Thursday, January 27, 2011

Small Spaces Series Follow up

Here is my blog post from our family blog where we keep everyone posted on what is going on with our daughter and soon enough - our son. It's our re-make or our apartment in order to hold more things and be more organized - similar to Katie's post about making small spaces work with kids.

Hope some of the info is helpful or entertaining or inspiring!!

Damn you Ikea. We had planned out a new set up for our living room only to realize that the color of the bookshelf we were planning the new set up around had been discontinued.
I even took a solo trip to Ikea to do a re-con mission to pick out doors and things for our bookshelves and to choose different options for Dave to go back later to make final selection and purchase.

So, we sat down at the computer and started looking all over again to try to figure out what kind of storage solution we were going to use for the new desk/play area.

Then Dave bravely went out to Ikea alone to make our purchase.

A crap load of money and lots of boxes later, Dave has assembled our new storage units and Poang chair for the living room. (I wasn't allowed to build anything... and if you know me, you know I love building Ikea stuff!!!)

I had been looking for the perfect solution for a desk as I felt my desk was super tiny and my computer is super big - so I wanted to be able to put more distance between myself and the monitor. With the shape and design of our entire apartment, we found out that no corner desks that Ikea made would work - so I was researching online and found someone who rigged a corner desk for their Mac - so I did the same thing and am crazy happy with it! I used a side table that we had next to the couch to put my monitor on and then put my existing desk in front of that. So I have the entire desk for all my stuff... It is currently set up with everything I typically use/do in a day. (including brother baby's home from the hospital Hat that I just finished and my coupon stash from todays' paper) And I can put the keyboard far enough on the desk that Katie can't touch it, which was also important to me.

We got 2 Expedit book cases - a 4*4 and a 2*4. What I really wanted was a 4*5 but of course, Ikea doesn't make one - so we had to split it this way. Dave also picked out these plastic bins for putting stuff in and at first we thought having 2 colors would be nice, but I don't like it... so I think I'm gonna stick with the clear. I also don't like that you can see through them because it looks messy, so I took some scrapping paper and put it in the front of the bins and now they look way better and hold a TON OF STUFF!!

Before and After Pictures of the play space turned office space.
Now, we have tons of organizing still to do but everything fits and I have to go buy some canvas totes to put in it because I think I might like the way that looks better. These things now hold the contents of a large 3 drawer sterilite unit (yarn) a small 3 drawer sterilite unit (katies cars/trucks/trains/play food) An entire 5 shelf bookshelf and some other stuff that we had in various places!! So, this nester is happy for now!

We also added a chair in the living room that I will hopefully be using for nursing once this soccer player in my belly gets here. We didn't have the heart to take Katie's chair out of her room because she likes it so much and we sit in it every night to read to her - so we got a Poang Chair from Ikea to add to the living room

We also cleaned out closets again and got rid of some old kitchen stuff and clothes and plain old crap that we have had in the house forever and have not used. It feels good.
Freecycle is my new best friend - you post the stuff you want to give away versus throw out and someone who needs it picks it up outside your house! We have donated dishes, mugs, and storage units and I'm sure I will find some of Katie's old clothes to give someone too.

Katie's participation for the day was helping to organize the baskets and then she took a break and sat on her Thomas Train and looked up Thomas videos on You tube on "my HI-POD" as she calls it... she's holding it here.

Next weekend we are going to go through our bedroom closets and up in the attic. We also want to take down the HIDEOUS and broken crappy vertical blinds in the bedroom and maybe the living room (cost dependent) and put up curtains. If we end up switching rooms with the kids, it's a MUST for our bedroom so we figure we might as well just do it now as we are leaning towards making the switch once little man comes home and is sleeping at least a little at night - so that we don't torture our friends downstairs with a crying newborn right above their heads. So, we are not finished, but we have done a lot of the heavy lifting so to speak. There is still TONS more money to spend and lots of other stuff to get to get ready - but we love our place now, so it's all worth it:)

Happy Sunday Night!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Small Space Series Continues

YAY for our first guest post!

