Roadtrip Essentials

In just a few short weeks, we will be embarking on our first family road trip from New Jersey to Florida.  To say I am not daunted at the idea of such a long car ride with a 4 year old and a 1 year old would be a lie; I am terrified. Juliet has recently started hating riding in the car and Drake will probably be better than Juliet, but this is still the longest trip he will ever have taken in the car. We are leaving around bedtime on our way down and I plan on driving straight through the night while Mr. Chocolate sleeps and switch off in the morning hours, so I hope we can get a good chunk of the trip covered there. We do plan on stopping one night on the way down and up, so hopefully that will help ease the kids as well. This is my list of supplies I hope will help with keeping the kids happy and entertained!

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Veggie Monster Muffins

As Kennedy starts eating more and more table food (who am I kidding…she never ate baby food), its’ a real struggle to get vegetables into her. All of our go-to snacks seem to be carb-based; crackers, puffs, MumMums, toast. Its pretty tough to hand a ten-month-old a leaf of lettuce, and she doesn’t seem to like steamed broccoli or any of the standard “baby” vegetables.

So that left me searching for a recipe that 1. she would eat, 2. had lots of vegetables and 3. wasn’t full of sugar. And when I couldn’t find quite what I was looking for, I created a recipe of my own. These monster muffins taste like blueberry-banana oatmeal muffins, but they come out bright green (depending on the veggies you add). By labeling them monsters, I circumvented the inevitable “ewwww” that green food usually elicits. They’re monsters… they’re SUPPOSED to be green.

Have fun with these – toss in any combination of fruits and vegetables that you like. Each mini muffin is packed full of goodness…and they taste pretty good, too!

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Calm Down Bottles

At almost five, one might think that Lil’ CB might be past the need for timeouts. But one would be foolishly mistaken in that case. ;) As Lil’ CB has grown older, his outbursts and tantrums have certainly grown fewer and farther between, but we still do see them and we still combat them with some time away to breathe, think, and calm down.

We adhere by the “one minute per year of child’s age” rule when it comes to the length of the timeout. This means that, currently, Lil’ CB’s timeouts last for almost 5 minutes. While I fully believe that is an appropriate length of time for him to sit, decompress and calm down, I also felt like he was having a hard time gauging how long he would be sitting there, which sometimes makes it harder for him to settle down.

I had seen these calm down bottles or jars all over Pinterest and decided to give one a try, especially once I read that you could adjust the “ingredients” so that it acts almost as a timer. Calm down bottles are essentially a type of sensory bottle (see more from Mrs. Deer here), made with glitter, water and glue. The water becomes thickened with the glue and glitter and when shaken up, the glitter slowly settles down to the bottom, much like a snow globe. The more glue you add, the longer it takes the glitter to settle. Not only does it act like a timer, but with the swirling glitter to watch, it becomes a sensory tool and a way to help young children self-regulate (more about that here).

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And Then There Were Four

Yes, you’re reading that right.  The Confetti family is growing!

We made a big wish, and now we couldn’t be happier!

Amazingly, we found out on Colin’s birthday that I was pregnant again.  We have gone through every emotion under the sun while warming up to the idea of being pregnant again (fear, anxiety, relief, tentative excitement).  To the extent that Colin understands, he seems to be open to the prospect of becoming a big brother – at least his repeated requests to read I’m the Big Brother lead me to think that way.

As you’ve patiently listened to me drone on and on about what a paranoia-pants I have become since my miscarriage in January, I don’t need to go into detail about how crazy I have been throughout my first trimester.  But now that we have gotten past the twelve week appointment and the sequential screening, which all came back totally normal, I can finally breathe a heavy sigh of relief.  And tell people other than my husband, my mom and my BFF.  And stop hiding my massively growing bump through the pathetic cloak of baggy and overly flowy shirts.  And, and, and…start to maybe shift from scared to excited.

I am due at the end of January, and I am looking forward to all that 2015 will have in store for us!

Life With Two Kids: Still in the Weeds

Where we last left off, my second son had joined our family. Fast-forward nearly nine — NINE! — months, and my little baby isn’t so little anymore.

Frankly, I thought it would be way easier by now. I knew I would just have to muddle though those first few sleepless months, and then wait for the fog to dissipate. Surely it would. I would be getting more sleep — that would make everything better. Little Y, now 3, would be more independent. That would make everything better, too. I would be used to having two kids. That alone would make everything better. Right?

As with almost all things parenthood, it hasn’t worked out that way. The baby still doesn’t sleep very well at night, and his older brother — formerly a rock-solid sleeper — often throws a night waking of his own into the mix. The baby needs two solid naps a day, making it hard to get out of the house and get Little Y the stimulation he needs. Babyzilla is beyond mobile, crashing into trains and trucks and blocks and provoking his brother’s rage. I think the word “GENTLE” has lost all meaning in my house. Shouting it as much as I do is probably counterproductive, anyway.

My too-cool-for-school 3-year-old, left, and his little brother, Babyzilla

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Cute And Clever Little T-Shirts

Your kid is cute, clever and awesome. It makes perfect sense that they wear tee shirts that meet some of their cute, clever or awesomeness. When it comes to daycare or school, t-shirts are the easiest and most comfy for littles to be wearing – might as well make everyone around them (who can read) smile too.

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Bath time at the Bears’ House

Bath time with two has never been an easy. When Olivia was a newborn, it meant having an entirely different bath for each child, which usually resulted in Patrick pitching a fit that he couldn’t play in the water, even if that water was just a simple sink bath. I admit I was relieved when Olivia got older, became better at sitting up unassisted and taking more interest in baths because I knew it wouldn’t be long before they were both in the tub at the same time. Right around the seven month mark I started letting the kids take baths together and we haven’t looked back since.

Going from one infant in a small tub by themselves and one toddler in a large tub by themselves to the infant and toddler sharing one large tub at the same time wasn’t easy. Patrick had to adjust to the fact that his space was that much more confined, his splashing had to be minimized, and in general bathtime became quieter affairs. And Olivia had to adjust to the fact that she was mostly immersed in water, being splashed by her older brother, and any toys I might try to put in front of her were suddenly commandeered because Patrick decided that they were “No, mine!” There were no shortage of outbursts and tantrums those first few months, but with a little patience – and a lot of bubbles – we’re now pretty much in a bath paradise.

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