Why Our Preschooler Isn’t Joining a Sports Team

Ours is a typical American suburb, and most kids on our block are signed up for sports teams. Four year-old kids play soccer, t-ball, and other activities- and they seem to love it. Image result for toddler soccer

Our little boys aren’t on sports teams. They aren’t for us.

It isn’t that we don’t believe in the importance of teamwork, following directions or being physically active. As parents, we just don’t think our kid needs to be on a sports team.

Instead of rushing off to practice and missing family dinner, we walk around the block, hike through the woods, play in the yard, and have wrestling matches in the living room. We have a ridiculously early dinner time so that Sawyer (who is only one year-old and demands an equally early bed time) can join us.

We never have to wake up early to rush off to a game on the weekends. We’re free to plan a spontaneous trip to the Children’s Museum or head off to Story Land every weekend if we’d like. We do things together as a family, and everyone gets to be a participant. (Well, Sawyer is still working on his participation. But he’s getting there!)

I’m a little sad that we don’t have that cute team photo, and that I won’t have memories of a herd of kids chasing after a soccer ball on Haskell Field to remember. Those kids are having fun, and Jasper doesn’t get to be a part of it.

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Friendships forged on the soccer field can last a lifetime… but the Tobiassons aren’t setting up those relationships.

Instead, we’re modeling life long fitness by hitting the gym as often as we can as parents, and play sports in the backyard with both boys. (Parent Brag: Jasper’s golf swing is looking pretty good!)

I’m not saying that our kids will never play sports. I’m just saying they aren’t going to- for years- because we aren’t ready to let go of the precious time we have with toddlers.

Right now,  our boys want to pig pile in the living room, whack pipes with rocks, and perfect the k-turn in the tractor.

For now, our family is committed to playing together.

 

Putting My Kids First- How We Changed Our Eating on Play Dates

While taking the boys on play dates and field trips, it can be hard to eat healthy. We have loads of day trips planned this summer, but the menus at places like Story Land and the Children’s Museum cater to the chicken nugget crowd.

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Play dates can be equally challenging. We don’t do fruit snacks or Lunchables… we’re working our way towards a sugar free diet, at the recommendation of our pediatrician.

The answer is the Isagenix smoothie.

We started this nutrition system over a year ago, and I’ve become a little obsessed. I make us each a smoothie with kefir, some fruit, veggies and Isagenix protein.  I blend them up and load them into a Yeti cup and they stay ice cold for the entire day.

Sawyer is sticking to pouches for now, as he hasn’t exactly mastered the art of the spoon.

I usually pack some veggie chips or crackers for the boys to share, just in case they want to snack later on in the day.

The difference that this has made in our lives is hard to explain. I’m filled with more energy, and just feel… better! I had no idea how indulging in pizza or burgers during a  play date was fueling my brain fog. Now, I’m able to stay happier throughout the day; my gut and my head are in a better place.

When I’m able to take the kids out for a day, I want to be able to enjoy them. Not just the pizza.

 

Summer’s Smashing Start

It was busier than we’d ever seen it.

The parking lot was overflowing with cars, and the line to get in snaked around the corner. We pulled our double stroller, loaded with kids, diapers, snacks and waters to the express line, pulling out our season passes.

Summer in 2017 officially began for our family with our first trip to Storyland.

We left on Saturday morning around 7am, and were riding our first round on the tractor four hours later.

Sawyer loved watching all of the people, and was happy to join us on any ride that we lugged him on.

Jasper ran from ride to ride, patiently waiting in line at the rides in a way that surprised me.

It was perfect.

 

 

Not a card, flower or even a brunch for my mother on Mother’s Day.

Families around America gathered for brunch last Sunday in celebration of Mother’s Day.

We skipped it.

As it turns out, Mother’s Day was founded in the 19th Century to help support mother’s who had lost children to illness and war; the founder’s life mission was to prevent milk contamination and lower infant mortality rates.

Anna Jarvis, the founder of the holiday, didn’t have any children. She spent her life perpetuating her own mother’s life work and said that for her, Mother’s Day “was a day where you’d go home to spend time with your mother and thank her for all that she did.” The day was quickly commercialized, to Jarvis’ horror. She could have cashed in on being a founder of this day, but instead organized protest after protest, refuting the fundraisers and flowers that became associated with the day. Giving up everything, Jarvis insisted that the day wasn’t about cards, but about generating awareness and honest appreciation for the sacrifices made by mothers for their children.

