what happens when dr. dad gives you an ultrasound

Turns out it's pretty handy to grow up with a dad who is also a doctor. Like when you're in high school and the plastic cover on the fluorescent light falls off of the ceiling and hits you, you can run home for lunch and get stitched up at the kitchen bar all at the same time, only missing 4th period.

By default you also grow up with a really strong stomach (I mean, how else could you eat lunch and watch your hand being stitched up at the same time?). Needless to say, our regular dinner conversations were anything but regular. ...you mean other families don't talk about oozing, bleeding body orifices and really regrettable diseases that they encountered at work that day over a nice casserole? 

Another really cool thing about "Dr. Dad" is when you're pregnant and visiting your family, you can get free ultrasounds of your baby bean! And so we did. 

 Isn't it so alien and CUTE?! 

We went to visit my dad at work one day to have it done, and the whole family traipsed in behind us- one of those family members being my older bro, Ryan, who is currently a 3rd year med student (do we see where this is going yet?).

So my dad starts the ultrasound, finds the baby, makes a few high pitched "ooohhs and aahhss" (still very much in "Papa" mode) shows us and points out the heartbeat while James snaps a few blurry iPhone pics and then BAM. It happens. 
The switch flips. 
I've noticed this happen more often as my brother gets farther into his own medical career...more "doctor talk" and "teaching opportunities". This was no exception. It was dad mode to doctor mode. Quicker than a 50 cent hooker gets syphilis (Oh, Dr. Dad also teaches you really useful analogies).

"So Ryan what organ do you see here? Good! Now see if you can find the ovary, it looks like a chocolate chip cookie."

....A chocolate chip cookie? Really? Really Dad? 
"Ooohh yeah there it is! Cool!" 

I'm all for the teaching of young and eager minds, but when you're looking at and exposing my reproductive organs to my older brother, please don't say they resemble one of my favorite desserts. 
RIP chocolate chip cookie.
I will never be able to eat you again without me imagining myself snarfing down on my own ovary.
(And now, neither will you. You're welcome.)

At this point Ryan may have taken over the ultrasound probe...I can't remember...I was still mourning the instant loss of my love for chocolate chip cookies, when he excitedly pipes up and says, "Hey Whitney, wanna see the top of your rectum?" 

 For the love, please don't compare it to chocolate cake. 


anniversary trip

When James and I dropped Jillian off at my parent's house to head off for a few days to celebrate our 5 year anniversary, one of our first thoughts was..."but what are we going to DO?" Do I even remember how to sleep in and relax? Set my own schedule for the day? In case you're wondering, all of those things come back pretty naturally, like riding a bike. (Except I did wake up naturally at like 7:30 everyday and had to force myself to fall back to sleep...rough, I know). 

We went to South Walton Beach on the gulf coast of Florida (about 10 minutes away from Destin). It. Was. Awesome. 

Bet you didn't know one of James' hidden talents is sand-sculpting, eh? 
Haha..just kidding..we just walked by this and took a picture. But still- incredible right?!

The weather couldn't have been more perfect, the sand more white, or the ocean water more blue. 

Although we did realize that we pretty much suck at vacationing without Jillian. We probably brought her up every half-hour (at least), mentioning how she would have fun playing in the sand, or something that reminded us of her. Funny how that happens...you want some time to yourselves and you just end up talking about your kids you just left behind!

 One night we went on a sunset sail out on the ocean. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the view was incredible! You could see through the water all the way down to the sand. There were also a TON of dolphins. Some of them swam right up next to our boat! 

After the sail we ate at a restaurant right on the docks. I made a last minute decision to get shrimp 'n grits...and oh my STARS. Even though I grew up in the south I somehow never ate that, but now it's all I want to eat until I die. Easily one of the best things I've ever had. 
James ordered up a whole plate of fried everything (clams, fish, calamari, you name it).

