I’m not the fun parent

I’m not the fun parent

20171117_2256111354219021.jpgThere are times when I wonder how my children really view me.

I know they love me. I’m essential personnel around here. I’m the one they cry for when they fall and scrape their knees. They scream my name in the middle of the night to rescue them from a nightmare. And they blame me when dinner doesn’t suit their fickle tastes.

20151213_1905231925404260.jpgBut when they want to wrestle on the floor, or get a piggyback ride, or get flipped off the couch onto the hard floor, I’m not the one they call. They always ask for dad.

I’m not the fun parent. But I really want to be.

I want to live in the moment with them and race cars along the dining room wall and throw all the toys out of the toy box just to hear them crash on the floor and delight at the mess. I want to help my three-year-old line up every shoe from the front door to the back of the house and then insert toys into the shoes and pretend they are all standing in line.

Because it looks like fun.

screenshot_20171117-2154381438551004.pngBut there’s just SO MUCH TO DO. Let me figure out what to cook for dinner. And oh, let me finish that other load of laundry. I should really take a minute and call my mom. Or my dad. And my grandma, lord bless her most folks don’t have grandparents around anymore.

So I shoo the children away to work on something that needs to be done, fixed, finished, cleaned.

And when I do get a minute, I actually just want to sit and play with my phone and be by myself. You feel me?

Thus, the angst. Because I wanna be fun.

My husband shrugs it off. “We all have different roles,” he says. He reassures me that I’m needed and loved and that the house would totally fall apart and be nasty and everyone would starve without me.

For me, that’s not the point. I want to be fun. And I want my kids to see it and feel it. And love it.

After dinner and right before bed, my husband’s routine is to take the kids to our bedroom and let them jump on the bed and his head. While I clean the kitchen. Sometimes I relish the time alone to think or listen to music or just be alone for a few minutes.

But most times, I want to be right up there with them.

So the other day, I just decided to leave the kitchen as is. I went upstairs and belly-flopped on the bed with my family. The kids screamed and squealed. And I was happy to hear it.

After five minutes, my back started hurting. One of the kids kicked me in my c-section scar. And I had to use the bathroom.

This is why I’m not the fun parent.

 

 

 

 

 

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Potty Training: Trial and Error

Potty Training: Trial and Error

charmin_tipsarticles_howtopottytrainagirl_image2Waking up to epic poop outs in the morning, where you need to change the crib sheets and give the baby a head-to-toe bath, is really getting old.

And so am I. I’m getting too old for this. My baby is two-years-old. She is getting too old for this too. We really need to get this potty training down.

That’s one of the reasons I was excited about Tot on the Pot. It seemed to offer a solution in a box, complete with a parent guide, a stuffed toy with her own play potty, activity cards and a nice step-by-step picture book for the baby.

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I think she’s telling the doll to use the toy potty.  The irony…

It’s the whole parental involvement part that’s bugging me. I’m tired. Everyone in my house has been sick for the past month. Me included, but I’m not getting rest because I’m taking care of everybody else. I thought I ordered a solution in a box and all I had to do was unpack it and let it work.

But it’s really not a casual undertaking, and I think that’s my been my problem. I’ve been putting potty training on my schedule: when I don’t have anything else scheduled outside of the house to do, or when I’ve had some really strong coffee and decide to take on all the things that need to be done, or when I’ve just dropped $100 on diapers and I’m mad so I decide she’s going to wear underwear for the rest of the day (but didn’t you just buy all those diapers) and then she pees on the couch and I slap a diaper on her.

Yea, I’ve been doing this all wrong.

With the Veterans holiday, we had a three-day weekend to get this done. But I just didn’t feel like it. And then I spent Saturday night in Urgent Care with the three-year-old who had a bad case of Croup. Yes, people still get Croup, even though it sounds like something my grandfather used to get.

So tomorrow is Monday, and I will try again. Everybody’s still home sick and snotty and sneezing but we are going to get this done. I’ve got some juice boxes and some salty snacks and I’m going to sit in the bathroom (or really close by) with my commando baby and Tot on the Pot and we’re going to get this done. As god is my witness.

Because I’m definitely going to need his help too.

How did you potty-train your toddler? Please leave your comments in the box below.

 

 

 

 

 

The Simple Things

The Simple Things

I’m learning how to keep it simple. Low-budget activities. Lower stress lifestyle. Less expensive outings.

Sometimes I over do it, trying to be the Bestest Mommy Ever. I’m always trying do my best, but typically it also means doing too much. It’s the perfectionist in me, and since I’m not perfect, well, I fall short. A lot.

The kids don’t notice anyway. They just want to have fun and be with the people they love.

So while I’m trying to take them to Disney World (again), all they really want to do is go to the playground.

