Monday, November 30, 2015

Car Busy Bags

I recently bought Caden and Brooklyn new sheets for their beds.  (So long elephants and giraffes.  I love ya, but you just don't match the blue walls in their new room.  *sniff*)  The crib/toddler bed-sized sheets come in the most adorable bags, made in the same fabric as their sheets, complete with Velcro closure.  I'm not much of a pack rat, but I just couldn't throw them away.  They had to come in handy, right?

Right.  A 4+ hour car ride to Grandma and Grandpa's over Thanksgiving week = the perfect opportunity to transform these puppies into some busy bags for the car.

The sheet-bags are good-sized, and hold quite a few toddler-friendly items.

These items, in fact:

All raided from the Target dollar section.  $1 each for the book, jingle bell shaker, bag of pipe cleaners (of which there were many, many, many in a bag), bus, and a pack of four reindeer shutter shades.  ($8 total for our two bags...they each got a book, jingle shaker and car, one pair of reindeer shades, and split the pipe cleaners, with plenty left over.)

The only item that required any extra work was the pipe cleaner activity.

Empty spice container (make sure it's one with larger holes, some of the containers have holes that are too teeny-tiny), + pipe cleaners cut in half = toddler puzzle.


Should you decide to put $8 and minimal effort into creating said busy bags, your toddlers will become perfect, charming, angel children who entertain themselves the entire car ride with minimal work on your part, requiring only one snack two books, and a screaming/giggling competition amongst themselves to be entertained the whole entire time.

(I am so not complaining.)

And that meant that everything was a complete surprise for the ride home.

(FYI...the jingle bells were a big hit.)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Survival Strategies When You're Parenting Solo

I don't care if you're flying solo for one night or one week; parenting on your own is hard. (Don't even get me started on how those of you who are single parents do it.)  These past three weeks in the trenches are something that I never want to repeat.  (Oh. Except I'll have to for the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Drat.) However, there are some things I've learned over the past three weeks.  Let's call them Survival Strategies.

Know your priorities.
My priorities are just plain different when Tyson is here.  Take mealtime: eating well (organic, local when we can, prepared at home most nights) is very important to the both of us. When he's gone?  It's just not possible.  Not at this stage, with two demanding almost-two-year-olds always needing my lone, hungry, pregnant self just as I'm trying to get dinner on the table.  Packaged sides, prepared foods, and takeout have become weekly rotations while Tyson is gone.  Breading my own fish fillets isn't difficult, for heavens sake, (and it sure as heck is cheaper) but even the few extra minutes it takes to do so just aren't worth it when I'm on my own.  Similarly, screen time rules and limits are virtually off the table while Tyson is gone.  Winnie the Pooh lets me get ready in the morning, Daniel Tiger helps me get dinner on the table and all meals cleaned up, and anything will do in a pinch if we all just need to chill and take some time out.

Get out of the house.
I felt like I need to do this at least once each day already, and Caden and Brooklyn seem to feel the same way.  Our days go so much smoother if we get out of the house at least once, whether it's to the library, for a playdate, or just to make a Target run.  Thankfully this is becoming easier, as I am meeting more people and figuring out what's going on in our area each week.  It also helps to get in some adult conversation, since days where your only "conversations" take place with people under 21 months old are enough to drive anyone crazy.

Stick to a routine.
Routines make it more convenient for scheduling (and I personally need to have Caden and Brooklyn on a daily routine to keep my own sanity, and theirs), but what I'm really trying to get at is a routine for discipline and consequences.  It can be so tempting to let things slide, but it makes it that much more difficult later.  Consistency is key.  Throwing food just once (which we've had major problems with lately *cough*Caden*cough*)  is their gateway drug to doing it even more.  It is so tempting to ignore the behavior sometimes, (if I just let him throw his food, I can get two whole bites of my own in!), but I also know that reversing these behaviors once Tyson is home for good will take that much longer.

Say yes.
This one can be kind of difficult for me, because I am a typical Type-A, I-Totally-Have-Everything-Under-Control type of person.  Let's just say that with your other half gone, you absolutely do not have everything under control.  Someone wants to bring a meal?  Let them.  You're invited for a play date?  Leave the breakfast dishes in the sink and just go. Some saintly person wants to watch your kids for a few hours or an evening?  For the love of God, grab your keys and go.  Just.  Say.  Yes.

