Posts Tagged toddler

Pizza Play: delicious, fun and did I say delicious?

When I’m not blogging or busy running after Jack all day, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for articles to write and pitch.  One topic that’s of interest is, kids and healthier eating habits.  Food has always been a focal point in regards to my interests in parenting, particularly because I have the worst eating habits.  THE worst.

This year (like every other new year) Jeff and I have vowed to eat healthier.  And hey, if we lose weight in the process, score!  But ideally, we’re hoping to refine our eating habits so that they’ll influence Jack to make healthier choices on his own.

Now that Jack’s old enough to “pretend,” he’s been loving to play-cook.  Clearly, we don’t have the room for a play kitchen, but I had the grand idea to let him help me make pizza, or as he calls it, “Patzi.”  I know pizza isn’t the healthiest food, but a smaller portion with healthy sides is decent compromise.

And since we’ve been cooped up for the most part because of the cold and rain, “playing pizza” was a fun activity and fun way to prepare lunch.

Jack loved putting on an apron, though I should totally make him one in his own size.  One day…
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Momma, mama, moooommmm, MAMA

Has anyone seen that commercial with baby Stewie from the Family Guy where he’s reptitvely saying, “Momma, mama, moooommmm, MAMA?!!!!!?”

Well, we decided that Baby Stewie is channeling a whole lot of Jack in that commercial. And Lois is so me.

It cracks me up that Jack can barely string together sentences yet, but he’s got that repetitive kid chant-thing down.

And when he’s not driving me crazy with chanting mama or another word over and over and over and OVER, Jack is otherwise as cute as ever. His verbal skills and vocabulary continue to flourish, which is a constant reminder that I really do need to stop dropping the Fbombs.

Old habits die hard.

A few of the cutest things he says though are “Patsy” which means pizza, the way he answers “yeah” to every question you ask and especially the way he says “thankyouyourwelcome” after you give him something. haha.

Thankyouyourwelcome is THE greatest. He understands that ‘thank you’ and ‘your welcome’ go hand in hand, but he gets confused because I say them to him all the time. Though he gets “it,” I guess I never really clarified when he’s supposed to say what and when. He’s cute nonetheless.

He’s become so much more adept with our electronics. He can swipe the ipod with ease and point and touch his little games when we let him play for a few minutes at a time. When did he become such a geek like us!?

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As usual, I’ve been neglecting Babyrific. Truth is, life has been chaotic to say the least. Every week, I’ve had at least 2-3 blogger events in the City. Sometimes, I’m invited to more, but I tend to decline the events that don’t fit the scope of Nextkidthing.com or this blog. It’s been exciting to gain more and more momentum, but sadly, I’ve also become so overwhelmed at times. But regardless of how overwhelmed I get, I count my blessings for being able to fulfill my creative desires and spend as much time with Jack as possible.

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Because I go into the city quite a bit again, often times, I’ll need a babysitter. We found a lovely college student to watch Jack for a few hours at a time at our house, but her availability doesn’t always work with the times I need. Jack loves her and has even mentioned his older cousin Ashley whenever he sees this babysitter. The babysitter is right about Ashley’s age, and I think it’s so cute how much he loves his older cousin that he sees similarities between the two.

On the days where I need help in the mornings, I had to find somebody more consistent. Through one of our community message boards, I found a really nice woman who does childcare out of her home. In Hoboken, babysitters and au pairs are more commonplace than in home daycares, so I found this lady up in JC Heights, which is the town right up the hill from us. The location, though close, isn’t the most convenient since I have to walk 8-10 blocks to get there. But after Jack’s first day there today, I’m crossing my fingers and saying that it’s worth it.
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We’re still super tired from an emotional weekend of traveling and saying good bye to one of our best friend’s father. Since we all went to school together and grew up together, our longtime friends ARE a part of our family. A kind and funny man that Jeff idolized for his wry sense of humor, Mr. Bill Stead helped raise 3 wonderful daughters, and one whom Jeff and I would walk to the end of the Earth for.

The weekend made me think in depth about our friends and family and feel thankful for so much– even those things that we can’t change or control.

