Ten Ways I Show My Kids I Love Them

With Valentine’s Day around the corner we are thinking of showing our loved ones we care. Prior to having kids my husband and I went BIG on Valentine’s Day with special dates, dinners, and surprises. We agreed we had to, after all our last name is Amor.

Now with two little boys we try everyday to show we care and love them. As an attachment parent I truly believe in building a strong relationship and foundation of family is the essence of building self-esteem in kids. I want my boys to know that I have their back no matter what, and that I truly have their best interests at heart. Home should be a safe, nurturing space where my boys can relax and put their cares away.

1. I try to make one on one time with each boy. For my oldest it’s swim lessons every week, for my little guy it’s cuddling at bedtime.

2. I have dinner with them every day. We sit down at eat together.

3. I ask them about their day and listen to their answers.

4. I try to make time to do activities every day after school with them-time at the park or Gymboree, cooking together, cuddle and read a story before bed.

5. I tell them how much I love them and how special they are to me.

6. I give them small treats-a donut after swim, a printed coloring sheet I brought from work.

7. I apologize-if I lose my temper or make a mistake I say I’m sorry and talk to them about it.

8. I let them make choices:jeans or sweatpants; hotdogs or pizza for dinner-it shoes I respect their decisions and value them.

9. I start my day with a cuddle. When we first wake up we put on a cartoon and cuddle for 20 minutes. It’s the best way to start the day.

10. I try to challenge them at their own pace. Kids need to grow and develop but I don’t want my boys to have anxiety about new experiences. I recently weaned my youngest-it took 9 months. It felt like it never would happen! My oldest weaned in a matter of weeks! Different strokes for different folks.

Hug your littles and let them know they’re special this Valentine’s Day! Share how you make your kiddos feel loved in the comments below.

Tips on Traveling with Jet Lagged Toddlers

This post is completely about what’s happening in my life right now.  We travelled by plane, train, and automobile to Israel this week in a trip that took 20 hours total.  That’s enough to throw off an adults internal clock-so for sure it’s enough to throw off a toddler’s internal clock.

Honestly, last year our trip was easier when it came to jetlagged. I was traveling with a nine month old baby who still slept quite a bit during the day, and my two-year-old was a terrific sleeper.  The good news is that two-year-old is now still a great sleeper at three years old. However that nine-month-old who used to sleep all the time, he is not doing so great this time around.  Leading up to our trip there were often times he would wake up for a couple hours at home in the middle of the night, wanting something to eat and drink. Now, it’s been five nights in Israel and he is still waking up for five hours at night!  So how do we cope?

1. Take turns napping with your partner.  Right now my husband is taking a much needed power nap, and my 20 month old is taking a mini nap.  He’s exhausted but I want him to sleep through the night so I will wake him up for dinner.  Then he and his father can hang out together until they get tired later on.  I can rest until they need me to help with bedtime later on.

2. Consider children’s melatonin for toddlers and kids.  My friend recently moved with her daughter to the other side of the world and recommended the Zarbee’s brand.  I didn’t bring melatonin with me, and I doubt they have it for children in the pharmacy here (which is something to consider when you travel to other countries-medicines are different). I have second guessed my decision not to purchase some for our trip.

3. Try to keep the first few days easy on your trip so you can get ample sleep.  We travel for a month at a time so it makes it easier for us to take our time to transition. Nap during the day as needed.

4.  Set up your child for sleep success.  Cut day napping shorter, bring favorite blankets and lovies, and play light music when it’s sleepy time.

5.  Allow a couple of days to adjust back after your trip.  Yes we had jet lag both ways on our trip last year.  It took 3 days to catch up.

Remember that no matter what the age traveling opens our eyes and senses to the world. Your child will be so lucky to see and experience the world with you, and you will treasure these memories for a lifetime! Don’t let fear of flying with your child or jet lag keep you from making memories.

Legoland Fun in San Diego

If you follow My Petite Picassos on Instagram you’ll know that we recently went to Legoland, California. We had an amazing vacation and the boys had so much fun!

