Road Trips & Toddlers: Keeping the Crazy to a Minimum

If you’ve been following my Instagram feed lately, it’s pretty clear we’ve been up to stuff.

On a whim I decided to tag along on a weekend trip to my brother’s house with my Mom and Anne.  Ryan just finished up in court (Oh yes. Weeks of jury duty has come to a close!) so we let him have a bachelor weekend to decompress.  As full-time Dad to our supersonic daughter, or Princess Anne-uh as she has been calling herself, I would say it was well earned.

Anne told me her favorite part of the trip was the dancing.  Her boy cousins entertained her like you wouldn’t believe.  Dance parties x 4.  “Hey fancy dog!  Do you want to dance?”  Go ahead and Google the dog breed Catan.  That is the fancy dog of which she speaks.

She also spent a ton of time at their Lego table and only tried to stick them up her nose once.  I’d say it was a success.

My Precious!

Kids toys be creepy.  My precious!

On the way home we got caught in the weekend traffic. It took two extra hours due to a “one hour delay.”  Right.

Needless to say the day started out with calm spiritual music and books on tape.  It ended with Fall Out Boy.  (She calls it the “dark, dark” or the “day, day” song.  She sings along and will ask for it repeatedly.  I dream to someday stealthily capture it on film.)

Toddler Road Trip Lessons (because you can’t plug a 2 year old into Ninjago and take a nap)

Toys and Books!

We brought all her favorites and added a few of the newest hits.  She spent a long time with her doctor kit making the baby feel better.

Toddler Car Trip Toy House

She somehow managed to get to her doll house and proceeded to play with it like this for an hour.

 

My only tip:  Make sure your child can reach their toys so you don’t get car-seat-burn on your arm from constantly fetching stuff.  But honestly, you might end up fetching it any way.  I know our girl thinks the most logical thing to do with a toy she’s done playing with is to toss it.

Speaking of…

Dry erase crayons are awesome—to throw.

We laminated some coloring pages a few months ago and thought it would go great with her new car seat activity tray.  I figured it was a pull-out-the-stops activity for when she got bored/frustrated.   Major problem:  Crayons are excellent ammunition.  And you can bet the ones we didn’t find will melt into the upholstery once the sun comes out.  *Fingers crossed we got them all*

Favorite Activities

  • Play I Spy or talk about all the things you can see outside.
  • Lights!  We have a star nightlight she loves to bring along.  She will put her fingers over it to make different shapes on the ceiling.  Low power flashlights are fun too.
  • American Girl Magazines—or any toy magazines—but those are her favorite.
  • Magnetic doodle board.  She will doodle on her own or we will draw her stuff like letters, numbers, or shapes to guess.
  • Play What’s that Sound?  We downloaded White Noise Lite  for bedtime but ended up using it most of the trip.  My mom and Anne had to guess the following crazy sounds that were on there:  dripping water (Really?  This is the kind of thing that keeps me awake!  Does someone actually like falling asleep to this?), vacuum cleaner, purring cat, clock, heartbeat, hair dryer, lightning, fire, waves, crickets, frogs, dryer, dishwasher, airplane, car, etc etc etc.  There are 50 I think.  I don’t know why but we laughed—a lot.

Car Trip Thumbs Up

Snacks, snacks, snacks.

Our child isn’t necessarily a picky eater but she’s a fickle one.  If she’s not in the mood for something, she will. not. eat. it.  We were having dessert the other day and Grandpa walked in eating some freeze dried peaches.  I was just handing her a cup of ice cream when she said “No Mommy!  No ice cream!  I want peaches!”  Whoa there.  Whose child is this?

Anne’s favorites: bananas, crackers, cheese, cashews, fruit leather, reusable pouches filled with coconut yogurt and apple sauce, etc.

So.  Bring lots of variety but…

Be careful not to snack or drink constantly.

Road trips are the perfect storm for cavities.  (I saw that eye roll!)  Try not to overdo sticky stuff, hard candies, sugar or fruit drinks, crackers, fruit snacks, etc.

Have them eat it up and be done for a while.  You are actually much less likely to get cavities eating 20 pieces of candy all at once than sucking on 6 pieces of candy all day long.

Then follow up with nuts, cheese sticks, or sugar free mints (or gums for older kids) to bring the acid levels down and strengthen the teeth with calcium.

