Raising the Patient Parent.

Just over three years ago we had just become parents for the very first time. November 21st is not just our sons birthday but its an anniversary of the day our lives changed in the most amazing and unforgettably life altering way.

Here is the thing, previous to our babies we had jobs, disposable income, uninterrupted sleep, proper personal hygiene, hobbies, friends and more. But despite our best efforts we were selfish, judgmental and rigid people. Nothing has the ability to effect you like a baby. No amount of online research, parenting books and babysitting can prepare you for the rollercoaster of emotions that parenting is.

Sometimes (or a lot of the time) Fraser and I joke about not having kids or at least getting rid of a couple of them. But most of the time, when we are at home and everyone is finally asleep or when we see one of them do something amazing for the first time or maybe they are just being funny and say the right things at the right time we have a moment where we look at each other and feel more love than you can ever even imagine you deserve or will know. That is why we would never change it and we accept the bad with all the good and we change a million diapers and we are never rested and we leave our house in a constant state of disaster… the list is endless! We absolutely are thankful for these little people and all that they have taught us and continue to teach us.

Here is the thing I have learnt in these short 3 years as being a parent. A lot can change in 3 years. You have no idea what you are about to learn pre-kids. Babies and kids are the best teachers you will ever meet, stay open to it and these little ones might actually be more of a role model and mentor than anyone else in your life will ever be. We think we are here to teach and raise our kids but I actually think its the opposite. The young are here to teach and raise the old. Our selfish, judgemental and rigid ways have slowly over time evolved into selfless, empathetic and flexible ways. We are forever learning and forever tested.

One of my favourite moments is listening or watching Fraser deal with Rowen (usually during a distressing moment). Sometimes its because the yogurt is in the wrong bowl, the lego broke and he cant get it back together just right or whatever and these are moments PK (Pre kids) Fraser would have been frustrated but to listen to this super laid back, totally in control Papa just deal with these moments like a pro! Makes this mamas heart flutter. Because in these moments I know we are both growing from all the lessons these kids are teaching us.

We celebrated Rowens birthday with as much of his favourite stuff as we could, this year was evident how much Rowen has taught me because despite my inner party planner I went with stuff I knew the birthday boy would enjoy and resisted my planning temptations. SO instead of an over the top celebration we had a day of friends, family, fries, pizza, donuts and even Nans house! He was so excited… it was a perfect day! He took Delta Bakery donut holes to school, met up with a few friends and cousins for a McDonalds Birthday Party (***Best cheapest easiest thing ever) and then off for more presents and cake at Nans house!

Now, on to Graces Birthday… we are doing a birthday breakfast at home! I am trying to convince the family we should do matching PJ’s but so far I am loosing:( I guess you gotta pick your battles!

What do you do for your kids birthdays? Any favourite traditions you have? Do you get sad around children’s birthdays, or use it as a time to reflect? I am thinking about celebrating half birthday instead (easier for party planning and helps to spread out gifts and not do soooo much around Christmas), anyone do this?

3 Fast Years.

When I was pregnant with Rowen Fraser and I would imagine all the possabilities for our first child… Would he or she be confident, social, shy or independent?  We envisioned a child with all sorts of wonderful characteristics, all the best traits and lots of friends and accomplishments. What we didn’t discuss or envision was this child’s struggles or the obstacles they would have to overcome.

I have been worried about our oldest, Rowen, since before he was born (I guess that is what parents do).  Being our first baby every milestone mark comes and you worry.  “Did he get his teeth in the right order, at the right age, can he walk? Does he sleep through the night?  Is he taking a bottle, he’s too old and we need to wean him.”  These are just some of the many thoughts I would over analyze about with Rowen.

Lately the concerns have been hard to explain or list but I was worried that he wasn’t developing as he should!  Then we got a call to come in and meet with the teachers, they had noticed a lot of the same things I have noticed and were impressed by how on top of it I was. Obviously its nice to know you haven’t been over reacting and that you were right to trust your mama bear instinct but it’s also a little upsetting to hear your child isn’t developing typically or that he is already facing more struggles than the average two year old.

I had a friend point out the everyone will struggle or have troubles at one time or another so it isn’t if it’s when? And the sooner it happens the better prepared and equipped you are to deal with life. I love this and totally agree with it. So I am looking at this latest hurdle as an opportunity for growth for myself as a parent and for Rowen as a person, learning skills that will help him through his life.

