Tag Archives: 18-24 months

She Says… Amusement Parks… Amusing or Awful?

I’m not huge on amusement parks. I like some rides, but given that I’m generally a weenie, and, especially as I’ve gotten older, most of them make me feel like I’m going to puke. I don’t love waiting in line and I definitely don’t love getting overly hot, tired and dehydrated walking around in the sun all day with crowds of people all up in my bizniss.

Despite that, we took our first family amusement park trip the other day as part of our vacation week. Storyland is only about a 5 minute drive from Benjamin’s parent’s house in New Hampshire where we stayed for the last few days. Normally I wouldn’t imagine dragging a two year old to an all-day amusement park outing — skipping naptime and forcing that much sensory overload is a recipe for disaster and meltdowns, in my opinion. But since it was designed specifically for wee ones and was close enough to go home in time for Owen’s afternoon nap, we decided to give it a shot.

The short answer is that WE LOVED IT. We had such an awesome time.

Well, except for the first 10 minutes or so. Apparently Owen needed a little time to… acclimate. He really didn’t know what to expect at an “amusement park” and I think he was expecting a playground. When we arrived all he wanted to do was find a slide to play on. There was one, as part of a talking magical tree, but he didn’t understand why there were so many other kids there and why he had to wait so long to have a turn on the slide. Slowly, though, he got the hang of getting off rides once they were over and finding something NEW and EVEN BETTER to play on next. He wanted to ride every ride (even the roller coasters and others that were way too big for him). He walked around wide-eyed and amazed by all of the talking and singing characters and scenes.

The biggest hit? The choo choo train that traveled around the park. He could have ridden that all day. Makes me excited for our train ride to Delaware in a few weeks!

And his favorite ride? Most definitely the teacups.

I know, I know. Letting a kid who gets carsick get on the teacups was a real gamble. But he insisted, and we were as prepared as possible. And we really didn’t know if it would have the same effect. As it turns out, it didn’t. He LOVED being thrown around and twisted and turned and shouted “AGAIN!” as soon as it was over. Benjamin and I were good with just one ride, though.

After nearly 4 hours of amusement park fun, we were all more than ready to head home for lunch and naps. And I do mean all of us.

Another great vacay day!

She Says… Disproportionately Excited

Guess what I just did?!

I’ll give you a hint…

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Yes. After 23 months of Owen being uncomfortable and carsick in his carseat, I turned it around. No, he’s not quite 2. But I know that I waited longer than most people, and really, what difference is one little month going to make? We’re driving four hours in the car tomorrow and I’m pulling out all of the stops to make it as painless (and puke-free) as possible.

I am irrationally excited about this. I was babbling to Owen about it all morning. “When you come home from school today, you get to FACE FORWARDS in your carseat just like Mommy and Daddy!”. I was clearly far more excited than he was.

You see, I have this theory. Well, it’s more like a wish. And it might be totally wrong. But still. I’ve been holding out for this moment as “the moment when Owen will be content riding in the car”.

So tomorrow is the test. I’m still going to dose him up with the anti-nausea meds the doctor recommends (I’m not THAT convinced this is the answer to all of our problems!), but I’m hoping the novelty of facing forward will give us at least a few peaceful hours on our drive. And we’re going during naptime. That should help too.

Side note: The seat feels SO much more secure and solid in the forward-facing position. It was never loose or installed incorrectly, but something about the way it is supported now feels rock solid, and it’s latched in much tighter. Maybe it’s the shape of our car seats or something. In any case, I can’t wait to toss him in his seat from now on without having to wedge him in the tiny space that the rear-facing position left us with. Hooray! What a milestone.

Here’s to no puking tomorrow. I’ll drink to that.

She Says… I’m With the DJ

We have a budding DJ in the house.

Owen is obsessed with what he calls “kid music”.* He can distinguish “kid music” from “wadio” in less than 2 seconds, and when the latter is on, he yells out “KID MOOVIC, PLEASE MOMMY!”. He asks nicely because he’s already learned the hard way that that’s the only way he’s going to get what he wants. And when he asks nicely, I try to oblige. When practical.

