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Kristen: December 2009 Archives


I Miss His Nap

Posted by Kristen on December 28, 2009 at 7:00 AM in Sleep
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While all children are different, the time does come when your child will no longer want to take her nap. You will lay her down, she will sit back up, and you may even get a resounding "NO!" The one thing a parent learns about their child early on is whether or not she is a good sleeper and how much sleep she really needs. For some, it can be a painfully small amount of sleep and for others, the child seems to cling to that last long nap.

For us, it appears that 2 years old is going to be the magic age for the loss of the last nap. For the last few months, my son's sleepiness that descended at approximately 11:00 am every day seemed to get more inconsistent. Some days he was tired at 11, some days he wasn't tired until 3. It was very frustrating to me because I never knew when he was going to just curl up and go to sleep. If I tried to keep it consistent, he was out of bed in a flash.

The one thing I did notice was that his very consistent night sleeping of 10 hours would change in relation to whether or not he would take a nap. If he didn't take a nap that day, he would sleep for closer to 12 hours. It was then that I realized that he was getting the sleep he needed but he no longer needed it in the middle of the day in order to make it THROUGH the day. Here are some suggestions for determining if your child has outgrown her nap and what to do if that has happened.

Gauge your child's behavior because every child is different. If your child is fighting that nap but you find that he is practically roaring like a bear in the early evening, he clearly needs more sleep. You can either try getting him up earlier in the morning so that he is more tired by nap time or you can put him to sleep at least 30 minutes earlier than he may normally go. But really, who wants to wake up a toddler early in the morning?

Try out a gradual change in sleep routine for a few days and see how it goes. Some toddlers may gravitate toward a transition to an earlier bedtime but may still want to nap every two or three days. For my son, he is now going to bed 1 1/2 hours earlier at night than he was just a few weeks ago but he still manages to sneak in a nap every third day. I'm not complaining.

There is nothing wrong with having a "quiet hour" in lieu of a nap. Everyone needs a little peace and quiet during the day and just because your toddler doesn't want to nap doesn't mean that all hope is gone for that peaceful hour. Teaching your child to play quietly alone in his room will help teach him the value of alone time, how to be restful without necessarily sleeping and how to keep mom from going crazy. My mom came up with this one and it works like a charm.

While determining if your toddler is ready to get rid of the last nap can perhaps be a difficult decision, here are just a few ideas that worked for us. What do you do?


Fun in the Snow

Posted by Kristen on December 21, 2009 at 6:26 AM in Raising Boys
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The Weather Channel predicted snow, snow and more snow. To be honest, I didn't believe them. I mean, they predict snow and we get rain. Rain and we get snow. You never know what is going to happen here in the mid-Atlantic. It was only at 8:00 p.m. on Friday night that I began to think that maybe they might be right. I did what every other crazy person did in these parts on Friday night and headed to the grocery store for some necessities. Call me crazy but there are things you MUST have for a snow storm.

Popcorn. This is multi-faceted. We got popcorn to eat when we were watching holiday specials, popcorn to make into CARMEL popcorn and popcorn to make a strand for our Christmas tree. Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like giving your children sharp needles and telling them to string popcorn. I'll admit there were some potential 911 moments but nothing that couldn't be fixed with some Bactine and a bandaid.

Hot cocoa. We went old school with the cocoa, milk and a little sugar combination. This is my personal favorite because then Mean Mom gets to control the sugar intake. Before you bash me for being a grinch, I would much rather waste my children's sugar consumption on gooey marshmallows, and lots of them.

Bacon. Okay, I have no idea why everyone decided to purchase bacon as a snowed-in emergency item but I bowed to peer pressure and bought some as well. Bacon is good for, well, just about anything.

Chocolate chips. My children have been begging to make chocolate chip cookies and luckily the power held out and we were successful in our cookie endeavors. I'm not sure how many chips actually made it into the batter but I think they take that into account in the recipe. Then there were chocolate chip pancakes too.

Beyond all the food, what can you possibly do when you can't go out for fear of sending your car over the ravine in all the snow?

