Category Archive : preschoolers

Wordful Wednesday: Winter Wonderland & Holiday Blessings

Minnesota finally received its biggest snowfall since something like February 2011. I was getting worried, I mean, snow and freezing cold- it’s what we’re known for in this place! I may be a freak, but I totally love it. I am a true, Minnesota girl!

Even more importantly, my KID loves it!

Snow & Snuggles? All is right with the world. 

Pretty sure he’s happiest about the snow. 

Teaching him important life skills necessary to living in Minnesota.

I’m thinking… “I need snowpants too”

It isn’t a snowstorm until you make a snow angel! 
I love this kid! 

I find it easy this time of year to get stressed out and distracted from the things that truly matter. My son reminds me to take a step back and look at things through his eyes. Remembering that the holiday season isn’t all about buying the right presents or serving the right food but about love and togetherness. Playing in the snow. Enjoying how beautiful life truly is.

For the first time in years, I am at peace this holiday season. I haven’t been stressing out over the fact that I haven’t bought many presents or even that I have no idea what to get anyone. Nobody is fighting about where to go or on what day. I just feel… happy. Content. Blessed. I am in such a good place in my life right now. I am thankful for my beautiful family and friends- without them, I would be nothing. Thankful for a new job and colleagues who gave me an opportunity to succeed, continue to challenge me and love actually showing up every day. Thankful for an online community whom I look to for guidance and support as a professional, mom and of course entertain me and give me a laugh when I need it most. Thankful for new, special friends who came into my life this year that have surprised and inspired me in more ways than I can count.

As you get bogged down by the insanity of the holiday season, pissed off at the shitty traffic that came with a 12 foot snow dump and frustrated with a never-ending sinus infection try to remember and be thankful for the things both big and little that matter the most in life. Love. Peace. Happiness. A White Christmas!

A Mommy Fear Comes True

I’m not a helicopter parent by any measure. I stand back and let my son learn things on his own. I let him try new things. I try not to interfere or nag until it becomes a safety issue. I try to keep my “no” items to the things that matter the most so that he understands when I say no, I mean it.

When we started building our house 5 years ago, we had given up hope of having a baby. We picked a model and our FABULOUS Country Joe Homes sales manager exceeded our expectations by adding in the little extras that we loved but didn’t think we could have such as a pantry and a large wrap around front porch. It was our little dream home. We didn’t put much thought behind designing something child-friendly, because we were under the assumption we weren’t having one.

Cue our shock 4 months later when one pregnancy test after another showed up positive.

We were able to make small changes- such as what color to paint his room and what kind of carpet we should get that would withstand the spills of a child. We couldn’t do anything about the large staircase or the location of the upstairs rooms and bathroom.

Here is how our house is laid out (for the most part):

On the 2nd floor you can see that to get from the bedroom next to the master to the bathroom, you’ll have to walk right in front of the stairway. From the time we brought Baby Jack home, this has been a worry of mine- when he starts heading to the bathroom on his own, he’ll have to walk right in front of that huge, long staircase. We watched him a million times run down that hall to the bathroom and back without incident and finally gave him the freedom to leave his room on his own at night. I always hear him get up (we still have him on a monitor) and hear the pitter patter of his little feet trotting down the hall. I never go back to sleep until he is safe in his bed.

Early this morning, the sound of the door opening and his feet in the hallway awoke us at around 4:45am. My husband thought he had been in the bathroom a long time and went to check on him. Jack emerged from the bathroom, gave his daddy a leg hug and proceeded to try and run around him only he cut his turn short and went tumbling down the stairs. In an effort to try and grab and save him from the fall, my husband fell head over heels right behind him. I didn’t see any of this, I only heard the sounds of bodies going down the stairs and of my child screaming in terror. In a panic, I jumped out of bed and ran after them. Father and son were embraced at the bottom of the stairs. I quickly grabbed Jack into my lap to cradle him, put my hand on the top of his head to feel for any growing bumps and then felt the wet, stickiness of blood. Nausea flooded over me; however, I immediately I jumped up, turned on lights and ran to the kitchen where I hoisted him up on the counter to see what had happened to my baby boy. Seeing no gaping wounds, I caught a glimpse of my husband. He was a disaster. Arm bleeding, chin dripping with blood, swollen face. He took the brunt of this fall. I checked Jack from head to toe: barely a scratch. How is this possible? Seeing the state of my husband, I knew he needed medical attention. He stubbornly refused my offer of bringing him to the hospital and told me to just make sure Jack gets to school. Thankfully, my husband only required a couple stitches on his chin and had no broken bones (I’ll bet he’s glad I started making him take multi-vitamins!). He is in pain though with his bumps and bruises (yet apparently not so much pain that he’s able to hold his XBox controller?? Fishy…).