Funny thing about parenting is, it is nothing like what you expect it to be and it is so hard (and rewarding and amazing).   I think we glamorize parenthood (especially the newborn stage) to be magical and natural.  When in reality parenting is so much more than that… it is challenging, exhausting, trying and so very emotional.

I had images of what my children would be like, personalities, looks and even how they would dress, like a lot of people we said “our children will never do that” or “we will raise them differently”. Before becoming parents we knew it all, now that we have children we know nothing!

My kids refuse to wear the clothes I pick out (a lot of the time they refuse to wear clothes at all), my almost three year old is not even potty trained yet, we co-sleep the majority of the time, we have an iPad for every child and we avoid taking our kids to restaurants (something I swore my kids would do and do well).   Nothing is how I thought it would be. Sometimes I am frustrated that the kids that I have aren’t the kids that I imagined but then I realize they are so much more!

We are just learning as we go with this parenting thing, and really try to make the best decisions we can make. Sometimes we get it wrong and often we are so happy we had three kids , hopefully we get it right for Eleanor! LOL:). Just kidding we hope all three kids turn out okay.

It has been and continues to be a learning curve. Tomorrow I will take Rowen to the paediatrician and start the process of hopefully getting some developmental assessments done. This is good, this is progress and hopeful will give us some tools as to how we can best help Row to succeed.

Next week my oldest and first baby turns 3, and I am not sure how I feel. I remember finding out I was pregnant, going 2 weeks overdue. I remember having an emergency c-section and being up with him through those first few months where everything is new to all of us and we didn’t want to let him cry ever. We have learnt that sometimes he will cry and we can’t prevent it but that’s okay. And that everything with Rowen is new to all of us and that whatever we do it is with the best intentions. Most importantly we celebrate him and who he is and all the things that we love about him.

Next week we will celebrate his birthday his style, at McDonalds with a few friends and cousins (he doesn’t like loud or big groups), he loves French fries and donuts so I will order him a donut cake. Then for dinner we will go to Nans house (as per his request) and have Boston Pizza (his other favourite food besides fries, must be Boston Pizza or Niagara, nothing else compares for him) and then Nan will have a cake she made for him!

I love Birthdays and like to go crazy with parties but I know that isn’t what Rowen would enjoy so this year it was all about him and what he would pick (plus Grace’s birthday is less than a month away so I can always go wild there).

These three kids are by far Fraser and I’s most challenging job/responsibility and greatest achievement. We cant imagine a life without them and are truly trying to live in the moment and enjoy them while they are little because they are growing so fast!

How did your kids surprise you and change you? Can you remember the days before kids (we often try and it seems so long ago)? Was parenting what you expected? I would love to hear what you think about parenting and life with kids…

Traveling with Toddlers

Well last year we decided to take our first flying family vacation.  Honestly I was 7 months pregnant and we were halfway through a pretty massive reno and I didn’t know how easy it would be to travel with 3 kiddos the following year so I thought we should take advantage of the 1:1 Ratio and hit up Hawaii for 10 days.  I am so happy we did!  As nervous as I was to take two little people (Rowen had just turned 2 and Grace had just turned 1) I soon realized there was not much to be nervous about. The first thing that made me feel better was when the stuardist announced at the beginning of our flight there were 11 lap passengers (children under 2) flying that flight (and even more kids over two).  It was a great way to make you feel better about worrying if your kid was the loudest. The flight was packed with families like ours and the kids were all sorts (some sleeping, some crying, some wild, some sedatated… or I mean calm). 
Anyways these were our tips that we learnt from flying with so many families, keep in mind we have only flown with the kids once and it was just to Hawaii… always open to what hearing what worked for other families or from someone who has traveled lots with their kids. This is what we found worked for us. 

–  Rent an IPad for your kids, my baby daddy had an impulsive shop the night before we left and decided to go out and buy our son a new iPad (talk about an expensive London Drugs shop).  In future we will not be buying each child an iPad but for $10 or so dollars we would happily rent them for the flight. If you are taking your own make sure to download your airlines app so you can access all the shows you want!  

–  Pack Snacks we weren’t totally sure what was acceptable for bringing through security and what was not, so I feel like we didn’t bring much and then realized we should have. A couple rows in front of us a huge family was traveling and the Grandma showed up with Bento style boxes of packed snacks for the grandkids that were amazing!  I will definitely do this for the kids next time. 

