Sunday, January 25, 2015

Welcome to Toddlerhood

Being grouped into the category of "toddler" is a big scary world. It suddenly means you're not a "baby" anymore and you have to start doing all kinds of things like walking, talking with words, and going down to one nap a day. And that, my friends, is so stressful!

Additionally, becoming a toddler means you change from this sweet, innocent bundle to a force to be reckoned with. You want to be heard, understood, and listened to--and get responses (only ones you want to hear) immediately! All of which is a big change for us new parents. "Wait, I'm sorry, whats that? You want the toy? You want to see something on my phone? You are deciding you don't want to eat this delicious meal I cooked for you? Umm, no. I make those decisions. Right? Right?"

In preparation for this new venture, I've been doing a lot of reading up on these creatures called toddlers. Instead of feeling prepared with all the information possible, I find myself feeling like a new parent all over again. Figuring out this stage of life is a bit overwhelming. Toddlers are seriously so stinking cute. They toddle around on their little legs like a drunken sailor, babbling away with indiscernible languages. They act like little versions of big kids and they get to wear the cutest clothes yet since they can finally stand on two legs. They're like tiny little adults. Best of all, they are communicating! You can finally know (most of the time) what it is they are saying or what it is they want! They are taking in the world around them and every day you can catch an earth moving moment where their eyes light up as they learn or see something new. 

But then, there's the dark side of toddlerhood. The one which I see us heading towards at lightning speed. The one that involves tantrums and meltdowns. I'm just not ready for it. I see it starting. Its beginnings involve the limp noodle (where one suddenly becomes impossible to pick up). The sitting on the floor and kicking of feet. The breath holding until red in the face. The constant crying, whining, tears. And I know, this is just the beginning. 

Toddlers have so much thrown into one day. Their brains are working in overdrive, they don't sleep as much, they're burning a ton of energy moving those wobbly legs to and fro, and picking themselves up off the floor over and over again. I mean, can we blame them for being total jerks no matter where you are or how much of a rush you're in? Add on top of this, a new found language ability. They're able to say a handful of words to get what they want. But the thousands of other words out there all seem so jumbly and mumbly when they tumble out of their tiny mouths. And us parents, we don't dare ask them what it is they need more than once, because not understanding your child is just incomprehensible! Such an action will be met with an immediate wrath or all of the above happening. I picture my child to be screaming inside her head, "Whhhhhhyyyyy! Whhhhyyyyy is mama so dumb?! Whhhhyyy must I deal with this imbecile on a daily basis??!! Obviously, I'm asking her where my toy cow is!!"

A while back, I made the fatal mistake of taking Adly to a restaurant hungry. And then I upped the ante by forgetting to bring any snacks for her. She immediately began to lose it in the restaurant constantly grabbing at the diaper bag. I knew she thought there were snacks in there, but her imbecile mother had forgotten them. On the brink of a level 5 meltdown, the waitress thankfully saved the day with some crackers until her food arrived. Having learned my lesson, the next weekend, I blissfully packaged up some crackers as we headed out to run errands. Heading back to the fact that I'm an imbecile, this time I left my wallet at home. But, hey! I had the snacks! As we were shopping (before I realized I had no money to pay for such things), Adly started to get that twitch in her eye. I knew a tantrum was headed our way. I gleefully whipped out her favorite cracker snack in her favorite to-go container.

She literally looked at me like I was the biggest idiot for even thinking of offering her such a thing then swatted the cup away, scowling at me. WTF? I tried acting like I didn't care, muttering, "whatever then, don't eat your crackers". However inside, I was panicking, sweat starting to bead on my forehead. "Please don't have a meltdown in public, please don't!" But I was also all like, "COME ON. I actually remembered the crackers and now you don't want them!?! What do you want from me?!?" It is SO frustrating to not be appreciated or get a round of applause once in a while. I mean, seriously.

The other day we had a meltdown over "peel-it's". Adly is obsessed with the fact she knows how to "peel" (or peel and eat the skin) of clementines now. So anytime I open the fridge it's a mad dash for her to squeeze between my legs and dive into the bottom drawer where her little golden nuggets are stored, all for the pure joy of peeling. After her snack of two clementines I told her she was done. Mistake #23,455: never tell a toddler they are done when they want something. This turned into the dramatic whining and following me to the living room shouting "peel-it!!....peeeel it!!!!" My God, child. You'd think I hadn't fed her for days. I ignored her and sat on the couch where we began a Western-style stand-off. Who would give in first? She refused to move from her spot in the living room and I refused to move from the couch despite her cries and streaming tears all for "peel-it's". I tried every tactic I've read or heard about, with nothing working. Finally, I had to give in. I rationalized it by the fact that all she wanted was an orange. I mean, it wasn't candy or chips or a knife. So was it THAT bad? I don't know. The war on toddlerism is a never ending battle of the mind. Did I set the wrong precedent? Will she expect me to give in next time? Should I have stood my ground? Who knows. 

