Crash, already!

I’m honestly amazed by seeing posts from my friends on Facebook that go something like this:

  • “[adorable little boy] was so tired he couldn’t make it to bed before he zonked out.” followed by a pic of him passed out on the floor next to bed/couch/etc.
  • “[sweet little girl] is a little sleepy at lunch today.” followed by a pic of her sleeping in her high chair.

I don’t get it. My kids run (or crawl) until they are forced to do otherwise. Which partially makes me sad because they are just so darn cute (and quiet!) when they’re asleep. See?

During the day it’s play, play, play until they are forced down for nap. At night, if it were allowed, bedtime would be 10pm or later. Tired or not, they just don’t quit. Collin starts rubbing his eyes, falling over, tripping over toys… Brendan rubs his eyes, grabs anything fluffy he can find and sucks his thumb… But neither of them will let it go.

Guess for now I’ll just enjoy every minute spent playing and bask in the quiet when they go to bed at night.

Today’s link:
The National Association of School Psychologists has a wealth of resources on their website, including this page on motivating young learners.

Not the baby.

It used to be whenever we were out in public people would go gaa-gaa over Collin (no pun intended). With his amazingly long, dark eyelashes, and beautiful smile, he caught attention wherever we went. Often we’d be stopped 2, 3, 4 times in one shopping trip (granted that was a 3 hour span, but that’s beside the point). Lately, though, I’ve noticed a shift.

Our most common comments are “wow, you’ve got your hands full!” Yeah, tell us about it. We’ve started getting a few “are they twins?” here and there, but while Brendan is only about 5 lbs. behind his “big” brother, he’s still lacking in the vertical department.

Brendan. Squishable.

Brendan. Squishable.

The most shocking change has been the jump in the number of people noticing and complimenting Brendan. Some don’t even make mention of the adorable nearly two-year-old in the cart nearby, just the baby. After being stopped two or three times in one trip (flashback!) I started getting irritated. Not that people commented on Brendan, but that they *didn’t* comment on Collin.

So that got me thinking… Why am I teed off about which kid people think is cuter? I haven’t come around to a solution, yet, but I think it comes down to this: Collin is growing up. People go crazy over a squishable, snuggly baby… But a toddler talking constantly and making “vroom” noises in his Lightning McQueen shirt doesn’t have that same appeal to many people.

Me? I’ll play cars with Collin and snuggle with Brendan. Because in a year or so he won’t be a baby anymore either.

Today’s link:
Halloween is the perfect time to get little ones involved in fun crafts. Kaboose has a ton of craft ideas for little hands (with help, of course), like the Faux Stained Glass Pumpkin and the Paper Plate Ghost.

Jelly bean!

Collin being cute, as usual

This! This face is why he gets anything he wants. Well, almost.

Potty training is an adventure. Perpetuated by bribes, over-the-top praise, and way too much excitement over a bodily function. Collin has been potty training off and on since about 16 months of age. We started originally just to get him used to it so he didn’t freak out when he came to the realization later that he wasn’t supposed to warm up his pants.

So many parents are very much anti-food-rewards for potty training, but I figure, if that’s what it takes to get him excited to do his business like a big boy, that’s what I’m going to do. So Collin’s vice is jelly beans. He’s just shy of 2 years old, so it still takes him a good minute or so to chew one up and eat it, so it’s a perfect treat for him.

Lately, Collin’s been hiding when he has to go to the bathroom, so we have been trying to be more diligent in getting him trained. Last night I put him on his potty chair (which looks like a frog, by the way) and he went, so I played the overjoyed mom, giving him a high five and a hug, and of course, a jelly bean. Later on he ran over to his chair and said “go potty” so we got him stripped down and sat down, and he went. Just a little bit. He then stood up excitedly and said “Jelly bean!”

While it wasn’t a “full” potty, he got a jelly bean anyway, just to keep his motivation up. After eating his jelly bean, he sat down on the potty again, and went. Just a little bit more. He stood up and said “Jelly bean!” And yeah, I gave him one more.

