleep in our own bed. It was going to be a glorious day! Abilene is only about a 3 hour drive from our home in Nolanville. It seemed like the longest 3 hours though. Probably because we were just so darn excited. When we arrived, my dad and one of my younger sisters was there to greet us! A huge sigh of relief & thankfulness came out of me when we saw our home. It was beautiful. And it was in Texas. What could be any better?!

img_1265

img_1231-1

DAY 13

Jump ahead a little, & today we are just loving our new home & town. It just feels right here. We are still unpacking & trying to get in all of the quality time we can before Tommy starts his new position as a recruiter & I start my new job [which I just accepted last week, yay!]. It is so nice being so close to family. We can spend the big holidays together, & even the weekends that nothing is going on. We are cherishing this time in our lives & love that our kids are finally getting some real Texas time. God has answered our prayers. Like He always does. The road was surely bumpy & stressful along the way [when is it not?], but we got here. Welcome to the next chapter in our life! We hope you keep reading 🙂

Items related to this post:

   

As always, God bless

Brittany

Advertisements

How to Prepare Your First Born for a New Baby

Let me start by saying that there is no “perfect” way of preparing your first born for a new baby. A new baby who will steal away mommy & daddy’s attention. A new baby who will get all of these new clothes, furniture & toys. A new baby who will mostly cry & sleep, but not play with them. It can be a really rough transition not only for the parents, but your little one as well.

It all depends on age! For us, our daughter was just barely 1 year old when we found out we were pregnant with our second. Besides the fact that it was a total & complete shock to us, we had no idea how to prepare her for the changes to come. She was our baby. Our first baby. Our baby who was literally still a baby. She’s not going to understand when we say, “You’re going to have a baby brother or sister!” Although we did tell her this, we are almost 100% positive she most definitely did not understand that. But once my belly started getting bigger, we would point and say, “Mommy has a baby in her belly!” Then she would point to my belly & say, “Baby!”

In our case it was hard to find ways to prepare her for this big change. Little did we know, Noah would be born 3 months early and would make that transition a little more difficult for us. Most people don’t know that if your preemie is born at a certain time of the year, there are very strict rules on who can come into the unit. During “RSV” season (which is when Noah was born) only parents & grandparents were allowed in the unit. So Paislee was only allowed to see her brother two or three times before that rule came into play. And he was in the NICU for 3 months. It was really hard to balance all of our time between the two babies with them not being together. The times she did get to meet and see him, she was so so sweet.

 

The first time Paislee met Noah ♥

Related: The Littlest Warrior: An Inspiring NICU Story

 

I also have to show you this video because it’s just too darn cute. This was when Noah was still in the NICU & Paislee loved to talk to him. She was so sweet & careful around him. She would sometimes touch his head and was so gentle. My heart, y’all.

Given that our case was a bit different, I have collaborated and spoken with a fellow blogger of mine! Krystal Klassen with the Quarter Mile Lane blog has been so gracious to be a guest here on Dogtags, Dolls & Dinosaurs today! Krystal and her four sisters have an amazing blog that they work on together! They have everything from homemaking tips, gardening, recipes, & awesome parenting advice. I am a devoted reader & love their content. They also post some fun & engaging statuses on their facebook page. They are super funny & relatable for all parents!

img_0843

Krystal (far right) & her beautiful sisters!

After speaking with Krystal a bit, I asked her some questions about her experience when her & her husband found out about their second baby. Our experiences are different in so many ways, & similar too! So happy to introduce her to everyone & share with all of you!

1. What was your first thought when you found out you were having a second baby?

Our second was planned, so we were so excited to be welcoming another little one to our family. After the excitement of finding out we were pregnant, my thoughts immediately turned to worry of how our firstborn would react to a new baby.

Not only was she our first child but she had spent the first 3 years of her life as the only grandchild on my husband’s side. She was also the only great grandchild during that time. With a lot of nearby family, she was the center of attention at every family event. I was really nervous that becoming a big sister was going to absolutely turn her world upside down!

2. How did you break the news to your first child?

We waited quite a while to tell anyone, including our firstborn. Luckily, I didn’t show very quickly so it was pretty easy to keep it a secret for a few months. Once we found out we were having a boy, we told our firstborn that she was going to be a big sister.  It took a couple weeks for it to really click that there was a baby in mom’s tummy. During that time we kept reminding her how much fun it was going to be to have a brother to play with and what a great helper she would be.

