Back to the Grind

Well, after being off 10 wonderful weeks on maternity leave, I’ve officially been back to work for a full week now.  All in all, it hasn’t been too difficult of a transition.  Obviously it’s hard to go from spending all day with my baby to not…but I have found we are all settling into a routine a lot more easily than I expected.  The whole two-kids-in-daycare thing had me a little nervous since I had no idea what to expect or how our mornings would go.  Fortunately, Ian is old enough (and has been doing this long enough) that he is pretty easy in the morning now.  Hazel is young enough that she goes with the flow and doesn’t cause much issue in the morning, either.  We are supremely lucky.

Besides the relative ease with which they handle the morning, we are also lucky that we have great sleepers.  Ian will sleep through just about anything, and he’s always been that way.  Hazel is an absolute angel at night.  At just 11 weeks old, we are now going on THREE weeks of her sleeping through the night (for real- when we put her down for bed, she doesn’t wake up again until 7 or so in the morning…since we leave before then to get to work and daycare, we are waking her up in the morning instead of the other way around. In fact, I can sneak in her room around 6 and get in a feeding while she’s still asleep before I have to run out the door to catch my carpool.  As I said, we are blessed.).

Even the pumping-at-work situation isn’t awful.  My office recently created a pumping room, and while it’s nothing fancy, it is awesome.  There are 2 separate “stalls” for pumping, separated by cubicle walls and curtains.  Each stall has a desk, chair, and foot stool.  Plus magazines to read and a power strip.  It’s lovely to have a secure, private area to pump… definitely helps alleviate stress and contribute to pumping success.  I now staunchly believe that ALL workplaces should have one of these magical rooms.

All of this makes going back to work that much easier.  It’s still hard, and I still miss my babies, but it’s at least bearable.  Especially when I hear the ladies at daycare fawn over Hazel or listen to Ian talk about all the fun he had with his friends.  These little victories help me focus on the good and ease the “back-to-work-blues”.

Did you go back to work after the birth of your babies?  How did you adjust?

{Honest Review} Regalo Baby Travel Tray

Disclosure: I received this product for free from Regalo Baby as part of a contest. I was not compensated in any other way for this review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

It’s been nearly a year since I won this tray from Regalo Baby as part of a Facebook giveaway contest.

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I never win anything, so I was extremely excited to get this tray… even if I wasn’t 100% certain how I would be using it.  I certainly NEVER would have guessed that this would become the most utilized toddler item in our house.  I’m not lying or even exaggerating.  Ian uses this tray EVERY SINGLE DAY.

It is a near permanent fixture on our coffee table, and almost always has a drink of some kind in one of the cup holders.  I really like that the green part snaps off so if you don’t need (or want) a divided tray, you can have just a large flat surface.  When we first got the tray, and Ian was younger, we used the divider a lot.  We’d put some snacks in each section and it made it easier to contain the mess.  Now that he’s older and using plates and utensils, I like having just the flat portion of the tray available.  We can put his lunch plate (or a snack plate) on the tray and he can sit down at the coffee table and chow down.  It does a really good job of containing his mess.

Another thing I like about this tray is that it’s all plastic (minus the squishy padded bottom), so it is extremely easy to clean.  For a quick clean, I can spray it down with a gentle cleaner and wipe the mess away (my favorite thing to use right now is my Thieves Cleaner).  If I’ve neglected the tray for a few days (…or longer), I can just throw it in the sink and lightly scrub it with dish soap and a sponge.  After a quick towel (or air) dry, it’s ready to be used again.

I really don’t have anything bad to say about this tray- I love it!  So if you’re looking for a travel tray (or even a tray to use around the house, like we use it), you really should check it out.

Product Information from Regalo Baby:

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The Regalo Portable Play Travel Tray is a wonderful device that allows children their own place to snack and play on the go. It can be taken anywhere and includes side clips that securely attach to a car seat, a table or a plane seat belt. The baby travel tray has a flat design and a foam bottom that allows it to lie comfortably in your child’s lap or on a table surface. It includes a detachable dishwasher-safe food tray that can come off to help them get in and out, or for cleaning. The flat activity surface can hold toys and other items that baby might need. Also includes two compartments to hold drinks, snacks and toys. The car seat travel tray has a convertible shoulder strap to allow for convenient transport wherever you go. It is also easy to slip in a vehicle or behind a table. This convenient tray is sturdy, safe and easy to install.