Seriously though, my husband is a hero. He sacrificed himself and did whatever he could to keep our son from getting hurt. True love, man. True love.

My mommy instincts are still screaming even though everything turned out shockingly okay. I know it is time to take action: What are we going to do to keep something like this from happening again? As you can see from the floor plans, there is a bedroom right across from the bathroom. I hate the idea of having him go through such a change (he’s been his current room since birth), but hate the idea of him getting injured on that stairway even more. Sure, we could put a gate at the top of the stairs, but what a pain in the ass those things are to fiddle with, not to mention you can STILL fall down the damn stairs after you go through it anyway.

I vote new room. We can paint and decorate it up and make it feel like it’s truly “his” room that he can be proud of. It will get him closer to the bathroom, remove the issue of the stairway and may even get us over the overnight bedwetting hump. Now to get my husband on board with this idea…

What are your greatest mommy (or daddy) fears? Did you take specific action to keep them from coming true? 

The Great Bedtime Battle

Since becoming a mom, I have learned a level of patience that I had no idea existed within myself. I’m not certain my husband has quite grasped on to the concept yet, so for now, it will have to be my “thing”.

Some of my virtual mama friends out there have entered into the potty training phase and have expressed their frustrations. OH the frustrations. I often imagined that my son would still be in Pull Ups going into Kindergarten as I really saw no light at the end of that tunnel for a good long time. My strong-willed child put up a good fight. Just like everyone said it would happen, suddenly he would be potty trained and we woulnd not even realize when it happened. I look back and cannot pinpoint an exact day  or even month when it happened. I have not forgotten how frustrating it was. The accidents, the excuses. We tried everything from rewards charts to candy to toy bribery. We are still working on overnight accidents and he hasn’t gotten the whole wiping thing down yet, but we aren’t stressing over it either.

Just like everything with our son, he chose to do it in his own time. In his own way.

Like many parents, bedtime is definitely a battle. Our child has no off switch,  so getting him to shut off for the night is one of the most insanely frustrating experiences. It’s THE main reason my husband and I take turns putting him to bed. If it were an easy process, I wouldn’t need every other night off from this duty. Just like potty training, he is taking his own sweet time when it comes to going to bed on his own. We have established such a flawless routine that attempting to break it in any way is proving disastrous.

Out of the blue, he decided he was big enough to go brush his teeth, go potty and get his jammies on by himself. If we DARE try to interject, he gets ANGRY and tells us to leave. He wants to do it by himself! Also out of the blue for the first time, he got out of bed on Saturday morning, came into our bedroom and declared, “Mommy and Daddy, it’s wake up time!” He proceeded to explain that the bunny is awake so we all need to be awake now too. Now, the bunny clock has to be just about the best invention ever:

We were having issues with Jack waking up in the middle of the night thinking it was time to wake up for the day. He didn’t seem to understand that it was 2:30am. It was a battle. So, we bought him this sleep/wake training alarm clock from One Step Ahead so he would know when the bunny is sleeping, he should be sleeping too. Holy crap. It actually worked. Yes, he still wakes up with bad dreams and needs a hug or needs help getting to the potty, but he knows to go back to bed because the bunny is still sleeping. We noticed on our video monitor (yes… he is 4 and we still use it… don’t judge me), that he will wake up before the bunny is up but sit in his bed and play with dream lite or his stuffed toys until the bunny is awake. This this is like magic and we love it.

