Saturday, June 30, 2012

List Time! Toddler Tips

Since T-bean’s latest stats from yesterday's 18-month doctor visit put him squarely in the “toddler” category (28.5 lbs, 33 inches tall!), it made me think about some of the parenting insights I've picked up during the past few months of dealing with an entirely different breed of child - the Toddler*. Of course, these only relate to my little man, so take and discount what you will. 
  1. TV isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I know, there’s probably many people out there who will completely disagree with this statement –and that’s ok. But I’ve found that after being active and playing hard all day with his friends at daycare (or with our neighborhood friends over the weekend) – T needs some downtime. I didn’t recognize this at first – and as he’s gotten older, he’s pushed back with a meltdown. So these days, when we get home at the end of the day, he climbs onto the couch and I turn on one of his favorite shows (I let him pick – usually Yo Gabba Gabba or Blue’s Clues) and he vegges out for a few minutes. Sometimes we sit together if he’s up for a snuggle – and sometimes he sits on the furthest end of the couch from me. But he sits, quietly. And he’s happy. And then he is content to get up, at his own pace and go to the stroller – because he’s had a few minutes to himself. And momma has decided a 24 minute episode isn’t going to kill him.  Besides, this week, he picked up the word “Adios” - so he’s actually learning a little in the process. 
  2. Saying good-bye to everything makes for a much easier transition.  This might be a T-specific trait, but I’ve learned he is MUCH more willing to change-up his current activity if we say good-bye to it. It’s actually pretty cute. We say goodbye to EVERYTHING in sight, from the people (“Adios, daddy”) to the dog (“bye bye puppy, woof woof”) to our beverage of choice (“bye bye milk”). We even say good-bye to the TV characters we veg out with above (“bye bye Blue’s Clues”) with a wave and a blown kiss. I take it back, it’s not just pretty cute- it’s completely adorable. (As an aside to this, he also now tells me EXACTLY when he’s ready to leave wherever we are, by pointing to the door, waving, saying “bye bye” and making a “vroom” sound to indicate he’s ready to get into the car….Transitioning? Yes…Polite? Not really.)
  3. Counting is key. Along the same lines as helping with transitions to routines - we count before doing many different things "We're going to count to 10 before getting out of the bath," "We're going to count to 5 and then it's time to have lunch," "I'm going to count to 10 before you can get out of the high chair." I kind-of sort-of picked up this idea from Happiest Toddler on the Block and made it work for us. And it really does. 
  4. Pick your Battles. I have to remind myself of this every single day. I like being in control. I like things going according to the plans I’ve laid out in my head. I know that this goes out the window the minute you have a child. I just have to remind myself of it each and every day – especially as he gets more independent and has his own opinions on how things should be done. Is it that big of a deal that he really wants to climb into the stroller to be wheeled literally across the street to our neighbor's house for playtime? If he insists, that is one battle I can easily let him win. 
  5. Don’t get attached to any one outfit or pair of shoes. Because it will get stained or lost. Just the other night on our walk, T managed to throw one of his Crocs out the side of his stroller. Despite re-walking the route, both the hubs and I driving the route, and a neighborhood message board post on the missing shoe – it seems to be gone forever. Kind of a pain, considering he has (had) 2 pairs of shoes that fit him at the moment and we’re not wearing pair #2 to the pool. But, such is life. At least he helps me feed my need for retail therapy, right?
  6. Smoothies rock. Everyone has been telling me this. I finally listened. Not sure what took me so long - but slurping that thick yummy goodness up through a straw results in quite a happy little man. I'll be using these from now on. 
  7. Let him do things on his own time sometimes. There are times when I let him control the situation. He climbs into his highchair himself. He'll grab my hand and pull me along to something he wants me to see or do. I don't take him out of his crib until he's ready (and literally tells me he's ready) - which might mean he asks for one book after another after naptime for a good 20 minutes, laying back down with each one to "read" it. I'm all about rules and boundaries, but giving him some things that he can be in control of seems like it makes him feel like that always-aspirational Big Boy.
  8. Let him help. I'm fully taking advantage of the time that he loves to help me with chores while I can. He still Swiffs regularly for me. I give him wet paper towels to "mop" the floor. He puts laundry in the basket. He feeds the dog (he's not as helpful with the cats - he likes to steal their food at the moment). It takes a little longer than if I were to do it myself, but who cares. We high-five after each chore he helps with. I'm totally in the process of creating and training the most helpful future-husband in history. Toddler girls (and future daughter-in-law) rejoice. It rocks making a little boy helpful. (It just better last!) 
I know my tips and tricks will change weekly - but so far, these are the things that seem to be working for me!

