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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Forgive and Forget

I want to forgive and forget the way Charlotte does. I want to be able to literally forget something awful within seconds of it happening. I want to forgive myself as freely as my wonderful baby.

Tonight was one of those frazzled nights when you call (or text) a friend to tell her how you are failing as a mother. I typically choose my friends without kids.. They know me best, and they aren’t going to spend long amounts of time explaining what worked and didn’t work for their children.

No offense, fellow parents! I love you, and I value your opinion. We parents have a tendency, however, to provide our opinions even when we aren’t asked. I do it every day!

So why did I feel like a complete and utter failure? Why did I instantly wish I could go back in time? Why?

I made my child cry.

And not the whining, pouty tears. These were legit, mouth wide open and eyes shut tight tears.

Basically, I suck.

Charli’s love-hate affair with dinner time has become a stressful ordeal in our household. Not to mention, it takes 30+ minutes for her to complete a meal. During the “hate” phases, she likes to throw the food on the floor. She will dangle handfuls over the edge of her tray and look me straight in the eye as if she is daring me, begging me to say something. Her cubby little fingers open up to release the food while I’m in mid-sentence…

“Nuh-”

*sigh*

“O.”

Charlotte decided to not eat a single bite of dinner tonight. She thought it best to toss the food onto the floor.

I asked nicely.

I asked sternly.

I told her we could sit there all night.

I lightly tapped her hand and said no.

She taunted me.

She hit at me.

She squeezed the life out of the good and threw it down on the plate.

She continued to drop the food onto the floor while staring me in the eyes defiantly.

When she grabbed a large piece and threw it onto the floor, I bopped her little hand. The top of her hand was slightly pink, and her beautiful face scrunched into and awful wail as I apologized over and over. I quickly removed her from the high chair to kiss her cheeks and beg forgiveness.

It took less than a minute for Charli to forgive and forget my too severe punishment.

Me?

I forgive myself… A little. I have a lot of work to do to improve my patience. But forgetting is another story.

Her Mother’s Daughter

HOS’ job keeps him busy most nights, so Ms. Charli is stuck hanging out with me. I’m afraid the poor child is doomed…

Every day brings new experiences that only perpetuate my belief that she takes after me.

These are the top 5 reasons I know my daughter is my mini-me.

1. She throws a tantrum when someone takes away her cookies. While this is true of most people, we have this awesome tantrum where we cautiously lower ourselves onto the floor to prevent injury. Once safely sitting on the floor, we commence flailing around like mad women.

2. Her finger nails are her weapon of choice. My cousins love sharing the story of the time it took three of the older cousins to hold me down and cut my nails so I would stop attacking them. I don’t remember the details of this scenario, but I do remember it happening. In an effort to overcome embarrassment, I say I was pretending to be Wolverine. … I wasn’t.

3. She eats anything off the floor. This can be read two ways – emphasizing anything or off. She does both. Tonight, she took noodles from the pan, toddled into the kitchen where she put them on the floor before picking them back up and eating them. She will also eat anything edible that is on the floor – including yesterday’s snacks.

4. She is mouthy. I don’t know what she is saying yet, but when she starts to use real words, I’m in for it! When I tell her no or raise my voice, little miss sassy pants will take a couple steps away from me, turn around and shake her index finger at my while babbling in a tone that is sure to dominate her teen years.

5. She eats anything. My best friend calls me a “human garbage disposal” for good reason. Charli isn’t far behind me. There have only been a few things she wouldn’t eat… And there have been a few things she ate that even I wouldn’t eat. I’m not complaining! She makes me feel like an awesome cook.

I claim all of these things to be inherited from me – good or bad. She also sleeps in the most uncomfortable positions, but this has to be shared equally with her daddy. He rarely looks comfortable…

Well, Charli, you’ll fight me on this for many years, but you really are your mother’s daughter!

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Lub U

I tell Charlotte that I love her every chance I get. The child hears me say it no less than 10 times per day. Tonight, while Charli lay back against me and watched my face intently, I told her I loved her. “Love you!”

She looked up at me with her big, blue eyes, and said “lub u.”

For the first time!