I had a list of activities that I wanted the kids to do this summer and fall. Go apple-picking. Watch the solar eclipse. Take a day trip to walk through some caves. Throw an art party with 12 of their friends. Go to the beach.

We actually did most of the activities on my list. But I have to tell you, I was exhausted after each one of them (the solar eclipse was free and an awesome experience). And my pockets hurt! We spent $75 apple picking! Not including filling up the tank to drive an hour and a half to the orchard! Because we also had to eat the funnel cakes. And jump in the bouncy house. And buy the homemade ice cream. And pumpkin butter.

When did having fun get so expensive?

The most fun we had was last weekend, in our backyard, around the fire pit. It was an impromptu get-together. Five of our grown-up friends came. I didn’t cook and told everyone not to expect food. Our kids learned to make smores and that was their dinner. Don’t judge, they fine.

We listened to music on our phones and swapped stories. And we had the best time.

Right in our own backyard.

Cuddle Time in a World Full of Ouchies

Cuddle Time in a World Full of Ouchies

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My hubby cuddles the kids after a long day at work.

So how did you explain the terror attacks in Vegas to your children?

I wasn’t planning on saying anything to mine. But my three-year-old son caught the tail-end of the news report before I could get around the corner from the kitchen and dining room and hunt high and low for the remote to turn it off. I never did find the remote in time.

“Mommy did those people die? Did that man kill those people?” My heart just ached hearing him say words like “die” and “kill”. Please just let him stay innocent for a little while longer. Let’s turn on Thomas the Train or something happy.

But the questions just kept coming. The simple answer: Yes, baby. He did. “Why did he do that?” Because there are bad people in the world today who hurt other people. “Do they have ouchies now?” Yes baby, they have really bad ouchies. “Will they go to the doctor and get some medicines?” Yes, some of them will.

I could see his little face trying to make sense of what was happening, using leading questions to connect the little bits of life he’s figured out so far. Bless his little heart.

img_20160129_191432-11586642913.jpgA few days later, when his two-year-old sister was caught in the midst of a tantrum, he put his toys down and wrapped his arms around her and said, “Aww you need a cuddle.”

It was so spontaneous — he usually puts her in a headlock– that I just watched in awe, quiet and still, trying to capture the moment in slo-mo. As the two-year-old pulled away, you could see the relief on her face. Cuddle time saved her day. They returned to playing with their toys.

This brief window into their lives proves my kids are watching a fair amount of television — Lambie, an affectionate stuffed animal on Doc McStuffins, solves most problems by offering her peers a cuddle.

But it also showed me that my three-year-old son is learning how to show sympathy to others. Watching his sister, he was moved to show compassion and comfort her. For them, this is how they solve problems, with a little love and a hug that shows that someone else cares about how you feel.

In the years to come, my children will certainly shed their layers of naivete and acquire an understanding of how the world works, including the cycles of sadness and pain, evil and death that have existed since the dawn of humans.

But I hope to also instill in them a sense of sympathy–the ability to show compassion and comfort to others. To naturally be moved with emotion when you see another person in pain, whether or not you know them or agree with them.

20171006_211936791832466.jpgIn the face of horror and unspeakable acts, sympathy and compassion become guiding principles for humanity again.

Comfort provided in a hug, a cuddle, can provide the first stitch of hope to close a raw wound, the promise of a balm and soothing help in just a little while.

In a world full of endless ouchies, we could all use a little more time to cuddle.

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5 Fast Facts About Whole Foods’ Merger with Amazon

Ever since Whole Foods and Amazon announced its merger, I’ve been wondering if they could find a way to get that food bar shipped to my door.

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Think of it: a selection of up to eight hot soups during cold months. Fresh sushi. Kale tossed in that amazing garlic tahini dressing. The Entire. Cookie. Bar.

Sign me up! Show me the app! Free shipping, right?

Apparently, not quite. Whole Foods doesn’t provide delivery on hot bar items. Their private label products, like the 365 Everyday Value, will be available via Amazon.com and AmazonFresh, an online grocery delivery service, as the company integrates its systems over time. But in between time, the public may see some benefits we’re not used to seeing at Whole Paycheck, I mean Whole Foods. 20170829_093448Like lower prices. On selected items. As I shopped the aisles this morning in a Maryland suburb, I found quite a few items marked down. Hass avocados are now $1.49 each, marked down from $2, which is a lot better than the 2 for $5 avocados my neighborhood grocer was offering yesterday. Organic Whole Trade Bananas are 69 cents a pound now, down just 10 cents. Organic Fuji apples are $1.99 a pound, down from $2.99.

But before you go and fill up an entire shopping cart, there’s a few things you should know.