Katie Kessler Santos has been kind enough to share with us her small space living with kids super storage solutions. Here is her blog post complete with some pics of her storage options to help keep everyone organized and clutter free:) If she can make everything fit in their space, it should encourage people with larger spaces to be able to fit their stuff in too!!!
I'll show pictures later of our latest IKEA storage solution as well - we realized JUST how much space we really have and are making it work wonderfully!

We have a small apartment. A VERY small in - law apartment. 900 square feet. Two bedrooms, one bath, two adults, a 2 and a 6 year-old, and all of their toys and various stuff type things. It may sound like I'm complaining, But we LOVE it here and we will not be moving anytime soon. We love our landlord/neighbors; the rent is reasonable, great schools, great yard, and a great town. I shared a room growing up with my two sisters and it made me crazy, but if I survived it: They can too. My kids will be sharing a room until we move. This decision was easy. Everything else after required a lot of thought, observation, and stress on my part.

I avoided it for as long as humanly possible. Peyton stayed in the bassinet until she was 3 months old. I did not want her in there waking up Jack when she inevitably woke up in the middle of the night or had trouble going to sleep as most 3 month olds tend to do. Jack had just started pre-school and we needed to be up at 7:45am everyday. Pete would be leaving for work or would have already left for work when Jack needed to be taken to school so Peyton would need to come with us. So Jack had to go to sleep first at about 7pm because if there's anything I have learned about Jack its that if he doesn't get 12 hours of sleep he is a giant jerk the next day (he gets that from me. I can understand that). Then Peyton would go to sleep at about 9. Jack is a SOUND sleeper, so we were still able to sleep train her (we let her cry it out. She never cried longer than 5 minutes. Jack could go for at least an hour but that's a whole other story). If she were to cry and wake him up, we would let him sleep on the couch. He thought that this was fun so who am I to tell him that it sounds crazy. This worked out well initially.

Little problems cropped up every once in a while and things needed to be adjusted. For example, When Peyton got old enough to play with Jack more, Instead of getting up and leaving his room to sit and watch shows in my bed with me (Half conscious) he would wake her up when he woke up. This is not cool at 6:30am. There's only so much parenting I can actually do at 6:30 and Peyton hadn't had enough sleep at that point. So the new rule was wake up and get out - quietly. When Jack started PM kindergarten this year, we had to have everyone adjust to a new sleeping pattern. This included putting them to bed together or in short increments to each other. We are still having trouble with this one. With him not sound asleep, and Peyton who has always enjoyed talking to herself and her dolls as she falls asleep we had the two of them laughing and playing at 9pm. This is great because they don’t seem to want to play together during the day, but bad because they still need sleep. But when we put them to bed like we used to (her way after him) he is still waking her up when he gets up because now she isn't that heavy of a sleeper (which she got from me as well). So we're trying things until we find something that works. What I have figured out is that there is very little you can control as a parent, so you just have to roll with the punches. Things change and you just have to change with them. Even if that means that there are some nights when I want to pull my hair out. There will always be the next night where I can try again and that’s really all we can do as parents anyway.

Here are some pictures of her storage solutions for her 900 square foot space! Quite inspiring if you ask me!

Cube that I got for $12 on clearance at Target (Usually $40) hold misc smaller toys, cars, dress up and baby doll accessories

Bookshelf space

Look at all the space with just the bunk beds!

The pelican (also an ikea purchase) holds extra blankets

Changing table holds stuffed animals, the bottom shelf has
two bins, one for each kid, with their shoes

Since there is no front closet, the kids coats, back packs and winter items hang behind their door

The closet has 2 Ikea 5 drawer dressers: one for each kid with a little bit of hanging room on both sides. The blue cube holds the tv games and dvds that the kids like

How I fit ALL of the kids stuff into my tiny house. TV stand with child locks holds games, coloring books and crayons.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The importance of a middle name

When we were picking names for Kaitlyn we decided 2 things....

1) we would pick a name that we would always call her - so our intention was to call her Kaitlyn and not Katie

2) we wouldn't give her a middle name because we both thought they were kind of pointless as neither of us ever used ours.