–  Layer Up with an extra pair of socks or maybe slippers and their favourite blanket. My son was pretty good and quickly fell asleep but my daughter couldn’t get comfy (on my 7 month prego belly). I think if we had had her blanket to comfort her it would have been a bit better. Plus planes are either really cold or stuffy so good to be prepared for either extreme. 

–  Bring Grandparents or better yet convince them to bring you:) (Mom this ones for you), lol!  Okay maybe not realistic for everyone but honestly I swear we were the only family traveling immediate family only. I couldn’t believe all the grandparents helping out. Better yet was the couple in front of us with their nanny. Bring your sitter… what baby sitter or nanny doesn’t want to come to a tropical paradise with your amazing family???

I think just remember everyone knows what to expect on a flight and if you are flying to a popular family vacation spot even better because you will most definitely not be the only family on the plane.  I sat with Grace on my lap and I was beside an older couple. They were on there way to Maui for vacation and were so helpful and understanding with Grace it was amazing. I ended up hearing all about their grandchildren and how much they could relate to our little Gracie!  Most people get it, we are all human and flying is hard on anyone, especially the tiny ones. 

GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS

I also have a few tips for traveling with children (not just the flight).  We were so worried about how full our hands were that we took the attitude of anything we need we can buy or rent in Hawaii. In theory this is a great attitude and totally true. However, in reality this is a fairly expensive way to travel and although it seemed the easiest I am feeling more confident this year and we are going to try to bring a lot more from home this time. Plus the fact that we are booked for triple the time we were last year our rentals would really add up. That being said depending on the length of your trip you may want to just rent or you may want to bring from home. We really felt that 10 days just wasn’t long enough. It is a lot of work to pack kids for a trip and 10 days just starts to get into routines and let kids get settled. This year I will be able to tell you how a month in Maui feels!  

GO FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN

So, my first piece of advice is go for as long as you can (and this doesn’t just apply to Maui or a flying holiday we take this piece of advice for road trips too!).  Mainly you put so much time and effort in preparing for a trip make it worth your while!  Plus it eliminates the rushed feeling of needing to get so much in, if one day your kids don’t feel like being in the sun or going to the beach, not a big deal hit up the aquarium and know there is always tomorrow. If your trip is shorter you feel pressure to enjoy every minute, at least I do.  

QUICK TRIPS RENT WHAT YOU NEED

For a quick trip, 10 days or under I definitely suggest renting car seats (we just got them from the car rental company) as well as sand toys, strollers, play pens and toddler beds, a beach wagon, umbrella and even cooler and chairs could all be rented from Maui Baby Rentals. It was fairly affordable and super conveneient.  If you aren’t traveling to Hawaii I am sure whatever city you are going to would offer a similar service. Or even if you are staying at a Hotel I would imagine most major hotels would offer rental services for all things baby. 

BRING A GOOD STROLLER

That being said this year we are going to attempt to bring the car seats on the plane and have the kids sit in them (I am really not sure how this is going to go down but the car seat rentals are soooo expensive that we thought we would give this a try). We are also going to bring both our double and single Mountain Buggy Stroller. Last year we brought umbrella strollers thinking we would barely use it and they were light and compact and we were very surprised by how many large strollers people brought and how much we missed ours in Hawaii whenever we went for a walk. 

PLAY BEFORE FLYING

I think that the pros so outweigh the cons when it comes to traveling with your kids. For us the moment the kids saw the beach and their little feet ran for that sand, the flight was totally worth it!  We don’t “drug” our kids but it is not because I am against it we just haven’t really found we need to and also don’t know a drug that would knock them out. LOL!  But in all seriousness my kids don’t seem to get drowsy from children’s drugs and seem like pretty good travelers in the car or plane.  We do however let them have a good play before we board the plane.  Most airports have some sort of play area or even a nice open space where you could let them shake their sillies out and run around. 

Would love to hear from other parents and what worked for them when traveling with their little ones, or even favourite destinations. We love Maui and found it super family friendly. But can’t wait for our kids to get a bit older and may be we can venture a bit further. For now that 6 hour flight is our magic number…  what was easiest for you?  Do you have a favourite flight (we had avoided a red eye but I heard other families like them)?  Hope you found some of the tips helpful and are busy planning your next vacation.  

Check back for my next post with our favourite things in Maui and recommendations, dos and don’ts, etc!!!