Friday, August 28, 2015

Meal Delivery Services

A few weeks ago I jumped on the latest trend and signed up for a meal box delivery service!  Yep, I ordered dinner prep kits with veggies and meats that came in a box on my door step.  Sounds a little strange, but it was super helpful for this family of 4.  I was tired of meal planning and let's face it, it was just not happening anymore. When I went to the grocery store on Mondays, I was grabbing whatever looked good off the shelves without any planning.  Turkey spaghetti again mom??

So I researched a few of the delivery options and decided to go with Blue Apron (and FYI, this post was NOT sponsored or paid for by the company, so these opinions are ALL mine ;)

First off, one of the reasons I chose Blue Apron was the price.  You get 3 meals a week for 60$ (including shipping) for 2 people.  Other companies out there are Hello Fresh (70$ for 3 meals a week for 2), and Plated (72$/week for 3 meals).  But they all seemed to offer the same thing: using the freshest ingredients, with 30 minutes or less preparations and easy to follow recipes.

Secondly, I loved how Blue Apron let me CHOOSE which meats I wanted. Because uhm, you could say I am what they call a 'picky eater'.  I don't eat red meat, game, or pork. Yes that means no bacon, hot dogs or hamburgers.  The horror.  Not to get into it, but I have my reasons. Soo, I was super happy to find out I could pick what I wanted.  I ordered the 'Poultry' and 'Seafood' recipe options.

The only drawback to all of these services, was that the service was delivered to my area on Thursdays. Hmm. Because honestly, I don't cook much on the weekends. Most of my cooking is Sunday-Thursdays.  So I worried my fresh produce would start to whither and decay, but they guaranteed it fresh for 6 days.

After signing up online (with a good cancellation policy of 6 days notice), I was so excited when my first box arrived.  It was packaged amazingly well with frozen ice packs and everything was fresh, including the little bags of fresh herbs.  The packaging was really cute with everything labeled.  I threw the chicken and salmon in my freezer since I knew it would be a few days before I made it. And my box came with 3 huge recipe cards with pictures and step by step directions. 

Fast forward to Monday, my first meal.  It was Seared Salmon and Panzanella.  I assembled all of my ingredients and got right to work.

The directions were very easy to follow.  Things like, "cut the stems off your onion and peel it.  Then coarsely chop."  "While the salmon is cooking, chop the zucchini", etc.  Even my husband could follow these directions.  Of course the only complaint I had, is that I wish the veggies came pre-chopped, but I think they wouldn't be as fresh.

After the step by step directions, my meal was ready to serve and I honestly did the whole thing in less than 30 minutes!  The food was really good and tasty and actually we had left overs for the next day.  It fed both of the adults and my 3 and 5 year old ate some as well.  But if you have super eaters, I may go with the family of 4 meal options.

My photos don't compare to the ones online, so click here to see an example of Thai Chicken Burgers and the recipe cards close up and the wonderfully photographed finished product.


Here is my not sponsored or endorsed review of 2 weeks of the meal service...

+Food was tasty and easy to prepare
+The box arrived when expected and packaged well in frozen ice
+Price was great
+Great recipe card, step by step instructions and pictures
+I LOVED by-passing the meat counter at the grocery store and most of the produce section
+LOVED not having to meal plan Sunday night

+Delivery is on a Thursday (wish it was a Monday or Saturday if possible)
+Too much packaging.  It really bugged my husband that there was a lot of waste.  Besides the fresh produce, everything came in baggies, containers and paper goods that you can not recycle.
+None of the food was organic and this was a BIG ONE for me.  Since I've become a mother, I am very into eating as well as we can to live longer and healthier lives.  So for our family that means no antibiotic animal products and hormone free meats/poultry AND we eat the dirty 13 produce.  It was hard for me to eat the tomatoes, zucchini and eggplants that were I'm guessing, full of pesticides.  The organic produce I buy at the store is not that much more in cost either.  I know restaurants don't use organic products but when I cook at home, I want to make sure our meals are healthy.

So unfortunately I cancelled my subscription.  I had a hard time with the Thursday delivery and things not being as fresh 4 days later, and I also could not get past the non-organic products.

I did find an organic meal delivery service that I may try at a later time called Green Chef.  I saw online that they are running a special of 6 meals for only 9$ in shipping if you sign up.  Stay tuned... :)
Thursday, August 6, 2015

Preparing for Kindergarten

My almost kindergartener had a few friends over for a playdate the other day and we were talking about how slloooow our kids take to get ready in the morning.  And how on earth are they going to make it to Kindergarten?  Like asking them 5 times to get dressed, 6 times to go to the bathroom and brushing their teeth in the mornings? Forget it.  We were all wondering what the heck was going to happen when they went off to Kinder next month and they have to be at school at 8am?  The mornings are not going to be pretty, so it made me start thinking about how to ease into our new routine. Sigh..don't get me started on how school is now going to be the norm of the rest of our lives. No more 'we can do whatever you want today' kind of days like we had in preschool.