Compared to other theme parks in SoCal Legoland is really affordable!  We were able to go for $123.99 all together!  We had a Bogo coupon for buy one adult hopper ticket get another one free. Hopper tickets allow you to go in between Legoland and either the aquarium or the splash park. We chose the splash park, however we were only at Legoland one day and we didn’t end up going there.  Kids under three years old are free at Legoland so the boys got in with for free. This was a lot cheaper than last year when I paid $300 a day for myself and my husband at Disneyland. Legoland is not as magical as Disneyland nor as large, but it definitely is a great theme park!

We went on a Saturday in July and while it was crowded it was not overcrowded. We downloaded the Legoland app to find out which rides had the shortest wait time. We only waited a long time for a boat ride. Even though my boys are young toddlers they were able to enjoy a variety of rides and activities. They had several boat rides and cruises through at the same park that the boys could go on, a carousel, a train ride, and little car rides. A lot of the boat rides and such are going past full Lego exhibits such as the Lego towns/monuments or fairytale stories.  I loved seeing Las Vegas made out of Legos, so much detail-they even had a pool party at one of the hotels!

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It was more challenging to find things for Adam to do than Ben. Ben even got to ride some rides by himself! A lot of rides are appropriate for ages three and up however they do have a whole Duplo Town for little guys . Duplo Town is where we rode the train and there was a large playground.  When my husband to take Ben on rides I would walk around with Adam and take him to the area where you can build with large Legos or go in search of characters. One of the favorite places in the theme park for the boys was the area where they could build Lego cars and race them!

Th hands on activities kept the boys busy for at least 45 minutes to an hour and we found ourselves prying them away to check out rides or get something to eat.

Marking Our Milestone

 

Ok, he’s not a baby anymore, he’s a toddler.  In the Jewish tradition you are not supposed to cut your son’s hair until 3.  At the 3 year old birthday mark on the Hebrew calendar (it’s a lunar and much older calendar than the Christian calendar) the boy has his haircut and there is a party to honor him coming into more spiritual awareness.  Prior to cutting Ben’s hair we met with my dear friend Maritza Nolasco to get photos of him done.  It was extra special having Maritza take these photos as she and I experienced pregnancy for the first time together down to a couple of days difference!  She has been a great supporter on my path to and through motherhood.  We started with some outdoor photos  in her yard and then followed to the pool to get some photos of his gorgeous hair as he swam!  milestoneIMG_0191IMG_0194IMG_0206IMG_0293IMG_0294

Even Adam got in on the photo fun and we have some incredible shots of the boys together.  If you live in Las Vegas and are looking for a professional photographer, who’s great with kids and very patient I suggest looking up Maritza on Instagram or Facebook!

These photos will mean so much to me in years to come.  It will remind me of this special time I am having with m boys, it marks a change in my firstborn from being a baby to a child.  I love his long waves, wheat blond from time spent in the Israeli never-ending summer sun, but I will love his short hair too.  He will look handsome and more grown up.  No more tangles and knots as I comb through it and no more “she’s so pretty” in the grocery store.  He will be a BIG BOY at last!

 

 

Best Laid Plans-When Birth Doesn’t Go According To Plan

birth
I’m a planner.  Being a teacher lends itself to my belief that planning ahead is the best prevention to anything going wrong.  So I planned ahead for my first birth down to the last detail.

I hired a doula, used my friend’s OB/GYN, and put a down payment for a birthing tub.  I listened to hypno-birthing CD’s, I wrote 3 drafts of my birth plan, and had my hospital bag packed a month in advance.  I was ready.  Then my first son’s birth took a strange and difficult detour.

I knew he was big.  I was a high risk pregnancy and had over 20 ultrasounds during my first pregnancy.  His size resulted in me getting PUPPs a month prior to my giving birth.  PUPPs is a prenatal rash starting around the belly and spreading outwards across the body.  It’s common in first pregnancies with large babies or multiple babies.  It’s an inflammatory response to the severe stetching of the skin that takes place in larger pregnancies-and I had it everywhere except the bottoms of my feet, my face, and the palms of my hands.  I was miserable.
I remember sitting in a bagel shop on my birthday with my husband 3 days into the PUPPs wondering if I would go back to work and finish the school year.  I got my answer that night.  I couldn’t sleep-I sent my husband out to every health food store, the grocery store, and the pharmacy to find a cure.  I had none.  I couldn’t sleep as I was itching so bad.  I was put on bed rest by my high risk pregnancy specialist during the next day’s appointment when I was in tears worry my baby was itching like crazy too.  Thankfully it only affects the mom.  Ben was fine and growing.

