Toddler Life

I vaguely remember my life pre-child.  Sleeping in, drinking hot cups of coffee, eating hot food while watching a TV channel other than Disney Jr.  Heck I think I even have memories of being able to read more than two pages of a book before passing out in exhaustion! Or talking to my husband about something other than our child, bills or our ever growing to do list around the house.

Parenthood is wonderful. It is also exhausting. We have entered the tantrum stage and I swear he knows to throw one just when they are least welcome.  Middle of aisle five at the grocery store because I wouldn’t let him climb the store shelves? Of course.  Out at the park because we need to leave? A given. Before or after his bath because he hates transitions? Why not.  And trying to put a diaper on him lately is like wrangling a snake.  He hates it and won’t sit still. He won’t use a potty either so wrangling him it is. I have taken to whatever distraction necessary to change his diaper.  Want to play with mommy’s phone? No, OK, how about this Ipad? No? OK, here are a pair of scissors…..ugh of course those would peak your interest….


Because wrapping paper apparently makes the best cape EVER



We have had to remove EVERY bar stool from our kitchen because he has become fixated with climbing them and then onto the kitchen counters. Which that alone is bad but then he proceeds to throw everything off the counters onto the floor, which in turn makes me a hysterical mess….it has not been a pretty sight at times in the Thomas household lately.

He is already fascinated with how things work and wants to fix everything.



But when the going is good it is amazingly beautiful.  He loves to cuddle up on our laps now with his blankets and will just turn around randomly to give us a hug.  I melt every time he does that.  His mental capacity to figure things out is growing leaps and bounds everyday. He is talking more.  Understanding more.  He understands what we say so much now that we have started spelling out words we don’t want him to hear. The problem with that is mom is NOT a great speller, apparently….

He has a slight blanket hoarding problem


He will be 22 months in a few days. Almost two years old.  I am continually grateful that he has come into my life and even though we have a lot of the these crazy days in our house currently, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  If you are in the thick of toddler life like me, remember you are not alone.  And people tell me there is this thing coming up in a few years  where the kid goes to this place for the whole day and you get the house to yourself. It is free and they are taken care of by a whole team of people. I hear it is called school…..

Omi Saves the Day

Back in December my son got kicked out of daycare for biting. He is 1 years old. Someday I will laugh at this but at the time I thought the world was ending with the amount of stress it gave me.  What to do, on top of the holidays, made me a mess. And people don’t have much sympathy when they hear it is a behavior issue.  The judging I felt I got from others plus the unsolicited advice from them was too much at times.  I am not in a situation where I can just quit my job and stay home.  But I also knew daycare was not a good fit for him.  He needed more attention and less of a schedule.  More time to explore and just be a kid.  Nanny?  More money than we could afford.  So what to do?

We are very lucky that my mother-n-law offered to watch him for us. So currently my mother-n-law lives with us during the week and watches him.  And in just one month he has made so much progress.  He rarely bites anymore and has calmed down.  He actually can concentrate on the task in front of him instead of bouncing around from one thing to another.  He smiles more. He sits on my lap and gives me hugs when I get home instead of the tears I was getting before. It is like he is a different child.  And of course I love the pictures she sends me during the day of him.  Their relationship is special and you can tell he adores her.

Upon reflecting on this arrangement of course I have mom guilt that I am not there. Every mom –working or not – has mom guilt. But I realize these days of him being with his “Omi” are precious. You see, she is his only grandparent. My parents are both deceased as well as Brian’s dad. “Omi” is it.  I was so close to my “Omi” growing up and am SO grateful that he is getting to know at least one of his.

Life has a way of pushing us where we need to go whether we are ready or not. Lesson learned.

Mommy Wars

I have come to realize many things since having a child. For example, I now know that I can read “Dr. Seuss Green Eggs and Ham” seven times in a row without going insane. That no matter what people say, throw-up is throw-up and I will never get used to being thrown up on, which is usually after I have already bathed my child. I am a really fast diaper changer. And it’s true: love grows with your child.

But perhaps one of the biggest realizations I’ve made as a relatively new parent (my son turns 2 in May) is how incredibly judgmental other parents can be. It hurts. And it happens way more than I thought it would.

You, the woman at Kohl’s who stared at me as my child threw a temper tantrum because he wanted to push the cart instead of sit in it, you judged me.

Friend who saw I have TV on almost all the time. You judged me.

Parent at the park who saw I did not pack an organic, free-range, all-food-groups-represented, no-dessert lunch complete with sandwiches cut in cute little shapes, and instead fed my child cold pasta noodles and (gasp) potato chips? You judged me.