So after talking to lots of moms, researching and soul searching, I found a few tips to help get us started off to Kindergarten:

1) Sleep

Yep, this is a big one. On one of the school tours I went on last year, the Kinder teachers all said whether your child has been in full time day care or they stay at home, they will be coming home completely exhausted. Like falling asleep at the dinner table at 5:30pm tired.  And if not falling asleep then they will look like an over tired, major meltdown devil zombie creature.  The answer?
  • Put your child to bed early starting 2-3 weeks before school starts. Early like 7-8pm. Yes, it's still light outside, so you can maybe get some blackout shades to help, a calm bath before bed, keep the room cool, read some good yoga kid books (see below), rub some lavender on them, etc.
2) Getting dressed

I know this is a HUGE problem for all kids. I don't know of a single 5 year old child that will go and get dressed by themselves, brush their hair and teeth on the first reminder.  So here are a few tips moms have suggested:
  • Start waking them up early for school 1-2 weeks before school actually starts
  • Lay out their clothes the night before, including socks and shoes, bows, etc
  • Have them practice getting dressed the first week before school as a practice run
  • Don't laugh, but if your child really struggles with getting up and dressed, some moms have their child sleep in their clothes the night before
  • Make a reward chart for getting dressed with 1-2 reminders, etc for the first month
  • Also work more on self care like how to toilet themselves without help, and washing hands
3) Lunch

Packing lunches the night before is a major time saver. If your child does hot lunches then you don't have to worry about this one. But if not, even if you don't think it will take long, it always takes longer so pack everything the night before including drinks/cups.  Believe me, your life will be so much easier getting out that door.

4) ABC, 123's

  • Don't worry if your child can't read yet. I hear more and more moms worried that their child can't spell, write all their letters and add and subtract or read. It's going to be okay. Remember, Kindergarten is like an extension of preschool. Back in the day, it was more like PreK. Preparing you to go into real school like 1st grade. Kindergarten is their last year of fun times doing art, play dough, running around, singing silly songs and being a kid. They have the rest of their lives to be book worms.
  • But if you want to help them get ready to be classroom ready, you can always work on scissor skills, lacing cards and holding a pencil more during the summer. This can help with gross and fine motor skills.  Also help them with words the teacher will use like, 'focus' and 'paying attention.' Ha, with 5 year olds it's kind of impossible to get them to sit still, but they should be able to pay attention for 1 minute per age, so 5 minutes at a time. And the best thing you can do as a parent now is read, read, read to them. This teaches focusing skills, introduction to letters and reading, it's engaging, and teaches them the importance of learning.
5) Routines
  • Kind of along the lines of practicing getting dressed a week before, you can also drive the route of the school or walk your route.  Show them the way they will be going to and from each morning, how carpool will look like, and pick up. Also, you can go up to the building a few days or week before even if it's locked to show them the outside of it, walk around it, show them the playground and get a good feel for how it will be before the big day.

6) After school activities

This one mom said it best: "my quick input on this topic, my approach to starting full time school is to totally clear the schedule of any after school commitments for at least the first semester. They are just exhausted from school. We also let them take a ‘mental health day’ once a term or so."

I personally think picking 1 activity is good this first year.  When I was a child, most kids didn't start doing all these advanced sports and were not prima ballerinas at age 5.  And taking a day off here and there is OK.  Perfect attendance? What's that?

5) Book recommendations: You know me, I love books for kids. It really helps them visual things better. 

Relaxation for bedtime, a great book to help them learn to slow down and breathe. (click on picture for description)

Kindergarten Books: 

Okay, so I feel like there aren't the best intro to Kindergarten books out there. I was at the book store and read through all of them and wasn't too impressed. Most of them tell you things to be scared of so if your child is excited, then I wouldn't buy them because it will cause them to fear things they so far aren't afraid of yet.  But these 2 books below do the best job of explaining what Kindergarten will be like.  
The Night Before Kindergarten (2.99)


Welcome to Kindergarten (6.50$)

I hope this information helps a little. I didn't want to overwhelm you all with tons of tips and suggestions to make it even more stressful.  And hopefully your school will have a Parents and Tears coffee station you can stop by after drop-off that first day, so you can all cry together!
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tonsil Surgery Recovery

Sorry for the looong delay in posting anything recently!  For the past few months I have been DREADING my child getting her tonsils (and adenoids) removed. So much that I was not able to relax at all the beginning of the break and then of course she is going off to Kindergarten this fall so it's been a double stressful summer!