He knows the name of almost every song on the Music Together CD’s that come as part of the Mommy & Me music classes we do together. Every session of the class comes with 2 copies of the same CD, one for home and one for the car, so you’re never far away from your favorite “kid moovic”. Thankfully Music Together songs are FAR, FAR better than the nasal, shouting kids songs I remember from my youth. But they are still not my favorite thing to listen to. Especially when he wants to hear the same song over and over and over again.

Repetition is learning. So I try to allow it.

But damn. It gets annoying.

So the new “game” Owen likes to play is to ask to listen to his Music Together CD (in the car, in the living room, wherever). Except as soon as I start a song, he says, “‘Nother one song, please!”. He’ll name each song, and then ask for the next one.

Sometimes I oblige, and other times I tell him we have to listen through all of the songs. But he gets such joy out of changing the songs, and it’s really not a battle I need to fight (most days… some days it really might put me in the loony bin, so on those days I put my foot down). So instead of being his personal music-changer, I taught him which buttons on the remote to press to play the next song. He will happily sit on the couch or dance around the living room advancing the songs and calling out the names. It’s a little tricky when he gets to the end of the CD and can’t get it started again, but it gives me about 10 minutes of solid playtime where I can actually get up and leave the room.

I thought to myself: He needs a little cd player that only has a “next”, “previous”, “on” and “off” button with all of his songs on it. That would be awesome.

Enter: the Fisher Price Kid Tough Music Player. It’s exactly that. (No, no one is paying me to talk about this. I wish they were! I’m actually so excited about this toy that I’m writing about it all on my own. I get a few cents through Amazon if you order one from that link, but that’s it).

It’s expensive. But it got good reviews on Amazon and it seems really tough/well-built. And hey, if it will keep Owen occupied in the back seat of the car (you know, distracted and NOT PUKING) and keep the repetitive Music Together songs off of my radio for hours on end? I’ll take it. We’re driving about 4 hours (each way) for vacation next week and I’m not sure my brain can handle “The Hello Song” the whole way there and back. So we’re going to give this a shot.

Do your kids have their own music players? At what age did they start using them? Do they use headphones? Are you a slave to the kid’s music do your kids like “your” music?

*Kid music. One of those things I was sure I would NEVER succumb to, before I had a tot myself (ahem, see this post). My kids, I thought smugly to myself, would LOVE the radio. I would teach them to appreciate REAL music from the day they were born. No “Wheels on the Bus” in my car! Yeah. Right. I have since… adjusted my expectations. Or, you know, eaten my words.

She Says… Get Thee to a Climbing Gym

Remember a few weeks ago when Owen got to the top of the climbing wall at the playground and I wasn’t exactly, uhh, prepared? Well, since then he seemed to have been mastering other dangerous playground equipment (a full-sized ladder, cargo nets, the tire swing going “superfast, Mommy!”, etc.). But don’t let that fool you (ahem, me). His interest in rock climbing is still going strong. And he’s good. Damn good.

(iPhone video)

The kid is a natural. I imagine most toddlers would be — they are so bendy and their bodies are so small that they can pull themselves up on almost anything. But what Owen brings to the table in addition to bendiness is a complete lack of fear. He just… goes for it. Even if it means he falls off headfirst. Backwards. This is why he’s already a far better climber than I will ever be.

Over the weekend we discovered he’s already thinking like a climber too. We started coaching him: “Try reaching the red hold with this hand, and putting your foot up on the green one. Yes! Now stand up with this leg…” and he totally gets it. He even asked us “Red one?” a few times, checking if that was the right course while he was climbing.

Get this kid on a real rock. I think he’s ready.

As with so much of his daredevil, active personality, he comes by it honestly. And not from my side. When Benjamin’s parents hear about Owen’s running-head-first-into-walls antics, they just laugh. They’ve seen that little boy before. His name was Benjamin.

Benjamin was also a natural on the rock walls. He grew up scaling ledges and repelling down mountains that make me queasy just looking at them now.

Though I didn’t know Benjamin when he was 2 years old (and probably practicing climbing his windowsills and furniture, just like Owen does now), I can imagine the devilish, determined and adventure-seeking look in his eye as he did it. I see it in Owen’s baby blues every time I catch him about to jump off of something way too tall for a 2 year old to jump off.

