Hello, Winter.

As many of you may know winter and I are not always happy to see each other. I tried really hard last year to embrace winter and pretty much met my goal of taking the kids outside everyday despite the temperature or amount of snow on the ground.

This past weekend we celebrated Nola’s birthday a little early. Unfortunately, we had an uninvited guest named Winter show up with a bunch of snow. We also had a flood, down trees and power outages that resulted in us currently having no home. Oh life how fun you are.

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Anyway, now that winter is here on the horizon I am committed once again to ensure we are outside as much as possible. I know Flynn will be outside everyday because he attends a Waldrof school and they go outside no matter what. Just like I mentioned last year, it is crucial to dress appropriately. When my kids had on the right gear – they would play outside for hours – yes hours in the cold weather (especially Flynn).

As I prepped for last winter (and for school for Flynn this year), one graphic found on an adorable shops blog, Ella’s Wool, was super helpful in helping me dress my kids appropriately. This year I am so excited to work as ambassador for this awesome brand. I seriously love their stuff and am so happy they took the thinking out of dressing my kids for school and winter hikes/walks/snow playing, etc. The merino wool Layer set is not only totally functional and warm – it is also cute and classic and lasting multiple kids. Merino wool is really breathable and can really be worn throughout most of the year. It is great for the cooler fall months alone. The tubes are also a perfect second layer to throw on top of the base layer and keep everyone warm, comfy, but still adorable 🙂

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Go check out the great products Ella’s Wool has to offer and stock up on some cozy layers. Being outside is crucial for this family – and while I won’t say I love being outside in the winter, I do know that dressing warmly has made it not only possible, but enjoyable 🙂

Also, use the coupon code Staywarm16/17 to receive a discount off your order 🙂

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Welcome Back Neighbors

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As many of you know or have pieced together, my lovely family of five lives in a college dorm on the campus where my husband coaches. My husband likes to correct me and say we live in an apartment, as if that makes 800 square feet (on a generous day) feel like a mansion. To his credit our “apartment” does has a lovely sign that says “Staff Apartment” outside of it, but for the record our bedrooms are numbered. 121A – home of me and youngest two kids, 121B home of the big kids’ beds and more often than not my husband…sleeping on peed up sheets.

When we moved into this lovely staff apartment, there were only a few short weeks before the college kids left for the summer. Once the college kids left, the building was rather quiet, the parking lot empty and the need to curb my children’s piercing screams minimized. However, we have returned from vacation to find our neighbors are back. Welcome back, college friends, welcome back.

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Over the summer, we forgot about all the joys of having our neighbors here with us. In honor of their return I want to acknowledge all the joys they bring:

Fire Safety – While our neighbors were gone, we did not practice our monthly fire drills. Nope. Without them we had no one to set an alarm off at 9 PM on a Friday night. Without them I would not know how to safely exit a burning building with three sleeping children under the age of 4 by myself. Thanks, neighbors for always keeping us safe.

Street Safety – Things were getting a little loose over here in terms of street safety. During the summer, the kids had an entire empty parking lot to cruise around on their bikes and scooters. Thankfully, our friends and their 45 mph in parking lot driving skill have returned. Without them, Nola and Flynn would not know how to quickly get to the grass to avoid a head on collision. Thank you friends for reminding me that speed bumps are optional and driving skills are not fully obtained until you start considering a minivan.

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Freshmen 15 – While our neighbors were gone, the dining hall had limited hours and limited options. Now that our friends are back I can easily skip out on cooking and feed myself copious amounts of creamy soup and jam packed burritos. However, even more exciting is that our baking and pastry friends have returned. As they walk back from class with a white box full of delicious “class assignments”, I can be certain a donut or cookie or Happy Anniversary practice cake will arrive at my door. And what better way to live like the freshmen than by gaining the freshmen 15 right alongside of them.

