Oh, The Places You’ll Go

Clara turned three months on April 22 and what a month it was. We have a habit of traveling in the spring and didn’t let a little one slow us down too much.

At the end of March we knew we were taking our first big road trip to Florida. Shayni was visiting with Lincoln (14 months) and we love to take every opportunity to see them when we can. Also, Landon’s birthday was coming up and being a soon-to-be 12-year-old, he’s harder and harder to buy presents for… Additionally, we have been wanting to get away from presents and focus more on experiences and building memories for birthdays and Christmas so we took him to Universal Studios! Lindsay and Kellie gifted his ticket as part of his official adoption (finally!) so we made a day of it and were joined by Wanda, Lindsay, Kellie, and Shayni!

I was a little concerned about such a long road trip with a 2 1/2 month old but it went better than I could have expected. It’s a 12.5 hour drive that we usually can do with minimal stops in about 14 hours when it’s just us. For the sake of DC traffic, and Clara’s sleep schedule at the time, Chad and I woke up at 2am on Thursday to pack up the car. I woke Clara at 2:45 to change and nurse her and we were on the road at 3:30am. The plan worked because we got a solid 5-hour driving stretch before she needed to eat and stretch out! After that, she made it another 3.5 hours, then it got a little hairy toward the end with a few stops every 1.5 hours or so. We made the total drive from Maryland to Florida in 16 hours and got to Lindsay and Kellie’s house just in time to hang out with Wanda, Shayni, and introduce Lincoln to Clara ( a surreal moment for Chad and Lindsay for sure).

Friday was the big day at Universal. We opted for a two park pass to include Universal and Island of Adventure and I don’t regret it at all. It was so easy going between the two parks, and I thought the rides in both parks were worth it! Landon wanted to ride everything and with such a big group of us, we were really able to hit a lot. Lindsay and Kellie took over Clara and Lincoln every time we wanted to hit a ride -perks of them having a season pass, they were happy to be the chaperones for the day and let us “out of towners” try all the rides. It worked out really well and Clara almost slept the entire day away, being passed between Lindsay and I in her Ergo carrier. We were at the park from about 9:30am to 9pm, ending our day with the Incredible Hulk ride (it really was incredible!!) and having a good pizza dinner with a few beers.

The rest of the short trip was spent introducing Clara to friends at the dropzone in DeLand. I was able to make my first skydive back, although not having gear with meant I had to rent it and that was interesting. The rig was huge, there wasn’t a freefly bungee on the legstraps and it made me a little nervous in freefall. Regardless, I had a HUGE smile on my face as I haven’t jumped with Heather since our wedding! I don’t care that it was a shit-show of a jump, it felt really good to get my knees in the breeze and I had a good landing (something I was a little nervous about, not having jumped in a few months).

The ride home went just about as smoothly, though we kept hitting traffic on 95 (spring break returning home, I’m sure). The ride back took about 17.5 hours and we were exhausted. Glad to be home! Clara knocked off visiting Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida in one trip!

On the way back from Florida, I saw on Facebook that the cherry blossoms were in full bloom in DC and I’ve never had a chance to get down and see them, even though we live so close. I messaged a couple of friends, expecting everyone to be busy but Melissa had it in her mind that she was going to take a day off that week so it’s good I put it out there! The Wednesday after we got back from Florida, Melissa and her new pup Roo took a day-trip to DC with Clara and I to explore. I wasn’t going to deal with a stroller in the crowds (one of my pet-peeves when I didn’t have an infant!) so I hooked her up in the Ergo carrier again and made our way around the Tidal Basin. As long as you know what you’re getting into, I think it’s a really neat thing to experience. You really just have to know that there are going to be WAY too many people there, and it’s going to be crowded. I lucked out with parking and found a free spot – and not to brag, but my dad would have been so proud of my parallel parking skills! Two moves, like a glove!

The day was beautiful, we came away with a few great pictures and it was nice to hang out with a friend since I’ve been a little tied up in my own world for the last few months. We walked about 4 miles and made it home in time for the kids to get off the bus.

Another big event this last month for Clara was my mom and dad finally coming to visit! We’ve had this planned for MONTHS that they were going to come out and surprise Landon for his birthday, and meet Clara for the first time. They flew in on Monday, April 8th in the later morning and the weather was beautiful. We had time to chill on the deck, my dad napped and then enjoyed coffee in the warm sun (something Minnesota is lacking in this time of year), and then he went out to surprise Landon off the bus.