What idiots we were.....

1) We started calling her Katie the day we brought her home from the hospital - I think it's inevitable to shorten names especially when they are cute and little and want to add a Y to the end of their name.

2) We realized later on that middle names are important for identity theft prevention (which was not even close to being on our radar during the naming process)


You need a middle name to pull out when your kid is doing something and you are angry with them. I don't care how hip you think you are - or how "above" you think you are pulling out the middle name, because I am sure we all hated it when it was done to us growing up.
Trust me, you will do it

When Katie is jumping on the couch and laughing when we tell her to stop - there is an emptiness when all I can yell at her is KAITLYN STOP THAT... It would feel more complete if it was Kaitlyn ________ Stop that.

Sometimes, I spit out Kaitlyn Metcalfe - but it doesn't have the same satisfaction for me that I think a middle name would add when disciplining.

So... for all you preggos out there trying to pick out names - take it from me - pick a middle name and don't settle for some name that you feel obligated to use because it's a family name or something like that - it has to feel good rolling off the tongue - so practice yelling out whatever your top choices are with STOP THAT after it - once it feels right - that's the name for your kid


Friday, January 21, 2011

Parenting is not for weak stomachs

My child gets constipated. Badly. Poor little thing has always had issues with her poops and they haven't gone away. They are very sporadic, but they are there.

The other day was the worst I've ever seen it and when I tell you that parenting is not for weak stomachs I'm really not kidding. I had to literally pull her poop out of her body. This is not the first time I have had to do it, but it was the worst it's ever been. How do you explain to a 2 year old that her favorite foods like banana and cheese are what is causing her poop to hurt?
It's impossible, so we have to hide that food from her or not buy it so that she doesn't want it.

So... if you are thinking of having kids, or have kids - I applaud you. I never in a million years thought that I would have to man up and pull poop out of a toddlers butt to help relieve her obvious pain and discomfort.

I have so far, (knock on wood) been able to avoid vomit - which I hear is lots of fun too - I figure if I can handle the poop issues, (literally and figuratively) perhaps vomit will be like cleaning spilled milk for me!

Let's hope!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Best baby gifts I ever got

Registering can be so overwhelming! There are a million books and a million people who will tell you that you do and don't need. Add me to make 1 million and 1. However my intention is to provide some guidelines for how to choose the stuff that will work for you rather than which items are truly a must have.

No one will know exactly what you need - I found through trial and error that some stuff that people absolutely loved, I absolutely hated. It's natural - every mom and every baby is different.

So, here are my suggestions for how to get through the registering nightmare.

  • Just because it's sold at a baby store does NOT mean it's totally safe for your baby. There are various safety ratings and some of the stuff sold at the baby stores just meet the minimum requirement - but look awful cute and modern and hip - so we buy them -
  • Buyer Be Aware
One example of this are drop side cribs. Not sure if you know this or not, but the Government FINALLY stepped in and has outlawed them because they are SO dangerous and so many babies have died from using them. Even though they met certain safety ratings, they were still deemed dangerous enough that the government has decided they cannot be built or sold anymore. (I believe the ban goes into full effect next year)

  • When reading reviews, make sure you find a site or book that includes some reviews from ACTUAL parents. There are a lot of things to think about and usability is a huge factor. It's one thing when someone is paid to review something for a company, it is an entirely different thing when it's a fellow mom or dad. A book that I used that I really liked and have had good results with was Baby Bargains.
  • DON'T JUST PICK THE CUTEST PATTERN - all baby products are not created the same - so don't just plan to walk through babies r us and scan the cutest things you've ever seen. You might end up hating all of it and getting all new stuff once you start using it.
  • Think about total cost versus initial cost.... Diaper Genies are supposed to be super smell free - however you have to buy refills made by diaper genie in order for it to work the right way. Buy the Diaper Champ instead and you get the same poop free smelling nursery only you can use WHATEVER BAGS YOU WANT. Trust me when I tell you the less stuff you have to have in stock at your house at all times (like diaper genie refills) the happier you will be in the end.