Thankfully, since then, Benjamin has learned that some things really should be feared. I’m afraid we have many years of scraped knees and possibly a broken bone or two before Owen learns the same.

And until then, I’d better get used to holding my breath and letting him climb. And fall. And encouraging him to climb again.

She Says… Memories

Today was an unofficial “last day of the school year” for Owen. Even though he will be continuing through the summer (and, you know, forever, indefinitely…), some kids in his school will be graduating, so the school had a big breakfast where parents could come hang out in their kids’ classrooms and thank the teachers for a wonderful year. The teachers gave us tie-dyed shirts that the kids made recently with their names on them. So adorable!

One thing I love about Owen’s school is the journal that they keep for him. Since his very first day they have been writing notes, taking pictures and jotting down little stories as they happen. When Owen graduates to elementary school in a few years, he will have several journals worth of scrapbooked memories. It is so special to me to see how his teachers are delighting in every day with him, just like I do at home.

It started last June when we moved and Owen first joined this school. He was in the infant room and had barely begun to take his first steps.

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When the kids turn 1, they all start sleeping on mats instead of in cribs. I still have NO IDEA how they get a room full of toddlers to lay down on their mats together and fall asleep, but they do.

They snapped a photo of the first time Owen slept on his mat to prove it to me :)

This one brings tears to my eyes. Owen looked at this picture while “reading” his book with me this morning and lovingly crooned, “Dat’s LOVEY!”.

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It’s no wonder this kid loves the camera so much. Paparazzi at home and at school!

The book is filled with some of his art projects, and pictures of him making them. Like this one, filled with feathers. Yet another thing I never would have thought of to do at home. His teachers are amazing.

My favorite pages, though, are the little stories. This one is about Owen finding the letter “O” everywhere.

Another page from when he was younger said that he always finds the books with Daddys in them and smiles and pats the page. Bestill my heart.

Painting with apples?! Love this idea, especially for a kid who is STILL putting everything in his mouth, edible or not.

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I always knew we had found a very special school when we moved here, but looking through this book gives me a new appreciation for just how much they actually love Owen.

I couldn’t ask for anything more.

She Says… Kid-Centric

A few commenters honed in on one particular sentence in yesterday’s post. To be honest, when I wrote it, it was much more of a fluffy lead-in to the meat of the post (about swingsets), than a statement about a parenting philosophy I have. I barely gave it a second thought when I wrote it.

What I said: “Gone are the days of spending my days running errands or getting ‘my’ stuff done while simultaneously hanging out with Owen.”

What I meant: “I like doing fun, active, outdoor activities with my kid whenever I can.”

That said, perhaps because not spoiling Owen is in the top 5 things I worry about as a parent, the comments about being a “suck it up” parent or NOT a “suck it up” parent (read: creating a spoiled brat) really made me think. First of all, I resist putting names on parenting decisions and I find it hard to believe that parents fall into one camp all of time (this is one of my issues with the Bringing Up Bebe book as well, the labeling and the over-generalizations). I would consider myself very much a “suck it up” parent in some respects (like in last week’s unavoidable time crunch), and  very child-centric in others. It makes me uncomfortable to slap a label on myself or others, especially as I’m learning every day that parenting is a very fluid process. None of us know exactly what we are doing and we are entitled to change our minds!

Of course the balance of playtime versus “getting things done” time is a very personal one. And it changes every minute and every day depending on your needs and your schedule and your To Do list and your kid’s mood. BUT, in general, I subscribe to the theories that:

1. Play = Learning
Kids learn through play. At all ages, I believe, but especially as toddlers. For Owen, physical play engages him and allows him to learn, explore the world around him, try new motor skills and learn new words. While he is in daycare 4 days a week his play is quite structured and he learns to listen, follow directions and abide by rules. At home, although we stick to a pretty strict schedule of meals and naps and a pretty regular routine of activities (and of course there are rules!), I like to give him a chance to choose what he does and when he does it. More free play. More time when he gets to decide what he wants to do.

