HOOT For Kids

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This Box arrived to me at the perfect time. I had just gotten sick with mastitis, followed by a sinus infection and was trying to rest as best I could with a newborn and toddler (plus it was raining outside). I was feeling guilty about all the hours of screen-time we were racking up and needed an easy way to distract the toddler.

Enter HOOT Box.

What is HOOT Box?

HOOT stands for “Hands-on Occupational Therapy.” This is a subscription service that sends you a box of toys (just once, every 3 months, or every month – you choose) curated by an occupational therapist. Boxes are ideal for newborn to 6 years old. In our HOOT Box we received 3 toys – animal puzzle blocks, a zebra on wheels, and a Green Toys Submarine. Our box came with a list of suggested activities that could be done with each toy and identified what skills each toy would hone.

The box brought so much excitement to our day! Here’s what I loved about it:

  • An Aid for Parents – Sure, it should be pretty easy for parents to figure out how to play with kids toys, but with a list of suggestions from an actual occupational therapist, I felt better equipped to help my child with actual skills. Plus, I admittedly lack a lot of creativity when it comes to my child’s toys. This helps me with my own skills in that department.
  • Break up the Monotony – Again, I was lucky enough to get this at a time where I really couldn’t do much with myself and I needed help engaging my child. But I think this is the perfect thing to order sometime during the summer (or, for military families, maybe during deployment??) as a way of breaking up the monotony of your daily routine. I like the idea of holding onto the package and saving it for a (literal or figurative) rainy day.
  • Watching Your Kid Discover – I really enjoyed just watching my son pull out each toy and start playing with them his own. This was probably the first time he’s said the word “submarine.” I’m not sure he even really knew exactly what a submarine was before. Then I watched him slide the zebra along the submarine. It didn’t take long for him to exclaim, “I wuv my zebra! I wuv my submawine!” It was such a joy to experience something new alongside him.
  • Home Convenience – I’m going to write another post later about my newfound love for subscription services, but trying to go through and leave a toy store or toy aisle can be maddening with a toddler who wants to touch every toy and who ends up sneakily adding random thing to your shopping cart. Getting a HOOT Box means leaving all the extra toys and meltdowns over toys behind.
  • Gift Idea – for the grandparents or friends who ask constantly what your kid wants or who don’t know what would make an age appropriate gift, tell them to gift a HOOT Box!

Disclaimer: I received free samples of this product for my honest review on this blog

 

Preventing and dealing with common heat conditions that occur with children

I was giving my daughter a bath last night and noticed the farmer’s tan developing on her arms and immediately felt bad for not being more careful with her in the sun. Luckily she has olive skin like her father instead of my pale, ginger skin that burns on rainy days. Either way, I don’t want to keep her indoors while the weather is heating up so next time I will just have to be more prepared.

Here are some tips from Babytime! for preventing and coping with common heat conditions your child could suffer from:

The weather is warming up and it is only going to get hotter as spring turns into summer. Taking children, especially babies, outside to enjoy the sunshine and beautiful weather can be an enriching experience, but can have painful and itchy consequences if the proper steps are not taken to prevent heat rash, sun burn and other heat related conditions. Below are some simple tips to enjoy the sun without putting your child, and even yourself, at risk.

Continue reading

Keep Kids Busy Learning Lifesaving Skills

Once upon a time, before I had children I was really into martial arts. My husband and I were members of a Burmese kickboxing gym in Maryland for a while and we both even fought in a few amateur fights. Trust me, it was nothing impressive, but it definitely gave me more confidence in myself and my ability to defend myself if I ever needed to. When we moved to Virginia, I decided to try out Krav Maga with a friend. It was probably the most physical martial arts I have ever done. When they say “fitness with fight” they really mean it. I was in such great shape because of it.

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This was my Facebook post after one of the Krav Maga workouts Ashley and I did!

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Dear Village

Dear Village,

I heard you outside when you mowed my lawn for me this week. That’s twice now since my husband left and has had to spend this month away from us while I was left to care for our toddler and newborn. Maybe you haven’t heard a lot from me lately. I’m, at times, a bit discombobulated trying to adjust to our new normal. I’m not quite sure how to thank you for all that you’ve done for me…

You’ve helped me corral my half naked son running in the street and even let him play in your houses in all that naked glory. You even reassure me about my potty-training failures (hence, all the nakedness).

