Milk by Any Other Name is Still Milk!

I had the breast pump out.  I was going to be out of the house for a while the following day and my kids were going to stay home with my husband.  I figured just in case my baby daughter woke up and needed milk, I’d try to have some available to her, although she isn’t really used to taking a bottle.  I don’t pump often because I don’t have the time, I’m almost always home with the kids so I don’t need to, and I have that excess lipase issue which just adds an extra step to the whole storing thing.

During my daughter’s nap the other day, my son began examining the pump.  “Mama, how does this work?”  So, I began explaining as best I could.  He wanted to see it in action.  I found the pieces I needed which were clean but not sterilized.  I was able to pump about an ounce.  I was thrilled.  He was fascinated.

As I have been desperately trying to wean my son, I suddenly had a brilliant idea.  “Hey,” I said, “Why don’t I put this in a cup for you?”  I got out a special cup and a crazy straw and poured the milk from the bottle.  I handed it to him and watched.  Then, my son (who is addicted to nursing) examined it closely, turned his nose up at it, and handed the cup back to me with a “No, thanks!”  He actually seemed grossed out by the whole thing, which is weird because he begged to start nursing again immediately afterwards!

I would have loved to save this pumped milk for baby girl, but it had sat out too long without scalding so it was already beginning to spoil.  I ended up pouring the milk down the drain which, as anyone who pumps knows, breaks your heart a little as each drop disappears.

As for my son, I have tried cow’s milk, coconut milk, almond milk (plain and vanilla), soy milk, chocolate milk, Pediasure, Kefir, etc.  Nothing has worked as a substitute – not even my own milk in a cup!  I know it’s also about the closeness and bonding which I take very seriously, but come on, kid!  You can sit on my lap and snuggle with me while drinking my milk from a cup, can’t you?  Apparently not.  Sigh.

Activity: Playing with Clothespins

Here is a recent activity my toddler son and I did together – great for a rainy day when you’re stuck inside doing laundry!

Grab a pack of clothespins from the dollar store, rig up a clothesline, and clip away!  We used socks, but there are many other items you could try such as napkins or paper plates.  With the socks, we were able to sort them by color, size, or owner.

It was also fun to use the clothespins to play tricks on each other and sneak a clip on when the other person wasn’t looking!

For a more detailed account of this fun activity, check out my post on Kids Activity Blog here: Things to do with a Toddler: Clothespin Play

Happy clipping!

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Some of our other play at home activities include:

Activity: “Eggcellent” Adventures

Activity: Playing and Creating with Macaroni

Activity: Tissue Paper Art

Activity: Sink or Float – An Experiment with Seltzer Water

 

From Pumps to Crocs: A Thank You Letter to My Feet

 

Dear Feet,

I know I haven’t taken good care of you recently, but I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for all that you have done for me. As a baby, you helped me take my first steps. As a toddler, we ran and jumped together and touched sand and ocean for the first time. As a child, you helped me leap, skip, climb, twirl, and dance – you even got to wear ballet and tap shoes. As a teenager, you put on toe shoes and never once complained. You danced me through proms and walked me through several graduation ceremonies. You persevered when I had to travel from class to class on different college campuses and when I started commuting to my first job. You didn’t give up on me when I switched from an office job to a teaching job where I stood on you all day long. My fondest memory, however, is when you walked me down the aisle on my wedding day.

I know we used to have a good thing going. I’d dress you up in fun boots, different colored Converse high tops, Doc Martins, and pumps. I’d get you all pretty with smooth heels and shiny red nail polish and show you off to all my friends. Occasionally, you even wore some of my jewelry. And now, you are almost always either bare or in Crocs. You haven’t been gussied up in a long time. You have rough edges and cracked polish. You’d be embarrassed to be seen in public, yet you’re stronger than ever.