5 Fast Facts About the Whole Foods Merger with Amazon

  1. Staple grocery items will be cheaper. Think butter, eggs, and select organic produce like avocados, apples and bananas.
  2. That fantastic organic rotisserie chicken will also be part of the price cuts.
  3. Expect lower prices on their line of responsibly-farmed salmon and tilapia.
  4. Amazon Prime will become the customer rewards program at Whole Foods. Eventually, shoppers with an Amazon Prime membership will have access to coupons, special savings and other “in-store benefits,” the company says.
  5. Amazon Lockers will be available in some Whole Foods stores. So if you need to return an item to Amazon.com, you can drop it off at the locker during your trip to the store. You can also have products shipped from Amazon.com to your closest Whole Foods with a locker for pick up.

The merged companies called the lower prices a “down payment” on their vision to make healthy and organic food affordable for everyone.

It will probably still be necessary to shop the “outer aisles” at the store–focusing on produce and staples- to keep the shopping bill down. This morning I didn’t see any of the Amazon sales stickers on the middle aisles near the boxed food, bread, tea and coffee. Don’t expect discounts on their prepared foods, like the hot food bar or the coffee station. At least not yet.

20170829_093533-e1504019425463.jpgWhole Foods is not my main grocery store, but I end up shopping there at least once a week to find allergy-free snacks and treats for my youngest baby. You can’t imagine how hard it is to find snacks free of dairy, nut, tree nut, soy, or lemon extracts–all of my daughter’s allergies. It’s also very challenging to cook family meals with these allergies in mind.

At Whole Foods, I’ve been able to find vegan muffins in their bakery section and baked crackers and cookies without those allergens.

I’ve never included Whole Foods in my weekly price comparisons; I have several options, including an Aldi’s, Costco and several other natural grocery stores within a few miles of my home. But now that Whole Foods is touting lower prices, I may look for more reasons to go there.

 

 

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The Eclipse: Finding time to make memories

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Sometimes it takes a rare celestial event – like the alignment of the sun and the moon – to make you drop every thing and alter your crazy busy schedule to witness a breathtaking event.

Initially, I planned to just keep my oldest kid home from daycare and just go get some solar eclipse glasses from 7-11 and go out in the backyard and look up in the sky and hope we see something without going blind. That was my plan. Then come back inside and try to get them to take a nap after 3 pm. Good luck with that.

But my hubby was working from home. And we kept hearing about the best places in the city to watch the eclipse. 

And then I read this article about how the eclipse is best witnessed in a crowd of people. My brother in the Midwest called me and said he was witnessing the eclipse while we were on the phone and it was “pretty awesome.”

Peer pressure (and the Internets) prevailed. We packed the kids up and headed to the nearest public library, where they were holding an eclipse party and handing out free glasses for kids.

20170821_135042And I’m glad we did.

My family loved it. It’s funny how something so constant– I mean, the sun and the moon are always out there and they aren’t leaving anytime soon– could stop us in our tracks and make us take note of its beauty.

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EclipsekidsAnd not just its beauty but each other’s too. We were outside the library with tons of other kids and families, office workers, commuters, passersby.  College students spilled out of a nearby dorm to watch it with us. And we all chose to be together instead of watching it on TV or the Internet or in our backyards. Kids colored their depictions of the eclipse on a group coloring page. Another group of preteens threw a football.

EclipseColoring.jpgWe were all just spending time together really, watching the sun pass by the moon.

It wasn’t quite a once in a lifetime event– this is supposed to occur again in 2024. My kids will nearly be preteens so they won’t remember this one. But we have the pictures to prove it.

More importantly, I have the memories. Because we were all there, together.

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5 Tips for a Good Day

5 Tips for a Good Day

So it’s February.  And the newness of 2017, the feelgood promise of new beginnings, affirmations and resolutions have faded.

I’m in a rut ya’ll.

Call it seasonal depression. Maybe I need two cups of coffee to jumpstart my mood.

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It’s a tot potty, in front of a real potty with a potty seat on top. We got it covered from all angles.

Maybe its that one toddler is potty-training but now uses the darn thing every 15-minutes. I’d put a diaper on him if I could find one that fits a 40lb three-year-old. And baby #2 is teething and leaves puddles of drool EVERYWHERE. Not to mention she screams and cries at the drop of a hat now.

I’m overwhelmed by mommyhood. I’m trying to balance a freelance career and deadlines with being a stay-at-home mom. I’m trying to stay crazy in love (and not just, you know, crazy and married).

I’m trying to be the Bestest Mommy Ever. (It’s as impractical as it is ungrammatical folks. See what I did there… a little sexy syntax and wordplay for ya Thursday!)

But I’m determined not to stay in this rut.

