Saturday, November 22, 2014

Consistently Inconsistent

The journey in parenting a toddler continues to confuse the crap out of me.

He will go weeks without tantrums and psychotic behavior, and then turns a corner and goes almost nowhere and does almost nothing without throwing himself on the floor in rage.

He goes weeks and weeks using the potty at home and then goes weeks refusing to use it at all.

He eats all three meals like a champ and then the next day is given the exact same favorite foods and eats almost no bites.

He went years happily bathing at night and not wanting to get out of the tub to not wanting to take any form of bath or shower at all in the last few weeks. Don't come too close to this kid, he probably hasn't used soap in awhile.

There's just about nothing that makes sense with him. It's all about negotiation and bartering. The thing is, we weren't trained in lunatic mind-reading.

I don't get it.

Hashtag crazy toddler.

Hashtag exhausted parents.

Hashtag just potty train already because you are almost three. omg omg omg.

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Question of the day: We will be bootcamping his little rump pretty soon here. What's the best thing to do at night and naptime? Go all-in and let him pee the bed until he can control it? Put a potty in his room in case he wakes and has to go (he's locked in for safety). Throw on a pull-up/diaper and let him use that, potentially making this whole night training thing last f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Sound off.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Egg Allergy

My children come from a family with very few allergies to food. Skin is a whole different story, but foods are generally a-ok in our world.

Benjamin has eaten everything under the sun (well, until he shunned food from 13-months until present). He's a peanut butter addict. He's tried everything that causes common allergies in kids and has never shown a single reaction.

Claire appeared to be following in his footsteps until about two weeks ago. She's had whole peanuts (!) that her brother stuck in her mouth. I fished them out, but the remnants were still there. Her bottles are washed in the same sink as peanut butter infested spoons and knives. The oil is on everything! I've concluded that if she has even a mild reaction to peanuts, it won't be severe. 

At her 9-month pediatrician appointment, the doctor encouraged us to give her peanut butter and all known allergens in small bits to help her body tolerate any foods she might later struggle to manage. He encouraged just about everything. It's interesting how different the doctors in one practice can be. Since we see just about all the doctors, they all provide different advice.

I decided to give her egg. It had nothing to do with what the doctor said and all because we happened to have some leftover eggs in the fridge that I wanted to use. Egg is soft, chewy, full of protein and something she can feed herself with little choking hazard. At her age, Benjamin was eating eggs often and loved them. Let's not talk about what he eats now... eggs aren't on the {very small} list.

Over the last month, I gave her scrambled eggs three times. The first two times, no reaction. She liked the eggs and they were easy to chew with her four teeth. The third time was an entirely different experience. This time, within two hours of eating the eggs from the exact same batch as the first two, she vomited profusely four times within a 45-minute period. And then done. No more reaction or lingering sickness. The egg was cleared from her system. I figured she had a reaction to whole egg, but could still eat eggs in baked goods as I'd assumed she'd eaten in pancakes and other muffins.

We went on a playdate last Friday morning and they had freshly baked pumpkin muffins. I gave Claire the equivalent of a teaspoon total of the muffin. She was fine and then two hours later, vomit everywhere. She vomited 3 different times over the course of the hour and had about the same reaction she did when I gave her scrambled egg the last time.

I thought she'd had a bunch of baked goods by now, and she has. Baked breads, croissants and pancakes I thought were made with egg. It turns out, none of those baked items she's eaten actually contained egg! These two times may be a fluke, but I'm not willing to risk it right now, having watched my daughter profusely vomit all over me many, many times over the last two weeks.

I've had two friends recently deal with some serious food allergy situations and Claire happened to also be dealing with her own (more minor) allergy over here. We thought we could slide under the radar on these food allergies because we don't have any ourselves, but nope.

Additional random tidbit: Claire has the Photic sneeze reflex just like me! It's hereditary and common among only 18-35% of the population. We learned about it through a Veggie Tales song Benjamin was watching on YouTube. Funny.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day

Having married a former Air Force guy myself, I know quite a few people who have served in active duty. Many of those people have risked their lives places faraway and sacrificed it all for the freedom of our great nation.

Today, we honor you all. Thank you.

We also have someone near and dear to our hearts that is celebrating another Veterans Day. Elliot's grandfather, Lyn Sturdevant. We call him Papa and to our kids, he's Great Papa.