She smiled a smile that would melt the coldest if hearts.

I will remember the look on her face and the deep connection within our stares for the rest of my life.

I have been loved, but there is none greater than this!

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It’s the Little Things

Sometimes I get really caught up in the whirlwind of parenting. I start thinking about all of the things I need to reach Charlotte, and I wonder how HOS and I will ever accomplish any of it. And then something happens to remind me that parenting is as much about learning from Charli as it is about teaching her.

Charli loves the kitchen. There is something about the sound she makes when her hands and knees hit the laminated floors that makes her smile so big.

I love how happy it makes her, but the kitchen is home to kitty food, cupboards full of “no” items and a hot oven. Not to mention, Charlotte is as bad as Bear now when it comes to the fridge. As soon as it opens, they both make a b-line for it.

Charli was playing in the kitchen last night while I was trying to make dinner. All you moms and dads know how sweet it is when your baby pulls herself up on your pant legs. But there is something inherently dangerous about an oven at 350, a mom wielding a large knife and a baby yanking on things and pulling on mom.

I emptied a bottle of grated Parmesan in my recipe, so I dumped some dry beans into the canister and shook it at Charli.

Game on.

That little girl was stoked. She sat in the middle of the floor shaking the bottle, whacking it on the floor and chasing it when it rolled away.

An empty canister and handful of beans made my daughter happier than most people feel when they eat chocolate chip cookies.

And that is pretty darn happy.

Last night Charlotte taught (reminded) me that it’s the little things in life. We often over look them, but they are what can bring us the most joy.

Smart girl.

Moments To Remember, And Those to Forget

We all have moments in our lives that we hope to never forget. Moments that touch us so deeply, and fill us with so much joy. We wish we could capture the memory, like if it were a home video – something we can replay again when we need a smile. Sadly, these happy moments often get lost. We cling to then like tattered old photos, hoping to regain a glimmer of that moment.

We also have those moments we wish we could forget. And no matter how hard we try, or how many happy memories come after, we just can’t forget. These are the memories that become like home videos.

Last week, Charlotte needed a bath so I brought her into the shower with me. At one point, she placed her little hand gently against my cheek and looked up at me with her big blue eyes. She looked at me like I was the most beautiful, amazing thing she had ever seen. And seeing her look at me like that made me feel like the most beautiful, amazing woman.

I pray that I never forget that moment for as long as I live.

Tonight, the exact opposite happened. I ran downstairs to grab some clothes and forgot to close the gate behind me, knowing that HOS was a couple steps away from Charlotte. It was an awful, terrible, heart-wrenching mistake. Charli has been following me every where lately, so I should have known she would try to follow me downstairs.

I heard a thump on the stairs and then I saw my precious, beautiful, innocent and unprotected baby fall. She fell all the way down our stairs. My heart stopped. In a split second, I envisioned every possible tragedy. And all feelings of being a beautiful, amazing women were gone and I was left feeling like the worst mother in the world.

Charlotte didn’t cry for more than a few minutes. She wasn’t even bruised. All I know is that God protected my baby girl in a moment of my own failing. And while I am forever grateful that she wasn’t harmed, my mind keeps replaying the image.

A constant reminder that every good memory is tarnished by any bad memory that can’t be erased.

Despite it all, Charli still gets excited when she sees me and cuddles into my arm when she’s tired. She still looks at me like I’m the best thing in the world. And I feel a little better.

Still Amazed

Every day I stare at my daughter in wonder.

It’s been nearly nine months, but I’m still amazed that HOS and I created that precious little girl. And I feel so blessed that God gave her to us, happy and healthy.

Each day, I learn new things about her. She frustrates me at times – when she gets into the shoes, pulls on cords or eats Bear’s fur – but I’m mostly overjoyed.

I don’t know if I’ll spend my whole life looking at her, knowing that she’s my greatest accomplishment, and being surprised that she is mine, or if I’ll some day find some feeling of … acceptance … or peace. I don’t know the right word for it.

But right now, it feels like I’ll spend my entire life looking at this beautiful girl in complete and utter amazement, thanking God that she’s in my life.

Do you share this same feeling of wonder when looking at your child(ren)?

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