T Rex Family

T Rex Family

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ruminations - Kids and TV

Ruminate: to turn a matter over and over in the mind.

Continuing my series on my ruminations.

A comment by a dear friend who read my last Ruminations posting is actually what sparked these thoughts. It made me realize after detailing how T Rex goes on and on about Toy Story and even reciting the movie line by line that it implies that he watches a ton of television. So it got me to thinking about how much TV he really does watch and how much he should be watching.

We don't actually get any live TV channels - we don't have cable or even an antenna. We simply don't have time for TV and honestly, there is not much on that I am all that interested in seeing. If so, we wait for it to come out on DVD and either rent it or buy it. In fact, sometimes I'm a little out-of-touch with mainstream culture because of this. And often don't get jokes or even know what's going on with the celebrities. Gosh, I can't even tell you the last time I saw a commercial. T Rex has never actually seen TV - only shows of our choosing.

When T Rex was 6 months old, we had to start giving him nebulizer breathing treatments due to wheezing. It would become a daily ritual to keep the wheezing from occurring. The only way we could get him to not struggle was to put on a show. Thus, we started letting him watch 15-30 minutes of Baby Einstein videos each day only during neb time.

I really wished we could adhere to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children not see any TV until age 2 but it was our pediatrician that actually suggested the shows to get through his breathing treatments. I was trying to avoid it, but in the end settled for some controlled video viewing in as little quantities as possible.

Since T Rex turned 2 we've been more liberal about his television viewing. This is in line with the AAP but not more than "1-2 hours of quality programming per day". Again, it's usually something during his breathing treatment and usually one of just a few things: Veggie Tales, Toy Story, or Finding Nemo. That's about all we watch around here. We always know exactly what he is watching and the content thereof. And he nor his sister will most certainly not have a TV in their room when they are older.

So what about T Rex Princess? Well, there is not a whole lot we can do about her viewing. If she's awake and T Rex is watching a show, then she wants to watch, too. Probably why our viewing of shows lately has dropped significantly.

Lastly, when it's show time, it's show time meaning the show is not on for background noise - it's to be watched or be turned off. Music is the alternative if he wants something to listen to something while playing with his toys. And in fact, we almost always have some soothing music or talk radio on during the day - helps me to maintain my sanity.

So why are we this way? Well, there is some suggestive information of a link between autism and toddler TV usage. The studies are ongoing but there is definitely some solid evidence that it's just better to interact with your kids than have them sit in front of the television.

I will say, though, that sometimes I wonder if all these folks that write these "recommendations" actually have kids. I say this only because sometimes the only way I can get through making dinner safely without anyone getting a hand burned on the stove or oven is to put on a show, have the toddler take a break on the couch, and watch Larry Boy.

Stepping away from my soapbox, I think there are two points. One, my son does not watch an excessive amount of TV unless you consider 30 minutes a day (during breathing treatments) or 90 minutes on Saturday mornings too much. And this starting at age two. He is just really good at remembering lines from movies and sometimes books (he can recite "The Quiet Cricket" nearly verbatim). And secondly, as with most things, do it in moderation. The same goes for TV - know what your kids are watching and don't have them watch too much.

What are the TV viewing rules in your house?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Band is Breaking Up...

It's been over two years since we three ladies met at our local hospital's new mother's group. We were all first time moms with boys and were not entirely sure what we were doing. Some of us had a lot of kid experience either as a nanny, nurse, or aunt, but somehow when it was our child, it was a completely different ball game.

Myself, Colleen, and Caitlin

After the new mom classes were over, we decided to start rotating meeting places to each of our homes. I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to share our sleep deprivation challenges or feeding triumphs. Then these mom sessions became a playgroup for our boys. It has be wonderful for T Rex to see his friends every week and trade toys back and forth. But it has been especially wonderful to see these little guys grow from tiny babies to little boys.

Joseph, Cooper, T Rex

T Rex, Cooper, Joseph

Joesph, Cooper, T Rex

Cooper, Joseph, T Rex

Joseph & T Rex wearing the French shirts Cooper brought back from Europe.

Lunch time fun - note T Rex's awesome boot - loaners from Joseph.

One day when I had all three boys by myself - controlled chaos but quite fun.

