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.

 

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.

 

All. The. Grocery. Stores.

 

When I first graduated from college, we lived in Richfield Springs, New York. This was considered a happening town in Central New York; there were 3 restaurants (diner, Chinese, Pizza), a Price Chopper in town and Walmart was a short 20 minutes away; the movie theater was about a 70 minute drive.

Patrick loved it, but frankly, this was just too rural for me to handle.

While Westborough isn’t exactly a metropolis, we certainly are blessed with plenty of food options- over 80 restaurants, and a dozen grocery stores within 15 minutes of our house.

Stop & Shop

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There are literally 5 Stop & Shops within 15 minutes of our house. Honestly, they aren’t the cheapest, they don’t always have great customer service. But Stop & Shop has basically everything anyone could ever want- organic everything, weird fruit, 6 kinds of Kefir, baby diapers, local veggies… It is a suburban mom’s companion. (or nemesis…) Their hours are great- they open at 6, and close at 11, making those days when I run out of baby Tylenol much less painful.

Roche Brothers

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This place feels a bit more friendly, but some of the aisles are narrower, and their selection isn’t quite as big as Stop & Shop’s. They have a great prepared foods section, and there’s a Starbucks. Located right at the rotary, Roche Brothers has terrific customer service. I’ve had more than a couple of offers to help load the groceries into my car!

Wegmans

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This place is… epic. Originating in New York, Wegmans has a terrific selection of organic, unique, and basic food staples. They have an olive bar and cheese selection that literally makes me drool; their meat and fish counters are at least three times the size of the ones found at Roche Brothers. My favorite part of Wegmans (besides their caramelized onion hummus) is the huge wine and beer selection. The prices and quality of the booze is fantastic. The biggest drawback of Wegmans is that it is almost always packed on the weekends, and parking can be tricky. So- treat yourself to something from the cafeteria while you’re there.

Price Chopper

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Sometimes, they’ve got bargains. Their organics selection leaves a bit to be desired, but in general they are a bit cheaper than then others. This is the place to go for “salt potatoes” and a few other items that Stop & Shop refuses to stock. Located on Route 9, just before 140, this place is often skipped by Westborough residents, despite being about 10 minutes from home.

Hannaford

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This is my second choice for shopping. It is small, and located in Hudson, is a 15 minute drive from our house. Their organics selection is small, but the guy at the deli counter is friendly, and prices on everything are reasonable. If I’m in town, and need to grab something quickly, this place is much easier to get through than Stop & Shop.

Market Basket

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Renowned for having great customer service and ultra-low prices, I have found Market Basket to have some pretty great deals on the basics. (Tomato Sauce for $1! Bananas for 25 cents!) But they don’t sell big boxes of diapers, and their organic fruit selection can be low. If you’ve got time to drive and are ready to hunt for a deal, this is the place to go! It is a 12 minute drive from Westborough.

BJ’s

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The wholesale club is rumored to have awesome deals when you buy in bulk. Honestly, when I do a true price shop, the prices aren’t significantly different from those at Stop & Shop. Their diapers and paper goods are priced very competitively, but Amazon auto delivery sells them at a similar price. They do have a great wine & beer selection, but Wegmans is cheaper. At the end of the day, I’m not a huge fan. They do have the benefit of super cheap gas,but after the cost of a club membership, it doesn’t seem like such a deal. Still, some people swear by it! Plus, it is only about 10 minutes from anywhere in Westborough.

Walmart/Target

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They’re there, right at the west end of Westborough’s town line. They have just about everything that you could want. They even stock that soy cheese loved by vegans, and their frozen pizza selection is unrivaled. Honestly, their prices aren’t that much better than the other stores, but sometimes, it is nice to be able to buy bananas and towels in the same store.

Westborough residents often balk at driving 10 minutes north to Market Basket, but don’t hesitate to drive 10 minutes to BJ’s. Honestly, the parking at Market Basket is better- and so is the customer service. We’re spoiled with choices. So how come no one has found me a food that can erase the calories from the glass of Pinot Noir that I need after my shopping trip?