Does that mean I forego my own To Do list so that he can play outside all day? Nope. Does it mean that I never force him to do things he doesn’t want to do? No way. It means that I do what I can to respect his playtime and, thus, his learning.

2. Tired Kid = Happy Kid
Well, not tired, exactly, but mentally and physically exercised (and subsequently well-rested!). 

3. Compromise Should Be Mutual
I expect Owen to compromise his wants and needs for me. If I say it’s bedtime, even if he’d like to stay up and play, it’s still bedtime. However, it’s important to me that he knows that I compromise for him too. Do I really NEED to go to the bank right now, which will result in waiting in line for a long time? Maybe not. Can I squeeze in a quick stop at the playground on the way home, even if it will make me a little late, to accommodate his need for some activity after running an errand with me? Sure! Thanks to online banking, Amazon.com and taking advantage of things I can do after he goes to bed or on the days I work during the week, most of our necessary errands can be done without him in tow. Believe me — that’s a blessing for both of us! And it leaves a lot more time for us to just be together and go where the day takes us. Similar to the idea of giving him choices whenever possible, I try to plan our days in a way that meets both of our needs.

At the end of the day, what we’re doing works for our family. Owen is a sweet, kind, hilarious, good-natured toddler whose tantrums and outbursts are few and far between. Only time will tell if too much time at the playground has ruined him :) As I’ve said before, if spending too much time with him and planning my days in a kid-centric way are my biggest parenting flaw, I think I can live with that.

She Says… Burn it Off

Gone are the days of spending my days running errands or getting “my” stuff done while simultaneously hanging out with Owen. Sure, sometimes I still have to make a quick Target run or hit up the grocery store, but in general, Owen and I are BOTH much, much happier if the day can be structured around Owen’s favorite activities. I imagine once he gets older his portability will increase again, but I think right now we’re in the midst of the “we have an active toddler so YES we go to the playground every day and NO I can’t do things that require him to sit quietly in a chair.” It’s just not fair to him. The kid’s body needs activity and his neurons are firing a mile a minute. I want to encourage him to learn and grow and sharpen those motor skills and learn how to climb and jump and explore without fear. So to the playground we go.

We have a relatively small backyard and we are lucky to live very close to some awesome playgrounds, so generally every afternoon is spent at the playground. Our favorite one (intended for kids aged 8-12, of course, my little daredevil child only likes the “big kid” playplaces with huge slides and dangerous open spaces) is about 1 mile away, so at least once a day, unless it’s pouring, we walk the dog over there and he waits under a tree while Owen climbs and swings and chatters away to new friends and explores the trees and rolls down the hill and climbs and swings some more.

It’s a great way to spend the day. Fresh air, exercise, the whole nine yards.

But sometimes I would LOVE to be able to just skip the walking a mile. Or skip the whole “getting ready for the playground, make sure we have enough time before dinner, plan it all out” rigamaroll. I would love to be able to just open up our back door and play for 15 minutes. Or, even better, when Owen gets a little older, tell him to “go play outside” and not have to accompany him.

Right now we have a smattering of toys in the backyard. Trucks, a chalkboard easel, a tiny baby slide, a little tricycle I found on the side of the road with a “Free” sign on it. Between those things and a few dog toys, we’re usually good to go. But I can sense Owen getting a little bored with that selection, and I can’t blame him. Our playtimes out there don’t last for more than 10 minutes, usually. The kid needs to MOVE HIS BODY, and the baby slide isn’t cutting it.

So we’re getting him a BIIIIIIIG present for his upcoming 2nd birthday. A swingset.

Yes, I see plenty of skinned knees and boo boos in our future. But hey, we get them anyway; at least now we can be closer to home sometimes when they happen. I figure the earlier we buy this piece of equipment, the longer we can get use out of it. So, now seems like as good a time as ever!

After frequenting so many different playgrounds, I feel like I know exactly what he would like in one of his very own. But I also need to think about how this investment will grow with our family. And, you know, we have to be able to afford it.

I started Googling last night and found myself overwhelmed by:
– prices
– options
– installation/construction

So I need your help.

Does anyone have experience with buying swingsets? Where did you start? What did you get? Did you put it together yourself or have someone do it for you? Was it the company or a third party builder?