Even the non-stop barrage of Momma, mama, moooommmmm, Mama.

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And the word of the day is, “No!”

Lately, it seems Jack’s vocabulary has hit a figurative and very negative wall.  As in, the “no, no, no” wall.

Cute at first, the habitual “no” has become something we can’t really avoid.

“What’s your name?”

“no”

“Where’s mommy?”

“no”

“Would you like to eat?”

“no”

Ugh.  I no likey the “no, no, no” phase.

But when we visited the pediatrician last week, per usual, they gave us a checklist of “normal” development for kids this age.  At 20 months, Jack could easily be pegged as the poster boy for said checklist. But truthfully, even though he has no idea what he’s saying half of the time, the endless stream of “nos” is starting to get to me.

"normal" development checklist 18-24m

When I’m the main person he sees and learns from on a day to day basis, I’m absolutely conscientious of the person he’s becoming. 

Thanks to the reinforcement from family, (“Well, it’s no wonder, all he hears is no.” and “Do you say anything besides no?”) I was convinced my parental choices and discipline tactics were backfiring.

But before I get all boo-hoo-y about it being “all my fault,” this is good to know:

Parents Magazine said that a recent study in Child Development showed that 2- and 3-year-olds argue with their parents 20 to 25 times an hour.

Before a kid can completely verbalize their feelings, it’s normal for them to repeat what they hear.  “No” might be heard a lot as Jack scales bookshelves and eats days-old cheerios found under the couch, but I do my best to offset that negativity with hugs and high fives when the situation calls for it.  When other little boys his age are either running away from new friends or pushing to assert themselves, my son, the hugging bandit, can often be found befriending kids and hugging and offering friendly smooches.

There’s always room for improvement; the boy and I are always learning. As we begin to face the beginning of the Terrible Twos, (we’ve already had a full blown, red-in-the-face, head-turning tantrum on the way home from the park the other day) we’ll continue to work on the “no no no’s” and turn negative scenarios around to inject some positive reinforcement. 

But dudes, really, it’s a phase—one that I can’t wait to pass. Hug me.

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All day buffet and the 18m growth spurt

I was planning a thorough developmental update to coincide with Jack turning 18 months in just a few short days, but considering I’ve had to stop everything I was doing every hour ON the hour, almost every day for the past week, I can’t help but wonder, ‘what the hell is going on!?‘ To be a little more specific, Jack and I get up between 6-7am every day. Before I even sit up out of bed, I can see my child signing “eat,” in synchronicity with Jeff’s alarm. If I’m not up fast enough, the signs quickly morph into a more demanding, “Mama, UP! UP, MAMA, UP!

Coffee isn’t even made before I start the boy’s breakfast. First course: Banana and milk. Before I can even pour water into the coffee maker, he’s swallowed the banana whole and tries to hand the banana peel through the safety gate into the kitchen. And this is how the current all-day eating binge begins.

More, pleaseIt wasn’t always like this. Actually, up until a few weeks ago, his eating patterns were so predictable: 3 meals and 2 snacks that were eaten, not inhaled. His meals are usually whatever I’m eating–nothing too crazy. Fruit and cereal for breakfast, pasta or leftovers for lunch and dinner always varies, from baked chicken to beef tenderloin to fishsticks on Fridays. 9 times out of 10, he eats the entire meal and often asks for seconds when Jeff eats his dinner. Now, it seems like he eats 4 meals and snacks all day. When I say snacks, I push the healthy stuff: fruit, yogurt and cereal, with animal crackers and flavored ricecakes as “treats.”

I’m cautiously optimistic when I think this, but the kid is a good eater…for now. But this good eating routine has gone into overdrive lately. As if the sickness and sleeplessness from a few weeks ago didn’t slow us down enough, once all that is done, we’re onto the all-day eating buffet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining that he’s a decent eater or that he’s healthy and continues to grow like a weed. I’m just trying to wrap my brain around this current phase and the constant eating and the nonstop signing for ‘more.’ When I say constant, I truly mean that. This phase reminds me of his many infant growth spurts and the cluster feedings, but instead of nursing, I’m constantly dishing crackers, cutting fruit and wiping sticky fingers! If he’s hungry and I’m too slow for his liking, I can see him in my peripheral vision plucking crumbs out of the newly vacuumed carpet or finding crackers that he’s hidden in his toybox. ewwww.