She finally had her tonsils removed on July 16th and it was as much as a crazy time as I was expecting. Thankfully there were not many complications at all that I was fearing, like her scabs ripping off and having to take her to the ER which so many moms warned me about. Whew!  She's improving a lot and I can't wait for more fun times for the rest of our month before school starts (and more fun blog posts too)!

But since this whole tonsillectomy was such a huge part of our summer, I thought a blog post was in order to help other mommas going through something similar.  So the first question I have been getting is:

1) Why a tonsillectomy?

Well, for some kids they have had a ton of infections such as strep throat, tonsillitis and ear infections needing lots of antibiotics. It used to be you had to have so many cases documented before they would remove them, but now I don't think they are as strict. Just ask my sister who had to have hers out in her 30's because she was always 1 case shy of getting them removed each year as a child. Poor thing took her 6 months to recover as an adult.

My child NEVER had strep throat, and actually had never experienced a sore throat.  So when I took her to the first ENT, I was expecting him to tell me she had a deviated septum or some sort of nasal issue causing breathing problems. Nope. He took one look inside her mouth and told me she needed her 'tonsils removed.' Whaatt?? I was shocked and had no idea large tonsils caused snoring. They also recommend removing large tonsils to help prevent future strep throat infections.

Her snoring at night (starting around age 4) was the main reason we had them removed because she tossed and turned all night, would sometimes wake up sweaty and was CRANKY a lot during the day. The doctors all told me these are signs of sleep apnea, even though I never witnessed her stopping breathing, they said she probably was and it was hard for a parent to determine that on their own.

2) Sleep Apnea?

So I took my child to a second ENT, who was actually the one that I wanted her to see first, but he was booked out a month.  He also took one look inside of her mouth and said, "on a scale of 1-4 with 4 being the largest, hers are a 4." Gulp. I was devastated because come on, who wants their child to have major surgery?? Noooo.  I asked about sleep studies and he said he could order one, but they are invasive, kids get scared with all of the contraptions and honestly he knows the answer already, that with her tonsils and symptoms, she in fact has sleep apnea.

Apparently sleep apnea which causes them to wake up at times to catch their breath, can cause the restless sleep, the night terrors, sweating, and in some kids wetting the bed.  Snoring is also a big factor since they don't get good rest at night, which causes cranky kids! In school aged kids, it causes them not to focus during school, being tired and cranky all day, and mimicking signs of ADHD with hyperactivity, etc.

3) But can it just be allergies, or will she grow out of her large tonsils?

I was determined to shrink these suckers! So I took her to an allergist and she was allergy tested only to find she was allergic to nothing. But the Dr. did say her nose looked 'allergic' inside and could be something in the air she's allergic to that they can't test for, so they put her on flonase and cingulair.  I also took her to a chiropractor and did essential oils. And nope, they stayed the same size. I took her to our pediatrician and she said they did look large, and to keep giving her the allergy meds and it may help.

I also took her back to the ENT and brought my husband this time, and the Dr. said they were still large. Disappointed much? Uhm yes. He said they may go down to a 3 out of 4 as they fluctuate a little, but that they will never shrink to a normal size. He said they are built anatomically, meaning it's just how hers are structured and nothing we can do can change the way they are. He said we could wait until she was older to see if she grows out of the snoring or the snoring does not affect her as much, but it's a risk to take because if we wait until she is a teenager, then the surgery is much riskier and takes a lot longer to heal. After having 2 friends who had them removed as an adult all ending up back in the ER post surgery, we thought "no thank you for waiting until teenagehood!"  Plus we didn't want to have her struggle in school.  We also decided it was best to get them removed over the summer before school starts, since it's a long 2 week recovery time.

The Surgery..agghh

I was so fortunate to have our ENT (Dr. Tseng) remove my little girls' tonsils. He's been my ENT the past 10 years (for allergies), he also removed my sister's tonsils and did an excellent job.  He was also a life saver, literally, to a friend who had hers removed by another Dr. and after she hemorrhaged a few days post surgery, our ENT was thankfully working in the ER and saved her life.  He told her that her doctor had done her tonsillectomy the old fashioned way and this ENT was trained on a new technique that would not have caused her to end up in the ER.  He actually does about 80% pediatrics so most of his practice is kids, but also sees some adults.  So we basically trusted him the most with our precious child! Plus the fact that he's been in practice for 15 years and said he treats all of his patients as he would his 2 young daughters and wife. :) And he is the most conservative in opinions, so if he said she needed them out, then I believe him.