  • Try ALL THE DIAPER BRANDS. pampers didn't work for my daughter. She leaked through them after size 1 and we bought tons of packages that had defective diapers in them - so they were costing more and we were throwing away unused ones because they were broken... BOOOOOO. We tried Huggies and Luvs and I found Luvs to not only work the best, but to be the cheapest option too! I have recently heard really good reviews about the Target brand diapers as well - and plan to try those when my second child arrives. Don't be stuck on a "brand" name... it's a toilet - remember that.
  • One of the BEST shower gifts I ever received was Super unexpected. It was a medical kit for newborns that included stuff like VAPOR BATH (you will need some in your house) mylicon, childrens tylenol, etc... It was genius because when the time came, I didn't have to run out and buy any of that stuff because I already had it. Now... I suggest either giving someone a gift basket where you have purchased all the medical stuff SEPARATELY so that you can check the expiration date yourself. (sometimes the full kits include expired medicines and then they are worthless to you)

  • Diaper creams... every child needs a different type of diaper cream. We had to go through 4 different types before we found the only cure for Katie which was using Cornstarch powder at each diaper change... it worked like magic and was a suggestion I got from another mom on FB and saved her hiney from misery for months!

  • Bottles - don't buy a ton of one brand of bottle until you have had a chance to test it on your baby. Some babies respond better to different types of bottles. We ended up having to use Playtex nursers for breast milk (long story to be discussed in a breast feeding post) and then once we switched to formula, Dr. Brown's worked the best. Neither of these are what we originally registered for and we had to replace all our bottles which can be costly.

Now for my List of FAVES ( I am not assuming all of these will work for number 2)
  1. Snap and Go stroller - it was a lifesaver for the first 6-9 months. We NEVER registered for a travel system and were so glad we didn't because this one was so light and easy to use!
  2. Maclaren Triumph
light weight, fun color, easy to steer - however I wish it had a bigger storage basket and a tray for the kid - but I lived without both and still loved it.

3. Diaper Champ - I used cheap bags and never had to buy refills and it worked perfectly for keeping smells out of the nursery.

4. Rainforest Jumperoo - the models that have come out since with different themes look and felt cheaper than this one. I wouldn't put my kid on the newer ones after having this one and seeing the quality difference.

5. Gerber Sidesnap kimono style long sleeve shirts with the hand mitts. I would have died without them! They were easier to put on and change and hardly ever got dirty from diaper mishaps because they aren't onesies and could be layered easily (she was a winter baby) and the mitts covered her hands so she couldn't scratch herself by accident and don't fall off because they are attached.

I'll leave you there and if you have any questions - feel free to ask! Goodluck registering and remember, just because it's cute doesn't mean it's the right one for you or your baby! Enjoy registering and DEFINITELY go to the store to use the scanner at least once it's so much fun!!


C-section versus Natural Birth

Pregnancy is a lot of things. Scary is one of them. I was lucky enough with my first pregnancy to have 0 complications and a VERY easy labor and delivery. The entire pregnancy and childbirth experience was perfectly pleasant to be honest even with having to go on pitocin and having my water broken by the doctor.

It's one of those things that once you are there - you have to give up all sense of "control" modesty and everything else you hold dear - because nature and the doctors are going to take control.

My second pregnancy has been a little more typical with more nausea, increase in appetite, mood swings, crying, weight gain, and general pregnancy crazies. However, with all of that, my biggest fear at this moment is having to have a C-section.

Which brings me to my topic for the day. It seems to me that more and more doctors are pushing c-sections and that more and more moms are also opting for them.
I have heard various reasons for this such as
1) convenience for both the doctor and parents
2) timing... people don't want to have to wait through labor
3)not wanting to push a watermelon out of a lemon excuse

Here is my take
A C-section is a surgery. Not a convenience. A MAJOR surgery that includes some serious risks and a very major recovery afterwards.

I am not talking about people whose doctors legitimately think that a C-section is the safer option for both mom and baby. I'm talking about c-sections that are scheduled before you even walk into the hospital. I understand that once you have one, your following pregnancies should be c-sections as well, so I exclude those as well.

