Friday, July 31, 2015


Even before Taylor was born, I knew that having two kids would be drastically different than having one child. Most of my friends already two (or more) so I had seen it first-hand. Throughout my pregnancy, I worried about how I would possibly pay attention to two at one time, how Andrew would deal with the change and how Adam and I would adjust.

In comparison to Andrew, Taylor is a relatively calm baby (so far...fingers crossed). She is content to sleep in the ergo or bouncer for hours, giving me two free hands to wrangle a busy toddler. Not to say that two is easy. Far from it. Yesterday, at the park, I had to pick a tantruming (because I wouldn't allow him to play in the street) Andrew off the pavement and fling him under one arm and walk up a steep grass hill. Meanwhile, poor Taylor had somebody screaming in her ear while she was bounced around and jostled. And it was about 80 degrees out. If you've ever "worn " a baby in the heat, you understand. Good times.

My mind floated back to when Andrew was an infant and I would sit on the couch, relaxing while he slept or we would take walks to the store. I could even shower while he was in the bouncy seat, make dinner or read some books. With one, you actually can sleep while they do, but with two? Good luck.

Looking back, I would say having one baby was a breeze, although it didn't feel that way at the time. Going from no kids to one means the loss of the life you once knew- there was now a person that came before my "wants" and "needs." No more spontaneous happy hours, long workouts at the gym or sleeping as late as we pleased on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Not to mention, Andrew was (is) quite a spirited baby.

I have come to the realization all stages in life are difficult because they are new, and not necessarily because any one stage in life is harder than the next.

Back in 1999, starting college seemed like the hardest thing I had ever done. I was on my own for the first time and had to balance school with work and a social life. Sure, I see now just how easy my life was back then, but it sure didn't feel that way at the time. Why? Because it was new. Same with when I graduated and started my first teaching position, renting my first apartment on my own and managing my own money. It felt hard at the time and I wished for my carefree college days.

Right now, two kids feels hard. However, I am sure when they are teenagers, I will think back to how easy it was having younger children. Right now, I deal with tantrums and crying, but at least it is over silly things- like having a favorite Mickey Mouse shirt in the wash. With teens, new hardships come into play- like driving, making good decisions and doing well in school. And... you cannot simply throw a tantruming teens under your arm and place them in their stroller!

Having to juggle attention between two will continue, but no longer will I have to decide who to go to first when they are crying, but instead whose game or activity to go to... .There will also come a day when neither wants our attention as often, and I know when this time comes, I will truly miss the stage we are in now.


Rather than complain about how difficult things seem at the moment , I will try to enjoy this time now because I know that one day I will miss it- well maybe not the lack of sleep. I will definitely not miss that.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

More of Everything

Since the time Andrew was born, I knew had loads of energy and was quite high needs. He once screamed for the entire (hour-long) car ride home when most babies would have eventually given up and fallen asleep. We have probably had to leave stores, restaurants and outings more in the last month than most people ever will. Andrew doesn't respond to "no" or distract easily to a new task as I have seen other kids his age do. He is also a mover- walked around 10 months and has been running ever since. He has a delightfully curious nature- he wants to touch everything all the time and see how it works.

Now, I have found there is actually a term for kids like him- "spirited" and I have begun delving into a book called "Raising your Spirited Child."

Basically, spirited children share the same characteristics of their peers- just more of each. They have huge extremes. Andrew go from being the happiest, sweetest little boy giving "kisses" on minute to flailing on the ground, screaming the next. Typical discipline techniques to not work on these spirited kids- which can be quite frustrating. It is both the best and the worst.

Mary Sheedy, the author of the book describes "spirited children" into five major categories. Andrew fit into every one.

1) Intensity- Their reactions are always powerful

-  This is the category Andrew actually had the least amount of points in, because he is not necessarily loud and screaming all the time.

 However, Andrew's tantrums are loud and his emotions seem to explode. Today, informed him we needed to get out of the car to bring groceries into the house. This was not on his agenda and he preferred to sit in the car for the moment. I could just feel the fit starting as I told him again- and sure enough. It came. His intensity is not always in the form of a tantrum though. He also shrieked with joy earlier as he propelled down a slide at the park.

One way to help the intensity is to use techniques like humor to stop them. So allowing Andrew to throw a fit for several moments, I started tickling him and laughing. He eventually settled down and we tried one of his other "settle down" favorites- washing his hands. Water, in general, helps to calm him down a lot...

2) Persistence- They don't give up or give in easily

Overall, this is an excellent trait for people to have. We all need to learn about not giving up and sticking with things when they are tough. This is not, however, always a great attribute when dealing with a toddler...and Andrew scored the highest here.

If he wants something and his mind is set, it is incredibly difficult to distract Andrew. He remembers things from weeks ago, doesn't take "no" for an answer and attempts to keep going until he gets what he wants. This is great when he attempts new skills- last week, we kept trying and trying to climb up a slide (as he saw some big boys doing) and didn't stop until he figured it out!

