(Video) Teaching Toddlers How to Swim

My daughter has gotten to the point where she loves the water; it took several days of taking her to the pool and getting her wet before she would actually jump in, but, now, she’s a pro!  Does anyone have any ideas on how to actually teach her how to swim, beyond having her take lessons?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rMeGnP3fFg

 

Dealing with a Failure to Thrive Diagnosis

Joanna's son during the sweat test for Cystic Fibrosis, notice the binky. We still haven't been able to break the addiction.

My son has always been small. He was born weighing 6 lb, 2 oz and was 20 inches long. In the back of my head, I attributed his small weight to the fact his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck four times. After all, I was almost a 9 pounder as a newborn so I figured my child would be the same

He never “caught up” on weight and was always in the lower percentiles for weight, usually hovering around the 10th percentile but after he weaned from breastfeeding at 12 months old he dropped down to the 7th, then the 5th and eventually less than the 1st percentile where he currently resides.

My pediatrician is wonderful and not an alarmist by any means, but at his 15 month appointment I expressed concern for my son’s lack of appetite and growth. She referred me to  the local children’s hospital to meet with a Gastroenterologist to rule out any underlying health conditions.  The doctor we met with was wonderful and tested him for various diseases, such as Cystic Fibrosis and Celiac Disease. Fortunately, his blood work  for celiac and sweat test for cystic fibrosis all came back negative.

She then referred us to the “Feeding Team” to work on getting him to eat better. The Feeding Team was an amazing team comprised of over 6 doctors, therapists and residents. They observed my son eat a meal and talked with us for almost 2 hours. It was helpful for them to see his lack of interest in food and offer their suggestions on how to get him to gain weight. After our appointment with the Feeding Team we have kept up with regular appointments with the Occupational Therapist and she has helped him gain some upper body strength and learn how to chew his food better.

It’s been a journey over the past few months and I know we have made some progress, but that doesn’t make accepting a failure to thrive diagnosis any easier. It stings every time someone at the grocery store asks if he is 10 months old or whenever anyone comments on how tiny or small he is. My son is now 19 months old and only weighs 20.4 pounds and is 31 inches tall. He has hit every developmental milestone on time or early;  however,  he is a peanut. Being small doesn’t make him any less of an amazing toddler so it hurts me as a Mom when people make such a big deal about his size. To be perfectly honest, when he was first “FTT,” it felt like I was a failure as a Mom.

As a Mom (or Dad) have you had to deal with a tough diagnosis? How do you manage?

*You can follow our journey through the Failure to Thrive diagnosis here.

 

Touring New England With a Toddler

Mystic PizzaI don’t know about you, but I feel like the cost of everything lately is outrageously expensive.  Plane tickets? Forget it. Gas? It costs almost 100 bucks to fill up my Tahoe (which is, in part, is why we’ve become a one car family, at least for the time being). Date night (what’s that?) At least 100 dollars a pop. That’s why I was thrilled to find out Mystic Country, CT had so much to offer the entire family…and it’s just a short 45 minutes from our home in Rhode Island.  You could truly have a week’s staycation in the area and not run out of fun things to do.  Unfortunately, as I indicated here, we were in the process of moving, so I guess you can’t really call what we did a staycation.  We had been to Mystic once before, pre-baby, and I’m so glad we went back with Paige this time around,  before leaving New England.  However, because of our time constraints, and some meetings I had in Washington DC, we could only stay for a night.

On our way into town, we stopped in charming Mystic, CT and picked up a pizza to go at the famous Mystic Pizza. It’s a lovely spot, surrounded by quaint shops and friendly people.  We drove about another 10 minutes into Waterford, Ct, where our hotel was located.  On the agenda for our trip was The Dinosaur Place & Ocean Beach Park.   SpringHill Suites by Mariott was conveniently located near both, and was a great place for us to stay.  Bonus that the hotel had free wi-fi, a hearty breakfast, two plasma TVs AND an indoor pool and gym. They were kind enough to give us an early check in, so we could unload and head out to Ocean Beach Park.Fountain

 

Father & Daughter on beach

The first thing I noticed when we arrived at Ocean Beach Park, was the white sandy beach.  Beautiful!  That, coupled with the long, winding boardwalk reminded me of the vacations I used to take to Florida as a kid. My daughter loved running up and down the boardwalk and squishing her toes in the sand.  Next, she made a beeline for the spray park.  We spent two hours getting soaked before heading to the snack bar.

baby at pool

 

There’s also nightly entertainment at the park, shops, a massive waterslide, olympic sized pool, and so much more!  It was roasting hot on this particular day and we were exhausted, so we headed back to the hotel early, grabbed our leftover pizza and salad out of our hotel fridge and called it a night!