I’ve been collecting great quotes and positive words on Pinterest lately and I recently came across a great set of daily affirmations from the Levo League, a life hack and style website. The post was from 2015 but still feels timely to me. I shrunk my list and adapted it for my daily life. It’s pretty short, which means if I can master these changes and make lifestyle adjustments, hopefully they will last longer.

1. Wake up early.

Cus opening your eyes just as the first kid starts crying in the crib, which wakes up the other kid, ain’t working out. I start out frazzled and end up playing catch up all day.

2. Read something positive and meditate on how to include it in your life.

Holla. Seriously though, this can set you in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day. I’ve been reading the book of Ecclesiastes and meditating on Solomon’s wisdom about purpose in life and using our time on Earth wisely. If that don’t set ya straight….

3. Take a shower.

Mandatory self-care. Daily.

4. Text or call two people to say good morning and wish them a good day.

For me, this is about passing on good vibes to other folks. And this keeps me from getting bogged down and drowning in my own muck. Reach out and call, or at least text somebody and let them know you thinking about them. It feels good too.

5. Make a to-do list with five tasks to tackle.

This has been helping me prioritize my tasks and get stuff done.  I keep it short so I don’t overwhelm myself. And if I’m having a slow day, I put in stuff like Eat. Feed the kids. Brush my teeth. And check’em off when I’m done. By the end of the day, I have a record of productivity (at least they ate food, right?)

Short and sweet. Five changes to get you in the mode and the mood to have a good day.

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Enjoying a warm winter day in January.

Life is getting better.

I’d like to incorporate a nap or daily exercise too, but I’m pacing myself.

What are your tips for having a good day?  Feel free to share yours in the comments below; it’s always encouraging to hear how other mommies are keeping it together.

Thanks for reading! Love and Peace!

The War on Vegetables

The War on Vegetables

At my son’s 36-month appointment (that’s what his Dr called it, can we just say he’s 3!), I got a lecture about how he needs to eat more vegetables.

MORE vegetables? Can you get him to eat ONE vegetable? 

Girl, bye.

There’s a war on vegetables in my house and my toddler is winning. He went from being the adventurous avocado eating, sweet potato-slurping, pureed peas-pooping 18-month-old to the two-year-old who wouldn’t eat anything but cheerios. And chicken nuggets.

Add a year and the war is still on. He’ll slurp the Catalina dressing off a spinach leaf but he ain’t gonna swallow it. I seasoned the green beans with minced garlic and onions like he used to eat them as a baby and he straight up told me “I don’t like it.”

I got really frustrated the other day and tried to force a spoon of honey-soaked sweet potatoes in his mouth. It was a small spoon. Still a bad idea. He immediately gagged and vomited all his food on the dinner table.

Bestest.Mommy.Ever.

I had forgotten my secret weapon. Veggie smoothies! Yes. YAAAASSS.

Ingredients for a simple, healthy toddler smoothie.
Ingredients for a simple, healthy toddler smoothie.

Two handfuls of washed spinach. Some frozen fruit. A cup of milk. Half a cucumber. A banana to sweeten things up. And a tablespoon of honey. Blend it all up.

Green goodness. I put a lid on it the first time so the green hue wouldn’t turn him off.

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Everyday he gets a smoothie now.

He gets his veggies. And I win the war. At least, this war.

Have you ever lost your kid in a store?

Have you ever lost your kid in a store?

I’ve never lost track of my kids in a store.

Not yet. I actually try not to go into stores with them. I’ll go out of my way to pick up a girlfriend so she can stay in the car with the kids while I run errands or do grocery shopping. Or I’ll just wait until the hubby gets home and run to the store while he’s home with the kids.

It’s just too much trouble to unlatch car seats and wrestle them both out of the car and grab a cart and get them both in and then make sure they are not knocking everything off the shelf or begging every minute for something. I like shopping. And I like to do it alone now.

So losing track of them in a store is rarely something I think about. But keeping track of two toddlers, I’m very aware it could happen.

Today it happened to someone else. In J.C.Penneys. On a Saturday afternoon. During the holiday shopping season.

I was standing in line waiting to get checked out and the cashier hangs up a store phone and yells “CODE ADAM!!” She picked up another phone and yells it again over the store intercom: “CODE ADAM!” The registers stopped.  The Christmas music paused. Floor salespeople, wearing red JC Penney t-shirts started to walk quickly to the escalators. And they kept yelling Code Adam. “We’re looking for a little girl with a black hoodie and gold barettes.”

My heart fluttered. My little girl has a hoodie too. I looked down at my side expecting to see her. Wait, she’s in the car. With her father. Get a grip Tav.

“CODE ADAM!”

Adam. The little boy who was kidnapped from the store. In the 1980s. Walsh. That was his name. And his father kept looking for his killer.