Helping mommy store out-of-season clothes

*Honestly, I think that despite the tantrums - this is the most fun age yet! Have I said that at every age? Probably...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Toddler Double Date

Last night, a friend and I ventured onto uncertain ground in the world of toddlers….A sort-of close-to-bedtime dinner date with our kiddos.

How an event like this will turn out, one can never be sure. T has most certainly arrived at his Terrible Two’s. The post-daycare hour is usually when he decidedly needs his down-time, either in the stroller or more recently in this 110 degree heat, watching Blue’s Clues on repeat from the couch. Don’t judge me. If you wanted to avoid a tantrum for no apparent reason other than it’s 5:30 in the afternoon and your kid feels like throwing himself on the ground in a fit of tears and screams, you might just do the same thing.

Anyway, both of our hubbies were out of town for work and I was in the mood for some girl time. So we decided to risk it.

Outcome = success!

How, you ask? The stars magically aligned.

  1. No traffic  in either direction. That never happens. Both of us arrived early, which, in the world of kiddie dates is both unheard of and fabulous.
  2. T actually had fun in the car. We passed a few trucks and a random school bus on the road. He caught on to all the farm animal noises on “Luby Loo” on my iPod and played along. That I’m squeaking like a mouse and meowing like a cat in my head because we heard it on repeat, over and over? No biggie.
  3. He let me pass off a few of his pre-dinner Goldfish to his buddy without too much of a stink. Sharing is hard, yo, and he made momma proud.
  4. He didn’t set the place on fire with our ambiance-creating candle – why they would put a candle down on a table of toddlers after we sat down, I don’t know… (but my friend gets a thumbs up for her good save)
  5. Last but not least – the kiddos both had fun! Together! T was enamored by his slightly older friend and both showed off their table “manners.” Well sort-of…They managed to both last in their high chairs for the entire dinner and Tyler didn’t trip anyone when he threw his sippy across the floor, so I think that counts for A+ behavior for the night! 

I actually drove home thinking "I can do this again..." Now THAT is success!

Toddler double date!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cool Thingamajiggy

So I recently bought a fun little gadget for the stroller.

I love to take T on walks every day after work -- it's my combination "me time," "T time," and "pathetic-excuse-for-exercise time." However, since I live in Texas, I've learned that it gets to be 100+ degrees pretty much from the first day of spring. Last year I packed T in the stroller the same way I'd pack a cooler, surrounded by those lunch-pack icepacks.

This year hasn't been as brutal as last year (yet), thank goodness, but I'm trying to be a little more prepared for the heat. So I found this random gadget online. It's called the Stroll-n-Cool. Apparently, if it does what it's supposed to do it keeps T's body heat down by absorbing his body temperature. The technical-ness of this little mat is a bit over my head and I don't really get it, but so far, I'm super happy with the results*.

I've done some side-by-side comparisons between T and his stroller buddy, post-walk - and T seems visibly less sweaty and flushed. And T is QUITE the sweaty-pants, so us finishing a walk in the 5:30pm heat and sun -- if he's not bright red and dripping, well, something is working right.  

Possibly the discovery of the year?

It fits really easily in the stroller - pretty cool....literally!