What parts of your swingset did/do your kids love? Which ones could they do without?

 

She Says… Water Baby

We spent most of the weekend submerged in pools. Owen has always enjoyed the water, but this weekend I think he fell in love.

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The kid would easily be outside all day long if he had his way.

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Rain or shine, hot or cold.

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The boy is fearless. He splashes and jumps and launches himself into the water without a second thought. He rides on rafts and even tried putting his head underwater a few times (once or twice by accident and once or twice on purpose).

Even Schnitzel got in on the pool action (he would jump in anytime anyone was underwater, presumably to “save” them). He’s our lifeguard.

Of course with the introduction of pools came the introduction of LOTS of new rules for Owen to keep him safe. No running by the pool. You MUST hold an adult’s hand when you get in the water. Do not lean over to play in the water unless you are laying on your tummy (he almost fell in head first several times while I was RIGHT THERE next to him).

While I loved being with Owen in the water and I hope to encourage his love of swimming and get him in some swim classes whenever they will be useful to him, TODDLER + POOL = SCARY to me. Even with so many eyes on him.

We capped off the weekend with the quintessential summer treat. Ice cream cones! I have offered Owen ice cream a few times and he has turned it down and opted to just eat the cone instead. This time he finally tried a lick and was immediately smitten. “I LIKE IT!” he proclaimed, as he went back for lick after lick after lick.

Kara once told me that I was lucky my kid only ate the cone because I didn’t have to share with him. I’m afraid those days are over. Someone seems to like ice cream as much as his mommy.

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Do your kids use floaties/life vests in the pool/ocean? I have read that some people think they are detrimental to learning how to swim and they give kids a false sense of security. Sort of like training wheels on a bike. And become a hard habit to break. That theory makes sense to me, so I was thinking of not really relying on them. However, after playing in the pool for a weekend and seeing just how easy it is for him to go underwater even when he is holding onto me… I see the appeal of a safety vest or water wings. What are your thoughts/experiences? I’m totally new to the kid water safety arena.

She Says… Beepin’

Last week, while Benjamin was traveling, things got a little overwhelming. I was running a training event at work which meant that instead of working from home, as I do most days, I was schlepping to and from the office in rush hour. Since Benjamin was gone, I was also responsible for daycare pickup, drop off, making breakfast, lunch and dinner, and keeping up on things like laundry and dishes. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I don’t know how single parents do it. It’s A LOT.

Anyway, on the last day before Benjamin was coming home, my schedule was particularly tight. No matter how I sliced it, I was going to be late to work, even if I dropped Owen off at daycare the minute they opened, and I was going to be late to pick Owen up even if I left my last work event early. And late I was. On both counts. And if you know me, you know that being late is one of the things that drives me CRAZY. “Better late than never” isn’t necessarily true in my book. And never wasn’t an option.

So I left work, late, and knew I was going to hit nasty traffic on my way to get Owen. Unfortunately, I also got in the car to see this:

While sitting in traffic I debated long and hard about just how many miles are actually left in the gas tank when it says empty and could I just make it to daycare first and then find a gas station. Blah blah blah. All terrible ideas. Especially for someone who has run out of gas 2 times already in her relatively short life. I was pretty much already running on fumes and was going less than 5 miles an hour in traffic. I was going to be a whole lot later if I ran out of gas in the middle of the road, so I pulled off at a random exit and went on the search for gas and a non-highway route to Owen’s daycare.

It took me 1.5 hours. He was the last kid there. Thankfully, miraculously, I was still a few minutes shy of the actual closing time, so I didn’t have to pay any late fees. But we were so late for dinner and the dog hadn’t gone out to pee since 7am; I felt guilty enough without paying, believe me.

So we got home. I kicked off my heels and rushed around and let the dog out and threw dinner on the stove and tried to read Owen a book all at the same time. Not surprisingly, I got distracted while cooking and the pan started smoking and our fire alarms started BLARING.