“CODE ADAM!”

SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING! Somebody’s baby was missing. I turned to the guy behind me. “Oh my God, maybe we all need to start looking.” He just shrugged.

Another lady said, “I ain’t got time for this.” And she threw her clothes on the counter and walked away. The middle-aged lady in front of me was clearly annoyed too. “Who loses a kid in the middle of a busy department store? You need to be watching them.”

“I have a three-year-old and I can definitely see how it might happen,” I said, defending the parents of the little girl with the black hoodie. My voice started to sound shaky. “They can get away from you so fast.”

“Well I raised three kids and that never happened to me,” she said.

“Now you know that was at least 30 years ago and you barely remember it!” I was thinking that but I didn’t say it. Another judgmental mom. I decided to stop talking to her.

I wanted to keep defending these parents, whom I didn’t know but who were obviously somewhere in this store likely going crazy looking for their child. And what really mattered at the moment was finding the little girl. I got out of line. Where could I look? What could I do?  I didn’t have a plan or anything, just a sick and nervous feeling in my stomach because if that was my child I would want all hands on deck.

And as I was walking away from the line, someone shouted that they found her.

THEY FOUND HER! The little girl with the black hoodie. And the gold barettes. She was somewhere safe again. Probably with her parents. Probably crying because she had gotten scared. Or maybe she was laughing somewhere under a rack of clothes. Yep, she was laughing and okay again.

So I’m standing here, blinking back tears, heart still fluttering, and now thinking about how I can ask this guy to give me back my place in line. As I turned to ask him, he just nodded and stepped back. I said thank you. He nodded. Was I the only person who had freaked out?

The cashiers returned to the counter and started working again. I dont know when the Christmas music came back on but it was back.

And everybody just kept going about their business again.

 

 

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5 Myths About Raising A Bilingual Child

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Is my child too young to learn a second language?

Will a second language delay his English?

Could another language confuse her?

If you’ve ever asked any of these questions, take a minute to read 5 myths about raising a bilingual child on the Baby Center blog. It’s written by Roxana Soto, co-founder of SpanglishBaby, an online community for parents who are raising bilingual children.

I thought the post provided some good information about the benefits of teaching your child another language–and starting as early as possible.

The optimal time [to learn a new language], according to experts, seems to be from birth-to-3 years – exactly when a child is learning his first language, and his mind is still open and flexible.

My husband and I have been teaching the children Swahili and Spanish.  We have close friends that speak those languages and they are both frequently heard in our community.

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In fact, on any given day, it’s not uncommon to hear Spanish, Amharic, French, Yoruba or Ibo at the 7-11 or the grocery store. At the neighborhood elementary schools, most of the students hear or speak a language other than English at home.

So it almost feels like a necessity for our family to learn a second tongue, and not just to say hello to our neighbors. I believe that learning a second language other than English can broaden my children’s horizons and make them more aware of other cultures and diverse perspectives.

In fact, just being exposed to another language, even without becoming fluent, can enhance a child’s overall communication and perspective-taking skills, according to a study published in the July 2015 issue of Psychological Science.  And a  2012 New York Times article, republished recently, details several studies that showed bilingualism enhanced cognitive skills in babies and young children and showed promise in delaying dementia and Alzheimer’s in adults who speak more than one language.

Dig that! So are you teaching your child your native tongue? Or is your family exploring another language together? What tools are you using to learn the language and keep it fun and engaging for the little ones?

My favorite resources are on YouTube, particularly songs like this one in Swahili that teaches the alphabet and how to count.  Please share your multi-lingual experiences in the comments section.  I look forward to reading them.  Karibuni!

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10 Tips to Survive Road Trips with Toddlers

10 Tips to Survive Road Trips with Toddlers

I am now living proof that you can survive a road trip halfway across the country with toddlers.

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Just us, two car seats with two babies, a playpen, and a HEAP of luggage.

But you need STAMINA. Which includes the ability to make decisions and be coherent with very little sleep. FLEXIBILITY is important. Pack a CREDIT CARD for impromptu hotel stays and a SENSE OF HUMOR when the little ones have decided YOU WILL NOT DRIVE ANOTHER MILE WITHOUT ME SCREAMING AND PUKING.

My goal was to travel home to celebrate the marriage of a longtime friend. But we live on the East Coast. And our destination was the Midwest. That’s a 13-hour drive, 850 miles one way, and I haven’t driven it since I moved East a decade ago. It requires crossing mountains and never-ending stretches of cornfields and prairies. It requires TIME.

What I’ve learned: Stay flexible. Kids will make you make time for what’s important.  They will slap cell phones and tablets out of your hand to get your attention. They will cry until you pick them up or feed them or change their diapers. Or stop the car.  You will answer TO THEM. Or else.