Wings in Westborough?

One of Patrick’s favorite foods is chicken wings. This might be because he was raised in an area close to Buffalo, or because he has fond memories of his days as a bachelor- eating whatever he pleased, or because there really isn’t anything much better than sweet, spicy and salty all in one bite.

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Unfortunately, Westborough doesn’t have much to offer right in town for chicken wings.

So, we end up driving ALMOST 10 MINUTES. Options are:

Buffalo Wild Wings– They do a great take-out business, and truly feel like a sports bar. They have high tables and booths, tons of TVs blaring games and the menu has loads of spice options. These guys are on Route 9 in Shrewsbury, about 10 minutes from Westborough.

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Hooters– This place is certainly well known for their waitresses, but let’s be honest, their wings aren’t bad. While it isn’t necessarily the first place I’d think of bringing our toddler, the atmosphere is actually very friendly and the service is great. They’re close to Wild Wings, about a 15 minute drive from Westborough on Route 9 in Shrewsbury.

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Hudson Wings– They are relatively new to the hopping food scene in Hudson. Their spice options mirror Buffalo Wild Wings, and they also have fried pickles and Oreos. This place is better for take-out, as the booths aren’t as cozy as Wild Wings. It feels a bit more sterile, but Jasper loves their food. It is about 15 minutes from our house, up 495.

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Wegmans– While primarily a grocery store, they have a prepared foods section that rivals any food court. They have wings of the barbeque, buffalo and Chinese food variety. I like that I can grab some sushi, Jasper can have some meatballs, and Patrick can grab his wings. The prices are reasonable, considering their convenience. They’re at the junction of Route 9 & 20- a short 10 minutes from Westborough.

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Pumpkins Are Vegetables.

“Food comes from farms! Apples grow on trees, and pumpkins grow on….” Jasper can rattle off some good facts that he’s learned at preschool about where his food comes from.

We’re also big fans of country music, so he’s been known to spout, “Rain makes corn.. Corn makes whisky, and whisky makes my baby… feel a little frisky!”

He gets it.

Kind of.

I mean, what does a farm look like? And where are these farms?

One great local farm in Westborough is Nourse Farm. As I’ve written before, this farm is a few centuries old, and has some  amazing family history. (Any American is sure to appreciate a connection to the Salem Witch Trials!) I try to take our boys to farms as much as possible, so that they can truly understand what it takes to make food, and what it is that we’re eating.

But that’s not why I’m writing today.

In an effort to support local businesses, we buy our pies from Nourse Farm instead of Stop & Shop. This family is working to cultivate the earth and help local families have access to real, local, food.

How cool is that?

The night before  Thanksgiving, we trucked through town, ready to pick up our pies. Three generations of Nourse Family smiled at my eager and earnest toddler, and made polite noises about how cute Sawyer’s toes were.

“I want Pumpkin Pie!” Jasper shouted gleefully, gawking at the pumpkins littering the entrance.

“Would you like there to be pumpkin pie?” Marsha asked, glancing at me above Jasper’s head.

She couldn’t have had a better response.

“Sure,” I said, pulling forward memories of Bill Cosby’s bit about chocolate cake.

Our banter continued as we both recounted our past visits, and Marsha’s son helped me safely tote our bounty back to the minivan.

That night, we had pie for dinner. Jasper loved his special treat- we spent the night talking about how cool it was to know where his dinner came from.

 

Winter Re-Imagined

Once again, I had no idea what I was getting into.

Last year, I took Jasper to the Christmas lights display at Tower Hill, and we had a ball running around. I was excited to visit again, this time with a toddler who had another year of

I planned the visit with my parents, so that Patrick could stay home and ensure that Sawyer could make his 4:45 bedtime. (Yup, 4:45- you read that right!)

Jasper was thrilled to have Moe Moe & Pops join us, but honestly, he wasn’t that into the lights.

Once again, he ran around the dimly lit grounds at full speed, weaving in and out of people. I did a better job of wrangling him, and to be fair, Jasper listened to most of my reminders to slow down.