My due date came and passed.  I soaked in multiple oatmeal baths everyday.  Friends helped me close up my classroom for summer break. No labor.

Another five days passed and in my OB/GYN appointment my doctor began mechanically inducing me with a balloon.  I was nervous.  If this didn’t work they would use Pitocin to induce labor.  My baby was late and my only relief from the PUPPs was birth.  Nothing happened for two days.  I was supposed to be admitted to the hospital at midnight on June 26th, but as the heat rose in Vegas women were going into labor left and right and there was no room for me.  It was midnight and I was stuck waiting at home.

The next morning I didn’t feel Ben move and I started to get nervous as I waited for a hospital room to open.  Then my contractions started and as they got closer to each other my husband and I drove to the hospital.

I had planned to have a beautiful, soothing, water birth experience for my son.  That is not the way it turned out.  I labored in the waiting room for an hour before I got a hospital bed.  My doula came and we walked the floor.  My contractions were close to each other but not powerful.  The nurse informed me I needed to put on an oxygen mask and that Ben was having trouble getting oxygen, also his heart rate had increased.

As the night wore on we realized we would not need the water tub, I would be hooked up to monitors the rest of the night.  They kept increasing my Pitocin to help Ben move along as he was in distress and needed to be birthed.  My epidural had to be repeated as there was a hole in the catheter and the intensity of my contractions was extreme to say the least.

After 26 hours of labor my baby was born.  Rather than being placed in my arms he was rushed to a NICU where he stayed for 5 days.  I was hospitalized 3 rooms away from, conveniently enough, due to my PUPPs for the same amount of time.  He was beautiful and he was alive, I was grateful for that.  I was close to needing a C-section, and thank goodness that didn’t happen as I would continue to have complications.

My husband camped out with me in the hospital, and we attended every one of Ben’s feedings.  I wanted to breastfeed, but the NICU staff were more concerned about measuring how much Ben was drinking and didn’t help me as much as I hoped.  I was given pumping lessons and my milk was having a hard time coming in as I was on 3 antihistamines to help with my itching.  Coming off the epidural and other medications had caused me to be very itchy and I scratched the dickens out of my legs!

Five days later we were allowed to go home together, and I was so glad to go home with my baby.  For the next week family and friends visited and we had the traditional Jewish Brit Milah after being cleared by the pediatrician.  On a return visit to the pediatrician I mentioned how I had developed large welts on my legs and she told me to see a doctor immediately.  I went to the Quick Care by my house and they put me on Cephlax and sent me home.  I developed a fever and began vomiting.  Turns out I’m allergic Cephlax.  It was the weekend and the doctor’s offices were closed.  I contacted the dermatologist and he saw me on Tuesday, 5 days later was diagnosed with an illness I contracted from the hospital.  I was told over the phone by a nurse the dermatologist would not treat me as I was post-partum and breastfeeding.  She also told me to not even be in the same room as my baby!

My mom came to stay with Ben while I saw another dermatologist who had success at curing my illness in other patients.  After two weeks of intravenous antibiotics I had a clean bill of health. I was able to start my life as a mom and go forward.  There were tough times during this as you can imagine, but I never quit.  You can’t.  You have to do what you have to do for your baby.  If I couldn’t hold him, I rested while I knew my mom was taking care of him.  If I couldn’t nurse him safely, I pumped and dumped because I was determined I would be a breastfeeding mom.  For some people faith in G-d and prayer gets them through these tough times.  With this situation I believed in tomorrow.  Tomorrow I would be one step closer to being with my baby.

Writing this today seems like a different life.  Those couple of tough months would be followed by one of the sweetest times in my life. I fell in love like crazy with my baby and was so happy to be a mom.  Every moment with Ben was so special and I treasured our time together. Before I knew it, nine months had passed and I saw a pink plus sign.

A Day in the Life of a Mom

momI realized a couple months back that I am in a unique situation in that I have been a full time working mom, a work at home mom, and a stay at home mom.  I think every new mom questions her choice to work or stay at home at some point.  The purpose of this post is to share with you what my schedule was like in each of these parenting situations.  Whether you are working and thinking of taking time off or staying home and starting to work in your home office part time, you can see how I managed and hopefully I will pass on some wisdom.