*Seriously, I think I want to invest in this company -- the idea rocks.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Road trip

Now that our therapy-inducing Christmas "vacation" has ever-so-slightly faded from my memory (okay, not really) it's time for our summer torturefest vacation.  This time instead of spending 30 hours on a plane with a toddler, we've decided to spend them in the car and throw the dog into the mix to add to the fun and because his breath will surely keep us from passing out behind the wheel.  Of course I haven't packed a thing and this is where taking the car is sort of a bad thing because it will make me think I can bring everything we might possibly "need" and the hubs will pack/re-pack the car 10 times while yelling that it's my fault if we're so weighted down we get 5 miles to the gallon and go broke before we even make it to Alabama.

Our first stop is North Carolina, for a week with the in-laws.  I was hoping this would mean some relaxing pool time as well as a little shopping at Nordstrom Rack but those hopes were dashed 2 days ago when my mother-in-law emailed me the first part of our agenda for the week.  I should have seen this coming because she has a history of surprising us with bizarre events when we visit.  Surprise being the key word here.  Several years ago she told us we were going out to brunch as a family, only for a realtor to show up who then took the hubs and I on a house-hunting expedition in Durham in case, you know, we might ever want to move there permanently down the road.  That same trip a random guy showed up at the house one day and my mother-in-law acted like an old friend of hers had just dropped by for a chat.  He turned out to be a career counselor who she had arranged to come over and counsel me on my lack-luster career and how it would surely flourish if we were to, say, move to North Carolina.  Hmm, do we see a pattern here?  Needless to say I'm already nervous about the "picnic" she's arranged 2 days after we get there.  Perhaps it will be a pre-school recruiter who will sell us on the fabulous-ness of the North Carolina school system.  I think I'll volunteer to bring the wine and chug a bottle behind a tree before that little shindig gets into full swing.

Anyway, this trip includes my brother's wedding which I mentioned a few months back when I couldn't figure out what to wear.  I didn't have any great epiphanies (or win the lottery)  in the meantime but did settle on this Marc by Marc Jacobs dress that miraculously went on sale and I was able to have altered for EIGHT DOLLARS (um, awesome):

And that peplum waist detail actually helps hide the mummy tummy - score.  I paired the dress with these shoes (thanks to Vickie's stylish input of course :)

I'm also wearing this Anthro dress to the rehearsal dinner, which I scored on eBay after some serious stalking:

Audrey is wearing a Janie & Jack dress and hairbow with some white Target dress shoes:

After the wedding we head up to Delaware for some *hopefully* relaxing beach time with my parents.  This will be at the expense of my mom spoiling Audrey rotten, leading to 2 weeks of tantrum-throwing when we get home and Audrey realizes that she isn't, in fact, THE BOSS and yes, time out does exist again.  But we've been down this road before.     

So, if you happen to be driving east over the next two weeks and hear some commotion coming from an SUV in the lane next to you, don't judge.  Just roll down the window and throw me a few of those mini liquor bottles, will ya?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fishing trip = success

Every year we go on at least one fishing trip with the Hubs’ family. He loves to fish. His stepdad loves to fish. His mom likes to tease them about not catching any fish. I just like being by the water.

The place we’ve been to for the past few years got to be a struggle as T entered the picture. Last year he was pulling up on everything and doing the furniture-holding-walk when we went – and the place we stayed was not geared at all for babies learning to stand. It was also in an area completely oriented for fishermen, which meant that it was a great place for the hubs to stand on a pier and catch fish on all night long (unless it was windy, or calm, or rainy….or any other weather conditions that made fish “not bite”) but not so hot for me to hang out with a child all day long in because there was nothing to do in the entire area but sit in the house or visit the one bar in town where no one had any teeth. No joke. Not exactly a baby-friendly location.

This year we decided to try Rockport. It gets a thumbs up from this mom! The hubs didn’t catch all that much from our dock (but did well enough with a fishing guide to head home happy) but I was completely satisfied with the trip from every other standpoint.

There is a little mile-long beach there that is absolutely toddler-perfect. First, because it’s not actually on the Gulf of Mexico, there were no waves. While this East Coast girl likes waves in theory, in practice, with a 17 month old, I was completely happy that there were none knocking him around. Even better, the water actually stays really shallow for an insanely long stretch.  So T could actually “frolic” in the “surf” and run out into the water (Yes, the child has no fear of water) without me having to worry about him being swept away to sea. The beach had several playgrounds that were toddler-sized, which I thought he’d get a kick out of  - but he was too busy chasing the seagulls with graham crackers to even notice there were climbable things in front of him.