Although, summer was quiet and peaceful and a tad bit more safe on foot – the Boones are actually very excited to have our college neighbors and friends return. We weren’t quite sure what to do with all the quiet. We do well in chaos and insanity (and by well I mean we survive with lots of whining – adult and children whining that is). I enjoy waking at 3 AM to nurse Quince to the backdrop of thunder and college kids loudly screaming for their friend who is playing in the rain. While I am fairly certain this is not our long term plan in terms of living arrangements – it makes the most sense at the moment and I want to make sure to laugh through all the craziness and uniqueness that comes with raising a young family in a small dorm (or apartment depending on what Boone you ask) of a college campus.

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We Will Call This — What I Googled This Week

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I often wonder what mothers humans did before google. How did one plan a vacation? The yellow pages? This is a serious question for me. I can understand that one went to a store to buy diapers, but how did one even know the number to the Hampton Inn in Virginia Beach?

Multiple times a day I think to myself I need to google that. Actually, multiple times a day I also tell my son we will have to google that – including when he asks me why his sister says everything is Minnie. My Minnie breakfast. My minnie guitar. We don’t own minnie breakfast items or guitars, but for her it’s all Minnie something. Maybe google knows why she does this.

Did moms pre-google rely on their own mothers? A friend? I do both of those and then some, but as I lay listening to the Roger the Rabbit audiobook for the 19th time I tend to stalk google to assess my parenting and discover solutions to my latest “problems”.

If I was a consistent person who wrote blog posts – you know instead of one who just keeps an online diary of random thoughts that really shouldn’t be shared with anyone let alone the internet – I would write a weekly post called What I googled this week. Since I probably won’t post again next week (heck I may not even finish this post) I won’t call this a series, but I will share “What I Googled this Week”.

This week my most popular google search was “How to get two toddlers/preschoolers to sleep at the same time?” I was hoping there would be a step by step guide or even better someone who tells me where to remove the batteries if turning off the toddler’s on/off switch doesn’t work. None of that exists (sadly), but I did learn this…

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One mother has her two preschool age kids wait at the bottom of the steps while she puts her under 1 year old to sleep. In other words, I learned that I jumped the gun and I need to learn (google) how to get my 3 and 2 year old to sit for 20 minutes straight without needing me. I also need steps.

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I cannot even get my kids to sit and watch a basketball game without some death-defying antics.

One mother states she does the routine, says goodnight and shuts the door. Her job is done. This type of advice is more up my alley. However, after reading this I promptly went on Amazon and attempted to order locks for the light switch and closet. Then I decided I really just needed to get on Zillow and find a house with a padded room because one time I left them in there for about 10 minutes to give myself a “time out” and Flynn peed his pants, Nola peed on the floor (mind you they are potty trained) and their entire wardrobe from birth to now was thrown across the room.

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One mom said this time was precious and would soon pass. She’s right. But you know what – it is not passing quickly enough and my sanity is also precious. Like really precious. I love my kids. I also love to hang up the wet clothes that have been sitting in the wash machine since yesterday.

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Baby Flynn where did you go? I miss you. I also miss those maternity pajama pants. Where did you go, pants?

One writer had a decent idea of splitting them up (either in rooms or by time) and leaving one with Dad while you tackle the other.  This isn’t a terrible idea. I’d need a third bedroom and a new husband. Neither are feasible right now, but I might be able to work with this. Like replace husband with television or third bedroom with bring Nola back into my bed and we have a strategy? Maybe. I’ll think about this one.

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He works late. Always.

These are just a few of things I learned from google. And seriously I am just not sure how my mother did without. Google had all my parenting issued answered. It also let me know I am really no closer to solving this current “crisis” and probably also not equipped to have any more children (oops too late) because I can’t get my kids to stay safely in a room alone or better yet sit at the bottom of the steps peacefully and for the love of all things I really cannot get a child to sleep through the night.