Instead of making snowmen, make snow animals. It sounds a little crazy but why not make a T-Rex? All you have to do is make a sloping mound of snow and use sticks all the way down the dinosaurs back. It is much scarier than a sweet old snowman and much easier to ride if you are really a pretend kind of kid.

Make a snow cave
. We cheated on this one when Derek used a piece of cardboard for the roof. It only took about five minutes to make instead of what could have been an hour-long process for a quality job. Not surprisingly, none of the children noticed. A great time was still had by all.

Help dig a neighbor out. We walked down the street to be sure that everyone living near us was doing just fine. The boys took their shovels and helped their dad clean sidewalks and paths.

Get your emergency supplies together
. Our emergency supplies used to be in one place but with lots of little hands that love flashlights, things tend to wander away. It was only when the lights flickered that we (read "I") feared that we would be panicked in the dark. Everyone ran in different directions and got together all the candles, blankets, ect. we would want to have handy if the lights did go out. We got lucky and they stayed on, but it is nice to be prepared. The boys were happy to contribute by digging out all the stolen flashlights from under their beds. Dad was happy to have his stuff back.

So all you East Coasters, what did you do this past weekend to prepare/survive the storm in a house with kids?


Wherein I Nearly Tell Virginia There Is No Santa Claus

Posted by Kristen on December 14, 2009 at 6:13 AM in Holidays
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Santa is a dicey conversation in my house these days. Ethan asks a lot of questions and now the whole Santa story has more holes in it than cheap Swiss cheese. We have discussions about the authenticity of Santas at malls and Chick-Fil-A's ("by the beard I say 'yes' but by the face I say 'no.'") and those of the Salvation Army variety. Complex questions. "Does anyone give Santa presents? Like something for his house?"

It all started two years ago when he was nearly three. His father bought a Santa suit. On Christmas eve, he disappeared into the garage and suddenly reappeared at the front door as jolly St. Nick. He looked really, really good. Ethan sat on the couch in the corner and barely spoke a word. If his stare was a laser beam, Derek would have been dead. Ethan never called him out, but you could see the wheels in his head turning at the speed of light.

Fast forward one year later to last year. I told Derek he had to be in and out in 45 seconds. I didn't think we had much more than that before Ethan figured it out. He sat on the same couch in the corner and stared. Then he asked where his father was. I gave Derek the high sign that we were about to be busted and he was gone. We never mentioned it again.

So when the holidays started to roll around, I wondered when it would start. It didn't take long. It was the day of our scooter ride and the ride was a long one. The boys began talking about Christmas.

What are you going to ask Santa for Christmas?
I want a spark scooter.
Really? Are you sure? You have a scooter.
But I don't have a scooter that shoots sparks.
Listen, I don't think Santa is going to bring you a spark scooter.
Why not?
It's too expensive. And I read up on it. It only works for like a day and then all you have is a scooter, which is what you already have.
I really want that scooter, Mom.
Ethan, it is too expensive. Santa can't bring you one this year.
But Santa can pay for it. He's got a lot of money.
That's not how it works. Santa doesn't pay for the presents.
Santa doesn't pay for the presents?
How about the elves?

The funny thing about the slippery slope of lying? It's a slippery slope.

The elves are strictly assembly. They have no money.
So who pays for the presents?
Parents. That's why some kids get more than other kids.
So parents buy the presents and kids whose parents have more money get more presents.
Oh. And we don't have a lot of money.
Not this year, buddy.

Bless his pure heart, he nodded as if this all made sense. He wasn't upset.

And some kids don't get any presents because their parents don't have any money.
They don't?
No. Isn't that sad?
It is sad. So parents pay.
They pay for the materials. The elves put it together. Santa is in charge.
Yes? (sensing danger ahead)
Parents pay for the materials?
Yes. (because I don't know when to stop).
MOM!! I 've got it! We can take THIS scooter (and he held up his $2 yard sale scooter). We can give Santa THIS!!! He can use this (pointing to the handles) and this (pointing to the base) and this (to the wheels). MOM!!! He can use all THESE materials and then you can just give him the money for the spark box on the bottom. I don't think it cost that much. Does it cost too much?