Cold day at the park

We all also started our second round of children at nearly the same times. Colleen was the first, me about 2 months after, and Caitlin 2 weeks after that. Again, wonderful to experience pregnancy and second time parenthood with these ladies once again. It was truly comforting to be in their presence knowing they knew what I was going through because they were also confronting some of the same things.

Left to right: Colleen, Caitlin, Me

Alexia, Isaac, and T Rex Princess

Since our original group started 2 1/2 years ago, we've had a few others that either come regularly or as guests, but the three of us have remained dedicated to keeping our group going.

Photo with some of our newer members at the zoo.

This week, one of our original founding members will be leaving us. Her husband has accepted a really wonderful job across country - only two time zones away (better than three, I guess). It's an amazing opportunity for them full of lots of wonderful experiences and adventures. I'm very happy for them but quite sad for my kids and me.

Ms. Caitlin is still the only person who has ever watched T Rex over night. And she did this for us while I was at the hospital having T Rex Princess (and 37 weeks pregnant, too). She's been the best of friends and is truly a stellar person. For such a young person, she is wise and mature beyond her years.

So we bid farewell and send our love and good wishes. We look forward to reading all about your adventures. (I wish I could be witty and cleaver like your blog, but alas, when I do it comes off sounding terse.) Just know we love you and you will most certainly be missed.

(Some photos courtesy of It's Spelled C-A-I-T-L-I-N)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Emergency Preparations - Part III - Canning

Thus far, I've discussed our family emergency preparations in the form of 72 hours "jump bags" and diapering the baby. Now I move onto canning...

You've probably noticed it's been a week since I've posted anything - it probably has something to do with the 80lbs of organic peaches that showed up at our home this week or the blackberries and huckleberries that defrosted from the freezer and needed to be turned to jam and pies. It's been a busy week. Oh, and the tiny little detail about one of my best friends (and the kids' friends, too) suddenly moving away - that's been ever present on our minds, too. More on that later.

I start school in just a couple days. I'm pretty nervous but excited. I start clinical rotations which should bring some interesting adventures. However, what better time to get some more of my emergency preparations done than a brief school break?

That is, when not chasing two little ones...and for those who often inquire how I do it? Naps and bedtime...I get most of my work done when they are sleeping. T Rex is into everything and has to be watched every second and Bebe Sister is not far behind. And, I don't like heating the house up during the day, so most of the canning is done early in the morning or later in the evening. If T Rex Dad is home, I have a little extra time during the day, too.

In the past couple weeks I've done pickles, blackberry jam, huckleberry jam, peach jam, and canned peaches. These make an excellent addition to the dry goods in our pantry or excellent bartering goods or gifts.

I use this website for all my canning instructions. Sometimes I change a couple things but this is the best reference I've found for my needs. Here is our organic peach canning process.

20lb box of organic peaches and Costco size bag of organic sugar - the peaches were kind of expensive ($48/20lb box) but we try extremely hard to do all organic produce, at least as often as possible. And there was an advantage to purchasing in bulk - hence 80lbs.

My "students" (slave labor) washing/peeling. We had the jars in the dishwasher while we did this.

Perfect ripe peach - first wash, then soak in hot water, then soak in cold water.

Same peach minus the skin - after the hot/cold process, often the skins come right off. Then they just need to be cut in halves or quarters and placed in jars.

Here from right to left - cleaning, peeling, pitting/halving then into jars. The non-desirable peaches (bruised or too soft) are perfect for jam or baby food. T Rex Princess is okay with the peach baby food as long as we add cinnamon.

Fill jars with syrup mixture - 6 cups water to 2 cups sugar. For 40lbs we made a triple batch. This is the light syrup recipe but you can make it sweeter if you want. The sugar water needs to come to a boil for just about 5 minutes and then be kept hot until poured directly into the jars to cover the peaches. Don't let the peaches sit out in the air too long without being in either cold water or in the jars with the hot water or they will discolor.

Lids need to be kept in near boiling water until ready to place on jars.

Place covered jars into hot water bath.

Cook for 25 minutes - I start the timer when at a rolling boil. Ideally, I try to have at least 2 inches of water on top of the jars. This is how I've done it for almost 10 years - never had a jar not seal or any jars spoil. We're at nearly 4000 feet altitude, too.