And here I thought I was training him…

Today’s link:
Heart on your Wrist is a custom jewelry artisan that I’ve recently discovered (and fallen in love with!) Check out this amazing grandmother’s pendant. I think I know what Collin and Brendan will be giving Grandma for Christmas this year! [Link]

Image Adjustment

I had a reality check the other day… Since having both babies one after the next, you may imagine I’m not in prime shape anymore. Of course, I was no athlete prior to having children, but was at least one dress size lower than I am currently.

Anyway, as I mentioned in a previous post, I began my motherhood journey at around 190 lbs. That turned into 240 by the time I had Collin, and quickly retreated to around 205 after he was born. So began round two, bringing me back up to 240. I was at about 260, but due to a horrible stomach virus 3 days before my c-section, I lost nearly 20 lbs. in the span of a couple days. Less weight fell off of me this time, and while I’ve lost about 13 lbs. in the past couple months, since becoming conscious of my diet, I’m stuck in holding at 207.5 lbs.

Me, about 6 months after Brendan was born. Not bad, but I can do better.

Me, about 6 months after Brendan was born. Not bad, but I can do better.

I keep telling myself that I need to lose that last 20 lbs. I had hoped to have it completed by my birthday, which is now just a month away. So… that probably isn’t going to happen. I tell myself every night that I’m going to get up in the morning and go for a walk/jog before work. But when the alarm goes off I just hit “snooze” until it’s too late to do anything but shower and run out the door. And I keep waiting to have one of those “enough is enough” moments where I just go crazy and start exercising like a madwoman, but it doesn’t happen. Am I just lazy? Or distracted by everything else that goes on in a day?

I have been doing my best to eat better… Eating less than normal at mealtimes, choosing better snacks for myself, and cutting out sugared drinks. I park farther away from doors at the store when I don’t have kids to carry, I do arm presses with Brendan above my head. I walk to work when the weather is suitable. But I just can’t seem to get over that plateau without some hardcore dedication.

While the weight bothers me, I’ve found that getting myself a new wardrobe has greatly improved my level of esteem (since I’d been in maternity clothes for 2 years, it was necessary anyway). It sounds pretty sad, but having clothes that fit nicely and are more of the style I like rather than exclusively the style that’s on clearance has helped improve how I see myself, even with the extra pounds.

I know my kids will love me either way. Collin gives me hugs and says “Momma pretty.” My fiance adores me just the way I am and tells me so frequently. So why do I feel the nagging need to do something I know I’ll hate? For me. I’ve got to do this for me.

Today’s link:
After hearing the tragic news of a toddler drowning recently in Duluth, I felt the need to remind all the parents out there that nobody should be responsible for protecting our kids but us. Discovery Health compiled this top 10 list of health safety tips for kids. Check it out, and make sure to love on your kids today.

10 Things in My Diaper Bag…

My kids, unlike many others, haven’t really had a need for a diaper bag on a regular basis. They go to grandma’s house for ‘daycare’ when they’re not at home, and we’ve never needed an emergency diaper or change of clothes while shopping… So except for the occasional date night when we take them to a sitter’s house, we really don’t use the diaper bag much. But when we do, I make sure it’s stocked to the brim with useful stuff. Here’s my top 10 list:

  1. Diapers and wipes (duh!). A necessary evil. Mine is especially full since I have two different sizes for the kiddos (until Brendan gains a couple more pounds that is. He’s catching up to Collin quickly).
  2. Changes of clothing. I keep a pair of pants, one short sleeved shirt, one long sleeved shirt, a pair of socks, and a stocking cap on hand for each of the boys, no matter the season. Because it doesn’t get much use, I constantly have to remind myself to check the sizes and be certain they haven’t outgrown them in the meantime! If you have multiple kiddos in different sizes, throw the clothing into gallon size Ziploc bags labeled with their name. We do this to keep diapers separate, as well.
  3. Hand and face wipes. These are amazingly handy, especially when at a restaurant or in the car. We buy Wet Ones antibacterial hand and face wipes. They double as restaurant table wipes for finger-food eaters and cart wipes, or hand sanitizing wipes for mom or dad after a diaper change on the go. Plus, while it says “citrus,” they smell like pina colada. Yum.
  4. Books. These are a must have for any bookworm like Collin. Also useful for itty bitties in the car, prop them up at the foot of their car seat carrier so they have something interesting to look at.
  5. Food & utensils. I always keep a couple containers of baby food for Brendan, and a can of chili, soup or other food for Collin that falls under the category “should be heated but can eat as-is in a pinch.” Make sure cans have a pull-top lid on them so you don’t have to cart around a can opener. Would be useful in an emergency or one of those unforeseen circumstances when you get stuck away from home. We also keep a spoon on hand for each of the kiddos, and a bib for Brendan.
  6. Pre-made formula packets. While these are expensive to buy, they’re thrifty to make.Simply take the snack size Ziploc bags and portion out formula into them, making sure to write on each baggie how much water they should be mixed with. Also, if you are caught in Walmart mixing up a bottle of your home-packaged formula, you’ll never get accused of stealing it.
  7. Bottled water. Useful when you’re in the car or away from home, with no water fountain in sight and an angry, thirsty baby or toddler. We also keep an empty sippy cup and bottle in there for quick filling.

    Not amused.

    Not amused.

  8. TOYS. Restaurant, sitter’s house, or in the car, kids fall easily into the “bored” zone. Whether they’re 6 months, 6 years or 16… Have something on hand to keep them entertained.
  9. Toiletries. We have a small zippered makeup bag with mini shampoo & baby wash, baby powder, a comb, a spare toothbrush/toothpaste, nail clippers, thermometer, orajel teething gel and infant tylenol… Just in case. If I didn’t carry it in my purse at all times, I’d also have a small bottle of hand sanitizer and chap stick in there for mom and dad. Also included is a small card with our nurse’s phone number.
  10. Blanket. Whether you’re on the go with a sleepy kiddo or at the doctor’s office with a naked toddler, a blanket is a must. We have a special one that rarely leaves the diaper bag.

So for those of you who don’t already have a diaper bag stocked full of goodies, I hope this helps a little. I was terribly unprepared as a new parent, and left Collin’s two week doctor’s appointment with a naked baby wrapped in my coat because he had soaked through 2 changes of clothes and 2 diapers, and we didn’t have a blanket along… Something I wouldn’t wish on anyone!

Today’s link:
With even northern states hitting 90+ degrees pretty consistently lately, sunscreen has been a must. That’s number 11 in my diaper bag! Check out this list of top sunscreens from the bloggers at Babble. While my sunscreen of choice isn’t on the list, I love it just the same.

The food game

I’ve been told that babies and toddlers go through phases where they eat a lot, and phases where you fear for their starvation. Collin’s been going through the former. Here’s his menu from the other day:

  • 1 Banana
  • 1/2c Cheerios
  • 8 oz. Milk
  • 8 oz. Water w/Juice
  • 2 Chicken Strips
  • 1/4c Mashed Potatoes
  • 1/4c Mixed Vegetables
  • 8 oz. Milk
  • 1 Hot Dog
  • 4 Crab Cakes
  • 1 Fun-Size Chocolate Bar (his reward for potty training)
  • 1 Container Applesauce
  • 1/2c Goldfish Crackers
  • 1c Spaghetti w/Meat
  • 8 oz. Milk
  • 8 oz. Fruit Squeeze
  • 2 oz. Water before bed
Crazy Barbecue Sauce Hair

Crazy Barbecue Sauce Hair!!!!