I know that our relationship began to get strained when I became pregnant with my first child. I couldn’t see you anymore and had a hard time taking care of you myself. Still, you supported me through the pregnancy, even as my body got heavier and you got swollen. Once the baby came, I paid even less attention to you… not because I wanted to, but because I had a new little one who needed me more. However, you never gave up on me. You took countless steps as I rocked, paced, and walked my baby to sleep in my arms. You came with me as I took my son on his first adventures and you were there as he took his first steps, learned to run and jump, and touched sand and ocean for the first time.

I know you thought that as my son got older, I’d have more time for you. I tried to squeeze in a pedicure a few times, but then I learned that I was expecting another child. You didn’t resent me and you showed me that by not swelling up this time around. We were very active during this pregnancy, since we had a toddler to chase after. You didn’t get to rest as much and were often very tired, yet you fought through the exhaustion and still took us on nature walks and ran around the playground. Now, you help me carry my daughter in a wrap as I push my son in the stroller for our daily walks. It is hard work and I know that by the end of the day, you’d love to be soaked and rubbed, but that doesn’t happen often. Sometimes, you’re even too tired to stand in the shower!

I am sorry if you have felt neglected. I will try very hard to schedule some bonding time soon and get you cleaned up for the summer. You have worked countless hours to get me where I am today. I am so proud of where we’ve been and thoroughly excited for where we’re going. I could say something cliché here about my children following in my footsteps, but I won’t. I will, however, once again say thank you for supporting me, taking me off the beaten path, and carrying me through this crazy ride called life.

Love,

Me

Activity: Playing and Creating with Macaroni

 

I recently had two posts published on QuirkyMomma.com about all of the various activities your child can do with pasta!

Macaroni Art:  In this post is a recipe for dyeing pasta and some ideas on creating artwork with the colored noodles.  Also, consider making “glitter” out of pastina and stellini – the clean up is so much easier!

More macaroni play ideas: Here you will find information on using your colored pasta as a sensory bin, for sorting activities, and creating jewelry!

What other ways do your kids play with their pasta?

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For more of my play at home activities, please check out the following:

Activity: “Eggcellent Adventures”

Activity: Tissue Paper Art

Activity: Sink or Float – An Experiment with Seltzer Water

 

 

 

The Rice Storm: When a Mess Comes Pouring In

I should have taken a photo of the scene of the crime.  But, I didn’t take a photo.  I was too busy trying to keep my cool.

Last night, my son requested to play with his rice sensory bin.  I was happy to oblige.  We spread out the white plastic tablecloth we use as a play mat and took out his bucket of tools (utensils, cardboard tubes, different shaped containers), construction trucks, and coffee stirrers (he pretends they are candles on an all rice birthday cake).  I reminded him the ONE rule for play… he can make as much mess as he wants ON THE MAT.  He can pour out every last grain of rice onto the floor as long as it stays ON THE MAT.  He can mix it, dump it, sprinkle it, and even put his feet in it as long as it stays ON THE MAT.  One rule.  That’s it.

He was playing so nicely with his rice.  I even heard him making up dialogue for his trucks as they worked together on the construction site.  Since everything seemed under control, I stepped out of the room to clean up from dinner.  Then I heard little bursts of a sprinkling sound.  It’s fine, I thought.  He’s still playing on the mat.  He’s probably just dropping handfuls of rice back into the bowl.  Then, I heard a ting sound that wasn’t as familiar.  I didn’t recognize the noise of what the rice had bounced off of and I started to get concerned.  I checked in with him from the kitchen.  He assured me that he was just playing and everything was fine.  Since I wasn’t in a position to look into the room (soapy hands), I took his word for the moment.  But then I heard the sound again and I knew something was up.  As I quickly washed my hands so I could go investigate, in walks my son.  “Come,” he says, and takes me by the hand to his toy room.  “Look!”

And there… all over the toy room floor… were hundreds of grains of rice.  Rice on the carpet.  Rice on the hardwood floors.  Rice on the couches.  Rice in my shoes.  Rice in my baby’s swing.  Rice on my laptop.  And the ting?  Rice on the television.