However, this magical clock did not cure his bedtime battle struggles. He WILL NOT let us leave the room and we must painfully wait until he is fast asleep before we can slip out. We thought maybe with all of his newly discovered independence that he would suddenly decide he can go to bed by himself too. So, we asked him if he was willing to try and if he would do it, we would reward him with a shiny, new light saber. Both nights we attempted this, we failed. He is dependent on our nearness and obviously thinks we are abandoning him if we don’t lay by his side. Cradling him in my lap while he shook in fear with giant alligator tears rolling down his eyes, I reassured him over and over that I wouldn’t leave him. My patience nearing its breaking point as I longed for my “me” time, my stomach grumbling for my next scheduled Medifast snack, I took a deep breath and snuggled in next to my sad, little boy. He fell asleep quickly, holding my finger in a death clutch that said, “Please don’t leave alone, Mommy.” As I freed my hand and tiptoed out of his room, I blew him a kiss and promised myself that we would no longer try and push this issue with him.

As with everything we’ve “struggled” with along the way, he will learn to go to bed by himself in his own time. It may be a month, heck, it could be a couple more years. I do know for sure, it will be in his time. When he is ready. Truthfully? Despite the sometimes frustrating push back he gives us (i.e. I need to go potty again, I’m thirsty, my tummy hurts… etc etc etc), I have learned to love this quiet time. Most of the time we snuggle and read books on my Nook and then just talk. I’ve learned more about his day in the 10 minutes before he falls asleep than dinner and playtime combined.

I selfishly treasure my time with him, so why be in such a hurry to get him to grow up!?

I was not compensated in any way for promoting the sleep training clock. It is just that kick ass that I had to share it with all of you. 


Semi Wordless Wednesday: Valleyfair

If there is one thing I couldn’t wait for when I became a mom, it was to bring my boy to Valleyfair. For those of you who are not familiar, Valleyfair is a theme park. Six Flags calibur. Roller coaster awesomeness. I have been going to Valleyfair since I was about 5 years old. This moment… bringing my son here… I have no words for how excited I was. When our friends invited us to join them for the day, we jumped at the chance. It was also a chance to do some Disney training. Just 17 days to go!

It was an awesome day and I won’t forget his face at seeing all the roller coasters and even his fear of some of the kiddie rides. He was so brave and so well behaved all day. We were so proud.

Jack and Mason and Facepainting

Daddy & Jack driving the antique cars. A Valleyfair must. 

Jack’s first ride by himself. I was terrified. 

Watching the Peanuts show. They weren’t too sure what the hell was going on. 

Mason & Jack with Snoopy

His smile didn’t last long. 

Modern Day Ball Crawl

My beautiful family. 

Wordless Wednesday: God Bless America, Preschool Style

Happy 4th of July from my family to yours!

Birthday Post: Make Your Years Count

Sometimes it is the little things.

Now that I am 36 (oh god… I said it out loud), I no longer have a big whopping party or crazy night out for my birthday. I care very little about getting presents. I enjoy simple, quality time with close friends and family. I confess, I secretly love the barrage of Facebook love not to mention the little birthday deals I get via e-mail from my favorite retailers. I do love that my co-worker got me fun pens, a couple packs of my favorite gum and bright pink nail polish. My husband is taking me out to a nice lunch today which will be a welcome break in a long day. Did I mention I get the house to myself for a whole hour tonight? Yup. Pretty much the best gift ever.

My husband will disagree, but the best part of the day was Jack waking up before before I left for work this morning. He is very much not a morning child so he was crabby, but somehow before I left he stopped crying, gave me a hug and we exchanged the following words:

Me: See you later Jack, I love you!
Jack: Bye, mommy. I love you more!
Me: I love you the MOST

If you have seen the movie Tangled, you are familiar. Pretty much the sweetest words ever.

I love being a mom.

Out of all the company/business/retailer e-mails I received today, the one from SparkPeople was the most profound and I loved it. I plan to do exactly this:

Wordful Wednesday: Friends For Life

My friend Angie and I from college have been through a lot together over the years. Roommates. Parties. Boyfriends. Breakups. New jobs. Lost jobs. We had a falling out. We found our friendship again. Engagements. Marriages.  We endured our infertility together. I think God has the inside track on our friendship because despite our struggles with infertility, we were able to have our babies just 6 months apart. Nothing touches my heart more than to see our boys becoming friends.

Angie & I at the Earth Day 5K
Sticking Close together
Ready, set, GO!!
Our Little Mountain Climbers
Little Slugger

Such an awesome evening. Our families had so much fun together.