That was a really special moment – I wish I would have captured it on video! My dad was behind our deck on the sidewalk, Landon didn’t notice him at first and started walking the opposite way to come in the front door. I yelled to him hoping that would make him look in our direction off the deck and notice my dad, but he didn’t. As he turned to keep walking, my dad yelled “Lano!” which made him stop in his tracks and turn in confusion (like, I know that voice, but why is that voice here??). He immediately started running across the backyard and I couldn’t hold in the tears. It was like one of those slow-motion scenes at the end of a movie! Landon and my dad both teared up and they had a HUGE smile on their faces when they got back to the house.

Their visit to Maryland was pretty low key. My dad enjoyed the weather and blooming trees and flowers. He liked to explore on his own, but also loved walks with me and Clara. My dogs bonded with him and I think he especially liked when Minnesota got blasted with a spring blizzard (complete with ice and thunder!!) while he was sitting on the deck in a tshirt watching Chad grill dinner. When it was time to head back to Minnesota, me, Clara and Landon were joining them since it was Landon’s spring break. We had friends visiting from Norway, and I had enough Southwest points to get half of our tickets free. So I packed up Clara and hauled the family to my northern home for a few days.

Flying with a newborn can be a little stressful. Clara is such an easy baby, so I really wasn’t too worried. I had my little plan: prepare for things to take more time – like getting through security, and boarding the plane…make sure she’s changed and fed and she should sleep through it all. Landon was a HUGE help, carrying anything he could and really stepping up. I’m not surprised, but it warmed my heart to see and have him there.

I wasn’t prepared for Southwest to ask for Clara’s identification. . I knew children under 2 fly free and on the websites it says to bring their birth certificate to prove their age, but clearly at 2 months, it’s obvious she’s not cutting it close to taking advantage of that. Plus, I didn’t have her birth certificate yet. So imagine my surprise when the ticketing agent kept demanding something to prove her age… some identification, anything – even photographic proof (I mean, take her picture – she’s not 2!). I called my husband, who I know wasn’t heading straight home after dropping us off at the airport. I had one document, a verification of birth we used to get her on our insurance, and it was right on the dining room table. As I was on the phone with him trying to explain that they need proof that she’s under 2 years old (????? right?? I’m still confused), the ticket agent said it would be fine but we would definitely need it for the ride back. Thank you, Southwest lady… this didn’t need to be so hard.

We dropped our bags and headed toward security. A TSA agent stopped us and the people in front of us and said their line was too long, we were going to have to go to checkpoint B. So we rolled our eyes and walked (hauling everything to the opposite end of BWI) and as soon as we got there, that TSA agent said the same thing! Nope, too long here… you’re going to have to go to checkpoint A. The guy in front of me clearly annoyed made the statement that we were just there and she sent us here. TSA shook his head and closed the rope. So we hauled everything back to the opposite end of the airport, again (at least I’m getting my workout in, right??) and the original TSA agent relented. Whew. I was sweating! I told my dad “I think they have the B-team working today.”

The rest of the airport adventures were pretty smooth: gate check the car seat, change her, feed her, and she slept through the entire flight. I got my mom a happy hour to celebrate our vacation!

Even though our trip to Minnesota was short, it was (and always is) jam packed. My sister picked us up from the airport and we decompressed at her house for a few hours. My nephews were more than excited to play with Landon, but everyone was also excited to see Clara. Noah (4 years old) kept calling her “my baby” and was so sweet with her. Uncle Brian got to hold her for a bit, and overall it was just good to stretch out and relax after the morning’s travel. We began our 2-hour drive north to Cloquet in the late evening and set up at my mom and dad’s house for the next couple of days.

Noah (4), Landon (12), Clara (2m), Wyatt (9) – The Nyholm Cousins

Monday was a blast! We woke up early and had coffee, then headed to meet the Norwegians in Duluth. They were just finishing up breakfast when we got to their hotel and Landon was super excited to swim in the mini-indoor waterpark. Hanne-Mari was a foreign exchange student of my aunt and uncle’s in (or around) 2002/2003. Now she’s all grown up with a family of her own so it was really nice to not only see her again, but meet her two kids (Jenni is 5 and Gabriel is 2). Jenni gifted Clara a cute little penguin beanie baby and Gabriel was so sweet with her, he was singing her Norwegian lullabies and being so gentle! We spent most of the day with them and then headed to dinner with my dad.

