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.

Toddler

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?

Surviving PukeFest 2015

Credit: Chris Pawluk

Credit: Chris Pawluk

I write this with complete uncertainty if we have weathered the storm that lasted from approx. 10:30 p.m. – 4 a.m. last night. All signs thus far point to a quick-moving bug, but Internet forums tell me more might be on the way. Please let the Internet be wrong.

“Puke n’ rally,” while disgusting in college, is exactly what we’re hoping for today as Thanksgiving looms and all of our fun weekend plans in Breckenridge hinge on having a healthy and somewhat agreeable toddler. Why do kids ALWAYS get sick around holidays?

All in all, for having a kid who has gone to daycare since four months old, we’ve been quite lucky on illnesses. We’ve had our colds and coughs, the standard hand, foot and mouth party, one stomach bug at five months, a quick bout of croup, and a one really weird viral/strep-type infection that my mom had to deal with over the summer while we drank margaritas in Mexico (thanks again mom!).

But last night Mike and I earned what I am calling our “wash everything and pull an all-nighter because your kid keeps throwing up everywhere” parenting stripes. Yuck. Gross. Sad. Really sad.

Rylan didn’t know what throwing up was until last night and the way it scared him and made him cry broke our hearts. I kept hearing myself reassure him over and over as he cried while getting sick and it made me think back to all the times my mom and grandma did the same for me. If Rylan ends up being a “pukey kid,” he’ll have me to thank for that. Sorry buddy.

Whether it has already hit your house or you are nervously watching the calendar for the end of cold and flu season, let me share a few rookie suggestions with you from #PukeFest2015.

  • Get everyone involved. I seriously cannot imagine if last night would have happened when Mike was traveling. I know that you have no control over when the exorcism bug takes hold but I pray for you that at least two healthy adults are present. Rylan gravitated toward Mike for comfort so I sprung into the “it’s okay Rylan” coach and crazy sanitizing lady. As more and more surfaces got hit I raced loads of laundry downstairs. Oxiclean got the stains right out and my Thieves Laundry Soap got everything smelling fresh again.
  • Speaking of smells, our house smells (ironically) pretty yummy thanks to the dozens of times I used the all-natural Thieves Household Cleaner on every soiled surface and every place I knew he had touched earlier in the evening.
  • Beach towels saved the day when he wanted to get back in the crib but we weren’t sure what was yet to come. We covered his sheet with one, and made a path from the crib toward the bathroom with two more. Genius.
  • Back to oils and natural remedies, Thieves Essential Oil has been diffusing in his room all day and rotating around our house in a second diffuser since about 6 a.m. I also immediately applied it, diluted in a bit of olive oil, on the soles of our feet and behind my ears. On Rylan I also diluted DiGize in olive oil and rubbed it behind his ears and over his tummy.
  • Download the Children’s Hospital Colorado mobile app or the app of your local children’s hospital. All of the symptom checkers and at-home care advice has been both comforting and invaluable today.
  • Always, I repeat ALWAYS, have at least one bottle of Pedialyte on hand.

As we wait to see who might be next I’m washing my hands like an insane person, totally glad I splurged on Thieves Hand Soap and my favorite Honest hand sanitizer.

I in no way get compensated for all my product plugs above. I just love and believe in them that much.

Ok mamas…time to share your war stories or natural remedies! Or, just send coffee and wine. Both are sounding pretty epic right about now.

Rylanisms

FullSizeRender

Thank goodness toddlers are cute. Between the pulling-out-my-hair moments and legit time-outs I have to give myself to avoid going off the rails, Rylan opens his mouth and precious Rylanisms come out to make us keel over in laughter.

Spend enough time with Rylan these days and you might just hear…

  • “I need a tow truck for my nose.”
  • “I have a booger.”
  • “I not know.”
  • “How many minutes? Two minutes. Five minutes. Ok one minute.”
  • “I’m amazing.”
  • “Havin’ beers?”
  • “Coffee is yucky.”
  • “I need a ladder.”
  • “I have french fries and ice ceeeeeeem?”
  • “Yummy in my tummy tummy yummy.”
  • “The sun is taking a nap.”
  • “I have a poop.”
  • “Go Ralphie CU Broncos.”
  • “Green light WOO HOO!”
  • “Is that from your butt?” (Gross, boy humor already starting)

In the last 24 hours alone there have also been some sweet moments. So very sweet. Last night he asked me to sing him the “sunshine song” before putting him in his crib. And this morning when I woke up feeling like hell from round I cold & flu season hit, he patted my leg and bed and said “I wanna cuddle you mommy.”

MELT.

Right when you aren’t sure you can make it through a toddler’s day, they flip it on you and you’re not sure how you’ll ever be able to be away from them.

Darn you crazy toddlers!

I’ll Never: Dinnertime Edition

IMG_5030

Before you actually become a parent, you’re the best version of a parent you’ll ever be. You live and talk in “I will” and “we will” and “they will” sentiments. You are confident, cocky even.

Then real life kicks in.

And you think back to all the fake smiles and gracious head nods parents gave you pre-children. How nice they were to wait until you walked away to laugh and say to themselves, “oh just wait.”

