Pray for Texas

image2This week my heart is with the victims of Hurricane Harvey. The images that we have seen of the intense damage, helpless victims and heroes that have stepped in to assist others are heartbreaking. The fireman carrying two children in waist deep water, the civilian carrying the mother, holding her baby, trekking through the water and the residents of the nursing home sitting in their chairs knitting as if they weren’t up to their elbows in flood water are permanently engraved in my mind. The stories of the police officer who drowned in his car trying to get to work so he could help save people, the family of 6 who tragically drown in their van and the toddler they found alive but with hypothermia, floating on her mother’s dead body in the flooded street brought tears to my eyes and made me want to help. Texas is very near and dear to my heart. My husband and I got married in Austin in 2015 and we were just in Houston the week before Hurricane Harvey hit to see the Astros baseball game. With all of the bad going on in the world today, it warms my heart to see the thousands of volunteers heading to Texas to help out those in need. It seems like the outpouring of support is endless and fellow citizens are stepping up to help each other as we should be. There are lines of trucks towing boats on the highways heading to Texas, volunteers flocking to help in any way they can even if it puts their own lives in danger and generous people donating money to the victims who need it. These acts bring a smile to my face in a time of such dismay. If you can, please give back. Even $20 could help out a family in need of formula, clothes, a blanket or simply a hot meal. Babies are left without any diapers or blankets, pets are without food and people are now homeless. image1There are plenty of ways to help even if you can’t head to Texas and physically volunteer your time. It is also important that you know your donation is going directly to the victims of Hurricane Harvey and you aren’t just sending money into a black hole. You can check out www.charitynavigator.org to make sure that your donation will help those who need it, or check out any of the charities below to donate to the people, pets and children of Texas.

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund https://ghcf.org/hurricane-relief/

Texas Diaper Bank http://www.texasdiaperbank.org/

United Way of Houston https://www.unitedwayhouston.org/

American Red Cross https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey

Houston Humane Society http://www.houstonhumane.org/

Houston Food Bank http://www.houstonfoodbank.org/

Go home and hug your loved ones and thank the Lord for yesterday, today and tomorrow. You never know when a tragedy will strike and turn your world upside down. Please pray for Texas.

Dealing With Tantrums, Meltdowns and Sippy Cup Assaults

Moms aren’t just moms. Moms are detectives, actresses, housekeepers, chefs, teachers, and in this case, professional fighters. We are detectives because we figure out what our toddler means when they point or talk to us in their Minion language. We are actresses because we pretend to be fierce lions, delicate fairies and courageous firemen when it is story time. We are housekeepers because we are constantly following our kids (and our husbands) around, picking up after them and cleaning constantly. We wash bottles at least ten times a day, load and unload the dishwasher what seems like every hour, on the hour and do multiple loads of laundry daily. We are chefs because we whip up recipes in our heads as if we were Gordon Ramsay, with items that are left over in the pantry to satisfy our hungry little ones. Black bean, sausage and potato casserole anyone? We are teachers because we are always helping our kids with their colors, alphabet and shapes, while also showing them how to respect others and love everyone. We are even professional fighters sometimes as were dart to the left to avoid an occasional flying book or throw up a left hook to defend our face from a flying Sippy Cup. Muhammad Ali has got nothing on us moms. Whether we are dealing with hitting, tantrums, throwing things or just toddlers who don’t listen, all moms have their own way of disciplining and frankly, it is one of the toughest jobs on the planet. But it can also be one of the most comical. I was recently assaulted with a Sippy Cup and have lived to tell my story.IMG_1490 I have no idea what Miss Meyer’s intention was when she threw the Sippy Cup at me but it took every bone in my body not to cry. Seriously! She was standing about a foot away from me when she clocked me square in the nose with the hardest plastic cup known to baby products. As the tears were welling up in my eyes, she strutted away like nothing happened. ‘Keep it together Erin, do not cry in front of the baby!’ But holy hell that hurt. I felt like I just got knocked out by Mayweather in the first round. I was down for the count. But I stood up, rubbed my (now crooked) nose, wiped those tears out of my eyes and chased after Meyer. I told her that she shouldn’t throw things at Mommy, gave her a hug and asked her if she could help me with her zoo animal puzzle. Because that’s what moms do. We pretend that Sippy Cups and books and marbles and Legos don’t hurt and we keep our cool and move on.