So, this year, I didn’t buy my mother a card.

I didn’t make her one, either.

I didn’t even buy her flowers.

Instead, we attended a workshop the week before Mother’s Day at Harvey’s Farm and built planters together. There was plenty of chatter and discussion about the best way to grow plants. My mom and I spent time together, talking and getting our hands dirty.

Because that’s what moms do.

On Sunday, it was raining and our plans were dashed. Patrick suggested that I take Jasper into Boston. I picked up the phone, and invited my mom to come along for a spur of the moment trip to the Children’s Museum.

We spent the afternoon watching Jasper fearlessly leap around the exhibits. (well, except for that cage climbing thing- that ended in tears.) We smiled as he laughed, and enjoyed a quiet lunch together- just the three of us.

I didn’t buy my mom flowers, a card, or brunch. Instead, we spent time together, and celebrated the love that we get to share.

Thanks, Mom.

And thanks to Jasper, who showed me in his toddler way that he loves me with all that he has in the precious time that we spent together last weekend.

Brownies That Aren’t So Bad

For Sawyer’s Big Birthday Celebration, Jasper and I made some cupcakes with bright red frosting. (Jasper assured me that this was what Sawyer wanted for his birthday.)

All three of the Tobiasson boys’ birthdays are in one month, and honestly, I was tired of feeling sick after eating cake.

So, after we made the cupcakes, Jasper and I made some protein brownies. I stole the recipe from a health group I follow on Facebook. I blended;

1 box of healthy-ish brownie mix (I like the No Pudge Fudge, and Bettry Crocker Gluten Free)

2 scoops of IsaPro chocolate whey protein powder

1 can of black beans- with the liquid

1/2 c water

2T of Oil

I blend them up, and then bake for 30 minutes at 350 in a greased pan.

They are gooey, fudgey and delicious. While they aren’t good  for me, they aren’t necessarily bad. 

I didn’t notice any yucky blood sugar spikes or tummy aches afterwards, and I still felt like I was indulging.

Check out Sawyer’s joy with the wacky wild frosting.

 

Enthusiasm: (en-theos)to be with god. Sunday Morning’s Religious Experience With Paw Patrol

I decided not to tell Jasper that we were going to see “Paw Patrol Live!” until we were pulling off of the ramp towards the Prudential Center. I loaded him into the car, wearing his Chase Sweatshirt and Paw Patrol t-shirt, promising him a special treat.

We drove the 30 minutes into the city, and noted all of the awesome sites along the way.(“Its CRANKY THE CRANE!!! He is HERE and he is HUGE!” Jasper shouted from the back seat.)

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It was Sunday morning at 10:00, so traffic was light. Everyone who was anyone was at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston.

We parked the car and found our seats without a hitch, settling in a perfect 10 minutes before the curtain.

The guy in front of us looked to be about 40 years old, and was seated a couple of rows behind his family. This dude was clearly disgusted that he was in for an hour of Paw Patrol on the stage, instead of sitting in some pub, drinking a pint while the parade marched on.

The lights dimmed, and Jasper squirmed with excitement.

“Who do you think will come on stage first? Will it be Chase?” I asked, naming the character on Jasper’s shirt.

“No. It will be Ryder,” he said, firmly.

The song started, and we sang along at the top of our lungs. I watched the guy in front of us lean back, resigning himself to the inevitable.

Then…

“IT IS RYDER!!! LOOK! HE HAS HIS CAR… AND HE IS HERE!” Jasper’s glee radiated from every pore of his being. He was loving -and living -the moment.

The old guy glanced back, wondering if Jasper was going to keep his devotions up for the entire show.

Tears of joy brimmed in my eyes while Jasper’s happiness outlasted the guy’s groans. My kid’s enthusiasm on a Sunday morning couldn’t be matched.

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Organic Hand Sanitizer DOES NOTHING?

Unfortunately, being a school teacher of middle school students means that I’m constantly exposed to germs. This age group is notoriously bad at practicing basic hygine- even when reminded, they “pretend” that an activity was completed instead of actually doing it. (Honestly, the 12 year-olds aren’t that different from the 2 year-olds.)

