Let’s eat out!

A couple of weeks ago on a random Friday night we had no idea what to make for dinner and no motivation to make anything, which is also when we realized that we haven’t been out to eat with kids since before Phoebe was born.  We knew it could be risky making a last minute decision to go out for dinner after a long day at day care for the kiddos, but we figured if it we kept it close to home and stuck to “early-bird” hours we could keep it short and we wouldn’t have a long drive to or from home.

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Maybe a little surprisingly, it actually went really well.  Phoebe happily sat in her high chair and munched on a few snacks I brought for her since I wasn’t sure what the menu would be like (at her age it’s just easiest to have a pouch and some fruit and puffs in the bag). Enzo was a little squirmy, but was excited at first to be eating out.  Thankfully the restaurant wasn’t busy because it was only around 5:30 or 6:00, so we did get food fairly quickly.  We had a hard time getting Enzo to eat anything but fries, though. Can you blame him, though? We may have let Phoebe munch on one as well.  It’s true what they say about 2nd kids… I never would have given Enzo a fry at less than a year old, but now I’m like… whatever. One won’t kill her. 😉

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Thankfully both kids made it through the meal before they started getting squirmy and rambunctious.  Enzo got to a point where he did not want to sit still and started getting loud and tossing the cap to Phoebe’s pouch on the floor over and over as an excuse to get out of his booster.  I guess we can’t really blame him considering at home he sits at his own little table usually and (to our chagrin) is up and down and all over.  Next time we’ll be sure to bring him distractions… not that we go out all that often.  When you live as far away from everything as we do, it’s just so much easier to stay close to home. Definitely homebodies.

*** Also, I seriously need to work on my posture… completely unrelated, but I notice it more now that I’m trying to pay attention to my alignment.

The conundrum of melt-downs and tantrums

I would have to say that the hardest part of having a toddler is navigating the tricky slope of meltdowns and tantrums.  Things have actually been fairly good for a while.  We would have your random little meltdown that would generally end in a reasonable amount of time, and we could handle it.  We bought a book called ‘Calm Down Time‘ and even made Enzo a calm down place that he actually used… for a while.

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Every once in a while, though, we go through a stage where the tantrums and meltdowns are of epic proportions.  The last time this happened was when Josh was traveling for business and when he got back the intense tantrums started up and lasted for a few weeks.  It was exhausting for all of us and honestly?  We didn’t know what the best way to handle them was. We’ve tried so many suggestions and are still trying to find a method that shortens the outbursts, or better yet, stops them from happening.

The past weeks our beloved toddler has been a bit of a bear, and we’re not really sure what set it off. The only thing that has changed is that about a week ago he developed a canker sore in his mouth (who knew they could be hereditary??), which was really painful for him and he didn’t sleep well for probably 3 nights and didn’t nap well either.  He’d wake up crying a few times a night despite giving him Tylenol.  He was obviously grumpy, but the pain started getting better and he started sleeping better, so we figured things would be good.  Not so much.  My hernia surgery hasn’t affected life all that much.  I’ve been doing as much as I can with him and only pick him up if necessary (even though I shouldn’t be lifting him at all).  The only other thing we can think of is that Phoebe is becoming more mobile and that while he usually loves her and enjoys her, he’s experiencing some jealousy.

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I suppose it’s only natural, really.  He woke up happy as a lark this morning, but his attitude immediately changed when he realized that Phoebe was already in our room. We are beginning to realize that we may need to change how we do a few things. Because Phoebe is starting to move around more, she can be grabby and curious, but doesn’t understand sharing or otherwise, so we need to be more proactive about moving her instead of always expecting Enzo to move and making sure that we tell Phoebe to share as well if only so that Enzo sees that we aren’t playing favorites.  He’s also going to have to learn that some toys he needs to play with in his room and that if he she is somewhere first and he brings a toy next to her, she’s just going to grab it and we can’t always be there to referee.  Josh and I may have to start switching up the bedtime routine as well… so far I’ve been mostly handling Phoebe’s bath and bedtime (mostly because Enzo wanted Josh for so long), but I think I may need to ask him if he wants me.  Maybe he is jealous of me spending so much time with Phoebe and I never even realized it because we just got into a new routine.