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Crossing a bridge from Missouri into Illinois

And once you know who’s really running the show –THEM– you can adapt, pivot, and reach your destination, safe and sane. Here’s how:

  1. STOP. And think it through. Would it be cheaper in the long run and add years to your life if you just bought some plane tickets?
  2. If you will be driving more than 8 hours, consider getting a hotel. You’ll be a safer driver and a saner parent if you’re rested.
  3. Bring a “pack and play”. If you’re not comfortable co-sleeping with your little one, you can easily set the “pack and play” up in the hotel room or at your destination and they can sleep or play in it and be protected.
  4. Add two hours to your driving time to include diaper changes, nursing, meals and potty breaks. Plan on stopping every 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Keep a “go bag” that you can easily reach, with bleach wipes, paper towels, diapers, butt paste and plastic bags to stash dirty diapers. Add another “go bag” at arms reach with sippy cups and snacks.
  6. Put a good quality diaper on the baby and really put on a lot of diaper cream to avoid extreme diaper rash. This will also enable you to drive a bit farther before a mandatory diaper change.
  7. Nursing moms should minimize the coffee drinking, which can lead to leg cramps and dehydration.  Ask me how I know.
  8. Provide distractions for the kids. Add to your luggage small toys, DVDs or a tablet loaded with offline movies to entertain them. And I love these busy bags. My little ones are still a bit young for them but I will use these in the future.
  9. Bring jars of baby food or make your own and have ice packs with you to keep them cold. Eating fast food on the road for several days will eventually make every one bloated and irritable and give the little ones constipation after several hours of riding. And riding several hours with a constipated toddler is NO BUENO. You have been warned.
  10. Bring a booster seat with a tray.  It’s hard to feed a baby in hotel rooms that may not have a dining table.

Now that I’m back home and somewhat rested–nah the baby is teething again, there’s no rest happening here— I’m glad we did it. My toddler loved to see the bridges and point out the big trucks as we drove. The 13-month-old mostly slept, bless her little heart. Me and the hubby got to sit next to each other to talk and laugh for hours.

And that’s worth doing the trip all over again.

 

 

 

 

5 tips to nurse and run a 5K Like A Boss

5 tips to nurse and run a 5K Like A Boss

How is this lady with the seeing eye dog about to pass me?

She had been gaining on me for a while. She was like a mirage, inspirational and mostly unbelievable.  The lady and the dog were running in sync, panting in rhythm and they were quickly gliding right pass me.

I ran my first 5K (3.1 miles) this weekend and although I wasn’t planning on being competitive, I was not letting this lady with the seeing eye dog outrun me.

My Runkeeper app told me I was at the 2.7-mile mark, and I opened up the throttle. I straightened up, threw my shoulders back and let my legs fly underneath me. I felt tears streaming out of my eyes and whip back toward my ears.  I literally started to feel like a kid again, running around the playground, trying to achieve a mile run in gym class under 10 minutes.

I felt the roar of applause in my ears as I lengthened my stride and sprinted across the finish line. Was that photographer snapping my picture? Just in case, let me force a sweaty smile. No Tavia. No. They’re applauding the lady with the seeing eye dog who crossed at the same time as you. 

In any case, I reached my goal. This race fulfilled my promise to myself to be a fit mom who is healthy and physically and emotionally balanced for my family, but mostly for myself.

And it felt AMAZING! I have been pregnant or nursing for the past three years with no breaks in between. My mid-thirties body has experienced the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth. Twice.  So to get to this point of pushing my body to run (mostly) for three miles, 14 months after giving birth, feels like a tremendous accomplishment.

And did I mention that I’m still nursing?

The product of pre-race pumping. 10 ounces!

I pumped 10 ounces of milk the morning of the race. I sipped some water but I didn’t want to keep running to the bathroom during the race so I didn’t drink anymore.  BAD IDEA. I typically try to guzzle a bottle of water every time I nurse. But common sense didn’t prevail this morning. My legs hurt really bad all day after the race. I was so tired and lethargic I could barely get off the couch. I was super dehydrated.

So tip of the day: Stay hydrated if you’re gonna pump 10 ounces of milk before a 5k. And here’s a few more tips for nursing moms who want to set a goal of running a 5K in the future:

1. Wear a good, supportive sports bra. And take it off as soon as the race is finished. Too much prolonged restriction can actually be painful and restrict the flow of milk.

2. Pump or nurse as close to the start of the race as possible. Empty both breasts.

3. Stay hydrated, particularly after nursing, even if it means you have to go to the bathroom during the race. This race is for you but you are still a nursing mom.

4. Wear comfortable underwear that will fit over that loose baby belly and doesn’t get caught underneath it, where it can rub on a C-Section scar.

