I’m usually pretty terrible at Christmas shopping, meaning I’m definitely not one of those people who has my shopping completed already. But there is one gift I’ve purchased for both my kids that I’m pretty psyched about.
You enter the kid’s name and gender and pick their character and the book is generated for you.
Your kid encounters different creatures throughout the story who give them each of the letters in their name. Holden meets a hippo, ostrich, lion, dragon, elephant and narwhal (!). Gatsby meets a giant, aardvark, troll, octopus, bear and yeti (!)
My parents chose to drive down to Disney World (about a 15-hour drive) and bravely offered to take one kid with them. I decided to send Holden with them in the car, while I flew with GB as an “infant in arms” (which you can only do with children 2 and under). The original thinking was 1) I didn’t have to pay for GB’s ticket and 2) GB is generally the calmer child.
It wasn’t long after purchasing the airline tickets that I realized my mistake. GB hates sitting still, he doesn’t like sitting on my lap, and he doesn’t watch videos or play with apps. What was I thinking? But by that point it was too late, so we sucked it up and went for it.
The morning of our flight–which left Baltimore at 10am–I forgot the stroller at the house, so I had to turn around 10 minutes down the road. Heinous traffic on the beltway made it clear that the usual 1.25-hour drive wasn’t happening this time and we were definitely going to miss our flight. Had to do some ninja magic on the phone in the car to switch our flight with Delta–luckily, there was a 10:30am flight with a layover in a different city that got us to Orlando 20 minutes earlier, so it wasn’t terrible. Sure, it cost $50 to switch, but whatever. I was trying to avoid a mental breakdown.
The good thing about cutting it close on your flight is there’s not a lot of downtime in the airport; the bad thing is the obvious stress and self-loathing. We boarded and GB was entertained by opening and closing the plane window… for the first five minutes. We still had 40 minutes on this flight and another flight to go.
He stood on me, he looked out the window, he made faces at the people behind us, he ate snacks, he threw his Nuk. I tried out the new kid headphones I had gotten for the trip, which bought me about 10-15 minutes.
And then, as we began our descent, he freaked out.
And then he fell asleep.
Just in time to land.
The layover at Raleigh-Durham was nonexistent–our flight left slightly late–so we boarded the next flight almost immediately. Luckily, the airline representative could sense the frazzle that was radiating from me, so she put us in an extra-wide row.
It was like heaven. GB actually had room to stand… and lie down on the floor (whatever, don’t judge me). The lovely grandmother across the aisle from me actually took him into her lap for a bit and talked to him. He was overall pleasant and flirted with several passengers. I took it.
However by the time we boarded Disney’s Magical Express, the shuttle to our resort, GB had had it. He stood. He screamed. He whined. He threw his Nuk at me. It was 40 minutes of horror. We actually ditched the bus at the Boardwalk Resort and just walked over to the Beach Club. We’d had enough of being confined in metal boxes for a day.
On the way home from Florida, GB was ill–which was not good because he was sick, but was good because he was snuggly and quiet (I’m terrible). I accepted the three diarrhea blowouts he had during our travels as a trade-in for his good behavior. I even remained calm when the car wouldn’t start in the Express parking lot and we had to wait for help to arrive.
So… we survived. But I’m looking forward to not having to fly with a kid anytime soon.
Welp, we survived. We went to Disney World with two toddlers–a three year old and a nineteen month old.
We got back on Wednesday and my response to people’s questions about the trip has been, “Well, the kids were terrrrrrible, but we still managed to have fun.”
That’s not just me exaggerating, by the way: the kids were really, really badly behaved… one more so than the other. Any guesses as to which one?
Whaaaat? Not that little princess; no way. Oh, yes way.
I get it: the kids are overstimulated, they’re way off schedule, they’re missing naps, they’re sleeping in weird rooms, they’re hot, it’s crowded, they’re waiting in lines, they’re exhausted. Also, having my parents and myself all in the same place provides many opportunities to try to play us off each other and test out our patience… and discipline levels.
But let’s just say I made many parents feel good about themselves and their children during this trip.
People have been following up my admission by saying, “but your photos looked like you had such a great time!” Listen, you’ve seen the clickbait articles; you can make anything look good on Instagram.
If I were completely honest on social media, the trip would have looked primarily like this:
Oh and I guess some of this:
In all honesty, we did have a great time, despite the less-than-pleasant kids’ behavior. We ate a ton of great food and had some really fun experiences.