My Full Time Working Mom Schedule

5 AM:  Wake up, nurse and pump.  Put the baby back to sleep.  Get dressed for work.

6 AM: Make breakfast, run the Roomba, feed the dogs.

7 AM: Pump, wake up husband to be with the newly woken up baby and leave for work.

8 AM: Get to work, pump again, check emails, set up classroom, meetings, playground duty.

9 AM-11:30 AM: Teach

11:30 AM-1 PM: Lunch, pump, lunchroom duty

1 PM- 3:30 PM Teach

3:30 PM Leave work

4:00 PM Pick up baby from daycare or meet baby at home with nanny (we did both). Bath myself and baby.  Nurse, pump.  Baby napped.

6:00 PM Make dinner, make lunch for work, get bottles together for the next day or set aside frozen homemade baby food (my Saturday night project).

7:00 PM Read three books to baby, nurse and put to sleep.  Pump.  Watch a little TV and go to sleep.  I typically awoke 2-3 times a night to nurse and one time to pump.

My Stay At Home Mom Schedule

7 AM: Wake up with my baby and nurse. Change baby and go downstairs.  Coffee, let baby play while I catch up on the news.

8 AM: Toddler wakes up.  Change him, he comes downstairs too.  Feed the dogs, and give the boys milk.

8:30 AM: Wake up husband for work.  Get myself dressed, make breakfast for everyone.

9:30-11 AM: Clean up dishes, get the boys ready to leave, take them to their mommy and me class.

12-3 PM: Come home, have lunch, shower, and put the boys down for a nap.  Nurse the baby.  While they nap I start dinner, clean the floor, wipe off the countertops, do laundry, and dust.

3-5 PM: Let the boys free play.  I usually have a quiet play activity such as puzzles, a sensory bin, or an art activity as well.

5-6 PM: Make dinner, eat with the boys.

7-8 PM: Clean up dinner, put on our PJs, read stories and nurse baby.  After they go to sleep I could read or watch TV.

Schedule Variation -Work at Home Mom

7 AM- 8 AM: I work on the blog while the baby plays.

8 PM-10/11 PM: Work on my home business after putting the kids to bed.

 

Packing Tips for Kids on Vacation

packing

I think the biggest challenge of traveling with 2 tots is packing.  For a month in Israel I started packing 2 weeks before.  For our recent trip to Sedona which was 8 days I began packing 1 week prior.  After Israel, which was a long trip in the fall when the weather could turn either way, I learned a lot about packing.

1. Ziplock baggies make great organizers. For the trip to Israel I put each of Adam’s tiny baby outfits in a Ziplock bag.  The whole outfit-onesie, pants, socks, a diaper, and a long sleeve top.  I put all of his pajamas in one bag, all of Ben’s socks in a bag, and all of his sweaters and jackets in another bag.

2.  The rule of halves.  If you’re destination has affordable or free laundry use the rule of halves.  Divide the number of days you’ll be away in half and pack as many shirts, pants, dresses, etc.  Exception to the rule: take seasonal weather changes or frequent outfit changes into account.  For example, I figured for our recent trip to Sedona for 8 days the weather would be cool in the morning and at night, Adam typically needs an outfit change after breakfast-so I packed 4 warm shirts and 4 sets of pants for the morning to wear and 4 t-shirts and 4 shorts for midday.  I did laundry midway through our trip.

3. 2 pairs of shoes is all you need.  A dressy pair and sneakers.  A waterproof sandal and a pair of Toms.  Basically one special pair and an everyday pair of shoes. Don’t forget to pack them in your Ziploc.

4.  Take advantage of 1 piece dressing.  Rompers and dresses are prefect for diaper bags or travel and take up less space than separates.

5. Pack toys in backpacks.  Your toddler can carry on his/her own backpack with small books and manipulatives.  They feel special and grown up while you save space in your bag.

6. Don’t bring the kitchen sink! I had diapers, wipes, toys, bedding, and books waiting for us at my in -laws. They also had car seats and booster seats waiting for us.  My parents in New York had toys and diapers waiting for us at their house.  All of these items were borrowed from neighbors.  In Israel they do have rental baby gear for tourists so consider that when traveling abroad.  In San Francisco we had a rental car and car seats were rented too.

