Sandal Disaster

Just last week I was telling you how much I love my Chacos. They are so comfortable and supportive I wear them every day.

Because I wear them every day they were in the line of spatter when Elliot was puking this weekend. I wiped them off and they looked OK. And then they started to smell. Like puke. All day long I could smell it.

I needed to clean them, but I had no idea how to do it.

National Margarita Day

I did what I always do when I have something I don’t know how to clean. I checked with Jillee. Would you believe she doesn’t have a section for removing puke scent from sandals?

When my Jillee search came up short I decided to try my go to technique when an item of clothing is in need of serious help – OxiClean. I soaked them in a bucket of OxiClean for a few hours and then rinsed them. They came out looking new. I would have taken before pictures so you could see their shocking transformation, but I didn’t know I would be cleaning them until they were covered with vomit, so I opted to skip that step.

I’m sure I’ll be washing my sandals again, but I hope it is never again for the same reason. Now that I know how dirty they were, even before the Elliot incident, I’m pretty grossed out that I was wearing them. I often fail to see the filth on the items I use every day. Please tell me that happens to you too.

 

 

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Walker

I’ve always been a walker. It is my favorite mode of transportation and favorite exercise. Before kids I routinely walked every day (working in an office attached to the skywalk made walking year round a breeze). After Audrey was born I walked even more. Until I got pregnant with Elliot. Then I stopped walking. I was incredibly uncomfortable.

Last summer was not conducive to walking. Last summer was all about survival.

This summer has been different. We are no longer focused on surviving. We can breathe a little. We’ve been walking a lot. A whole lot.

In August I walked every day. All but three of those walks were with the kids in a stroller.

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Walking every day with an almost 1 1/2 year old and almost 3 year old can be difficult, but I’ve found 5 things that have helped us this summer.

  1. A good stroller. The importance of this cannot be overstated. For almost all of our walks we use our Bumbleride Indie Twin. I fell in love with our Bumbleride Indie when Audrey was a baby, and knew immediately that I wanted the double version when baby #2 arrived. The kids are comfortable in the stroller – they have individually adjusting seats, foot rests, and canopies. I adore that stroller. For walks at the zoo or when travelling I use a Maclaren Twin Triumph. It is harder to push than the dreamy Bumbleride, but it is small enough to fit in the trunk and the kids are always happy in it.
  2. Good shoes. For years I only walked in my running shoes, which meant adding time before we could leave for pulling on socks and shoes. When you are dealing with two small people you need to do what you can to streamline leaving the house. This summer I switched to walking in Chaco sandals. They are quick to pull on, and I look less dorky when we are playing at the park or shopping at the farmer’s market.
  3. Fancy water bottle. It’s summer. It gets hot. You need to stay hydrated. I spent most of the summer without a water bottle that fit in my stroller cup holder. I knew I wanted one that kept water cold, fit in my cup holder, and I didn’t have to stop walking to drink out of. I wound up with a 20 oz YETI. I like it so much I find myself drinking more water because I want to see how cold my water still is. Ice stays frozen for hours. It’s incredible.
  4. An ugly sunhat. I am not always good about applying sunscreen. Wearing an ugly hat protects my face and shades my eyes. It is ugly. It is dorky. It works.
  5. Entertainment. The kids would get bored if we just walked for 90 minutes, so we break it up. We visit Little Free Libraries. We walk to parks so they can play. We walk to the coffee shop. We shop at our local farmer’s market. We play I spy. We do more than just walk. Even on the days where I just want to walk.

I loved walking every day. I feel better. The sunshine has greatly improved my mood. The kids have loved it too. They seem to get along better in the stroller (Elliot being strapped in might have something to do with that).

Walking every day made it a commitment. Even if we only had 15 minutes we got out and walked. There were days when I really wanted to stay inside and avoid the heat, but I still got out, because I had committed to walking.

That commitment changed me. Today, after Elliot woke up from his nap and threw up on the couch and Audrey woke up with a low fever and a cold I did not want to walk. We stayed in and I let the kids watch too much Mickey Mouse. And then it was 4 pm and I couldn’t stand being inside one more minute.

I put the kids in the stroller and we headed out. We stayed close to home, in case Elliot got sick again. He was fine. Audrey was fine. They were happy. They were in the sunshine. They were checking out their favorite things to see on the walk – the chickens, the big flowers, the little library, and the fairy garden. We stayed out for over an hour. We all felt better because we walked.

I’m not sure if I’ll walk every day in September, but I am going to try. Winter is coming, I need to soak up the sunshine while I can.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.