My Dad's brother, Uncle Don, passed away this past year and he, too, was a veteran. We honor the late Donald Richardson here, too. And so many, many others.

In my attempt to take the cutest photo ever, I present you with the two most uncooperative children on the planet. They don't understand Veterans Day or why it's important to humble yourselves to honor someone else just yet. But, I hope that someday they will truly understand how noble these veterans are. Maybe they, too, will choose to defend their country someday.

two tantrums, 1.5 hours, 3 poses, Countless mom acrobatics to try and convince them to smile.
Let's just say... Mom: 0, Kids: 1

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thumb-Sucking & Nap-Dropping

Two kids with their own ideas.

Benjamin has been a thumb-sucker from about 6-months old. 
Claire dropped her morning nap a couple weeks ago at 9-months old. 

She appears to be faring decent without that morning nap, but I'm still in shock because Benjamin had a morning nap until he was 16-months old! And even then, we had to force him into dropping it. With her, she's never had a formal morning nap routine because mornings are dedicated to getting out of the house and engaging in activities like visiting the museum, storytime, preschool, playdates and parks. 

Poor girl never had a fighting chance. By and large, Benjamin sleeps better at night as well (maybe it's the thumb Claire never cared for!). Maybe time will change this, but the toddler loves to sleep. He almost always must be woken up from naps and night sleep. He's a cranky waker (like his mom!), so that's always fun. Claire, on the other hand, wakes on her own and is still waking after about 8 hours of sleep at night for one feed. I do recall Benjamin waking once at night when he was 9-months old, but she just seemed to need less sleep than he ever did. While a bit of a bummer for me not getting a break to get grocery shopping done without one of the kids creating a scene, it's not really an issue; just a difference. It also means I get zero time with Benjamin alone during the day. 

About the thumb-sucking. He's reaching 33-months and still sucking his thumb. That's 27 glorious months of him self-soothing with the magical thumb. As a baby, it was magical. We didn't have to worry about a pacifier falling out of his mouth or getting him to sleep at night. He just sucked his thumb and was a happy little camper. But, now that he's nearly three, we're becoming nervous that he'll turn into the third-grader at school that everyone sort of looks at with disgust. It's not sanitary and it's definitely not doing anything positive for his dental health. He will already need teeth extraction (two supernumerary teeth just like me as a kid) and braces, but I'd prefer he not worsen his overbite and cause his baby teeth to fall out. Our pediatrician at his 2-year appointment told us not to worry about the thumb-sucking until he's three. That's in three months and the thumb-sucking is not slowing down a bit.

We are considering thumb guards, but unless we convince him how cool they are, there's no way he'll keep it on. He will bite it, pull it off, or ruin it. They run from $13-$75 for pieces of latex and plastic that will probably be ripped to shreds by our fervent thumb lover. There's a slight chance we will be able to convince him to wear it, but that's unlikely. Then there's the horribly tasting stuff that gets great reviews but can also cause kids to stop eating (not something we need help with as he eats nothing already!) if the flavor gets on their food. It's supposed to last 2 days without a need for reapplying, so clearly it's powerful and works according to the 2,400+ reviews on the product and nearly 5 perfect stars.

Anyone out there with thumb-suckers? Or even better, former thumb-suckers? 

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Happiest Place on Earth

I grew up going to Disneyland throughout my entire childhood and into adulthood. I probably went more in high school and college than I did in my entire growing up even. I know the layout of the park quite well and even went on casual group dates to Disneyland. Most of my friends in Los Angeles have season passes and even go after work on Friday nights. We went on our first wedding anniversary with good friends just before we left California for our month long road trip to Illinois (then to Germany two weeks later). Here's a throwback blog post of that Disney trip. We even drove right by Disney Paris while living in Germany and on our road trip to Paris with my parents, but didn't go or even really have the desire. I might have had a different outlook if it wasn't winter in Paris when we visited.

We always swore that if we had kids, we wouldn't consider taking them to Disney World (hello expensive!) before they were about third grade because we wanted our expense and effort to pay off in memories they'd actually keep. But, when your husband has a work conference for five days in Orlando on the Disney property with a free shuttle to all the Disney parks and a hotel room all paid?

You buy two tickets to Disney World and make some of your own memories with kids who won't remember their first trip to the Happiest Place on Earth at all. Both kids were free and I know you might not believe it, but Benjamin lasted the entire 10 hours of the park exploring without tantrums or naps and totally rallied to the end. I swear they sprinkle magic fairy dust all over that joint.