I was also so glad to have our ENT request to have our little girl spend the night in the hospital for precautions and to monitor her oxygen levels since she had some snoring issues. And I was more than happy to agree because taking my child home after major surgery and monitoring her over night would have sent me over the edge.

We also WAITED to tell her about it until the night before the operation.  Otherwise it would have caused her extra worry!  She cried when we told her and said she was scared, but the one thing that really helped was reading Good-Bye Tonsils!  Even my husband was impressed with how well the book worked.  I had to redo some of the story (she had lots of infections that caused her surgery), but it really helped calmed her down.

Then it was off to bed and then up early for a 7am check-in.  We had it scheduled at Baylor Frisco which is like the nicest posh hospital I have ever been in. The front desk where you check in was a concierge type kiosk with women wearing dress suits.  Then the lobby was like a hotel lobby. I asked where the waiting room was at first because I was not convinced the wing back chairs, cozy fireplace and free pastry/coffee area was a hospital waiting room!

They also gave us a pager that would ring anytime we were needed, and patient's progress was displayed on a computer monitor by patient number letting you know when pre-op, anesthesia and post op was completed too.

When it was our time for surgery, they led us back to the pre-op area where a cute little bear dressed in scrubs was waiting for our child, with a TV in the corner showing Disney Jr shows and a cute little bear hospital robe. The nurses were great too!  They gave her Versa to drink, which helped her anxiety and she started seeing 2 of everything lol.  The doctor and anesthesiologist came to talk to us and then it was time for them to take our little girl! Apparently the procedure itself was about 10 minutes but they would sedate her first, give her an IV after she fell asleep and then there would be some post-op time so about 45 minutes total.

When they wheeled her away I kept a very strong face, smiled and hugged her!  The more worried you look, the more they will be scared, so it's best to look like everything will be fine (even though you are dying on the inside).

The strongest feeling I had was that I felt I was violating her and taking something away from her. That removing her tonsils was like an invasion of her body :( I just had to remind myself they would continue to make her suffer at night and could lead to future illnesses.  It hurt me that I was forcing her to do something, but realized no one actually wants surgery, and it's for the best.

I kept my mind off of it by going with my other daughter to the gift shop to help her pick out a gift to give her sister. I'd already bought her a Barbie she had wanted a few months ago and hoped it would cheer her up after her surgery.

Then after 40 minutes the Dr. came to us in the waiting room and I swear to god my heart must have stopped beating for a few seconds because I felt out of breath. As soon as he said she was 'okay' I finally got color back in my cheeks :)  He said she did great and he wanted to take us back there immediately to help her recover. I walked or speed walked to the post op room and when I saw her she was on her side coughing up 'stuff' and they were giving her oxygen. She was hardly awake and the nurse told me to crawl right up into her bed and snuggle with her. My shoes flew off and I crawled right in and talked to her and comforted her.  Poor little thing!  She looked so small and fragile in that bed!  I brought her sippy cup and used it to give her some juice and then they wheeled us to her hospital room.

Hospital Stay

After they wheeled us into her new room, we were immediately met by her new nurse Dianna.  She was very child friendly and super friendly with our daughter!  She also told us about what to expect with her recovery, meal services, and the awesome juice/coffee bar down the hall. My little angel slept the next hour as I laid next to her and we ordered lunch. Uhm, it was extra fancy and delicious, not at all what hospital food is normally like (veggie burger and fries).  And dinner that night? I had grilled salmon and my husband had beef tips. Apparently they give post baby mommas a steak and lobster dinner on their last night too.

My little girl finally woke up and bless her little heart, vomited a few times.  She never warned us it was coming, but her pulse monitor would start to go off to 150 beats, and then she would vomit. Luckily we had the bags ready.  They gave her anti-nausea meds as she couldn't even keep water down, and then gave her some morphine. The poor girl didn't like her IV but thankfully was completely patched up and attached by a pink bandage so she wouldn't rip it off (and good for this momma who would not be able to handle looking at it stuck in her arm).

She watched TV for the rest of the day and I stayed right by her side, literally in her bed with her. Her sister came to visit after her nap (thanks to her grandma Coco), gave her hugs and gave her a little stuffed unicorn.  We also were thankful for such sweet family and friends who had flowers and stuffed animals delivered to her room!