You probably didn’t realize that when I moved across the country in my third trimester, I had already accepted the fact that our second kid wouldn’t be getting the celebration and preparation that our first did and was I feeling a bit guilty for it. So, the insistence on throwing Baby No. 2 a shower not once, but twice, really touched me more than you know! Seeing so much selflessness for someone you had just met is indescribable.

I also arrived here wondering how my labor might play out and what I would have to do to find care for our first-son. I appreciated your initial offer to watch him when the time came, but was really blown away when, without batting and eye, you took him for an indefinite amount of time.

When we came home from the hospital we were welcomed with decorations and then meals for our family everyday until extended family arrived.

Family, you too are part of our Village. I loved having you all visit from hundreds of miles away to share time with time with these little boys in our new town, but to also help me cook, clean and to distract a busy fun-loving toddler. Having an extra pair of hands (or 2 or 3) turned out to be a necessity, especially as I tried to learn to soothe a fussy, gassy baby. This has been a very different experience compared to the first-time around.

There are so many more things I’m forgetting to address specifically, but every gesture, gift, text, call, or note has meant the world to us. When they say “it takes a village,” now, more than ever, I have felt exactly what it means to have that reliable support system surround us in every possible way. You are our neighbors, family, friends new and old, near and far.  Although it will never be enough, I thank you from the very bottom of my heart. Thank you thank you thank you!

*End Sappy Post*

Oh Yeah, I Remember This… (Labor and Post-partum Thoughts the Second-time Around) 

It’s funny how the second kid kind of becomes an afterthought. Okay, wait, that sounds kinda cruel. Seriously though, I remember being so precious about every little thing with my first pregnancy – I dared not lift a heavy thing, eat or drink a drop of forbidden poison like caffeine and I began studying up for a healthy, efficient labor. When the second kid was on his way, I was still too busy with my first to even remember I was pregnant at times.

Preparation this second time around really only included figuring out how to juggle the toddler whenever the second one decided to come. When he was finally on his way, a few things happened differently, a few things had become second nature, and a few things were of the oh-god-no-wonder-I-blocked-this-feeling-from-memory variety.

Here are a few that fit into the latter category: Continue reading

Toddler Meal Prep: Ain’t nobody got time for that!

When we first started introducing solid foods to my daughter she was such a great eater. We basically could feed her anything and she’d gobble it down. Nowadays she goes through stages: one week she only eats the veggies on her plate, the next week she only eats the meat, and at no point will she ever eat a potato in any of its delicious forms. (This is how I know she is not my child and was probably switched at birth. I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like.)

In Claire’s last blog, You’re gonna jinx it…, she mentions the likely scenario of what happens the second you start to brag about how your child is such a good eater; they turn the tables on you and refuse to eat anything except Cheerios found in their car seat and string cheese.  This is slowly happening more and more everyday so I went to Pinterest for some “toddler meal” inspiration. What I found was horrifying. 

Take a look at this BS:

Who in their right mind has time to do all of this? And my real question is, does it actually work? Do kids see food shaped like an animal and magically decide to eat it instead of throwing it on the floor?

In our house, everyone is awake no later than 6AM and we usually eat breakfast right away. Breakfast is never an issue, it is my husband’s and daughter’s favorite meal of the day. If I were to try to get more creative with toddler meals for the rest of the day I’d have to start preparing lunch as soon as breakfast were over and I’m sorry to say, I do not have time for that. I barely find time to shower and brush my own teeth between breakfast clean up, reading 1,000 stories to my daughter, and playing outside. By the time 11AM roles around I’m scrambling to put together something semi-healthy for us both for lunch.

One day I tried making Onigiri (rice balls) because she loves them and eats them every day at daycare, but I was taking too long and my daughter had a meltdown so I just ended up handing her a plate of clumpy rice. She thought it was just as good as the rice balls so I’m now convinced that fancy schmancy food preparation is completely unnecessary when it comes to toddlers. They will eat what they want and throw the rest on the floor. 

My attempt at toddler meals. At least I have cute plates!

Come on Pinterest! Give us real Moms a break! http://lmld.org/2016/02/20/food-art-ideas/

 

I mean seriously, I’m impressed with your mom skills, but this is just over the top! 

What does your toddler like to eat? It’s ok if you are the type of mom that makes animals out of the food! Tell me it really works and I’ll give it a try!

