Thursday, August 28, 2014

Today's Jog with Naughty Benjamin Bunny

I always love it when I post a cute picture of Benjamin being awesome on Instagram and then he turns into a psychopath within minutes of that post.

The toddler tantrum/psychosis doesn't come out daily and we've had many more good days than bad days lately, but MAN. He can be a real freak of nature.

I've been trying to get my butt in gear lately and get out for some exercise during the warm months weeks we have left of this year. We usually leave a bit after nap and I get the kids in the jogger with snacks and we're on our way. Sometimes I jog around our neighborhood, or to the playhouse about 1.5 miles down the road. If not to the playhouse, I often end the jog with a park visit (which is often my argument to get Benjamin into the stroller for any length of time).

Just after nap today, we were headed downstairs and planned to grab a snack and get on our way. We drive by this park with green slides on our way to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Benjamin is always requesting a visit to this park. I checked the weather report and thought today would be a perfect day to stroll on over.

It's actually only .6 miles from our house, but across a busy road. I mapped out a route around the neighborhood on the other side of that busy street and would end my jog at the park-with-the-green-slide. He was on board. Claire was strapped in and we were ready to scoot.

Then I got out my new shoes. He wanted to put them on and proceeded to take off his own shoes. I told him he could not. Cue the meltdown. Crisis averted with Wheat Thins. I stuck them in a container and tried to lure him into the stroller with those and a pack of fruit snacks. It worked.

Then I broke out the sunscreen. "No sunscreen." Too bad Mama will win this argument. But joke's on me if I think I'm winning, because it spurred the rest of the meltdown.

That lasted the entire 2.2 miles of my jog around the neighborhood. I rarely strap him in because he's two-and-a-half and likes to get out every once in awhile to hit the street-crossing buttons and such. And really, he's two-and-a-half. Can't he just stay in his flipping chair? Yes, yes he can.

I decided to carry on with my jog regardless of his psychosis, because honestly. Mama needed the detox. And also, he's not allowed to win by staying home like he was screaming during his tirade. He briefly braked from his insanity to hit the button to cross the street, but wanted nothing to do with me putting him back in the stroller when the walk signal appeared. Instead, he sprawled across the front of the double BOB, hanging his legs over the end and screaming random things about the park and home and strollers and being overall angry baby toddler.

One family was in their driveway as I yelled, "He's two!" She replied, "We heard you coming." Another woman was getting soccer gear out of the car in her driveway and said, "It looks like he's falling off the stroller." I replied back that he was not, but thanked her for her input on my parenting choices. I was watching him the entire time and he did not fall off or even come close. Two-year-olds can be a special breed of mankind. He was eventually strapped in against his will, but that seemed to fuel the fire even more. When we got home, this mama had another detox by giving this naughty boy some alone time in his room (to which he played happily) so I could have a few minutes of sanity.

I'm pretty sure I won't be taking a jog through that neighborhood anytime soon. They'd probably remember me and send a note into authorities for investigation because omg, that mom jogs with her son while he's throwing a tantrum and being unreasonable.

The good news about a toddler throwing a tantrum and strangers giving you the stink eye while you're jogging? You jog faster.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Baby Food and Boob Talk

We're in it. Just like that. I was pregnant and then had a baby. Yeah, it was totally that easy. All of a sudden, she turned 6 months old. And then 7 months. Sound the trumpets, people. It's been amazing and then some. I could cry just thinking about how grateful I am that we barely made it to alive and now we're here thriving (and growing some delicious thunder thighs).

Claire is still breastfeeding these days, but it's sort of like trying to feed a wild monkey who is juggling bananas. If a single flash of light is seen, a word spoken, or a movement heard, she's pulling away to check out what is happening. My milk has been sprayed in more public places than I'd like to admit. With Benjamin, I was much more discreet about my nursing. I even used a cover. Now, I'm lucky to get her fed and manage the toddler at the same time at all, cover or Boppy pillow or {insert fancy breastfeeding item here}. I'm lucky to get 5 minutes total of feeding her, so I still try to manage every 2 hours during the day just to curb dehydration. Her diapers tell me all is fine and the scale does not disappoint either. Hello almost 17lbs. She's nearly to Benjamin's 12-month weight! She's a stellar and chill breastfeeder at one time only: in the middle of the night. Thankfully, that only happens about once a night these days, about 8hrs after she goes down to bed, happily and smiley. And last night, I got a real treat of sleeping until 7:15 this morning without ever waking to feed.