And then it occurred to me, he hasn’t really grown that much in the past few months, so this must be a major growth spurt. After a little digging, it looks like I’m definitely not alone.
I haven’t noticed the physical outcome of this so-called growth spurt yet. But seriously, at 29 lbs how much bigger can he get?

Oh, and don’t be fooled: the all day buffet is just a small source of our exhaustion/my fast track to insanity. More on the defiant, Mr. Independent, Captain Destructor, curious little lovebug later. It’s time to eat AGAIN.

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Pink strollers, Happy the Hibachi guy and cousin fun

As a result of inexplicable early morning wakings and the usual mischief, by the end, I could easily categorize last week as probably one of my most difficult weeks as a mom so far.  By Friday, I was so done—like, completely fried.  But, a quick trip to go see family in southern NJ couldn’t have been planned at a better time.

On Saturday, we went to visit cousins in Manahawkin.  Jack is right in the middle age-wise of Karen and Nick’s girls, Katarina (3) and Madeline (8m), so it was too cute to watch the 3 interact.  In between pushing the pink strollers, shopping cart, dragging and then feeding the baby dolls, Jack made sure to make their toybox explode, much like he does at home.  I’m assuming that because Katarina and Madeline’s toys were a bit different from what Jack is used to, he felt the need to play with every single doll, shopping cart and play food. (So sorry, guys!)  When he wasn’t darting off in every different direction, Jack made sure to get in some quality time with the fam.  Jack was snuggly with Karen and made himself comfortable in her lap.  He made sure to share kisses with sweet Madeline and sneak in a few hugs with Katarina when she least expected.  Besides my child terrorizing the calmness of their home, it was fun to watch the 3 kidlets play and laugh together, especially since they’re Jack’s only cousins in NJ!

The 3 kids playingJeff "selling" the ipod Touch to KarencousinsKaren, Jack and Madeline

While the kids played, the parents played with their own toys–the electronic gadget kind!  Jeff shared his love of his iPod with Nick and Karen!  We capped off the visit with a trip to a fun Hibachi restaurant.  Well, it started out fun until Jack crashed and burned before Happy the Hibachi guy could even cook up the fried rice!  Because Jack boycotted an afternoon nap to maximize his time to terrorize his cousins and all of their toys, I was foolish to think he could last until after dinner.  Hahaha. Who was I kidding!!?  On the bright side, since my whiny, uncooperative child needed to be excused from the table, he helped me refrain from shoving the entire heaping plate of food in my mouth!  When it was time to leave, we were barely out of the parking lot and Jack was practically asleep.

After a chaotic week at our house, family time is exactly what we all needed!  Jeff always tells me he hopes that Jack gets to experience the fondness and closeness of his cousins, just like he did with his PA cousins!  As soon as the kids get over that “he’s touching me” phase, I’m sure they’ll be heckling one another through whatever is the equivalent of Facebook when they get older–at least, one can hope!  :)

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He eats EVERYTHING Including Burt’s Bees Diaper Ointment

Thank God it’s Friday, for real.  Jack and I have been up since 4:30 a.m. today–quite unwillingly on my part.  It’s my turn to be sick, so of course, I’m feeling totally out of it and extra grumpy.  TGIF, people.  TGIF.
Our morning escapades thus far have included the usual furniture climbing, breakfast smeared onto the ottoman and my coffee poured all over the chair.  But the best yet, Jack ate some Burt’s Bees diaper cream and proceeded to rub it into the ottoman, next to the area where I just cleaned up his breakfast disaster.  It appeared that, because this diaper cream is all natural and contains sweet almond oil, Jack thought it was his morning snack.  Awesome.