If you came here for answers sorry I have none, but here are a few things I took away from these findings:

  • That you can buy covers for light switches on Amazon for like $12.
  • That I might try some version of quiet time where after our “routine” I will let my kiddos quietly play in their room while I get something/anything/nothing done. If they leave the room/act crazy/pee on floors then quiet time is over and we will have to lay and listen to Roger the Rabbit on repeat for the next 90 minutes. I will report back (or let me rephrase try to report back) once I hash this out.
  • That improvements are being made. Flynn use to run away after I finished their last story. I was left with the decision to leave a relaxed-ish Nola to force him back into bed which required force/tears/tantrums (more me than him) and couple of profanity-laced texts to my husband about his basketball practice times. Now I play an audiobook (free through our old library card) and he will lay and listen. Sometimes it takes 90 minutes of listening to Cars 2 A Junior Novelization, but I have had nights were 30 minutes of Charlotte’s Web did the trick.

 

 

 

Winter. You aren’t my first choice, but I’m learning I can live with you.

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The weather has always had a strong hold on me. My mood, my plans, my sheer happiness existed around what weather was predicted. Checking my weather app in the winter and seeing a warm day on the horizon felt like winning the lottery. I never liked winter and basically could live without it. I do not need the Four Seasons. As a matter of fact one is fine with me. Summer.

Growing up an old neighbor used to joke that spring must be coming because the Albert children were shoeless. As soon as the temp neared 60, I was ready for bathing suits and beach visits.

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Fast forward to 2015 and my husband tells me he wants to accept a job in Lake Placid, NY. The lake part sounded the great. The average temperature calendar online, however, did not. The man who complained about Philadelphia winters wanted to move the girl who dreamed of living in Florida {despite Florida being the weirdest state alive (sorry Florida)} to one of the coldest places in America. We moved and I must admit I feared winter with each summer and fall day that passed. I was paralyzed with thinking I was trapped inside for over half the year.

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However, a few weeks ago, as I drove alone to my doctor’s appointment I realized it was really a tad bit cold in the car. It was -4 degrees. I laughed and thought how in this short time my view of weather has changed. While I check my weather app – I no longer fear the cold temperatures – I no longer plan my life around the winter temps. -4 before meant not leaving the house. Heck, not leaving bed. Basically, anything below 40 degrees demanded I be inside a place and if you dropped below 20 I wasn’t even going out of the house. However, now, we are outside nearly everyday. The kids bundle up in their winter gear and we go outside. It might be to sled. It might be to walk around. If it is dry enough, it may mean to ride scooters or bikes or things I limited to warmer days before. My weather checking no longer dictates what I can do – it just reminds me what we need to wear. I joke that nearly half of Dominique’s income this year was spent securing warm gear. While this may be somewhat true, I also know that this move has shaped how I respond to the weather – be that in Lake Placid, NY or Lake Placid, FL. While I use to dream of 60 degrees and sun, I now am pleased with 40 degrees and rain. I have expanded my view of what one can do outdoors in cold weather and even more it has expanded how long my kids will play outside regardless of the temperature. While it still takes us 20 minutes to get ready to go outside – we now can spend well over an hour before someone begs to come inside (or pees up their snowsuit). This move is forcing me to grow in so many ways and at times the growing pains exhaust me into a whiny mess of a person. Other times I realize how this move is helping to erode me of something I have been plagued with since childhood — letting weather dictate my mood, my plans, my ability to enjoy being outside. I am embracing winter and all it has to offer (even if my growing baby belly limits my outdoor options). Wherever we land next (whenever that may be) I am hoping that my newfound ability to not only accept colder temps, but to enjoy them will carry with me and more importantly with my kids. While they become the annoying kids who prance through southern winter in shorts and fleece vests, commenting on how warm it is while everyone else is freezing in parkas and snow boots – I also hope they will become the kids who can take any temperature and find an outdoor adventure. I just hope they learn this as they learn to also stop peeing up their snowsuits.

