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.

The Truth About Fidget Toys

The new exciting toy that every kid wants isn’t an iPhone… it is a fidget toy.

For kids with ADD and autism, these little devices can have a positive impact in a student’s ability to focus in a classroom- there’s piles of research to prove it. Frankly, this isn’t a new or exciting idea. I’ve been handing out rubber bands and paperclips for a decade! Kids who struggle to focus in class can mindlessly manipulate these objects in their hands while bringing their main focus back to the point of instruction.

But like anything… they can become a problem.

Someone wrote an article about how these “spinning fidgets” can help kids focus in class. 

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They have become a plague.

Almost every kid in my classroom has one of these things. They spin them endlessly; on their noses, with friends, in pieces, upside down… it is basically the new “water bottle flip.”

The problem is that it isn’t just kids who have ADD and autism who are using these fidgets. Kids who’s brains focus on one thing at a time are bringing these things to school. All of their attention is on them. They play with them- because they are toys.

So, one of the teachers in our building created a poster with these rules:

The Fidget Rules

Fidget tools can help you concentrate, but only if they are used correctly.  These rules must be followed at all times so that the fidget tool will be useful. If these are not followed, the fidget tool will be taken away.

 You can hold it in your hand, feel it, move it, and/or spin it, but follow the Dos and Don’ts.

Dos

  1. YOU MUST BE LOOKING AT THE TEACHER
  2. YOU MUST BE LOOKING AT YOUR WORK
  3. YOU MUST BE DISCREET – Barely Noticeable

 

Don’ts

Don’t try to get your friends attention with it.

 Don’t share it with another student during class.

 Don’t make noise with the fidget.

 

We had a team meeting, and reviewed the rules. Then, when kids weren’t following the rules, I just started holding out my hand. They would then hand over the spinner and if they were nice about it, they could have it back at the end of class. If they were rude, (“WHAT? I wasn’t DOING anything? GOD!!”) I would keep it until the end of the day.

My favorite day was when I took one off of a kid’s nose.

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You know that this kid told his mom that buying this toy on Amazon would help him to focus. She had no idea that he would spend hours on youtube watching how to get the thing to spin on his nose.

Seriously- these things aren’t helping kids focus. They’re just another toy.

There are two kids on my team who benefit from the use of fidgets- they have elastics, and other devices that they’ve been quietly using for years. Those kids know how and why they need fidgets.

Please don’t give into the latest craze- it is impacting your kid’s ability to learn.

Why Our Kids Aren’t Going to Accompany Us at a Restaurant

After our first disastrous attempt at bringing Jasper to a restaurant, I decided that take-out was a better option for our family. Like any 21st Century mom, I developed a ranking of the town’s best take-out, sorted by timeliness and nutritional benefits.

Sawyer has proven to be an easy going kid, and last month, Patrick and I thought that we could introduce our young family to the restaurant scene.

We had a wonderful couple of nights at Civic. Their service was wonderful, and their menu closely aligned with our health conscious dietary requests.  It was a perfect couple of nights.

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Then, we had a nice night out at Arturo’s. We were seated in a back room, but the kids devoured the green beans and gluten-free pizza. Service was attentive and speedy; their Pinot Noir made the night relaxing.

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Then, we tried to join neighbor’s at Harry’s Diner. The kids were rowdy and the food to a while to get to us… but everyone left happy. I did spend more time reminding Jasper about table manners than I did eating food, but we all left happy. Well… mostly.

Then, I got cocky. I was hungry, the kids were hungry and we were on the road. We found ourselves at Owen O’Leary’s, just moments from home. They’ve got a rowdy and fun bar scene, but I figured that we’d blend in at 5:30.

It was a disaster. The kids fell apart. Patrick and I had to eat food that was “off diet” and Sawyer refused to acknowledge anything as edible. (To be fair, he’s a kid who prefers local vegetables… he’s not your average nugget eater.)

Jasper tried to run around the restaurant. Sawyer threw every piece of food that we offered onto the floor, and it looked like we’d had a food fight in the booth.

In that moment, I realized that we wouldn’t be going back to just any restaurant with our kids.

We’re back to take-out. Or maybe date-night?

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13 Reasons Why to Talk to Your Kids

When our cable costs started to soar, we did like any family in 2017; we turned to Netflix & Hulu. I haven’t looked back, and can’t wait to spend that $1,000 of savings on something fun for the boys.

But there’s a problem with streaming and all of that instant access to television; adolescents are watching more and more unsupervised things on their screens. Let’s be honest, it is hard to see what a kid is watching on their phones, and it takes a lot of committed parenting to supervise screen time.

Now, Netflix has added one more thing that you need to add to that list about parenting your kid in 2017- monitor their watchlist. Closely.

13 Reasons Why claims that it is the story of “a teenage girl’s perplexing suicide, and the tapes that she left, found by a teenage boy.” Each episode traces part of the story, but never really gives any answers about suicide- because in real life, there aren’t any.  The main character’s suicide is shown on screen, and each episode seems to send the same message- her death could have been prevented, if only…

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But here’s the catch.

