Toddlers in Kansas City

A few weeks ago my friend Kirsten and I did something incredibly terrifying. We went on a girls weekend with 2 1/2 year olds. It ended up being a really fun vacation. We will be planning another trip soon.

Why did we travel with toddlers? We discussed doing it without any kids, but I’m the one who said we should bring the girls. It was selfish. I knew that John would be fine with both kids, but I also figured I would hear about how hard it was for the next week.

Other than not wanting to hear John complain, I was also genuinely excited to have Audrey and Sophia on our weekend.  They are close in age – only a few months apart, and I want them to grow up as friends. Kirsten is one of my oldest and dearest friends, and I love that we became moms at the same time. Our boys are even closer in age, Elliot is 3 weeks older than Bryan.

So how did we enjoy ourselves with tiny people? We kept them busy, visited kid friendly places, and threw in some fun for us that they would be tolerant of.

The first place we went was Fritz’s Kansas City. After a long drive for both families we thought the girls would be hungry and tired. Fritz’s was a great place to eat, because it is for kids. Model trains run along the ceiling and deliver your food to your table. There is a lot to look at, and it is a noisy place so fussy toddlers fit right in. The food is worse than most fast food, but the kids didn’t mind.

20170401_121813
This is where I learned that Audrey is scared of train rides.

After lunch we headed over to Wonderscope Children’s Museum. This museum is wonderful! We could have spent all day there. The museum is an old school, and each of the rooms  has different activities. Audrey loved the farm room, and would have spent hours in that room and been perfectly happy. Sophia felt the same way about the grocery store room. The gym is still a gym, with lots of toys to run and play on. The girls burnt off a lot of energy playing. We didn’t get to all of the rooms in the time we had slotted for the museum. We will be back, and next time we will plan on spending more time playing.

After running and playing at Wonderscope we headed to Overland Park to do something for the grown ups – we went to A Yarn Shop and More. Kirsten and I are both knitters, and we both wanted to pick up some vacation yarn. The yarn shop had a good selection, but the woman working was far from friendly. I don’t understand yarn shops where the staff isn’t friendly.

The girls were well behaved and excited about the yarn. I let Audrey pick out yarn for socks and I picked up some dishcloth cotton (I’m always running out now that I’m knitting for the YMCA Supportive Housing Campus). Audrey convinced me to buy her a Zebra hat kit, which wasn’t very hard to do. If you are a 2 year old excited about yarn I’ll make you whatever you ask for.

20170401_152008
Can I please have this yarn?

The fourth thing we did was head back to the hotel to swim. The girls were pretty exhausted by this point, but they enjoyed their 15 minutes in the cold pool.

20170401_173144
Sometimes you post an unflattering photo of your child because it is a better picture of your friend.

We stayed at an Embassy Suites, and it worked out great. They have a cocktail reception, so we had a light dinner of snacks (and margaritas for Kirsten and me). In the morning we took advantage of their breakfast buffet. Our suite had a door between the bedroom and living area. That made it easy for Kirsten and I to drink wine and knit into the wee hours of the morning (OK, it was 11, but that is really late for me). It also made it possible for Kirsten and Sophia to get up and going in the morning like they are used to (at 5:30, a full 2 1/2 hours before Audrey and I got up).

Our last stop on girls weekend was the Zoo. Kansas City has a wonderful zoo, we were there for hours and didn’t see it all. Kirsten and I got in a 4 mile walk and the girls loved seeing the animals. I think we will plan on staying longer the next time we go.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I can’t wait to convince Kirsten to do another girls weekend. Where should we go next?

Five on Friday: Giving the Pacifier Back

A few blog posts ago I mentioned that Audrey was giving up her pacifier. At her last dentist appointment they pointed out that it was changing her bite and said it would be best to give up the pacifier by 3. She’s almost 2 1/2, so we decided now was a good time.

The first few days were filled with screams and tears and pleads for a pacifier. Then she was fine. She wasn’t upset that she didn’t have a pacifier. She didn’t ask for one. There was only one problem. She didn’t sleep. She stopped napping and was not sleeping well at night. She was a wreck.