…I would like to know what, proportionally, that would come out to be for an adult. I imagine feeling quite sick, but he wolfs his food down like a champ and goes back to playing. While he’s always been a good eater (read: not picky), he’s never eaten in such large quantities as he has recently. Hoping he’s in a growth spurt and that this isn’t a trend that continues. Between the two little food-monsters, a 12-year-old and a grown man, we’ll be in the poor house in no time. Time to stock the freezer!

Today’s link:
Since we’re on the subject of food, how about something totally random… But totally cute! Pics of babies and pets [playfully] eating each other.

Life Moves So Fast…

A couple short years ago, my friends were having kids and I thought they were crazy. My relatives always talked about how life seems to move faster once you have kids… You blink and they’re 5, blink again and they’re graduating, then all of a sudden they’re married and you’re a grandparent. Yeah, right.

As in “Yeah…. They were right.”

Collin, the comedian

Collin, the comedian

Collin, at 18 months old, has turned into a running, talking machine, picking up everything we say, and then some. He’s put together thoughts like “raining, cloud, sky” just from conversations we have with him. He’s potty training (and it’s going well), HOORAY! He has his own set of likes and dislikes, wants and needs, and he’s become his own person. A silly, very smart little boy. He knows when he needs a nap, and can climb stairs by himself. He knows shapes. Colors. Animals. Sounds. He’s a joy.

Brendan, serious and sweet

Brendan, serious and sweet

Brendan is now 7 months old and starting to crawl, he eats solid foods (loves squash, pears and bananas), and is starting to lose his baby chub. He squeals when he’s happy, screams when he’s mad (sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference), and now sleeps in his own room. He loves to snuggle, and greets us each time he’s picked up with a big slobbery kiss. He is very much a mama’s boy and squirms away from whoever’s got him when I come around.

Life moves fast. And sometimes, it’s hard to keep up. So please forgive me for being away from this blog for quite some time. I’ve been lovin’ on my kids, and enjoying every minute of it.

Today’s link:
Whoever came up with this needs a medal. 40 Ways to Entertain your Kids while Laying Down. SO glad a friend posted this on Pinterest. I mean really… We all get tired, sick, have surgery, or SOME circumstance that makes us just want to crash. This helps!

If you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, please do! My boards have been filling up with wedding planning stuff (okay, so that’s mostly it), DIY cleaning products/tips and a few hair/makeup tips. Click Here to see my boards.

Great moments

Today I’ve decided to re-use the column I wrote for today’s newspaper. While it doesn’t have much to do with kids directly, it may provide some food for thought. Enjoy, and as always please feel free to leave feedback in the comments section. See the original here.

Every choice you make today has an impact on the life you wake up to tomorrow. This sounds like common sense, but how often do you think about the choices you don’t make? Indifference. Walking past the woman who drops her groceries, because you just don’t have time. Pocketing the $10 bill you see fall from an old man’s wallet, because he should have been more watchful. We’ve all been in scenarios like this at some point in time. A missed opportunity for something great.

I recently read an account of a Minneapolis-born cab driver named Kent Nerburn whose life was changed by one passenger. He arrived at the location of the call, which came in the middle of the night. Expecting a party-goer or someone headed to an early morning job, he honked. No one came out, so he approached the home and knocked on the door. A frail-looking elderly woman appeared, moving slowly from her disassembled living quarters. She asked kindly for him to take the long way to her destination, a hospice facility. She was in no hurry.

Nerburn spent the next few hours touring the streets of town at her instruction, pausing in front of several buildings that held special meaning to her from a time long past and covered in dust. When they finally came to rest at her destination, he wouldn’t accept payment for what was essentially the last, and most meaningful, trip of her life.

In his book, Make me an Instrument of Your Peace, Nerburn reflects on the event. “What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? What if I had been in a foul mood and had refused to engage the woman in conversation? How many other moments like that had I missed or failed to grasp? We are so conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unawares … It was possible to believe that I had been placed on earth for the sole purpose of providing her with that last ride. I do not think that I have ever done anything in my life that was any more important.”