(Sorry.  Day job coming through.  You think I just know this because I am in the dental field.  No friends.  I am in the dental field because I got tons of cavities. I guess you can take the girl out of the dental office…)

Hide the goods.

Hold out your best tricks for as long as possible.  Don’t let on there is anything else in store until you absolutely have to.  You don’t want to hit bumper to bumper traffic and already have blown your gummy bears or favorite episode of Yo Gabba Gabba.

Once you reach that point, though, got for it!

Toddler Car Trip Paci

After 10 hours in the car with another hour to go, the toddler gets whatever the toddler wants.   She wants her bedtime-only pacifier?  She can have it.  She “needs” another sippy of juice?  Fine.  At this point we are all just trying to survive.

If necessary, I will even to sing all 107 verses of Old MacDonald to keep the screaming to a minimum.  Sanity can be hard to come by on a long car trip and even less so when small children are involved.

Guess how we ended the trip!  We did our first successful car-seat-to-bed sleeping child transfer.  It was a bit surreal.  We kept looking at each other in shock.  “Did that really just work?”

Bumps

We were in Eddie Bauer last week.  Our 2 year old accidentally bumped into a mannequin and said “Woops!  Sorry!  Excuse me!”  She then proceeded to hug each mannequin by the leg and say “Ohhh!  Nice.”

We have filed this away in pleasant memories to recall during tantrums.

Anne: (who woke up in the middle of the night) I want chocolate milk!!!

Ryan:  Sorry sweetie, no milk.  You can have some water.

Anne:  Noo hoo hooo! I don’t love you!

Ryan: Well that’s too bad because there’s nothing you can do to make me not love you.

No chocolate milk?  You’re dead to her.  She will also declare she doesn’t want you anymore while clinging to you for dear life.  Honestly, it’s hard not to laugh but oh how we try.

The Awesome Thing About Strep Throat

 

Could there possibly be anything awesome about strep throat?  You bet!  Antibiotics, friends.

It seems like every other bug that girl has picked up over the last two months has just lingered foreeeever.  Antibiotics kicked the strep to the curb and within the first 24 hours she was feeling a whole lot better.  Thank goodness for modern medicine!

When I came home from work after two doses I found Anne literally running circles around Grandma.

Anne's feeling better after strep throat and running around Grandma

The Blur

In any case, we are glad to have it behind us.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Here are some out of context moments from my week!

-“No cavities!  Slayed it!”  *high fives mom*

-“He face planted snow boarding so I took him back to the lodge to warm up and get some skis.  He looked at me meaningfully and said ‘Sometimes you are a good Dad.'”

– We spelled out Ryan, Anne, and Maria on the scrabble board.  Anne then maniacally swiped all the pieces off the board and innocently said “Where’d Maria go?”

– “Other than living by family why would anyone live north of Colorado?  It just doesn’t make sense!”  (To me it doesn’t make sense to live anywhere that never gets below 50.  Now that is my own personal hell.)

– Anne: “You guys are eating some creepy fings!”

–  While talking with a seven year old about Google+ she said: “You don’t want your personal stuff on the internet.”  Me “Ya it’s not a good idea”  Her “Like you shouldn’t have your address…or your phone number.  If you did they’d call you and say ‘How many kids do you have?'”

– Just about every time she sits down, Anne (2) announces “I am going to sit right here and wait for my poop to come out.”  Yep.  Everywhere we go.

Hope you are having an excellent week!  It’s FRIDAY!

90’s YouTube

 

Right before my fifth birthday my family picked up and moved to a new state and into a rental house in Colorado. It was a tight tri-level with two adjoining decks and an unfinished basement. The backyard was landscaped with basketball sized rocks that layed on a steep hill, rendering half of the back yard completely unusable and extremely prone to weeds. The front yard featured a few trees and my favorite: lava rocks.

“You mean this is real LAVA?” I showed everyone. It was a miracle and it was in my front yard.

If you were to visit our home you’d most likely find the kids in the basement. It was our play-land, fully stocked with boxes, toys, my large barbie house, and a silver 10ish inch dial antennae television. It didn’t pick up much but we really didn’t care. It meant we could watch America’s Funniest Videos in secret while we took turns holding the antennae and standing on one foot.

This was easily my favorite show. I know, the show still technically exists but it in no way represents what it was. It was the 90’s equivalent of YouTube with a goofy host and grand prizes. I would watch and laugh and then plot how to win the big moneys.