Right now, my biggest nightmare is having to have an emergency c-section. I think I would absolutely lose my mind if we went into the hospital and had to be wheeled off last minute. Something about it just totally freaks me out. I seriously think I'd pass out and vomit and have a panic attack (regardless of the drugs they offer me)

My doctor with Kaitlyn was very old fashioned and natural and wouldn't even discuss the possibility of induction or c-sections. He said there was no need because we would deal with it if and when we had to. I respect that. For some reason, it comforted me.

Perhaps it's because I've never had a surgery before - but the thought of it gives me the heebie jeebies and I don't agree with choosing to have a c-section "just because"

But, I also think that all moms should at least attempt to breast feed - so perhaps I'm a bit more old fashioned than I had originally thought before having children.

Anyone have any thoughts or experiences they'd like to share about c-section versus natural birth? Anyone's doctor push them for one that they didn't want? Anyone want to share an experience where they chose an "medically unnecessary" C-section and try to explain to me why that worked best for you?

I want to hear it:)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Breastfeeding coverup Giveaway

I am becoming obsessed with blogs and giveaways and just found an awesome one to tell you about.
For all you moms to be here is a link to a giveaway for a cool looking nursing cover up. I know when I was nursing Katie I HATED having her covered up under a blanket, etc. I felt like I was suffocating her and especially when you are first trying to learn how to nurse - not being able to see your baby is VERY difficult and frustrating. (especially when you have a SLEW of visitors who want to come over and your newest addition wants to feed every hour on the hour)

So, I love the idea of this cover up.

Check out the company here:

and the giveaway site here:

Check out the blog above for all kinds of reviews and information on products that you may or may not know you need:)

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Apartment Update

So... chalk it up to nesting - (although if you ask my husband I've always been a furniture mover - he loves coming home to my latest furniture re-creation) but I have been organizing and purging and re-organizing and I am falling in love with this place all over again.

I have cleaned out the kitchen cabinets and given away a bunch of plates and stuff we don't use/need on (my favorite do gooder website) and have found that we have an even more amazing kitchen than we originally thought for our needs with space to spare.

I am also re-organizing the living room/play room and have been able to separate the two a little bit so that us adults have an actual living room until little man comes home and needs crawling space... then we will push some stuff back up against the walls to make it more open.

I have moved some of Katie's toys into her room so that we use her room more during the day which is nice and we moved his changing table out into our room - which opened up TONS of space in Katie's room.

I have measured and figured out that our furniture will fit very nicely in Katie's room if we choose to switch rooms with the kids with room to spare for a pack and play if we need to have one. (I was thinking it might be nice to switch the rooms early and then put our futon in the kids room so that Dave can have a place to sleep all night long the first few months we bring the baby home. If I'm able to nurse like I'm planning, I figure there is no sense in him being up every time the baby needs to eat, so he could bunk in what will then be Katie's HUGE room on our futon (that's at my moms right now) and the pack and play will fit with me in our new room.

It's really just a matter of deciding if we think all the noise in that room will affect Katie's sleeping. I mean I figure she'll get used to it - and we have a humidifier on int eh winter and would put an AC unit in there for the summer... so I'm sure that would drown out a lot of the street noise and maybe we could fix the door after all???

So, I'm feeling MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH better. We are going to go out and buy a bigger desk for me (which I have been desperate for) and we are playing around with the idea of a few different storage type units that we might bring into the house to help out in the play room. We figure we have to build up with shelves to maximize the space we have - so we are looking for tall shelves.

I am also looking into installing curtains to hide these hideous vertical blinds that are all over the house that have broken panels which the landlord can't tell us anything about so we can't get them fixed... grrrrrrrrr

I think we are just going to try very hard to make this place work for us. Street parking will be an issue with a newborn and a toddler. But for the most part we don't ever have to park far from our house, so I should be able to manage ok and for the first few weeks we won't be going out much anyway... so I think we're gonna make it!

I'm still looking for storage ideas and DEFINITELY need suggestions and tips on sharing rooms as we are a bit nervous about moving the kids in together and can use all the help we can get!

