Two weeks ago, Henry and I traveled to Washington, DC to visit Henry’s godmother, Tia Vanesa! It was his third airplane ride (round trip flight), but his first alone with me. Keith had flown to Detroit, MI to be part of the ELCA National Youth Gathering, chaperoning 6 youth from our church. We were sad to be without him, but excited to visit with not only Vanesa, but also some of my other college besties – Marcie, Amber, and Lisa!
After breezing through check-in and security, we ran around the terminal for a while, then boarded the plane. I was totally prepared for the flight, I had snacks, activities, and my iPad stocked full of games and movies to watch. I was in for a rude awakening – my iPad would not turn on. I tried everything, even using a lady’s charger on board, but nothing happened. I have never wanted to cry more over failed technology. Luckily, I had plenty of other toys, crafts, etc. to make it through the flight – changing things up every 5-10 minutes. Henry did great, until we stayed on the tarmac for 20 minutes following the flight. Like everyone else on the plane, he wanted off, and couldn’t really hack staying on board. He was literally jumping in his seat and licking the plane.
Speaking of licking transport vehicles, Henry also loved licking the metro. Totally disgusting, I know, but once it happened there was nothing I could do. He only developed a slight cough so his immune system is amazing. Henry’s favorite part of DC was riding the metro, which we did every day. If that happened to be the only thing we did besides visit Tia Vanesa, then it would have been an awesome trip for him. Toddlers are so silly.
This year, my mom celebrated her birthday with us, and I think she had a great day! My parents, Henry, and I headed out to Busch Gardens to play despite it being five-thousand degrees outside because we have passes courtesy of my sis-in-law, Amanda, who works for the company. It is super nice because we don’t have to spend all day there trying to cram everything in, and can take time to enjoy and focus on seeing only a portion of the park. This visit, we saw a few types of birds on our way to the Sesame Street Safari of Fun (http://seaworldparks.com/en/buschgardens-tampa/attractions/other-attractions/sesame-street-safari-of-fun/). Henry loved the pink flamingos sunning themselves by a pond, and my dad loved the toucans who were goofily flying about. When we reached our main target for the day, Sesame Street, Henry was in heaven. He hugged and high-fived Big Bird, and rode a few kiddie rides solo and with me. I think he liked Rosita’s Djembe Fly Away the best. But not as much as he liked the Elmo Rocks show, where he watched Elmo, Zoe, Bert, Ernie, and Cookie Monster rock out to classic rock songs and he danced along with them. It started pouring halfway through the show, so we had a 10 minute or so intermission, but the Sesame Street gang came back out and finished, slipping and sliding a bit on the stage. The giant thunderstorm prevented us from riding more rides or seeing any animals besides the birds, but Henry loved racing in his stroller through the park steered by Grandpop and getting wet in the process. The adults were just happy to be home afterwards, dry, and napping.
We finished the day with a family birthday dinner at Cody’s Roadhouse since my mom wanted steak (her favorite), and the Walbolt’s joined us, too. Henry had a blast with both sets of grandparents at the same time, and we all had an enjoyable dinner time.
So I’m really behind on posts; traveling with a toddler (and the recovery time that goes along with that) will do that to you. A couple of weeks ago, Henry and I visited Shoecraft Park in Pinellas Park (7900 54th Street N, 33781), and had a fantastic time! Located a few blocks from the library, it is tucked into a neighborhood at the end of a dead-end street and is fully shaded. There was no surrounding fence, but since the street wasn’t busy I don’t consider it an issue.
Fun diggers to climb, swings, two separate jungle gyms with slides, a big grassy area, covered picnic tables – the only thing this park was lacking was a bathroom, which isn’t a problem for Henry right now, but will be in the future (near future, hopefully). It felt like an oasis that no one knows about, because there was only one other child playing the entire time we were there. This park is definitely getting added to our rotation!
I love living so close to the beach! Especially since we live near several of the best beaches in Florida/the whole country. We definitely take advantage and head to the shore every few weeks or so. On Sunday, my parents were in town visiting from Jacksonville, and my dad wanted some delicious seafood so we went to Frenchy’s, naturally. Frenchy’s (https://frenchysonline.com) is one of our favorite places in the area because of its fun atmosphere and, more importantly, its delicious, fresh seafood. The she-crab soup is creamy and out of this world (I don’t even like crab!), the grouper sandwich is always a good decision, and the other seafood dishes do not disappoint. I had the soup plus a salad with blackened shrimp – sooo good. I can go anytime!
Afterwards, we decided to walk along Clearwater Beach, and Henry made a beeline right for the surf. He has no fear of the water; we should probably enroll him in official swim lessons soon to help him learn. Hopefully, we will find a class this fall for him to take. We played in the surf for a while, jumping and splashing, and also looked for sand fleas and coquinas. Then, Henry spotted a little boy playing in the sand with not only shovels and buckets, but TRUCKS! The two became fast friends, doing a pretty good job (for toddlers) of taking turns and giving each other hugs and kisses. It was totally adorable. I think we are going to have a play date with him (and his cool mom) soon.
