Getting Ready…

It’s been ages since I last updated. In fact, I think it was around the time Atticus was 2 months old. Yikes.

But like many of you know, adding a new member of the family makes free time few and far between. Let alone free time for writing. Cause suddenly, Atticus is 11 months old.

Can you believe it?

I can’t either.

So why am I writing now? Well we are doing something with the whole family I’ve wanted to do since falling in love with Michael.

WE ARE ALL TRAVELING TO LEBANON (and Paris)!!

Sorry to shout but it’s so damn exciting!!

Writing about our travels is something I’ve always done here, but I didn’t get a chance to document my Greece trip, with Atticus, the way I would have liked. I really learned a lot on that trip about traveling with babies, that I felt like someone should be writing about.

So I searched and searched, and while there seemed to be some really excellent family travel bloggers out in the interwebs, none with a perspective quite like me and my family.

Which means: I’ll be back WAY more often, and hopefully this blog design will be updated soon with current pictures and pics of our little guy on this side bar over there ——>

First though, let me give you a little background on how this trip came to be.

Michael’s close friend Joe, has lived in Lebanon for a few years now, and is marrying a fantastic person in a few short weeks.

Last fall, when we first heard the wedding might be in Beirut, we started thinking about making the trip as a family, particularly because it was a perfect occasion to finally make the trip. Selfishly? It would give us a chance to all meet and visit with Michael’s Teta, who is in her 90’s. In fact there’s a whole extended family we have never met, waiting for us there.  Needless to say, by January, we had our tickets booked.

How does Paris factor in? Since we had to have a layover somewhere in Europe, because the US has no direct flights to Lebanon, we asked the girls where they’d like to stop and gave them a few options.

Well about a split second after I said Paris, they both shouted “Paris!!!! The Eiffel Tower!!” And that’s how we ended up with four days and nights in Paris as well. Which was an excellent choice IMO. I haven’t been to Paris since college, and have been dying to get back there, to revisit the city I fell in love with and practice my French. And I think the kids and Michael will love it as much as I do.

Now, many may be wondering how or why or what we are thinking, taking three kids overseas and especially to Paris and the Middle East right now. And I hear you.

Traveling can be scary. All the unknowns and all the fear mongering in the media, can really mess with people and make naturally curious human beings, distrustful and insulated.

But for us, the experiences and understandings we have gained from traveling the small bit of the globe we have seen, far outweighs the inherent risk of living in the era of the world we inhabit.

People wonder how we can take a baby or small kids. Won’t it be difficult? What will they eat? How about the baby, what about his schedule?

Well, I can tell you from traveling with Atticus and my sister to Santorini, Greece, this past October, it’s not as hard to travel with a baby as I thought it was. The hardest part was the plane ride. The rest was just tucking him into the carrier, having to stop to nurse occasionally and finding a spot to change his diaper (hard to come by). Having two adults to deal with the baby was excellent, and will be again. The big girls are pretty self-sufficient, and we trust that they’ll be just fine on the plane once their movie screens are working.

As far as schedules go, the girls don’t nap, and the baby sleeps really well in a carrier. So…babywearing for the win, again.

And eating? Thankfully all three kids are adventurous eaters and love carbs and pastries. They’ll fit right in with the Parisian kids. And Lebanese food is their absolute favorite, and the girls know how to say most of the food in Arabic already.

We found an excellent looking AirBnB in Paris with its own children’s bedroom, a few blocks from Notre Dame and Place St Michel. Then we will fly to Lebanon and stay with Michael’s Teta (grandmother), in the village my father-in-law grew up in, for a week. After that, it’s off to Beirut, for the rest of our holiday, which we have an lovely apartment in the Hamra district to stay in.

But now the hardest part of traveling. Packing.

Its the WORST.

We are leaving in five days and things are only vaguely packed. It’s a bit stressful, to be honest.  IMG_0016

Tomorrow…watch me turn this overflowing laundry basket of black knit and Spanx into a beautifully organized and (hopefully) wrinkle free suitcases

I’ll break down the method to my madness of packing for five people for three weeks in two totally different climates, with a special occasion in the mix

As always if you have any questions please let me know! I’ve got all kinds of post ideas about traveling with kids, cheap flights, finding the perfect hotel/rental, how to make things less difficult once you arrive in the country you’re visiting. Let me know if there’s anything else you can think of…

Happy Sunday!!

 

A Look Back at 2014: Part 2

We’re taking on the second half of 2014 in this post. In case you missed it HERE is the link to my post from yesterday…

In effort to counteract such sadness and to welcome the hope and promise of the year ahead let’s look at some pictures. Cause pictures always make me feel better. And if you don’t already you really should follow me on Instagram @mrseyebrowz. Because I post there way more frequently than here. Also…pictures of Iz sleeping in all manner of weird spots and positions on a regular basis.