However dark and scary these moments are, I realize life certainly wouldn't be the same, (nor would the amount I sweat on outings) without these little beings. I've also changed. I've gone from that mom who gives a knowing glance and nod to new mommies with screaming infants, to the mom who runs away in terror when I hear another toddler screaming in a store. I can't have those little devils following me on my peaceful monthly 20-minute outing to the store without my own toddler!   

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Whole New World...

A few weeks ago, Adly and I were out walking at dusk when she saw the moon in the sky. It was her first connection from everyone's favorite childhood book Goodnight Moon to the real world. She has been obsessed ever since.

We were headed to up north Wisconsin the day after she discovered the moon, so she had plenty of opportunities to see the moon in the clear northern sky while we were there. Since then, at random times throughout the day she'll say "moon! moon!" and run to the window to see if she can see it. We've come up with some inventive ways to explain why the moon isn't always there. Some are: it's taking a nap, it went to work, it went to get the point.

While fostering her love of the moon and peering out our windows, she has also discovered she can see and hear planes flying by, heading to O'hare. This is something all of us had taken for granted and I was shocked when I heard her at the window with her dad saying "plaaaane! plane!" I thought for sure there was no way she could see and/or hear a plane. I mean, we had never noticed. Sure enough, there are planes buzzing by throughout the day. Some near and very large, others far away and smaller. Either way, she has been obsessed with sitting at the window looking for the planes in the daytime and the lights on the planes in the dark. She'll sit at the dinner table and whisper, "Listen (yeeesen). Plaaanes. Listen. Heed it. (hear it)". And then with big eyes she stares out the window for a glimpse of a plane.

How incredible it is, to see the realization happening that there are so many bigger things out there in this world of ours.

Friday, January 9, 2015

18 months!

Oh my. We're a year and a half into this parenting business and couldn't be happier. Guess what. I get it now. I'm in on the secret. Now I know why parents choose to do this all over again. Because at this point, you just forget. You forget all the sleepless nights and the crying and the stress and the anxiety. Suddenly you're more on top of things more than you aren't. Suddenly things make sense day after day and you have a grasp on who these little beings are. This is by far the best stage we've been through together. She's a little human being! She's so fun! She's funny!

At 18 months, Adly has begun speaking in phrases. Some are completely understandable, others need mom or dad to translate, and others are just plain babble. But either way, it has propelled our conversations and understanding of each other big time. Some of the most common phrases are: "I like it", "I don't like it", "Ohhhh boy!", "That's awesome",  and "I'm done now". Adly is also starting to understand using "I" as herself. She's trying out how to use it in sentences when I say things like, "you go get it" she'll respond with "I go get it" instead of mimicking what I said.

My little mini-me also continues to mimic and copy just about everything I do. She sweeps the floor after I do, she picks up around the house behind me, and she cooks like I do. Adlys aunt Nora and uncle Steve got Adly a kitchen for Christmas. Her papa Dan and Tata got her some plastic foods and I picked up a metal cooking set. All of these combined have helped to advance her love of imaginative cooking play. She cooks around the house or in the kitchen as I do. Anytime she can, she's up working next to me as I cook. It's the cutest thing ever.  

She's demonstrating her independence more and more by saying "no" when she doesn't want to do or eat something. However, at this point in time it's really just cute. She says it really demurely in a high pitched voice but also matter of factly, just a quick "no." 

Her love of playing hide and seek has come through this month as well. She had a blast in Door County with her aunt Ra Ra chasing her saying "I'm gonna get you!" Adly giggled non-stop at being chased and being the chaser for this game yelling "I getchuuuu". Around the house, she loves to "hide" (stand out in the open around the corner) and for you to come get her. She also calls out for you if you don't find her fast enough, so clearly we're still developing the concept of hiding. 

We traveled a TON during the month of November and December. While it's definitely getting harder to do with Adly, technology, mama in the backseat, and books helped to make it more bearable. I'm hoping as she gets older, the sleeping in the car thing gets easier. 

