#tbt – We’re going to Disney World!

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We decided that our first family vacation was going to be Disney  World.  A few days after W turned one.  Yeah, we probably were a little crazy when we hatched that plan.  But, we had our reasons.

The first of which was we had access to our family’s timeshare at the Bay Lake Towers.  Full kitchen.  Two bedrooms.  Too many bathrooms.  Washer.  Dryer.  Lake-view.  Score.  The second was that it would be a great place to acclimate to traveling with a tiny tot.  I mean, if he was having a melt-down at Disney, the odds were that at least ten other kids around us were, too.  So, we figured we would stress quite as much.  (Leave a comment if a “tips” post would be helpful…I have lots of them!)

And we were pretty much right.

After being delayed (in the airport, mind you) for almost an entire day, we finally made it to our hotel an entire 24 hours late…having skipped ALL of our naps that day…taking two flights…and a bus ride.  Keep in mind that we had just discovered W had an ear infection and was cutting his first-year molars.  And, thanks to the Magical Express getting our luggage for us, we had to wait 6+ hours to get our stuff!?  It’s not like we had a dinner reservation at a fancy place, or all of Wyatt’s night-time-necessities in there, or anything…WHY DIDN’T WE KNOW THAT IT WOULD TAKE SO LONG!?  So, we ended up having to go to a fancy dinner in workout gear.  Sweet.

Cue the melt-down, folks.

But oh wait, it was a mommy-melt-down…

The sheer terror and anxiety of trying to prevent a toddler tantrum for 12 hours…two 5am wake-ups in a row…in a confined space…without naps…and then be parted with our luggage…was enough to push me to the brink.  The man sitting near us on the plane must have seen the look in my eye, and reassured me that (as a grandparent now) he knows that kids don’t bother anyone…but he remembered the days of sweating it out like I was.  It was sweet.  But 11 hours of travel and stress had already passed, so…

And W you’re wondering?  Yeah, he was little tired and tinged with blueberry juice (my saving grace on the airplane) but altogether un-phased.  To my utter amazement, he zonked out in the pack ‘n play in our hotel room and slept the entire night without a peep.

Here we are at dinner on the day of our arrival.  Little W was so exhausted from the day that we ended up having our meal to-go, and my husband and I ate it back in the room while W slept.
Here we are at dinner on the day of our arrival. Little W was so exhausted from the day that we ended up having our meal to-go, and my husband and I ate it back in the room while W slept.

Of course he would.  He’s awesome. I don’t know why I doubt him.

So we woke up, bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed for our breakfast with Chef Mickey!  We were curious if W would love or hate the characters since we’d heard horror stories of toddlers and even big kids with major phobias of characters.  (Of course I looked it up.  It’s called masklophobia).  He landed somewhere in the middle…as long as one of us was holding him, he was cautiously curious.  So, we nibbled on an absurdly expensive breakfast.  Sang.  Danced.  Waved our napkins in the sky, the whole shebang, and checked that off our list of must-dos.

What do you get when you combine singing, dancing, napkin-waving and food?  A happy toddler.  Oh, and Chef Mickey's breakfast, of course!
What do you get when you combine singing, dancing, napkin-waving and food? A happy toddler. Oh, and Chef Mickey’s breakfast, of course!
He twirled that napkin like a true Mouseketeer!
He twirled that napkin like a true Mouseketeer!
Since he loves ducks, he was slightly less afraid of Donald...but he still wanted to be kept at a safe distance.
Since he loves ducks, he was slightly less afraid of Donald…but he still wanted to be kept at a safe distance.

Next on the agenda?  A day at Magic Kingdom.  Granted it was only a few hours of fun in between naps, the sun was shining…it was actually hot.  We loved the MagicBands and made good use of our FastPass online reservations, so we never had to wait in line for long.  I can’t imagine visiting during the busy season AND having to wait in crazy lines.  We went on It’s a Small World, Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo and Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid.

If this isn't the cutest picture ever, I don't know what is.  He spend all of It's a Small World just staring out the boat in cautious wonder...
If this isn’t the cutest picture ever, I don’t know what is. He spent all of It’s a Small World just staring out the boat in cautious wonder…

We escaped Magic Kingdom with only a small tantrum on the walk back to our room.  Mostly because I insisted on waiting in line at Aloha Isle for the Dole Pineapple Whip that I remembered as a kid.  A small tantrum was totally worth the cool, creamy, tart and sweet treat.  So, I’d chalk that one up to a win.