Carefully remove hot, completed jars.

Admire your work!!! Seriously gorgeous and seriously delicious!

And a shout of thanks for my "students" - we had a great time canning and chasing babies!

What canned goods are in your pantry or are you planning to can?

Sunday, August 15, 2010


When we're not almost crawling to the Lego bin...

Or building cardboard houses for the toy guys to play in...

We sometimes cruise the local shopping mall. We don't purchase anything, but rather go to let the toddler burn off some energy and see the sights he dreams about...

Riding the escalator - BIG attraction and lots of toddler entertainment!

Hiding his "guys" aka Buzz and Woody figurines in the cone so they can cross the street. Ringing any bells?

A couple mornings ago upon waking, T Rex whispered in T Rex Dad's ear, "Saw lellow Tweety Bird and 'Manian Devil in V at the mall last night." Translation - I had a dream about the giant stuffed yellow Tweety Bird and Tasmanian Devil in the VW bus at the shopping mall." T Rex LOVES going and seeing these stuffed animals at the mall. There are also several riding toys near this section but T Rex is a cheap date - he won't ride any of them. He only wants to watch other kids ride them or have his "guys adventure".

Peering into the VW bus to see the "lellow Tweety Bird and 'Manian Devil"

His guys are "adventuring"

So what of Bebe Sister?

She LOVES watching her big brother play. But when tired of that...

She plays with her own toys.

After plenty of mall fun, it's time to head home...

And take our naps...(yes, we seem to actually have them napping simultaneously - at least for the time being).

And after we're recharged and ready to go, we have some snuggles and "rough housing"...

Note T Rex's vest - look familiar? I made it so he can dress up like one of his favorite characters from Toy Story - Sheriff Woody.

Then onto some play/pretend time at home - the kid is seriously into complex pretend play these days. I'm pretty sure he'll be founding his own empire any day now!

When asked what he was doing, he stated, "Putting 'Manian Devil, Tweety Bird, and Bugs Bunny into the V" - the horse is Tazmanian Devil, a white polar bear is Tweety, and my velveteen rabbit is Bugs Bunny. And I think his stuffed Buzz Lightyear is thrown in for fun.

What do you do for entertainment?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ruminations - The Two's

Starting a new series to this blog titled: Ruminations

Ruminate: to turn a matter over and over in the mind.

I ruminate a lot. Probably too much. I've decided to start sharing some of these thoughts partially to share a bit of my life with you and partially as a record of what I was thinking about during these particular days of my life.

This week - The Twos...

When I found out I would be in graduate school and also have a new baby in addition to a very active toddler, I sought out another student with a toddler who had just had another baby and asked her how she was managing. Her reply was simple - it's not the baby that's hard work, it's the toddler. It's true.

Being the parent of a toddler is exhausting. Maybe it's just my toddler but seriously, T Rex Dad and I are exhausted all the time from chasing him. Maybe it's because we're a little older. But it's a demanding job. When people invite us to a barbecue or to a gathering we start cringing because we know we'll be chasing him from one dangerous hazard to another. He is full of energy. I know it's just part of his developmental stage that he needs to explore to learn and the impulse control center of his brain has not yet developed - a scary mix in my opinion.

At the same time, we love this stage. He is so sweet and is starting to do and say the most charming things. He LOVEs Toy Story and anything associated with it. He has little Toy Story figurines and he will reenact various scenes from the movies with his "guys". The other day he was playing with them on the car bumper while I was loading the stroller. He kept saying, "Just go...I'll catch up" with a little inflection to his voice. I did not know what he was doing until I saw the last part of Toy Story 1 where Buzz and Woody are trying to catch the moving van. Sometimes I'll also hear him say other lines from the movies, "Buzz, you're flying...This isn't flying, it's falling, with style" or "To infinity and beyond" or "You are a toy" or sing "You've Got a Friend in Me". All of these things so charming.

He gives the best hugs and snuggles. The first thing in the morning he will crawl into bed and whisper ever so softly, "Daddy snuggles" or "Mommy snuggles". Kisses make any hurt better. And he can make his sister laugh like no other. Oh, and he has the deepest voice I've ever known in a young child - seriously, sometimes it seems deeper than his dad's!