It was my first trip to DW and while I definitely enjoyed it, I missed some obvious favorites that are part of DL. Though, I've never been to Epcot, Disney Studios or Animal Kingdom either, and I do believe some of those differences are evened out by visiting all of the parks... if you have that kind of time and money, of course.

Taking kids was a whole other experience. Even though it was technically a new park to me, they are very similar in layout and have the same overall rides or something equivalent to the Disney park I'm used to. It didn't feel like a very new experience. It was crazy passing by Space Mountain with less than a 10 minute wait in favor of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh instead. We went on none (except Pirates) of the rides we would normally hit up and favored the rides we would never go on before. It was actually quite fantastic seeing the park through the eyes of a small child, unlike the teenager and adult-without-child I had last been when visiting a Disney park.

We worked the Fastpass system to our full advantage while there and even used the child swap system a number of times that granted Benjamin back-to-back rides with each of us while the other hung out with Claire (which was perfect when the toddler immediately requested "again, again" after every ride... was nice to actually say, OKAY sometimes!). We used all three fastpasses early and continued to add another on immediately after, allowing us to wait no longer than about 5-10 minutes to get on any ride. When Elliot left to head back to the hotel for a the conference kickoff dinner, I stayed the final two hours with the kids and used both fastpasses (his and mine) to get on two rides immediately. I highly recommend selecting your first three fastpasses strategically and as early as you can to get rid of them so you can use more and more of them throughout the day. Plan this at home before you get there. I also recommend keeping all of the fastpasses separate so you have more flexibility to take different kids on different rides at different times. Being connected means all people 3yo+ are forced to be on the same schedule when Child 1 might want to go on Splash Mountain and Child 2 might prefer Big Thunder Mountain. If you play your cards on the fastpasses properly, you can get a lot more rides in with very little wait time.

We arrived at the park at 9:08 a.m. and left around 6:45 p.m. (open 9a-7p that day). We breaked shortly for lunch, but the rest of the time was spent walking about, riding rides and meeting characters. The entire first hour was basically devoted to meeting Mickey Mouse and making our way to the first fastpass ride. The character lines were the longest lines all day we waited for, thanks to the fastpasses and off-season!

We experienced the following rides/attractions/shows/character meetings:

Meeting Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater (a must-do! Mickey talks to you personally!) - longest line of 35min.
Barnstormer (x2) "A little bit scary, SO fun"
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (fastpass #1)
Meeting Buzz Lightyear
Dumbo the Flying Elephant (x2)
It's a Small World (x2) - more info below, but such a crazy thing happened!
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (fastpass #2)
Meeting Winnie the Pooh and Tigger - second longest line of about 25min.
Mickey's PhilharMagic - Benjamin's first interactive 3D show. It's great!
Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor - super funny!
Peter Pan's Flight (x2) (fastpass #3)
Pirate's of the Caribbean - only has one drop at DW and two drops at DL! Better at DL and significantly longer.
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
Swiss Family Treehouse
Tomorrowland Speedway
Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover - "more escalators!"
Under the Sea, Journey of the Little Mermaid

The only rides Claire was not allowed on that we took Benjamin on were the Barnstormer and Tomorrowland Speedway. She was even allowed to ride in the Ergo on some of the rides and handled the drop on Pirates of the Caribbean just fine.

Now for the photos:

On our way to Orlando! The kids were basically perfect the first leg and the way back, decent. Just before I took that #familyselfie, Benjamin was saying, "I coming Mickey Mouse!" Benjamin caught in the act of hitting his sister on the hotel room bed. Sunset boat cruise at Downtown Disney.
We met Buzz Lightyear after our first ride (the Buzz Lightyear ride). Second longest line of the day: Meeting Pooh & Tigger. They took two "breaks" while we were in line. There was an awesome Make-a-Wish family in front of us in line and that was so wonderful. One thing is for sure: Disney does an incredible job making each child feel so special by not rushing families along and even using our cameras to take pictures with the characters.
A bit of a reverse order here, but our very first thing we did in the park was head to the Town Square Theater where we waited 35 minutes (longest line all day!) to meet Mickey Mouse. He talks, you guys! I didn't know this and Benjamin was thoroughly thrilled to meet his idol. Well worth the wait as we watched Mickey walk Benjamin around the room doing an elephant stomping dance, telling him he'd been waiting for him all day and that it was so nice getting to see him. A kid's dream! Minnie Mouse and Goofy were in Times Square as we left to the rides, also taking photos. That's a standard schedule for them.
Best family Mickey photo we managed & a washed-out photo of us on Main Street.
The first ride (Benjamin's game face!) & the only spotting of Benjamin wearing his Mickey hat. Basically ever. 
Benjamin went on the Barnstormer 2x in a row, thanks to child swap. He went on with Dad first and was apparently drinking a chocolate milk (!) when he took the photo of them going up on the roller coaster. Apparently he took the milk away right after. It was a pretty fast roller coaster and he was tall enough (35" required; he's 36ish). He did think it was a bit scary, but wanted to go on a second time. And yes, he totally has his hands up as Dad encouraged him to do! Also, Tomorrowland Speedway, which I'm pretty sure is called Autopia at Disneyland.
We all went on Dumbo twice. Once Claire was sleeping in the Ergo and they were in front of me, and a second time as a family in one elephant. Benjamin was a fan of the flying elephant. Shortly after, we had a Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwich. Of course!
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh tends to have long waits (in addition to Peter Pan & Buzz Lightyear, hence the first three fastpasses), so we hit that up with our fastpass. Dad took him on the first time and then I took him on with my fastpass the second time. All children under 3 (free) tag along with the fastpass holder on the rides. They themselves don't count. We also managed some ridiculously delicious mac'n'cheese in Fantasyland and were approached by some random (?) characters. Benjamin absolutely loved It's a Small World and that's his cheesy little grin when on the first time with Dad and his fastpass. The second time, I managed both kids by myself (fastpass use #2 so B could go twice!). In line, the woman in front of me told me she thinks she recognizes me and asked if I had a friend named Laura ____. Um, yes I do! Turns out they are friends and both live in Toronto. She remembered my face from an Instagram post of Laura's from TWO YEARS AGO! We chatted and rode the long It's a Small World ride ... how's that for irony ... and said our goodbyes. And now we're Instagram friends. More Canadian friends, check!
We caught the tail end of a few parades, but didn't manage to sit through a full one ourselves. We did see fireworks, some favorite characters and lots of dancing.
Elliot had to head back to the hotel and start his work dinners and conference, so I stuck back with the kids for the two remaining hours of the park and hit up three more things in addition to treating ourselves to a Dole Whip. We went on Ariel's Under the Sea ride, saw Mickey's PhilharMagic, went on the Carrousel & eventually headed back on the boat (instead of Monorail this time) to our shuttle bus. Benjamin loved the 3D show and kept putting his hands out to grab things. He even grabbed my leg at one point and Claire was content playing on the floor. We felt the water spray and wind, but didn't smell whatever we were expected to smell? It's not nearly as cool as the Soarin' experiences, but it's 2003 technology and was still quite fun. It made me so excited to eventually take Benjamin to a 3D movie.
A few things to look at here from the boat ride back: The boat's captain waving and the progression of Benjamin's faces. Claire is overall unamused and rightfully exhausted.
Other things that happened: We rode the Monorail just for fun one of the days because my kid loves transportation (and elevators and escalators, but not seatbelts), one of the two double stroller naps because these kids don't nap in hotels, a sleeping Benjamin at the LEGO store in Downtown Disney, and a very cute little girl hanging out with Mama near the pool.
Most stupid thing I did while there? Spent $20 on an inflatable gator at the Hilton pool. You see how big that thing is resting on top of my Double BOB stroller? So big and underused that I insisted on bringing it home to get more use out of it. He did find a friend to play with at one point and enjoyed the alligator back in the hotel room. Seriously, you guys. I thought it was a good idea to buy this to go through the lazy river (that shoots water, so baby hated it), but it turns out it's impossible to be 5'3" and manage getting off an alligator in fast moving water with a toddler who cannot swim and a small baby without capsizing the stupid reptile. I had a complete stranger help get Benjamin off and pulled a muscle getting Claire and myself off that stupid thing. Scarred for life. In that last photo, Benjamin's reciting something we say at storytime and I just thought it was too cute that I needed to share. 

And there you have it, folks. Benjamin's second major theme park (Cedar Park first) and flight # we've lost count by now. Claire's first amusement park and fourth flight, ironically, both to/from Florida. Her next flight? Whistler, baby!