“Okay, so John just needs to walk through the kitchen and slip on that towel there! It’ll be hilarious. We’ll win for sure!” My plans typically involved my brother injuring himself. “Or you could ‘accidentally’ run into the screen door. That one’s a classic!”

My older siblings would roll their eyes and explain that it wouldn’t look real if we planned it.

Okay. Fine. Then we’d just have to film something organic. We’re kids. Stuff like that happens all the time.

Our video camera was given to us by my grandfather. It was a pretty nice camera for it’s time but it’s time had passed. It was roughly the size and weight of a retro computer monitor (I just realized I have nothing modern to compare it to. They just don’t make em bulky and monstrous anymore. Think 6 blu-ray players stacked on top of each other with the weight of a head sized rock. About like that.)

When the moment struck I’d clumsily whip out the oversized camera–and the fun would immediately screech to a halt.  In my frustration I also realized this approach left me on the wrong side of the camera and out of the spotlight. We couldn’t have that.

So that’s when I started “hiding” it around the house attempting to capture moments of hilarity. I use “hiding” loosely because, unless you think large piles of clothing is normal on the window sill, couch, or dresser, you’d know something was up.

I knew this would work. I foresaw my doll house filled to the brim with new clothes, furniture, and more Ken boyfriends. We were going to be rich.

Imagine my surprise when there were no usable nuggets on the tape, just lots of people walking in and out of the room, instructions from Mom to set the table or do homework, and my family members inspecting (and chuckling at) the poorly hidden camera and pile of clothing.

I had met my match.  Rather than mourn my failure, my five year old brain suddenly saw America’s Funniest Home Videos for what it was.  Legendary.

Grandma:  Can I kiss your forehead?

Anne: Ya!  *kiss*  Can I kiss your nose?

Grandma:  Ya!  *kiss*

Anne:  I love spreading germs!

Of Life and Learning

I’m learning that the details in my life don’t matter much.

They do. They matter.  But not as much as I thought.

I found a blog entry from 4 years ago where I unleashed the stressful happenings of my life in one run-on sentence of a paragraph.  It was verbal vomit of worry, worry that I carried around like a full body suit, that weighed on me and distracted me from just about everything.  Worry that occasionally just shut me down.  I expected, as I read over it, to relive those feelings of overwhelm, vindication, and release.

Instead, it fell flat.  I found myself thinking “That was it?”

This was a time before Anne, before pregnancy.  To be fair we were talking about starting a family at the time.  The terror and excitement of becoming a Mom (or rather the fear of childbirth, inviting a stranger into our family, failing at motherhood, etc) would have been enough to take me down alone.  But still.  I expected this entry to be about the time our cars broke down almost simultaneously or when newborn Anne wasn’t sleeping because of GERD.

Instead it was a time that I would consider rather peaceful.

I realize retrospect is an unfair view, but in this moment I saw my past riddled with stress, regardless of the details.  I felt similarly stressed working three days a week, then six, then Anne was born, etc.

Oh yes.  I can find stress, even a lot of stress, in the peaceful times of life.

I think some part of my subconscious believed that happiness was meant to be bump free.  That hard times were meant to be endured until the good ones came back around again.  I just didn’t realize that I would spend 80% of my time just waiting.

So I ask: If I can find stress in the peaceful times, can I not find peace in the stressful times?   Are happiness, pain, worry, and joy really that exclusive of one other?   Why can’t I be complete, peaceful, and content at all times of my life even if I am grieving or scared?

People sometimes use this argument as a weapon.  If you were more ____ you wouldn’t be so unhappy.  We categorize ourselves as ungrateful to try to guilt ourselves or others into happiness.

I promise this doesn’t work.  Seeing life in all of it’s capacity is about seeing it all; the good, the bad, and the beautiful in one picture.  Crap is far more distracting than the beauty but, I promise, seeing only good and ignoring the bad isn’t a very smart way to live either.  That’s a great way to have the hard stuff sneak up and ninja attack you.  Or make you completely unable to empathize with others.  Or both.

So here is my goal.  When I find myself gripping my steering wheel a little too tight or coming up with endless lists in my head: chill out.  I promise not to badger or bully myself.  I promise to just chill out and enjoy my life right now.  Waiting is overrated.  There is so much awesome to experience!

Mom in the Eyes of a 2 Year Old

Ryan:  We don’t hit mom!

2 yo: No we don’t.