He call's back packs "pack packs" and yellow is "lellow". He mixes his English and Spanish and the highlight of his day is sitting in the Jetta with his dad when he gets home. He can bless the food in 5 seconds flat while being genuinely earnest - melts my heart every time.

Then, one charming moment will be followed by a tantrum because he realizes one of his "guys" is missing and he cannot find them after looking a whole 3 seconds. Or we'll suffer a melt down at lunch because his applesauce is not in a pouch but a bowl or the pizza has visible seasoning on it. We'll sail through 30-45 minute Spanish and reading lessons but fall apart during art time because he cannot use the watercolors to his satisfaction.

Yesterday a dear friend came over and T Rex greeted him and started going on and on about "Emperor Zurg fell down the elevator...but he's okay." This friend remarked to him, "Sorry, Buddy, but I don't speak two-year-old."

You know what, we do. We speak two-year-old. And we know how to handle toddlers. And we respect parents so much more who have toddlers because we know how tough it really is. I'm so proud that we are parents of a toddler and soon toddlers since Bebe Sister is close to crawling.

Having two is not the difficulty right now. It's having a two-year-old. It's terrific and terrible at the same time. One minute it is bliss and the next is agony. Exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. Feels a bit like parenting ping pong. One minute I feel like the best parent on the planet and another moment the worst.

I've said it before and it bears saying again, we're T Rex wranglers as much as we try to be T Rex whisperers!

What's been your experience with the two's or toddlers?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Emergency Preparations - Part II

Diapering the baby...

In a
previous post I discussed the 72 hour kit that sits in the back of my car. When we were evacuated from our home, the only thing we were lacking in adequate supply were diapers. A kind friend generously dropped off a package of disposables along with a port-a-crib at the place we were staying. I had just assumed my diaper bag had an adequate supply. And actually, it did. But had we needed to be gone longer than we were, we most certainly would have run out.

Now, T Rex is no longer in diapers but T Rex Princess is and not wearing disposables like T Rex but rather cloth. I see this as both a disadvantage and advantage. Disposables are much more trim to pack and easily disposed of but if we're unable to get to a supply of diapers, we will eventually run out. Cloth, on the other hand, can be washed and reused. Here is what we have:
Diaper supplies: 3 waterproof covers, 6 prefolds, 4 flats, 12 fleece liners, 10 Flip disposable/compostable inserts, 2 disposable diapers, wet bag, disposable wipes (these can be washed and reused if need be), and changing pad. We've also packed supplies for cleaning the diapers.
Laundry soap - Charlie's Soap (could also clean our clothes, too, as we use this kind on all of our laundry not just diapers), backing soda, measuring scoop, and clothes pins. I've put everything in the sack and included it in the diapering supplies. All the diapering supplies are contained within the sack directly above the shoes in the photo below.
Flats and prefolds and the associated diaper covers clean easily and dry quickly, they do not take up a lot of space, and they are cheap. In this way, I can keep an emergency stash in the car without breaking the bank to do so. Plus, I will never find myself without diapers!

If you have a child in diapers, do you have enough diapers with you in case of an emergency?

(P.S. I drive a Ford Escape - it's not a large vehicle but rather a small SUV - definitely bigger than T Rex Dad's Jetta but more room for all of us, including dogs, should the need arise for evacuating the house again - for those who think my car is really big to carry all this stuff. Thank you for all your excellent comments on the previous emergency preparations posting. I welcome your feedback and input and because of it have included a couple more items in my pack.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Emergency Preparations - Part I

Two years ago...

T Rex was fast asleep and T Rex Dad and I were enjoying the long summer night (during the summer months it does not get dark until 9:30/10:00). We were also busy getting ready for work the next day. I recall my boss was coming to town to work with me and also give me my mid-year review.

Then a friend of mine called and asked if we were leaving our house. "Why?" I asked. She then told me there was a fire right by the house. We walked to our back yard which overlooks the valley and saw nothing. We went back to our preparations for the following day. Then another friend called asking the same thing. She was a lot more insistent that we should leave. We decided to sit for a moment and consider our options.

