Disney World: 14 Things I Learned

We are back from Disney!  Mr. Chocolate and I survived the 16+ hour drive (twice!) to bring our kids to the happiest place in the world.  Drake loved every minute of it; Juliet not so much.  Still as a family we made some wonderful memories, picked up some new tips and strategies for our next visit, and had a great vacation together.

That face kind of sums it all up 

I had previous blogged about our road trip essentials and overall the kids did great in the car all things considered.  From that list I would say the coloring books, tablet, and MobiGo worked the best for Drake, while the mirror (I ended up getting the BRICA Baby In Sight mirror after a reader mentioned it), Leapfrog Touch Magic, and this flash card set I bought last minute worked for Juliet.

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Adventures in Swaddle Weaning

Swaddling was one of those baby-things that I never thought much about prior to having a baby of my own. I figured that you wrap a baby in a blanket to keep them warm…and since they like being warm, they’ll stay wrapped up. Right?

When Little Oats was born, I realized quickly that there was a whole lot more to swaddling than just a quick wrap of a blanket. Little Oats loved to be wrapped up tight, and it often took more than one contraption to contain her. If she was ever flipping out or getting restless, a tight wrap in a blanket calmed her right down. We transitioned from oversized muslin blankets to the velcro SwaddleMe wraps, and then to a Halo sleep sack with a swaddle strap. They all worked equally well, and I loved snuggling my little burrito baby.

Even when she started to roll over, we avoided ditching the swaddle; she had never even attempted to roll in her crib. I secretly hoped that she would just love the swaddle for ages, and one day decide she was done with it. Do things ever work out like that? Not in my experience.

Fast forward about six months. Sleep training was going incredibly well; we were finally getting 5, 6, 7 hour stretches of sleep at night, and she was putting herself down no problem. Until THAT night. The night Mr. O went in flip on her humidifier, and found her face down in the corner of the crib, arms securely fastened to her sides, with no way of rolling back over or freeing herself. He described how his stomach dropped, convinced she had suffocated herself in the mattress, or hit her head as she rolled herself over. He snatched her up (waking her, and pissing her off to no end), checked her over, and sighed with relief.

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A Weeks Worth of Back to School Outfits

I talked about what I would consider to be essentials for Back To School attire, but I didn’t really lay out a lot of outfit ideas. So I thought it would be fun to put together a weeks worth of outfit inspiration, for your little ones. School clothes don’t have to be all boring even if they are all practical.

GIRL | no.1 tee shirt – no.2 denim shorts – no.3 t-strap shoes – no.4 sweatshirt

BOY | no.1 plaid shirt – no.2 sneakers – no.3 sweatpants

Still a little lazy from the weekend (aren’t we all?)? Maybe the weather is still pretty warm and those summer shorts can still be put into action. And sweatpants are always a good idea especially when they look this cute.

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French Kids Eat Everything?

While I was in the Philippines, I read French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters and absolutely loved it. It’s the story of how author Karen Le Billon, her husband, and two young children move to a small town in France where her husband grew up, and completely transform their (unhealthy) North American eating habits.

I used to think that my kids were picky because they ate far less than any of their peers. Charlie in particular never liked solids since he was an infant, had a very sensitive gag reflex/threw up frequently, and still struggles with constipation. But I’ve met children with true food issues from severe allergies, extreme sensitivities (only eating a handful of foods total) to swallowing issues, so I know that our challenges are much more trivial in comparison.

Admittedly eating is still one of my biggest daily parenting struggles though. The kids have small appetites (they’re more than happy to skip entire meals regularly), almost every meal is such a struggle even when I serve foods they like, and they have a great fear of trying new foods. In hopes of changing all this, I’ve been trying to think more French when it comes to our food rules. After an embarrassing family meal in the Philippines where Charlie and Olive refused to eat the lunch that was served (pickiness is not a problem in El Nido!), I was determined to apply some of the ideas in the book to my own kids and transform their eating habits.

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Adventures in (temporary) SAH parenting

Baby Carrot’s daycare closed for vacation this past week, and thus I found myself a stay-at-home parent for an entire week, for the first time since I went back to work post maternity leave when Baby Carrot was just barely 4 months old.