I’ve already had people asking me for suggestions for their next Disney trip, so I’m going to try to break it down into multiple posts focusing on the various parks, dining, etc. Given how good I am about updating the blog currently, this may take me until my next Disney trip to complete, but hey, we’ve all gotta have goals. Keep checking back for updates.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this tip for your next Disney trip: leave the kids at home. Disney World is awesome for adults.
It’s the International Food & Wine Festival so there’s definitely that to look forward to. And the mid-80 degree weather isn’t too shabby. And my parents are driving down with Holdy so they took the bulk of the luggage–that I literally only packed today–with them. This won’t be so bad… right?
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I’ll be flying with a beyond-fidgety 19-month-old who hates to be held and can’t be bribed with videos or apps. But I’ll have international food and wine waiting for me at the end of it, so that’s worth 2.5 hours of shame and misery… right?
We’ll be there over Halloween, so I did get to cheat a bit on the Halloween costumes this year. So that’s a plus.
I packed every single princess dress Holdy already owns (including two I bought at the consignment store) so she’ll have her pick of Halloween costumes… and I’ll be able to avoid buying a $90 princess dress at the resort. I also made Holdy an appointment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on Halloween. Of course, the appointment is at 6:30pm and she goes to bed at 8:30pm, but I’m told they use enough hairspray that it should last a few days. See, we’re totally gonna be fine… right?
I’m probably jinxing myself terribly right now, but I just have to give a shout out to Holden’s much-improved behavior in the past few weeks.
I started to write a post this week about Holden’s improved behavior as of late, but–expectedly–as soon as I wrote it, her good behavior crapped the bed. Le sigh.
But yeah, up until Thursday night, Holden had been almost like a new kid–polite, helpful, sharing with her brother, eating her dinner, etc.
Part of the improvement could no doubt be attributed to the new preschool she started a month or so ago. I’ve also been a bit more diligent about explaining behavior expectations to her before we go to a new place or embark on a new activity.
But about two weeks ago, we also started using these behavior jars. These were a tip given to me by another parent in the “Raising a Toddler” workshops I took this summer. Basically you have two jars–one for “good” behavior and one for “bad” behavior–and you place beads/tokens/etc. in each jar accordingly as needed.
For me, I realized that I needed to do a better job of praising positive behavior, rather than always pointing the negative behavior, so these jars have provided an opportunity to do that. To be honest though, “a bead in the mean jar” is proving to be a pretty effective threat as well.
Living with a threenager continues to be a struggle, but it seems like we’re figuring it out bit by bit. Let’s call it “two steps forward, one step back.”
Every night, I sit down to write a blog post and every night something comes up, be it a teething 18-month-old, a three-year-old with disciplinary issues, a house full of laundry, a dog that has peed on the floor or, frankly, just a new episode of Playing House that I’d rather watch. Anyway, long story short, life gets in the way. So here’s what we’ve missed.
We got a new pet.
Meet Rupert, our new turtle.
Truth be told, Holden kept calling him, “Poo Poo,” so I figured “Rupert” was an acceptable alternative.
We had an adventurous summer and learned about Holden’s natural affinity for climbing.
I’m seriously considering finding some Parkour courses for this future American Ninja Warrior.
GB is teething and has some crazy big molars coming in.
Poor little guy has had some fevers and lots of snot and saliva… but that hasn’t kept him from getting into any and everything in the house.
I had to work a lot.
The beginning of September was really busy for me at work, so that of course came with a side of some working mom guilt. But my job is important to me and I feel like the work I do is important so I power through. And I try to include the kids when I can.
Holden started at a new preschool.
We’re all very excited that Holden has started a new five-day-a-week program. My fingers are crossed that the structure and curriculum will do big things for her because honestly, her sass and behavior issues have increased over the summer as well.
One thing is for certain, her art skills are blossoming. That kid comes home with like 18 pieces of art every day after school now.
Oh and obviously her amazing fashion sense continues to be on fleek.
So, all in all, an eventful and fun few months. We’re all doing pretty great.
A video posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on
But lately, not only has he been pointing at everything and repeating the names for them, he’s been saying full sentences–I swear!
Of course I have no video evidence because the kid lives to prove me wrong, but the other day he was whining in his highchair while I was cleaning up from breakfast and I asked, “what’s wrong?” He replied with, “get me OUT!” Clear. As. Day.
The other day, he picked up a hat, walked it over and said, “Here’s your hat.” The adults in the room always look at each other like, “did we just hear that?” And then GB goes back to cooing and making indeterminate sounds.
