Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sesame Street Live

Forest loves TV and movies. Love may not be a strong enough word, actually. He’s is flat out obsessed. I get embarrassed when we meet new people because it is ALL he talks about. We've started telling him that all the TVs we come across are broken. When we took him house hunting with us he ran from room to room asking 'Is this TV broken too???' Yep, honey, they are ALL broken. 

One conversation with him and you would think that all we do is plop in front of the TV all day for Disney marathons, when in reality he maybe gets an hour of screen time a week. While he does get the occasional movie night, most of his TV time involves PBS shows, Sesame Street being one of his absolute favorites. 

When a bunch of moms in our play group started talking about Sesame Street Live coming to the area, I didn’t give it much thought. I just thought Forest wasn’t quite ready for an 1.5 hour show. Flash forward two months and his ability to sit still had multiplied greatly. Plus our landlord chose last weekend to put our house on the market and so making ourselves scarce on the weekends makes house showings much less complicated. At the last minute we decided to buy tickets and tagged along with one of Forest’s best buddies, Eli. 

They were pretty stinkin adorable in their matching shirts and matching Cookie Monster stuffies (although it looks like Eli’s cookie monster ate F’s cookie monster which if you know Eli is pretty spot on because he is the best eater ever.) 

Forest was totally mesmerized by the show. Honestly, he just stared and didn’t move a muscle the entire time. 

I’d be surprised if he blinked at all. Eli was engaged and clapping along to the music but Forest was in a total trance. 
He got a bit upset during intermission because he didn’t understand where the characters went. He kept asking in a very distressed voice ‘Where did they gooooooo?’. 

Not happy during intermission .

Staring at the stage waiting for the cast to come back out.
It was funny because by the end of the show you could tell the young audience was coming to the end of their attention span and all the toddlers were squirming about, but Forest was just as still as a statue, taking it all in. 

I think it was a good test of whether he was ready to see a movie in the theaters and he passed that test with flying colors. We plan on taking him to see Finding Dory when it comes out in June. I’m loving these big boy milestones!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Flying with a 2.5 year old.

When Jonathan had trainings in Houston in late April/ early May we decided it would be most efficient for me to just meet him there on the back end of his trip. This meant that I would be doing my first solo flight start-to-finish with Forest and I was definitely apprehensive. The biggest stressor is always remembering to pack everything and making sure I am stocked with entertainment and snacks for the duration of the flight. I also get a little panicky at the thought of logistically getting to the airport, checking my bags, and getting through security with a toddler in tow. 

We tackled the logistical stressors by hiring a driver to drop me off right in front of the terminal, and also we flew out of Oakland vs San Francisco just because it’s closer, smaller, and much less intimidating to navigate alone. Since we were flying to Houston there were a ton of direct flight options so we chose a 1 pm flight to coincide with F’s naptime. Direct flights also cut down the stress big time! 

The morning of our flight was weird. Forest woke up before the sun and then was falling asleep as we dropped Samson off at the dog hotel that morning. I decided to put him down for a nap at 9 AM and he surprised me by going right to sleep. I was worried this would ruin my chances of getting him to nap on the plane so only let him snooze for 30 minutes before I woke him up. Our driver picked us up around 10:30 and dropped us off right at the check in counter. 

He barely fits in this thing anymore, but it's sooooo convenient!
I decided to use the ergo to carry Forest until the security checkpoint (I also used the ergo for boarding and de-planeing so that I would be hands free while getting our carry ons sorted). Getting our bags checked and getting through security was easy peasy. I noticed right off the bat that people were super compassionate to me flying by myself with Forest. Even the security people and the folks behind us in line were so kind and patient. It took a lot of pressure off. They did take my bag to inspect it further since I was travelling with liquid antibiotics and plenty of food pouches but Forest was a champ and sat on the bench with one of the said pouches and waited for me to be all done. 

We got through security with about 45 minutes to spare before our flight. We got some lunch and then headed to our gate where we lucked out to find a 3 year old boy playing with his cars. I had packed a special new truck for the flight and decided to reveal it to Forest early. He took it right over to the little boy and they became instant best buddies. They literally raced their cars and chased each other around the terminal for 30 minutes straight and then they were both heartbroken to have to say goodbye when it was time to board. 

Again, people were super nice and they all let me cut in line to board and then helped me get my carry on stowed and Forest’s harness all set up. People are never that nice when I’m traveling with Jonathan;)  The excitement of playing with his new buddy pre-boarding helped to wear Forest out and he easily fell asleep about 45 minutes into the flight and slept for over an hour (which seriously never happens when we are traveling). 

It was also nice because instead of his usual fussiness before on-the-go naps, I just told him to close his eyes and take a nap and when he woke up he could have the iPad. That little bit of incentive whisked him right away to dream land. Of course when he finally woke up he instantly said ‘Now watch Super Why!’. These kids never forget anything at this age. Whatever. I was happy to oblige and he watched shows on the iPad for the final 45 minutes of the flight. 

It was by far my easiest travel experience with him. An hour nap combined with 45 minutes of screen time equaled nearly 2 hours of reading for yours truly. That is like heaven in my book. 

On the trip back, Jon was flying with us but he was seated in first class while Forest and I were back in the cheap seats. Jonathan offered to switch with me but since I had all of F’s entertainment/snacks/harness organized in my backpack already I decided to start the flight with Forest and then swap out halfway through. 