Regalo Portable Travel Tray:
• On the go feeding
• Attaches to car seat, tables and plane seat belt
• Detachable food tray
• Flat activity surface
• Baby travel tray with 2 compartments for drinks, snacks and toys
• Food tray insert is dishwasher safe
• Convertible shoulder strap included for easy portability
• Plastic construction

Countdown to Baby #2: 9 Weeks to Go

Well I am officially into the single digit-week countdown with baby #2!  Saturday marked 31 weeks of pregnancy with this little girl.  AHHH… I can’t believe we are already here.  Where did the time go?

It’s funny how the concept of time is never constant.  I remember when I was pregnant with Ian feeling like time was absolutely dragging.  I couldn’t wait to meet my little boy and every day felt unbearably long.  And then, of course, he was 10 days overdue, so that didn’t help.

But now, with this new baby, I feel like my time has just evaporated.  Maybe it’s because in addition to work and the pets and the house (everything I had to deal with during my first pregnancy), I also have an extremely lively and rambunctious 2 year old ruling my life.  My evenings and weekends are full of Ian, and I love that- but it also means that time goes skipping along at an incredible pace.  SLOW DOWN, darn it!!

It also means that I’ve had significantly less pre-baby documentation time.  Or maybe I’ve had the time but have just been too tired (er…lazy??) to actually follow through.  With Ian, I took belly pictures every week and tried to jot down a few thoughts each week about how I was feeling and what was happening with my pregnancy.  This time around, I’ve only taken a handful of photos (sorry baby #2- you are not loved any less, I promise!), and I’ve only had the time to jot down just a few fleeting thoughts and feelings.  I feel a little guily, but then I am off doing something else that demands my time and attention and my guilt receeds- at least for a while.

Fortunately, I’ve at least recognized that I’m having this issue.  And that means that when I do have some time to breathe, I’m trying to use it more effectively and efficiently.  I have a nursery to refresh and make ready for a little girl, after all, and that does take time and energy.  I already have it planned out, and I’ve slowly started making progress on the execution.  With 9 weeks to go, I should have plenty of time (if I don’t procrastinate!) to get it all done before this little girl makes her arrival.  So, baby girl, I can’t wait to meet you- but, please, don’t rush.  Please- hang out until your due date (or close to it), so that I can finish getting your room and our lives ready for you.  I still have a lot of things to get done before you get here.

Moving on Up

Ian is now officially out of the nursery and in his new “big boy” room. We started the switch about three weeks ago, after his new twin bed arrived. The bed only took a few hours to put together (mainly, this was due to some issues with a few of the pieces), and I love how it looks. It’s a deep, dark wood with a bookcase headboard and under-bed drawers. We let him pick out the sheets for the bed (he chose sheets from Disney’s Planes), and then that first night we asked him if he wanted to sleep in his old bed (the crib-now-toddler-bed) or his new bed. He chose his new bed, but after we tucked him in, he changed his mind and moved to his old bed. But the next night, he chose his new bed and he’s been sleeping there ever since!

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We’ve slowly moved all of his stuff out of the nursery- his name art, his sound machine, his books, his stuffed animals, etc. We also added a toy organizer to his new room and started filling it with some of his toys from the living room and elsewhere in the house. He loves having toys in his room (the nursery was so small that he really didn’t have any toys in it), and often he’ll wander over to the toy organizer and start playing.

The room still needs a dresser… and some additional decorations, but it’s coming along nicely. I’m planning to do an airplane theme since he loves airplanes. I’m going to decorate the walls with a combination of airplane vinyl decals (which I’m going to cut using my Silhouette Cameo) and airplane artwork. I’ve started collecting ideas and inspiration from Pinterest:

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Decals

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Cute decal and propeller

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Artwork idea

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More artwork ideas

I can’t wait to get some of these projects done so that the room is put together and complete. And, of course, I’ll be sharing the final room with all of you! My goal is to get everything done by the end of March- let’s hope I can make it!

Even without it fully done up and decorated, Ian loves his new room. I wasn’t sure how well he’d take to adjusting to a new room and leaving all his old furniture and stuff behind, but he’s done great! He’ll even point to the crib (which has been changed back into a crib) and tell us “this is for baby sister”, which is so neat. We’re all getting very excited (if not a bit anxious) for this little girl to arrive, so having some projects will definitely help keep me busy and help take my mind off things!

Have you transitioned a kid to a new room (or new bed)? How did it go?

Working on Valentine’s Day Cards

Last night Ian and I worked on his valentines for his daycare class together.  No, we did not do any of the numerous crafty imaginative valentines that I have been pinning all month.

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Like this cute card...

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...or this one.

Instead, we bought a box of Valentine’s Day cards from Walmart when we went grocery shopping on Sunday and those are what we’ll be giving out. 

