Gratefulness

Happy Thanksgiving! You know, I don’t do the 30 days of Thanks thing on Facebook, because I don’t really care to post that much on Facebook, but I did want to take a moment today to count my numerous blessings.

I am thankful for our families. They have been extraordinarily supportive of us every step of the way, especially during our move this year. I am grateful for their endless love and guidance. I am especially thankful for A’s grandparents. John and I are extremely lucky our little girl has such loving grandparents, and we’re very lucky to have the amazing parents we have. It warms my heart to think how much our little girl is loved by everyone around her.

I am thankful for my husband, who puts up with me no matter how whiny and annoying I can get, which is pretty whiny and annoying. I am grateful for his patience, his love, and his positive spirit. I am especially thankful I married the only man who is able to make me laugh and smile even when I’m my maddest, even if that trait annoys me from time to time.

I am thankful for our friends, both old and new. We’re lucky to be surrounded my such great people, both close and far in proximity. I’m grateful for all of the new friends A is making, too.

I am thankful for all the career opportunities we have now and will have in the future. I’m extremely grateful we both have stable jobs in an unstable career climate.

I am thankful for the house we call home. I am especially thankful for the working heater this Thanksgiving, since it is freaking cold here (the coldest Thanksgiving in almost a decade in Indy, apparently).

I am thankful for our new city and our new state. It was no secret that I was not super excited about moving to Indiana. It’s not a state I ever saw myself living in, but Indiana and Hoosiers have been some of the nicest and most welcoming people I’ve ever met. We’re finally really settling in here, and it’s really starting to feel like home. Dare I say it, I am grateful to live here. It’s a beautiful state, a beautiful city, with some beautiful people.

I am thankful for the food in my fridge and pantry. I’m grateful I’m able to feed my family this Thanksgiving, our first Thanksgiving on our own, just the three of us. We’re going to have a modest little meal (the classic Thanksgiving meal, but scaled down, and with a few substitutions), but I’m thankful for my cooking ability to prepare it.

I am thankful for you! I started this blog as a way to document my journey through pregnancy and parenthood, and while I hoped people would read it and laugh or smile or commiserate, I never expected it. I am so incredibly grateful for every like, every comment, every view. Y’all are the best. I love each and every single one of you.

Mostly though, I am thankful for this little girl, who lights my world up with love every single day. photo (73)

My favorite apps for toddlers/kids

I was at lunch with a couple girlfriends from work yesterday, and A had to tag along because John is out of town. She is normally relatively good at restaurants, but because she is a toddler, she got bored with what I brought to entertain her. To keep her from grabbing at everything on the table she shouldn’t have, I did what any parent of the 21st century would do.

I pulled out my iPhone, loaded up one of her apps, and handed it over. And she happily played for 20 more minutes.

It’s amazing to me how my one year old can operate my phone and iPad.  She knows how to press the home button and unlock the screen. She understands that hitting the screen makes things change. She gets cause and effect, basically: She knows that when she does A on my phone or iPad, B happens and it makes her happy.

I don’t normally just fork over my electronics to her, but when we’re at a restaurant, waiting in the doctor’s office, on a plane, or anywhere else where it is generally frowned upon to run around like a crazy person (which she would prefer to do) or scream because she is being held against her will (which would happen without some distraction), having the capability to pull out my phone and keep her occupied for a while is a godsend.

There’s a lot of these lists floating around on the Internet, and my major problem with most of them is they are filled with apps that cost money. I hate hate HATE spending money on apps. It annoys me. And it seems more and more apps are becoming more expensive (does anyone remember when most apps were free or $0.99 at most?).

What I like about these apps is most of them are free. The only ones I paid for were Elmo Calls ($0.99) and Peekaboo Sesame Street ($0.99 for now, will go up shortly though!). The great thing about apps is you can change them out a lot, so your toddler has different games to play, which will keep them occupied longer, and keep everyone happy.

amelia's apps

1. Any Fisher Price app (Free): Fisher Price has a ton of FREE apps. Are they a wealth of education and game play? No, but they are basic fun, and great for older infants and young toddlers learning cause and effect.

2. Phone4Kids (Free with in app purchases): This basically makes your iPhone into a toy iPhone. The “screen” is loaded with different “apps” like weather, texting, a number pad to make “calls”, a doodle pad, etc.

3. PBS Kids (Free): We haven’t introduced A to much TV, but this app let’s A enjoy short videos from PBS shows, like her favorite, Sesame Street.

4. Elmo Calls ($0.99): What toddler DOESN’T want to call/facetime with Elmo?

5. Peekaboo Sesame Street ($0.99): Along the same lines of Peekaboo Barn or Peek-a-zoo, but with Sesame Street characters. You can either loop it for endless play or play in story mode, which ends with Elmo and Abby going to bed. This was on “sale” for it’s launch week for $0.99, but will probably be $2-3 or more here shortly. Get it while it’s cheap, people.