Benjamin continues to be the most annoying person ever when I politely ask him to be quiet and whisper when Claire is feeding. Because honestly kid! For. The. Love. Claire would rather see what you're doing and watch you rather than drink milk these days. Which totally makes for fun times and me locking myself into the bathroom just to quietly breastfeed (of which always fails because NEW SCENERY! MUST LOOK AROUND!). He absolutely knows he's being bothersome because he speaks nonsense or says things repeatedly like "Hi Mama. MAMA HI!!"

In addition to the milk, she's having real food. I'm so much more lazy this time around. I'm just busy and not inspired. She's had a variety of things {insert list of foods you could care less reading about} and hasn't been overall impressed. She still eats, but really doesn't seem to go one way or the other on things. I steamed and pureed and put in ice cube trays. I feed her three "meals" each day, along with us. Now that she's 7 months old, she's getting tiny bits of foods as well, which she is handling okay.

Boy bibs. whatareyougonnado?
The fear of her choking hasn't gone away, but eventually she will have to be on solids, right? And in just a few short months, she'll somehow be eating just about everything we are and there will be no turning back. Boggles. My. Mind. If only the food intake would help her grow some hair (said in jest, as I honestly don't care).

At a local playhouse last month...

Random little girl: Where is her hair?
Me: She doesn't have any yet.
Random little girl {confused look}: But she's a girl.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Exciting Month of Firsts

First haircut and first day of school for the almost 2.5 (Saturday!) year old this week.

We took a jog down to the local haircut joint in a local shopping center this past weekend and got Benjamin a haircut. Nevermind that it was super slow and there were two stylists and they were quite possibly the slowest people on the planet.

Benjamin could not have been better behaved and seemed rather proud that he was getting his hair cut.

Bye bye cute surfer hair...

This morning was another first. The first day of two-year-old preschool! From here on, he will always be attending school (except for summer breaks). He was really excited and a little nervous. The first day is an orientation to meet the teacher, other students, their parents, and learn about the school policies, etc. Dad took him today because I'll be taking him every other day and wanted us both to have experience with his classroom and meeting his teacher.
So many. Just couldn't decide. I am totally THAT mom.
First Day Top 10 List:
1. Two classes of 2yo kiddos.
2. Each class has 6 kids, but capacity is 8 kids.
3. His class has 3 boys, 3 girls.
4. Attends 2x/week for 2.5 hrs each of those days. Just 5 hours a week, but he truly needs this time with other students and other adults.
5. Apparently one of the girls is super aggressive, so that actually makes me feel better when Benjamin bites her. (Did I just type that?) What I really mean is that I am glad he's not the only "terrible" two at times.
6. Lots of "helicopter parents" according to my husband.
7. One of Benjamin's friends is starting as well (2 months younger) but is in the other class, as they are broken up by age. Benjamin's class is the "older" twos. But don't be fooled. His friend is potty-trained in the "younger" class. Le sigh.
8. The teacher was briefing the parents on the policies in the handbook and the kids were playing in the classroom. Benjamin brought over some alphabet toy and then interrupted the teacher to sing the full ABC song along with the "next time won't you sing with me" ending. I'd be impressed, but see #7 above about potty-training and you won't be so impressed. He's no closer to doing his business in a toilet than the day he was born.
9. I totally already offered to handle the Scholastic book orders (insert surprised emoticon because it's only preschool!). Just call me room mom already. Hah. But something tells me I am handling the book orders for the whole preschool for the twos, threes and fours. What can I say, I have experience. Hahaha. Such expertise.
10. At the end of his first day, he yelled, "SO FUN!" really loudly.

I'll leave you with a short interview of the toddler before he left for school this morning.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Grant Writing... and Winning!

As summer comes to a close and school starts up soon (Benjamin tomorrow! Eeek!), I am once again reminded of how much I miss the classroom. I miss the freshness of new kids coming in, organizing, planning for instruction, and what I miss the very most, teaching. I just love watching my own kids grow everyday, but I do excitedly dream of heading back to the classroom in the future.

During my teaching years, I wrote a lot of grants. In fact, I was one of the main writers on our team to win our school the California Distinguished Schools Award for the first time. Many veteran teachers had been on the committee before and the school never won after years of trying. They said it couldn't be done. Everyone was discouraged. If you know me, you know I'm fairly determined and not willing to take no for an answer if what I want is something I'm passionate about. Well, we did it. In addition, I won a series of grants through Mobil to be the only classroom on our campus with a SmartBoard, EXPO document camera, students response systems and a variety of other teaching tools, many related to technology. I love writing grants. Maybe it's my journalism background that just gets fired up. Or maybe it's the competition of it all.