I'll post another post later with some of the products we are buying for baby number 2 versus stuff we bought for Katie. You certainly learn a lot after having your first that you can use to your advantage for number 2 and figure it's always nice to share reviews and thoughts...

Thanks for reading and keep the comments coming - they make my day!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Apartment living with kids

Now that we are actually getting prepped for the arrival of baby number 2 - we have been going back and forth about the prospect of trying to find a bigger place.
When we had Katie we decided to move to the town Dave worked in so that he wouldn't have a 45 minute - 1.5 hour commute anymore. We lucked out and chose the first apartment we looked at here. It was QUITE an upgrade from where we were living in Westchester and gave us close to double the amount of space we used to have for not much more in rent - so we were happy!

Then the honeymoon was over and we started to find all the things that are wrong with the apartment and now we are trying to weigh the pros and cons about looking for a new place, or making this place work for us.

1) we are across the street from an awesome park which comes in VERY handy when it's warm because there is a kick ass playground there with the cushiony ground and they have events in the park all the time.

2) we share a 2 family house with another young couple with a little girl and all the girls in the house have become fast friends (instant play dates, bitch sessions, coffee talks, babysitters - it's AWESOME)

3) we have a HUGE in-ground pool in the backyard

4) there is a shared washer/dryer in the basement of the house

5) I have skylights and LOTS of natural sunlight in all of the rooms

6) Dave and I have his/hers closets in our room

7) Katie's room is fairly large

8) we have an updated kitchen big enough for our dining room table

9) I have an open layout with plenty of space for a play area that I can "fence in" and see from the shower

10) we have a full attic for storage

Living Room
Play Room side
Whole space from the kitchen
Kitchen Table
From the kitchen doorway

Storage side of our bedroom
sleeping side of our bedroom
Katie's room/possibly baby too

Where the toy box would be where the 2nd crib would go most likely

It all sounds great right??

O.k. here are the CONS

1) we live across the street from the park that has concerts during the summer that go until 11 or 1130 and are so loud that you can't even watch TV because you can't hear it

2) we are across the street from the town gas pump which means trucks and buses come in and out all the time - lots of street noise

3) The front door to the house slams very loudly which causes a chain reaction with our front door so we get a very loud double slam... every time the door downstairs closes. Unless you are really mindful of it, it's startling enough that it wakes me up if it happens at night. ** more on why this is a HUGE issue later**
The people who installed the front door ruined it before they even had it installed... so there is no hope it will get fixed so it won't slam (this is what you get when you want to have things done cheaply... your fancy door gets broken before it gets intsalled...)

4) In the warmer months it's difficult to have the windows open because the airplane traffic noise and street noise is so loud, it's disruptive

5) we have a pool in the backyard - which takes up the whole backyard which means no play space back there... which is annoying knowing we are going to have 2 kids and I'd like to be able to go outside where Katie can run fenced in and I can keep the baby contained easily.

6) the laundry that we have access to is downstairs and around the back of the house - so in the winter I have to get all bundled up in order to just throw a load in and then there is the issue of taking one or two kids down with me just to do laundry... however - my fabulous husband has offered countless times to take care of the laundry when he is home

7) the landlord is iffy - but what landlord isn't???

8) we are on the second floor so there is one flight of stairs to climb every time we come in.

9) it's street parking - although we usually always get a space right in front of the house and most places around where we would look are street parking.....

So... we bring ourselves to the dilemma of the day - is it realistic to think that we can find some place better than what we have that would be worth the pain and expense of moving?

Now... back to the front door noise... Our bedroom is large enough that we could put both kids in there AND their toys and it would be plenty big. However that room is on the street side with all the noise and that room is where the front door slamming resonates the loudest due to echoes, etc.... So, we are wary of the idea of moving Katie out of her little bat cave of a back room that is super quiet, and mostly dark and into the front room with all the noise. I think the baby would just learn to live with it - but Katie would have an adjustment... I think we could use machines to help drown it out and maybe install thick curtains to help with the street noise too... so I think it could be do-able.