It’s not easy being a toddler… or the parent of a toddler, for that matter.  If anyone has any great advice or references for toddler tantrums and jealousy, though… send them my way!

Again.

Ah, toddlers and repetition.  Whether it be movies, books, songs or games, they want to do them over and over and over again.  Surprisingly, it hasn’t bothered me as much as I would have thought. I’ve seen the same movies and shows more times than I count, and have several books pretty much memorized, but I’ve come to terms with it.

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Granted, there are some nights where you can only read the same book so many times in a row before you just want to hit your head against a wall. I get it, though, he enjoys it and is working on memorizing it and perhaps understanding it better.  There’s nothing more adorable than when you have him “read” a book to you.

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As far as movies go, we thankfully aren’t asked to watch ‘Frozen’ every single evening (not that we gave in every night… okay, almost). He’s got several films on rotation, and more recently has been enjoying ‘Tangled’ when we decide to let him watch some TV.  We’re cutting back because he gets really into it (hence the series of photos for this post).  He doesn’t always sit through an entire movie, but sometimes the level of intensity as he zones out is a bit much.

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Because he’s been getting up early, we’ve also gotten into a bad habit of letting him watch an episode of something in our bed while we try and get everything ready for the day.  For a while it was ‘Mickey Mouse Clubhouse’, sometimes ‘Daniel Tiger’, and now ‘Super Why!’  I kind of don’t mind all that much, though, because he fully interacts with ‘Super Why!’ and points out different letters, so at least he’s learning.  That’s what we tell ourselves anyway.

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Much to his dismay, though, we really are doing our best to cut back on TV time. He doesn’t watch more than the recommended amount for his age, but that also means that Phoebe ends up watching a lot more TV than we’d like since they hang out in the same areas. Sure, she’ll still play while the TV is on, but more often than not she finds the screen a little too fascinating.  The trick is just finding something terribly interesting to grab his attention so he doesn’t even ask for a movie.  So far we’ve discovered that surprise balloons work great, as does giving him his own purse (so that he stopped dragging mine around).  I’ll have to think of something creative for tonight, however…

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Definitely not crunchy, but chewy.

I’m not talking about peanut butter, but parenting. We don’t really classify ourselves as anything when it comes to parenting, but if we were, I think we’d fall into the “chewy” category since we’re kind of all over the place and really just do what is best for our family.  We had to use formula, we use disposable diapers, sometimes I make baby food, but often we buy organic baby food when we aren’t doing some form of BLW (baby led weaning). We have a couple of strollers, but also baby carriers because I like to wear Phoebe – it’s often easier and she usually enjoys it.  We vaccinate our kids who are in day care full-time, and while they have their own beds, they slept almost exclusively in ours for the first 6 months. So, I thought today we’d talk about bed-sharing and why we like it so much.

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A lot of parents do a form of co-sleeping with their babies for the first few month, most often in the form of a crib or bassinet in the same room, which is also what we started with in the beginning.  We actually bought a king-size bed when Enzo was small just so that it would be big enough for all 3 of us, which might sound strange to some people, but it has worked really well for us.  I think we started putting Enzo in our bed just because it was so much easier than the bassinet and he slept better.  Neither Josh or I move around a lot when we sleep so we never worried about squashing him by accident.  When he was 6 months old, we decided to move him to his own bed simply because he started moving around a lot and we weren’t sleeping well.  To this day, though, he sometimes ends up in our bed – whether it be due to not feeling well or having a bad dream… or whatever it may be.  The same with Phoebe as well.  For the most part she primarily sleeps in her crib, but on bad nights we just bring her into our room because it’s far less disruptive than having to get up and go check on her multiple times.

