On Saturday, we decided to take Bree to the pumpkin patch. We took her last year to one of my favorite places, however she was too little and just learning to walk so the kid activities were still too old for her. This year I knew would be different and be able to find enjoyment in what was around her. One thing I liked was that there was no fee to enter. It is hit or miss with some of the farms. Some charge to enter and some don't but charge you for all the activities. This place was the latter. The food was all cash only so BRING CASH. In order to enjoy the attractions you had to buy tickets. They had delicious pumpkin and apple cider donuts which is one of my favorite parts of the fall farm experiences. Their apple cider donuts were AMAZING. They were soft, warm, and had a hint of apple flavor. Their pumpkin donuts were ok but they had icing and sprinkles which Bree loved.
One thing that I did not like about this place is that they do not have the pumpkin patches or apple orchards for you to go on the hay ride to the farms and pick your own stuff. They had a hay ride but I thought it was a bit expensive. It was 4 tickets per person and each ticket is $1. We also had our in-laws with us so that is $20 alone just to take a ride on the tractor. We declined this one. We were also going to get Bree's face painted but it is 7 tickets for this. I thought $7 to paint something on her face was a bit much. We also declined this.
The first thing we did with Bree was take her in the kid zone. It was only a few tickets and only the kids had to pay. They had a lot of fun activities for the wee little kids like some slides (which bree loves), a giant chair, little house, and some scary tunnels that Bree refused to go in because it was just too scary for her (haha). It was well worth the few tickets to go in there and let her run around and play. She went down the slide way too many times to count. This is perfect for those toddler aged kids. This was a win!
Next we took Bree to the area that was set up more like a carnival. There were regular rides, pony rides, and a feeding zoo with goats, sheep, and chickens. There were also bunnies to look at but not touch because they bite. Bree loved feeding the animals. You did not have to pay to enter this section and the feed was 25cents for a handful of ground corn. Bree loved this!! Even I loved this!! The animals are so cute and come right up to eat out of your hand. Bree is so in love with animals so this was a great experience. This was a big win!!
Next we went on the rides. They had alot of options: a camel ride, a train, a giant slide, twisty rides, dumbo rides, and pony ride, and a car ride. Most of the rides were only a few tickets so we had to do the pony ride. They are all so adorable!! We gave her choices between the car ride, train ride, or dumbo ride and she wanted the car ride. I had to stand with her on the pony ride and walk along because she couldn't hold on tight enough to not fall off. This was difficult and took alot of exertion trying to hold her, walk along (it seemed faster than it looked) and avoid stepping in horse poop and pee. Bree had a great time and loved it. She also was super excited with going on the car ride. She chooses red for everything! Her popsicle, her vitamin, and even the car is always red. I'm not sure if it was her favorite color or just her favorite flavor but she always says red. I had to sit in the back of the red car because she wanted mommy to go too. I did it because whatever makes her happy....
There are also great things to do for the older kids. There is a haunted house and a dizzy house as well. Bree is way too scared to do any of it. She was scared of the Halloween decor around the farm. We tried to take a picture in front of a scarecrow but she was too scared. There is a booth where they sell small and bigger pumpkins already painted and of course there are pumpkins everywhere in various sizes that can be purchased. They also have gourds, pie pumpkins, fall decor like corn stalks and indian corn, scarecrows, and a small store with food items. I had to bring home pumpkin butter. I love it on toast. Some things are made on site and some are brought in from local places. Overall, it was a successful day. We left the stroller at home and used her wagon which Bree seems to sit better in and worked well to carry our pumpkins and bags. It was a fun day for all and one we can look back on and remember as a family. It is also a dog friendly place so there were pups all over! Bree loves dogs so she got excited everytime she saw one.
If you are in the West Chicago area or looking for a fun, family friendly place for kids then I would recommend it. I'm not sure if if is necessarily worth a very long drive to get to since you can't go do your own picking and it is relatively small compared to other places I have been to, but it is great for any local people. Thank You Sonny Acres Farm!
I am going to start this with saying something obvious...being a parent is HARD. It is so hard. You have this little human that you love with all your heart that it hurts, but these sweet faces also know how to press your buttons. They will hug you one minute and scream at you the next. They don't want to listen. This is mostly due to the fact that they are trying to find their own independence and learning boundaries and the thought of being told no gets them upset. Time management is hard. Organization is damn near impossible. A clean house? Well maybe it can stay clean for an hour if you are lucky. It is exhausting. Who would have thought that in my 30's I would be having screaming matches with a 2 yr old, having to bribe and barter with a toddler. It is anxiety provoking. I freak out inside everytime she goes up and down the stairs for fear that she will fall yet have to put on a calm presence and praise her when she accomplishes the task. It can be overwhelming. I really have no control.
You are the parent, you make the rules and your kids have to abide by them. Yea, that is probably the common idea amongst non parents, but good luck putting that into action. Yea I set the rules. Yea I try to enforce them. My kid tries to break them and in the end I usually cave just a bit. When they are little they do not yet know the rules, are learning them and do not always like them. There is no rationale developed and they are emotional latchkeys.