I caved. I gave it back to her even though she wasn’t asking for it. It is working for us. I’m very happy I gave it back to her, and today I’m going to share 5 reasons I’m glad I gave her the pacifier back.

NAPS – this one is huge. Audrey needs a lot of sleep, so going from a 3 hour nap to not sleeping at nap time meant that she was exhausted, confused, and constantly threw tantrums. I get it, she’s 2, she’s going to have tantrums, but this was a complete change in her personality. The first day with the pacifier back she was so tired she couldn’t sleep. The second day she slept for 90 minutes. Today she slept for 3.5 hours. She’s starting to act like herself again.

Bedtime for Audrey – without a pacifier she played and sang to herself for about two hours before she would fall asleep. With a pacifier she falls asleep quickly.

Elliot’s Sleep – Audrey not having a pacifier at bed time meant that she was making a lot of noise. That kept Elliot up (they share a room). He started crying when we put him down at night. Now that she is quiet when we put her to bed he is quiet too (OK, he always cries for about 2 minutes, and he’s back to that).

Mornings – without a pacifier Audrey woke up when Elliot woke up (about 6:30). With a pacifier she sleeps until 8 or 9. She really needs a lot of sleep, and getting up early was making it even harder for her to sleep.

My stress level – without pacifiers I had a toddler getting about six fewer hours of sleep than she needs. She became, understandably, very difficult to take anywhere. She screamed and cried. She looked like she had been on a four-day bender. I started spending every waking hour worried about her lack of sleeping. Her nap time was so stressful I had a stomach-ache every day when she should have been sleeping. I was too stressed to be a good mom and she was too tired to be a good kid. Poor Elliot and John were stuck dealing with both of us.

So I gave it back. It’s wonderful. I should not have waited over a week to give it back. So many articles I read said to stay strong and not give it back, but had I not given it back I don’t think she would have ever napped again. She’s 2. She needs naps.

I’m not sure if we will try to take it away again or if she will grow out of it. The only thing I am sure of is that giving back her pacifier was the right thing to do.

5 on Friday: Spring

5-on-fridayHappy Friday! This week, when I haven’t been knitting socks or taking care of a sick kid I have been daydreaming about spring. We have spent a lot of time outside this winter, and I anticipate being outside even more once it is warmer. There are so many things to look forward to about spring. Here are five things I’m looking forward to.

Long Walks

If you follow me on Instagram you have probably noticed that we are out walking a lot. Both kids love going for long walks, which can be hard in the winter because it is so cold. I love our stroller, and I can’t wait to hit the pavement even more when spring gets here.

We have the rain cover for the single Indie, and I am contemplating buying the double rain cover. There are so many times I want to go for a walk but it looks like rain so we stay in, only to have it not rain. Curses! If I had the rain cover we would just go. I don’t care if I get wet.

Bike Rides

Elliot turns one in April. At that point we will start using the bike trailer to do short family bike rides. I’m probably not going to ride far with them (that’s a lot of weight to pull when you haven’t been on a bike in two years), but I plan to bike to the library all summer.

Picnics

Audrey is obsessed with tea parties and picnics. She thinks one of the coolest things ever is sitting at a picnic table. I hope to eat outside as often as possible starting this spring. It could be tough with Elliot, but bringing our travel high chair will help.

Baseball 

Last spring my life was too crazy to pay attention to baseball. I’m looking forward to watching games this summer. We are going to take the kids to Sec Taylor to see the I Cubs play at least once this season.

More Light

Once we spring forward I will be relishing all of the light in the evening. More light leads to grilling and patio time at our house. John and I will sit by the fire after the kids go to bed and catch up on our days. It’s always a good time.

What are you looking forward to about spring?

5 on Friday: Being an Older Mom

I turned 40 on Sunday. That makes me much older than the average Mom of a baby and toddler, but I really like it that. It works great for us.

Five reasons I’m happy I’m an older mom.

Hand Me Down Clothes

We get so many hand me downs! I get to buy whatever I want for Elliot because I have a cousin who sends me amazing hand me downs for him. I also get them from some friends here in Des Moines. He is a very well dressed little guy. I would love to prove this to you, but I only take pictures of him when he is wearing pajamas or is in the high chair.