Take care of yourself.
Possibly the most difficult of all.  Lately I've been planning out my shower strategy like most college students map out their courses each semester.  Monday-Wednesday-Friday at 1:00!  No, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 am!  I've switched from nighttime, to during naptime, to every second or third morning...right now Winnie the Pooh helps me out in the morning.  I need to at least get up, slap on some makeup, and get dressed first thing to get myself going for the day.  And I always make it a priority to sit down to lunch as soon as they go down for a nap.  Lunch is only 15 minutes, but it is the only meal that I get all to myself each and every day without having to share my food or get up every 4.97 seconds because someone wants more of something or to wipe up yet another spill.  Similarly, I know that I need to take time to recharge every evening.  It can be hard, especially this time of year to just stop doing anything (ALL the online Christmas shopping!), but at some point I just need to sit back, veg out to some old Bravo something or other, and eat some ice cream. Amen.

Monday, November 16, 2015


I love me some toddler-speak.  You know what I'm talking about: when they are able to talk and communicate...but not quite.  I love the different sounds and words they come up with for things.  And the other day I realized that I'm about the only one, especially with Tyson gone, that can understand most of what Caden and Brooklyn say.  Here are some translations for the rest of you:

(It might look like they were reading, but I swear they were jibber-jabbering the whole time.)\


"cho" = Cheerios

"nay-nay" = Brooklyn.  And Daniel Tiger.  And himself.

"men" = pray (as in amen)

"caackaa" = cracker

"bubee" = blueberry


"nay-nay" = Caden

"ball-ball" = basketball

"ah-me" = help me

"buddee" = blankie


"mo-mo" = Elmo.  Used for almost any Muppet or cartoon character.

"ah ah ah" accompanied by waving of hands = "hot hot hot!"

"ah ah ah" accompanied by bouncing of body = "hop hop hop"

"cheeeee" = cheese

"way" = away (as in put away) (LOVE when they say this one!)

"da!" (short staccato sound, usually used repeatedly: "da! da! da!") = stuck  (They can't say the 's'.  Or the 't'.  Or the 'ck'.  So "da" it is.)

"daa" (slightly more drawn out) = sock

"doe" (while pointing towards kitchen, maybe vaguely towards the toaster) = toast

"mama" = me or anything they somewhat relate to me.  Like pretty much every to-go coffee cup we ever see.


Because toddler animal sounds are adorable.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What Have the Twins Been Up To? (aka Almost Twenty-One Months)

I haven't done a "month" post in awhile, and in fact I was just going to leave it at the last one, since 18 months seemed like a good cutoff point.  But they've been doing and changing so much lately that I couldn't resist a little update...a 20.5 month update, if you will.

Eat.  Three meals a day (7:30 am, 11:00 am, 5 pm) and 1-2 snacks (9:30 am and/or 3 pm). They finally transitioned in the past few weeks to eating lunch before nap, which makes our morning schedule a bit easier, and our afternoon one as well.  They've been pretty good eaters, too-Brooklyn willingly ate broccoli (!!!) last week, which I think is the first green vegetable she has willingly touched since she turned one.  Actually Brooklyn has probably been a better eater than Caden lately, easily downing three bowls of cereal/oatmeal in the morning, and even three generous helpings of spaghetti the other night.  Maybe she's going through a growth spurt?  Caden has been more interested in throwing his food and utensils lately, which is driving me crazy.  He eats pretty well, but then is more interested in throwing things (which he finds hilarious) and getting back to playing.

Sleep.  Bedtime at 7/7:30 pm, sleep for 11-12 hours.  Nap at noon for 2-2 1/2 hours.  So as mentioned above, the biggest transition as of late has been to what I think of as a more "normal" toddler schedule, eating lunch before they nap and napping more in the middle of the day.  The best part has been that their naps have been consistently 2-2 1/2 hours each day!  They've never napped this well before.  One day they were suddenly crazy hard to put down for a  nap-playing and laughing for well over an hour-and the pattern repeated itself the next few days in a row.  Once I shifted to eating lunch and napping an hour later, I've had no problems with putting them down for a nap.  I tried it once before, but they got tired too early in the day.  I'm not sure what caused this sudden transition, but I'll take it! Caden has had some rough nights over the past week, or at least some rough early mornings, which I think was due to teething (eye teeth).  He's ended up in bed with me except for the past two nights, and I hope and pray that pattern continues.  Otherwise they've been sleeping pretty well and transitioned just fine to the environment of their new room.

Play.  They are running and exploring everywhere in this new house!  They love to have the space to run around in, and it's also great to have a playset in the backyard and park just down the street.  I'm also loving that they have their own playroom, and while toys do migrate, the bulk of the mess stays contained.