And with that, my heart broke. My heart broke because he wasn't getting that scooter, because there is no way we are going to make it until December 26 without him figuring it out and because I felt like a total loser for lying to a four-year-old who is sharp as a tack.

Take all the Santa out of it and he's just a kid that is going to be luckier than some to get something for Christmas and not as lucky as others who will get everything on their list. Maybe I'm just wasting time trying to keep him from figuring it out. What do you think?


Packing Smart for Plane Trips With Kids

Posted by Kristen on December 7, 2009 at 1:36 PM in Traveling
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We are not shy about lugging our kids on a plane to see the relatives. Thank God for the mileage we have built up over the years because we have a couple of trips still left in us. Packing, however, is still a pain, no matter how many times you do it. Only through trial and error did we figure out the things we really REALLY needed to pack.

The car seat bag can do double duty. One of the first things we bought before our first trip was a $20 bag for Ethan's car seat. We weren't so sure about the purchase at the time but it is by far the BEST $20 we have ever, ever spent. Now I know that the airline will sometimes give you a heavy duty plastic bag to protect your car seat, but how many times have you watched a seat go by on the baggage carousel looking like it had been on a trek through the Andes rather than in the luggage compartment? The bag also serves as a place to pack extras for us. We tuck the trip's allotment of diapers in the seat along with the heavy baby wipes (since we are cheap and buy everything in large quantities) a pair of my husbands bulky, heavy boots that he absolutely HAS TO HAVE on vacation and even our heavy coats if our destination is colder than our place of origin. These items are bulky and while you can save space by just buying diapers at your destination, who wants to pay a lot more for them? The car seat doesn't count as one of your allotted bags usually, so it's kind of a freebee. But the best thing is, on the way home when almost all the diapers are gone, we cram a bag of dirty clothes into the car seat bag along with the seat. Ethan's seat has weathered every single trip without even a smudge of dirt.
Take the time to plan out what clothes to pack for your kids. You are probably thinking, who doesn't do this? Well, on occasion, I have been known to pack everything shy of the kitchen sink because I waited too long and then got rushed at the end. Keep in mind that if you are going to Nana and Grandpa's house, you will most likely be able to do laundry. So for that 3 month old baby that goes through 9 outfits a day, you just might need to pack for 3 or more days. I know their clothes are little and there is a temptation to pack every single clean article of clothing, but remember that you have to lug that bag around. Surprise trip to see the snow 45 minutes away that you didn't anticipate? Those jackets are a great early Christmas present from Grandpa this year.
Pack a separate carry-on "diaper" bag for your kids, and then tuck away a few extras in your carry-on bag. The diaper-per-hour trick is tried and true. I always try to skimp and then am so thankful for my husband who has managed to tuck an extra couple of diapers (and an extra baby outfit) around his laptop to keep it safe. No matter what your child's pattern of diaper usage, throw it all out the window come travel day. When Ethan was an infant, he always used twice as many diapers on travel day than he did any other day. It was crazy. That and every single diaper always leaked. Be sure to save that special outfit you wanted Nana to see for either the last change before landing or the change that happens right before you go to baggage claim to pick up your luggage. It greatly reduces the odds of getting ruined before the grandparents even see it.
Make the room to pack an extra outfit in the carry on for Mom and Dad. When Ethan was an infant, it only took us 4 trips to realize that at least one of us was wearing poop and the other was smelling like throw-up when we finally got off the plane. If you have an infant and the plane ride is longer than an hour, your chances are 10 to 1 that this will happen. For anyone who has taken a "bath" in the lav on a plane, you know that nothing really beats getting out of those nasty clothes and into something fresh. At a minimum, take along an extra shirt for yourself. No matter how many burp clothes you have, your baby can always seem to find the spot on your that is not covered.
Don't pack your bags too full. Nana had a few "surprises" for the boys that were beyond what she had already forewarned us. After one too many trips to the store to buy a duffle bag to cart stuff home from a vacation, we have learned to just leave some extra room in the bags. There is nothing worse than realizing that your bags are too full and you haven't even finished packing back up to come home.

These tips have worked for us (and saved us) many times. Hope they can spark some good ideas for you on how to make your plane ride with kids as stress-free as possible. Please share what your tips are?

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