We visited Epcot one afternoon, too…and boy was it FREEZING that day!  We had a delicious lunch in Mexico and then proceeded to power walk the rest of the “world” because W was starting to get pretty fussy and we still had to make it back for dinner.  Sigh.  But, we managed to stop in front of lots of photo-op-spots and say cheese!

Photo-op spot #1...fresh off the monorail.
Photo-op spot #1…fresh off the monorail.
Photo-op spot #2...just a few feet away from the first one...
Photo-op spot #2…just a few feet away from the first one…
Photo-op spot #3...we found Pluto. Definitely W's favorite character, as you can tell by the stuffed animal he picked out!
Photo-op spot #3…we found Pluto. Definitely W’s favorite character, as you can tell by the stuffed animal he picked out!
A little lunch in Mexico...que sabroso!
A little lunch in Mexico…que sabroso!
A pit-stop in Paris...
A pit-stop in Paris…
And finally it was time to head back to the condo.
And finally it was time to head back to the condo.

A week is a long time to detail every moment, so for the sake of meeting my weekly posting goal and my desire to watch one of my shows tonight, I’ll make the rest brief.

We spent a little bit of time by our pool, but it was usually a bit too chilly to make a day of it.  We spent an afternoon lounging on the lawn at the Grand Floridian and walking up and down the empty boardwalk before dinner.  We rode busses to dinner.  We rode busses home from dinner.  We rode busses to the parks.  Oh yeah, did I mention that a bunch of the monorails aren’t running due to construction?  We added a night on at the end of our stay to make up for the night we lost on the front end, and stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge (our family’s other favorite place to stay).  We had a savannah view in this room, and W loved looking out at the zebra and birds.  Each night we dined out at delicious restaurants and W, again, amazed us with how absolutely fantastic he was.

Riding the Magical Express to our hotel upon arrival...he was having so much fun already!
Riding the Magical Express to our hotel upon arrival…he was having so much fun already!
Stuffing his face at the airport.  Happily, I might add...despite the fact we'd been there for like 6 hours already.  Delayed.
Stuffing his face at the airport. Happily, I might add…despite the fact we’d been there for like 6 hours already. Delayed.
Loving the LED ice-cube during dinner at Flying Fish Cafe.
Loving the LED ice-cube during dinner at Flying Fish Cafe.
Ready for the pool!
Ready for the pool!
Strolling the boardwalk with Daddy.
Strolling the boardwalk with Daddy.
Lounging on the lawn at the Grand Floridian.
Lounging on the lawn at the Grand Floridian.
Loving dinner at Daddy's favorite place - Jiko.
Loving dinner at Daddy’s favorite place – Jiko.
Hanging happily in his stroller on the way to Jiko for dinner at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Hanging happily in his stroller on the way to Jiko for dinner at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Loving the window seat.  The shad provided hours of entertainment.  Even through what should have been his nap time.
Loving the window seat. The shade provided hours of entertainment. Even through what should have been his nap time.

And most importantly, each night, W slept the whole night through…in a pack ‘n play.  Something I truly thought he wouldn’t do.

So, all in all, W was a the most terrific traveler I could have asked for.  He happily stuffed his face with blueberries and other goods for the entirety of each flight we were on.  He took each and every nap we put him down for – most times sleeping way longer than he did at home.  He slept all night long, every night.  And, he happily cruised around in his stroller just checking out the sights.

I’m definitely ready for another vacation.  This time, maybe somewhere less, well, like Disney.

Let the planning begin.

Yours thankfully,

MomME

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#tbt: I’ve re-joined the paid workforce

The sun is shining.  Wolf Blitzer is on the radio.  My iced coffee is near by and still cold (for now). And, thanks to my WordPress app, I’m coming to you live.  From the field.  Or the Cabella’s parking lot, but close enough.

All and all, things could be worse.

Today is one of the many times, as of late, where my little comrade has boycotted one of his two naps.  No matter what I try, or how hard I try to schedule the afternoon so he will take a nap…he always falls asleep in the car.  So here I am.  Trying to make the best use of this time and stick to my resolution of two posts a week.  So far, so good.