It seems fitting that on the day Keith leaves to attend the ELCA’s National Youth Gathering in Detroit, Michigan (Rise Up: Together – http://www.elca.org/YouthGathering) that I write about Henry’s first MLB experience rooting for our hometown team, the Tampa Bay Rays (Rays Up!). This past Saturday, Thrivent sponsored its annual Lutheran Day at the Rays, where Lutherans from this part of Florida could all attend a game together and support the Eckerd organization. Our church, the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, had twelve of us sign up to go, and the game did not disappoint!
We arrived a little late to see the Rays take on the Astros, but once we found our seats the Rays came alive and scored. Henry calmly sat in our laps for the first part, probably overwhelmed with everything happening in the stadium – from the lights shining, the music blaring, the crowd roaring, and the TV screens flashing – a lot was happening for our little guy to take in. He really liked the music and cheering, and soon began to dance and clap for the home team. Another awesome thing happening was the crazy thunderstorm raging outside the ballpark – we could see the wind and rain hitting and moving the roof and shaking the lights at the top of the stadium. It was scary, but also very cool.
During the middle part of the game, Henry and I walked around the whole stadium. I tried to acquire a first time attendee buttons for him, but they were gone by mid-game; next time I’ll get him one for sure. We also tried to see the sting rays in the touch tank, but Henry decided he didn’t want to wait in a long line. So we played musical bats, colored mascot pictures, and climbed all over a giant baseball glove. When we returned to our seats, the Hen was ready to watch baseball and eat popcorn (mostly eat popcorn). He got antsy again so Keith took a turn walking around with him, but they made it back in time to see the Rays win! Henry and us Lutherans must be good luck charms for the Rays, who were having a losing streak before the sweeping Astros weekend. Rays Up, indeed!
During Keith’s first year of ministry, one of his classmates made “We survived Holy Week” t-shirts to commemorate making it through their first Holy Week’s as newly ordained pastors. I feel like we need shirts to mark the momentous occasion of surviving Henry’s first week of Vacation Bible School; it was that rough at times.
Being only two-years-old, Henry was the youngest kid at our church’s (Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd) VBS, and since he’s not in daycare/preschool, it was pretty much the first time had to be in school-like setting.
Day 1: so many temper tantrums when he was asked to participate and not play with the toys in the preschool room. We had to leave early after only 30 minutes of programming because H couldn’t hack it.
Day 2: a bit better; we left at 8, but Henry didn’t fully participate in everything. He loved the dancing parts, and Chester the Cheetah.
Day 3: a little bit better than the day before; still left at 8 (gotta stick close to bedtime), but Henry listened to the bible story and tried the craft.
Day 4: it seemed to click for Henry; he participated with the big group, tried the craft, and played with the other kids. He still didn’t pay attention the whole time, but he played quietly and he’s only two after all!
A couple days after it ended, Henry woke up singing “Jesus’ love is bubbling over!” This was one of the songs he sang daily at VBS, and he loved it. All in all, I think it was a success! We’ve pretty much decided that when the time comes for Henry to attend preschool, his teacher is going to have a rough first week (or month) with him, but there is hope because he adjusts to new situations quickly.
Happy birthday to the USA, and to my bro-in-law, Brent, who celebrated their 239th and 30th birthdays over the weekend, respectively! We did our best to celebrate both, attending four parties which is totally unlike us. First up: a party for Brent turning 30! We arrived late because the Hen napped for forever (loving his long naps these days so I can’t complain) and missed out on Sip and Flip but made it for some Beer Frisbee and swimming. It was really fun hanging out without the Hen (who was being spoiled by the grandparents) even if Brent had a bit too much fun (& scotch).
Saturday afternoon and evening we got together with some of Keith’s high school friends who are some of the nicest people ever. The Hen had some playmates (all boys for once!), and he loved splashing in the pool and kicking the ball around. We also trekked up to Clearwater Beach to see the fireworks and hang out with some of our fav Clearwater friends and family. The Hen had fun splashing in the pool with Uncle Brent (pretty much the only photos I took over the weekend) until the thunderstorm kicked them out. We couldn’t stay for the fireworks because the Hen needed to go to bed and he absolutely cannot sleep if there’s a party happening in his vicinity (he thinks the party is for him). We did see some lovely, colorful fireworks on our drive home, however.
Sunday night, Margo and Tom hosted Brent’s family birthday dinner where we ate all of his favorite things (including one of my favs – shrimp)! Henry loved helping Brent open his gifts and playing with the Walbolt/Rosenblatt/Meister clan. We had a blast all weekend, but our introverted selves definitely are looking forward to a much quieter one coming up.
I know what you’re thinking: the Safety Harbor Public Library is not a playground. I know that, but when it feels like the triple digits outside playing inside is where it’s at! Last Thursday, it offered a special free music class for the under-five set called Music with Mar. (http://musicwithmar.com). I’ve seen these classes advertised, so I figured we should check out a free one first.