Did I want to do something grand and creative?  Sure.  But in the big scheme of things… he’s 2.  He’ll have lots more Valentine’s Days ahead of him and plenty of opportunity for clever and fun valentines in the future.  So this time I opted to walk up and down the Walmart aisle and let him pick which of the myriad of boxed valentines he wanted to give his friends.

He ended up chosing valentines that feature “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (he got this movie for Christmas and loves it).  They are your typical kid valentines, where you write the TO and FROM, pop in one of the included temporary tattoos, and seal it closed with a heart sticker.

So then, how in the world does a 2 year old help with valentines if he can’t write or read?  And there’s no crafty handprint or footprint component?  It’s pretty simple (and fun!) to have your toddler help, really.  

• I laid out all the valentines from the box and asked him to pick out one for each of the kids in his class.  Before I could even start reading names (THANK YOU DAYCARE FOR THE LIST!!), he was handing me valentines saying, “This is for Addison” or “This is for Colin”… as he gave them to me, I wrote in the TO and FROM names.  We got through probably 5 valentines this way before Ian stopped.  At this point, instead of waiting for him to grab a valentine and tell me a name, I read a name off the list and prompted him to pick out a valentine.

• Once we got through everyone on the list, and all the TO and FROM names were written, I grabbed a box of crayons.  I wanted Ian to put his mark on the valentines in some way, so I told him to pick a crayon (or more than one) and color around where his name was written.  He picked lime green for some reason, which was really pretty fortunate because the black pen I used to write his name was still 100% visible beneath the coloring scribbles he added.

• When he was done coloring all the valentines, I laid out all the temporary tattoos and told him to pick one to go with each valentine.  We went through the list of names again, and he chose the tattoo he wanted each kid to recieve.  Then I poped them in the holder in each card (which admittedly was a little tricky- they could make the slots a bit easier to access).

• Finally, I asked him to grab a heart sticker off the sticker sheet so we could seal the cards.  He needed a little help with this since the hearts were small, but he was able to peel off all the hearts and hand them to me, and I applied them to each valentine.

The whole endeavor probably took about 30 minutes.  Could I have done his valentines myself in a lot less time?  Definitely.  But we had fun doing them together.  He loved getting to color the valentines and grab the stickers. 

He is so big on helping these days that I take any advantage to let him do just that.  And it made a potentially dull task (writing out valentines for 14 kids and 2 teachers) more exciting.  Plus, if someone asks if he did valentines for his friends, he can proudly say “YES!”  There’s not much better than seeing that look of satisfaction on your kid’s face, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything (not even a beautiful, crafty, pin-worthy valentine).

Restaurant Ready?

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When I was pregnant with Ian, I subscribed to all sorts of baby related newsletters and emails and who knows what else.  Due to a combination of laziness and, well, laziness, I have yet to unsubscribe from them.  So now I am greeted each week with a new email (or two or three) about Ian’s development… yes, even though he’s no longer in utero, they continue to send development emails.  Some are interesting, some ridiculous.  The most recent one I received- it was ridiculous.

Putting aside the absurdly specific age it provided for Ian (2 years, 3 months, and 11 days old), the topic made me roll my eyes: “Restaurant Ready… or Not?”

The message was about readiness signs (well behaved while eating at home, listens to instructions, able to keep quiet, etc) and doing test runs to ensure you and your kid are prepared. It seemed a little over the top, not to mention the timing struck me as odd.

My kid is over 2 years old, and the email is assuming that I’ve never taken him to a restaurant?  Ian was roughly 5 weeks old when we went on his first trip to a restaurant.  He slept in his car seat the whole time, waking once or twice to eat.  And he’s been to restaurants countless times since then.  Even when he was newly mobile and fidgety, we took him out to eat with us.  Why wouldn’t we?  If not, then we’d have to hire a sitter every time we wanted to go to a restaurant?  Or else not go to restaurants at all?  We like to eat out a few times a month (sometimes more), so that really wasn’t an option.  And, frankly, it never occurred to me to NOT take him.  How else would he learn proper dining-out behavior?

And you know what? It’s never been an issue. Has he had his moments while we are out to eat? Yes. Have we had to take him away from the table to have a “talk” and for disciplining? Yes. But on the whole, we’ve had very few problems. And let’s remember, he is a kid. That’s bound to happen. We just make sure to pick “kid friendly” restaurants (places that aren’t swanky, that are naturally louder, etc) and we try to avoid eating out when he’s already in a difficult mood.

So, tell me, am I crazy here? Am I the only one who has taken my kid out to a restaurant prior to age 2?