5. Have a good nutritious meal afterward to replenish your body or opt for a good post-race smoothie to replenish nutrients and help with recovery.

And then kick back and soak it all in. Cus you’re a boss!

Learning to banish negative self-talk

Learning to banish negative self-talk

Refuse to give in to the negative self-talk that happens in our heads. Banish it.

I felt myself retreating into a corner this week, more like a hole. I felt like my creativity was getting choked, like an editor was hovered over me criticizing my work, deleting my articles and replacing type with question marks.

But none of that was real. It was all anxiety, smoke shoveled into my mind to shutdown my work. And I was doing it to myself.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever shutdown a dream, an idea, a vision, with negative self talk and scenarios that haven’t even happened?

Well it has happened to me. Alot. And the reason is fear. Fear of failure. Sometimes it’s masked as procrastination, or mommy brain (I hate that phrase) or fatigue or I-just-don’t-have-time-to-do-it-all.

But I do. I do the things I want to do. Don’t we all? We make time for the things we really want to do.

But if I start, maybe I’ll stop in the middle, and an incomplete project seems worse than never having the idea leave my mind. 

And there it is, an imagined failure over a unrealized plan never set in motion in the first place. Fake fears shoveling smoke and masking fruition.

So I didn’t blog all week. Because I kept looking at my wordpress stats and thinking no one is reading this and I don’t have anything unique to say and those two blog views from China were probably hackers anyway.

But I kept jotting down ideas for new posts, like how my son put himself in a time out after drinking my coffee.


Or how my baby girl, who spent the first week of her life in intensive care, is now wrestling her 40lb brother to the ground.

Or how I spent an hour this week speaking to a refugee family about hope. In Swahili. Yes, I had a productive conversation in Swahili, a language I’ve been trying to grasp for more than five years now.
There is inspiration all round me.  How can I not write about that or share it with someone in the hopes it will inspire them?

But everyone is a mommy blogger nowadays. It doesn’t matter if there are already a thousand mom blogs. Didn’t Seinfeld conceive and write an entire show about nothing? For nine seasons? Is that even a helpful example?

Negative self talk is real and it can feed fears that make you immobile and paralyzed, unable to progress or move forward. I have to banish it as soon as it starts and replace it with positive, encouraging talk. Even speaking it out loud helps to drown out the negative noise.

Tavia you really do have a track record of finishing projects. Remember, you have been a published author and journalist for more than 15 years now. And you just set up this blog last week boo, so it’s a bit unrealistic to expect 20k followers but give it time. 

Yea! Yes! Yaaaaasssss! Take that fear!

Keep it up and I’ll give it to you in Swahili too.

Stay at home heroes

Stay at home heroes

Whether you leave the house daily to go to work or you’re home everyday caring for your children, WE ARE ALL WORKING MOMS. 

And the work is never done.

That said, today the award will go to stay at home heroes. Because this is some kinda special job.

That’s me a year ago, juggling a newborn and a two-year-old and trying to take a selfie.

There is work to do, all day, everyday, in every nook and cranny and corner of the house. And as soon as you fix it, the little people go and mess it up again.

At least when you leave the house to go to work, the dust bunnies, the laundry, the overflowing diaper pail, they all stay in the house (unless, like me, there’s a random dirty diaper in your purse and you give the mean side-eye to the lady in Target for coming out the house stanking, but it’s the diaper. In. My. Purse.) And you really don’t think of them again until you return home.

When you go to work, there are breaks, mandated by the federal government. So you go grab a coffee or some fresh air, or chat at the water cooler about your weekend. With adults.

There are no breaks at home. There’s cooking breakfast, then feeding it to little people, then cleaning up three-fourths of the meal from the floor. Then warming up the coffee you didn’t get to drink with your breakfast.

But with caffeine and renewed determination in you, you are able to attempt a craft or some home schooling, change a few diapers, and think about what will happen for lunch and dinner.

But today, the toddler knocked over my coffee.

And I had a Florida Evans moment.

The hubby was working from home today, huddled in a corner (of the living room) at his desk (where he told us to consider him invisible).  But he saw the crazed look in my eyes over the spilled coffee and came to his son’s rescue.

I stumbled away, shaken up and muttering. He’s only two. This is what two-year-olds do. You shouldn’t expect more of him Tavia. This is what happens when they are two.  You really shouldn’t be so dependent on coffee anyway Tavia.

I was forced to contemplate a day without coffee. I put the toddler in timeout on the couch.  I placed the baby in the playpen.

I think I blacked out after that. Seriously. I’m not real sure what happened. The next thing I know I had assembled a lunch of barbecue pulled pork sliders with salad on the table. The baby had sweet potato hash mixed with some of that pulled pork.