JULY – Tracey and me. First we saw The Wailers (yes, Bob Marley’s band) at this year’s Common Ground music festival and then we had the absolute pleasure of watching The Violent Femmes perform the entirety of their first album, first to back. This was an adolescent dream come true for us. We sang along with every single word of every single song. LOVE.
IMG_6562
When we go to Chicago for vacation, we know people. Like our buddies Kennedy and Chase who met us at the Shedd Aquarium for some fun times! Their faces in this picture. I die. IMG_6582
These four minis had an awesome time tearing up the Shedd. IMG_6599
Clearly, Isora was NOT impressed with the crying baby next to us OR the dolphin show. IMG_5433
The coolest thing EVER. We got to pet Stingrays. We loved this park of Shedd. IMG_5453
Such a fun day at the Lincoln Park Zoo with André and Merissa. They showed us a great time in Chicago. IMG_6632
AUGUST – Nothing like having a few friends over to remind us of how awesome our new backyard is. And by a few friends I mean a thousand mosquitoes. They made a meal out of poor Izzie’s face when she spent over two hours playing in the sand box. Clearly it didn’t even phase her. Look at that smile. IMG_6669
That one time when Isora passed out in the car and we brought her into Culver’s and she slept the whole time we ate.
IMG_6825
The Kitty Ear Krew. Merissa bought these Kitty ears for Cedella. And she has rarely taken them off since. Then it became a thing. We wear Kitty ears on Wednesdays. IMG_6841
This is totally MY type of situation. Nah mean?IMG_6857
Me and my girls. Relaxing up north in Tawas having the best ice cream ever. IMG_6858
Up North. On Lake Huron. Fire circle. Grandma Linda’s natural habitat. Love this picture. IMG_5735
At Dinosaur Gardens. Where we always act like complete idiots. I cry with laughter every time I see this. IMG_5819
I’m obsessed with this picture. And this is why I love Lake Huron. It’s wide open beach. Very few people. A whole lotta sand.
IMG_6909
This summer’s trip to Oscoda was just us girls. Memories. Made. IMG_5864
SEPTEMBER – First day of Junior Kindergarten to be precise. The look of pride on her face is just everything.
IMG_5995
Cedella and her absolute BFF Anna. Don’t they suddenly look so old?IMG_6024
Hanging out at the Michigan State Homecoming parade. Go Green!! Go White!! IMG_6065
This is what Izzie does while Ella is at school. Sleeps in weird places. It’s a glamorous life. IMG_7003
This may be my favorite photo of the year. This one Tuesday in September it was super hot and me and my besties Leslie and Nicole and all of our 6 girls piled into the cars and drove out to the beach at Holland State Park for the day. It was SO good. And not long after this picture, like days, me and Nicole found out we were pregnant. And almost a month after this picture Leslie found out she was pregnant. A little bittersweet but still so perfect. I love all of these girls so very much. IMG_7042
OCTOBER – For a birthday gift for me, Tracey and our bro Robbie (all born within 2 weeks of each other in Sept/Oct) I got us tickets to see Neil DeGrasse Tyson speak. We love this man. You know who loves him too? Cedella. She is obsessed with Cosmos and knows his name and was thrilled to join us for this lecture. She even stayed awake for nearly the whole thing. IMG_7164
The Sims Kids (minus 1). We geeked out on this so hard. It was fantastic to be with these two for the night.
IMG_7165
The Coolest Astrophysicist in the Universe. IMG_6072
Mom’s ‘Retirement’ Party. I say ‘retirement’ because she is still working 40 hrs/week. But they threw a lovely party for her at the library and we all came together to celebrate her kind of ‘retiring’.IMG_6179
HALLOWEEN – Padawan Ashoka Tano and Jedi Master Yoda. To say I love their geekiness is an understatement.
IMG_6296
Trick or Treating with Superman and Star Lord on the absolute coldest day of the year. IMG_6309
And the Great Pumpkin Walk with their besties Owl (Mia) and Wolf (Anna). IMG_6285
NOVEMBER – Was. Hard. So very hard. Nicole and Leslie and me. And our bumps. Two days before I lost Miles. This picture is one of my favorites and also the hardest one to look at. 
IMG_7388
We lost Miles the week before Thanksgiving. All of our Canadian cousins drove in to spend a long weekend over Thanksgiving. And though I was absolutely distraught and physically exhausted, family was truly the best medicine for my broken heart. Just look at Ella feeding her sister. They love each other so much. I’m clearly doing something right in that regard. IMG_6356
I just love the relationship these two have. Cedella and her Jiddo John. Always goofing around and playing together. He’s her best buddy.
IMG_6352
Despite how heartbroken in made me to meet these two new little boys in our family, it also brought so much love to my soul to hold them. This is Adam. Cedella is obsessed with him. Look at what a great big cousin she is.
IMG_6375
And with Mila and her new little brother Leo. Cedella also loved Leo. She just loves babies in general. I love these children so much my heart could burst. IMG_6394
DECEMBER – Though I was feeling only slightly human, we had to make Christmas the best ever for our girls. So out to the Christmas tree farm we went. This was our first attempt. There wasn’t a good tree in sight, but Isora had a great nap on my back. Doesn’t she look cozy back there? She woke up and looked around and said “This is the most beautiful place ever. Look at all the Christmas trees!!” Love this kid.

