Saturday, May 24, 2014

Weekend goodness @ Harley Farms

This past week has been a busy one. Last Saturday we kicked off what ended up being a 4 day weekend with a tour a friend had found for us a while back - visiting the baby goats at Harley Farms Goat Dairy!

Mr Oliver and his buddy Noah had a blast. The tour was long for a couple of toddlers - 1.5 hours, but surprisingly they both went the distance. It was heaven for a couple of animal lovers - one thing I really came to realise last Saturday is that this kid is fearless when it comes to animals. He's always had a fondness for dogs, but given he's a pint sized 2.5 year old, I thought he may be a bit wary of the big mama goats.... Clearly, I was wrong!

We all even got to cuddle a baby goat!

This farm also sold goat cheese and other products, and the boys got to 'make' some cheese at the end of the tour.

The farm is located in Pescadero - a small little town by the ocean, so a brief trip to the beach was in order despite it being a cold, overcast day. I love that we live so close to so many beautiful beaches along highway 1, but the weather here still blows me away! It can be hot & sunny where we live, but cross that mountain range and it can be foggy and degrees cooler.

This summer my goal is to visit all the beaches between Santa Cruz & Half Moon Bay. We've been to a handful already, but I just want to keep exploring... I miss Australia like crazy sometimes but California, you sure have stolen my heart.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Two months {Austin Mitchell}

Somehow, Mr Austin is already 2 months old!

At 2 months old, Austin weighs 14 lbs, 2.5 oz pounds and is 24.25 inches long... He's a BIG boy! I think most of that weight is in his gorgeous chubby cheeks ;) He's in size 1 nappies, although they are starting to look a bit hipster-ish on him (waiting to get through the current stash before moving on up to size 2) and 3-6 month clothing, depending on the brand. I seriously cannot believe how quickly this boy is growing! We're going through clothes like there's no tomorrow.

He's had decent head & neck control for a few weeks now. He's also trying desperately to roll, he gets right up onto his side but his arm stops him from going the whole way over. Mama wouldn't mind if he didn't roll for a few more months though, thanks very much! He's cooing and making lots of sweet noises now too and has even laughed, a funny little shriek laugh (at Oliver - much to his delight!) a couple of times.

I don't want to jinx it, but boy we got lucky with another good sleeper! Given that Oliver didn't sleep through between 4-18 mths, I know that it could possibly be shortlived but at the moment his overnights are easy. He goes down by 8pm and hasn't been waking until 4am for a quick feed, then back to sleep until 6/7am. He's not superbaby though - he still has the occasional rough night where he'll be wide awake and wanting to play for hours at a time. But overall, he's a really good night time sleeper.

Naptimes are still hit & miss - he's a catnapper. Mind you, I'll take dodgy naps during the day for a night of uninterrupted sleep, any day! He'll sleep well when we're out and about in his stroller (yesterday he slept 2 hours straight at the mall), but at home he's really just grabbing tiny little naps here and there - there is no kind of routine happening just yet. But, in the afternoon he sometimes will take a little nap at the SAME TIME as Oliver which is heavenly (hence why I am able to blog / sew / stay sane). It doesn't happen every day, especially as Ollie is fighting his naps, but I'm so thankful for any little bits of time I get when their sleep overlaps.


Like a champ. Have you seen those rolls and cheeks... and chin? He's a good eater! He nurses now roughly every 3-3.5 hours. I still feed on demand, we're not exactly on a 'schedule' but he's starting to fall into more of a rhythm nowadays. He's an efficient feeder like Oliver - 10, 15 mins and we're done.

Best moment...
One morning last week I had skipped the gym and was feeling bad about it - that is, until this little guy woke up and greeted me with this ear to ear grin. His cheery little mood is infectious!

Worst moment...
He's a bit of a spewer normally, but he recently had the biggest power spew I have EVER SEEN. It almost seemed fake. He was in his stroller, on a downward slope (ie gravity was working against him) when up came all his milk. The vomit came up with such force, it arced up over himself, the carseat, the diaper bag and finally hit the ground about a metre away from the stroller. I kid you not. I have never seen anything so horrific (yes, I screamed. Miiiiiiitttttchhhhhh. Lucky guy was taking Ollie to the bathroom so he didn't have to deal with the mess of it). Of course, this happened in Sonoma at a winery - thankfully outdoors.

Smiling!!! He is SUCH a smiley, happy baby. He smiles at his big brother, he smiles at Mumma & Dadda, he smiles at pictures on the wall, he smiles when he has his nappy changed, he smiles for photos, he smiles while he's feeding and he smiles in his sleep. Truly, I don't know that I've ever come across a smilier baby at this age!

He doesn't like loud noises - his loud, frightened cry just breaks my heart. Unfortunately though, with a noisy, busy 2.5 year old in the house, there are a lot of loud noises going on. All day long. There are Legos being banged around, musical toys with no volume control and a lot of ROARING, as Mr O seems to think he is half dinosaur...