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The thing I love about bed-sharing (even though the kids aren’t there as often anymore) was/is that it’s great bonding time for us. Josh and I work full-time, so it was especially nice to have the kids close when they were babies. We’re also the kind of family that likes to just pile up in bed where it’s nice and comfy and all cuddle and watch a movie.  Even during the week, I’d often much rather just get comfy in bed to watch TV then to go downstairs and sit on the couch. I know some people consider their bedroom (and bed especially) to be their sacred private space, and I totally understand that… for me, that’s just kind of changed, though. I get ready for work in my bathroom, so it’s not uncommon for one or both of the kids to be in our room hanging out while I do that, and I really hope that never changes. I always want our kids to feel welcome to come and talk to us about anything and everything, and while I’m not against closed doors, I want ours to be as open as possible.  We’ll teach the kids to respect our space and each others’ space, but I hope we have a great many more snuggle fests in our big “family” bed for years to come.

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Now, in terms of safety – I really don’t bed-sharing is unsafe. As with anything, it can be done safely or unsafely, it’s just a matter of knowing how to do it the right way.  There are so many resources out there, and I encourage families to do what is right for them.

Short Weeks and Toddler Tales

You know what’s better than a long weekend?  Two long weekends in a row!  I do feel like I have a lot to catch up on now, though, since we didn’t spend the weekend at home.  We came home to what felt like a disaster area thanks to Hurricane Enzo passing through on Friday before we left.  I think he had made a goal of emptying every toy and book bin in the house before we left… and succeeded.  While cleaning in the evening is not my favorite thing, it’s got to be done, either that or we have to try and do it on the weekend and it seems to take twice as long when the kiddos are awake.

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Anyhoo, it was nice to get away for the weekend (I’ll write more about that later when I upload the pictures).  We over-packed because we didn’t know what to expect when we got to the cabin, but now we have a better idea for next time (when/if that occurs).  While a break in the routine is nice, I think we’re all glad to be home now.  Enzo was a little off this morning and at first didn’t want to leave the house and didn’t want to put his shoes on after not wanting to wake up, so I told Josh not to bother putting his shoes on, and that seemed to work.  I asked him if he wanted to walk to the car himself or be carried, and he said he wanted to be carried, and he let me put his shoes on in the car.  More and more often I think his tantrums are due to him feeling like he has no control over anything. While he is becoming more articulate every day, he still struggles to voice what is upsetting him, so it’s a matter of putting ourselves in his shoes and waiting for a break in the storm to tell him that we understand and to try and give him the words so he can tell us in the future what he’s feeling.  We also try to give him as many choices as we can.  Granted, he doesn’t always want to do any of those choices, so we do have those moments where we just have to let him be mad while staying firm.

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I’m trying to set up a corner in the house for “Quiet Time” rather than “Time Out” because I don’t want to punish him right now for having strong feelings and being frustrated because he can’t voice them. We do need a place to put him, though, when he starts to take those feelings out on us by pinching, hitting, kicking, spitting or screaming.  From what I’ve been reading he seems to have a lot of “Highly Sensitive” traits actually, which is perhaps something to get into another time. The biggest thing is creating more of a “Yes” environment so that Enzo isn’t being told “No” so often. We don’t mind his inquisitive nature and we both encourage a certain amount of tumbling and “daredevil” play, but I think we both have our days where we perhaps say “No” or “Be careful” or something similar way too often and he finds it stifling and is therefore more likely to get frustrated and feel like he has no control over his world. I’ve been personally trying to limit the “N” word unless really needed, in which case I figure out if I can permanently move or fix something so it is no longer a temptation, and I’m also trying to change the way I say things. If he’s playing with Phoebe, I don’t automatically say, “Be careful” but just watch his movements and jump in as needed. I don’t want to say things preemptively, assuming he’s going to be rough or otherwise.  Most importantly I try to think of how I’d feel if someone was constantly telling me how to act or what not to do. I’d get cranky and frustrated.

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The biggest thing is remembering that all 2 year olds go through highs and lows.  One day he may not want to listen to me and be a sassy little stinker and fight bedtime (and everything), but once we get settled down he’s often very sweet and will stroke my face while we read our bedtime stories, and will tell me he loves me.  The Two’s may be “terrible,” but they have some pretty wonderful moments too.