The next morning, we had a hot breakfast (included in hotel stay) in the lobby, then headed for the dinosaur place.  I’ve gotta say dino place FAR EXCEEDED my expectations.  In my opinion, the prices are reasonable, especially considering you could literally spend all day here.  I think any child under 14 would enjoy this, with the ideal age probably being 3-10 year olds.  My daughter (17 mos.)  had an absolute blast and she’s not yet two.

Dino

Dino PlaceOutside, kids can explore prehistoric nature trails and encounter life-sized dinosaurs, navigate their way through a huge maze, or have some fun in New England’s largest Splashpad. Dino Place SplashpadBaby at Splashpad Inside, they can take part in a fossil dig, select a geode and be the first to see the inside of something millions of years old, or pan for gold in an indoor stream.  There’s also a large toy shop, bead shop, jewelry shop & mineral & fossil shop!

We were so sad we had to leave and couldn’t spend the entire day there (which you could easily do), but we are doing a huge road trip and we didn’t want to leave all our belongings in the hitch basket attached to our car.  The hotel was already kind enough to extend our checkout; I knew it had a busy week and I wanted to give the cleaning crew ample time to get the room situated for the next guests.

If you live in New England, and you are itching to get away, but want to stay close to home, you should definitely check out all that Mystic Country has to offer.

 

Disclosure: In order to facilitate this review, portions of my trip were comped.

VIDEO Diary Day 4 (Relaxing DC Style)

Today was a wonderful day.  Relaxing…and just what the doctor ordered!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZONGXOMwbQ8

VIDEO Diary Day 3: My Baby Locked Herself in the Running Car!

DRAMA.  What would a road trip be without a screaming toddler locking herself in your running car?  That’s right, I get the mom of the year award for this one.  As if tensions weren’t already at an all time high, this pretty much sealed it and truly made for a lovely NINE hour car ride to DC. ; )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVCaKhBvSg8

VIDEO Diary Day 2: Road Trip With a Toddler (Doing Dino Place)

What a day!  Way longer than we had anticipated–thanks to hitting traffic in New York, way more complicated–thanks to my curious toddler (just WAIT until tomorrow’s vlog where I explain why we had to call police), and way more stressful–thanks to the massive amounts of stuff we brought!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4Y5cSsEKtM

 

 

Video Diary Day 1 (Leaving Rhode Island)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZS6Oo8SZ30

How being a parent has made me eat my own words

Total "Binkieholic"

Before I had my son, I swore that my child wouldn’t eat McDonalds or chicken nuggets. The child would eat whatever my husband and I would eat. Picky eaters wouldn’t exist in my house.

Before I was a Mom, I would never have a “crusty” kid at the mall or in public.

Before my son was born, I would never allow a toddler to have a binky.

Now that I’m a parent of an 18 month old, I  know to never say never. ESPECIALLY about parenting.

Little did I know, I would be blessed with a wonderful, smart little boy who does not eat. I’ve written many posts before about how my son was diagnosed “failure to thrive” and we’ve been going to Hasbro Children’s Hospital to figure out ways to get him to have an appetite and just eat. If my son would eat McDonald’s, I would be at that drive thru buying a Happy Meal every meal. When you have a child who has no appetite, you’d be willing to feed him whatever it takes at every meal to get him the required nutrition to grow and thrive.

Until I had a toddler, I had no idea how hard it is to keep him “crust-free.” The crust just happens. Sometimes it is not worth the battle to get the crusted on boogies off his nose during cold season. So please don’t judge me when I run into the market with a crusty-nosed kid to grab some dinner. I have to pick my battles as a toddler Mom.

I’ve also written about our battle with the binky before. The battle is still going on in our house. It seems that every time we are ready for the 3-4 days of torture, something happens: sickness, family emergency, you name it. I know, those are just excuses. We are not ready to give up the binky in our house. It’s a crutch for us all and when I have the crusty nosed toddler on a shopping trip, it is simply much more enjoyable if he has the binky with him. Honestly, I don’t know when the time is going to be right. We will be moving twice in the next 4 months, then we have a baby coming in October. At this point it seems like my dear son will be going to college with a binky. Oh well.

In my short 18 months of parenthood, I’ve learned many things. The most important is to never say never. I’ve also learned to not judge other people’s parenting, because who knows what they are going through and why that 5 year old has a binky in his mouth at the store. After all, that could easily be my crusty kid with a binky in his mouth in no time. People do what they need to do and I believe the majority of parents try to be the best parents they can be.