Well, it's been a few years. A month or two ago, I randomly saw a program online by JOLLY TIME Pop Corn called the Kernals of Kindess awards program. They were selecting individuals or organizations that "pop up" and make a difference in other peoples' lives. They were giving away 100 grants of $1,000 to keep doing great work in honor of JOLLY TIME's 100th anniversary (of being a 5th generation family-run company... how cool is that?). When I saw this, I immediately thought of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep and the impact they made on us as a family, giving us the precious gift of Andrew's only photos. Those photos mean more to us than any other gift because that is all we have of our son. We're just so grateful. And we didn't pay a dime for those photos or the 1 a.m. session of that photographer coming into our hospital room and facing us at our worst time. I wanted to support this amazing non-profit and give it a go! I had nothing to lose and only about 15 minutes of my time to sacrifice-- a lot less time than that photographer spent with us that night.

I put my fingers to work and filled out the application, nominating NILMDTS. I don't remember what I wrote, but wish I remembered! I randomly checked my junk mail box last night to find an email announcing I won one of the 100 grants.

Out of 6,620 entries!

The story of NILMDTS will be featured in October and I can't wait to link you all to that when it comes around. Aside from the monetary gift, they are receiving so much publicity that is much-needed for the fantastic non-profit that they run. Conveniently, as my friend Caroline pointed out, they will be featuring the story during the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness week in October. I don't know if that's just coincidental, but it's fantastic.

While it's just a snippet, just look up at the header of my blog to see some of the art of a fantastic NILMDTS volunteer photographer to know why I am indebted to their kindness and work on behalf of grieving families.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bye Bye Brass

We've lived in our house for about 4.5 years now. As we toured the house, we had these grandiose dreams of what we planned to change. Being young, spry and without children (though newly pregnant!), we got to work on tons of these things.

But then there were those projects that were not a priority because they didn't really bother us much. Things like, the dining room lamp. Our big dreams were to replace it with an elk antler chandelier. But as the years moved forward and we've given up on that dream. Logically so, as the room isn't quite big enough for that dream we first considered when visiting Jackson Hole, WY back in 2009. We're 5 years older and the room still had the same brass fixture we disliked when we first moved in.

Well, we didn't dislike it, just the color. It took us this long because it required I get E's involvement to manage the wires and electricity and he's always busy with more important projects. After a friend of mine posted her lamp project on Instagram, I figured it was time we do the same... so the to-do list got a little shorter that day.

I knew I wanted to spray paint it because...
1. I have an obsession with spray paint.
2. It's a relatively cheap and easy.
3. We thought it had good bones to begin with.

So for a $7 can of Rustoleum's Metallic Oil Rubbed Bronze, we had a new fixture. We only bought one can (brave!), but it was just enough.

During nap, the husband took it down and hung it from a tree in our backyard. We took turns spraying it with two sets of eyes (so many little areas are tough!) and had it hung that evening.

The left (grainy) picture was in the real estate ad for our home. We stripped the wallpaper (and used the matching drapes as drop cloths!) the first month in the house. More on that here.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Review: Well Beginnings with Walgreens

The baby is in diapers. Of course. The toddler is still in diapers with no foreseeable change happening soon. {perhaps you can hear me grumbling?} 
Well Beginnings diapers in size 4 (31ct., $8.99) being modeled by the toddler who won't potty-train. At least his bum looks cute with an elephant on it.
The kids are both changed many times each day and I use both diapers and wipes to make it happen. They take regular baths (together even since sister is sitting up!). And oh yeah. They've both had a fever this month.

Insert Walgreens. I hit up Walgreens earlier this week when the meds I was using for her fever and teething just weren't keeping the hot body at bay. We grabbed our necessities and checked out quickly. We have no fewer than 5 locations within 5 miles of our house. It's pretty great. They have a Well Beginnings product line that is exclusive to their store and carries a variety of products to care for young kiddos like my own. I've personally tried quite a few already and added a few more trials to my list with this review.

I discovered their diaper and wipes line a few months back and even have their Well Beginnings training pants ready with those cute superheroes all stocked up in the closet just collecting dust. So until then, I'm grabbing the diapers and wipes instead. For both kids, in fact.