I have no control over my time. It is hard to schedule anything because Bree may need to take a nap at that or maybe she should be taking a nap but decided she is just going to fight us the whole time. Bree is hungry when she is hungry and not when I tell her she should be. Bree has to be changed when she goes to the bathroom and it is not always at the most convenient times. You are not in control just because you are the adult.
As the kids get older then you start giving them more independence and they are better able to understand what the rules are. They are also old enough to break them on purpose and know better. They are better able to lie and be deceitful. You are still not in control.
Your house becomes a wreck. Their rooms will look the way the want it to look. They will leave their clothes everywhere. They will play the music you hate and decorate it in a way you would never choose. Where is your control? When they are young your house is a mess of toys. We try to get Bree to clean up at the end of the night, but at 2 she cannot do it by herself and her attention span is subpar so it is usually us parents having to pick everything up. Sometimes it is only us because Bree wants to kick and scream. Where is our control? Bree is in control.
Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't trade being a parent for the world All the headaches and chaos is worth every single smile they make. It is worth it with every hug, every kiss, every I love you. Every cuddle session brings as much as joy winning the lottery. That intense love that you feel for this little person is worth every headache, every tear, every time you feel like giving up, every hair you pull out of your head, every anxiety pill you need to inhale, every sore throat from a screaming match, and every sleepless night. Being a mom is my favorite job in the world and nothing could make me want to give it up.
Now let me show you what my house looks like in a typical day. This was the inspiration behind this post.
Good luck to all you parents out there.
So Bree started "school a" today. Ok it's not really school but 1 day a week (half day basically) of play time and activities in a day care setting. It is at a local church called "Parent's Day Out". Normally my father in law watches Bree 4 days a week but we wanted to give him a break as well as bring Bree into a socialization setting. Bree isn't really around other kids much. We wanted to get her around other kids and be able to just have a different environment. This is a great program because it is also very reasonably priced. Paying $100/day for a day care setting is just not in our budget right now. We saw the program on Friday for the first time so we could meet the instructor, see the set up, and see how Bree does in the environment. Bree loved all the slides and liked the instructor enough that she asked to get picked up by her. I felt secure that this is a good place.
Today was the start! I was and have been super excited for her to go to this, but also part of me was feeling nervous. How would she do? Would she behave? Will she have fun and try to play with the other kids? Someone I don't really know will be changing my kid's diaper? Aaahhhhh!! So many thoughts run through your head as a parent. She is only 2 so she cannot tell me if someone did something they aren't supposed to. At this point she also doesn't understand what is right and wrong anyways. I also know I can't live in complete fear or make Bree feel like she needs to be fearful. I want her to go through life being cautious and careful but not always afraid. Who wants to live afraid all the time?
Back over a month ago we bought a Peppa Pig backpack for the occasion. I understand Bree won't be having books to bring home but there are a few things she will need to carry like a change in clothes, change in shoes, diapers, wipes, and her lunch. Plus Bree likes the backpack and getting to carry it for school so I bought it. She liked having it on her back.
As you can see, Bree walked into the school with such excitement! Bree recognized the place as we were entering. When we walked in, she knew exactly where to go. She immediately went to the toys are started playing. No crying or anxiety about me leaving but still able to come give me hug and kiss goodbye. I was allowed to text the instructor to check on Bree during the day. Part of me wanted to but the other part felt that I needed to try to trust, needed to let go a bit because one day when she goes to regular school I won't be able to text the teacher about how Bree is doing. I was naturally very excited for 1pm to come so I can go pick her up!
She did so good today! She has to work on sharing (but so does every kid at the age of 2). She looked exhausted from playing so hard. She did great at her activity and made a tree out of her hand! Now I understand the sappiness of homemade art from your kids. This picture is so precious to me it's as if it is made out of real gold. These moments are truly precious but also bittersweet. As she grows I have the excitement of watching her learn and do new things but also know she is getting closer to the day when she will fly the nest and not need me as much. I am trying to hold on to as much childhood as I can. She just went to her first day of "school" and will never have a very first day of school again. She will have a first day of a certain grade but this day came and gone.
Please stop growing little one....
So now that Bree is turning 2, we decided it was time to break the pacifier habit. She would look for it every time she was going to sleep at night or taking a nap. She would ask for her bear (not the one in the picture) and paci. When she was around the age of 1 she weaned herself off of it a bit where she would only really need it at sleep time but not need it the rest of the day for comfort. We had a feeling it would be a rough habit to break, and were we right about that! We were ready for this to be over. We were tired of losing it and having to scurry to find one of them somewhere so she could fall asleep. We were tired of getting up in the middle of the night, sometimes multiple times, to give her the dropped paci. We all needed to work on a better night sleep.
Friday night was the first night without the paci and it was very difficult. Bree did NOT want to sleep. It was at least a good half hour of Bree screaming herself to sleep. She asked for it a couple times before bed but not really at all during the screaming process, but you can tell she was uncomfortable. The good thing though is that she slept all night. We didn't hear her wake up in the middle of the night looking for a dropped pacifier because it wasn't there.