It was everywhere.  I took a deep breath and how I managed to stay calm, I’ll never know.  Inside I wanted to scream or cry or run away and join the circus.  I quietly said, “What happened in here?”  His response was, “It was raining.”

As a mother of a toddler, you have to be prepared for anything.  Toddlers are still learning self-control, and many of them have a hard time with this skill.  In this case, the desire to create a thunderstorm was so overwhelming that it could no longer be contained.  Of course, I knew this could happen, but still didn’t expect this level of destruction.  I asked him if he remembered what my one rule was for playing with the rice.  He remembered and was matter of factly able to repeat it back to me.  It seemed, however, that this storm came surging through the toy room without much warning – like a flash flood or a tornado.  And, as with most bad storms, cleaning up the devastation is tiresome, disheartening, and really hard work.  Everyone pitched in to help put the room back in order.  Still, somehow, I managed to never raise my voice.  My son, knowing he had made a boo boo, apologized to my husband and me and said he would try harder to remember next time.  Then, he picked up his broom and began sweeping.

 

 

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You may also like:

Independently My Way

Other (non-disastrous) play adventures:

“Eggcellent Adventures”

Tissue Paper Art

Sink or Float: An Experiment with Seltzer Water

 

Mama’s Yellow Chair

This summer, you were getting to be such a big boy.  You were growing by leaps and bounds in your physical, emotional, and vocal development.  You were also about to become a big brother.

Everyone told me that now that you were two and a half years old, I should send you to pre-school.  I know that they were looking out for both of us – we have always been so attached and with your sister on the way, it would be good if you became more independent.  I saw the value in this, but my gut told me you weren’t quite ready… and perhaps, neither was I.

Instead of waiting until after your sister’s arrival and having you feel that I was sending you away because of the new baby, I signed you up for a summer camp program at a prospective pre-school.  We talked and role-played about it and you were excited.  We even got you your very own backpack.

The first day of camp, I held your hand as we walked down the hall to meet your teachers.  Your eyes lit up with delight at the sight of all the new toys.  I hugged you goodbye and went down the hall.  I was going to stay in the building just in case you needed me.  I found a spot in the library and immediately began sobbing.  You were growing up.  Maybe you didn’t need me so much anymore.

Forty minutes in to camp, I was marveling at how well you were doing.  I peeked through the window once or twice and was both proud and sad.  I made sure you didn’t see me, but I wanted to tell you what a great job I thought you were doing.

I went back to the library and sat, not quite knowing what to do with myself.  Then, I heard a familiar cry.  The teachers had instructed everyone to clean up for snack time.  It was now quiet and focused, and it was then that you realized that I wasn’t there.  Although the teachers tried and tried to comfort you, you wouldn’t settle down.  I paced up and down the hall, my heart breaking, wanting so badly to rescue you, but not wanting to impose on the class.  After what was seemingly an eternity (but was only about three minutes), I was given the nod through the window.  I came in and held you as tight as I could, always reassuring you that you were safe and loved and that, even if you couldn’t see me, Mama was never far away.

You requested that I stay with you, and the teachers allowed it.  I pulled up a yellow chair and sat in the corner of the classroom.  I watched as you interacted with the other children, explored on your own, and took in the whole experience.  You came back for hugs now and again, but as long as you could see me, you were fine.

The next day of camp, you asked if I was going to leave.  I told you that I had to go down the hall to give them a check and I would be right back.  I asked your permission to leave.  You told me I could go and I reassured you that if you needed me, I would come back.  I hugged and kissed you and walked out of the room.  You went to the art area and started painting a picture.  I sighed a sigh of relief and began my journey down the hall.  Seven minutes later, as my check got handed to the registrar, I felt it.  I couldn’t yet hear you, but I felt you.  My pace picked up as I rushed back down the hall.  I knew it was you.  The aide met me in the hall – she was on her way to find me.  I went in and held you as you sobbed and caught your breath.  “Let’s go home,” you told me in a shaky voice.  I took you outside, reassured you, nursed you, and held you close.  We decided after you regained your composure to go back in and play some more, with the condition that I stayed in the corner in my yellow chair.