Ryan:  We can tickle mom, we can…

2yo: We can throw Mom up in the air sooo high!

Last night she also tried to pick me up.

I like the way you think, little girl.

Meltdowns, Mania, and Keeping Things Interesting

Our two year old is beginning to outsmart us.

While taking the leap from baby to toddler, the child formerly known as delightful transformed into a tantrum-throwing Amazon-cave-girl. We struggled to know how to help her (and ourselves), and how to talk her down from the ledge of horrible meltdowns that just kept on coming.

Her pediatrician recommended the book/video “The Happiest Toddler on the Block” by Harvey Karp. The baby version of this saved our first-time-parent butts a few times, so we were hopeful.

We read it, we watched it, we tried it, we loved it. It was completely bizarre but it actually worked.

We won at parenting! Gold medal for us! #victorylap #ourworkhereisdone

However, with Anne’s third birthday only four months away, the tables have slowly started to turn. She now sees our tactics for what they are, sincere and heartfelt as they may be, and knows they really do work. Like the snugly teddy bear who’s soft embrace lulls her to sleep, she sees our “help” as a sneak attack and is not about to let that SOB take her down.

We make feisty babies. What can I say.

Between the firecracker that is Anne and the sickness that took our house by storm, our two year old has been in rare form lately.

Reasons For Anne’s Best Meltdowns:

  • Sams Club and Costco are closed.
  • She wants to budget on Daddy’s computer.
  • She closed the door.
  • I closed the door.
  • Today is not her birthday.
  • She wants to go to Lowe’s.
  • She didn’t dance during the opening music for My Little Pony and now wants to rewind it. If we do, she still doesn’t dance and will ask me to do it again…so she can still not dance.
  • It’s the wrong paci. The other three are wrong too.
  • She wants to look at clocks. Or mirrors. Or vacuums.
  • We are leaving the toy isle. (This happens whether we spend two minutes here or two hours, if I give her lots of warning or none. One can never spend enough time with un-purchased toys, apparently.)
  • She threw her favorite toy.
  • She didn’t push all the buttons on the soda machine.
  • We put away the food she’s refused to touch for the past 45 minutes.
  • She needs to wear her fancy dress.

I foresee no real danger of becoming bored with this one around.

P.S.  This post was inspired by the  Reasons My Son is Crying blog.  It tickles my funny bone in the very best way.

Wanita

During my sophomore year of college I took online classes and worked my first real job at the deli counter in Fred Meyer.  We had many regular customers but none I remember better than Wanita.

A woman of silver in her early 80’s, Wanita maneuvered the store in a motorized cart, cane stashed in her basket.  If I had ever seen her walk, I imagine it would have been a slow lumbering assisted limp.

She visited us daily, descending from the north side of the store, rapping her cane along the 30 foot glass case until rounding the corner to the self serve coffee dispensers.  She’d peek her eyes over the side countertop, yelling “Hello!  Hey!  You!” repeatedly until someone came to help her.  Even if we were with other customers. Even if there was a long line of people ahead of her.

Wanita couldn’t reach the coffee from her cart.  She also, apparently, needed help adding the correct amount of sugars and creams.  While assisting her, Wanita would complain about your poor technique or whatever else was bothering her that day, then tell you about the time she had a heart attack.

“And I was dead on the table” smacking her hands together in a loud crack “for one minute!  One minute!!” She paused, eagerly absorbing your reaction before continuing “and the doctor told my husband to get my affairs in order.  That I wouldn’t last another week.  Can you believe that?  We had his head for that one.  Got him right out disbarred.”

Most of my co-workers hated her.  The worst was Fran.  Fran was openly rude to Wanita, telling her to lay off on all the sugars if her heart was in such bad condition. Fran was a lesson-teacher.  She was about 10 years Wanita’s junior, someone who should have been enjoying her retirement but was instead slicing meat and cheese and serving fried chicken for ten dollars an hour.  She was no respecter of persons.  After openly stealing a cup of coffee every day for fifteen years, the undercover loss prevention guys finally staged a sting and one day Fran was gone, fired and escorted off the premises.  When we asked our manager about it she responded “Oh I told her years ago not to do that but she just ignored me.”  I was at a loss.

I quickly became Wanita’s favorite.   When she’d come around the other four deli workers would roll their eyes, pretend to need something in the freezer, or look at me expectantly knowing she’d request me anyway.