Friends who tell me how to correct my child? You judged me.

Not always out loud, of course. But internally, they were smug. They thought things like I would never have children who would behave in such a manner in public. Or, Doesn’t she know the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV until the age of 2? Or, How can she possibly be feeding her children that crap? Has she not read any of Michael Pollan’s books?

And what’s worse, now that I’m a parent, I am realizing internal smugness isn’t so internal. I know when I’m being judged. I can sense it, even when nothing is being said out loud. It’s in the look. The double-take. The whisper to the companion they’re with.

It’s hard not to care about what other people think. That quiet judgment can sting, especially on days when my nerves are shot and my child is in the worst mood — a combination that often leads to a situation judge-worthy by many.

Pre-child I will admit I thought I would be better. That I wouldn’t do that.  Ha! How naive I was. Parenting is like jumping on a rollercoaster mid-flight and trying to buckle up while going 60mph.

Pre-child: I was going to cloth diaper.
Post-child: Ha! I go through Pampers like they are water.

Pre-child: No TV until age of 2 and then only 30 minutes a day.
Post-child: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Need I say more?

Pre-child: Only organic, healthy, homemade food.
Post-child: My kid sometimes eats day old cheerios off the floor.

Pre-child: Public tantrums are unacceptable.
Post-child: Removal of the child is only sometimes doable; predicting when a tantrum is going to strike is often impossible.

Pre-child: Complaints about childrearing and its hardships annoyed me (this was your choice, no?) and saddened me (parenthood is supposed to be a wonderful thing!).
Post-child: Parenthood isn’t wonderful 100 percent of the time.

My day-to-day routine isn’t what I envisioned it would be. Some of the things I imagine I’m judged on now are minor, others, a little more major. But mostly they are simple faults and I now know that they don’t make me a bad parent. Sometimes I leave dirty diapers on the changing table. My son’s socks don’t always match. I forget to brush my son’s teeth. I use TV as a way to take a breather. I’m sometimes too easy. I’m sometimes too hard. I sometimes make the wrong decision, give the wrong punishment, ask too much, ask too little. But within all these minor and major faults is a singular truth: Most days, I’m doing the best I can. And I honestly believe that’s a truth that can be applied to most parents: Most days, we’re all doing the best we can.

I guess what I am trying to say is that parenting is difficult enough – please do not add to it.

Picture Day – A Toddler’s View

Being a kid sucks.

I mean, to an adult, being a kid is awesome: you have zero responsibilities, zero stress; all you have to worry about is whether you want mac and cheese or chicken nuggets for dinner, or how many laps you can run around the couch before you get dizzy and fall over, or how many colored scribbles you can get on the wall before your parents have a hissy fit.

But actually being a kid sucks.

You’re always getting hauled off to places you don’t care about. Trips to the grocery store or to Target. Stops at the bank. A daily sojourn to day care or the babysitter. Then, you’re being forced to do all sorts of things that interest you not a bit. Eating vegetables. Going to bed at a “reasonable” hour. Not coloring on the walls.

But despite these day-to-day inconveniences, I don’t know that, for a kid, there is any indignity worse than picture day.

You wake up, hoping for a day of cartoons and playgrounds, of candy and sunshine, but the parents are up. And they’re a little bit more wound up than usual. Bustling about. Rushing through breakfast. Nipping at each other about time and duties and outfits and responsibilities. Then they’re stuffing you into stiff clothes that — let’s be honest — are a little long in the sleeve or short in the leg: uncomfortable threads that rub and irritate and constrict and ride up.

Next thing you know, you’re crammed into the car seat — but you can’t have any snacks, because you can’t get any gunk on your hands, and you can’t have anything to drink, because you might spill it on yourself. Then they stick you in some photographers outdoor Christmas scene, and sure, there are cool things to touch around you, but your parents are getting mad at you for trying to run around, and you got scolded for unwrapping the shiny presents. There’s nothing really to do except sit around and not have fun. Anathema for a toddler.

There is some weird adult there with a fancy camera, poking and prodding at you and telling you where to stand, how to sit, where to prop your knees, and she keeps telling you to “smile” or say “puppies” and all manner of adults-talking-to-kids-they-don’t-know nonsense.


You can bear it for a few minutes because you’re generally agreeable, and your parents seem really concerned about you doing what this camera wielding adult asks. But you’re only 18 months. There’s only so much you can stand. The ants start creeping in and you have no more patience for holding still. They’re still asking you to smile, but all you can do is bare your teeth like a wild animal and start running away with the sparkly ornament that has fixated you since you arrived to this weird scene. Meanwhile, your parents are jumping around in the background waving their arms like maniacs trying to get you to smile and sit still.