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Little Extra Savings During the Holiday Shopping Craziness

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As you can probably tell from my list of favorite things – I like expensive things. It is a bit of a problem that I believe stems from an early age. I still have vivid memories of begging/pleading/offering my mother anything and everything for a pair of overalls (purple velvet overalls) from Gap Kids in the 3rd grade. No joke they were $70. I was in third grade many years ago. I never got the overalls, but shopping with my mom over the past 31 years I learned a few valuable lessons. One is that you never pay full price (or at least rarely), be patience and lastly buy quality items that will last (and can be passed on) rather than the cheaper items that won’t make it a season. She particularly believes this about shoes and furniture, but really she will spend more if the item is well-made and will last.

While I will admit to my shopping addiction, I have done a few things over the years to lessen the blow or “fund” l my nice things habits. Last year I got into selling my clothes/shoes/bags that I no longer wore on Ebay and other online resell sites. My higher brand items obviously sold for more, but many also sold for way closer to their original value. I also used Ebay to buy a few great items for the kids on Ebay – like coats and toys- with much success.

One thing that has provided small savings that have accumulated over time – is Ebates. Essentially you sign up for a free Ebates account, then click the normal shops you shop through their site (or even better a Pinterest like toolbar button) and the savings rack up. I seriously go to a normal shopping site and if the the Ebates toolbar button will light up green if the site offers cash back. I click the Ebates toolbar button and the savings begins. It always is nice because they will show any promo codes being offered or deals of the day. While I still do a quick google and email search to ensure there are not better promos out there – I find they often have the best ones listed. The savings go right into my Ebates account and every few months the cash back savings will post over in my paypal account for a nice sweet surprise (that I can then go spend on Etsy), I mean transfer to my bank account.

As you shop this holiday season – set up an Ebates account to watch the savings flow in and sweeten the pot just a tad. Everything from Nordstrom (3%) to Uggs main site (11% cash back!) to Hanna Andersson (3%) and Boden (2%), even Gap offers (2%) and my new favorite Backcountry (5%) to name a few. So head on over, sign up and enjoy the savings.

 

 

 

Don’t Forget About Me: Random Places to Find Toys on Sale

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In years past I have never hit up stores on Black Friday and probably do not plan on it this year either. However, I have a small list going of items to check prices on Thursday or Friday. I plan on keeping the kids gifts to a few things that are high quality and provide hours of entertainment, but I am sure a plastic Paw Patrol Lookout House will make its way from Santa somehow.

As I list out my items there are a few places that I am definitely going to price check come Thursday or Friday and I figured I would pass along my “tips” to anyone else who loves to scope a deal. While Amazon is always a go to during the year, I have found with promo codes and Black Friday deals they are not always the cheapest. Here are a list of a few places to check out this week.

Barnes and Noble – Barnes and Noble currently has a 30% off one item coupon (30BFriday) that starts on Thanksgiving. They coupon covers most things, including Thomas the Train pieces, but excludes Nook Books and some Lego things. They also are running a Buy One Get One Half Off Toys. Last year I fell in love with a few fake food toys from Le Toy Van and hope to add some more ice cream pieces to Nola’s set this year. In addition to the Thomas pieces and the Le Toy Van food, they also carry Hape toys, Calico Critters, and B Toys to name a few. Be sure to check them out on Thursday to see if something you are looking for is Buy One Get 50% Off or is the best deal once you apply the 30% off! (They also do 1% cashback on Ebates)

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Kohl’s – Kohl’s currently has a number of toys discounted on their site for a Black Friday deal. One being this heinous Paw Patrol Lookout that Flynn requested. It is the only toy he mentioned by name so I think Santa can quit dragging his feet and get the kid the plastic house that will end up in the Goodwill eventually. The toy originally runs $69.99, but is marked down to $39.99 plus they have a 15% off coupon (Turkey15) running (although I am hoping a 30% off one pops up as they often do!). Amazon has the same Lookout for slightly cheaper, but doesn’t include the 6 figurines so I think for the few bucks more Kohl’s ends up the better deal. They also carry Little People (many pieces 50% off right now plus the 15% off), Melissa and Doug items, Hape, Magformers, Ninja Turtles, and Kidkraft stuff to name a few). (They also have 6% cashback on Ebates)