Real life as a parent is 100% opposite from the saccharine Pinterest boards you pinned for nine months of pregnancy. I break my own pre-Rylan parenting rules every single day. Numerous times each day at that. How you ask? Let’s explore all the lofty things I aspired to when Rylan was still the size of a blueberry in my belly:

  • I’ll never rely on microwaved chicken nuggets as a nightly dinner
  • I won’t raise a mac & cheese kid
  • My kid will not watch TV every day
  • I’ll buy all organic produce
  • No juice boxes
  • We’ll eat dinner as a family at night
  • We will all eat the same things. I am not a short order cook

A tremendous source of my day-to-day guilt is centered around how I envisioned shaping Rylan’s relationship with food.

I am a conscious eater in most regards. I gave up meat nearly five years ago and my daily gym-going nature shapes what I will and will not put in my body. Yet I haven’t been able to find the time to weave my individual approach to food and food prep through how I (barely) get food onto the table at 6:30 p.m. every night for Mike and Rylan.

Much to my horror, he asks for, and gets, chicken nuggets on his dinner plate more nights that I can bring myself to admit. I hate it. Yet it’s a cycle I can’t harness the energy to break on the regular. Meal-prep Sunday only takes me so far. By Wednesday and Thursday, I am so tired. So dang tired.

I get angry and throw up my hands when I bust my butt to try a new “toddler approved” recipe from scratch only to have it met by a toddler who refuses to try even a bite of the dish, proclaiming “I no like it,” before it hits his lips.

My Pinterest boards are full of meals I mean to make. And have every intention of making and sometimes even shop for. This week will be different I tell myself.

Convenience foods are winning. Toddler pickiness is wearing me down.

How do your family meals live up to your pre-kid expectations?

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?

NaturePedic_1

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.

NaturePedic_2

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!!).

NaturePedic_3

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

RylanSchoolPicture_2015

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

IMG_4761

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.

IMG_4753

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

photo[4]

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.

When Did…

When did Rylan become much more boy than baby?

photo[2]

When did he learn to grab a hand and lead a person to exactly where he wants them to go? 

When did running replace walking? 

When did he start to sit in a regular chair and have a snack with me at coffee shops?

photo[3]

When did he start truly enjoying the company of having his littlest pals over to play? 

photo[1]

Of course I know the answers. It has happened little by little every day. But days and weeks are busy and this mama knows so much goes unseen when we are away at work five days a week. Let’s also be brutally honest. No matter how much I try to be 100% present at night after work or on the weekends, there are emails to be answered, dishwashers to be emptied and laundry to be folded. There are errands to run and the Instagram and Pinterest itches to be scratched. There are workouts to do and cleaning that never ends. I try to save all of these things (and so much more) for after he goes to bed. I try, I really do. And sometimes I succeed while many other days and nights I fail.

I also know he’s my first and I baby him way too much. “Can he eat that?” “Cut it smaller.” “Mama will carry you.” “He’s too little for that.” “Be careful, Ry!” I may give the poor little dude a safety complex.

But in March we had a tremendous amount of together time in Vail and then Florida, so these tiny changes that had built up over time became extremely evident to both Mike and me. In Florida I began to observe Rylan through a new lens. A lens with a little, unbelievably adorable toddler boy on the other side.

Sure, he needs help up and down stairs. And yes, I can still carry him everywhere and zip him into a sleep sack for bedtime.

But at times he prefers to walk or take the stairs “alone” with no help from mama/dada. I can ask him if he wants a cheese stick for a snack and he’ll answer yes or no. His vocabulary is popping like crazy and he tells me he wants to “dance dance” when he sees his CD player on the bookshelf.

It’s an incredible transformation. I am addicted to his curiosity, smile and even his moments of tantrums–because when he’s crying he is expressing his independence and trying so hard to make me understand why he wants/needs something. I cannot get enough of him.

When did it become possible for him to start growing up even faster than before?

Muffin Tin Magic

To be clear, this post is about muffin TINS. Not to be confused with muffin tops.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the bad pun.

I often wonder if I had a day or more at home during the work week if my stress about meals would lessen a bit. I am fairly diligent about maximizing my time (who am I kidding, I can’t sit still) and imagine being able to squeak out a crockpot or two most days, even if Rylan was hanging from my legs begging for attention. But alas, this is not our reality.

When it comes to meal prep I have to be a weekend warrior. Yet now that ski season takes us away from home most weekends, I am even more stressed about how to keep healthier meals stocked in our fridge and freezer for lunches and dinners. Tack on the fact that Rylan and Mike both love meat and I haven’t eaten chicken, beef or pork in 2+  years and things get really complicated. Therefore, I usually have to put Rylan first, myself second and poor Mike has to eat whatever I can scrounge up for him. Sorry babe!

So lets talk about muffin tins. Muffin tins are a frantic mom’s answer to making toddler-size meals that can be frozen individually, defrosted in the fridge all day and then heated up in seconds for a mostly homemade meal moments after racing through the door at 6:15 p.m. with a hungry toddler angrily screaming for “more more.”

photo[1]

Muffin Tin Recipe Sanity Savers 

Breakfast – Baked Pancake Muffins 

Healthy Snack – “Sneaky” Veggie Muffins

Dinner – Mini Chicken Pot Pies and Muffin Tin Meatloaf (I add mixed frozen veggies to sneak in even more peas and carrots to Ry’s day)

Those are four SUPER basic ones to start with, and I have half a dozen more on my Pinterest board that I want to get to very soon. I mean, how will Rylan be able to resist French Toast Cups, Oatmeal Cupsor Mini Lasagnas?

Please share links to your favorite family meal prep recipes in the comments! I am always on the hunt for new ideas to broaden our plates.

Design by Designer Blogs