Audrey also benefits from hand me downs, but not quite as much as Elliot does.

Advice

My friends have older kids. They’ve been through the toddler years before. They only offer advice when asked, and the advice they have given has helped me through some tough times.

Hands down the best I was given from my sister. She told me about this book. I credit this book with my kids being excellent sleepers.

Hand Me Down Books

Audrey is a reader. She has been since she was very little. We go to the library, but not as often as I would like. Several times I have had friends bring over bags of old books that their kids have grown out of. Audrey devours the book, and I’m very happy to read something new. I love that she will now sit through a picture book. I was getting sick of reading board books over and over again.

Babysitters!

My friends that are missing the toddler years are willing to babysit. We have only had to pay for a babysitter once, which is amazing. One of my friends even took the kids overnight for us. It was glorious.

I No Longer Give A Damn About Your Opinion

I think it would have been harder to have kids when I was in my 20s or early 30s. I didn’t have the confidence that I have now.

Having to use formula would have been even harder. I wanted to breastfeed, but it didn’t work for us. In my 20s if someone had told me that nursing is better I would have said nothing, then gone home and cried. Now if someone tells me that breast is best I will shut them down. You know what is best for the family? A fed baby. A mom that isn’t depressed. You disagree? Fuck you.

I’ve been shamed for sleep training before. Well, the mom tried to shame me. As if. Sleep training is the bomb. Well rested kids are happy kids. My kids sleep through the night and nap well. They go to bed early, which means John doesn’t see them much during the week, but when  he sees them they are happy. If I had been shamed for sleep training in my 20s I would have felt guilty and questioned my choices, but because the “shaming” happened in my late 30s I just smiled at her and laughed at it with John later.

I love being a mom. I’m sure I would have loved it in my 20s, but it didn’t work out that way for us. Luckily there are a lot of positive things that I get to experience because I was so old when I had my kids.

Every Friday I share 5 things I think you should know about. Do you have anything you want to hear about? Are you an older mom? What do you like about it?

 

 

5 on Friday: Baby Finger Foods from Trader Joe’s

Welcome to 5 on Friday. Today isn’t the happiest of days for me. I’m sad and tired and want to focus on my kids because it cheers me up. So that is what we’re doing today.

Mr. Elliot is now nine months old. That means we’re moving away from baby food and on to table food. Thank God, because feeding a baby tiny spoonfuls of food is the most excruciatingly boring part of parenthood. I thought it was bad with Audrey, and it has turned out to be that way with Elliot too.

How does Elliot feel about table food? He’s a big fan. He really likes waving now, so it is getting hard to get a picture of him without his hand in the way.

dsc_0044-copy

Moving to table food means that he’s now eating what we’re eating as long as it isn’t honey or a choking hazard. We just started doing mostly table food this week, so I’m keeping the textures soft as we get started.

Last week I headed to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things that we love to eat that we wanted Elliot to try. You can get these items at any store, but they are super cheap at Trader Joe’s, which is very important to a budget conscious SAHM.

Avocados

Audrey and I eat a lot of avocados. We like avocado toast. We like avocado on our eggs. We like avocado slices. Bubba from Forest Gump is to shrimp what we are to avocados. Luckily Elliot appears to be just as much of a fan as we are.dsc_0030

Full Fat Yogurt

I could spend $6 on baby yogurt or $3 on Trader Joe’s yogurt.  This yogurt is delicious. Audrey and I have it with breakfast a lot, and Elliot appears to like it even more than us. The cups might be a little bigger than baby yogurt cups, but Elliot doesn’t have an issue finishing one. The vanilla also doubles as “dip” in our house for waffles. Audrey is 43% more likely to try something if there is dip involved.dsc_0032Bananas

$.19 a banana. You can’t beat that. dsc_0045-copy

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

It’s soft. It’s delicious. Both of my kids would like it for every meal. I have the following conversation 6 days a week. I would have it 7, but John gets up with her one day of the weekend.