6. Xylophone (Free): What’s not to love about banging on something and making a lot of noise? You can either just hit the notes randomly, or it will guide you to play different songs, like Do Rei Mi, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Jingle Bells, Rudolph, etc, etc. You can guess what A prefers to do, I’m sure.

7. Shapes (Free): Games, quizzes, flash cards, and puzzles to help toddlers learn shapes. I really like the flash cards. Basic, fun learning.

8. Reading Rainbow (Free with a subscription option): I used to love Reading Rainbow. For free you can download five books per family, or you can pay a flat rate per month and “subscribe” to get unlimited options. At one, five e-books is plenty. There are different “islands” (genres) to explore with books on them. Also great for older kids. Parents, it records your kid’s reading (how much, what, etc), so you can keep tabs on it.

9. Letter Sounds by Rosetta Stone (Free): This is an app I have to participate it because it involves repeating Spanish words into the microphone on the iPad to make the character do whatever you tell it to (like dance, dance fast, dance to the left, etc). There’s a lot of research that says the earlier you introduce kids to foreign languages the easier they will pick it up. While I don’t think this will make her fluent, it’s a start and it’s fun.

10. Learn with Homer (Free): This is supposed to be for preschool/kindergarten aged kids, but it’s another good parent/toddler app. It has phonics, stories, science lessons, and art and recording tools. Plus it’s just a beautiful app with a lot of colors, which makes it very engaging for her and me both.

11. GazzilliWords (Free with in app purchases): You get three free words, fingerprint, rainbow, and balance (with the option to buy “booster packs” of more words). It reads you a short “story” explaining what the word means, and then has games to help “bring the word to life.” What I really like about this app is that it introduces words that are challenging to little kids, not just “dog, cat, ball” like other word books/games have.

What apps do you have that really hit a home run with your toddlers/kids?

Tis the season to be sick

Tis the season!

For illness.

I got the dreaded “your kid is sick” call from daycare yesterday. Again. It’s the second time in a month, I think. Luckily, this time, the call came when I was already on my way to pick her up. She was running a pretty good fever, around 102. Of course the daycare has the “24 hour” rule, ie if a child is sent home sick they cannot come back until they are illness or fever free for 24 hours. This means it’s a Mommy/Baby A day. Hurrah!

Except not really because she’s not feeling well which means I have to try to get her to the doctor, which is no fun. And it’s not like they refund you for not being at daycare that one day, which is also no fun.

Since it’s the time of year where illnesses abound, I thought I’d cover the things I keep stocked for when illnesses arise in my house.

HSM’s Sick Kid Survival Guide:

1. Vicks Pediatric Soothing Vapors Waterless Plug-in

I know a lot of people don’t like Vicks, and that’s fine, but I love it. I don’t care if it makes me and my house smell like menthol, I think the stuff is amazing. And this thing? A godsend. A has had a wicked cough since it got cold up here. I got this as a last resort, and it works. Last night she was having coughing fits, which as you may know are usually worse when you lay down, but she didn’t cough once all night. I didn’t even hear her raspy breath or little wheeze like I sometimes do when she has a cold.

2. Dye free infant acetaminophen drops (grape flavor)

This stuff is kind of all the same, brand wise, but I prefer the Target brand because it’s A) dye free, which is awesome if baby dribbles some (have you tried to get that sticky red stuff out clothes?) and B) Grape is a superior flavor. I mean, this is just a fact. Even A agrees. She will suck the grape flavored stuff down, but will refuse the berry flavor, every single time.

In the interest of honesty, I would buy infant Advil, because I think it works better, but as of right now, they don’t have a suspension liquid bottle, which is way easier to get the right dosage. And the Target brand isn’t dye free. C’mon Advil. Get it together. I guess it’s true when they say you can’t have it all *sigh*.

3. The Snot Sucker

Look, this thing is gross. I know it, you know it, the world knows it. And I’ve never met a baby who enjoys having what I am sure feels like their brains being sucked out. But it works so much better than the bulb syringe. Now that A is bigger and stronger, suctioning her nose is definitely a two person job though. One person to hold her down, the other to do the dirty work. I tried to do it myself last night and got kicked in the face. Thanks, kid.

4. Fruit juice/Pedialyte

I never give A juice. Ever. One normal days, it’s milk or water only. But when she isn’t feeling well, I give her juice diluted with water. Like, way diluted. One ounce juice to six or seven ounces of water. It just gives it a little bit of flavor. A lot of times when she isn’t feeling well, eating and drinking aren’t things she wants to do, and I find this little bit of sweetness entices her to drink more water, and thus she stays hydrated, which is uber important when it comes to treating colds. You could also use Pedialyte, and if your kid is puking or having diarrhea, that’s probably preferred. Luckily we haven’t had those issues yet this year (knock on wood).