Music with Mar. was developed to provide quality, brain-based music to children and families. Henry and I were underwhelmed by the class. The music wasn’t loud enough to hear over the din of 20 or more kids and their parents/grandparents. Most of the kids just sat around, swaying to the music. The songs were unoriginal like a lot of children’s songs can be, and the music wasn’t really fun to dance to. Henry tried his usual dance moves, as well as following directions in the songs, but ultimately opened the door and walked out.
Luckily, the children’s department of the library was awesome to make up for the fairly lame music class. It had puzzles, games, magnetic boats, and a fantastic Thomas the Train set that Henry couldn’t stop playing. He’s obsessed with trains right now so it was perfect. The library also had a great art corner set up where kids could be creative – stamp pads, markers, play dough, chalkboards, and more. I had to pry Henry away from it all to head home for lunch. Since he took a three hour nap, I’d consider our alternative playground visit a success!
Why do people tie a baby”s ability to be a “good baby” to a baby’s sleep? It’s ridiculous. I absolutely cannot count the number of times I was asked if Henry was a good baby. And people meant, “Is he sleeping through the night yet?” This started as early as one month of age when babies cannot sleep through the night without eating because their bellies aren’t large enough. And it isn’t other people’s questions about goodness that perpetuate this; new parents’ reminisce that if their first kid is a great sleeper, they think they are doing everything right. So we have internalized a child’s goodness based on his or her ability to be quiet and sleep.
Newsflash – this is not true! Parents of children who sleep through the night earlier are definitely better rested and able to be better functioning adults in terms of life and parenting skills, but these parents have won the sleep lottery and are incredibly lucky. Yay for them! Seriously. I wouldn’t wish sleep deprivation on my worst enemy; there’s a reason it is used as torture.
But what about the poor parents whose kid(s) don’t sleep well right away, or until months or years later? Your kids are good kids, too. They haven’t figured out this whole sleep thing yet. My son is awesome at so many things. He has hit all of his milestones early so far (with the exception of being able to get dressed and undressed; he can’t get his act together with that which is probably good because he would always be naked), and is generally happy and excited for life. He has gone through several sleep phases, however, that did not involve quality sleep for anyone. And we tried anything and everything (systematically) to get him to sleep. This includes nighttime sleep and naps.
After the newborn stage where he ate every 3-4 hours around the clock and slept most of the other time, until he was six months old he only woke up twice most nights to eat, which was totally doable because he would eat for about 10 minutes and then immediately fall asleep. Right before six months, things changed. He began crawling (without bothering to know how to sit up first), teething, and eating solid food all at once. The solids were no problem, the teething (and to some extent the crawling) definitely were. And our sleep suffered majorly for it for several months. We refused to do cry it out, but tried everything else we could to get him to sleep and stay asleep (at this point I can’t remember what we tried). We ended up co-sleeping a lot, which worked best for Henry, but not for me.
When Henry turned one, we decided to cut out night nursing, which involved Keith taking the reigns on quieting him at night and spending several nights sleeping on his floor. Keith can sleep anywhere like the dead so it wasn’t so so bad, but definitely not ideal. Hen got the hang of it quickly, realizing no mama milk would be forthcoming, but would not fall asleep unless Keith or I stayed in the room until he passed out. This new routine lasted a year (same for naps) – staying in his room until he fell asleep, then sneaking out like a ninja and hoping, wishing, and praying he wouldn’t wake up and we would have to return. He became better at putting himself to sleep when he woke up in the middle of the night using his Sleep Sheep (http://www.amazon.com/Cloud-Travel-Sound-Machine-Soother/dp/B000J6CDY6/ref=pd_sim_75_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=07BXX5T5DP1GHZTPP0XQ), but never his Sleep Giraffe. If he ever had his Sleep Giraffe in his crib it was literally, “No, Giraffe, No!” when he had his midnight wake up. At this point, we would only need to help him quiet down once or twice a week in the middle of the night, which entailed telling him to go back to sleep and laying on the floor until he resumed sleeping in his crib. It got old, but it worked and I loved my own sleep so much I was willing to do whatever means necessary to keep it up.
When Henry was around 22 months old, he regularly started climbing out of his crib. This was unsafe, of course, and although he wasn’t getting hurt, we decided to convert his crib to a toddler bed. The first few weeks were rough. He didn’t want to stay in bed and definitely not in his room. He also wanted to play with his toys instead of sleeping. Our solution was threefold: (1) Keith flipped the lock around and we lock him in for sleep so he doesn’t wander the house and get into trouble; (2) he can sleep wherever he likes in his room – on the bed, the floor, even under the crib; and (3) we put his larger toys in the locked closet, keeping smaller toys and his books available if he’s not quite ready to sleep on schedule. It works! For now he’s sleeping better than he ever has before. It will change, I’m sure, but for now I feel like I’m winning at sleep.