As for the night, not going to lie, it wasn't fun.  She fell asleep at 8pm, but then of course our night nurse came in every few hours to check her vitals, give her meds and then at 2am she woke up to use the bathroom. That required a nurse called to unhook her wires.  I slept  on the pull out sofa, and then she woke at 6:30am. Ugh... She was ready to watch cartoons and to eat.  So I ordered her some yogurt and I ate a breakfast burrito.  On a side note here, just forget about working out and dieting the next few weeks as a parent, just saying :)

She was able to keep the yogurt and water down, and then we were discharged around 10am.  And all I have to say is there is no way imaginable that she would have gone home after surgery. I have no idea how this is done on an outpatient basis, but so glad we had nurses to help us through the night and monitor her. And so glad they could continue to give her meds in her IV, because pain meds hurt going down their little swollen throats.

Home Recovery

So this is the part that was not fun.  Well surgery was the worst, but this part I was dreading.

We took her home Friday morning and she stayed on the sofa watching TV for most of the day. We gave her the prescription Hydrocodone/acetaminophen and apparently it tastes awful! We got it flavored at the pharmacy but it still made my little girl cry every time we gave it. And chasers were huge, we'd give her anything, Nutella, ice cream you name it, whatever it took. And she slept with me for the first few nights too to help monitor her recovery.

Saturday night she got a fever at 2am of 101 and they said to call if it got that high. Seriously? Ugh, so I called and they said it was due to dehydration, to give her more fluids (which she hates because it hurts to swallow) and more hydrocodone/tylenol and it finally came down.  But she continued to have about a 100 degree fever the next few days. AND she threw up Sunday a lot because she refused to eat and was taking pain meds. Poor girl! Luckily we had anti-nausea meds to help.  She vomited about once a day the next day or two as well.

We spent the next week at home, staying out of the heat and watched about every good kid movie on Netflix and Amazon, and downloaded a few others. And a must was of course watching the Brady Bunch tonsil episode with Cindy and her mom!  My poor toddler was getting sucked into the TV watching too, but I figured why not? The summer won't last forever and pretty soon we would be back at the parks and outdoor activities.

We had our 1 week follow-up appointment and the Dr. said she looked good, well her throat looked like hell inside, but that's all normal with the scabs and stuff.  She also said we could just give tylenol since the opiate pain meds have alcohol in them and burn their throats more. Nice.  And my poor child has lost 4 lbs but she said that's normal too. And the breath. Have I mentioned the awful breath?? I read about one mom who put it best: "Your child will have the breath of a dog that's dead in Texas in August"! Ha, sounds awful but so true! It's all normal but is so strong you can smell it a mile away (picture sleeping next to her at night).

The week following the surgery was rough, not much sleep for her or for me, taking care of another younger child, the vomiting, and the CRYING episodes, her being really weak, not being able to talk much and pushing fluids and meds was definitely difficult.

We are now 2 weeks post and she has made more progress.  Her voice has changed and is more nasally but they said it's because she is still healing and is talking through her teeth since it still hurts to talk.  They also recommend the second week of less activity so she is going to a little summer indoor dance camp from 9-12pm and then comes straight home to rest.  Still no swimming for another week due to it being such a high intensity activity and the chlorine can really make it sting in her throat.

So we are on the mend, but still have a little bit more of recovery. She still chokes on some soft foods because she has a hard time swallowing, so I have to make sure she chews well.  I am hoping too that her crankiness and crying episodes is just because she isn't sleeping well at all with being in pain at night, and not feeling great. It seems that every time I ask her a question I get tears! Please let this be a short term effect.

But if you mommas are needing a few tips, here are a few from our experiences:

1) Get 2nd opinions from ENT's. Or 3rd opinions :)

2) Push for an overnight hospital stay. Remember that a tonsillectomy is considered major surgery!

3) Read Good-Bye Tonsils!

4) Get a special present before the surgery so when they wake up, they can have a special toy to play with!

5) During your hospital stay, push juice and fluids, but try not to give water as it can cause them to vomit more.  Also ask for the anti-nausea meds if they don't feel well, so it can avoid extra vomiting.

6) Arrange for childcare for your other littles. This means of course during your stay in the hospital but also after when you are at home.  You have to give your sick child constant attention and running to the bathroom when they get sick is hard when you are also taking care of a smaller child who doesn't quite understand.

7) Stock up on fudgesicles, popsicles, vanilla ice cream (and chocolate/ strawberry) but watch out for extras in ice cream since nuts and chunks are not allowed post surgery.  Buy Pedialyte popsicles to help with dehydration too. Also, buy lots of juices that you will probably use as chasers too. Just be careful with citrus based juices as they can burn their throats more.  Buy yogurt cups, pudding cups, jello, soups, mashed potatoes, soft macaroni and cheese, bananas, and stuff to make smoothies.  They will be eating this food for at least 2-3 weeks.  My child has basically been on a sugar diet from the first day. When she feels better she will be detoxing off all the sugar she's had, but it's better to get her to eat whatever she can.