Once she realized it never occurred to me to be rude she became downright angelic.  She still used complaints as her only form of conversation but they were directed at the weather or my co-workers or anyone else rather than myself.  She was particularly upset if I wasn’t there the day before to get her coffee.

I’m not really sure why she didn’t get to me.  She was certainly abrasive enough.  Maybe it was just easier to be nice to her.  Maybe I was afraid of getting fired.  Or maybe I just liked hearing her story.

“For two minutes!  Two, whole minutes I was flat lined, dead as a door nail!  Yet here I am today, living and breathing.  We sued that damned doctor for every penny he had and we got it!  You bet we did!”

Over time when I caught a glimpse of her and her husband entering the store I would smile a little on the inside.  OH yes, her husband was there too.  Why he didn’t come and make her coffee himself I’ll never know.  He was probably instructed not to.

“He never worked again, no he didn’t!  We ran him right out of town too! He told my husband that I was a goner, that he should buy a burial plot and plan the services!  Five minutes I was dead!”

It was this point in my life that I realized people are so incredibly interesting, the most organically and naturally gifted at being unique.  It’s impossible for us not to be.  We all have a story, a background, a depth—even if it is a little embellished.  There is nothing about us that is boring, even if it feels like it.

I think that is why blogging and my current day job are so appealing to me.  I hear the perspective and stories of people with totally different backgrounds from myself, people that I might not have ever befriended out in the real world because we just didn’t realize we had anything in common.

People just rock.  It’s as simple as that.  Even the weird and rude ones.

New Years Resolutions Mecham Style

We are resolution makers. We are those people.

For the past five years I have taken to polling people. Are you a resolution maker? I think we are a dying breed.

A friend gave me a quote earlier this year: “If you focus on the results you will never change. If you focus on change you will get results.” Jack Dixon

I swear it has been following me around. It rings so true to me. There are goals that I make over and over again that I may even be successful with for a season but end up right back where I started.

It’s because I never really changed. I went for the dangled carrot but after the novelty wore off I went back to life as usual. When I have changed, really changed, it’s because it mattered to me. It was meaningful and important, not just part of a competition or a personal challenge in some way interesting to me.

So with that in mind, I decided to word my goals a little differently this year.

Get Out of My Comfort Zone

I am hoping to spice things up a bit. I want to go places I’ve never been, try new things, make an agenda that is more detailed than “recover from work so I can go back the next day” and do grown up things like buy a lawnmower and send birthday cards (That one is ever elusive and my #1 repeat New Years Resolution. Those stupid birthday cards!).

Another goal that used to be a repeat offender was to be more outgoing. Now, altering major portions of your personality isn’t as easy as it sounds. Even when you set a time limit for yourself. As a full blooded introvert, odd things happen when I force my innie into an outie. The charming person that I truly am rarely shows herself and I instead act obnoxious, forced, rigid, or just plain weird.

I’ve decided to shoot for the long game on that one. By the time I hit 80 I will be too busy burdening my grandkids with terrible advice and screwing with the neighbor kids for fun to really care what anyone thinks anymore. So check that one off the list!

Play

The perks of living with a two year old include coloring, nerf gun fights, and squishing playdoh through the spaghetti machine. Having kids definitely helps you to tap into your inner child but I would also like some more grown up fun too. It may involve time at the shooting range, playing at the climbing wall, and hiking in the mountains.

I truly believe that fun is one of life’s best medicines. I know that it doesn’t actually solve anything but it just takes the edge off. Sometimes that’s all you need.

Do More With What We Have

Over the past few years we have learned very tangibly that it really doesn’t matter how much you have. We are like gases. We spend whatever money that comes in and usually on nothing specific. A few years ago we had some friends who started eating lunch together every day and found themselves eating out way more than usual. One month they were running low on money and tallied up everything. They had spent 700 dollars on Taco Bell!! You think that is crazy? Ignore your money and see how you fair.

You can always spend more than you have, but we can also do a lot more with what we have too. I mean this to include more than money. We want to learn to do more for ourselves, cooking, growing food, shooting our gun, wood working, baking, freezing/canning food, etc etc etc.

I want to waste less food—I am starting to think we only buy vegetables to watch them slowly die and then stink up our fridge.

So, yup, that about sums it up.  Maybe this year I will actually remember my goals by the end of the year. Even when it’s time to sit down and write up my 2016 ones.

I still haven’t found the 2014 goals.  Pretty sure I nailed them though.