Month of the Military Child 

For both Claire and I, being military spouses was not something we had ever dreamed about. We are, of course, happy in our roles, but we could take it or leave it. We have given up a lot for this life: careers, being near family, friends, being able to plant roots, etc. We knew there would be sacrifices and we agreed to them from the very beginning because we love and support our husbands. Our kids, however, did not get a vote.

April is the Month of the Military Child and we honor military children for their sacrifice in supporting their families and country. There are more than 1 million military children across the Department of Defense. Military children are remarkable examples of resilience, strength and flexibility. Like I said before, they did not get a say in whether they wanted this life or not, but they pack up their books and clothes and say goodbye to friends every couple of years anyways. Continue reading

Husband Appreciation Day – April 15

April 15th is National Husband Appreciation Day! You read that right! What are you doing to show your husband you appreciate him? Maybe cook him a nice dinner? Clean his house? Wash his clothes? Care for his children? Oh wait! You do that everyday? That’s exactly what I thought when I saw this, in fact, I thought it was an April Fool’s joke. What is this bullshit day and who thought it was necessary? I’m not even sure it is real because even Wikipedia didn’t have any info on it (and duh, they are all knowing).

Here are 3 reasons why we love our husbands on this day, as listed on http://www.nationaltoday.com (the website that created this dumb day):

1. He is our best friend for life – um ok, Claire is also my best friend, but you don’t see us married 

2. Travel partner – this is debatable, my husband is worse than a toddler during airport security. He always seems confused about what needs to come out of his pockets and bags. 

3. They take out the trash and other gross chores – well this just isn’t true! I can maybe get him to take out the trash once a month and now that we live in Japan where we have 4 separate trash cans for things he has completely stopped throwing stuff away because it is too confusing for him!

So yeah, these would not be my 3 reasons for appreciating him! 

FULL RANKING OF WHAT WOMEN APPRECIATE MOST ABOUT THEIR HUSBANDS

#1: My husband is a hard worker (69%)

#2: I can be myself around my husband (62%) 

#3: My husband makes me laugh (61%)

#4: My husband is smart (56%)

#5: My husband is supportive of my goals and desires (52%)

#6: My husband is a great parent (52%)

#7: My husband is sexy (43%)

#8: My husband does the dishes (33%)

#9: My husband is good with money (31%)

#10: My husband buys me things (29%)

Don’t get me wrong, these are all great reasons to appreciate him, but I still don’t see a reason to have a whole day dedicated to it. I mean, does he not realize I appreciate him when I get up at 5 AM with him to make his breakfast and pack his lunch? Or when I’m waiting up for him when he gets home from work and have a nice dinner ready?

When is wife appreciation day? Now that’s a day I can get behind!

You’re Gonna Jinx It…

“My baby has always…” is a phrase that often pops up in mom groups and is one that makes me toss my head back in maniacal laughter (okay, not quite so dramatic…maybe I just smirk). Because to assume a certain behavior from your baby/ toddler will last forever makes you woefully unprepared for the curve balls they will inevitably throw you.  I think the most common example I come across is, “My baby has always been a good sleeper…” usually followed by some new inconvenient night-waking problem. Well, I’ve said this before, but a sleeping baby gives a mom a dangerous dose of hubris. 

Usually my urge is to welcome these moms to the real world and tell them to treat themselves to a well-deserved coffee-run; This too shall pass. But by the time I get there, a dozen or so moms have already tossed in their $0.02. Some even comment about what has always worked for their 6-month-old 🤣. Somehow, saying that your baby “always” does “x” is most egregious when it comes in the form of advice.

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So, what else are perfect lil babies always doing? Let’s explore: Continue reading

A Poem from my Husband

Have you ever just needed a compliment? Specifically from your spouse or loved one?

I like to think that I do not need to be complimented. I feel confident in everything that I do and rarely need to be reassured. If you know my husband, then you know he is not one to compliment anyone or anything very easily unless it is his beloved cat. When he does feel that a compliment is warranted (which is extremely rare), the receiver should accept it with a grain of salt. For instance, many years ago when we were dating and I was training for an ultramarathon he exclaimed one day that my thighs looked like those of a tyrannosaurus rex!! In his mind, he thought this was the nicest thing he could have ever said to me. I was mortified. This guy that I love thinks I look like a dinosaur!! WTF? No one has ever mistaken a dinosaur for being beautiful. I think I may have even cried at the time until he explained that he thought my legs were strong and muscular and that it was meant as the ultimate compliment. Continue reading