Charlotte’s First Illness (& My Breakdown)

I started to write this blog several times now. I tried to find the right words to tell my story of today in a riveting, memorable manner.

I don’t have the energy or brain to do that tonight.

This week, my two-year-old daughter fell ill for the first time in her blessed life. The fact it took so long is amazing!

Charlotte is pretty awesome. She’s a “go big or go home” kind of toddler, so when she finally fell ill, she fell REALLY ill.

Without going into details, Charli was vomiting and filling diapers. We couldn’t get her to stop, and she wouldn’t eat or drink.

On top of that mess, HOS is out of town for a bachelor party.

After an awful night with little sleep and lots of showers, laundry and scrubbing, I finally reached freak out mode. To be fair, she has never been sick before… And there is something devastating about failing to make my Charli feel better. She looks up at me with big, blue eyes that beg me to help her and I have nothing to offer aside from hugs and kisses to wipe away her tears.

Worst. Feeling.

After the second round of vomit, and zero wet diapers, I took Charlotte to express care which sent us to the ER for dehydration.

Emergency Rooms should be equipped with therapists or preachers or lots and lots of chocolate.

I held my baby as she screamed louder and longer than I ever thought possible. I helped hold her down, and I kissed her tears while they used a catheter to extract a urine sample. I held her down and whispered apologies in her ears when she looked up at me, pleadingly, screaming for me to help her. They blew out the vein on her right arm and then inserted the IV on the left arm. They pumped her full of fluids.

I think I needed a therapist, preacher AND chocolate by the end of the experience. I would have fallen apart if my sister hadn’t spent her whole day with me.

It took five hours, but we were released to go home. We are cuddling in bed. I’m still hovering. My nerves are shot, and I need food and sleep. All I want is to hold my daughter, kiss her sweet cheeks and thank God for the doctors.

Today, I learned not to give a sick toddler milk… Even when she is begging. I also learned our carpet is no match for a sick toddler.

Most importantly, I learned that there is nothing more blessed than a healthy child.

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12 Things I Learned While on Vacation With My Two-Year-Old

Last week, I took Charlotte on her very first vacation! There is nothing like taking a brand new two-year-old on a trip … without HOS … To visit family six hours away. But seriously, I made precious memories with my sweet baby, and I learned a lot.

What I learned while on a five-day vacation with my two-year-old:

1. If Charlotte is sleeping in the car, do NOT wake her! Sure, she refused to eat lunch and the only food in her belly may be seven donut holes (don’t judge!) but once she is awake, there is no going back to sleep.

2. Don’t be cheap about audio books. I don’t know. Maybe you enjoy listening to one chapter read by a British woman followed by one chapter read by a gruff old man followed by a chapter read by someone whose accent is so heavy you simply skip the chapter in its entirety. If you don’t enjoy some odd woman reading in strange little voices that make you seriously consider listening to local, rural Nebraska radio stations, then I recommend paying for the audio book on Audible or using an app from your library.

3. Charli is afraid of men. She seemed to develop a leeriness of men overnight. She has never met you? She doesn’t like you. You’re her papa whom she talks about constantly? She doesn’t like you. You’re her cousin who plants a sweet kiss on her forehead? She dislikes you so much she cries.

4. The need for naps is real, people. Trust me, you don’t want to test this!

5. Charli is afraid of trains. She will stand in a completely empty room and begin telling me, “I scare. I scare! Twains, mommy!” An hour later, she sill stand in a room filled with toy trains, a conductor hat placed backward upon her head, and she is happy! I can’t pretend to understand this child.

6. Sugar is not a source for sustainable energy. Charlotte tried to prove me wrong all week long, and failed every time.

7. Charli is afraid of farm animals. I’m fairly certain this is due to the fact that all animals have faces. This is apparently very scary, especially when said farm animals look Charlotte in the face.

8. There are few greater feelings than your baby (two-years-old counts..) falling asleep in your arms. There are few greater workouts for your thighs than climbing two flights of stairs while carrying that 27 lb “baby!”

9. Charli is afraid of curtained windows. … For this, I have no explanation.

10. Tantrums thrown by a “two” are not at all like what you people describe! They are worse.

11. Charli is afraid dogs. Again, they have faces.

12. If possible, always leave for a road trip at the beginning of nap time, preferably when Charlotte has a full belly! Driving solo with a toddler trapped in a car seat is no easy feat! (And remember #1!)

What lessons have you learned on your family vacations?

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The Perfect Book

Every night before bed, we tell Charlotte that we will read three books. This almost always turns into four, five or nine books.

Every night before bed, Charli very carefully wraps her little fingers around the different spines of her books and pulls them out just enough to see the front cover. She will look back at me with frustration until she finds the perfect book.

The one book that we must read. Every. Night.

She is always so happy when she finds it! She carries the book with two hands and passes it off to either HOS or me. Charli will reach both arms into the air and say, “up!” until she is snuggled in the crook of my arm, blanket in one hand and fingers from the other hand in her mouth.

Charlotte will tilt her head backward until her blue eyes mine, and she will say…

“Papa.”

Then, we open the recorded book and listen as my dad and step-mom’s voices take on the life of daddy monster and child.

It’s difficult raising my daughter so far away from most of my family, especially being so far from dad and Sue. But Charlotte hears their voices every night. She asks for them. And Charli and I usually fight over whether or not the third time through is enough for the night.