His decision, a seemingly simple choice to extend kindness to a stranger, changed his life.

Random Acts of Kindness Week is long past, but who’s to say we can’t do extraordinary things in our everyday lives? What could be gained by all of us choosing to do at least one unanswered deed each and every day? Scraping ice from the windows of someone’s vehicle, holding the door for a stranger, or paying for someone’s meal, and asking for nothing in return.

A friend of mine witnessed the power of “paying it forward” during her shift at a local restaurant. One restaurant patron paid for another’s meal. That person, not having to pay for their own, paid for someone else’s meal, and so on throughout the day. One act of kindness spurred several others to strive for good, when just as easily one person’s indifferent attitude could have ended that chain. In some small way all of those involved, be they participants or bystanders, were impacted by good.

How could our world be transformed if we all vowed to embrace that mindset? The choices we make may seem small to us, but the impact they have on others may be beyond anything we could expect. Think back to the man whose $10 bill is now in your pocket. What if that was all he had?

Even if it’s a small gesture, do something great today.

Growing and growing and growing…

A startled Brendan in his cute new (very accurate) shirt

A startled Brendan in his cute new (very accurate) shirt

We had the boys’ well-check a couple of weeks ago, and everything looks good. Both boys fall in the 90–95th percentile for height. Collin tips the scales at just over 23 lbs. (40th percentile), and Brendan is not far behind at 17.5 lbs. (95th percentile). This striking comparison between our 15 month old and our 4 month old has led us to the nicknames “Chubbers” and “Slim” (I’ll let you figure out who’s who).

Brendan’s umbilical hernia is nearly gone, and while one of his pupils is noticeably larger than the other, his vision appears to be normal. Collin’s got a small wart on his thumb (poor kiddo) but other than that is in great shape both physically and developmentally.

The boys have been getting all sorts of goodies as I’m now able to hit garage sales again (yay!). My best finds so far:

I love, love, love finding a good deal. Now if only I could stop buying them clothes… With the totes already overfull, I think we’re set for a year or so!

Today’s link:
For you crafty folks out there, check out this quick and easy quilt idea (well, as quick and easy as a quilt can get anyway). Someday when I’m more confident with my sewing machine you can bet there’ll be one of these in each of my boy’s rooms. Enjoy!

[Un]Happy Camper

We’ve had a bit of a role reversal the past week or so… Brendan is now our happy child, and Collin the cranky one. Our older boy, while usually happy-go-lucky, silly and sweet, has been riddled with issues lately from a growth spurt and massive teething troubles 2 molars at once), a mystery rash and some leg pains.

Collin sleeping on a Sunday afternoon drive

Collin sleeping on a Sunday afternoon drive

Needless to say, he’s not the happy kid we know. We just hope that he is able to overcome all of his aches and pains and get back to being himself.

On the other hand, Brendan’s chiropractic treatments have seemed to do him some good. Poor little man got a nasty case of constipation when we switched him from breastmilk to formula, but he seems to be doing better now, a couple of weeks later. He’s started a bit on solid foods (about 1 tsp. a day), and is managing to keep down most of it, though he still spits up quite frequently.

Brendan is growing VERY fast, weighing in at about 19 lbs. from my (semi-accurate) home scale. This puts him at about 4–5 lbs. below his older, taller brother. His umbilical hernia has nearly vanished, leaving him with a mostly normal-looking belly button despite some discoloration. So hopefully we won’t be looking at surgery to repair the injury. It feels great to have our biggest worry about him dissipate like that!

Both of the boys have their checkups next week, so I’ll have more news after that, I’m sure. Have a wonderful weekend, all!

Today’s link:
A friend of mine pinned this link on Pinterest, and I couldn’t help but share. I put together some sensory bottles for Collin, but this is a new spin. Enjoy! DIY Sensory Bag for Babies.