Caden has been kind of difficult lately, though nothing too out of the norm for a little toddler boy.  He just gets so upset when he doesn't get his way, and is always testing limits of what he can do, both physically and pushing the boundaries of rules.  I can tell him not to do something three times in a row, and he will look at me and do it anyway.  Though it is adorable when he doesn't think I'm looking, and then catches me watching him...he gets all serious and says, "oh no" in this little sad voice.  I think part of his behavior comes from Tyson still being gone (I'm the only authority figure consistently around), and part of it has been his poor sleep/teething, two things that I know contribute to a worse mood/behavior from him.   Physically he has no fear, and he wants to jump off everything, slide down the tallest slides, and climb whatever he can, whenever he can.  He is all boy.

Brooklyn continues to be in her general happy mood.  She loves to dance any time there is the smallest amount of music, something other people-even strangers-have been commenting on.  She's also loving coloring and does very well keeping herself occupied. She is so smart and patient with puzzles and picks up on things so quickly it surprises me.  Last week we were at the library where there is a magnetized alphabet puzzle that she loves.  She easily matched several of the letters to the right spots...and this is a toy geared to someone twice her age!  The only strange thing is that she has an absolute aversion to baths.  It started before we left Madison but has gotten worse.  She wants nothing to do with the tub besides watching and laughing as Caden splashes.  I've tried new toys, bubble bath, sponging her off in the sink...she hates it.  I have no idea what caused her fear, but hopefully she will get over it soon.

At first I was struggling to find activities to do with them here, but now I think we are getting some sort of routine.  We attended an Early Childhood playgroup this morning that they really enjoyed, and there is a story time at the library that we've been attending on Thursday mornings.  There are other Early Childhood classes that they will be able to sign up for next session (February), but unfortunately they are all full right now, or only have one opening...which doesn't work so well for us.  We even met a friend at story time last week and set up a playdate!  We (I) can't wait for Tyson to be back permanently, but picking up more of a routine in the meantime is nice for us all.

Bonus selfie:

Three things can be gleaned from this picture:
  1. Though you can't see her teeth, you can tell that Brooklyn is "cheese"-ing her heart out by the crinkled up nose and eyes.
  2. As she's my mini-me, you can basically just cut the picture in half and put Brooklyns eyes/nose on top of my nose/mouth and have a full portrait of either one of us.
  3. My arms are too short.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Post (Halloween) Weekend

Little Bo Peep...

has lost her sheep...

and doesn't know where to find him because he got way too into this whole Trick-or-Treating business.

(Leave him alone (with Daddy), and he'll come home, wagging his tail and dragging an impressive haul of candy behind him.)

(Seriously, his little tail wagged behind him while he walked.  It was freaking adorable.)

Really, they BOTH got into Halloween much more than I ever expected.  While Brooklyn lost interest after six houses or so, Caden continued on with Tyson to canvass the neighborhood.  In retrospect, I should have seen this coming, since it involved several of Caden's favorite things:
  1. Pushing buttons (ringing doorbells).
  2. Taking things out of containers (picking out his candy at each house).
  3. And putting them in other containers (putting said candy in his own pumpkin).
  4. Running (constantly, up and down the driveways and sidewalk to get to the next button-pushing and candy-filled destination).
Brooklyn was more in her element once we got home, changed into jammies, and handed out candy to the other trick-or-treaters.  While we went through almost all of our candy, I think that was due more to Little Bo Peep's generosity of handing out as much candy as she could fit in her little fist--4-6 pieces, every time--than to the actual volume of trick-or-treaters.  Caden was far more choosy when it was his turn to hand out the candy, carefully selecting a single piece from our bowl before dropping it into the waiting pumpkin or pillowcase.



Neither of them minded their costumes, either; Caden actually threw a fit when we took his off for the night.  Brooklyn was slightly more relieved, since that darn hoop skirt tripped her up approximately 983 times during the few hours it was on.


(Why won't Nana and Papa just let us in the freaking door?!?)

I'm not a big Halloween person (too overblown, too scary, too *ahem, in college* slutty), but it was an absolute blast this year.  Maybe because my expectations were so low that they easily surpassed them all, eagerly running from house to house for candy, looking far too adorable in their costumes, and snuggled up with us at the end of the night for some Halloween-themed TV, fun-sized chocolate bars and all.

Thanks for all the candy, kids.  :)