There are many ways of disciplining and every parent has their preference on how to do it. Don’t yell at your kid. Yell at your kid. Don’t hit them. It’s okay to spank. Treat them like an adult. Don’t ever put them in timeout. How do parents know what to do? None of these child therapists or psychologists who are giving advice have ever met your child, so how do they know what works for them and what doesn’t? In my opinion, no way is right and no way is wrong (unless of course it’s an extreme case bordering abuse). It is simply a preference and depending on your little one, it either works or it doesn’t. You can listen to all the advice in the world but it doesn’t mean that you should follow it. Just like when you were pregnant and every mom under the sun had advice for you from the best crib to the best diaper genie. You listen but it doesn’t mean that you should do what every mom is doing. Your baby will be a unique little personality who will let you know what is best for them. My method of disciplining Meyer isn’t right or wrong, it is what I choose to do. I get down to her level when she does something wrong and talk to her about why she shouldn’t do what she did and what she should do instead. Sometimes it works and sometimes she hits me with a Sippy Cup.

IMG_1492For me, one of the hardest parts about disciplining is not laughing. Because most of the time when kids are doing something wrong, they know they aren’t supposed to be doing it and they look at you to see how far they can get before you catch them. And those damn faces they make are just so hilarious, that it’s hard to keep a straight face. Right now, Meyer’s big thing is standing on her little chair, or the couch and either jumping up and down or simply walking off the edge (I catch her of course). She has no idea that if she falls off that edge, she could get hurt or hit her head on the coffee table. No kid ever thinks of the consequences of falling or bumping their heads, they think it’s a fun game and as parents, we are the ones that constantly worry. And then when you do discipline them, they sometimes have a tantrum. Yup, I said it- the dreaded tantrum! She’s usually over it pretty quickly but sometimes they last a little longer making me wonder if I should be doing something different. I thought I would cruise the internet to see how ‘it was recommended’ that I handle these tantrums, just for reference.

According to the website www.babycenter.com, there are 7 ways to deal with tantrums:

  • Don’t lose your cool. Even during the height of the meltdown, stay with them instead of storming out of the room. Or you can calmly leave the room to cool off and the return when you are ready. That one should be easy, I’m a cool mom. I can keep my cool! (Way harder than I thought). I found that deep breaths help….and wine.
  • Remember that you’re the adult. No matter how much they try to bribe and reason with you, don’t give in. You are the boss. Once they get you wrapped around their finger, it is very hard to unstick yourself, like gum on the bottom of your shoe.
  • Use time-outs sparingly beginning when they are 18 months and explain why they are receiving a timeout. I’m thinking of using Meyer’s potty as a time-out chair to kill two birds with one stone.
  • Talk it over afterward. I’m pretty sure that’s what I was doing when I was assaulted by the Sippy Cup so I may skip that one.
  • Let your child know that you love them. That’s easy, I do that every second! Hmmm, I can’t remember if I did that after she hit me with a Sippy Cup though…
  • Try to head off the tantrum-inducing situations. If you anticipate what triggers these meltdowns, it is easier to avoid them. So, does that mean I can never say no? I may have to skip that one too.
  • Watch for signs of overstress and seek a Doctor’s help if needed. Apparently, kids can get stressed out too, just not over bills and work like we do.
  • Wine (I may have added that one…)

Be a Weekend Warrior

As most of you working moms know, we try to jam in as much time with our kids as possible on the weekends because depending on your schedules, your time together on weekdays is scarce. During the week, I get home anywhere between 4:30 pm and 5:00 pm, change out of my work clothes, make dinner, play with Meyer while the casserole is baking or the meat is browning, eat dinner, give her a bath, get her PJ’s on, read her 2-3 books and then put her to bed because it’s already 7:30 pm. It’s exhausting! After she goes to bed, I work out, shower, get my lunch and outfit prepped for the morning (huge time saver) and then before I know it, it’s already bedtime for me! That is why it is important to maximize every second of the weekend, spending time with family and prepping for the upcoming week so you don’t have to waste time doing daunting tasks during the short window of time that you have with your kids on the weekdays. And I still like to have fun on the weekends with my husband because spending quality alone time together when the baby is sleeping is key! That is why it is important to plan out everything and schedule even the most minuscule tasks in your calendar.