Day 2 was a bit rough. The was the first time trying to nap without paci and it didn't matter how tired she was, Bree just would not nap. We tried and tried and she just refused. Eventually we just gave up and she ended up not having a nap at all on Saturday. Saturday night was much easier than Friday night. She yelled for a few minutes but then went to sleep. She may have also just still been so tired from the day that she didn't have the energy to fight it. With not having a nap she just did not have much energy to fight the sleep at night.
Sunday was another rough day. She screamed probably almost an hr and trying to find every excuse how to get us in her room and ask to get out. Eventually we just gave up and took her to the park and to lunch and by the time we got home she was so tired she didn't have the energy to fight anymore. Sunday night again was another fight. Probably a good 20-30min of screaming before quieted down and quieted down. At this point Bree is not asking for her paci but is still having a rough go at falling asleep.
Thank goodness for the long weekend, which is why we chose Labor day weekend so we can have that one extra night of training and sleep to work on this. Monday nap time went a little better. Her nap is getting later so she can get more tire and fight it less. She did cry for a few minutes but she quieted pretty quickly and eventually fell asleep. Phew!!
Monday nights and Tuesday nights were much easier ventures. Monday she was quiet but was up for probably a good hour playing with her stuffed friends and singing with them. At this point, if it soothes her and she is quiet then we are fine with it. At one point she cried and wanted her blanket on and her butterfly mobile on and after that she fell asleep pretty quickly. Tuesday night she talked and played for a much shorter period of time.
I think at this point she has officially broken the paci habit. Finally!! We knew it would be a long and hard road of this (only 3 days but it feels like forever), but I think it was worth it in the end. She has been sleeping all night and we have too!!
There is this thing I have been thinking about lately that I like to call "mom guilt". I'm not sure if this is a technical term or not but it is technical to me. This guilt likes to rear its ugly head in a few different scenarios.
*The guilt of leaving my daughter behind. There are those days where Bree just does not want me to leave. She will find ways to keep me with her such as taking much longer than usual to pick out a snack as I am trying to walk out the door, ask to be picked up over and over, give me a longer hug than usual, or just flat cry out in pain at the thought of me leaving. It can be heart wrenching thinking that she is feeling abandoned. The truth is that I am not abandoning her. At this point, she is usually being left with a trusting and loving family member: her paper, her grandma, her nana, or even her daddy. During these moments, I have to rework my brain to remind myself that she is being left with capable hands. I remind myself that I need to leave sometimes for sanity sake because even though being a mom is my favorite and most important role it is by far not my only role or only identity. I also remind myself that I have to go to work because we have bills to pay and I want to provide my child with a wonderful life that requires a 2 person income. I also remind myself that she does need to learn to separate. Mommy will not always be there and one day she will have to venture out into the world on her own. This is only the first step, it is part of the training.
**The guilt of being too busy. There are times when Bree just wants mommy to play, to read, to take the time for me. Trust me, I do not neglect my child. I play with her and read to her every day, usually a little in the morning and then at night during quiet time. Sometimes Bree wants to play all day everyday. I honestly wish I had that time but sometimes mommy has a lot to do. Dinner has to be made. I have work to finish from my job. Dishes need to get done. The dogs need to be let out. All the pets need to be fed. Certain things just cannot be put off. As important as it is to spend quality time with your kids it is also important to feed them a meal or 2. That guilt comes over that I am neglecting my child or making her feel less important when she is the most important, but how do you convey that to a 2yr old?!?! I have to rework my brain and remind myself that I will spend time with my daughter. I will make it up to her and find that alone and quiet time with her but she also needs to learn that there is a time and a place and she needs to learn about hard work as much as she needs to learn about play.
***The guilt of saying "no". This is one of my least guilty feelings but it is still there, because let's be honest, kids do have to hear the word no. They can't have full range decision making because they often don't make the best decisions. Kids need to learn that they will not always get their way or else they will grow up believing such and it is not the reality. I also know that I try to tell her no at times when it really is the best thing for her. I still feel some guilt, wondering if I am telling her no too much.
****The last guilt is more a guilt I feel about my very close bond with my daughter. I feel guilt that it may be too close and icing out my spouse. You see, I did not know my dad growing up and missed out on that special relationship and always wanted to give that to my children. My daughter has a wonderful daddy who loves her tons and I want that bond to be strong. I know Bree loves her daddy but I know it hurts him when she just wants mommy. When she says "no daddy. Mommy", I feel guilt when she runs to me for that hug when she falls and gets hurt, when she asks for me when she is scared, when she cries when I leave and does not make a peep when daddy leaves. I know there are times when it makes him a bit sad when she chooses me over him and it makes me sad too. I also have that guilt when there are those moments when I feel a sense of pride that maybe I am the favorite parent or that she feels such a strong connection. I remind myself that a lot of it is that there is a special relationship between mother and children just from the pregnancy relationship and natural bond. Part of the relationship is also female and female where my daughter is learning how to act and be by watching me and learning. I remind myself that if/when we have a son that he will probably feel that stronger connection with daddy and that one day Bree will realize how much she really is daddy's little girl and the bond will completely change.