Lastly, Adly continues to grow height-wise and is back in the 98th percentile for height. She is a champion teether and pushed through her two top canines this month without us knowing. I hope the bottom two are just as easy. After that we're done with teeth until her last four two-year old molars come in.

I swear it feels like I blinked and suddenly this little lady was in front of me. What an amazing winter break we had together! Here are some pics from our NYE vacation up in Door County, WI.

 Giggles with dada. 
 The newly engaged. 
 You just can't beat this view. 
 Breakfast with uncle Seve!
 Piggy braids thanks to Aunt Ra Ra!
 Soooo big!
 Trying so hard for a smile. 
 Look at those teefers!
 Playing with slinky. 
 Sweatpants NYE party!
 With the hubs. 
Uncle Steve and Aunt Ra Ra!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas 2014

This year, Adam and I decided to change things up when it came to holiday travel. Typically, we spend Christmas Eve in Chicago with Adam's family and then on Christmas Day, we wake up bright and early to hike 6 hours to my hometown in Michigan. It has been our tradition for the last 4 years.

Because of the timing of Christmas, we found that we could flip our visit and go to Michigan first, allowing us to then have a good chunk of time to be at home and relax after the holiday. Additionally, Adly would be able to have her first Christmas at home, with Santa visiting. She knows who Santa is (he says "Ho-ho-hoooo") and we knew this would be the first year it would be really exciting to have her open gifts the morning of. Therefore we made the trip on the Friday before Christmas and stayed there for five days, coming back to Chicago on Christmas Eve. It was also our turn to host Christmas Eve, because you know, we like to make sure our schedules are always packed to the brim.

In Michigan, we celebrated Christmas on Saturday and Sunday with the grandparents. It was a little weird celebrating so early, while most people were still finishing up their shopping. However I'm glad we still got to celebrate with all of them. While we were home, we had an extra treat of visiting with my child hood best friends family and all the kids that have joined their family over the years. Adly loved the chance to get to run around outside with all the kiddos.

We then headed back on Christmas Eve to host Adam's family Christmas, which was also a blast. Having Christmas Eve with the siblings on Adam's side is a new tradition we started last year, and has been so much fun to carry on. All we need now are some new cousins to add to the mix. Hint, hint!

Adly had a truly wonderful Christmas, she LOVED opening "pesents" and playing with all of her new goodies. Being the only grandchild on both sides has made her Christmas very plenitful. We had so much fun seeing all of our family and enjoying this truly special holiday with our number one lady.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

Excited to see Braelyn!
Cooking with Tata and Papa.
Reading with papa. 
More books! Thanks Gaga Karen!
Checking out her calendar. 
More pesents!
Sitting atop the remnants of her haul. 
Cousins cruising, Michigan Style. 

DIY Travel iPad Holder...for $2!

As Adly gets older, the reality of our family changing is becoming clearer and clearer. Making the 6 hour (once 5 hour) trip to my hometown is becoming more and more difficult to do often with a now toddler. Sitting still isn't heard of these days and being forced to sit still for an extended time is now met with incessant whining, talking, and tears. Why toddlers all gotta be?

I tried to learn from our Thanksgiving trip and thought I had prepared for our next long trip home, this time for Christmas. I downloaded a few episodes of our current favorite TV show, Peppa Pig in advance to our iPad. I figured she'd watch a few then go night-night. Ha. Ha ha ha. Instead, our adept iPad user insisted on watching on repeat while continuously pressing the home button to end the program and then demanding mama to fix it. 

Determined to not be outdone by my smart toddler, I set about thinking of ways for a quick, cheap fix for our ride home. I knew I wanted a holder for the iPad to keep it out of arms reach but still easy to watch. The only ones I've seen for this are online, therefore I'd have to order one and it wouldn't arrive before we headed back to Chicago. So instead, I started to think of ways to devise one myself. 

While shopping at the trusty Dollar store looking for goodies for our annual white elephant gift exchange, I came upon a fake neoprene iPad case for $1. My mind started turning. As I continued perusing the aisle, I also came upon a lanyard necklace/keychain that had a clip on one end. The wheels started spinning and I set about planning how to create a contraption to hold the iPad out of reach of Adly and out of mama's hands. All for $2. I like challenges. 

When I got home and told my dad and Adam my plan, they both rolled their eyes and said good luck. Of course, this only made me more determined to prove I could do it.