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When I get home from work on Friday, all I want to do is curl up with Meyer in her tee-pee, watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and eat pizza, but that would just set me back the entire weekend, so I have to power through those feelings. But rather than sticking her in the playroom while I do my chores, I incorporate her into the mix and we actually have fun cleaning together (her more than me, I am sure). On most Fridays, we go to the library to return the books we checked out the previous week and get 4 new ones for her to enjoy during the coming week. Right now she is obsessed with all the Fancy Nancy books by Jane O’ Connor. They are just so lovely and sparkly! I highly recommend them Mommas. Then when we get home, I started cleaning. The last thing I want to do on my Sundays is clean, so I try to get it done at the very start of the weekend to try to avoid the dreaded Sunday Chore Day. My Sundays are for Fundays, not cramming in the chores, the laundry and the grocery shopping. For most of my 30’s, my Friday nights have consisted of cleaning and watching Dateline, so nothing has changed since becoming a mom. I hand Meyer her own Swiffer Duster, turn on either Puppy Dog Pals or music (depending on her mood) and get to work. She usually follows me around and dusts the floor or her face (hopefully not in that order) while I diligently clean the whole house. She even helps me dust the floor with the Swiffer Sweeper…aka she runs around with it while I chase her and then pushes it up the wall and maybe on the floor or my feet. Even if they are not really helping, I think that it is important to incorporate them (safely) into everything that they see you doing. She is a little too big now, but when she was smaller, I would strap her in the Baby Bjorn while I vacuumed. Next, I make my dinner menu for next week and jot down the grocery list. Making a weekly menu saves so much time since you don’t have to search through the fridge and rack your brain trying to figure out dinner every night. I already know what we will be eating for dinner Monday through Thursday (Friday is leftover day) so when I get home from work, the protein is already defrosted and all the prep work has been done. And just like Cinderella, when I am done with my chores, I get to go to the ball! Meaning, I mix up a cocktail, retire to the couch and watch my Dateline. Ahh….now that’s my perfect Friday night!

IMG_1242On Saturdays (if we have no weekend plans or trips) and after I take Meyer to her My Gym class, we usually do all the grocery shopping. Now, this is what my husband lives for. I swear, he can stay in Trader Joe’s/Costco/Sprouts/Sam’s Club all day! And for someone who hates shopping (me), it is torture. I am ready to leave once we get there but I manage to make it around to get everything on our list, as well as more things that aren’t, and then head home with my weeks’ worth of groceries. I like to make my Monday dinner meal on Saturday or Sunday, that way when I get home from work on Monday, all I have to do is pop it in the oven and we are good to go. It’s already tough heading back to work on Monday mornings after a nice, relaxing weekend, why make it harder on yourself by having to worry about cooking? Once I put the baby to bed on Saturdays, my husband and I like to geek out and play board games or cards. Our favorites are Scrabble and Gin Rummy. But whatever you like to do at home to reconnect and have a quiet date night is important, whether it’s Netflix, dinner parties or just spending a nice evening outside by the fire pit.

Sundays are for sleeping in, church, spending time with your family and catching up on TV, right? If you get everything done on Friday and Saturday, then that is exactly what you will be doing! If you can avoid cramming your entire to-do list on the day before you start your work week again, you will learn to love Sundays as your fun family day instead of the dreaded day before Monday! Trust me, it’s now my favorite day of the week!

Tackling a Theme Park With a Toddler

We have all heard or witnessed the horror stories about bringing toddlers to theme parks. Throwing tantrums when they don’t get the toy from the gift shop, screaming because they are tired of waiting in line for their favorite ride and running around (until they crash) on a sugar high because they ate too much cotton candy. Whether you are going to Disneyland, Legoland, Sea World, or even the Zoo, at least one meltdown is expected. But if you plan for at least two and actually get only one, then your day will be a breeze! It’s all about preparation, timing, and keeping your cool. My husband and I recently took my 16 month old daughter, Meyer to Sea World with my mother-in-law and 3-year-old niece, Bailey. Although it was exhausting, it was actually very fun with few bumps in the road.