It can also be exasperating. I have heard other parents remark that when they give their kids a firm "no" or use time-out, etc. their kids eventually give up. Not Andrew. Yesterday, he wanted some Chapstick and I put a bit on his lips and then hid it in a drawer. This was apparently not good enough. He wanted to also hold it. I told him "no" and went to fold some laundry. When I turned around- he was standing on his tiptoes to reach another tube of chapstick Adam had left on the counter last week. The little bugger actually remembered this!

3) Sensitivity- Strong reactions to noise, crowds or even irritating clothes

This one was made obvious a few days ago when we ventured out to the Children's Museum. The other times we went were weekday mornings, when it was relatively quiet and Andrew had a fabulous time- particularly at the water station. I (stupidly) didn't even think that the environment might be a tad different on a Sunday afternoon.

Let's just say, I had anxiety and wanted to leave. Andrew was getting frustrated about the lack of personal space and began grabbing at other kids hair and faces. We left and had a much better time just walking around the city and stopping at Starbucks.

4) Perceptiveness- Noticing anything and everything

I really don't think this characteristic is a frustrating one...unless you are in a hurry to go somewhere! As they get older, these kids can appear distracted and to not be listening.

Since Andrew is a toddler, I am not sure how well any of them listen yet, but I have observed him noticing things I miss. Today, we walked by a lady and Andrew said "hi" and then started yelling "daddy." I was very confused, as this woman obviously looked nothing like Adam. He kept insisting and pointing at her shirt- a Seahawk emblem pictured on the front. Adam always wears a Seahawk hat. Smart little guy.

5) Adaptability-  transitions and changes are stressful for these guys

Andrew has a pretty set schedule and if things are not in the order he expects, he can become quite upset. A little girl he always sees at daycare was not there the other day and they informed me he cried for about 20 minutes. He likes his meals, naps and bedtime at the same time each day- and is not really what you would call "flexible."

So, while it may sound silly to decline a birthday invite or get together during naptime- with him, it is really not worth it or fun to go. We have learned this and just hope his new sister is a bit more flexible with her schedule!

I have just started getting into the parts of this book where it addresses how to handle your "spirited" child and so far, many of the strategies have helped. Spirited children are smart and it is nice to focus on the fact that he is wonderfully sweet and intelligent than to become exhausted when he is really showing off his "spirit."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"Vacation" with a toddler

Last month, we flew with Andrew to California for Christmas to visit family. Even before having children, I had always imagined we would continue to travel once we had them. Vacations with kids must be fun, I had always thought. Wrong. Although the trip itself was fun, I would not call it so much a "vacation" as a "trip."

I had seen all of those adorable picture of people's babies looking out of airplane windows, and assumed it must be a piece of cake. Those babies always looked so happy, and their parents so relaxed.

Wrong. I now think those pictures are a (very) small glimpse as to the real goings on of the plane ride.

Looking at this picture, you would imagine Andrew was a perfect angel on the flight. Not quite...

What unfolded for us on the airplane was neither relaxing nor fun. However, I think we will now be better equipped and prepared to fly with Andrew (and his sister once she arrives) in the future.

So, here you are. Some of my tips for flying with small children- unless of course, yours are not as active as mine:

1) Buck up and buy the kid their own seat. Even if they are under two. Trust me, it will worth it to keep them contained. We instead bought two first class seats and assumed we would have enough room. While the space was okay in first class, Andrew knew he could move around. He constantly wanted out of the seat and to talk to others around the plane. Or he was kicking the seat of the people in front of us.

At least, had he been buckled in, he would have  been more content. He also might have actually fallen asleep.

Seriously. This first tip is probably the most important.
I should have known this active guy would NOT want to sit still for 2.5 hours.

2) Drink on the plane if you can. Or before. Or both. Unfortunately, I was unable to imbibe due to my condition, but I certainly was eyeing Adams cocktail with envy. If I had a couple glasses of wine in my system, I may have found the whole situation amusing, but instead I was annoyed and grouchy. And uncomfortable.

3) Make sure your electronics work prior to take off. Ours didn't. This meant plans of Andrew watching "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" were down the drain. Instead, I got to walk up and down the aisles with him and stand by the bathrooms for about half an hour.

4) If your toddler is a fan of whole milk, fill up prior to boarding. Most planes don't carry whole milk and only a small quantity of 2%. I used those containers of milk Starbucks leaves out by the condiments (because the line was about 50 people long).

5) Provide little treats for them to open during the flight. My mom packed Andrew a bag with little snacks and toys. He liked opening the packages. Just be careful- if you have a "thrower" like he is, you may end up with toys being chucked at unsuspecting passengers.

6) Bring a stroller on the plane. You can "gate check" them right before you board. Even if your toddler normally doesn't enjoy them. Its nice to race through the airport without having to carry them. Especially if it is busy, as it was when we were flying.

7) Be prepared for screaming on decent. I wish I had known about toting some suckers along for this...Andrew screamed the entire time we were landing because his ears hurt and he didn't know how to pop them. It was horrible and all I could do was hold him while he wailed away...

So, basically our flight was horrible. However, Andrew did enjoy the rest of his vacation. He loved the beach and going to Disneyland and being able to hang out outside in the SUN in December!

Next time we will be more prepared, so we start our travels off on the right foot. Although, I know that the trips we take will no longer be as relaxing as they once were, they still certainly make for great memories we will talk about for years to come!