IMG_6433
And the following weekend we made it out to the Peacock Rd Tree Farm. SCORE! Here’s my crazy family getting ready to cut down our beautiful tree. 
IMG_6452
And this one night, after we had the tree all decorated, I was just sitting by myself watching a Christmas favorite when all of a sudden the tree dropped. Like TIMBER in five seconds flat. I didn’t even have enough time to react. And couldn’t get it back up by myself. Enter the Two Drunk Mikes. The figured it out, eventually. It was pretty hilarious to watch. BONUS POINTS if you know what movie I was watching.
IMG_6511
Christmas Cookies with Grandma Becky!! The girls loved every minute. IMG_6578
And finally, Crafts with Santa time at Grandma Linda’s library. The girls have been every single year since they’ve been alive. Except for Cedella puking all over herself on the drive down to Detroit, ruining her fancy dress, and the following stomach bug that all of us (even Grandma and TeTe) suffered, it was SO much fun!
IMG_6597
So other than our 7 Christmas celebrations (that’s a post for another day), this was our year. Looking back on it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Sure we had a lot of heartbreak when we lost Miles but buying a house and another year of watching these amazing girls grow was incredible.

And while I’m not interested in making any actual resolutions for the year, I will say this: 2015…the year for counting my blessings each and every day.

That’s our year. How was your year? Any highlights? Thanks for spending a little time at Babies & Bacon today.

My Cousin’s Big Fat Lebanese Wedding

October was a busy month. We had a ton of fun but it was crazy exhausting. Starting with my birthday on the 5th we had obligations every single Saturday night through the middle of November. ::yawn:: I’m tired again just thinking about it.

But beyond the birthdays and Halloween celebrations two very exciting things happened in our family. My dear cousin Kelsey got married to her college sweetheart Kyle. I love them both so very much. Kelsey is so warm and smart and thoughtful and Kyle is such a sweet and funny guy. Thanks to the football schedule Michael wasn’t able to go to the wedding with me so Tracey was my date. It was a blast just being with my sisters, mom, grandparents and cousins.

IMG_4102

I got to see this moment with Kelsey and her dad Kit (my Mom’s first cousin and a really great human being) just before she went down the aisle. It brought tears of joy and sadness to my eyes.

IMG_4098

I am so happy for her and Kyle that they get to spend the rest of their lives together. They’re going to have a blast doing so. I know we had a blast celebrating with them!

IMG_4138

And then the following weekend we packed up the car, all piled in and headed to the border for Michael’s cousin Kifah’s wedding in Canada.

After leaving late and stopping 1.1 million times we finally arrived to the rehearsal dinner. Hours late. We were so out of it I took no pictures.

But that night we stayed up late catching up with our cousins Fadi and Diana and my BIL André while the little ladies played with their cousin Mila. Knowing we had to wake up early and be dressed up fancy all day did not deter us from staying up late, drinking Crown Royal and solving the world’s problems. Well, except for D, she’s pregnant with their second baby, and she was the only one smart enough to get some rest.

We woke up at the crack of dawn anyways (thank you tiny human alarm clocks) and got all dressed up for the wedding at noon.

Cedella had been trying to wear her black sequin party dress and matching black patent shoes for weeks before the wedding and I wouldn’t let her. (Of course now that the wedding is over she hasn’t attempted to wear either piece since). She looked so pretty and grown-up. My precocious darling three-nager.

And Isora in her pink fluffy ruffles and white bow. I die from the cutemess.

IMG_3611

Iz and Mila had a very similar style of dress on. It’s so cute to watch two little people navigate all those ruffles.

IMG_3616

Mila and her gorgeous mother Diana. Totally stunning. Beauties inside and out.

IMG_3624

Izzie and Izzat. I love this picture. The girls were all properly obsessed with their older cousin. And he was so sweet and attentive and caring towards them. He is such an incredible young man.