Gordy’s! I get Gordy’s once a year (because I’m usually only home once during their season). Gordy’s is an old fashioned diner in Cloquet that’s semi-famous and family run. I graduated high school with “THE” Gordy’s grandson and in the summer, it’s the place to be. My dad took us all out for burgers, onion rings, and fries – and I didn’t have an ounce of guilt. I love that place and got the Bacon Deluxe Burger and we all split an order of their world famous hand-battered onion rings. I also ate about a half of a pound of fries haha.

Tuesday morning, I met my friend and former co-worker, Jaime for a run. Those cool Minnesota temps and a really great conversation with her made for 2 speedy miles. My pre-pregnancy self started to shine through a little bit and hopefully I’m able to hold those paces regularly again soon. Also, my grandma, Clara’s only living great-grandparent, came by to meet her. She loves all the great-grandbabies we’ll give her and now that I live so far away, it was really special to introduce her. Plus, I’m pretty sure my entire family wrote me off for having any more kids, so Clara is a nice “surprise” to the family (she wasn’t really a surprise, but we didn’t really loop anyone in that we were thinking of having more kids).

Four generations – My mom, Grandma Lilly, me, and Clara

The Norwegians swung by our house on their way to Minneapolis. It was nice to see them again and hang out for a few. After they left, I was so exhausted I took a nap with Clara. My brother took Landon to a movie and we called it a day.

Clara meets Kristie!

Wednesday was a little more jam packed. Kristie visited in the morning and it was so nice to have coffee and catch up! It’s always nice when someone “gets it” that we travel so much, and they’re willing to come over, instead of us always running around meeting people here and there. Kristie is one of my closest friends, and even though we don’t get to see each other all too often, it’s easy to pick up right where we left off. Actually, I’ve developed this relationship with many of my Minnesota friends…

My afternoon was packed full of more visits before heading back to Maryland on Thursday. Clara got to meet Julie for coffee at another Minnesota staple: Caribou Coffee, and then we headed over to Jake and Alex’s house to meet their son Easton. Believe it or not, as close as we are -the last few times I’ve been home, I haven’t been able to catch up with them so this was my first time meeting their 2 year old son Easton as well! I’m a little embarrassed to admit that, but again -it pays to have understanding friends and solid relationships with them. A 2 hour visit went by in what felt like an instant and I had to head back to pack up for our early morning travels.

Clara’s not ready to leave grandpa’s cuddles.

My mom and dad’s house is about a 2+ hour drive to MSP so for a 6:45am flight, we had to be on the road around 3am. I woke up, fed and changed Clara, packed up the car and gave our last hugs. My dad got one last snuggle in with Clara before we headed out. My mom drove us to the airport and check-in and security were way more smooth this time. Easy-peasy! Again, we gate checked the car seat, family boarding was a life saver, and since the plane wasn’t full for the return flight, that made for a little more room in our row. Clara passed out and slept for the entire thing again! Man, she’s a great traveler! We knocked Minnesota out of the park and checked that state off her list.

Another fun first for Clara was her first baseball game. We were able to take her to an Orioles game right before Easter, and as a bonus they were playing the Minnesota Twins! The Twins won both games of the double header, and it was a great night out with the family. I love baseball and I loved that quality time out of the house doing something fun with Landon and Chad. Clara was (of course) a trooper and she even got a certificate for her first game!

The next day was Easter Sunday and we kind of made a last-minute decision to drive up to Pennsylvania for a family dinner. Chad’s brother and his girlfriend hosted and we were excited to introduce Clara to the last cousin she hasn’t had a chance to meet. Mallory instantly wanted to hold her and play with her. She’s 4 and asked hilarious questions: Where’s her teeth? Has she said her first word yet? Why doesn’t she talk? Can she walk yet? Everyone was impressed with Clara’s calm demeanor and cute coos and smiles. I was a little concerned about the drive back and how the rest of the night would go because she slept all day long. But it was perfect, not a peep the ride home, we gave her a quick bath to wash all the pollen off and have a fresh start to the week, and she slept until 6:20am. Maybe she was growing and needed 20 hours of sleep! LOL! With that, Pennsylvania was knocked off the list as well making for a 9-state (including DC) month for our little lady!