8)  Stay on top of the pain meds! As much as they don't like them, we were giving them every 4 hours as prescribed. Because once it wears off, they cry and then won't be able to eat. The best schedule is to feed them a bite of food, then give the pain meds, then wait 30 minutes and then feed them a meal. That way their throats won't hurt as bad once the pain medication kicks in, but they need a little bit of food in their tummies so the meds don't make them nauseous.  I was also waking her up to take them in the middle of the night. I found if we went over 6 hours without them, she would wake up screaming in pain :(

9)  Have them fill up on fluids as much as you can! It is the main reason our child had a fever, so fill them up before bedtime too so the fever doesn't spike in the middle of the night.

10) Give them chloraseptic if they can tolerate it. Mine adamantly refused to open her mouth for it- if she only knew the relief it could give!  And the bad breath, be prepared.  Some adults describe the pain as like swallowing a box of tacks!  Hopefully it's not that bad for young kids :(

11) Prepare to take time off of work if you are a working parent. I doubt that a school or daycare would stay on top of the pain meds that are needed, plus there is no way I would be able to send my child to school or daycare until MAYBE today, day 14.  She has just been too lethargic and cranky to go anywhere.  This is why summer is the best time to get it done, or over the holidays. But be prepared as some doctors take time off around Christmas, so they may not be available to do surgery.

12) Stock up on lots of DVD's and movies!

And I have to thank all of my family and friends that delivered or stopped by with get well gifts, meals and extra hugs for my little girl.  I didn't have my first surgery until last year! So watching your barely 5 year old go through this was the hardest thing, but so glad for all the support!

Friday, June 26, 2015

30 Second Burst of Attention

I remember when my mom would talk on the phone as a kid, and I would keep bothering her, asking her questions, and talking to her like she wasn't on the phone at all.  Because as kids we are all that matters right? We need and deserve all the attention and can't understand how on earth our parents have a life without us.

Ha, I remember her saying to me, as she cupped the phone with her hand so the other person couldn't hear, "I'm on the phone! Go and play!" But I would keep talking to her because obviously the other person on the line just didn't exist.  My poor mom.  Now I can totally relate. It is impossible to make a phone call. Thank goodness for a quick text.  But trying to make a real phone cal, or talk to another grown up next to you, can really only happen when my kids are asleep or during 'rest' time.

As I was complaining to one of my play therapist friends about it, she reminded me of the:

"30 Second Burst of Attention"

It's where you notice your child acting out for attention, so you stop what you are doing, give them 30 seconds of undivided attention, and then go back to what you were doing.  The theory is that your child gets louder and more disruptive when they notice you not paying attention to them.  So by giving them a short burst of attention, they will be satisfied and can go back to playing peacefully. well for maybe 1 minute at least.

Now that I am a parent I've realized more than ever that Kids need LOTS of attention.

I was skeptical of this 'burst of attention' technique when she reminded me of it again. It sounded great in grad school when I wasn't a parent yet, but now? It seems it would teach your child that it's okay to be disruptive, get your parents to drop everything, give kids the attention they want at any time, and then go on playing.

I am more along the lines of teaching children patience, and that sometimes we have to learn to wait for things.  Play therapy is completely different in that as a therapist we give the child 45-50 minutes of full, undivided attention.  But real life is not a therapy session.  So I try to balance the child-directed approach as a regular parent with my child.

So I decided to give the attention burst my own twist.  I have learned to warn my kids before I have to make an important phone call. Sometimes that means turning on their favorite TV show :)  But

Monday, June 1, 2015

City Select Deal!

I rarely post deals on goods for kids but this one was too good to not tell you about! As you know, I test drove A LOT of double strollers when I was pregnant with my second.  The Baby Jogger City Select was my first choice as it holds up well, is durable, but still large and super sturdy.  It's like an all terrain stroller that is a few steps shy of a Bob jogger.  I love how you can change up the seats to like 16 positions and can use as a single stroller if you just have 1 kid with you.  And you can fit through cars, shopping aisles, etc much easier than a side by side stroller.

Right now on Stroller Depot it is going for 489$!!  It normally is close to 800$ with both seats!  Click here for the deal, it probably will sell out soon!

I also bought the glider board for my older child to ride on when we are at places where she can hop on and off.  For those with more than 2 kids, this is also the perfect option!

To see my past full review for the stroller, click here.  Happy shopping!
Thursday, May 28, 2015

Picky Eaters!