2 months already... I'm loving seeing him develop but I'm not sure I'm liking how much faster this goes by the second time around! We love you, Austin Mitchell. You truly are our little piece of sunshine; the happiest baby I ever did see :-)

Austin at one month...

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Weekend goodness: Mother's Day 2014

It started with breakfast in bed. A gorgeous necklace, wrapped in paper that had been painstakingly decorated by a very proud two year old. Precious baby smiles. A glorious day at the beach with my three handsome boys and our sweet neighbours & friends. And it ended with dinner with friends, eating takeout & watching the kids play in the backyard while we caught up.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable Mother's Day indeed... Happy Mother's Day to my own sweet Mum & all the lovely mamas I know :-)

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Friday, May 9, 2014

The expat life: 2 years in the USA

Something strange has happened. Our two year point of living in the USA has come and gone almost 2 months ago and I hardly noticed. We've now been living in one place for the longest period since 2007 and for the first time in my life, I don't have the unstoppable urge to pack up and try a new country. I don't know whether to be relieved or terrified.

My heart still wants to wander; I miss traveling like we used to. We just don't have that luxury anymore. We can't drive or fly off on weekends away all over Europe like we once did. Travel in the USA has much bigger distances, higher costs, Mitch has far less holidays and well - we now have not one, but two kids. We're still pretty determined to get out there with them, but logistically - it's a little more challenging nowadays.

It's been a good 6+ months since I last posted my thoughts on the expat life here, and although I'll always fall into that expat category, I don't feel as foreign anymore, nor does life here. Heck, we now have a son who is an American CITIZEN. That's a crazy thought. Life in California feels normal. When we booked tickets to spend 5 weeks in Australia over Christmas, I had thought that it would make me antsy. Make me want to move back as soon before the littlest was even born. But you know, it didn't.

For the first time in the 4 years we've been gone, I felt like the foreigner in my home country. I loved being there and already can't wait for the next trip, but things looked ever so slightly different somehow. I felt like I was seeing once familiar places & spaces through the eyes of a tourist. Deep down, my feelings about where we want to be in the long term haven't changed. As much as our life here right now feels normal and settled, both Mitch and I want our boys to experience what it's like to grow up in Australia. Preferably, before the inevitable American accent that they will both have becomes permanent.

And since having Austin, I've been feeling more of a pull towards Australia. I'd love to be near my family. I'd love to hang out with my oldest friends again. I miss the Qld climate (not that I could complain about Cali weather - sunshine year round) and I miss the unique, Aussie sense of humor. In quiet moments, I find my mind entertaining the thought of moving back to Australia - mulling over the finer details of what would that situation look like. I can't linger for long though, because the job situation there is so dire. Mitch works in a very particular field; we really are in the best place for our family right now. But mostly, I couldn't imagine packing up and leaving our community here. My people.

This expat life can be confusing. I often feel torn between 2 worlds, but right now our life is here. Our community is here. Some of my absolute nearest and dearest friends are in the land down under, but I know that if we were to move back there tomorrow, it'd be like starting life in a new country again. I've never lived in Australia as a Mum; we've never experienced life there as a family instead of a working couple. It's something I want to do, but I'm not ready. Not yet. But I know that day will come.

When Mitch and I were first married, I never imagined this expat life would be our reality. It's not perfect. It can be frustrating. It's often challenging... But I wouldn't change it for the world. I can't wait to see what the next year has to offer with my best friend, our little Dutch boy and our Californian bear.

Life is busy, but life is pretty sweet :-)

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Weekend goodness @ Sonoma Valley

I've been dying to get back up to wine country since the littlest was born. Seriously. The first and last time we visited Napa I was heavily pregnant and the weather was downright miserable. We still had a fun trip, but lets face it - you're not getting the true winery experience when you're 36 weeks pregnant. We had a shipment ready to pick up from our favourite winery from our February trip, so on Saturday we decided to head up there for a picnic lunch, some tastings and also to visit the sister winery, Benziger.

The highlight of this winery was a kid friendly activity - a tractor tour through the vineyards & cave! Mr Oliver was super excited...

Both boys were surprisingly good. Truly. We had a few people compliment Ollie on his behaviour and Austin was content to be snuggled up on me, or sleeping in the stroller or Ergo. And because Ollie was such a good kid while we tripped around the wineries, he got a little treat at the end of the day in the form of a visit to Sonoma Train Town to take a ride on a miniature train. I wouldn't rave about this place - it was pretty old and run down with very limited rides for toddlers, but for a train loving 2.5 year old, he was in heaven!

It was such a good day out - a long, 10 hour day (4 hours of which were spent in the car), but it actually felt like a real little getaway. I've been missing traveling recently - even in the midst of the newborn craziness, this mama wants to holiday. I can't wait for our next little adventure as a family of FOUR!

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