Finally, the parental units give up, and you are crammed back in the car seat and driven home, where you are allowed to put normal clothes on again and have something decent to eat. And what do you have to show for this? A handful of pictures featuring you, which makes not an ounce of sense to you, seeing as the house is already full of pictures of you.  But mom is happy and saying words like “scrapbook worthy” and “photo calendar.” So I guess it wasn’t too bad.


Best Friends

When our neighbor was 8 months pregnant I found out I was pregnant. We always joke it was her crazy pregnancy hormones that rubbed off on me. After all my years of infertility to get pregnant and share the joy with a friend also about to embark on first time parenthood? Priceless.

So Cute Together
So Cute Together

Her daughter was born in September and my son in May. They travel for work so we have gone months without seeing them. I thought it would take a while for a bond to form between these two….but no. They LOVE each other. This summer, when the neighbors were gone, Bryce would walk up to their front door and knock for them. At one years old, he already missed his friend!

At a Water Park Together
At a Water Park Together

It has really been nice to share parenting stories with them and have our kids be able to “run out” the ENDLESS energy together.

At Bryce's First Birthday Party. The new walker is pushing the older walker. lol.
At Bryce’s First Birthday Party. The new walker is pushing the older walker. lol.

Now that they are both mobile and running around, they keep us on our toes when they are together. Sharing and “mine mine” are all issues at the toddler age. But they hate to be apart. It is so cute to see

LOVE the expression on Bryce's face. Don't worry buddy. One day you will want female affection. lol
LOVE the expression on Bryce’s face with this one.

I can’t wait to see these two grow up together.

Newest Photo. Bike Riding with Brian.
Newest Photo. Bike Riding with Brian.

The Dad and Son Relationship

I would like to think Bryce is a mommy’s boy.  After all, aren’t all boys supposed to love their mommy’s the most and call them everyday for the rest of their life? lol.

For Bryce, mommy definitely is his nurturer. I put him to sleep, soothe his owies and tears, and otherwise offer all the condolence he needs. But daddy, daddy is FUN. They wrestle, they dance to music. Daddy even takes him to get ice cream when mommy isn’t looking.

When all is going good, like the picture above, my heart melts in a thousand pieces. Those two together…..after all these years of wanting a family of our own… is priceless.

But then, THEN this happens:

Why do I bother buying toys when there are so many toilet paper rolls to unroll in our house?
Why do I bother buying toys when there are so many toilet paper rolls to unroll in our house? And was my husband not paying attention to sizes when he put these shorts on our child? They are huge!

and this:

Daddy is hiding behind the chair but I didn't see that at first. My heart skipped a beat when I walked in on this. Bryce loves to climb. On anything. I am beginning to contemplate having him walk around with a helmut on...
Daddy is hiding behind the chair but I didn’t see that at first. My heart skipped a beat when I walked in on this. Bryce loves to climb. On anything. I am beginning to contemplate having him walk around with a helmut on…

I go to the store to run an errand and come home to literally chaos.  How the house manages to go to all out war in a short time never seems to stop surprising me.

Helping Daddy wash the car while washing himself apparently.
Helping Daddy wash the car while washing himself apparently.

But then I remember to look past the mess and see the joy on my son’s face. He is only a kid once. How do you draw the line from which exploration ends?  In the meantime I am trying to embrace the crazy and embrace the mess. It is hard.

So yes, mommy is all that is neat, orderly and clean. Daddy is where all that unravels…..

Toddler Phases

A toddler’s life is nothing but phases. A biting phase. A throwing things phase. A take-your-pants-off-and-ride-the-cat-around-the-house phase. Some phases are over in a few days, others drag out for weeks. But rest assured, if the little ones are waist-high or lower, they’re in a phase.

The newest phase is one that needs to be over immediately if not sooner, though I fear it’s one of those marked end date indeterminate. This is the morning means nothing phase, AKA the toddler is his own alarm clock phase, AKA abandon all sleep ye who enter here phase.

Parental sleep deprivation is no joke. You can break Navy Seals with a non sleeping baby. But the morning means nothing phase is a new animal. Because with your run-of-the-mill midnight baby wakeup call, you get to go back to sleep. It may be fitful sleep, and it may take you a while, but you get to drop off again. In the morning means nothing phase, your only hope is to go to sleep as soon as possible after the child goes down, because the kid is going to wake up, for good and with no hope of going back to sleep, whenever he damn well feels like it. 5 AM? Bet on it. 4? The sprout laughs at 4.  3:30? Challenge accepted.