735_xl_v2While panic set it in, it occurred to me that this is one of the reasons why I only use natural products.  I don’t use them so that he can eat them at his leisure ;)   but instead, I use them because they’re safe, in case he does get his chubby paws on them.  After I wiped the thick white cream OFF of his face and tongue, I checked the label and immediately went onto the Burt’s Bees website but didn’t find too much information in the event that the cream is ingested.  Yeesh!  Info that I found on one of the poison control sites:  Diaper rash creams/ointments such as Desitin/A&D ointment have a very low level of toxicity contrary to warning labels on the product.  Here again, this product usually only causes oral/stomach upset.
I’m keeping a close on eye him today because it’s just another one of those sheer terror/chaotic/nightmarish mornings.  Maybe it’s cabin fever.  Maybe it’s me having much slower reaction time.  Maybe it’s an indication of what’s to come… haha.  Mental note to myself and to others, keep toiletries like this and other items in question out of your child’s reach.  I’ve learned my lesson!

Anyway, aside from Burt’s Bees Diaper Cream being all natural awesomeness, this product is a must-have in your diaper bag/baby toiletry arsenal.  The ingredients are wonderful, the smell is heavenly and for us, it works practically overnight!  We’ve tried all the diaper creams and ointments out on the market and for our kid who has extremely sensitive skin, this is THE diaper cream I swear by.  It’s like an all natural magic potion, but yeah, just don’t eat it.

Ingredients:  Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, zinc oxide, beeswax, lavandula hybrida (lavandin) oil, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, tocopherol, lavendula angustifolia (lavender) oil, anthemis nobilis (chamomile) flower extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, canola oil, glycine soja (soybean) oil

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2 week delay and other work hazards

A girlfriend of mine recently asked me, “How in the hell do you get anything accomplished work-wise with a toddler running around.”  Well, the truth is, there are days like today, where I honestly don’t get a thing accomplished.  The last thing I remember was waking up and starting a new day and the next thing you know, it’s dinnertime…and I have yet to tackle that to-do list that’s been the same for two weeks now.

So, as of right now, 2 days before Thanksgiving, I have YET to mail my Thanksgiving cards that I bought a MONTH ago.  (Sorry, family)  I have yet to make it to the gym yet this week and honestly, I don’t even know if we have everything we need for cooking dinner on Thursday.  blah.  But, we do have wine.  Lots of it, thank goodness :)

I’m not complaining really, more like explaining.  It’s all part of the sacrifice and job description. I have a list of reviews I’ve been planning on writing, never mind working on my new website, but alas,  other duties beckon and loudly.  So, why don’t I show you what I HAVE been doing and what’s been keeping me busy…or shall I say who.
Hanging out in the toy basket
Busted

And of course, my favorite:

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The new juggle

Well, I just noticed the calendar, and it’s been about a month since I left my job and took the leap into this whole freelance realm.  It’s hard to believe it’s been that long already; it feels like I walked out that door just yesterday.

I’ve learned so much in this first month of working at home.  So far, I’ve come away with the most important lesson that the role of full time mom is the most challenging job I’ll probably ever have.  I guess I’ve always known that, but never really knew firsthand.  Secondly, combining the whole mom gig with the writing gig is just as complicated as it sounds.  I’m working on my time management skills and adopting a more structured schedule, but as the first month winds down, I think we’re making headway.  I wrote for several hours today, went to the gym, made lunch, made sure the kid had a nap…I even took a shower.  As for the house? ha.  I have a sink full of dishes, a stack of newspapers and magazines on the couch that I intended to read this week, nothing ready for dinner and the eternal piles of laundry.  But you know what?  I’ll get to it all…eventually.

This week has been an incredibly inspiring one, mainly because of the seminar I attended (which I WILL write about soon).  I learned so much from the event and came away with realistic expectations.   Jack and I also had a chance to have lunch with one of my good girlfriends, who is a designer that has been freelancing for about a year now.  From this “business” lunch, my friend shared her experience and transition, again providing me realistic expectations about all of this.  She’s been an incredible source of inspiration with her ongoing success.

