Big Brother Adjustments

Caden is six weeks old. For me, the time has flown despite the light at the end of the sleepless tunnel feeling like it’s constantly moving further away from us. And lately, I find myself wishing I could crawl inside Rylan’s head and experience the upheaval through his eyes.

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While we’re primarily just tired as the parents, Rylan is a ball of gigantic emotions, reaching every edge of the newly appointed big brother spectrum. Let’s first focus on the positive. Rylan is excelling in his preschool class at daycare and the teachers shared last week that they have noticed little to no regression in his behavior. In fact, he is having great days overall and has turned into a very dependable helper. We were told that he is the first to help remind others of the classroom rules and takes the rules to heart for himself. In the classroom he is curious, goofy and endlessly imaginative. He thrives when being challenged and his little friends enjoy following his lead. All of these recent updates from his teacher made my heart swell with immense pride.

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Holiday Gift Ideas: Powder & Jade Boulder, Colo. Etsy Shop

Disclaimer: I was generously given one custom necklace in exchange for a review. However, the opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own. 

I love Etsy. I love shopping local. So, I get super excited when I can shop local on Etsy and support passionate and talented small business owners in my own backyard!

Just a few weeks after Caden was born I received a sweet email from Katie of the Powder & Jade jewelry shop on Etsy (based just up the road in Boulder, Colo.). Powder & Jade was created in 2013 by a husband and wife team who first started making jewelry in college as a hobby. Katie generously offered to send me a piece of my choice in order to let my readers know more about their unique and very affordable items just in time for holiday shopping.

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Caden: One Month

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Caden has been peacefully napping for about 35 minutes as I sit down to write this. Which means, I have anywhere from zero to 10 minutes until he thinks his nap is over and is screaming his head off. Fun times. Therefore, in the spirit of the fastest four weeks of our lives, below is a quickly typed list of Caden’s one month favorites.

LOVES…

  • To be held by anyone and everyone
  • Being worn in the Solly wrap (…which I borrowed from a coworker because I rarely, if ever, wore Rylan. I absolutely adore this wrap and wish I knew about it last time)
  • Eating every 2 – 2.5 hours
  • Milk. From mom, a bottle…he doesn’t care where it comes from as long as it’s ready for him upon waking from his pathetically short naps
  • Kisses from Rylan
  • Rock n’ Play sleeper
  • Peeing on anyone and everything when we don’t move fast enough during diaper changes
  • Stroller walks

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Welcoming Caden: A Birth Story

Apologies for the long post but I wanted to get all of the story written down before the details start to fade…

I am a type-A planner. Therefore, having a scheduled induction date once again for baby #2 was right up my alley. On the night of Oct. 30 we’d check into the hospital and welcome our little on the next day…a Halloween baby. All was set.

Oh wait. The moment you think things are “all set” as a parent, reality hits and you’re thrust into chaos. Enter Caden Earl Anderson.

Since finding out ‘Pint’ was on the way, I have remained uncharacteristically laid back and somewhat unprepared for the arrival of number two. I never packed a bag and certainly didn’t pre-install the car seat like we did for Rylan. We dug baby essentials out of the attic a week or two ago and my plans to fill the freezer with healthy meals was essentially laughable. I had to be reminded to make many of my doctor’s appointments and forgot how to access the labor & delivery floor of the hospital after-hours (which comes into play later).

Let’s rewind to the morning of Saturday, Oct. 22, when I was officially 38 weeks along. I had just returned the afternoon before from my company overnight in Vail and had confidently declared “see you Monday” to all of my coworkers. I casually mentioned to Mike on Friday night that maybe I should get a bag together but took no action. We woke up bright and early on Saturday and headed to the zoo for Boo at the Zoo with Rylan and his best friend Naomi. We walked around the zoo for hours with Naomi and her dad and I felt great. I took a few opportunities to sit down toward the end but had no inkling of the evening to come.

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A Surprise Sprinkle for Little Pint

Little Pint ~

Happy (expected) birthday month to you! Because of my scheduled 39 week induction on Oct. 30 we are watching the calendar closely for your anticipated Halloween arrival. If you do indeed follow “the schedule,” your birthday month will always be marked by gorgeous fall colors, pumpkin spice everything, candy corn, pumpkin patches and hay rides, cozy fall clothes, tricks and treats. What a wonderful birthday month for a little one that is already loved so much.