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Another Dessert Toy for Nola from Hape

Yoyo.com – Yoyo is one of the diapers.com shops and often has good deals on toys (and look.com has some great deals on kids clothes). They currently are running 30% off (BFBEGINS) certain toys and include some great brands like Hape, Haba, Green Toys, Plan Toys and more. If there is a “boutique” toy or just your regular old Matchbox sets make sure to check their prices and see if any deals suit your shopping needs. (They also have 1% back with Ebates)

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Notice the ice cream theme for Nola (She got the Land of Nod tent for her b-day so she needs to stock up 🙂

Overstock.com – They have a few toys in their selection and currently offering 10% off toys (no promo needed). They carry a few Wonderworld toys, which I really love their marble tracks for younger kids. They also have Kidkraft kitchen sets, tee-pees and Melissa and Doug toy food. They are also 4% cashback on Ebates so feel free to check out their offerings and see if they carry your “must have” cheaper than the rest.

Any other places you find great deals for kids’ toys this shopping season?

 

What Am I Missing? Is There a Parent Award for Having it the “Hardest?”

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And so I begin again.

We are currently back visiting family and my husband took the kiddos to the playground while I am sitting around being pregnant and lazy and wasting time on social media. I come across yet another stay-at-home mom trying to tell a working mom she just doesn’t know how much harder it is being a stay at home. I barely could read the whole thing. It drove me nuts. (Sort of like the last time when I wrote this, followed by this)

Stay-at-home moms please stop! I know working mom rant articles may exist, but for some reason they don’t come across my radar nearly as often. Perhaps that is because working moms are too busy working and being a mom to write such rants. Or it could be because stay at home moms feel like they have to “defend” themselves more than working moms. Whatever the reason – it is getting old for me.

As expected, the comments on the article were a bunch of annoyed people or people screaming Amen. However, the bigger theme (besides people being in an uproar or people chanting thank you thank lady for saying it for me – were a bunch of people petitioning for the award of hardest scenario yet.

So mother’s listen up. This shit is hard and I am not sure who told you (I blame my mom she made 5 kids look easy) that it  wasn’t hard, but it is freaking hard. Whether you work or not. I love all of it –  the exhausting, and messy and my hair is never washed parts included. That being said – it is really freaking hard. It is hard to leave your kids in someone else’s care and rush to work and perform. It is challenging to be on kid schedule all day long picking up toy after toy all while playing whatever crazy game your kid whipped up.

As a stay-at-home mom, I have heard comments about how I live the life and must be nice to sit at the pool all day with my kids (ahem Dad). At times, I want to scream you realize I am not at the pool reading People magazine, drinking cocktails, right? But really – I am living the life. At least the life I want. Sure I would love to be able to afford a babysitter every now and then to go sit by the pool myself grocery shopping alone, but no situation is perfect.

As a working mom, I remember reading things (like the most recent article that annoyed me) and thinking who the hell do you think cleans my house, makes my kids’ lunch and what the heck do you think I do at work all day? Yes, there were “luxuries” sometimes (like being able to run into the coffee shop ALONE after dropping my kid off at daycare, although I will admit this was RARE because most days I was running late) or being able to take 10 minutes during the day to call the doctor and schedule an appointment. But those “perks” of being a working mom didn’t come without countless other obstacles. Just like staying home comes with the perk of alleviating the stress of “double-duty”, it also comes with the added mess of being in the house nonstop or the struggle of finding good things to entertain your kids.