Tackling Potty Training: The HOW

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Earlier this week I mentioned that we decided to give potty training a shot.  It was quite an ordeal the first few days, but I was actually pretty surprised at how quickly and easily (all things considered) Ian took to the whole thing. We still have the occasional accident (typically with #2), but it’s nice to be done with diapers!

There are plenty of resources out there that explain how to potty train and various methods that can be used, so I’m not going to go into too much detail about that.  But I will hit the high points of what we did and what worked (and also what did not work).  I’ll also show the tools/potty aids we used.  This is certainly not the only way (or even the best way) to potty train, but it’s what we did, so take it for what it is- just another potential source or tool as you prepare to embark on your own potty adventure.

1) We started in the morning, as soon as Ian woke up.  We used that morning as a fresh beginning, and even theatrically said together “BYE-BYE DIAPERS!” as we took off the diaper Ian wore overnight and tossed it into the trash.  We then sat him on the potty and encouraged him to go (he didn’t) before pulling out the “big boy” underwear and throwing on some sweatpants (easy to remove and not a big deal if they get soiled).  I opted to use regular underwear instead of disposable or cloth training pants so that Ian could feel an accident and be negatively impacted by it.  I did use disposable training pants for nap time and bed time, though, since I wasn’t quite ready to start night training.  I also put him in disposable training pants before we took a trip in the car for the first 2 or so weeks (since I did NOT want to clean up the car seat if he had an accident).  Other than that, though, it was underwear the whole time… which was messy but I think definitely helped the process.

2) We originally were taking Ian to the bathroom about every 30 minutes and trying to coax him into going by offering 2 M&Ms for pee and 5 for poop.  This worked fine once he had his first success on the potty- up to that point, we may as well been speaking in Greek by offering some abstract candy for an abstract idea (going in the potty instead of his pants).  After he did realize how he could earn candy, he was more willing to actually go when we sat him on the potty, but about halfway through day 2 he went on a mini-strike and screamed bloody murder when we escorted him to the bathroom (I think he was annoyed by the mandatory breaks).  We changed tactics and offered 1 M&M for making the trek to the toilet and sitting on it. This was MUCH more successful, and he was more than willing to take a break from the day to walk to the bathroom if it meant candy was guaranteed. This was an easy fix for us and had no negative impact on the potty training process- in fact, I think it helped.  After the first day or so, we extended the time gradually until we were taking him every hour, to test his ability to hold it and ensure he was getting the hang of potty training. This also seemed to work well.

3) We started off using a small children’s floor potty (we used the Baby Bjorn Smart Potty, pictured above- LOVE THIS THING!) since it was portable and we could put it in the same room where we were. We did this for all of day 1 and most of day 2 before we moved the potty into the actual bathroom.  Ian liked having a potty his size to sit on and he also bizarrely enjoyed dumping its contents into the large toilet and flusing. Cleanup for the Baby Bjorn potty was super easy since it’s just a plastic bucket/insert that comes out and can be easily rinsed/wiped clean. I am so glad I bought this potty chair.

4) We also bought a portable potty ring/insert for our normal toilet (we bought the Kalencom 2-in-1 Potette Plus via Amazon but I’m sure you can get it other places, too). OMG THIS THING IS AMAZING. I love that it nestles right inside the toilet seat and is very sturdy and secure.  I also love that it folds into a fairly small size and comes with a plastic carrying bag so it is easy to take with us wherever we want. We took it shopping, to restaurants, to the amusement park- everywhere!  I would buy this thing a million times over!  It allowed (and still does allow) Ian to use the bathroom ANYWHERE without issue… and as an added bonus, I don’t have to worry about him touching nasty public toilets.

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The portable potty insert we bought. Seriously one of the BEST inventions!!

5) A few days into potty training, we switched from the floor potty to the big potty (using our portably potty insert).  We asked Ian which one he wanted to use, and he usually picked the insert.  I think because we had been out and about most of the day before and used the potty insert the whole time he was used to it and liked being on the big potty like a big person.  This definitely significantly shortened clean up time after he went potty!

We are still asking Ian if he has to go potty and taking him every 1-2 hours as a precaution.  He will occassionally tell us if he has to use the bathroom, but not frequently enough for my liking (and I’d rather just avoid the accident by forcing him to take a potty break than waiting on him to ask for one on his own), but I’m hoping within another month we will be done with that, too, and he’ll be telling us when he needs a potty break.

Potty training is definitely a process, but it is possible!  What potty products/aids did you use when going through this?  Any techniques or tips you’d like to share?