My husband was coming through the front door and placed a grande latte in front of me. I prayed with the children, thanking my GOD for strength and helping me pull it together. I asked him to help make the afternoon successful.

Twenty minutes later the baby had dozed in the high chair and the hubby was taking the toddler upstairs for a nap. The baby, too, went down without a fight.

And then there was just me, left to contemplate what to take on next. Should I do a load of laundry?  Shred the mail that keeps piling up? Wash some dishes?

I took a shower. Brushed my teeth. And went on break. Cus all working moms deserve a break.

The Bestest

The Bestest

The Bestest Mommy Ever is the mom who loves her children and does the best she can.

Were you expecting something more profound and complicated? Nah.

Well, to be sure, raising children can be complicated. And expensive. And tiring. And downright hard.

And add to that the ever changing expectations and opinions of motherhood, set forth by everyone from physicians, to psychologists, the latest study, your mother, your grandmother and your neighbor’s grandmother. It’s enough to make you start to question whether you’re doing this right after all.

I started this blog as way to exchange ideas with other moms.  I want to sift through the noise of best parenting tips to share what works for me and what could work for you.

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Photo credit: Stacey Madison

I’m a married mom of two–a toddler and a 13 month old. I’m a freelance journalist, a writer and a news hound. I’m also a spiritual person.

My life is full and rewarding and hectic and exciting and sometimes downright miserable. We all have our days.  So how do we get through them? I’ll share my life hacks — coffee and a desire for wine when I’m FINALLY DONE NURSING– and I’ll blog about what other moms do to stay happy and productive and raise thriving, growing children.

I’ll write about recipes that keep my kid from eating Cheerios all day everyday.  I’ll blog about trends and research that I find interesting or even controversial.

Ixnay on the mommy guilt. No judging either. Because most of are just trying to make it to the end of the day.  The Bestest Mommy Ever is the mom who loves her children and does the best she can.

And that’s the most anyone should ask for.

 

 

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Pee and Poop on Demand: Potty Training Baby #2

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Has your kid ever screamed, or got pee all over the floor, when the automatic flush in a public bathroom went into action and scared them half to death?

Have you ever thought of covering those sensors with a post-it note so your kid could finish the deal in (relative) peace?

Genius, right? Well, I didn’t come up with that. That tip came from Tot on the Pot, a new potty training system designed to coax toddlers to use the bathroom by encouraging play time and rewards for success. They advertise themselves as “potty training simplified for parents.”

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My Tot on the Pot came with the toy doll, toy potty and activity cards that are part of the rewards and incentives to help your child be successful using this system.

I came across their site on Instagram and reached out to them, particularly after several frustrating days of encouraging my two-year-old to use the potty and having her pee on the floor EVERY SINGLE TIME. Aren’t girls supposed to be easier to potty train?

My Tot on the Pot system came in the mail this week (it’s not available in stores yet; the company is raising interest and money on Kickstarter) and included a toy potty, an anatomically-correct girl doll, activity cards and a parent guide (an illustrated book introducing the doll was mistakenly not included but hopefully will come later).

First impressions: This simplified system requires you to read a 35-page guide to get started.

But don’t let that scare you. It’s pretty large print. And as I started to skim the book, I actually found its advice and tips quite helpful, even though I’ve already potty-trained an older child. The parent guide helps you find ways to use the doll, the book and activity cards as a reward system when your child successfully pees or poops. It also keeps the process engaging and fun for them.

But do I really need a system to help me potty train my kid? Big Mama said she potty trained six kids at the same time all on the same day.

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The guide was a fast read and informative. Now if someone could just publish a guide on parenting and motherhood….

You can start this process over confident if you want to. But trust, know and believe: a self-willed two-year-old will break you down and render you emotionally inept very quickly.

I started off skimming the parent’s guide but I’m glad I ended up reading it. It feels like a preemptive pep talk, encouraging us to be mentally ready, remain positive and consistent throughout the process. I need all of this right now.

Some of the advice includes: Don’t compare this child’s potty training progress to that of another child, even a sibling. This is your child’s very own journey.

Another tip: Some children need to be alone to poop. Casually walking out of the bathroom for a moment might give them the privacy they need to succeed.

And keep the mood light: If your child seems anxious when they catch sight of the poop swirling down the drain, encourage them to wave bye-bye as it disappears from sight.

The guide seems to incorporate some of the science behind potty training without overwhelming readers, as well as Tot Tips based on the experiences of countless parents who have already been through this. There’s also modified tips to support parents who are potty training children with developmental delays.

The system encourages setting aside a block of time–around four days– when the parent and child will be home or nearby to start this process.

So I’m prepping now. Next week, we begin.

I think my little girl is ready. I hope I am too.