It’s bad enough that we’re still trying to catch up on his newborn year of non sleep. Work schedule has us waking up by 5:30 on a regular day, so those last few minutes of sleep are critical. But the toddler cares not for those crucial final minutes.

This week he has decided that 5:00 AM is wakey time and screams until one of us saves him from his crib.  He has done 4:00 AM on us before, but thankfully that is not the majority. Usually we try and bring him to bed with us but he ends up using us as jumping pillows or screams for attention. He always wins.

No one warns you when you have a child that you start compartmentalizing your year by what phase your child is in. Someone asks me what I was doing in June 2014? That was the month where Bryce was in his I will only poop while you are holding me while you bounce on an exercise ball phase. June 2015? Every toilet I come across I will stick my hand into phase.

When I ask other parents whose kids are older when it will get easier they just look at me with pity. It doesn’t get easier, it just changes they say. So true. Phases. I am hoping this one is short. But the I only will eat a vegetable if it comes from a pouch phase is still going strong so who knows. So if you want to invite me to a dinner don’t bother. I go to bed at 8:30 PM currently for the unforeseeable future…

A boy and his cat

Bryce loves our cat. It has been a challenge getting him to learn how to “play” gentle with her and not pull on her tail, tackle her, or otherwise annoy her.  The funny thing is that Sophie LOVES the attention. She is so patient with him and most of the time follows HIM around! Our cat is named Sophie an she is a Savannah breed. They are known for their playfulness and dog like qualities.  When we first came home with Bryce she definitely was jealous but now that he is walking around and generally causing havoc he is her entertainment and her opinion has changed on him. lol.

The picture above was taken this week one night before bed. I love the expression on both of their faces.  Our neighbor breeds golden retrievers and we go back and forth on getting a dog but right now we have our hands full. Though a dog would come in handy with cleaning up the food Bryce gets on the floor during dinner…..

We are taking it easy this weekend. Bryce is getting over a stomach bug (no one warns you that once you have a kid you will clean up more bodily fluids than you ever thought possible. Most of the time at 1:00 AM) and our housework list needs tackled.  As I am typing this I am staring at a pile of laundry that needs folded and another load that needs thrown in. Sleep will win I am thinking.

I will end with this tidbit. Bryce has learned how to make farting noises on our arms/stomach. So we will be sitting with him on the floor or couch and next thing I know I have become his sound machine. He is endlessly entertained by this new skill and practices constantly. He is redeemed though by his newfound ability to kiss our cheeks goodnight. He certainly knows how to melt my heart.

A Balancing Act

Life is a balancing act that I feel most days I fall way short of attaining. Weekends were short before I had a kid. Now it is like I wake up Monday morning and wonder if I HAD a weekend. Between the endless errands and loads of laundry, the early wake up calls (our son is the perfect alarm clock – up by 6:00 AM everyday; and trying to make sure I can strike off as much from my do to list as possible yet still spend quality time with the family, I am exhausted by Monday morning. And now that Bryce is full on running around, this invariably happens every weekend:


And this


And don’t forget meal time messes


Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom and embrace the chaos most of the time. But I know I am not alone in my quest of trying to find balance in mommyhood.

Maybe I just need to do more of this with him.


In the meantime, I have been applying this essential oil like crazy and reminding myself that it will get easier. I hope. LOL


Adventures in Sleep Training

I am in the midst of trying to sleep train my 1 year old. Trying being the key word here.

In my mind, it would go like this:

Little boy sleeping with teddy bear

The reality is this:

Crying baby do not want to sleep

Most nights I invariably give in and hold him, rocking him to sleep or singing 10 renditions of “Hush Little Baby” while rubbing his back in the crib. This sleep training is more like sleep work. For me.

And then, when I ask people what I should do to get Bryce to sleep I get everything from “let him cry it out till he exhausts himself to sleep” to “my sister used to just drive the twins to sleep each night” to “my kid is 6 and still sleeps with us” It seems sleep and kids is a hot topic. With no clear answer in sight.

Being a working mom I already have mommy guilt for being apart from him most hours of the day. So I don’t want his last memory every night to be of mommy leaving him hysterical in the crib. Plus I have tried having him cry it out. He just makes himself vomit and then I am cleaning that up in addition to having a non sleeping child. The joy.

At the end of the day he eventually falls asleep (and yes, we HAVE been known to drive around the neighborhood at night to get the kid to sleep. No judgements please. I am finding in parenthood that exhaustion makes every parent do something they thought they would never do). And someday he will be a teenager and I will go from not being able to get him to sleep to trying to get him UP.

So maybe I need to change the idea from sleep training to sleep bonding. After all, pretty soon he will be too big to do this. And boy is he cute when he does.