In an effort to keep sickness at bay, I purchased some pricey sweet-smelling hand sanitizer from Ava Anderson that I promised to use regularly. I did this after reading an article about the horrors of using hand sanitizer, and how it can mess with hormones.

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In my research into how to prevent the spread of germs, I found some truly disturbing information about hand soaps and sanitizers.

It turns out that Ava Anderson hasn’t made any false promises about the amount of germs their sanitizer kills. In fact, in my new favorite scientific mommy blog, there is evidence to prove that the Ava sanitizer doesn’t really kill any germs at all! (GASP.) 

Basic hand washing with any soap that lasts for a full minute is good for keeping basic bad germs out of the house. This is what I try so hard to get Jasper to practice. In fact, I’m having Patrick installing a step stool into the laundry room so that Jasper can wash his hands as a ritual whenever he comes home.

Basic handwashing isn’t being crazy- it is good hygiene!

Still, I want to prevent the stomach bug from returning too often from our house, and I need to keep germs at bay, especially when I deal with a kid who displays less than awesome hygiene.

The author of the shocking blog post did a bunch of experiments, and she found that the best thing to use is Zylast. This stuff killed all of the norovirus and rotavirus in experiments, and there is boatloads of evidence that this stuff is more effective than Purell that they are effective at killing those stomach bugs.

I’ll return to those three simple truths-

  1. Daycare and basic hand sanitization play a major role in these illnesses
  2. Bacteria is good and important. I don’t want to kill it all.
  3. We will continue to get stomach viruses, even if I do everything right

 

If you look back at #2 there, I’m not really trying to kill all bacteria, all of the time. I’m not going to run around, trying to sanitize Jasper’s hands with Zylast all day long. And after reading that article about BPA, I don’t plan to use this sanitizer all that often, either. Most days, we’ll all stick with Dawn Dish soap, which is gentle on the oils that our bodies need.

But.

If there is a virus going around daycare, if we just visited a germ factory, or if I encounter a germy paper, I’m going to take this stuff out.

I can hear grandmothers at Stop & Shop freaking out about putting hand sanitizer like Zylast on my boy’s hands.

“But it has alcohol in it!”

Yes, it does. And possibly ingesting a bit isn’t a huge deal, once in a while, according to poison control. Again, I’m not doing that often- only after a rare, especially gross activity.

My boys and I want to keep healthy bacteria around… we just don’t want to continue to come down with stomach bugs.

 

Sanitation Cycle vs. The Germ Factory: The Truth About HE Washing Machines

Last week, when the stomach virus struck our house, I was horrified to learn that the “sanitation” cycle on our washer may not actually be sanitizing.

In reading a well-researched post, I learned that through some pretty scientific research that basically, it doesn’t matter what detergent is used. The rotavirus and norovirus, those that cause stomach viruses, aren’t killed by laundry detergent.

She did find that the sanitation cycles helped to reduce the number of bacteria and viruses, but she found that it certainly didn’t “sanitize” them.

She also noted that adding anything other than old fashioned bleach was basically pointless. Color-safe? Splash-proof? Oxy? Bleach that is older than two months?

No help.

The sanitation cycle heat does reduce the amount of germs, but it doesn’t kill them all. In fact, introducing germs into the washer can spread them further to other loads. (OH MY GOD!) It is important to run bleach through the machines, or to spray them both down with virus killing chemicals before putting uncontaminated items into the machines.

In conclusion, the next time that my kid pukes on his clothes, I’ll be throwing them out.

Or maybe we’ll just move. That might be easier.

Sheldon Cooper’s Got Nothing On This Mom

 

The memory is as vivid today as it was three years ago.

I stood over the changing table, hovering over my six month old baby boy. I peeled his vomit-soaked onsie from his body, and debated throwing it into the hamper or the trash.

A wave of nausea rolled like a roller coaster, running its course through my gut. I willed its contents to stay put while I carefully removed the soiled diaper from his body, hoisting his ankles in the air and trying not to breathe in the horrific fumes.

It was too much.

Abandoning my baby, I emptied the contents of my stomach into the diaper pail, praying that for once, my kid stayed still on the changing table so that he didn’t roll off. I simply couldn’t vomit and hold my baby at the same time.

Fortunately, Jasper and I both survived that stomach bug, as well as the many that followed.