Speaking of how much you are loved, this weekend I was completely and utterly blindsided by family and friends at a surprise sprinkle celebration for you. I thought I was going to a pre-baby girls brunch with a few close friends. I raced to the restaurant, hair still damp, after watching Ry play soccer. Sunni, Paige and Kimbra had already arrived and were sitting at a small table while our table was being cleaned…or so I thought.

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Tantrums

Tantrums. Some of them make an all night Cry It Out session with an infant seem like a day at the spa. If no one prepared you for how hard life can be as a brand new parent, then it can really feel like you’re living alone on an island with a crazy person when the true toddler tantrums begin.

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Case in point. I believe, if memory serves me right, Rylan’s tantrum above was about the raisins I gave him. The raisins he asked me for as a snack. The ones I bought for him at the store because the day prior, he liked raisins a lot.

Tantrums are here. Daily. Many days, thank god, are mild and others (like this past Sunday) resulted in me calling my mom nearly in tears as we neared the 45 minute mark.

I have no tricks. No words of wisdom. Well, maybe one. Try your hardest to figure out what I.N.S.A.N.E. trigger *may* be a tantrum tipping point. For example,  maybe the breakfast you prepared to their exact specifications is offensive and totally wrong. Or, you offered them a warm and relaxing bath after a long day at daycare. How. Dare. You.

Then, figure out if there is any S.A.N.E. way to avoid a tantrum without turning into a complete toddler punching bag/pushover you said you’d never be. Perhaps it’s offering a few choices, letting them pour their own milk, or warning them 1,000,000 times during dinner that bath time is next.

In all seriousness, one of our biggest tantrum tipping points right now is screen time. The iPad has slowly crept into our lives when traveling or in Breckenridge and Rylan simply cannot handle his emotions when it’s time to turn it off. Melt. Down. City.

But, this introduction of technology and easy “crutch” in certain situations is totally our fault. It’s easy. TV is similar, though he is more easily redirected after one or two shows. The iPad not so much.

We have to re-introduce the iPad (aside from airplane flights) when he is mature enough to handle turning it off. I will not fly without it. Sorry Pinterest moms who board planes with 100 homemade crafts for takeoff to landing. Not happening.

In the moment of Ry’s worst tantrums I feel like I am doing everything wrong. Should I hold and comfort him? Ignore the outburst and walk away once I know he is safe? How do I keep my frustration, anger and temper in check and not show Rylan just how much he’s wearing me down?

It would be so much easier to give in. I get why parents give in. At times we give in. I can admit it, and move on.

In the moment you just want to fix it, especially in public. In those moments it’s unbelievably hard to keep the “long term” in perspective…the fact that I don’t want our now 2.5 year old running circles around us as a tiny dictator at 3 and 4.

Tantrums suck (literally, they can suck the life out of everyone involved). Tantrums are why entities like The Honest Toddler make toddler parents feel like we’re not alone on an island with a crazy person. Posts like “Three Quick Dinner Tips for Toddlers” and “A Toddler’s Apology to Santa” make toddler parents laugh and cry…and cry. Thank  you Honest Toddler.

How do you deal, aside from wine, with toddler tantrums?

Healthy, Organic Sleep

Note: I was provided a sample of Naturepedic’s organic waterproof crib sheet for review as part of its #NPBigKid and #healthysleep campaign. All opinions expressed are 100 percent my own. 

I buy organic produce. Well, most of the time. Ok…sometimes I really try to buy organic, but I just can’t pay $4.99+ for blueberries when conventional are on sale for $2.

I am a “Dirty Dozen” gal in that I buy natural and organic where I believe it truly matters, and look to save money in other areas. Daycare bills are no joke you guys!

Organic clothing and housewares are an area I rarely splurge. Of course when Rylan was still “Sprout” in my belly I envisioned organic everything–sheets, clothes, lotions and soaps. And then real life happened.

So when the amazing Stroller Traffic Scouts team approached me to test an organic crib bedding product from Naturepedic I was hesitant but also intrigued. Rylan, a ridiculously amazing sleeper, spends a LOT of time in his crib. Could I make it cozier? Healthier?

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When I received the organic waterproof crib pad I was immediately intrigued with the accompanying booklet. Naturepedic’s mission is to source certified organic cotton and latex according to strict environmental and labor standards. This statement alone reminded me that choosing organic is not just about my body or Rylan’s body, but about the long term health of the planet I hope he thrives on for a very long time. A commitment that every single parent today needs to seriously think about, within reason, given chilling headlines like this.