In addition to sentences, he’s been saying some pretty complicated words for a 17-month-old. Last night while taking a bath, he pointed up and said, “shower.” He’s said “Holdy” before too.
Truthfully, things in the behavior/discipline department have improved since the last class. Whether it’s Holden responding better to my cues or me just ignoring her craziness, overall things are looking up. Now the issues seem to be how to handle two little toddlers at very different stages of their toddlerdom at the same time. But that would be a semester-long class all to itself.
This month’s workshop was called “Power Struggles,” a topic I’d say I’m somewhat familiar with. We started by talking about the struggles we’re all currently facing and I tried very hard not to dominate the conversation, as I have a ton of great material. We were asked to identify our physical triggers that we feel before we get into an argument with our kids (muscles tensing, gritting your teeth, breathing heavily, etc.) and then we talked about ways to stop ourselves from getting worked up: namely, Square Breathing.
Square Breathing: Take a deep breath in for 4 counts, hold it for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts and hold for 4 counts. Apparently the counting requires your concentration and requires you to focus on your breath, rather than the incorrigible little monster standing before you.
Not getting worked up is important: once again the moral of this class was Do. Not. Let. Them. Win.
For me, though, the best way to avoid getting worked up is to avoid the situation in the first place, so luckily, we talked about that too.
One of my biggest takeaways from this workshop was this: “No” is a complete sentence. Don’t allow them to talk back. Don’t continue the argument. This is something I struggle with.
I also noticed that I tend to phrase things as a question when I talk to Holden: “Are you going to come eat dinner?” “Why don’t we go to the potty?” “Can you stop hitting your brother with that wooden train track?” I guess I was trying to make her feel like she has a choice in the matter, but really I just open myself up for arguments and pain.
So really, in the end, we’re all just struggling to be The Boss.
But in order to be The Boss, you actually have to act more like that “Like A Boss” meme. Don’t let those little jerks cherubs ruffle your feathers. Keep cool and stand your ground.
Recently, I attended a workshop series called “Parenting the Preschooler,” which is offered by Family Child Resources and Family First Health, two great organizations in my city. It’s no secret that I’m having some challenges raising a spirited little girl, so I’ll take all the help I can get.
While nothing in the class was particularly mind-blowing or new information, our instructor was very informative and knowledgeable and I found it extremely helpful and refreshing to be surrounded by parents and caregivers who were experiencing my same frustrations.
Our instructor led us like she was prepping us for battle. There was a lot of talk of not giving in, not letting them see you cry and not letting them break you. It’s us vs. the toddler… and let’s be real: a lot of times it feels that way.
The big takeaway for me was the importance of completely ignoring irrelevant behavior, as in ignoring your kid when they’re acting like a brat.
Our instructor emphasized the point of not giving in to the whining and the tantrum. If you break after an hour, your kid knows that they just have to whine for an hour next time and then they’ve got you.
She warned us that the behavior will most likely get worse before it gets better. Again, don’t give in. And then, when the behavior finally stops, immediately praise your kid for working through their tantrum. This will teach them that tantrums don’t get your attention and encourage them to try a different approach to communicating.
I had an opportunity to test out this approach immediately on the car ride home with Holden. And… it worked. It took 25 minutes, but she stopped. I’ve probably used this technique at least once every other day since taking this class, and it really does get easier and the tantrums are shorter and less severe. Sometimes it’s easier said than done to completely zone out and ignore your kid who’s going full Exorcist in front of you, but I’ve really been happy with the result.
We also talked about effective Time Outs, which should be reserved for serious rule breaking like hitting, throwing things or breaking a family value you’ve deemed important.
Another mother in the class mentioned that she had trouble getting her daughter to stay in Time Out, a problem I have been experiencing with Holden. Her solution was, rather than make her daughter sit facing the wall, she let her daughter sit with her back against the wall during Time Outs. That way her curious, busy little girl could still see what was going on around her.
The clock slowly (soothingly) flashes yellow during Time Out, then flashes faster red during the last minute and beeps when time is up. If you set the timer for more than 10 minutes, it flashes green. At this point, the recommended Time Out length is one minute for every year of age, so three for Holden.
I think the flashing yellow light mesmerizes her, which helps to calm her down. The red light is an indicator that she’s almost finished with her punishment. So far, this timer has been an amazing tool in my discipline arsenal. As a bonus, she’s much more calm when she comes out of Time Out than in the past.
Ain’t no shame in my game: I’m super glad that I went to this workshop and am already planning to attend next month’s workshop: “The Power Struggle.” Sound familiar?