Preparation. Always check the theme park’s website beforehand to see what you can and cannot bring into the park. And if you have any additional questions, call them and ask. On the Sea World website, it said ‘hard and soft coolers, glass containers, food such as sandwiches, meals, snacks etc., and flavored drinks may not be taken into the park. Water bottles may be taken into the park.’ Yet, when I called and asked if I could bring in milk and snacks for the baby, they said it was fine. So we packed a little baby lunch bag full of snacks, milk and water. If we already had the snacks then there would be no whining for the cotton candy, right? If you can, always outnumber your little ones. Our ratio for that day was three adults to two children. I totally understand if it’s impossible to bring along another adult, but it is always so helpful if a grandparent, family member or friend can tag along. Not only can they help out when needed but they will also be able to enjoy the park and make memories with your family.

Timing. It always depends on the day and the theme park (I’m sure Disneyland is 20 times busier than Sea World on any given day) but try to get there right when the park opens so you can hit the rides before the lines get crazy long. When we got into the park, we went right to Sesame Street Bay of Play and took the girls on Abby’s Sea Star Spin, Elmo’s Flying Fish and Oscar’s Rockin’ Eel. We got on all three of the rides without waiting in line, which kicked off the day on a good note. Another advantage to having more adults than kids is you get an automatic photographer when you are on the rides. My husband rode with Bailey on Elmo’s Flying Fish while I went with Meyer, and my mother-in-law watched and took pictures. Not only do you get to capture these sweet memories, but each kid feels special because they get the one on one time with you on the ride. Bailey didn’t want to go on Oscar’s Rockin’ Eel because she was scared (to be honest, Meyer kind of just sat there with big eyes the whole time and I actually felt a tad dizzy afterwards) so she hung out with Grandma while my husband and I rode with Meyer. In addition to the rides, I would definitely recommend seeing at least one show while you are there.  At Sea World, there were various shows happening throughout the day but we knew the girls would enjoy Elmo Rocks! most and planned to take them there at 12:30 pm when it started. I knew that this would be cutting it close to Meyer’s nap time but I crossed my fingers that she would clap and dance along when she saw Elmo (or ‘Elmie’ as she calls him) and not scream and throw her head back with exhaustion. It is always hard to stick to their regular nap schedule when out and about but as long as she got at least one in, I would be a happy Momma. Luckily, both of the girls loved watching Elmo, Zoe, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie and we made it out of there with all smiles.

Keeping your cool. After the Elmo Rocks! show, I knew there was a meltdown coming since Meyer hadn’t had any naps that day. We decided that we were going to go see the penguins and dolphins and then head home. Bailey really wanted to go see another show and we thought that the dolphins would be the best one to check out. But then my husband had to get an ice cream. Meyer wanted a bite, which was fine, but then she wanted another bite and then another……so I tried to distract her with the penguins. Meltdown coming in 5…4…”Meyer, look at the penguins!”…3….distraction working….she likes the penguins! Until she wanted to walk along the wall of the penguin enclosure and NOT hold my hand…nope, not having it. The last thing I need is for her to fall in with the penguins! Distraction failing….2…..1….meltdown! OK, it is time get her in the stroller and head to the dolphins. But trying to get a wiggling and crying baby in the stroller while wearing a strapless romper? Yeah, I’m pretty sure all of the penguins at Sea World saw my boob that day. Oops! Finally, she was strapped in and we were en route to the dolphin show. We made it to our seats just as the show was starting (it is all about the timing Mommas!) I knew Meyer sitting on my lap watching the dolphin show wasn’t going to last long, so I made sure I was on the end of the row so we could get up and walk around easily. Bailey was happy but Meyer didn’t want to sit still and was ready for a nap, so I got up and walked around with her behind our seats so she could still see the show. She calmed down a bit and started to enjoy watching the dolphins splash the crowd and jump up into the air. After the show, we stopped by the gift shop and bought the girls some sparkly Sea World purses then packed up and headed home. I felt good having overcome only one meltdown that day but I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to keep my cool when Waze said it would take us 3 hours to get home. Gotta love Southern California!