So far, Clara has been the easiest baby I’ve ever come across. It’s an absolute joy being her mom and watching all her milestones as she grows. She recently started reaching for things and grabbing toys or objects you place in front of her. She’s VERY attracted to screens (like phones), I’m sure it’s just the light and colors as she’s starting to be able to see more and further away, but it’s a really good excuse for us to put our phones down more. She has giggled 3 or 4 times, but we haven’t been able to replicate it or make her actually laugh… You can see her trying to sometimes, but it doesn’t quite workout. One of my favorite things is when she sneezes and then one sneeze doesn’t come out – she makes this loud yelling noise like she’s saying “oh come on! I hate that!” Because I do hate it when my sneezes randomly get blocked haha!

She’s all smiles and so responsive, she loves to coo and talk to us, and she loves when she just gets to lay there in her diaper and talk to you… Unlike most kids, when you change their diapers, she actually likes it and just smiles and talks to you the whole time!

I’m 3 months old!

A lot of people have been asking if I was going to go back to work, since my maternity leave/FMLA was coming to an end as we reach this 3-month mark as well. I spent the last few weeks expecting to pitch a “work part time from home” plan to iFLY only to have them turn me down and have to leave my job. In those last few weeks, and planning to potentially have to leave my job, I lined up a few side gigs and part time opportunities. I was planning on writing content as an independent contractor for a wellness app, working part-time at the running store, and then I had lined up two potential fitness instruction opportunities. These roles combined would supplement our income without having to use daycare.

The big transition to her crib…

Daycare is something that is really personal to me… I have a hard time accepting that someone else is going to care for my child, especially when they’re this young. It’s definitely easier for me when they’re older, Landon didn’t start daycare part time until he was 2 1/2 years old and it was two friends who started a small in-home care and preschool. I trusted them, knew them for years, and Landon was old enough to communicate with me what was going on or if something happened. My mom and dad did daycare for me outside of that from the time he was an infant until we moved to Maryland.

Not having that option to have family help care for your baby was an enormous stressor for me. Additionally, after looking into the care facilities by us, we realized they’re about $300-400 MORE than we expected… and I thought I was budgeting on the high side! So going back to work full time in the capacity that I was before I had her was just not an emotional and financial option for us. Anyway, I pitched a part-time work from home, part-time in the office schedule to my boss and he was on board. To my complete surprise, so were his bosses! This blew me away, and kind of put a wrench in my part-time plans I had lined up, as I expected them to not be as flexible as we needed.

Yesterday (April 22) was my first official day in the office, even though I started last week and only worked remotely to catch up. My plan is to be on site twice a week to start with, and as I get more comfortable, I can work to increase my time there and perhaps find a part-time in-home care person around us. It was really hard being away, and honestly – the hardest part was getting back to my team. As grateful as I am for the chance to work from home, it was very eye opening that I’m going to need to be onsite more often eventually. I hope to make that transition slowly and with balance.

The rest of my postpartum journey has been relatively uneventful this last month. I’m getting better at getting my workouts and runs in, and not being so exhausted. I’ve been craving a schedule and a routine; however, with the almost constant travel, it’s been non-existent. I’ve been yo-yo’ing the same 4 pounds all month, but the scale has at least started to move a little bit. I gained 43 pounds, lost 25 almost immediately in the first week, and it hasn’t budged since. Also, my hair recently started falling out… Expected, but still shocking in the amount of loss!

I’m breastfeeding and pumping, and that’s going mostly great. Sometimes it seems as though my breasts aren’t producing, but every time I squeeze and check, I’m getting something out of them. Clara’s gaining weight, but won’t have a check-up until 4 months. Chad did his best to weigh her and she’s about 12.4 pounds! She sleeps through the night many nights, though sometimes gets up around 3am for a quick feeding and diaper change. She’s always quick to fall back asleep though. Pumping at work yesterday was interesting and a little nerve wracking! My biggest fear is that I won’t pump enough and it will slow down my production. Supply meets demand in this game.

My workouts have slowly been getting more consistent and my runs are getting a little longer and stronger each week. I have built up to 8 miles for my long run, and I’m excited to continue my training schedule for the half marathon at Grandma’s this year. It’s always my favorite race, so I’m excited to participate, even though I’m opting to not do the full this year. I stand by that as the best decision! Kudos to mamas who can get right back into those longer distances, I’m certainly taking my time!

I think that’s about it for this round – though it ended up being about a novel! There’s already some excitement “brewing” for this next month, but I’ll fill in those blanks later. Thanks for reading our month 3 update!

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