Katie's room would be PLENTY big for Dave and I and all our stuff and she has an awesome closet in there too - so that wouldn't be an issue.

I guess the same could be said for moving elsewhere as there is no guarantee that we would find a place with a room as quiet and dark as Katie's is now... but it makes us nervous.

So... Thoughts, suggestions, stories??? What is your apartment situation like? How much space do you have? Do you think I could actually find the perfect place or do you think we should be happy with what we have and work the next few months to make sure it is organized and efficient to add another person? (storage, layout, furniture... I have tons of ideas but don't want to buy anything if we are gonna move....)

Help!!!! Do your kids share rooms? How does it work? Tell me tell me.. help me, help me!!!

Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Keeping your toddler busy ALL DAY LONG

It's harder than one thinks....I'm finding that at least, my toddler, doesn't actually like playing with toys for longer than about 2 minutes at a time at this point. Not even all the super cook new Christmas Toys she got. (this picture is no one we know... but notice how ALL the toys are out of the container... just saying - there is no such thing as playing with one thing at a time)

Case in point, we bought Katie a Curious George Matching game and thought for sure it would take at least 20 minutes or so... we took all the cards out and laid them face up for her to match the pairs... she was done in about 4 minutes tops. That was my big activity for the morning... so I knew I was screwed.

I'm always surprised at how many working parents are at a loss with what to do with their kids when they are home with them for a full day that is a non weekend. Then I realize that their schedules are so busy that they probably have tons of errands, etc to do on the weekends like grocery shopping and stuff so they don't really experience a typical FULL DAY with a kid plus the novelty of having your parents home when they aren't normally... might be enough to keep them settled for a day or two.

This is why stay at home moms needs wine. It's HARD WORK. I feel like it's harder work the less kids you have. Kids entertain each other.

My best days are when Katie has a playdate because the kids pretty much take care of themselves, and me and my mommy friends can have an actual conversation and relax for a morning instead of constantly fretting over what activity to do next. So, I think if you have multiple children, they can help entertain each other - but I am finding being home with one child all day long, every day is beyond taxing. She gets frustrated and I want to pull my hair out.

So here are some things I try to do to help break up the monotony of being home all day.

1) Barnes and Noble Train Table - Katie loves playing there - so we go in the morning before naptime a little less than once a week

2) Local Libraries - some of them have awesome kids rooms - including a local one here in New Jersey that has a whole room with puzzles and tables and toys and a separate play area where the kids can be loud.

3) Playdates... I met some local moms who just happen to have kids Katie's age - I try to have one playdate with them a week. I kind of like breaking it up so that I can get 2 or 3 different playdates in the same week with different moms... but it's also nice to have them at the same time so it's a larger group.

4) Art Projects. Katie is obsessed - so painting, foam sticker projects, easy craft project kits - we made snowmen out of circles of my scrapbook paper and then I cut out hats, noses, etc... and I helped her glue them on. It was a hit. She also likes paint with water pages, but I find them annoyingly messy so am going to try to make my own.

5) Baking - Katie likes to help me bake - cookies or stuff that she can pour in and then help decorate or cut out (sugar cookies)

6) local museums - Children's Museums are great for a full morning activity but they can be a little pricey.

7) Play spots at the mall - we have a really nice one about 15 minutes away - we don't go often... but it's a treat and she likes it. We get there for when the mall opens and stay for about 45 mins tops... she really enjoys it.

When it's warm out - we go out once a day at least. We have an awesome park right across the street - and it was easier before I was pregnant and it got cold and all... but if you don't mind the cold and can chase a little one... outdoors on a warmer day does wonders for getting their energy out.

That's about all I have for ideas. We try to rotate those things as much as possible. Katie suffers from cabin fever pretty severely at this point and is super smart smart so I have run out of fun teaching material for the moment... which is why I am really hoping I can get her into daycare 2 - 3 mornings a week starting ASAP so that she can get playtime, circle time, crafts, etc... with other kids for 3 hours which will really help me out once the baby comes.