The Philips Wake-Up Light Experiment

No this is not a picture of me.

I was super stoked to FINALLY get accepted into the SheSpeaks Philips Wake-Up Light Better Mornings program. It is just a really cool product and might just be the answer to my prayers as a person who wakes up at 5am the majority of the week as well as suffers from SAD (Seasonal Appresive Disorder).

Not sure how important daylight is? Sunlight and daylight have positive effects. They raise energy levels and help align our daily rhythm. The Philip Wake-Up Light gradually wakes you up in a gentle, less abrupt way- the way nature intended. Starting a half hour before your set wake up time, the Philips Wake-Up Light gradually fills your room with bright light, similar to the rising sun. The light raises energy levels, slowly preparing you to slowly wake up.

I decided to give this thing a try for 5 days. My initial concerns:
– The light would wake my husband up (who actually gets up with the rising sun like a normal human)
– The light wouldn’t wake me up at all
– That nothing would change and I would still be hitting snooze every 10 minutes.

Night 1: This dumbass probably should’ve read the instructions fully as I was somehow blissfully unaware that you are to set it a half hour before you are ready to get up. Being a snooze button lover, I had set my clock to my “snooze” time: 5:05am (gives me about 30 minutes worth of snooze slamming). So to my limited knowledge, the light started firing up at 4:30am. At about 4:45a, I sensed that it was light (holy crap… this thing works??) and I panicked. Full on freaked. Shot up in bed thinking that it was about 7am and I was about to be very late for work. Worried that it worked so well on me (and it was much earlier than I am accustomed to anyway) and that I would wake up my snoring husband, I turned off the light portion and stuck to the good old fashioned FM radio wake up. Baby steps, right? I asked my husband if he noticed the light being on. He said no but that he heard the radio. LOL. Going into Night #2, I’m going to give this thing a REAL try. Set my alarm for 5:30 (light will start at 5) and see if waking up is a little easier without having to hit snooze a hundred times.

Night 2: Yup. Got a kick from my husband this morning to turn the light off. However, can we agree that this thing works?  

The full intensity brighter than the sun light which woke my dear husband up. Yes, that is my backup former alarm clock in the background. And the video monitor. Also wonderfully bright for my husband’s annoyance.

Night 3: I knocked down the light intensity by half (to just a 5 out of 20) and it still woke me up about 10 minutes before the radio alarm sounded. Husband didn’t wake from it this time; however, that may have been more because he was up at 4am with the kid. I am definitely feeling less apt to hit snooze- I actually want to just wake up and get moving!

The intensity used at half and still more than woke me up.

Night 4: Thanksgiving Eve = sleeping in (or rather, waking up to the natural sunlight beating in my window)

Night 5: Thanksgiving Turkey coma. Yet the light woke me up 10 minutes before my alarm as usual. Up and not entirely thrilled to be going to work the day after Thanksgiving.

I spent a whole week testing out the Philips Wake-Up light and my final assessment? I love it. Love, love, LOVE IT. I love being woken up naturally rather than beating down my alarm clock every 10 minutes. In regards to my initial concerns, I found a light intensity that doesn’t seem to disturb my husband, it actually does wake me up and I have yet to touch the snooze button. My biggest issue is lack of trust. As parents, we are often woken up in the middle of the night by our preschooler’s dreams, potty needs, illness, monsters, MiMiMi scaring him (who the heck is MiMiMi??),  ETC ETC ETC and are freaking tired. So tired, that often the sudden shrieking of an alarm clock is what it really takes to wake up before the crack of dawn. I don’t trust that the light is going to wake me up, so I wake up every hour worried that I’m going to oversleep. Regardless of whether it worked just fine for an entire week and I woke up without an issue every day, I was still restless overnight.

No lie, I was pretty skeptical. I didn’t think it would work. I thought I wouldn’t want it. I confess, I was wrong. This is a great product. If you struggle with getting up in the morning and are a chronic snooze smacker like I used to be, this product will do wonders for you.

SheSpeaksbutton Thinking Light Therapy is the right thing for you? Click on the button to the left to get $10 off your Philips Wake-Up Light!

Bleary-eyed Zombie Mom Approved.

* I was given a Philips Wake Up Light to review through www.shespeaks.com. All opinions are mine and mine alone.