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So let me compare some things working mom vs stay at home mom in hopes of shedding light that there are trade-offs – some things are easier, some things more challenging, but realize in the end it is all HARD.

Working moms often have childcare that you can utilize when not working. Like for example, it is probably rare you have to take your kid to an OB/GYN appointment. That being said, I know of working moms who have had to endure a Pap Smear with kids in tow and yes there are stay at home moms with babysitters who can go alone, but overall working moms have some form of built-in childcare that they can use along with some vacation time to make for kid free moments (tad easier than stay at home moms).

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Stay at home parents do not have to scramble to throw together a backup childcare plan when sick kids, snow days or doctor’s appointments need to occur.

Working parents do not have to deal with the pressure to entertain their children for 12+ hours a day ALONE. On the evenings/weekends, many parents are both home so you can divide and conquer or enjoy an activity together. That is not the same as being ALONE with your AWAKE children for long long hours – it is no easy feat keeping your kids engaged (and engaged with quality tasks).

Stay at home parents can “seize the moment”. Nice weather – lets head to the beach for the day. Mommy and me Class on Monday at 9 – sure got nothing else on the schedule. As a stay at home mom, I find it easier to connect with other moms because there are activities and events during the day to foster this, but as a working mom it is hard to find mommy and me swim lessons or other parent activities during the weekends (not non-existent, but harder).

Working parents houses do not get as messy because they are not utilized as much. There are less dishes to clean, toilets are utilizes less, the number of toys pull out is less. You get the picture. Working moms still have to clean their house, BUT the amount of cleaning and picking up needing to get done is not as much because for a lot of the week their kids make messes at childcare and they eat lunch at their desk (or in the fun rare occasion with other people!).

These are just some examples people. No situation is perfect. None. Being a parent is really hard work, but no matter if you stay at home or work, being a parent is also really awesome. Our kids can be huge pains in the ass and honestly they will be for the rest of their damn lives. (I still give my parents a headache) Kids also are incredibly awesome. So moms, when you need to vent about the hard parts – do just that vent – don’t try to say how much easier it is for this or that type of parent because seriously when your kid is 16 and pulls some stupid shit you will have to deal with it whether you are a working mom or a stay at home mom. And moms when a fellow mom needs to complain about how difficult things are right now – don’t sit there ticking off in your head how much harder it is for you because  in reality sides of the grass are full of shit, but if you actually look into it both sides also have some really green parts as well.

 

Adjusting …

IMG_3822For the first few weeks in our new home, I struggled to adjust to new routine/schedule. While Dominique often had late night practices or weekend games before the move, I was rarely home alone with both kids battling bedtime, as I lived with not only my two parents, but also my younger brother who while he worked massive hours, always seem to get off early on a day I was ready to go berserk.

In addition to the number of family members in the home, I also had a million and one options for daily entertainment for my kids. From indoor play spaces to our gym/pool/cafe/babysitting service mecca to my grandmom’s house and so much more. We had memberships at children museums, zoos and always found places to entertain ourselves when the weather wasn’t great. We were always out exploring new places.

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As I adjust to life up here – I am realizing there is no “replacement” for these things. I cannot find a new mom to come in and listen to me debrief my day at 6:30 every night (unless I can get adopted at the age of 31 up here). There is no Lulu’s (yet – please brother-in-law make this happen), no grandmom and actually not even Chick-fil-a playground near by. While there are so many beautiful and wonderful things – they often require being outside and embracing all sorts of weather ((or not open until the weekend). While I loved taking the kids to Tyler Park or over to Core Creek before the move, I loved doing that when it was 70 and sunny. We are learning to embrace all weather and be outside regardless of the sun or temperature.

Since my return from my Halloween visit home, I decided that I cannot replace. I cannot just find those things from home up here. I have to create new. I have to find a new normal. And so the first step was creating a new nightly routine. Sorry Nola, but your days of being a late night diva are over. You will have to practice your dance routines during the day, as the lack of nap and lack of a second adult come dinnertime, makes this lady really need a break!