5. Zarbee’s All Natural Baby Cough Syrup

Disclaimer: This is one of those things that you should probably ask your pediatrician about before using. Mine basically said “Well, it won’t hurt her,” which pretty much means who knows if it will help (I got the same reaction when I asked about Gripe Water when we were suffering from colic. It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think it will work it does). Look, I can’t say how well it works on coughs, but for what it’s worth, it does seem to help soothe irritated throats that are irritated from coughing. It’s pretty much the baby safe alternative of a spoon full of honey.

6. Sick kid foods

A is usually ravenous all the time, but when she isn’t feeling well she usually doesn’t eat as much. I try not to make meal times a chore for her so she will eat more. Her sick diet usually consists of yogurt (fed by Mama), applesauce in pouches, toast, bananas (again fed by Mama), and pasta or rice.

7. A few of your child’s favorite things

When all else fails, distraction wins. Right now A is obsessed with Sesame Street and Elmo. I got her a couple new Elmo books from the dollar section at Target, and last night, when nothing was making my normally bubbly baby smile, the little red monster on the TV did. Let’s save the argument about toddlers and TV for another time.

What can’t you (or your kid) live without when your child is sick?

T is for Tantrum

They come swiftly, blowing in unexpectedly, on the heels of absolutely nothing. They’re almost impossible to control, and once you’re in the middle of one, lord help you, almost nothing can help you. You just have to ride it out, and hopefully alone.

Yeah, I’m talking about temper tantrums.

It’s amazing how a kid hits one year old and a switch flips somewhere in their brain that makes the default option anytime something doesn’t go their way to flip the eff out. We’ve reached that unfortunate stage where everything is A’s way or the highway. And hell hath no fury like that of an A who is pissed off.

For the most part, A is still a very easy going, happy go lucky girl, but every now and then, she just plain loses it. And usually over (what seems to be) the most seemingly inconsequential things. They seem to revolve around her testing the boundaries or mealtimes. If I remove her from a situation she shouldn’t be in (like pressing buttons on the TV) or take something away from her (like a book with paper pages she is trying to eat), she goes ballistic. This is understandable, if not a little frustrating.

The tantrums involving meals are more frustrating, for everyone involved. While A is still a not very picky eater, she is an impatient eater. I can never prepare food fast enough, and there can never be enough food available to her. It’s almost impossible to keep up with this kid’s appetite. Eventually I have to cut her off, because overeating is never good, and I definitely don’t feel like cleaning up throw up. Of course this results in a lot of protest from her.

I’m trying to be very zen about this development, because I know we have a lot of these in our future. I’m also trying to just let her do her thing, and not try to fix whatever is wrong. There is never going to be a point in her life where there are no perimeters or rules, and in my opinion, it’s never too early to start teaching this lesson. You can’t always do/say/get what you want, especially when what you want is to chew on Mama’s laptop charger cord. So I let her scream. I let her cry, and eventually she works it out and goes on like nothing happened.

Of course, we haven’t had a tantrum in public yet. I’m sure I’ll feel quite differently when she is kicking and screaming on the floor in Target.

Stuff that happened in October

Holy cow, where did October go? Does anyone else feel like you just blinked and it was gone? It was one of those months where it seemed we had nothing and everything going on at the same time.

In all honesty, October is not my favorite month of the year, and I’m not entirely sad to see it go. Seasonly speaking, it’s a pretty drab month. The time hasn’t changed yet so it seems like it’s dark all the time. It got really cold here, rained a lot, even got some snow. Also, I am not the world’s biggest fan of Halloween. I know, I know, that’s almost sacrilegious in our society, but I just don’t care for creepy, gory, scary things.

At any rate, I always welcome November with open arms. I love Thanksgiving and pilgrim hats and turkey and pie. I also love that Christmas and my birthday are right around the corner in December. But this year a lot of good things happened in October, and before I got into “holiday” mode, I wanted to pay some homage to that.

october

We went to a pumpkin patch, and spent some time in a corn maze. A loved the petting zoo and romping around holding Daddy’s hands.

fall131

We went to Chicago. It was A’s and my first time to the Windy City, and we had a blast. We were only there for 36 hours, but we went to Millennium Park, Navy Pier, and the Shedd Aquarium. We did PLENTY of walking so we got to see a good bit of the city. Most importantly, we had Chicago deep dish pizza, which I might have formed an emotional attachment to (sadly, I was too busy falling love with my pizza–and drinking wine–to document the beginning of this relationship).

chicago

Lastly, we celebrated A’s second Halloween. I made her mermaid costume, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I’m not the most crafty mama on the block, but it was definitely cheaper. I think I spent a total of $15 on the whole ensemble. We had some bad weather roll through Halloween night, so Trick or Treating was postponed until last night. We went out with one of my friends and her almost-10 month old, and I had a blast. She had no idea what was going on, but she really like the attention. And getting candy, even if she doesn’t get to eat it.

(We also took some great selfies. A LOVES selfies.)

halloween

All things considered, this October was a pretty great month. We made some good memories and had a lot of fun. I don’t think you can ask for much more than that, no?

But I’m still excited it’s November! Bring on the turkey.