This whole WAHM-thing?  It’s really not all about sitting in your pjs all day (well, maybe some days.)  It’s about following through with your career goals.  And of course, it’s about finding that balance that everyone deserves.   In this past month in trying to find my bearings, sadly, I’ve been confronted by a lot of pessimists and skeptics–people who have been quite vocal about their lack of faith in my freelance endeavors.   I left a good ol’ boys club because they believed that I was only worthy of being the second string player.  When I sat in that seminar earlier this week with a panel of successful mompreneurs, it reinforced my desire to prove the skeptics wrong and follow through with my creative ambition.

And finally, I can’t even put into words the awesomeness of being home all day to pick up Pirates Booty off of the floor, mop up milk from the carpet (10x a day I might add) and pick Goldfish out of the couch cushions.  To be able to hear my kid learn to talk, watch his imagination burgeon and kiss me (repeatedly) for no reason is worth its weight in gold.  Being a full time work at home mom is a new juggle, but a much, MUCH more rewarding one.

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Fall Back and the new shuffle

The bedtime shuffle started at approximately 5:45 tonight.  It was just 5 minutes after I put dinner in the oven and heard my unread newspaper being used as a new-found toy.

“Jackson,” Jeff pleaded, “that’s mommy’s newspaper.  She’s going to be upset if you rip it, please bring it to daddy.”

*rip, shed, rip, rip*

ugh.

It wasn’t the loss of yet another Thing of importance that was frustrating, it was the fact that Jack was smacking his head (his sign for sleep) in hopes of getting the message across that “Hey mom and dad, I’m tearing up this dumb newspaper because I WANT TO GO TO BED.”

My plans for the 3 of us having Sunday dinner together was quickly kiboshed as soon as the boy completed his confetti crusade and went into full-on meltdown mode.  From the crescendo of his shrieks, Daddy negotiations wouldn’t suffice.  I poked my head out of the kitchen to find my pantless, tearful toddler with arms fully extended and fingers wiggling my way.

Smacking his head even harder all my buddy could do was, “MAMAMAMAMAMA  wahhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Daylight Saving Fall Back, I hate you.

Ok, no, I don’t.

What I mean is, I love AND hate Daylight Saving Time.  I love the arrival of spring and how it gets brighter earlier.  I love summer afternoons lasting until 8:30 p.m.!  I love how the concept begins in March, giving us about 8 months worth of daylight savings.  On the otherhand, I truly hate it when it’s dark out at 5 p.m.  But what I’ve recently learned is that I hate how this whole Fall Back thing rattles the bedtime shuffle even more.
I’m really never going to sleep ever again.

Last November, since Jack was an infant, I REALLY didn’t sleep at all, so I didn’t notice the time change and its effect.  So this year, I assumed it’d be seamless once again…especially since I actually got that extra hour of sleep this morning!  (Jack slept in until 7a.m.!!)
So when reality reared its head this evening at dinnertime, I really didn’t expect to battle tears and almost 3 hours of clingyness.  It was rough, but we made it.  Thank goodness Jeff and I were able to tagteam with the tear-wiping and toddler negotiations long enough to eat a maellable Sunday dinner.

According to Lisa Belkin, writer of one of my favorite Times Blogs, all should be back to “normal” once everyone is adjusted to this new routine, supposedly in 5 days or so.  Of course, as soon as I get a grip on our OLD bedtime shuffle, things have to get all crazy.

Oh well, it’s not like I’m ever going to enjoy sleep again anyway.

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Snowfall in October

It’s kind of hard to believe, but parts of NJ, NY and PA saw their first snowfall yesterday!  We knew it was going to be cold and stormy, but not THAT cold!  Thankfully, we didn’t see any snow ourselves, but we got a lot of rain and wind.  Our heater was working overtime yesterday.
snowFALL

Jack and I stayed indoors all day yesterday and canceled our big plan to go to a local toddler concert.  There’s no fun traipsing around in the rain with a stroller.  At this point, we’ve watched every single Jack’s Big Music Show episode ever made, so we’re going a bit stir crazy.

And when I say we, I mean me.

Photo credit: Star Ledger

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