I wish you all luck in staying sane during the winter months... Don't be afraid to reach out to other mommies... we are all in it together. If you see someone at the park that looks normal and can complete a sentence... PURSUE it... that's how Katie and I met our good local friends - at the park, and then we took a class together and now we try to get together once a week with the girls and it's AWESOME!!!!!

For all you parents out there who have had a hard time keeping your children entertained during school vacations, etc.... make sure you give the stay at home moms you see out and about who look frazzled and scattered and tired an extra smile - they probably REALLY need it!!!!:) AND you should probably HUG your babysitters - often - especially if you have a babysitter that watches your only child... like I said - it's more work the less kids there are!

Leave comments with your ideas and activities - we all need the help!!!!!

Also... please share with me your biggest activity failure... for me it was painting for the 2nd time.
We tried to paint with a friend one day and she loved it. So I got her all kinds of stuff to do it and apparently it wasn't the same without her playmate... so she freaked out and refused to do it... it was a huge bummer for me as I had been looking forward to it for days!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

When your non-stay at home spouse is on vacation

This photo is a cartoon, that's why they look so content... this was NOT what we looked like in my house this past week.

We have been looking forward to the past 11.5 days for what feels like forever. Time to hang out and enjoy time at home, just the 3 of us - get some stuff organized and re-arrange some things in order to get better prepared for baby number 2 and just have a generally kick ass time.

The reality was that all being home at the same time, for so many days wasn't nearly as blissful as we had hoped.

Katie has been sick for about a month now on and off with different symptoms and has been a little cranky here and there which never helps us when we're all together. She is also going through a phase where she ONLY wants my husband to do stuff with her. We realize it's because the novelty of having him home is super fresh in her mind, but it doesn't help the sting when she decides she doesn't want me to even be in the same room as them.

So, our wonderful, relaxing, vacation went more like this. Dave had to play with Katie all day, every day while I went about my business cooking, cleaning, organizing and generally running the household as usual - only with my husband at home with me being cranky and bitter and bitchy the whole time because I felt left out and tired and cabin feverish.

I tried to explain it to him like this.... it would be like if I went to his job with him and tried to do stuff for him, differently than he did it, or tried to help out and generally just kinda was there like a shadow. Don't get me wrong, my husband is the finest specimen of a husband/dad out there - he cooks, cleans, runs errands, everything and anything I could ever hope for... but for some reason, having him home for so many days... still made things stressful and not restful like we had hoped.

I think it's because the house is all I have now. It's my full time job. So, I have ways that I do things and because it's all I do all the time, having an audience or observers makes me uncomfortable doing simple things like cleaning, cooking, etc... Especially since I'm SUPER pregnant and not feeling that well - so when Dave wants me to settle down and slow down - he doesn't understand that this is how it is for me every day.

Stay at home moms work at a different pace than most other jobs and having a Type A personality doesn't help when your husband is trying to take some of the burden for you. I know I'm lucky and I know he did his best to not get in the way - but I have been hearing from a lot of you out there similar posts about being excited to get your house back to normal - meaning no daddy during the day. It's a horrible thing and I need to work on it because my husband is AMAZING and it's not fair that I was so stressed out just because he was home. So... how do you make it work when your husband is home so that no one feels like they are in the way? How do you make sure that you make the best of the time and find ways to make the kids adjust to having mommy and daddy home for a few days?

This is what I must have looked like after being stuck in the house for so many days, with a sick kid, having Braxton Hicks contractions, and various pregnancy related aches and pains and trying to entertain for the holidays during a Blizzard. It's like you planned on doing so many things and at the end of the week nothing has been accomplished, the kid is still cranky, I was cranky and poor Dave was probably dreaming of going back to his peaceful office.
I'm not proud of it but I'm being brutally honest.

Here's to making it work in the future and making sure we NEVER have a miserable stay at home vacation EVER again. Shame on me for not finding a way to make it better before the end. I'm hoping it's my pregnancy crazies and not that I'm just turning into a bitchy Type A stay at home mom who mistreats her husband and is bitter all the time.
Please.... save me and my family from that!