Unfortunately, it left me more than a little paranoid about stomach viruses. (By the time Jasper was seven months old, he had shared SEVEN stomach viruses with us. After you’ve endured that many in as many months, we can talk about how crazy the post below is!)

Image result for sheldon cooper sick meme

 

Last weekend, the stomach bug of 2017 visited our house.

I spent the weekend running around after Jasper, reminding him to wash his hands with the antibacterial soap and Purell. Patrick and I used the Blue Dawn dish soap so much that I left a jar of Vaseline out to help ease our chapped hands.

I constantly Lysoled EVERYTHING.

The carpet, the curtains, the floor. At one point, Patrick had to take the boys to a different floor to escape the Lysol fumes. (Hey, the can says that the surface needs to stay wet for 3-10 minutes to kill the virus! That is a lot of spray on a lot of things.)

I spread sheets on the couch and then washed and dried them on the sanitize cycle. I cleaned up messes while wearing disposable gloves, and when I Lysoled the bathrooms and Jasper’s room, I wore a mask. When Patrick was struck ill, I tried my best to keep tiny Sawyer away from him, and continued my vigilant efforts to contain the virus.

Patrick was more than a little annoyed, but tolerated my Lysol/fumigation of the house.

“You’re paranoid, but that is ok,” he said from across the room, laughter lighting the corners of his sad, sick eyes.

After the haze of sleepless nights spent caring for sick boys lifted, I took to the internet to do some research. How could I better prevent the virus from entering our home? Was I crazy to Lysol EVERYTHING?

Image result for lysol everything meme

Usually, I sanitize Jasper’s hands with Purell once a day, and I use the Ava hand sanitizer repeatedly throughout the day. Our house is cleaned top to bottom a couple of times a month, and the floors are washed almost every day, since Sawyer is in the crawling/eating everything in sight phase of life. I began to wonder if I was doing the right things as a mom.

There are a couple of things that I realize are hard truths:

  1. Daycare and basic hand sanitization play a major role in these illnesses
  2. Bacteria is good and important. I don’t want to kill it all.
  3. We will continue to get stomach viruses, even if I do everything right

Still, I hit the internet in desperate hope of affirming my own crazy sanitation, and making sure that I had done all that could be done to further limit the spread of the virus.

What I learned was shocking.

Did you know that the cdc has learned that people can still be contagious carriers of the virus for WEEKS?

There aren’t any studies about whether or not saliva spreads stomach viruses (rotavirus and norovirus); the viruses are spread through feces and vomit. With a toddler and an infant in the house, that means that poop can be quickly spread throughout the house.

I learned that although Lysol can kill the viruses, it takes 10 minutes of wet surface to help; the Lysol wipes don’t even kill it at all.

As I trudged through the internet, I was horrified.

Did you know that simply washing clothes, towels and sheets does not stop the growth of bacteria? And that not all cleaners kill the virus?

Further research showed that few hand sanitizers and hand soaps actually kill the virus.

I was horrified.

Basically, my husband and son are walking germ factories.

If you see either of them walking in your direction, you should just walk the other way. (Forget baths! That toddler can bathe himself! Patrick is sleeping in the guest room!)

As a middle school teacher, I have watched many kids struggling with mental illness. I have seen family members grapple with the tolls it charges, and I have seen friends trying to learn how to live with diagnoses.

Because thats what you do- you live with mental illness. Your family lives with it, you live with it, and your friends love you with it.

Not inspite of it.

With Carrie Fisher’s passing, a loud voice speaking for those living with mental illness was lost. In celebration of all that she contributed as an artist, her efforts to advocate for those living with mental illness have been brought to light.

In 1995, when there were few advocates for those living with mental illness, Fisher said, “I am mentally ill… I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on. Better me than you.”

Fisher was open about her struggles with drug addiction, but that wasn’t anything new. What she did, what so few women had the courage and voice to do, was to speak openly, and candidly about living with a diagnosis. “(G)enerally someone who has bipolar doesn’t have just bipolar, they have bipolar, and they have a life and a job and a kid and a hat and parents,so its not your overriding identity, it’s just something that you have, but not the only thing — even if it’s quite a big thing.”

Carrie Fisher was not Princess Leia. She was not a drug addict. She was not bipolar. Carrie Fisher was all of these things, and she was also a woman who wanted to help make the world a better place.

Gone, but not forgotten.