 

How has being a parent changed your outlook?


Pregnancy the Second Time Around: Advice Needed!

I am currently 17 weeks pregnant with our second child. My son is 17 months old and while we are thrilled for the new addition to our family, this pregnancy is entirely different from my first.

My first pregnancy I worked full-time, but was able to nap when I got home from work and sleep through the night. Sleeping through the night is still a semi-rare occurrence in my home. My son, especially while teething, will wake up a few times through the night and/or is up for the day at 5am. The lack of sleep contributes to a much more tired, worn-out pregnancy.

Gone are the days I can throw my feet up and relax when feeling nauseous or tired, now I have a little buddy wanting to throw a ball or go for a walk. Now, I can barely think about this pregnancy, in contrast to my first pregnancy where I obsessed over every little twinge or symptom. This time, I have more faith in my body and trust everything is going to be ok. I don’t have time to worry about the alternative.

Despite the obvious differences in having a toddler this time around vs. having no kids, this pregnancy has been totally different. First time around, I never got sick or even nauseous. This time felt like I had the nastiest college hangover from about weeks 7 through week 13. My first pregnancy, I felt so good I was in a fantastic mood all the time. This time, not so much. These differences have my husband convinced we are having a girl. I’m not sure either way, but we will find out for sure on June 1st.

With my son’s pregnancy I took weekly pregnancy pictures throughout my entire pregnancy (You can see them here). This pregnancy, I have a total of 5 “belly pictures” at 17 weeks. I feel HORRIBLE about it! I always swore my second baby would have an equal amount of pictures, little did I know I would be WAY more sick the second time around. I hope he or she forgives me! Thankfully, I am finally feeling better and will make up for lost time.

I hope I will be able to be as good of a Mom to this new baby as I have been to my son. People always tell me that your heart expands and you never know you could love TWO little babies so much. I hope that’s true because it seems implausible to think of loving another baby as much!

Moms of two or more: I would love your advice on introducing a new baby into your family. Especially on how to introduce a baby to a very jealous toddler who will be 22 months when he takes on the new role as “Big Brother.” Thank you!

Doing Disney World with a Toddler

Strollers are a must for a young toddler at Disney.

I grew up an hour from Disney World and went to the parks far less than my husband did as a Rhode Islander.  His family made the trek to the parks every year and absolutely LOVE parks.  I am less excited about theme parks, but since it is important to my husband we decided to brave Disney World with our 16 month old son this year.

I’ve always thought 16 months was way too young for a park, but you know what? It isn’t. My son had the time of his life for the two and a half days we were in Orlando. The keys to our success were this: stay at a hotel at the Magic Kingdom, go to the park EARLY, plan which rides are suitable for a toddler before your trip and book a character breakfast.

Staying at the Magic Kingdom is more expensive, but you can save money by booking in the off season. If you only have a toddler, don’t go school vacation week: prices double at hotels during this time. The park also raises prices across the board for busy weeks. The main reason I loved staying at the Magic Kingdom (we chose Wilderness Lodge this year) was convenience and the fact if my little guy needed a nap I could get him home in minutes and the rest of our group could stay at the park.

I am not a morning person, but my son is up bright and early between 6 and 6:30 am every day. Another benefit of staying at a Disney hotel is the Extra Magic Hour you receive- you can get into all of their parks one hour before the rest of the park-goers! This is huge with a toddler because you can get to all of the popular rides for them with little to no wait. We made a bee-line to the Winnie the Pooh ride and had less than a 10 minute wait. My son’s favorite ride was the carousel, which he asked to go on “more please” repeatedly. If you’re a night owl, you can also stay later at the park with your hotel key– which could be fun if you have family to babysit or your child is old enough for Disney babysitting.

My husband had the trip thoroughly planned out with what rides were appropriate for our son and had a plan. You can download apps for ride wait times and other Disney tips for your smart phone to make your trip more efficient. We checked out the web site MouseSavers and learned some great Disney World tips and tricks.Micky waffle

My last suggestion for toddler Disney fans is to book a character breakfast. We booked a late morning breakfast at the Polynesian hotel and my little guy absolutely loved meeting Stitch, Mickey, Pluto & Lilo. He wasn’t scared a bit and wanted to chase the characters around the restaurant!

If you were considering taking your toddler to Disney, I say do it! This is coming from a non-park loving, “not a big Disney fan” Mom. Seeing the joy in my son’s face was priceless and he had a fantastic time! Disney might have finally won me over!

What are your tips for traveling with a toddler?

 

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