Some would say, “Let him cry.  He’ll get over it eventually.”  Others would say, “He’s just not ready.  Try again in a few months.”  I chose an option in between.  I wanted you to have the experience.  I wanted you to socialize with other kids.  I wanted you to gain some independence.  I wanted you to learn how to let others attend to your needs.  What I didn’t want was to traumatize you.  I didn’t want you to fear the separation even more.  I didn’t want you to feel abandoned.  I didn’t want you to feel unloved.

So, every other day, we went to camp.  And every other day, I sat in the corner.  And every other day, I watched you play and grow.  You weren’t ready and I don’t know when you will be.  You still wanted me and I was okay with that.  One day you’ll be ready and one day you may not need me as much anymore.  But wherever you go, whatever you need, I’ll always be there for you, my love… sitting in the corner, in Mama’s yellow chair.

Activity: Sink or Float – An Experiment with Seltzer Water

My latest contribution to the world of children’s play has been published on the Kids Activity Blog.  We experimented with seltzer water to see what items would float, sink, or “dance.”  We used sprinkles (aka jimmies), coins, and popcorn kernels.

This is an easy and fun science experiment you can do in your own kitchen.  Check it out and let me know what items you try!

Sink or Float: An Experiment with Seltzer Water

 

For more of our play and learn at home activities, check out:

Activity: “Eggcellent” Adventures

Activity: Tissue Paper Art

 

Please Wake Up So I Can Go Go!!

This happened a while back, but I was reminded of it recently and thought I’d share:

I live in a small, pedestrian town.  Everybody walks everywhere – to restaurants, to the park, to the supermarket, and to the library.  I meet someone I know every time I’m out.  If I am driving through town on the way home from somewhere, I almost always see friends pushing strollers or wearing their babies for an afternoon stroll.  My neighbors are usually out gardening or walking their dog.  So, why was it that on this day, I was stuck in the car with two sleeping kids, my garage was unusable due to boxes in the way, I really, really, really had to go to the bathroom, and there was not a friend or neighbor in sight?

I drove by the restaurants.  I drove through the park.  I drove past the supermarket.  I drove by the library.  I circled my block several times figuring that at some point, one of the neighbor’s dogs was also going to have to pee.  I contemplated driving twenty minutes away to my husband’s office and asking him to come outside and rescue me.  I couldn’t, however, imagine not finding anyone in town that I knew.  Where was everyone?  Why was I suddenly in a ghost town?  It was a beautiful day – why wasn’t anyone outside?

I’ve done some crazy things as a mom.  I once brought my son home from a nursing support group in “drag” when he pooped through his clothes and his blanket and I had to borrow clothes from my friend’s daughter.  I’ve asked a pizza parlor to deliver pizza to my car when both kids were sleeping and I couldn’t stand to eat another fast food hamburger.  But what was I to do in this situation?  I couldn’t leave my car and my children unattended, no matter how desperate I got.  If I had already purchased my son’s travel potty (which wasn’t gotten until this weekend), rest assured it would have been utilized… somehow.  Even my son’s diapers and my empty disposable coffee cup were starting to look good!

It’s times like these (and only these) that I wish I was a boy and could, as my husband has put it, use nature as my urinal!  Ultimately, I just sat tight (pun intended) and waited until the kids woke up.  But seriously, where was everybody?  What’s a girl got to do to pee in this town?

Is there an app for that?