My just turned 3 year old has to be THE pickiest eater on the planet.  It was so bad that back in February I booked an appointment (with our Dr.'s referral) at our local children's specialist center and could not get in until May 29th!  I was desperate and was having a hard time waiting and felt May would never come.  That is until they called to give me a quote of 1k$ for the cost of the initial evaluation. And yes, we do have insurance. Sigh.  That's when I threw my arms up and booked another appointment with my pediatrician.

See, my toddler has not eaten a single vegetable since her pureed baby foods at 6 months of age.  It's been oh, 1.5 years!  And fruit is about the same. She hates bananas, strawberries, blueberries, etc. She also won't get near any kid-friendly food like chicken nuggets, pizza, or french fries. And yes I have tried putting them on her plate like 20 times without pushing it.  I even would pull the, "you can just touch it and see how it feels, you don't have to put it in your mouth." But no. I couldn't even get her to play basketball with blueberries in a cup.  The girl would.not.touch.them.

So her eating life has consisted of cheese, yogurt pouches, Annie's bunnies and peanut butter on a spoon. Oh, and she loves Cliff Kid Oatmeal granola bars.

Our doctor said she obviously likes different textures so it's not a sensory issue.  She is gaining weight so there wasn't any worry there thank goodness.  She basically told me I needed to read a book by Ellyn Satter called How to Get Your Kid to Eat: But Not Too Much. She said, "read it, just read it. And then give me feedback. I want to know if it works."

I was like, no way will this work.  Mealtime had become something I dreaded. I never had to go through this with my now 5 year old. She doesn't always eat her veggies, but she tries them and can spit them out if she doesn't like them.  She also eats chicken, fish, hummus, avocado, fruits, etc.

But man, the constant making several meals for members of my family was becoming a beating!  I remember babysitting for a family of a 6 year old and the father telling me he didn't want his kid to run mealtime, that it's so easy for his kid to turn meals into a restaurant and making 3 meals for his family. Boy was he right!  That had become my life. I make meals for the grown ups, serve some of it to my 2 girls, but also make extra things I know they will eat.  And articles I had read in parenting magazines and books said if I didn't fix this now, I would have a 7 year old that only ate pizza, 3 meals a day!  Now I know some kids do have sensory issues or on a spectrum do eat the same thing for consistency.  They don't like change and new foods are hard for them.  For those, an eating specialist is definitely needed.

But my girl unfortunately was just being a stubborn red head.

So, I am in the beginnings of the Satter book but so far it has really started to help.  She basically tells you that parents decide WHEN to eat, WHAT to serve and WHERE to serve it, and the child decides WHETHER to eat or HOW MUCH to eat.

Here's how it works:

1) You put food on their plate that you know they will eat, and then also put things on their plate that are new (things you are serving yourself).

2) You don't talk about the food, no pressuring to eat, no "just taste it", no "just one have more bite"

3) Dessert is not tied to the if or how much they eat battle, so no baiting or bribing with dessert.  Satter advises to serve dessert with dinner (try not to have at every meal though).

4) Meals need to be family meals as much as possible, so kids see their parents eating and enjoying their food too

5) AND the magic words if they put up a fight and say "yuck, I don't like it!":


Yep, those 5 little words are all you have to say.  Period.  No fighting, arguing, bribing.

This philosophy puts kids in control, because we all know you can't control what your child eats (hello, just like the potty training issues where we can't make them go :) Power and control are huge with kids, so this approach lets the child decide what to eat off their plate and how much.  And they can have seconds if there is enough left.  They listen to their own internal hunger cues and food is not a reward or punishment.

So far it has worked great. I made eggs, bacon, fruit and toast for breakfast (which I figured she would only eat the peanut butter I put on the toast), but she ate everything on her plate minus the blueberries.  I just put my plate, her sister's and mine on the table, and started to eat. Didn't mention a thing about what was on her plate and she ate it. I mean, ate the bacon too!!  I didn't reward her and get all excited and make a big deal at all.  When she was done, I told her she could take her plate to the sink.  Wow!  I wish I had tried this all sooner.

I am so glad my child is not going to turn into a granola bar anymore, since that was all she was consuming.  I know it will go in baby steps and there are time she eats just 1 bite on her plate.  I'll report back in a few weeks after I finish the book and to let you know how she is doing.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dallas Summer Kid Activities

Summer is almost here!  That means no school, ice cream and snow cones, summer camps, and finding ways to pass the lazy days of summer.  Now that my kids are a little older, I have come across a pretty good list of places to help beat the heat in Dallas too.  

Outside Fun
  • Ridgewood Recreation Center remodeled their splash park last summer and it's lots of fun for kids to run around without the hassle of a pool!  There is also a playground next to it for fun before or after swim:

  • Arboretum picnics in the morning (before it gets too hot)

  • Top Golf  for putt-putt

  • Playgrounds that have padded surfaces with some shade are Scottish Rite Hospital's playground and Coffee Park at Hillcrest and Northwest Highway.  We had our daughter's 2nd birthday party at Scottish Rite awhile back and loved it!