All in all it was a perfect getaway and a fun way to celebrate our anniversary! I could totally retire in South Walton...and just eat shrimp 'n grits until I get too old and fat to function.

cousins, cousins, cousins

Jillian had the GREATEST time in Florida last week! The first morning we woke up there, Jillian opened her eyes, looked around, and immediately shot up in bed and yelled "NANA!!!" Forget James and I, Nana and Papa are basically her favorite people. She latched on to my Dad almost immediately and constantly was grabbing his hand to go do whatever she had planned (usually to go check out the cows, find "Lucy the Wonderdog", or go on a golf cart ride). 

My parents were awesome enough to watch her for the week while James and I headed off to celebrate our anniversary (more on that later). She spent a good chunk of the week playing with my brother's kids.
If you didn't grow up with your cousins being some of your best friends, you really missed out. I was fortunate enough to grow up around a whole slew of 'em, so most of my favorite childhood memories involve them.

It's so fun to see Jillian start to develop those relationships with her 3 cousins.  And man, those girls went 90 to nothin' everyday. It would take Jillian less than 5 minutes to fall asleep each night just because she was so worn out from the whole day of playing. There were multiple tea parties, lots of dressing up, cookie decorating, general playing outside and getting filthy- so fun. 

 (The boys in our family are so outnumbered!)

Jillian is the younger than both Milly(4) and Eliza(3), so it was funny to see her copy every little thing they would do. She picked up a few new nuances. Haha. I have a feeling these girls will be really fun as teenagers. ;-)

One night, we had MY cousins' kids over (so weird we're all old enough to have kids...) to watch a movie outside on the big blowup screen. I think they all sat and watched the movie for maybe 10 minutes. The rest of the time was spent running around, chasing each other or trying to get their hands on more popcorn and candy. 

Cousins are just the BEST!

how to travel with a toddler

Flying with a toddler can be tricky business...a small, confined area for several hours with no (desirable) escape route, judgy non-parents, and most likely a missed nap time at some point during the day. It really is a recipe for disaster. But after flying with Jillian 4-5 times (a couple of those times by myself) I've figured out a few things...maybe you'll find them helpful as well. (If not, if these things totally don't work for you, at least make sure when your child is throwing a massive tantrum during the flight and chucks a toy into the aisle, that it is aimed for whatever judgy adult is staring you down thinking you should have never reproduced).

This is always the part that stresses me out the most..."What is she going to DO for 5 hours?!" 
I purchased a mini backpack (one her size) and it's been one of the greatest things for flying. She can carry it (one less thing I have to carry), and it frees up space in the diaper bag to carry other essentials for the both of us. 
Pack some toys they are familiar with and already know how to play with. For Jillian it was her collection of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse figurines. Bring a new toy to spark interest when they start getting bored.

Art! Crayola's Color Wonder markers are the greatest invention in the history of ever. Invest. They also make small travel-sized kits that fit great in the small backpack! I also bring a new sticker book/coloring book combo with crayons. Stickers and kids go great together. 

Books. I bring a few new books for Jillian to read. This last time we traveled since it was in October they were all Halloween books since we've been talking about that a lot.

Technology. I have pages and pages of apps on my iPad for Jillian- almost all free. When she starts getting bored of everything else, we bust out the iPad and (kid-sized) headphones. Works like a charm. Some of my favorite apps for toddlers (that are also mostly educational):
-Endless ABC
-Dr. Panda's Kindergarten
-Seek & Find (many different versions of it)
-Candy Count
-Ants Lite
-BOB Books
-Paint Sparkles
-Digital Books (Tab Tale makes a LOT of these)
-Elmo Loves ABC's 
-PBS Kids (requires a wifi connection)
-Disney Jr. (requires a wifi connection)

A small blanket. Usually we don't travel with this one, but after this last flight when we did I realized it was the greatest thing EVER. Not only did it bring her comfort when she started getting tired (it's the blanket she usually sleeps with), but we made a FORT out of it (rig it up between the seat tray and your arm rests)! She had way more fun playing under it and peek-a-boo with us. It was probably a solid 45 minutes of entertainment just by itself.