Owen froze. He stared at me with wide eyes, glistening with tears. I jumped up, opened all of the doors and windows, grabbed a counter stool and stood on it, waving a dishtowel at the smoke detector. It would stop for a minute and then start beeping again, just as I had gotten down and started to tell Owen it was all over. I was ready to rip the darn thing out of the ceiling, but they are hard-wired into our new house and I was too short, even standing on a stool. So I hopped back up on the stool and kept waving that stupid towel. As I’m teetering on the stool, crying toddler at my feet, neighbors start coming out of their houses, one by one, to see what the noise is. Since all of the doors and windows were open, they just stood there. Watching me. One or two of them waved at me, and I waved back, embarrassed. One even gave me a thumbs up. ARE YOU KIDDING ME, MISTER? THIS IS NOT A THUMBS UP SITUATION. I think they didn’t know whether they should come in and help, or if that would make me even more embarrassed… because, there isn’t really much you can do at that point except clear the air, and I was doing all that I could to do that on my own.

But still, people. Standing in the road and watching me look like a fool DOES NOT HELP.

Finally our next door neighbors who are very close friends came over. After also trying to rip the alarms out of the ceiling (impossible, apparently), we realized that it was the smoke detectors in the UPSTAIRS hallway that were causing the alarm to keep going back on. I had opened all of the windows and doors on the first floor, but apparently the smoke (what LITTLE there was… this was not the major kitchen catastrophe that it sounds like!) had traveled upstairs, where all of the windows were shut.

Of course.

FINALLY we opened the windows, stopped the beeping, and found something to feed Owen for dinner.

Crisis averted.

Except that now Owen is terrified of the smoke alarms and won’t stop talking about them. Every morning he wakes up, points to them in the ceiling and says, “Beepin! LOUD! ‘Hmoke! Owen ‘cared.”.

Waaaaaaaaah. I’ve scarred my kid for life.

She Says… Sad Song. Again!

Oh, I wish you had been flies on the wall in Owen’s bedroom on Wednesday night.

Here’s the scene: It was just about bedtime. We had a nice bathtime and he was all sweet and clean and wrapped in his towel. I laid him on the changing table to get diapered and pajama-ed. As we were joking and playing around, I started singing “My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music. I’d never sung that one before, and Owen was staring at me wide-eyed and totally engaged in the song.

When I got to the part that says, “When I’m feeling sad”, all of sudden his little brow knit together and his lip quivered. I had moved on to “I simply remember my favorite things.. and then I don’t feel…” and he started WAILING. I mean huge, crocodile tears rolling down his cheeks. Body-heaving sobs.

I stopped singing. “What happened? Why are you sad, buddy?”. “SAD SONG. OWEN SAD. HUG, MOMMY!”. He was reaching for me from the changing table with the most pitiful face. I hugged him and tried to explain (through my giggles) that the song was actually about being happy (but the expression “then I don’t feel so bad” doesn’t exactly mean “happy” to a toddler). I stifled my laughter, finished pajama-ing, dried his tears and sent him to the bookshelf to pick a book to read.

But he didn’t want a book.

“Sad song ‘gain, Mommy?”.

He wanted me to sing it again. Even though it made him cry.

So I sang it again, thinking he was over the word sad. But when I got to “when I’m feeling sad”, the SAME THING happened. He cried and cried. Hard. He pulled me to him and said, “Rock in chair. SAD SONG.” At this point I’m practically peeing my pants I’m laughing so hard. I know it’s not nice to laugh at your child crying, but really. How sweet! What raw emotion! What a strong connection between the word sad and actually being sad! What an empathetic little boy! Is “My Favorite Things” really the saddest song he’s ever heard? That, for some reason, struck me as hilarious.

I rocked him in the rocking chair and he said, “Sing it again! SAD SONG!”. I told him no, I didn’t want to sing the song again if it made him sad. He tried everything he could remember from the song, “Kitten song ‘gain? ‘Nofake song ‘gain? Packages ‘tring song again?”.

I asked him why it made him sad and he just nodded his head yes. I asked him if he just needed to cry (what kind of question is that for a 2 year old?!), and he kept nodding. I sang it again. He cried. I rocked.

Catharsis, I guess.

Soon tears were rolling down my face too, but they weren’t sad tears. I literally couldn’t stop laughing about it all night. I hope to get this on video for you very soon. You’ll pee your pants too.