Me: “What do you want for breakfast, Audrey?”

Audrey: “Gnocchi”

Me: “It’s breakfast, we aren’t having gnocchi.”

I gave Elliot gnocchi earlier this week and he gobbled it right up. I’m sure I’ll be having the same conversation with him before I know it. dsc_0281

Cereal Bars

These are not a food that we eat every day. These are special diaper bag treats for when I have tired, cranky, hungry kids and I need them to stay happy for 5 minutes. I’ll pull these out if we are at a restaurant and it is taking a long time or we are running late for dinner and still have to drive home and they need a snack. dsc_0029

Next week I’ll post about something other than Trader Joe’s. Probably. No promises.

5 on Friday: Bass Pro Shop

I love Bass Pro Shop. It is a huge store decorated with dead animals (they must have a full time taxidermist). They sell lots of guns. Their website greets you with “Welcome, Outdoorsmen” (dude…what about the ladies?). It isn’t what you would think of when you think liberal shopping destination, but I love it.

5 things I love about Bass Pro:

Santa

Not only do they have a nice Santa, you get a free 5X7 photo. This week they were even giving away free frames. Their photo packages and digital packages are much cheaper than the mall. As a stay at home mom I don’t get to spend money on Christmas the way I would if I was working, and Bass Pro makes Santa photos affordable.

We got to Bass Pro around 2:30 and there was not a line at that time. Santa came out to talk to Audrey, and kept his distance to get her comfortable. An elf encouraged her to see if she could sit in Santa’s chair. She was hesitant, but she crawled up into the chair and we got a picture of her in the chair and Santa standing next to her holding Elliot. Maybe next year she will be up for sitting in his lap, but this year I was thrilled to get a picture of them both in the frame without her screaming.

After we took the picture Santa continued to talk to Audrey about his elves. It was so nice that he took the time to talk to her and make her comfortable instead of just taking a picture and moving along.

My Aunt Kathy always comes with me to help with Audrey. She is such a good help, holding Audrey’s hand and talking to her about Santa while I deal with Elliot. The staff acknowledged her help by giving me 2 frames and 2 photos so she could have one too.

wp-1481220122303.jpeg
Santa makes Audrey feel comfortable.

The Play Area

This is the first year that Audrey was big enough to play in the kids area. She liked playing in the ball pit. Next year she should be able to work the diggers in the ball pit. They also have a shooting game, Lincoln Log table, train table, and a remote control car to play with. It’s a bit of a drive over to Altoona to get to Bass Pro, so it’s nice that Audrey can run around and play while we are there.

wp-1481220073295.jpeg
She is serious about her love of the ball pit.

The Clothes

Bass Pro has a really nice clothing selection. Every time we are there Kathy and I spend a good half hour checking out their clothes. This time they had several drapey cardigans (part of my winter uniform) and cozy sweaters. They are not expensive, and I kicked myself for not looking there when I was looking for a new sweater.

In addition to nice clothes they sell rhinestone covered pink camouflage Bible covers. Kathy and I tease each other about needing those. We also muse about who we would like to give the Bible cover too (We usually settle on Claire). Making fun of those Bible covers never gets old.

wp-1481220054871.jpeg

 

The Fish

They have a huge fish tank. We stopped and looked at the fish for a long time. For the rest of our time at the store Audrey kept asking to go back and see the fish.

20161205_155805.jpg
Not the best photo, but you can see Kathy smiling in the reflection, which makes me happy.

FUDGE!

Aunt Kathy always buys me a piece of fudge when we are at Bass Pro. I should be buying it for her for all of her help, but she won’t let me. This time I got amaretto fudge. It was amazing. I shared some with John, even though he thinks fudge is “just OK.” I then got mad at John, because if you think something is “just OK” you really should leave it for me.

20161205_162035.jpg
I don’t like to share.

Bass Pro is a fun way to spend an afternoon. They also have a bowling alley and restaurant. We didn’t stay to eat this time, but if we had, we could have used the coupon for a free kids meal that they include with the free Santa photo.

Have you been to Bass Pro? What do you love about it?