If you've been a Mom for more than like, 5 minutes, you know it is dumb to carry both a purse and a diaper bag. Especially when you're flying. I always pack my purse in my suitcase, and throw my essentials into the diaper bag (wallet-with my ID in an easily accessible front pocket so I don't have to search for it at security-my phone, lip balm, and gum or something. All of my other purse-y things stay in my purse in my suitcase until we get to where we're going. 

Good moms always have snacks, right? Right. Depending on what time of day your flight is, make sure you pack the right snacks (more if you're flying during a meal time...pretzels/peanuts make a sufficient meal for no one). 
Nothing too messy. Jillian LOVES Fig Newtons but those suckers get sticky = not a good plane snack. Make sure it's nothing too crumbly either, that also makes for a huge mess. Some of my favorite snacks to pack for Jillian while traveling are the squeeze pouch foods/apple sauce, yogurt raisins, and mini Nilla wafers. 

Also, bring a sippy cup (duh). You can bring it full of whatever (to avoid having to buy something once you get through security). They will just test whatever liquid is in it while you're going through the security line. Refill on the plane! It's free.

Dress them comfortably. Some of Jillian's clothes are super adorable, but not the most comfortable, at least when you're traveling all day. I usually go for jeggings, tennis shoes, comfy shirt, and a light jacket (it's always so cold on planes!). 
Always, always, always, bring a back up outfit. 

Make sure YOU dress comfortably too! Anytime I see someone traveling in a little teeny dress or mega heels I just want to laugh. Be. For. Real. Yoga pants for the win. After all, you do have to entertain this baby for the next however many STRAIGHT hours.

Where to Sit
If you have an airline that assigns you a seat, I guess you don't really have a choice..though you can ask the flight attendant to switch you to another part of the plane if you prefer. We always fly Southwest, so we choose where we sit. 
If you're flying alone with your kiddo, take the window and middle seat (kid at the window). I know it seems like you'd want the isle in case you have to get up, but you can stretch out more having the window seat and not be paranoid about your toddler hitting/throwing toys/bugging the person next to them. That's a lot less stress than having to ask them maybe once every hour to get up so you can get up and head to the bathroom. 

The back of the plane is louder than the front. If you're worried you might be dealing with a fussy toddler the whole time, sit near the back- it will drown out the sound of the fussing. Keep in mind the bathroom with the changing table is usually at the front of the plane, so if you're more worried about that, sit near the front. Or, like me, sit in the middle right over the wing. Win/win. 

I actually seek out sitting next to other families with kids- sometimes they like to entertain each other by peeking through or over the seat to see what the other kid is doing.

On your layover, make your toddler walk- and a lot. That way they will be more worn out and willing to sit in their seat during the flight. 

And if all of this fails and your little piece of pride and joy is a little terror to you and everyone else around you, meh. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Don't let the judgy looks bother you- give them right back. If someone expects your 2 year-old to be a perfect angel in what is essentially a tin box being flung across the country, they have unrealistic expectations..which means they're probably also wearing a mini skirt and mega heels. And we don't take those people seriously anyway. ;-) 

Enjoy your flight!


a little {big} announcement...

We had such an amazing time in Florida last week! I have lots to catch you up on and stories of our adventures, but here's one picture to get you going. 

Believe it or not, it's the only picture we got of all of us...

All FOUR of us. 


Yep. Another kiddo is headed our way. Estimated time of arrival: May 13, 2014!  

Over the past few nauseating and exhausting weeks I've learned you take SO much for granted your first pregnancy...so...much. Like you can take a nap whenever you want. You can throw up in peace. You can sit on the couch all day and watch movies. When you want to do all of these things with baby #2, there is still baby #1 that has to be taken care of. Sooo you can't sleep whenever you want, when you barf (or want to) your toddler is right next to you and wants to see what's going on, and when you want to watch movies all day you feel bad about how much TV your toddler has actually watched in an 8 hour period of time. *sigh. Pregnancy sucks. 