There’s piles of research that showing on-screen suicides only glorifies the action, and study after study shows how this causes increases in the action. Honestly, I read this CNN post after talking with a mom who lost her son to suicide a year ago. She understandably was too enraged about the show to continue the conversation beyond our surface level discussion.

Here’s the gist of why the show is perpetuating suicide:

  • They may simplify suicide by suggesting that bullying alone is the cause.
  • They may make suicide seem romantic by putting it in the context of a Hollywood plot line. A simple, logical, and well-connected plotline may satisfy the story arc needs of a viewing audience, but it is rarely, if ever, the way that suicides really happen.
  • They may portray suicide as a viable option, one that can be an understandable outcome given a particular set of circumstances. In nearly all cases, people who die by suicide have a diagnosable (and therefore treatable) mental health problem at the time of their death.
  • They may display graphic representations of suicide which may be harmful to viewers, especially young ones and those who are highly sensitized to suicide imagery, as most attempt survivors and loss survivors are.
  • They may advance the false notion that suicides are a way to teach others a lesson, and that the deceased person will finally be understood and vindicated. They won’t. They’ll still be dead.

Here’s the truth: suicide rates are on the rise.

We need to talk to our kids about suicide, about this show, and about why they shouldn’t watch it. Because let’s be honest- kids are watching this thing. And they’re talking about it.

If we’re going to have any chance of actually helping kids, we need to be a part of the conversation. We cannot ignore it. (Its kind of like saying let’s not talk about condoms because we don’t want kids to have sex! Well, that’s what that surviving mom wanted you to know.)

Promises Kept

There are some experiences that simply don’t live up to the hype.

Davis Farmland in nearby Sterling, Massachusetts has a hefty price tag. At over $20/person, just getting through the door is a major hit to the wallet.

But it’s worth every penny.

Jasper and I were in line at opening, and he fondly recalled his favorite parts of the park while we waited to push through the turnstile.

“There’s a green tractor and a red tractor. Can we go fishing, too?” he asked, literally jumping up and down with excitement.

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“Yes. But first we’re going to feed some animals.”

“LIKE THE COWS?”

Yes. Baby cows, goats, rabbits, chicks, camels… This place has it all.

We were visiting with another family, and Patrick strolled in an hour later with Sawyer, fresh from his morning nap.

Jasper’s enthusiasm never faded. Sawyer was happy to go for a pony ride, and loved petting the baby cows.

The goats and people overwhelmed him, but he thought that the toddler play town was awesome.

We ate our packed lunch, and as soon as the temper tantrums started, we packed up an headed for home. (Confession: Other people probably think its crazy that we fork over all of that cash and head home right after lunch, but my kids can’t handle staying all day. The temper tantrums escalate and come more quickly, and my patience fades with each minute. Experience has taught us to escape before it gets to this point… our friends visiting the farm with us didn’t bat an eye- thanks, guys!)

The day was filled with smiles and laughter.

Boil, Boil, Toil and Trouble

Jasper and Sawyer both love food that has been “spiralized.”

If you’re not up on the latest food crazes, this is when you use a special peeler that turns foods into long twists that resemble spaghetti. We do zucchini and carrot “noodles” often, and I’ve recently tried adding a few new foods to our list.

Last week, I saw spiralized beets at Stop & Shop. Their beautiful purple/red color caught my eye, and I was sure that Sawyer would gobble them up.

“How do you cook them?” I questioned Patrick, who grew up eating more than the carrots and peas that frequented my plate as a kid.

“Just saute them for a bit,” he suggested.

They were still raw.

So, I boiled them for a bit. The water in the pot turned a shocking color of red, and my English teacher’s brain chuckled while I quoted MacBeth.

The boils loved the potion and gobbled every bite.

Proof That My Husband Loves Me

Like every couple, our discussions around budgets and spending can get emotional.

“I just thought that we’d be further along by now!” I exclaimed, scouring the pot pointedly.

“Well… why don’t you pick out a new set of pots and pans? Like the one that you’d have in your dreams,” Patrick suggested.

I took to the internet, excited about my research. Consumer Reports broke things out by cook top. Sadly, we have one of the electric glass tops, and this can make cooking tricky. Hands down, the best reviews were for Le Creuset, a French company.

My dad had done the research a year before and had the same results, to I knew what the pans felt like. They’re super heavy, and are dangerous when dropped on granite or quartz, but heat evenly and are easy to clean. They transition well from stove to oven, and it is important to never scour them with an abrasive sponge.

I purchased a custom set, and couldn’t be more thrilled with the purchase. No matter how messy the pans get, they clean quickly and easily.  When we start the dishes, we begin by soaking the pan for 15 minutes in cold water. Then, I hose it off again before gently wiping it with a sponge.

Seriously. That’s it.

We might have a vintage pink bathroom, trees that need removing, and a long list of things that need to be taken care of in the house.

But I have a beautiful set of pots, and my husband truly loves me.