My Rainbow Connection – My Toddler, My Baby, and Me

Last night was difficult.  My husband has had to work late all week, and tonight was no exception.  After dinner, I got my baby girl to sleep pretty easily.  My son was a bit riled up from a spontaneous visit by his grandparents, but I finally got him to settle down soon after they left.  Just as I was about to put him to bed, my daughter woke up.  I tried to settle her, but she wouldn’t go back to sleep.  Meanwhile, my son sat on (yes, on) my feet quietly playing Angry Birds on my phone.  I wasn’t thrilled with this activity, but he didn’t want to be alone and I didn’t have many other options for keeping him quiet and entertained.  My daughter kept dozing back off, but every time we tried to leave, she’d wake up again.  My son was starting to lose patience and started climbing on me and making silly noises, thus prolonging the whole process.

I eventually gave up on getting my daughter back to sleep, knowing that she is the easier one to put back down.  I sat her in her bouncy seat and decided to concentrate on getting my son to bed.  I put his pajamas on him, nursed him, gave him his vitamins, and brushed his teeth.  I shut off the light and the three of us climbed into bed.  By the glow of a flashlight, he “read” me The Napping House and then it was my turn to read it to both of my children.  I kissed them each goodnight.  I put my daughter in the co-sleeper next to my bed and had my son lie down in his spot (in the center of our bed).  He wanted me to snuggle with him, but I needed to nurse my daughter back to sleep.  I explained this and offered him my foot.  It sounds funny, I know, but he needed to feel connected any way he could.  He cuddled with my foot as if it were a teddy bear.  After a bit of fussing, my daughter finally fell back asleep.  I then scooted my son over (as he was now lying on top of my legs) and snuggled up close to him.  He fell asleep in my arms to a lullaby rendition of The Rainbow Connection.

From chaos came peace.  I got a little teary eyed as I lay there.  Earlier, I was thinking “How in the world am I going to do this?”  But there I was.  I had done it.  I got them both to sleep at the same time.  By myself.  And it wasn’t easy.  But, I did it.  I was a mother to my children.  There was the something that I was supposed to be.  Somehow I found it, my Rainbow Connection – my toddler, my baby, and me.  La da da dee da da doo, la da da da da dee da doo.

The Rainbow Connection: http://youtu.be/jSFLZ-MzIhM

 

Cleaning for the Cleaning Lady

You know you’ve done it too.  The night before the lady comes to clean your house, you’re running around scrambling to clean up.  The dirty dishes get put away and the crumbs are wiped off of the countertop.  The laundry gets scooped up and thrown into the same basket they came out of when you made the attempt to sort it until your toddler decided to jump on everything you just finished folding.  The piles of mail, magazines, and unpaid bills get shoved in a closet just so that your house doesn’t look that cluttered.

Honestly, we don’t have extra cash lying around to pay someone else to clean our house.  But with a toddler and a baby, we don’t have the time either.  The best I can do is get the laundry into the hamper and reload the dishwasher (sometimes).  Since I am usually wearing a baby, cleaning the shower or toilet is NOT something that I can (or want) to do.  Vacuuming with two light sleepers doesn’t seem like a good idea (and I hate to vacuum, but that’s another story).  And let’s be real… by the time both kids are put to bed, and then put BACK to bed three or four times each, all I want to do is sit on the couch, watch TV, and drool.

The evening prior to my house getting cleaned is so stressful.  It’s worth it, though, to be able to come in to a home that is free of clutter, smells fresh, and isn’t sticky… unfortunately, that only lasts about five minutes.  Before you know it, the Legos are all over the floor, one or both kids has a poopy diaper, and even without a waffle in sight, everything seems to be covered in maple syrup.  Still, it’s nice to know that for a fleeting moment – the moment from when the cleaning lady leaves until we take our first step back through the door – the house is acceptable enough to actually have guests over.  By dinner time, however, all signs that the cleaning lady was there that morning have faded.  It’ll be at least another three weeks until I can, ever so briefly, bask in the glow of the freshly mopped floors.  Now, where did I put those bills?