Honestly, with T Rex being asleep, we really did not want to bother him but we thought it might be wise to gather a few things just in case. Then someone began frantically ringing the doorbell. We answered, a girl came by saying the fire department said we should start packing our things. Then the phone started ringing non-stop. We would answer by saying, "We're heading out the door." As we were loading the car with our bags, dogs, child, and fire safe, the police were coming by ordering the evacuation. We were mostly prepared, but there were still a few things we were wishing we had had.

We went to some friends' house and waited it out. It was the most eerie feeling that night wondering if we would have a home to go return to. We returned the next morning. Several homes in the neighborhood burned to the ground. There was massive property damage. One person died. We were spared. I did meet with my boss that day who was completely impressed that I was working that day despite the ordeals of the preceding night. He gave me a glowing review and a raise! (He insisted it had nothing to do with the fire.)

I've been watching similar storms roll through our area, much like the one that started that fire two years ago. It's reminded me that it is time to post what we are doing for emergency preparations in the way of our 72 hour emergency preparedness kits. Those were what we used for our evacuation. To our knowledge, we were the only ones in the neighborhood with such preparations. The only thing we could have had more of were diapers, but aside from that, we were prepared.

This week...

I updated the kit with fresh supplies and appropriate clothes for the kids. This kit is specifically for my car and for the kids and myself (T Rex Dad carries his own pack with him at all times). The kit remains in the car in case we are away from our home. The intent is two-fold - tie us over if we have to leave our home in an emergency or tie us over until we can get back to our home, in case of an emergency.

Here is what we have:

Food and Water: Water pouches (we also carry 2-3 bottles of water in the car at any given time but these are separate and specific to the kits ) 8 total, water filter, Emergency food ration bar (9 complete meals), MREs (1 full meal and 5 snacks), Fruit strips (for T Rex), Freeze dried yogurt melts (for T Rex), Freeze dried strawberries (for T Rex) 2 packets, apple sauce pouches (for T Rex and T Rex Princess when she's on solids) 6 total. T Rex Princess still gets most of her nutrition from breast milk so as long as I am eating, she will be, too. Important to pack food your kids will eat.

Emergency sleeping bags - 4 total (very center in above photo)

Other miscellaneous items: sun screen, sunglasses (for kids and me), soap, bug spray, lotion, toothpaste, toothbrushes, lip balm, hand sanitizer, hand/feet warmers.

Other items not pictured: Flashlight, pocket knife, clothes/PJs for kids and myself (including underclothes, socks, and shoes), protectitive sun hats and coats for all of us, baby carrier, blanket and burp cloth, first aid kit, trash sack, and diapering supplies. (I'll post my cloth diaper emergency pack in a later posting.)

Everything fits nicely in the back of the car.

It is all mostly contained within the crate. We don't yet have a bag that fits everything but we're working on that. Right now, the crate is just fine. Plus, there is plenty of room for the dogs and/or stroller. I still need to have a functioning area in the back of my car. But this way, we are always prepared. Prepared for emergencies or prepared in case we did not pack food for the kids, run out of diapers, need a change of clothes, or simply want some comfortable walking shoes.

Stay tuned...more posting on diapering the baby, canning, short term food storage, and long term food storage. In the side bar I've added some links we refer to for our various emergency preparations.

What's in your 72 hour emergency kits?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Garden Friends...

Some of the friends we've encountered in or near the garden this year...

This pair was so lovely - not sure what kind they are - bigger than a finch but not as big as a dove. Gorgeous...

Our resident hummers are back - this one thinks he owns the feeder. He allows one female to drink but other than her, no others are allowed. He will actually camp on the fence and attack any others.

Our praying mantis friends are also back - in years past we always get egg sacs to put in the yard but this year there were none available due to the harsh storms. However, some of the previous ones must have laid eggs because we have several this year. We consider them very much good luck. This one was huge!

We've also had several coveys of quail making their way down the path just behind our house. They are extremely shy and I cannot get the camera fast enough. Besides, they are so cool I cannot take my eyes off of them to even get the camera. The babies just follow behind Mom and Dad takes up the rear. We did have one covey that lost the mom but the next day I saw that they had taken up with another covey and merged families.

I find animal parenting to be very interesting - sometimes we can learn a lot from them. Ducks and geese mate for life. And geese are some of the most vigilant and protective parents I've ever encountered.

If I were any animal parent, I wonder what kind I would be. How about you?