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For the past week and half, I have thrown my kids in the bath every night between 5:45 and 6:30 depending on if/how they napped. To be honest – my kids never bathed this much in their life, but every night we shlep toys to the tub and start the routine. Since our house is one floor, I can run out and quickly clean-up toys and shut down the living area while still monitoring the fools in the tub. We then get on PJ’s, brush teeth and begin to read for a good 20 minutes. Nola started out not laying, but she has since listened to the stories – interjecting every 15 seconds with some question, comment or concern. I then start the whole rubbing Flynn’s back and getting him settled. Most nights, especially if his nap was short or did not exist, he will fad away relatively quick. It would probably be shorter, but he is more often than not serenaded by Nola’s late night monologue. Once Flynn is out, I try with all my might to calm the crazy one to sleep. She recently is potty trained so she often requests to pee one last time (and I let her since she actually wakes up dry most days). We then rock, sing, rub backs until she eventually fades. It can at times take another whole hour. Dear Lord thank god for instagram, audiobooks (when I remember headphones) and my ability to say to myself “if she isn’t asleep after I count to 100…” a couple of times before actually losing it.

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While this routine is far from perfect and can often take 2 (or more) hours – it has provided me with some relief at the end of the day. Some time to clean up the crazy mess or to sit and stare at a blank wall wondering what the hell we will do tomorrow, or in tonight’s case to write a long blog post while eating chocolate chip cookies and drinking milk waiting for the first wake-up of the night. (which according to my tracker will be around 10:45 this evening).

Desperate Times Call for Excel (The Tracking of Sleep or Lack Thereof)

FullSizeRender 9My children are horrible at sleep. Like seriously, horrible. A few weeks or months back (who knows anymore) I would say Flynn wasn’t horrendous. He liked sleep, took long, beautiful naps and didn’t run away from bedtime. He did still wake-up during the night, but on the scale from 1-10, with 1 being worst sleeper ever and 10 being Ferber’s children – Flynn was a 5. Okay maybe 4. Nola, well many know about Notorious Nola. She doesn’t need sleep. Lately, she has started to be a little fussy if she doesn’t take a nap, but really before the girl would just party all day and late into the night, then sleep in in the morning. In my bed.

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Between the move, me being the only person home during bedtime almost all nights, trips back home, and our good friend Daylight Savings time (oh and the loss of the Paci) sleep is pretty miserable. Flynn refusing naps, Nola napping when she felt like it and bedtime being a complete disaster with me trying to rub Flynn’s back for 900 years while Nola roamed the house unsupervised. Most nights consist of me floating between my bed, Flynn’s bed and the rare occasion Nola was in her bed – I’d make stops there too. I don’t think I had more than 3 hours straight…well actually since Flynn was born, but definitely not in the past few months.

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And so I had enough. I don’t care if my kids sleep in my bed, in their bed or in the tub. They just need to sleep. And I also would like some naps. So I decided to suck it up and make a plan. Upon my return from a two week stint with my parents, I did what I do best. I made an excel tracker. I haven’t made one of these since 2013 when I would make them often to track the student data and I love excel and formulas and sortable filters. What – you don’t? I also decided to keep a strict routine – or as strict as I can get. (yes that sentence just summed up why my kids are probably terrible sleepers. That and I like to believe Nola is a genius and geniuses don’t sleep).  So for a little less than a week every night at 6 PM they bathe, we (Nola, Flynn and I) read books in the kids room, and I fight them to sleep. It takes FOREVER. Like no joke one night it was 9:15 before they were both in asleep. THREE HOURS AND FIFTEEN MINUTES with more than two thirds of that being laying with them or rocking Nola. That is multiple hours of being like why don’t we still have pacifiers and why did I stop nursing Nola. And why don’t we all just go back to playing until you both pass out because I seriously might lose it.