First I put the iPad into the case to determine where to cut. Using scissors, I cut out a hole for the screen, a little smaller than the iPad. I bought a larger case for my mini, because I have a huge, toddler proof case on mine. If I had a regular case, I would have bought the smaller mini size. 

The case velcros in the back, so that encased the iPad. I then cut a hole in one end to clip the lanyard. Then I cut a hole on the opposite side to string the lanyard through. I wasn't sure how I'd attach it to hold, but figured I would just deal with that once we were in the car. 

Once we were on the road, I decided to test out my contraption. And it worked, no problem! To hold it securely onto the headrest, I tied a knot in the end of the lanyard once it was through the hole and tight enough to hold up the iPad. This will also allow me to remove it when our road trips are done and the iPad is no longer needed. 

All for two measly dollars. I love winning!! The only problem is that you can't control it from afar, so I need to be near to control it. A solution to that could also be downloading long movies to last. For now, I ride in back with her anyways to ease the drive so it's just what we need. No, this isn't the best ever solution and you could certainly purchase one that is stronger or more pretty to look at. But for two dollars, can you really resist?! 

If you're headed on a long trip for the holidays with an antsy toddler, I suggest this as an easy option to ease the pain of the long drive.....for everyone! 

Happy holidays to you and yours.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Holiday Photo Shoot

I am very lucky to have quite a few family members with various talents. Of course, these talents are most amazing when I find ways that they can benefit me, am I right? My cousin Nicole happens to be one of those talented people, and her talent is photography. While on the wait list to get into nursing school, she took a liking to taking photos, took some classes, and purchased a bunch of fancy equipment. A hobby became something she actually really enjoyed, and she began taking on jobs for various family members and friends.

This summer, I commissioned her to take Adly's one year pictures. I felt that those pictures were the kind of thing you just have to do as a parent, that I was not really looking forward to. I was grateful to have the opportunity to do the pictures at my aunt and uncle's in a relaxed environment to *hopefully* get some amazing pictures of Adly. Of course, babies have plans of their own and that day in particular, my little princess did NOT want her picture taken. Nicole was fabulous and all of my family spent the session hopping up and down, hooting and howling, making silly faces, trying to get ONE smile. Despite Adly's diva ways, Nicole still managed to get some absolutely adorable pictures.

With the holidays coming up and Adam finally getting some time away from work, I knew I wanted to do some family pictures, something we haven't done yet as a family of three. Nicole has since gotten into nursing school and photography has definitely had to take a backseat. Even so, I reached out to her to see if she could squeeze us in over Thanksgiving and do some family photos. Turns out she had the entire week off and was wide open, so she had no problem with getting in a session with us.

In preparation, I turned to my best friend Pinterest and searched for some good location ideas for holiday photos. A handful of them were in what looked like Christmas tree lots. I then started searching lots around my hometown in Michigan, where we would be for Thanksgiving. Turns out that the big season for tree farms begins the Friday after Thanksgiving. Who knew? So most of them weren't open for our session on the Wednesday before turkey day. However, I was able to find one farm that would be open, called Santino's Tree Farm. In the city, I have to imagine that heading into a tree farm without the intention of buying a tree wouldn't be heard of without paying fees of some sort. So when we got to Santino's and were greeted by the owners, I wasn't sure what to say. I asked if we needed to buy passes to get in, and we didn't. The owners were so incredibly friendly, I gave in and told them what our plans actually were. They were so kind and said they needed nothing from us. They then proceeded to tell us the best places to get pictures and after all that, they offered to drive us out and take us for a hayride! I mean, I was blown away by their kindness. I only wish we lived closer so we could have actually bought a real tree!

We set to our photo-taking and child abuse of having our child run around in the freezing cold without a coat. For the clothes, we went with browns and Adly and I had matching fur vests. I've had my vest for a few years and when I saw one in Old Navy, I knew Adly had to have it! After galavanting around the tree farm and trying everything possible to get some smiles, we decided to head to downtown Frankenmuth, MI for some Christmas-like pictures. Even though there wasn't snow, we were able to find a little town square with huge trees and decorated bridges. All perfect backdrops for some holiday photos with my two favorite people.

To say I love the photos is an understatement. Nicole did a fantastic job on them and I couldn't be more proud to say she's my cousin! While I know she's going to make a great nurse eventually, I think she's definitely got a knack for photography!

Be warned, photo overload begins now.

 My favorite. 

And then lets talk about that family photo fail...the one that happens when the mom lets go of their gleeful child's hand....

Happy Holidays to all!
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