My setting is rather appropriate, though, considering the topic of today’s #tbt post – my new job!  

In a past life I was a teacher, and then a recruiter of teachers, with Teach For America.  Having a portfolio of schools (and managing a team) across New England meant that I spent many hours in my car.  Driving to Boston to meet with my team.  Driving home again.  Sometimes all in one day.  Then driving to Bates.  Or Bowdoin.  Or Colby.  Sometimes two in one day.  Then it was off to Boston College.  Heck, why not Dartmouth?  Needless to say, I was no stranger to long stretches behind the wheel.  Now a days, though, a fifteen minute car ride can seem like an eternity as I fret about keeping W occupied so he doesn’t melt down.

But, shortly after returning from maternity leave I parted ways with a job, a team and a mission that meant so much to me.  I definitely missed it.  That’s why, when my former boss Skyped me about a part-time opening on her team atTeach For All (the international parent organization to TFA), I couldn’t refuse!  It was an amazing opportunity to work 10 hours a week.  From home.  Without travel.  Without managing a team.  Just me, some good ‘ole work and a mission I cared about.  So, for several months now, I’ve been employed outside the home once again 🙂  I work on the Talent Acquisition team and spend my time reviewing applications and working on learning and development resources for hiring managers…eek!  I love it.

In all honesty, though, I was actually pretty terrified about going back to work.  Even though I hadn’t been “out of the game” for too long, it was long enough to make me question whether or not I’d still be any good.  Whether or not my brain would still function at a high enough level to be considered a competent addition to the team.  Considering I was only going back 10 hours a week I felt a little ridiculous about how nervous I was feeling, but it was going to be different than the groove little W and I had gotten in.  Thankfully the learning curve wasn’t too steep as I’m doing somewhat similar work to what I’ve done in the past, so that just left one more emotion hurdle to overcome.

Hiring a nanny.

Going back to work meant that someone (other than myself, my husband, or our parents) would need to watch W.  I got right to work on SitterCity and began contacting sitters in the area.  I definitely wanted someone responsible.  So, if I Facebooked you and all of your pictures were of you drunk in the Old Port…welp, you weren’t getting a message.  And yes.  I absolutely did that.  My former occupation required me to learn a special set of sourcing skills that I eagerly put to use when trying to learn more about people who would be alone with my kiddo.  After I found a few seemingly responsible individuals, I set up a series of interviews.  Yes, that is an “s” at the end of interview.  As someone who recruited and selected for a top-notch organization, it was hard to let those rigorous standards fall by the wayside.  After all, the qualities you’d want in a great teacher are similar to what I was looking for in a nanny.  I wanted a high-achieving, go-getter-of-a-leader who was organized, timely and not afraid to speak up.

The first round interview was conducted by yours truly and included a litany of questions about challenges and emergencies they’d faced while babysitting, how they handled discipline, what their philosophy on child care was…all the while watching for how confident they were and how they interacted with W.  I really wanted someone who was going to take charge and speak up – I know it can be strange babysitting while a parent is home and I didn’t want a shrinking violet who was afraid to tell me what was happening, etc.  The next interview was with both my husband and me so we could norm on whether or not we thought the person was a good match for our family.  After all, hiring someone to watch your child is like voluntarily adding to your family.  It’s serious business.

Finally, we found a match and gosh, is she amazing.

She’s a first-year graduate student in the school of occupational therapy and she’s fantastic.  Little W lights up when she walks through the door.  On her first day with W, she even taught him how to go through the play tunnel we have…something we’d tried to do for months!  And, much to my delight, as she was leaving on the first day she turned around and said to me, “I just wanted to tell you that he took a bite out of one of his blocks downstairs.  Just so you know, and aren’t surprised if you see a piece missing.  He didn’t swallow it, though, I was able to get it out.”  It was amazing!  That was precisely the kind of thing(s) I wanted a babysitter to tell me and the reason I’d hired her…I just knew she wouldn’t shy away from being direct with me.

And that sealed the deal on my utter adoration of her.

The rest is history, folks.  I’ve got a new job at a familiar company, and we’ve added a member to our little family.  Maybe we’ll even have a date-night soon, now that we have a fantastic sitter!  Wink, wink, honey 🙂

Yours truly,

MomME

The art of using utensils

It’s time for W to start cleaning up his act at meal time.  Literally.  The mess is killing me!  Clearly W loves it, but me on the other hand…am left scraping avocado out of his ears all day.