3. Do you have any special advice or tips to help prepare first borns for a new baby?

My biggest advice would be to stay positive (as much as possible during pregnancy). Kids pick up on negative ideas and conversations really easily. The last thing you want is for your firstborn to have negative ideas about the baby before he/she even arrives! Help your firstborn realize all of the things that they will be big enough to help with when they are a big sister or big brother. We got this book called I’m a Big Sister by Joanna Cole and read it frequently. It was so helpful in reminding our daughter how fun it was going to be to be a big sister. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone welcoming a second child. There is also a big brother version.

We also did some fun activities with our daughter during the last few months of my pregnancy. We took a little weekend getaway and did things that she was interested in like going to the zoo. We also took her to a movie with just mom and dad. I think these opportunities for one on one time helped her feel like she was important even with a little brother coming soon.

4. Is there anything you didn’t do that you wish you had?

I wish I would have gotten the nursery put together sooner. Honestly, the nursery never happened! Our son was born 5 weeks early, so there just wasn’t time. I think this would have helped my firstborn realize sooner that there was really a baby coming. I think it would have helped if she was more familiar with these new surroundings sooner and better understand what the different baby items are for. This would have been another way to prepare her to be a “big helper”!

5. Once the baby arrived how did your first adjust? How are they now?

Oh goodness! I can’t say enough how all of my expectations were exceeded when our baby was born! When our son was born early and spent two weeks in the NICU, my concern of how she would react to a new baby escalated. She was shuffled between family and friends while mom and dad were trying to get baby brother out of the NICU. It was a crazy 2 weeks, but the whole time she was so excited to finally meet her baby brother! When we finally brought baby brother home, she was so happy to meet him and didn’t want to leave his side. I gave her plenty of opportunities to help with baby brother by getting diapers, giving him a pacifier, singing him songs, etc.

Fast forward 4 years, and they still get along as well as any 4 and 7 year old would. My firstborn really likes to play mom and tell her brother what to do, which he doesn’t always appreciate. Often, I have to remind her that she isn’t the mom and that mom can take care of the discipline. She loves to protect him and is quick to help him if he is hurt or sad.

Krystal shares some great tips in there, right? We too read a book to our daughter that explained what the role of a big sister was & Paislee loved to read it almost every night! Now when she reads it, she calls the baby “Bubba” (what we call Noah). It’s so cute. Krystal also brought up a good point with putting the baby’s room together beforehand. With a preemie baby, that can be really hard because you don’t know that your little one is coming so early, so I can definitely relate with her there! But that can be a really great way to help your first born transition into sibling-hood.

Some other transitional ideas to get your first born ready for a new baby:

  • Practicing with a baby doll- show them how to help change diapers, go on walks, feed them, give them a bath, etc.
  • Showing them your sonograms & general pictures of babies
  • Taking them to appointments with you when possible (I remember doing this with my mom before she had my sisters & it made me feel very included and important)
  • Watching a tv show or movies that involve a new baby coming into the family (wouldn’t recommend Boss Baby lol- not very realistic)
  • Having a “baby countdown”
  • Putting the new carseat in the car before the baby arrives

If y’all have anymore ideas, I would love to hear them in the comments!

Also, if there’s one piece of advice I can bestow upon you, it’s this- always make time for EACH/ALL of your children. I understand this is sometimes easier said than done, but it is so important for your children to feel individually loved, appreciated & seen. After you’re all settled in, pump some milk or get the formula stocked up, and go out with your first born. Being the first born, I know first hand how much I loved hanging out with either my parents without my little sisters around. DONT’ GET ME WRONG, I love my sisters so, so much. But it’s nice to have all of the attention. Children need it. Babies tend to get most of it, especially when they are brand new. Because they require so much TLC.

Trust me, making time for all of your babies & taking the time to transition them in a healthy way will set everyone up for success in the long run. If you are preparing for this transition, I wish you the best of luck!

May-the-Odds-Be-Ever-In-Your-Favor

Happy Hunger Games!…haha jk

As always, God bless †

Brittany

Items related to this post:

 

Dogtags, Dolls & Dinosaurs is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com