The first hour was intense. He wasn’t tired at all but I didn’t want to give him the iPad because I knew if I did his chances of napping would be zero. I decided to keep him entertained for 2 hours and then if he didn’t fall asleep by then I would just hand over the iPad for the duration of the flight. So instead I was committed to entertaining him for a solid chunk of time which can be exhausting!  

The biggest entertainment hits were these puffy sticker scenes from Melissa and Doug. 
Melissa & Doug Pirate, Safari & Farm Puffy Sticker Bundle
Buy on Amazon. Hands down my favorite travel activity.

He also loved these Imagine Ink coloring pads,

$7 on Amazon
 Melissa & Doug Water Wow Coloring Book - Vehicles
I did notice a difference at this age is how quickly he goes through his activities. Whereas the Water Wow books used to keep him occupied for 20 minutes, now they are a 5 minute activity and then he’s like ‘What’s next, mom?’. 

That’s why the puffy stickers were so great. It took him 30 minutes just to meticulously transfer all of the stickers onto the scene and then he had fun rearranging them for another 20 minutes or so. Fifty minutes of independent play on a plane is clutch! 

The funny face sticker books were a huge hit too but he needed my help getting the stickers off, which was fine, but independent activities are definitely preferable! 

The imagine ink books were lovely but he kept dropping the marker and I swear they would roll of his tray table and fall into the Bermuda triangle. I think we lost 2 within the span of 10 minutes and I could not for the life of me find them again….which was a tad bit dramatic for Forest. I ended up just pulling out these no-roll triangular crayons (which are genius) and letting him color with them. 
Crayola 16ct Triangular Crayons
Another travel must have!

Defeated the purpose of the magic ink hidden pictures but kept him happy and meant less crawling around on plane floors for me. 

Right at the 2 hour mark, I saw his eyes getting droopy so I suggested he take a nap. He easily fell asleep. 
Of course this was when Jon came back to switch seats with me so I opted to stay put and not risk waking him. He woke up after 30 minutes and was very fussy. I tried to get him to fall back asleep but it was a fruitless effort. But by the time I took him to potty and got back to our seats there was less than an hour left on the flight so I shamelessly handed him the iPad and just read my book. Once again Jon offered to switch at this point but my stuff was everywhere and the hardest part was over so I decided just to stick where I was. 

All in all traveling has gotten SO MUCH EASIER. He’s always been a great traveler but every trip took so much work and preparation. It still does to some extent but it’s nice that he can do so many things independently and also that the iPad will solve any tantrums on the spot! It’s also amazing that I can reason with him to nap now. He used to get so fussy at naptime on the plane because he just wanted to be in his crib. Now I can say, 'Just lean against mommy and close your eyes for a few minutes' and he ends up nodding off. It’s like magic! 

Hopefully our relocation flight to Houston in a few weeks goes as smoothly. I’m knocking on wood as I type this, but I feel like we’ve turned a corner with traveling. He’s just doing so well with it these days. I’m hoping that with Jon’s 6 months of vacation per year we can really take advantage of the time off and get to show Forest some of the amazing things in this world. 

P.S. One of my new favorite snacks to bring are these Bare dried fruit chips.F's favorites are coconut and banana.

 Bare Natural Banana Chips, Simply, Gluten Free + Baked, 6 Count
PPS. A word on potty training while traveling: I’m knocking on wood again, but I would say Forest is solidly potty trained. He’s had a few mishaps but a total of only 4 accidents in 7 weeks of potty training  is way better than I expected when we started this business. I was nervous that the traveling would cause a regression and it did somewhat. He’d gone the previous 3 weeks accident free and then had 1 (pee) accident while in Houston and another one when we got back to San Ramon. 

Anyhoos, for the plane I put him in a pull up and told him to keep it dry. The reason for this is that even though I didn’t think he’d have an issue, it would be terrible if he had an accident on the plane. Same reason I still put him in a swim diaper for his swim lessons. I’m 99.9% sure he wouldn’t so much as pee in the pool (mainly because the moment we get out of the pool he screams ‘I have to go potty!’ and then he runs straight to the toilet.) but that is a 00.1% chance that I am just not willing to take because can you imagine the embarrassment for both of us if a #2 accident occurred? 

I used a pull up on the plane just in the unlikely event of an emergency. When I put his pull up on at the airport he made a comment about wearing a diaper. I said ‘No, it’s not a diaper. It’s a pull up. It feels like a diaper but you aren’t supposed to peepee in it.’ And he said ‘Like a swim diaper!’. Exactly, smart boy! 

Another reason for the pull up on the plane was in case he fell asleep for a long nap. Forest is occasionally waking up from his naps dry but not always so we are still putting diapers on him for sleep times. On the first flight, his pull up was wet after his nap but on the second flight it was dry. Until he’s sleep potty trained we will continue to put pull ups on him in situations where he may fall asleep. 

In Houston, we used his OXO 2-1 potty seat with disposable baggies and Jon’s parents also brought a portable potty seat which was a big help. Forest is starting to prefer the big toilet but without a step stool in the hotel, it was much easier for him to use the little potties independently, and when it comes to the potty he is all about doing it on his own.