I've tried many-a-diaper in my 30 months of this {diaper-changing} mom job. And honestly, these are right up there with the big dogs. They carry size newborn to 6 and the newborn to size 2 even have a wetness indicator like the competitors! I was able to share a bunch of these trial packs at a playdate with friends in the park recently and that was a feature I made sure to share. Even better, they have a soft, stretchable waist, added vitamin E & aloe, full day/night wetness protection and are 100% guaranteed.

That's right. You can try them and get your money back if they just aren't jiving with your family.

But the Wilson fam is just fine with them. Moisture is wicked away. There aren't leaks or blowouts. No rashes. Check. Check. Check.

The wipes are just the kind I like. Honestly! I prefer something with a little grip and these have it in the Tri-form layers. Hypoallergenic, allergy-tested, dermatologist approved, alcohol free and only $2.39 for a snap-closing 72-count pack. I keep a case in my car for the messes as well... not just for diaper changing, folks! In fact, I probably use more in the car. Ha.
We've also tried their baby wash and their electrolyte drink (dye free!) with thumbs up for both. I actually like the smell of this baby wash over the other brands and the electrolyte drink is about half the price of competitors and just as useful with a sick kiddo... or mama... or papa. We are not above Pediatric drinks to feel better!

Rub-a-dub-dub, two Wilson kiddos in the tub. Using Well Beginnings baby wash from head-to-toe. Soap-free, dye-free and pH-balanced. Tear free, hypoallergenic, dermatology & allergy tested, paraben & phthalate free. And that big bottle sells for under $3. Since you don't need much, it will take a whole lot of rubber duckies in the tub before replacing it.
Thumbs up all around. That fruit prediatric oral electrolyte is quite tasty! I've tried it and so has Benjamin during a sick, sick night last week. It's near identical and half the price of the other brands. I even have 2 more bottles on hand in grape and strawberry. It's dye-free! If you've ever had the red dye kind of kid electrolyte drinks puked up on your white carpet in the dark at 3 a.m. by your toddler and not realize it until over a day later all soaked in and near impossible to clean out, you'd understand why I find the dye-free kind this so. very. important. 

For more about Walgreens Well Beginnings products, see their website for info on the complete line. They also have a Facebook page & Twitter page. Did you know that Walgreens is a 113-year old American company? Yeah, just learned that via their twitter page.

I was given this opportunity as part of {Green} Moms Meet. Moms Meet is an online resource for moms that encourages healthy and green parenting/living. As an added bonus, I sometimes get to share healthy, green products with friends at playdates and report back on our likes/dislikes.

Disclaimer: I received this product free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet Program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Inherently Evil

I have these silly memories of random things from different parts of my life that somehow made enough impact to stay as a permanent memory trapped in my brain. Not all of them feel that important, though. 

One of those memories is having to write an essay after reading Lord of the Flies in high school about whether mankind is born inherently good or inherently evil. The standard 5 paragraph essay complete with topic "catcher" sentence, three strong arguments and a closing were to be present. I don't even remember which side I chose to argue. I just remember the topic.

Well folks, I'm here to say that at age 31, I've finally decided on the answer. Inherently evil.

Two-year olds are selfish little beasts. Well, so are adults, but we've at least learned how to tactfully maintain our personal wants without looking like such jerks. Well, most of us have. I can't speak for all of mankind, because there are some awful people out there. 

A couple weeks ago, Benjamin was randomly speaking in the car about things he sees, remembers, and does while we were driving to one of our morning events. I listened, as I always do and was prepared to respond with probing questions.

I heard this: "No share baby bird."

Out of nowhere, he commented about a bird he's had hanging near his carseat since he was a wee-one. He nonchalantly stated that he did not want to share this {infant} toy with his sister. 

From then on, it turned into a no share baby word explosion. No share baby book. No share baby chair. No share baby toy.

Recently, we had friends come to stay with us. Naturally, most kids this age are territorial over their toys, despite taking little to no interest in those very same toys months prior and months after the incident with another kid arises. The incident where the other kid decides they want to play with the toy. Our friend's son Finn is eight months older (and potty-trained, ehm. Get the memo, Benjamin!) and wanted to play with his Thomas train set that his grandparents bought for him. Benjamin plays with these, but not often enough to warrant a battle over sharing. 

He was a typical terrible-two and didn't want to share. 