  • Klyde Warren park downtown also has a lot to offer, including splash areas for kids to run around, food trucks and a park. If you are feeling adventurous, you can try to take the Trolleydown there too. 

  • Cry baby movies at the Angelika recommended for babies under 6 months on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 1:30pm. 
  • Alamo Drafthouse also has summer movies for kids in the mornings. This summer they will have Mary Poppins, Despicable Me, Night at the Museum, etc. Check out their site for more details here.
  • Studio Movie Grill has Summer Kid Movies Mon-Friday at 11am for 1$ kids and 2$ adults, check the schedule here.
Indoor Playgrounds
  • Pump-it-Up on Forest Lane has open gym play Monday-Fridays from 10-11:30am and from 12-1:30pm.  7$ first child, 5$ additional child.  You can now reserve a spot online! Check out their Online Registration here.
  • JumpStreet indoor trampoline park has open jump from 10am-9pm Monday-Sunday and is 4$ if under 4 and 8$ from ages 4-7.
  • The Perot Museum has an area on the lower level for children under age 5 to play and run around in, with water play, climbing structures and art activities.  Just beware the museum and parking gets crowded in the summer with kids out of school!
  • Walnut Hill Rec Center on Walnut Hill and Midway Rd. has open play/gym for children through age 4, Monday through Fridays from 10:30-11:45am for 5$. Express Cheer Open Gym
  • CooCoos.  Ok, so technically this place is in Plano and I haven't been yet, but CooCoos is a huge indoor bounce house type place. 8$ for children 4 and older and 5$ for 3 and under, open daily from 10-6pm. 6505 W Park Blvd.
  • Lake Highlands Rec Center now also has a great indoor playground for our littles from ages 0-5. It's 3$ for open play, Wildcat Fun Zone operates weekdays from 9-10:30am, 11-12:30pm, 3-4:30pm, and 5-6:30pm.

  • Indoor Playgrounds at Galleria Mall and Willowbend Mall.  I prefer going to the Galleria one in the mornings when it's not as hot (it's on the top floor) and not as crowded :)

  • The Treefort at Watermark Church has a great indoor play area. Check out the daily schedule of open hours here (scroll down).

  • We also love going to the Fair Park Aquarium. It's small so it's not too crowded, parking is free and kids of all ages love it! Plus it's air conditioned :) 8$ for adults and 6$ for kids 3+

Libraries and Storytimes
  • Reunion Tower has storytimes on Wednesdays this summer from 11am-11:30am on the GeoDeck! There are crafts and storytime. Discounted admission, 8$ for kids 4-12 and adults 14$. Details here.
  • Barnes and Noble at Lincoln Park also has storytime on Tuesdays at 10:30am
  • Northpark Bookmarks Baby Bounce and Tickles for Toddlers. Check out their calendar for weekly times: 
  • Tuesdays at Whole Foods Park Ln has storytime and crafting at 10am! We love going here for the free snacks too!
  • Pottery Barn Kids off Knox also has a Tuesday storytime at 11am
  • Storytimes at Lochwood Library on Fridays at 10:30m or Skillman Library at 10:30am on Thursdays.  Also Highland Park Library has them daily at 10am, click on link here.  The Preston-Royal location also has a different activity each Tuesday at 10:30am from music classes, to storytimes.
  • For fun weekend storytimes, visit the Half Price Bookstore on Sundays at 3pm for children under age 10.
  • Richardson Public Library I've heard has the best area for kids with an aquarium, lots of stocked kids books and a train table. Check out their schedule for storytimes though as you have to register beforehand here.
    • Best indoor restaurant playground is at the Chick-Fil-A at Southwestern and Central Expy, and Hillcrest Ave because it's not as crowded!
    • Bake and Play at Mockingbird and Abrams is a great indoor play area for kids.  Complete with dress-up clothes for girls and boys, playscapes, train tables, doll houses and food to feed your youngster!  It's 8$ per child, but if you buy a 10 pass punch card, it's 5$ a child. Don't forget socks for you and your kids!

    • Monster Yogurt in Casa Linda is also a great way to cool off the summer with a froyo AND an indoor playground!  Check out their site here.

    • Sno snowcones!  The best way to beat the heat, just wish it had indoor playground. But they have the best all natural flavors made in house! Meadow and I-75.

    Hope this list helps fill up your Summer fun! If there are any other places I've forgotten, post in the comments below. Happy Summer!