No joke. It totally does. Don't get me wrong- the reward, "light at the end of the tunnel" part of it all is completely worth it. Having Jillian has been one of the most rewarding and incredible things I've ever done. But getting there? Aye. And I'm a total whiner- I know, but I'm entitled. I am growing a person. You know when they say a pregnant person has a "glow" about them? I'm pretty sure my only "glow" is the reflection of the porcelain toilet seat as my face hangs over the bowl while I gag my brains out. blegh

Oh, and here's one for the record books: I couldn't button my pants by about 9 weeks and as I learned at my first appointment today (11 weeks), I've already gained 10 pounds. This baby must be eating Miracle Grow (..or I'm eating wwaayy too much take-out..I will rule out neither assumption). Whatevs. Bring on the maternity clothes, they're more comfy anyway.

But we're excited. Tired, but excited. We should be able to find out the gender in about a month! Stay tuned...I'm off to find another snack.


5 years!

Happy 5 years to James and I! FIVE! That's a big one. I think it'll be really fun to get to the point where you've spent more years WITH the person you love than without- we're workin' on it. 

(On our 1st anniversary- eating our frozen wedding cake)
You learn a lot about a person after being married to them for 5 years. You learn what buttons to push, and which ones not to push, and which ones you can only push on certain days. You learn their weird little habits or rituals and you learn to still love them for it. You learn how to disagree without raising you voice, how to compromise, and how to forgive and ask for forgiveness. You learn how to listen- even when it's about something completely uninteresting to you, but incredibly interesting to them- and you're interested because THEY are. 

(Our 2nd anniversary- eating..again)

And you even learn things you thought you already knew how to do- like take turns (taking the trash out), share (my side of the bed- aka the whole thing), say please and thank you. You learn to never take those two words for granted- please and thank you. It's often the little things you thought you already knew how to do that you relearn the importance of after a few years or marriage and you get "comfortable". The little things will make or break you, people. Take heed. I have good marital advice. 

(Our 3rd anniversary) 
All in all, I wouldn't have wanted to spend the last 5 years with anyone else. And I don't want to spend the next 5 years with anyone else. 
He's my guy. 
We've invested a lot in each other. In it to win it.

(Our 4th anniversary- oh look, eating some more) 

 SO after 3 moves (2 apartments, 1 house), 4 cars, 7 jobs, 2 college degrees and another in the process, and 1 incredibly adorable toddler later, Happy 5 years James Houlin! Love you a whole lot! 

The 5 year picture will come soon. But right now I'm sitting on the couch in my pj's, no makeup and greasy hair. That's what year five looks like. ;-) But don't worry, we're going to the gulf coast next week to officially celebrate so the picture is SURE to be of us eating some incredible sea food. Clearly we like to celebrate with food. That's totally normal. 

(Updated 10/23- Year 5!)



My memory is going you guys...short-term, long-term...it's going. Early onset Alzheimers? I'm not ruling it out.

I FORGOT we went to the farm a few weeks ago! Which is surprising considering how much Jillian STILL talks about it. Kristen finally got around to posting on HER blog about it and it all came rushing back. ;-)

We went with some friends and all of the littles loved it! Jillian was running from animal to animal shouting the noise that it makes. I think it's safe to safe her favorite part of the whole day was her very first pony ride. I was taking bets that she wouldn't even let me put her on the pony. She tends to freak out over the smallest of things and HATES trying new things or anything that draws attention to herself.

 Much to my surprise, she LOVED it. She didn't even want me to put my hand on her back to steady her! She grabbed that saddle horn and was a natural. She kept petting its mane saying "Hi Pony!" I don't think her smile could have stretched any wider. 

Maybe there are horse riding lessons in our future...following in her mama's footsteps!