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I wish I could report that things are improving, but really they are not. Flynn wakes up between 5:30-6:00 every morning (and pre Daylight Savings we were at 7:45 wake up). Nola used to get nearly 11 hours of sleep (you know from 11:30 PM-10:30 AM), but now is getting way less than that.  They both fall asleep at nap time, but a lot of that requires planning a morning activity that has us driving home at nap time or wrestling with Flynn until he passes out. Many naps have been shorter than the time it took to get them to sleep. Oh and night wakings, the thing I dislike the most, have increased. A lot. I guess it’s just reminding me of life with a newborn. Dear Lord, there will soon be a newborn.

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But I will continue on with the plan and use my trusty old excel tracker not because it will produce any reliable data, but because I really love excel. Like a lot. I will stick with the routine and in a few weeks, we can all have a fabulous party at 7 PM sharp (because my kids will sleeping by then) where we sit around and analyze my data and ultimately just conclude that the art of sleep was lost on my children and one day in the future  – we will all sleep … until they are teenagers and sneak out of the house and I have to go find them. (Sorry Mom) (PS – Nola is currently whining in there – off to check that box in my tracker).

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Scootering Around Town (Product Review Time)

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The Starbucks Red Cups have arrived, Target was putting up the Christmas cards the other morning and Christmas events emails have begun to roll in.  I usually am one to hold off on all the Christmas hoopla, but I have found in recent years, particularly with kids, that if I really want to enjoy the holidays, an early start helps. There are always so many fun activities, parties, crafts, decorations, gifts to buy… – that it is hard to narrow it down to just a few and even harder to fit it in in the short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. So I no longer am opposed to the early Christmas. If decorating before Thanksgiving means getting to fit in more fun outings in December than get me a tree and some felt decorations. It is a wonderful season and with two kids who are into the holidays (all holidays that is) I want to soak up every minute. Part of that fun (or in some cases chore) is shopping. I am hoping to share some of our favorite products or review a few popular items as the season progresses. I also hope to share our traditions-in-the-making and go to winter activities. One such product that is a big hit around here is the scooter.

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Flynn was (and still is) a huge lover of his scooter. We purchased the YBike Scooter for his 2nd birthday and he has been hooked every since. As Nola started to chase after him, we decided to add a second one to the mix. I wanted to just go ahead and get another YBike because we have great success with Flynn’s scooter, as well as YBike’s other products like the Pewi Bike and Balance Bike, but had heard a lot about the Micro Mini so I explored that as well.

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We went back and forth, but ultimately we went with the Mirco Mini 3-in-1 scooter because it had interchangeable bars – shorter for now and switch out to regular size as Nola grew. It also has a seat option that seemed neat. While all the options were great, Nola is currently using the regular size bar and wanted nothing to do with the smaller bar because that is Nola for you. When it came to comparing the two full size scooters, I actually think the YBike wins out in terms of ride-ability. It is a wider base that makes it easier to stand on and the wheels and brake seem slightly larger as well. I do love how the Mirco Mini has a removable bar, which I have used a few times when storing it in the stroller for longer rides. Both are easy to maneuver and Nola and Flynn quickly learned how to turn. When compared to a few other scooters this is my biggest selling point (how they turn and glide with the kiddo).

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So overall we love the Y-Bike for its larger foot-pad size and easier ride-ability, but if you are looking for something that can switch out from a smaller to a larger handle bar (or the handlebar can detach for easier storage/travel) then the Mirco Mini (3-in-1) is another great choice. With both items I have found they were worth the higher price tag, but did I wait until they price dropped on Amazon and was able to find them $20+ dollars cheaper than currently listed. Micro Mini’s site, also offers promos from time to time, which at one point was 20% off.

PS: I just wrote about these because they are seriously two of our favorite products. We don’t make any money off of this, but YBike if you reading feel free to send one of these our way 🙂