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There were loads of beautiful colors and displays. I was sure that he would enjoy the stick cave/sculpture that was lit with an impressively romantic display, but Jasper was “too scared” to hang around. (I think he just wanted to run more!)

He loved the “fairy lights” in the trees, and tolerated my cooing at the awesome displays. (The igloo, his favorite from last year, didn’t have any penguins, so he was a bit disappointed.)

His favorite part was the stuffed reindeer. Go figure!

So, if you’re looking for something fun to do this winter, I highly recommend the lights display at Tower Hill. If you’ve got a toddler, don’t forget your running shoes.

 

Who Needs Professionals When I Have an iPhone?

Since Sawyer is so happy (Guys, he honestly smiles all of the time!) I was confident that we could nab the spot for cutest Christmas picture of the year.

I chose one to imitate from a Google search that looked like our Buddha Baby could pull off, and prepared to do our best imitation. I scoured Amazon for a tiny Santa hat. Then, I set Jasper up with a pretty sweet set of footy-pajamas. (The ones that are usually banned thanks to toddler potty training.)

As Christmas approached, I carefully scheduled a photo session in our living room, complete with bells and cookies as bribery.

Who needs professionals when I have an iPhone? Who’s with me?

 

Chocolate was smeared into our rug within 5 minutes, and Jasper wanted to eat ALL THE COOKIES NOW.

Then Sawyer barfed up the cookie, since his little tummy had no idea what to do with all of that sugar. (I’m omitting the “Is that poop on the floor? No don’t eat that!” section of this story. Because you don’t need to read about it to know how Jasper and I reacted.)

A couple look cute enough for the card, right?

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Wait… What Does That Label Say?!

I often joke that the best thing about Girl Scout cookies is that the Thin Mints come in those awesome single serving sleeves… because you’re supposed to eat 15 per sitting, right?

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As our health journey continues, I’m becoming an obsessive reader of labels.

It is fascinating.

Did you know that the tiny can of Mandarin Oranges is 2.5 servings?

Seirously.

My eight month-old eats an entire can at once, and then looks around for some more. Are you telling me that you expect an adult to eat less than half of this can per sitting?

Sawyer’s got stuff to say about this. “50 Calories Per Seving” is a joke.

 

 

Christmas Miracles

Last weeked we made our annual pilgrimage to the tree farm to cut down our Christmas tree. 

Given Sawyer’s new nap/sleep routine, we had about 2 hours to get the kids ready, drive the to the farm, pick out a tree and take some adorable pictures with Santa.

Jasper was beside himself with glee, as proven by the short 17 minutes that it took him to put on his shoes. (Any parent of a toddler can tell you that this is record time- only 3 reminders were needed!)

When we reached the lot, I found a tree that I loved in short order.

“Now Jasper, you remember where this tree is. Mommy will need to walk around the other trees for twenty more minutes,” Patrick snidly remarked.

Ha! Not this year. Our schedule didn’t allow for fun family strolls around the farm.

Patrick had felled the tree and a friendly guy from Ellsworth farm was toting it to the parkinglot for us within the next 5 minutes. Sawyer cooed happily from the backpack while Jasper shouted at the tractors.

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Yup, that’s my guy, cutting down our tree. Because he loves me. 

We loaded into the barn to enjoy our cider and cookies, while I got in line to pay.

“And who is this little guy?” Santa asked, scooping Jasper up for a hug.

“JASPER!!” our tot beamed.

“And what would you like for Christmas?”

“A ROCKET SHIP!!”

Wait… what?!

I’d never heard a single thing about a rocket ship before this moment. My heart beat raced, and I placed my hand on the phone in my pocket, praying that Amazon could help fullfill this wish.

Santa plopped Jasper back on the ground as he resumed his post, and we paid for our tree.

After we waited in line a short five minutes (an eternity for our rambunctious toddler) to have our pictures taken with Saint Nick, Sawyer, as always,beamed happily at the camera. Jasper again announced his wish for Christmas, and I scrambled to update the Amazon order while we were in the parking lot.

We made it home in 55 minutes.

A Christmas miracle.