IMG_3621

Cedella and Aunt Jacqueline the Mother of the Groom. This woman has the biggest heart and the biggest smile. So much love for her.

IMG_3628

With her Teta Hilda. My darling and stylish MIL. The girls adore their silly and playful and fun loving Teta. And so do I.

IMG_3629

How beautiful is this picture? I need to frame this one asap. Cedella just loves her grandparents so much.

IMG_3630

And so does Isora. She fussed for Teta during the ceremony and wouldn’t stop until my MIL was holding her.

IMG_3637

The most excited flower girl EVER.

IMG_3643

The beautiful bride Fatene and her father.

IMG_3644

How to keep a three-nager occupied during a boring-old wedding ceremony? Fruit snacks and camera phones. Works every time.

IMG_3645

The four of us in our fancy gear. We fancy up rather well if I do say so myself.

IMG_3651

The Mansour Boys. A seriously good looking crew.

IMG_3664

After all the “I Do’s” we had the chance to grab a cup of Double Doubles from Tim Horton’s and go back to Fadi and D’s house for naps and a rest up for the big night. But soon it was time to put our gowns back on, drop the kids off at the hotel with the babysitter and head over to have some adult wedding fun.

We walked into the reception hall, shots were waiting for us, the bar was open, the room was bathed in purple light and the incredible hors d’oeuvre table was waiting. Time to party.

My Aunt Jihan, MIL Hilda and me, feeling as good as we look.

IMG_3667

My FIL John was in his element. Surrounded by his cousins, brothers, sons and all of the ladies in the family. I’ve never met a person beside myself who truly enjoys a wedding like my FIL.

IMG_3678

The happy parents….Aunt Jacqueline and Uncle Mansour.

IMG_3680

The happy couple. Kifah and Fatene. The were absolutely glowing.

IMG_3682

Fadi delivered a perfectly funny and heartwarming speech to his older brother. Well played Fadi.

IMG_3693

And Uncle Mansour, who recently had a health scare, delivered a speech in Arabic that had everyone in the room crying. I’ve never wished I understood the language more.

IMG_3695

The love of a mother for her son.

IMG_3698

And the second the DJ says GO! the dance party begins. Everyone rushes the floor for their chance to dance with the bride and family.

IMG_3705

My FIL John is a fierce debke dancer. He loves to lead this traditional Arabic dance as often and as wildly as possible.

IMG_3709

John dancing with Fatene for the first time.

IMG_3714

And Michael’s first dance with Fatene.

IMG_3717

My loves, my aunt Sabah and her daughter, my cousin Talia. These two ladies mean so much to me and my girls. Though I think Talia and Michael have some big bro/little sis issues. 😉

IMG_3720

There are no pictures of me dancing because we were so busy enjoying ourselves. We ate and drank and laughed and visited. And then we drank and ate and danced some more. It was SO much fun. At some point we had danced and walked so much I made Michael go get my flat shoes, and normally I hate doing that, but it was that necessary to keep going.

I had not met the lovely bride before the day of the wedding so while I was so excited for the two of them to be getting married I really wanted a chance to talk with her. Her sister gave a heart wrenching speech about how they are physically separated and how guilty she felt for not being there to help her sister plan and prepare for her big day. When that speech was over I really wanted to welcome Fatene to our family and let her know that despite the miles she has many sisters now…all of the Mansour women, to be there for her where her family cannot be. She really opened up and said some lovely and sad things. I know that we will be quick friends when we get the chance to spend more time together. And I can’t wait for all of us cousins to raise our children together.

At around midnight we went back to retrieve the girls from the babysitter in the hotel room. And this is what we found. Three sleeping angels.

IMG_3723

The next day we went visiting at Jacqueline and Mansour’s. And there was food from the second we walked in to the second we left. Meat pies and zataar and labneh and tons of sweets and wedding cake. But more importantly we had more time to spend with our lovely family. And these little cousins got more time to play.

Cedella has such a deep affection for Izzat. They spent so much time together while he visited and she misses him now that he’s returned to Arizona. Thank god for Skype, right?

IMG_3725

Cedella (age 3.5) Mila (age 2) and Isora (age 1.5). They are the perfect age to grow up as the best of friends. God I wish we lived in the same country!!

IMG_3727

Their faces and their love for each other is priceless.

IMG_3740

Being goofy with their Jiddo as usual.

IMG_3736

Isora never met a calendar or photo album she didn’t love.

IMG_3745

Though it was truly a whirlwind weekend we had such a great time. The hospitality of Fadi and Diana and the entire family knows no bounds. It’s so amazing to have cousins that you love but that you get along with so well and enjoy as friends. Our visits are too few and far between. Can’t wait to see them at Thanksgiving!!