My child - beach bum and future fisherman extraordinaire

Oh, and there was an ice cream shop. A win-win for T AND me.

We didn’t do much else since he played so hard at the beach that his nap times stretched into eternity. But it was a successful enough trip for me to want to go back (and bring some of T’s toddler friends!) so that’s good enough for me!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mommy & Me Photoshoot (and Living Social sucks)

Audrey and I did a little "Mommy & Me" photoshoot about 2 weeks ago and it was sadly a total FAIL.  I wanted to get some cute shots of just the two of us since we have hardly any and I'm not counting all those disgusting cringe-worthy post-birth ones that the hubs posted on Facebook without my knowledge for the whole world to see which I discovered about 3 months after the fact.  Awesome.

Anyway, I got a $10 Groupon for one of those mall studio places and it was horrible.  We've gone the mall route before and it's been fine but the photographer at this place was clueless and Audrey wasn't exactly on her best behavior either.  The photographer kept giving her very specific instructions like, "now sit down and cross your legs at the ankle," apparently not realizing that 21-month olds barely speak English, let alone follow directions of any sort.  She also kept calling Audrey "lil' mama" which was just weird.  For her part, Audrey did a lot of screaming, running around, and spinning herself dizzy until she almost puked on the backdrop so we called it a day.  Here are the whopping FOUR pictures we ended up with:


And only one of those was included in the Groupon so I had to shell out more money to get the other 3.  Oh, and the reason I wrote that Living Social sucks is because this whole thing came about because of a botched Living Social deal I got back in January.  It was my first Living Social purchase and I forked over fairly big bucks for a 1-hour outdoor photoshoot one-on-one with a photographer that included a DVD of all the images.  Sounds great, right?  Fastforward to April after I spent 2 months trying to get said photographer to return my phone calls and emails so that I could book the shoot and I finally complained to Living Social.  Not only were they zero help in getting the issue resolved, they told me only the photographer himself could refund my money (um, okay, because he won't even answer his phone...) and after much back and forth they finally agreed only to give me a credit toward future Living Social purchases.  Because, you know, I can't wait to go buy more Living Social deals after this awesome experience.  So I'm still out the money and I never got the photoshoot I pre-paid.  Anyway, this $10 Groupon was my sad consolation prize to myself for the photoshoot that never was, sniffle, sniffle. 

On a brighter note, after not having a camera for nearly a year I think we're finally getting one of those nice, semi-fancy big black tourist-y ones this week.  It's used, but I'm still excited.  Now let's hope I'm not too dumb to figure the thing out :P

Saturday, June 2, 2012

It's so quiet

I keep thinking I am hearing T make noise on the monitor. But I'm not -- because my house is completely quiet.

The hubs packed up T mid-day on Friday and they headed on a roadtrip down to Grandma & Pop-Pop's house. For the whole weekend. Chris had Texas sounding things to do like set up deer blinds, shoot guns, and hang on his family's ranch property, which is a couple of hours down the road. So, he brought T with him so that T could have some quality time with his parents.

I've been by myself since I got home from work last night. That is more than 24 hours of solitude as we speak. Really.

Aside from the fact that I keep startling myself to the present by freaking out thinking I've forgotten T somewhere (Like the car! I have a crazy, unnatural fear of doing this), left the house without him, or hear phantom crying on the non-existent monitor - it's been amazing.

I realized that this is the first time that I've been BY MYSELF overnight since before T was born. Now, yes, I've been on my trips to NY and DC which I guess kind of count, but I don't count them because well, I was staying with friends, so I wasn't technically alone. I am totally, completely, and heavenly alone.  I think I'm going to sleep in the middle of the bed tonight. And make myself stay in it until at least 9am tomorrow. Remember those days, when 9am was early?!

Not to say I don't miss the kiddo or the hubs. I do. But the's nice.

And yea, quality me-time here doesn't suck!