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Let’s hash out what we’ve accomplished thus far with the baby lead solids approach, though, because I couldn’t be happier.  W does a great job feeding himself.  He chews incredibly well and rarely gags or bites off more than he can handle.  My favorite?  He’s so adventurous when it comes to trying new foods!  Win. Win.  And win.  We ate out a ton while we were on vacation in Disney (post to come soon!) and it could not have been easier (note I didn’t say cleaner…) thanks to his stellar attitude towards food.  With our amazing rubber bib, disposable placemats, a handful of Cheerios and the LED ice-cube (below), we were golden.  So no complaints on that end.

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But, as with all things, an evolution of process and procedure is in order.  It’s time for a spoon, folks!  The avocado face-and-hair masks are getting too much to clean up three times a day and, frankly, make me dread meal time.  W is nursing less and less (we are at about 6 times a day), so it’s pretty important that I not be dreading feeding the growing little dude.

So, I decided that introducing a spoon was a good idea…when black bean soup was on the menu for lunch, no less.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  I must not have had my third cup of coffee yet…

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This first attempt was probably messier than it would have been had I just let him scoop the soup out of the bowl with his hands (which he did half the time).  He quickly discovered that his spoon was a great way to catapult food to the dog instead of his usual delivery method.  Our dog, Rex, is a food-motivated Frenchie who is always underfoot come meal time.  They’ve got quite the symbiotic relationship – W provides the food and Rex provides the entertainment.  It’s a habit we are SERIOUSLY trying to break.  But, W thinks that our head-shaking is part of the game.  So, he holds his food over the edge, drops it, looks at us with a scowl on his face and shakes his head, “No.”  Unfortunately it’s funnier than it is problematic.  At least for right now…

But, back to the spoon.

He does a great job grabbing the spoon with his right hand and usually gets a good grip on the handle – not to high, not too low.  He understands the motion he’s supposed to make and that he scoops the spoon in the bowl and then it goes into his mouth.  He’ll sometimes use the other hand to guide the spoon there with a bit more precision, which is so sweet to watch.  His fine-motor skills are improving so quickly, and it melts my heart to watch his tiny hands make such slow, deliberate and gentle movements.  And the prideful grin?  Agh.

So, I don’t have a calculated plan moving forward.  No benchmarks for the little guy to meet.  But, I think we’ll keep giving him a spoon at meal time and encourage him as he goes!  He has been picking things up so quickly, that I’m hoping he’ll be on his way to a cleaner eating routine in no time…

I know this is wishful thinking, but if you don’t have hope, what do you have?

Spoonfully yours,

MomME

#tbt Christmas morning

My quest to be a more diligent blogger (and capture all of life’s fleeting moments) is feeling more like a study of inertia – a tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged.  W finally fell asleep for nap #2 of the day (something he’s been fighting for weeks) and I couldn’t get to the couch fast enough to have some much anticipated “mommy time.”

And then you ruined it.

Ok, so not you, per say, but the fact that I’d committed (in writing, just two days ago) to writing a post a week.  To keeping my focus not on literary perfection, but capturing the hilarious imperfections of life with a toddler.  Ugh, sometimes I get really irritated with myself when I move forward on something with such public gusto only to look back and think, Ugh, why did I say I’d do that?  I’m so annoying!  But the little voice in my head that hates to fail was louder than the volume on the TV (which isn’t hard when it’s nap time and I pretty much have to have the subtitles on to understand ANYTHING that’s happening.  But I digress…)

So.  Here we are again.  Post #2 of the week.  That’s the rate at which I’m going to need to crank ’em out and catch up on what’s happened without missing out on posting about what’s happening now.  So, I thought, why not make Thursday’s weekly post a dedicated #tbt post to catch up on missed happenings during my 3 month hiatus.  I’ll pair it with an Instagram picture.  For some reason, that makes this seem easier.  I guess I’m just a sucker for a good filter.

Let’s try and start where I left off – Christmas!

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My husband and I were SO excited for W’s first Christmas…and slightly overwhelmed with the number of parties and dinners and gatherings that we were schleping him around to.  New parents know there is nothing as terrifying as interrupting a baby’s nap.  Welp.  We had to get over that fast because celebrations were in full swing.  There were presents to open.  Faces to be stuffed with food.  But, as with most things, W took the holiday season in stride and (yet again) proved that most of the time we’re silly to worry.  He adjusted perfectly and loved all of the Christmas lights and decorations…and food!