The idea of me becoming a SAHM never felt like something I would do when I was considering my options during pregnancy. I never ruled it out – hormones are an amazing thing and who knows how circumstances could change. But as I spent my weeks at home with my newborn, falling head over heels in love with her, I also felt a void as  I missed my office, my team, and adult interaction. I realized that I would be a much better mother to her if I spent my day at the job I love, in the company of people that stimulate me intellectually and emotionally, and even though it was a rough few days, leaving Baby Carrot at daycare for the first time, we are all happier for me being a WOHM.

This week, thus, presented an interesting glimpse into a life I don’t lead. Admittedly, it wasn’t a true SAHM situation because my mom used this opportunity to come for an extended visit and was there to lend a hand, but the week did show and teach me a few interesting things.

1) I got a lot more exercise. I spent a full week with a very active 14 month old instead of sitting at a desk for 8 hours straight.  On top of that,  we were blessed with amazing (and very unusual for August in Virginia) weather over the entire week, and I am terrible at doing the same things over and over, so in the interest of mixing things up for both of us, Baby Carrot and I went for a lot of walks, ran a lot of errands on foot instead of driving, and spent a lot of time trying out different playgrounds in our area.

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Fractured Fairy Tales

As a child fairy tales, especially the kind that involved a princess and a prince, were my favorites. I could listen all day to stories as long as someone was there to read them. In second grade my favorite teacher, Mrs. Wortley, asked the class if we had ever heard the story of the Three Pigs. We all laughed. Of course by 2nd grade we knew the story — the pigs outsmart that nasty wolf and live happily in their brick house. Mrs. Wortley then asked us if we knew the real story of the 3 pigs? The real story? What was that? She pulled out The True Story of the Three Little Pigs told from the point of view of the wolf, who was simply caught at the wrong place and time when he was sick.

After hearing that delightful tale I was hooked. What other fairy tales had this kind of twist to them? As I grew older I learned the term for changing fairy tale stories was actually called Fractured Fairy Tales. Since then I have been in love with stories, movies, and anything of this nature. The Angelina Jolie movie Maleficent is an example of a fractured fairy tale, and I recently read a young adult version of the Twelve Dancing Princesses one as well. I am always on the lookout for more stories like this to share with my kids. Here are some I have found, most I haven’t had experience reading yet as they are a little older reading for Drake right now (plus he needs to know the original stories first before we fracture them right?) but I cant wait to share them with him when he gets old enough.

EIEIO – How Old MacDonald Got His Farm With a Little Help From a Hen |  Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse  |  The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig  |  Honestly Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!  |  Newfangled Fairy Tales  |  Prince Cinders  |  Little Red: A Fizzingly Good Yarn

Are you a fan of fractured fairy-tales? Which are your favorites?

A Day in the Life: Oatmeal Edition

Now that I’m back to work, I thought I’d share what a typical day looks like at the Oatmeal house. We’re lucky that Mr. O’s work schedule can be flexible, so that helps a whole lot. Mine is more rigid, but it’s only Monday to Friday. Overall, adjusting to being back has been much easier than I anticipated…but there will be a post to come on how we keep things balanced at home. For now, here’s a snapshot into a typical weekday:

6:45am- Little Oats wakes up, so I bring her into our bed to nurse while Mr. O showers.

7:00am- Mr. O takes Little Oats downstairs to eat while I get showered and ready.

7:25am- I get Little Oats dressed, make coffee, and ensure that her bag for daycare is packed. Mr. O makes his breakfast smoothie and loads up the car.

7:45am- Mr. O and Little Oats leave for daycare and work, and I have a few quiet minutes to myself to eat my breakfast and finish getting my lunch together.

8:05am- I leave the house, arrive at the office by about 8:15.

4:30pm – Mr. O picks Little Oats up from daycare and they head home.

4:45pm – We all arrive home at about the same time. LO nurses, we have a snack.

5:15pm- Someone starts dinner, LO plays.

5:40pm- We all eat dinner together.

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