Wordless Wednesday: Thanksgiving Edition

Despite the fact I had to work on Wednesday and Friday of Thanksgiving week, we pulled off an extremely successful and blessed Thanksgiving dinner with my side of the family. We truly have so much to be thankful for!

The bird cookin’ on the smoker. My husband is so proud of his smoker…
The finished bird. Her bounty was plentiful.
My unbelievable cheescake. No, really. Recipe found on Pinterest! Amazing.
Party at the kiddie table. Jack & his cousin Miles.
I always put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving (or… night since I had to work). I was not happy to have a broken string of lights on my pre-lit tree.
But, a quick trip to Target and the light fiasco was quickly fixed and holiday cheer filled our home.
Meanwhile, Jack got to spend the day after Thanksgiving with his daddy since I had to work. When asked if he was having a fun time at the Minnesota Zoo, he replied with 2 thumbs up.
We didn’t want to forget about my husband’s family, so we took a road trip to lovely Rochester, MN for a visit with Papa, Auntie A, his new cousin Brooklyn and his two Great Grandmas one of which is 95 years old!

Why I Love The Elf On The Shelf

Go ahead haters, say what you want about this suddenly over-commercialized “tradition” but, I confess, I am totally in love with The Elf on the Shelf.

Jackson received his Elf from his Godparents post-Christmas last year and at the age of 2 could have cared less about it. I had heard of The Elf on the Shelf and thought it was a super cute idea- I was excited to figure out what he was all about. Noticing all the Elf hype this year, I told my husband that I wanted to get one for Jack. Oh yes, apparently I had forgotten we got one as a gift. So, we pulled our Elf out from the depths of Christmas storage and introduced him to Jackson who was immediately mystified by him. We asked him to give the Elf a name to which he initially replied, “Let’s call him Reindeer.” We then encouraged him to think of a few more (with a few suggestions from Mom & Dad) and he decided Ernie was the perfect name for his Elf. We went to www.elfontheshelf.com where we officially “adopted” Ernie. Jack was over the moon getting a letter back from Santa- he even wanted to bring it with him to school to show his teacher. He seriously carries this letter with him everywhere.

I know some longtime Elf on the Shelf people are not happy that the tradition has been commercially over-blown. My husband HATED the CBS special that aired- he called it total propaganda. While I agree with him that the show was obviously catered to selling more of the Elf, Jackson LOVED it. He loved the music, he loved Santa, he loved everything about it AND he learned what HIS Elf was all about. While he hasn’t put two and two together that Ernie will report his naughty behavior to Santa and he won’t get a gift, he still thinks Ernie is magical and funny. He freaked out when he thought his daddy was trying to touch Ernie and quickly explained to us in only the way that a 3 year old does that if we touch him, his magical powers will go away. He gets it and it is adorable. Am I scarring him for life for making him think there is a magical tattle tale Elf living in our house? I don’t think so. Shit. I believed in Santa for I don’t even know how long as a kid and guess what… I don’t harbor any ill will towards my parents or require any therapy for their living such a lie.

My husband and I are having fun with finding different places to put Ernie and it has become a game for us to find fun and hilarious things to do with him. Sure, Ernie had a little bit of a creeper look when he was humping the angel on the top of our tree (yes, we told the child he was… giving her a hug), but overall I find our little Elf hilarious. This Elf isn’t unlike the creepy fake HAND that my husband has been moving around with him for the last 20 years that shows up in all kinds of awful places to scare both me and our child, not to mention may or may not have groped a number of stuffed animals in our household. It doesn’t take an obscene amount of time (2 minutes max.) to find a hiding place for Ernie, nor are we going to run out of ideas anytime soon NOR do we care if we have to reuse the same ideas.

Our famous creepy fake hand.

I love this new tradition. I love that Jackson is getting caught up in the magic of Christmas and that he so passionately believes in his Elf. Every day, my usually cranky preschooler wakes up excited to run out and find where Ernie is hiding. Our silly little Elf has brought magic and excitement to our house which had been seriously lacking Christmas spirit this holiday season and for that, I am grateful.

So, my dear Elf haters, I’m sorry that you weren’t able to make the Elf work for your family. I truly hope that you are finding other ways to add magic into the holiday season.