7.  Go light on the baby gear.  Umbrella strollers, sleeping bags, baby wearing are a lot easier than a pack and play or heavy stroller to pack and lug.

8.  Use a backpack diaper bag.  You can easily babywear in front and carry a backpack at the same time.

9.  Minimize your own packing. I gave up make-up since staying and did not pack a stitch of it to take to Israel.  I can use hair conditioner also as an in shower body lotion.  Little tricks like this save space for the kids stuff.

Stroller hooks, stroller carrying bags with straps, and a basic first aid kit are important to have on hand as well.  I always take Tylenol or Ibuprofen, DoTerra oils, and teething toys with us.  I have Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes downloaded on my Ipad and YouTube Kids on my IPhone to entertain.  We do a mix of busy bags and IPad time when we’re flying.

Traveling with babies and toddlers is one of the most brave things I’ve done.  I used to be very nervous about it and dread it, but now my boys are seasoned, world travelers.  I feel much more comfortable now that we have logged some miles and memories taking them on future trips.  What packing tips do you have for a first time traveling mom or dad?  What can’t you live without on trips to keep your kids entertained?  Please share in the comments below.

Parenting Tips for Two Under Two

2 underSo when I found out I was pregnant with Adam, Ben was only nine months. To say I was in shock would not even begin to describe the feelings I had. With Ben we had tried for three years to get pregnant and ended up being successful through IVF. Adam was truly a surprise!

A couple hours after I found out I was pregnant with Adam it dawned on me how young Ben would still be when Adam would be born.  He would still be in diapers, he would be walking, but he still would not be completely verbal. He would not understand why mommy is with this little baby instead of him sometimes and that concerned me.

Being a mom of two under two is truly mommy boot camp. You are changing two sets of diapers, you need a really good double stroller, and you have two little babies who depend on you 24 hours a day.  Just remember it will get easier. Here are some tips that worked for me while I had two under two.

1.  Figure out how you will transport your children to and from your vehicle before you try it. I started teaching Ben to walk to the car and back to the house on his own in my late stages of pregnancy.  We don’t have a lot of traffic on my street and it was a good start for him to learn how to behave in a street or parking lot. Now he’s learning how to behave in a street and the parking lot at 2 1/2.  Most of the time what I would do is have Adam in the baby carrier leaving the house and hold Ben’s hand or have him walk beside me to the car. I would put Ben in the car first and have Adam in the yard in his baby carrier.  I figured since Ben was more mobile it would be better for him to be the first put in and the last to be taken out of the vehicle.  If you live in the city with a lot of traffic this might not work for you.

2.  Have a really organized diapering station. I bought a set of three plastic drawers that I keep next to my pack and play/changing table.  I used ABC organization: the top drawer are Adam’s diapers, the second drawer were Ben’s diapers, and the last drawer were cloth diapers.

3.  Use nap time effectively. I understand if you need to rest and sleep. If not, I recommend getting your housework done, starting dinner, and paying bills.  A newborn sleeps a lot so you can use some of that time to have one on one with your toddler.

4.  Create a laundry schedule. I have had the same laundry schedule for the last year. I start doing all my loads of wash and folding them on Thursday through Saturday morning. Then over the weekend when my husband is home he can keep an eye on the kids while I put away all of our laundry.

5.  Organize a system for hand-me-down clothing. I use large plastic totes that I label with Ben’s clothing size to store for Adam.  When Adam’s done with them I have a friend I gift them to.

6.  Don’t be afraid to enlist the village’s help.  Friends and family can help you load your kids in the car, keep an eye on your baby while you chase your toddler around the playground, and give you a minute with your significant other.

7.  Streamline bath time.  Whether your kids bathe together or hop in with you try to cut down on the time bathing each individual.  Another option is a bathing schedule as to who gets a bath each day.

8.  Practice self care.  Seems impossible right?  I can’t say that I was very good at or am very good at putting myself first.  Taking a stroller walk to get back into shape, waking up 10 minutes earlier to meditate in bed before the kids wake up, or just NOT wearing yoga pants can qualify as self care when you’re a mom of two under two.

Whether you have twins or two littles months a year apart being a mom of two under is tricky.  I’m on the other side of two with Ben and Adam’s walking-now I’m onto two toddlers!  If you have any advice on handling two under two or two toddlers please share in the comments below!  I would love to hear from you!