They left our house on Wednesday. Last night he says, "No share Finn train." His memory is uncanny, but these are not the sorts of things I want him to remember, unless he follows that with the lesson that ensued after he chose not to share the train.

Oh, the twos. We had a friend at dinner a few weeks ago tell us... 

"You know what the twos lead to right? Threes."

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Rain, Hail, Ice Cream Cones & One Exhausted Mama

Thursday was a normal day at the ranch. Except a boy who seemed to spike a quick fever at 6:15 p.m. and was down for the count (after a long and full day of giggles and smiles!) at 7:15. It hit him almost immediately and that was it. A brief wakeup at 4am for some Tylenol and back to sleep until 10:35!

Needless to say, Friday was going to be spent at home. Fever was down and no Tylenol needed for the day, but at the risk of more exposure or exposing others, we remained homebound. And MAN. As if getting a baby and toddler out and about during normal circumstances is easy. Forgetaboutit when one of them sleeps that late and is out of sorts.

My only quiet was from about 9:45-10:35 in the morning. And then, no breaks. None. Since he woke so late, I didn't even attempt an afternoon nap, which made the long day seem like an eternity.

The toddler is at the equally awesome and totally exhausting stage of verbally stating everything that is happening and repeating himself nonstop until you acknowledge his words with some kind of reply or praise. It's wonderful, but little sister hasn't been sleeping well and not a single nap all day for him... makes mama want some serious peace and quiet. I hear ya, Brooke!

My computer seems to be on the Fritz, conveniently the day before I usually back up everything on the hard drive (first of the month). It just seemed like everything was going that way.

There was a lot of PBS watching. Too much. During Claire's long nap, I filled the kiddie pool in the backyard and even boiled some water (I'm crazy) to warm it up a bit so they could go in the pool after she was done with her nap. Except as soon as I finished filling it with water, it started to rain. No big deal, only 3 hours of slight rain predicted.

She's up from nap at 4:15. Two more hours until Daddy is home and Mama has run out of steam and ideas. I did attempt (somewhat successfully) an educational activity copied from a friend, but that was the bulk of my efforts for the day. I decided it was time to get out. But it was raining and I heard thunder and saw lightning. Not a good time to hop in the car and take the kids places. And really, I didn't have the energy for in and out of carseats. But maybe just to McDonald's for ice cream cones. After all, it is summer. I grab a stack of papers I needed and set them on top of my car while strapping the kids in their carseats. And take off for the 1.3 mile journey to McDonald's in the summer thunderstorm.


The Costco coupon booklet I organized and circled with items we needed, a few other random papers and lists and THE ENVELOPE WITH $25 IN CASH TO BE DROPPED OFF AT THE BLOCK PARTY ORGANIZER'S HOUSE. I planned to be totally efficient and slip it in her mailbox on the way back from the cone run.

I decide I would just go through the drive-thru since I was basically there already and had a toddler anxiously awaiting the promised ice cream cone, eat and go back home. Maybe they fell off in my driveway or garage. And it's raining, so the chances of retrieving are probably high since people aren't out walking or biking. I only cared about the cash at this point because I mean... that's a pretty expensive McDonald's cone, y'all.

The guy hands me two cones. They were already made, ugh... was hoping to tell him to make one extra smaller, but instead had to eat a ton from B's before handing it back otherwise a huge mess would await me and a toddler would be freaking out because he hates messes.

As soon as he hands me two cones, it starts HAILING. Not little hailing. HARD. FIERCE. BIG.

I'm usually lucky to be parked in the garage during these crazy storms, but of course the exact 10 minutes I planned to leave the house today just to get a breather and it hails. The kind of hail and thunderstorm and massive pourage of water that when you drive even at 10mph, you throw water 30 feet high and nearly hydroplane. There were definitely times I thought my car was going to get hit because visibility was so poor.

Just 1.3 miles from home. Holding two ice cream cones that are melting and attempting to drive at a safe speed while worrying about hail damage and cracked windshields and such. The toddler is whining because he wants an ice cream cone and Mama just can't be bothered right now. CAN'T YOU SEE THE HAIL AND ZERO VISIBILITY, KID???

We arrive on our block and I see the papers that fell from my roof about 3 houses down from ours. I throw on my flashers, put the car in park by the curb and exit the car. I grab the drenched envelope that had been run over by plenty of cars, it appeared, and drove into the driveway, just as the hail and torrential rain stops.

And wouldn't you know, the ice cream truck we hadn't seen come down our street in nearly a month comes driving down the road about 15 minutes later.