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What we were most excited for, though, was Christmas morning.  We wondered if W was too young to understand the concept of presents or new toys, and if the wonder of Christmas morning would be lost on him.  We’d resolved to only buy W a few new toys and had asked grandparents and relatives to do the same.  But, the presents that we did buy, were laid out underneath the tree and unwrapped in hopes that their flashy colors and new-ness would catch his eye.

As soon as we heard him wake up, my husband got the video camera set up in the living room.  We all snuggled in our bed while I nursed W (our morning tradition) and it was finally time for the big reveal.  I carried W down the stairs in his new pajama’s (with an adorable firetruck on the front).  The house was still dark, but the Christmas tree lights glowed and his new toys sat sparkly, shiny and new below it.  My husband and I exchanged quick and anticipatory glances…did W understand that these were new toys?  That this morning was special?

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Yes!  He looked under the tree and pointed.  Then he looked at my husband.  And back at me.  As if to ask, “Are these really for me?  Are these new toys I can play with?”  And without further ado he got right to work pushing his alphabet train around and chasing this little bug that vibrates around and rolls balls around.

It was priceless.  As is pretty much everything he does.

We played for about an hour before starting the long day that is Christmas.  First, breakfast with my husband’s family and then a 2hour drive to my grandparents house for dinner with my mom’s family.  W screamed the whole way home that night and we were ALL ready for bed by day’s end.  But, it was still an awesome day.  I’ll never forget coming around the corner and seeing the look on his face when he caught sight of his new toys…those are the moments.

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And speaking of moments.  My solo moments are up.  The little guy is awake.  Funny thing, though, about Christmas morning and all…it pretty much feels like Christmas morning EVERY morning (and afternoon) when I go into his nursery to find him squealing and giggling with excitement and outstretched arms.

Yours truly,

MomME

Did you think I un-friended you?

My lack of presence in your newsfeed is not because I “unfriended” you, as one of my friends asked me.  However, since I probably have exactly three minutes to write this post before baby toddler W wakes up from his nap (yes, he turned 1 a little over a month ago [sob]) I’ll get right to the point.  On the 1-year anniversary of my entry into the blogosphere, after a 3 month hiatus, I have a request of you…I need your help.  Holding me accountable, that is.

Joy.  But, seriously, there’s far less commitment than you might imagine.  Read on.

If you’re anything like me, you likely know it’s easy to fail at goals you don’t tell anyone else about.  That’s because I pretty much thrive on being held accountable by someone…or to someone.  Someone other than myself, that is.  My fear of failure, or my desire to make others happy, is actually my greatest motivator.  (I’d like to think I do most things for my own betterment, but when I’m honest with myself, that’s just not the case.  I’m working on it, but that’s for another post.)

That’s where you come in, inter-webs and follower friends.  A place to cement my intentions and goals.  A place where I can’t take back what you’ve written.  A place to hold me accountable.

Without further ado…my resolutions are:

  1. Be more present (the former educator in me cringes at the vagueness of this resolution, and how challenging it will be to measure this…but)
  2. Write one blog post a week
  3. Read one book a month
  4. Get selfishly active 3x a week (that doesn’t mean lifting W, or taking him on a walk…that means exercise just for mommy!)

They’re not uber complicated or crazy.  Simple.  Realistic, I think.  My first step to making any of these happen?  Just write a fucking post already!  However short or poorly written this is, it’s intended to help me break the ice.  Otherwise, I just keep thinking to myself, Ugh, well I can’t write about Z without writing about X and Y first!  So, there are going to be many posts to come, highlighting all the fun and crazy things that have happened since my last post in early December (W’s first Christmas, learning to walk, I started working part-time, more drama related to his lip-tie, his first birthday, learning sign-language, our first family vacation to Disney, my creation of a cleaning chart…).

But, today, I’ll have to be satisfied with at least stating my intentions.

So, at the risk of letting myself down looking like a failure in front of others (a Type A person’s WORST NIGHTMARE), I’m now compelled to follow through on these things.  Because you’re waiting for updates on them, right?  ;0

Yours accountably,

MomME