The organic cotton flannel pad itself is soft with a natural beige hue – no bleach used here. And because Rylan has been known to wet through even the most “leak proof” 12 hour+ diapers, I appreciate that it can be machine washed. At $69 it is an investment, but Rylan has been in his crib for two years and isn’t getting moved anytime soon. It will surely get much more use than many of his adorable outfits.

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Rylan loves having a pillow so I do want to invest in the Naturepedic organic toddler pillow next. At $49 it is again an investment, but given his sweet head will sleep on it every night I love that it’s made from organic cotton and a washable plant-based PLA batting (made from non-GMO potatoes!!).

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Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be continuing to help raise awareness for the Naturepedic brand by sharing our favorite “wow, he’s a big kid” moments on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #NPBigKid and #healthysleep. I hope you’ll spend some time learning about the brand and thinking about it for your family or for thoughtful, healthy gifts for little ones on the way!

Birthday Week Emotions

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Two years ago tonight I was just a few days away from the most incredible day of my life. The day we met Rylan. This week is full of emotions.

For all the things that signal the era of parenting we’re about to begin, the terrible two’s, I do already have a favorite. Conversing.

When Mike and I went to Mexico for five nights in June we left a little boy with a growing vocabulary. When we returned we were greeted by a little boy stringing together two, three and four word phrases, working so hard to tell us what he is seeing in the world around him and how he wants to be a part of it. My favorites…

  • Oh, hi mama!
  • Ry see it
  • Ry push it
  • I try it
  • I do it
  • Woah. Muscles
  • More milk please
  • Tona (i.e., Kona) outside
  • No Tona (again, how he says Kona’s name right now)
  • Tona barking
  • Tona no barking
  • No raining. Sunny out
  • Ry needs (insert a myriad of requests)
  • Oopsie
  • Daddy plays the drums
  • Mike guitar
  • Daddy/mommy made it
  • I see outside

There are so many more new phrases and every day he surprises us with a new word that I can’t even imagine how he learned it. Tonight it was frisbee and porcupine when we were reading one of his favorite Words picture book.

We also had a hilarious and all-boy conversation on Monday about who poops. He said “sorry mama” when I was rushing to re-change a fresh diaper before daycare drop off. I told him not to be sorry because everyone poops. He sat there for a minute, processing the information, and promptly asked, “Mickey Mouse poop?” We then had to go through every character of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to talk about who poops. I am the mom of a boy, no doubt.

Ry will be two on Friday, and this birthday week is full of reflections for me. It feels like a really big birthday.

Last year I was an emotional wreck about stopping breastfeeding after 12 long but proud months. Ry’s walking was on the horizon but he was still taking his sweet time. Today he is running circles around us, daily, and tests our conviction as he learns how to press buttons and explore boundaries.

From birth to 12 months we made sure he survived. From 12 to 24 months the shift from survival parenting to ACTUAL parenting has been incredibly real…and fun, scary, exhausting, rewarding, confusing, and the list goes on. It’s hard not to obsess about every teachable moment and remember that he’s just two, and his “up please mama” requests are ever-fleeting. I am proud of Mike and I for stumbling through the transition and making the time to talk daily about what’s working, what’s not working and how to remain on the same page. Communication, listening and forgiveness is everything right now. Everything.

I’m going to be the mama of a two year old. It’s hard to comprehend. I am happy. I am tired. I worry to a fault. And, I am in love. I am head-over-heels in love with my family.

Camping with a Toddler

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First Anderson family camping picture.

We did it. Camping with a toddler, check!

Albeit car camping without limits on what we could pack “just in case,” I am pretty proud of myself for rolling with it even though I was crazy nervous about the insane weather we’ve been having in Colorado. Let’s just say, thank goodness one of us (Mike) kept their head on straight in the days and hours leading up to the adventure.

I searched the Internet like a crazy person leading up to the trip to make sure I was packing all the right things. Again, we got to pack in a station wagon with a pod on top…for 2 nights. We looked a bit neurotic I’m sure.

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Rylan, almost 23 months, was all grins for his first full day of camping.