Every night before bed, Charlotte is building a bond with her grandparents. She is learning from them. And she loves them more and more with each crack of the spine.

If you’re interested in a recordable book for one of your loved ones, we love the Hallmark Recordable books. Check some out here!

She Will Be Infinite

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This is one of those images of Charli that makes my heart stop. If only time would stop, too.

I know that one day I’ll dig through thousands of digital photos to find this exact photo. I’ll compare it to her first day of kindergarten and her last day of high school. I’ll show it off to anyone who can stand to see the picture … Again.

I will relive all of my favorite moments, like the first time she tip-toed down a large, empty hallway with an owl backpack slung across her back. She looked so very small and so very curious.

This Charlotte, this beautiful daughter of mine will be infinite. Maybe only in my world, but that’s all I need.

Healthy Meals – Why Bother?

I, like my fellow mamas and daddies, spend tireless hours finding new recipes, planning, shopping, prepping and cooking healthy meals for my toddler. On a good day, half of the food is actually consumed. On a typical day, half of the food “falls” onto the floor.

Parents’ goal is to protect our children, even if that means converting to brown rice, quinoa and ground turkey. Parents want to give children what they need.

Why do we bother?

Charli would rather eat a whole can of fruit cocktail (no sugar added) than touch my clean pot roast. She snubs my efforts to create a tasty, varied menu. If Charlotte had her way, she would eat sweet potatoes, corn, cooked carrots, saltine crackers and cookies. … LOTS of cookies.

These are the things she wants!

The most success I have experienced with feeding my daughter is when I set aside my aspirations of clean eating. For example, I baked pigs in a blanket tonight, and she loved it!

I doubt a hot dog wrapped in a crescent roll is filled with vitamins and nutrients, but what’s a mama to do?

Pigs in a blanket is better than no dinner at all! … Right?

So, my big question: Do I continue my efforts to introduce healthier meals that end up on my floor, or do I cave and make a menu out of corn-dogs, ravioli, chicken nuggets and PB&J?

How do you get your toddler to eat “better?”

Unintentionally Sad Blog Post

One of my clients recently told me her children are 18 and 16 years old. I asked if her oldest was still home or off at college. This was her response…

My daughter is 18 and a senior. She is headed to college in the fall. I go back and forth between wanting to change the locks while she’s at school to following her around the house like a puppy saying, “Why do you want to leave me?” Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was cutting her grapes in half and sleeping on her floor when she had a fever? Sigh . .

You know in movies how something small, like a phrase or song, will cause the lead characters eyes to glaze over as the movie transitions to a black and white memory scene?

This is nothing like that.

But the email did bring tears to my eyes as I remembered my senior year of high school. My last year with my mom.

I remember summer 2004 when we would eat junk food and watch terrible TV. I remember awkward conversations. I remember laying my head on her shoulder for comfort. I remember questioning decisions in her life, only to have her catch me off guard or blow me away with her answer.

And I remember so much more, but those things would only embarrass me to share!

My senior year of high school, my mom and I began a transition from parent-child to parent-adult child, aka friendship. We never quite finished that transition, but I’m so glad we had the opportunity to begin that bond.

After forcing away the urge to cry, I smiled. I couldn’t bring myself to mention losing my mom. I don’t want to scare the woman! But I did write her this…

I remember my senior year with my mom. I learned so much about who she was.. How strong she was.. I say you have every right to follow your daughter around like a puppy. Give her extra hugs and kisses. Share some private mom/daughter time. She may not ever tell you, but it’s the best gift she’ll ever receive.

That goes for you, too, reader. I don’t care where you are at in your life, but you have every right to follow your children around and remind them of how much you love them. You never know when you won’t be there to remind them again.

End unintentionally sad blog post.

Absence-Induced Heart Fracture

As I type this, HOS and I are driving farther and farther away from Charlotte. And tomorrow morning, we will get on a plane that will take us thousands of miles away. Each mile puts a little more pressure on my heart, and a little more worry in my mind.

I am blessed to work for an awesome company. We give thousands of dollars to the community, and the job has greatly improved our financial situation. Another great perk? My employers are taking everyone in the company (plus their respective significant others) to Cancun.

Awesome! Right?

I feel like I’m supposed to say yes. And when everyone in the office has been tanning, shopping and talking excitedly about the trip, I keep my head down…

Don’t get me wrong! I’m very appreciative. HOS and I have never taken a trip together. It will be great for us. I, however, am lacking the enthusiasm and excitement that is abundant at the office.

Honestly? The idea of both HOS and me being in a completely different country from our baby terrifies me. I experience a lot of anxiety, and my mind works through the worst possible scenarios.

Not to mention, we gave Charli hugs and kisses and laid her down for a nap at my aunt’s house. We left shortly after, so my precious baby woke up and we were no where to be found.

I feel like a terrible parent who abandoned her child.

Charlotte will hardly notice our absence during the next four days as she is spoiled by her great aunt and doted on by cousins. She will be at the house when we get home, happy and healthy.

I will fake it until I make it in Cancun, praying that the excitement will catch. I know I’ll enjoy three full days free from cooking and cleaning!

But tonight? Tonight, my heart will suffer a slight fracture from all these miles separating me Charli.