If your summer plans include a toddler and a campground, here are my car camping suggestions. If (and that’s a big IF) we get brave enough to do a backpack trek with Rylan I may need a Xanax before trying to pack. Just sayin’…

Toddler Car Camping Checklist

  • Board the dog (if yours barks non stop and is scared of thunderstorms/would keep the entire tent awake)
  • Load up the pack n’ play – just do it and thank me later
  • Stash more diapers than you think you’ll need
  • Bring (but hide) a special treat to keep him/her quiet at 6:45 a.m. when everyone else you are camping with is still asleep (i.e., charged iPad with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I dare you to judge)
  • Tons of snacks
  • Hand sanitizers – yes, plural
  • A good natural bug spray or one you make at home. And of course, I had all of my essential oils with me, and mainly used Purification for a few bug bites, DiGize for post-s’mores stomach aches and Peace & Calming to help me fall asleep
  • Only a few toys – which will get ignored for sticks and rocks
  • Numerous blankets if there is any chance of it getting cold at night + a warm sleep sack if they still use one. We absolutely love the Baby Deedee Sleep Nest and bought it a size larger just so he could have it for this trip
  • Tight layers for under warm PJs, gloves, warm boots and a warm hat – unless you are confident it will not get cold at night
  • Wine – for mama
  • A modified schedule – nap was a must but we were flexible on timing. Same for bedtime – he stretched much later than normal but had such a blast watching the fire
  • Friends – but only if they have a sense of humor

Now, go forth a book a campground! Toddler squeals and grins (and yes, meltdowns) in the great outdoors await.

Hitting Toddlerhood, Literally

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Rylan…99% smiles, but with a growing slice of attitude.

Parenting a budding toddler is marked by extreme highs and maddening lows. I am grateful to be surrounded by friends and family who don’t mind my endless texts with questions and venting sessions about eating strikes and teething mayhem. Molars suck! But lately there is one behavior that is coming out more and more, and we will not tolerate it.

Hitting.

“Hands are not for hitting.” It is a book we read and, unfortunately, a phrase we’re using more and more with Rylan.

At 20 months Rylan is expressing frustrating and seeking attention through hitting. His teachers reassure me it is normal and so far he is responding well to discipline at school. There has only been one day where a teacher said he had more “calm your body” time outs than normal, and the next day he was much more gentle and cooperative. Currently, Rylan hits me more than he hits Mike, which drives me nuts. I also probably say no more often than Mike does and have a very low tolerance for tantrum-like outbursts.

I can usually anticipate what will trigger a hitting tantrum. Transitions from something Rylan likes to the next activity, even if he likes what is coming, triggers hitting at home and as of this weekend, in public. The worst! For example, if we need to end playing in the backyard for a bath, he will raise his arm and go to hit me when I pick him up. On Saturday he came with me to the car wash. He loved watching the cars and was happily eating snacks as my car was dried. When it was time for us to leave, he first threw his body onto the ground screaming. Then when I picked him up he proceeded to try and hit me. He was still swinging as I fastened him into his car seat! I was mortified and sad. Mainly, I wanted to turn around and tell everyone around me that he’s an incredibly well-behaved and happy dude.

My mom says I remind her a lot of herself as a mother of a toddler. She expected a great deal out of me, and I feel the same about Rylan. When he hits I am simply blown away. I can’t believe the same toddler who smiles 99% of the time can turn so quickly into those screaming kids I used to stare at in Target or a restaurant. I too find myself sometimes being the mother who is trying desperately to squeeze more applesauce out of the pouch before Ry’s world falls apart in the beauty aisle.

While hitting is a “normal” phase of toddlerhood, we’re unwilling to look the other way. I am about halfway through the book 1,2,3 Magic and need to get serious about trying the counting method it outlines. Hitting is an automatic “3” according to this philosophy…so multiple times on Saturday when Rylan hit I firmly told him “that’s a three” and we went into his room to calm down. His teachers also have us act very dramatic and say, “ouch!! That hurt mommy when you hit me. Is that a safe choice?” Depending on his mood, this reaction can make him very sad or he laughs at our antics. Ugh!!!!

But the biggest problem for me is consistency in public. He hit me in church on Easter and I just tried to have him keep it together since mass was almost over. I didn’t give him a “three count” and he wasn’t reprimanded. It was the same scenario at the carwash since we needed to get into the car and move out of the lane.

I am reassured by the fact that we are very mindful of his hitting already and that we’re being proactive now instead of in preschool or later when it can become a serious issue.

But my heart hurts every single time he hits.

Please let me know if you have any advice, tips or insights to share from the trenches. I appreciate it.

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