Category: Travel

Trips we’ve taken and tips we’ve discovered along the way

Learning on the Road: Signs

I posted last week about how much time the kids and I spend in the car. In addition to our playlists, road signs are another favorite way we learn on the go.

Colors

Assign each kid a different color for the day and have them try to find it on the signs you pass. Green is typically the easiest in our area, while blue and red are a bit more difficult!

Shapes

We call out shapes we see on different signs as we drive. We add them up and see what we see more of – hint: it’s always the rectangle! Sometimes we even make a game of “I Spy” if we are on foot.

Letters & Numbers

Pip loves identifying numbers and letters on signs as we drive down the road. He’ll call them out and I have to try and find the sign. This has really helped him learn how to identify larger numbers!

Symbols

As well all know, different signs mean different things. Road names vs. speed limits, highways vs. toll roads, etc. Combining the colors, shapes, letters and numbers helps us understand the overall meaning of a sign. It even helps us use clues from signs we know to help us figure out new signs we’ve never seen before! Pip and Liv love to identify different signs and figure out where we are going base on the road clues!

Foreign Languages

Pip and Liv are fascinated with Mandarin Chinese and are learning from a friend twice a month. We recently covered shapes and have loved practicing our Chinese by naming the shapes of signs (and other objects) as we drive down the road!

♥ Tara

Learning on the Road: Playlists

The kids and I spend a lot of time on the road. We love to go on adventures. We have museum memberships, a grew t botanical garden, a lovely zoo, hiking galore and friends all over the state. We could easily waste that time in the car. Or we could make that time count!

One way we learn on the go is by using Spotify Playlists. Our curriculum has the children learning folk songs, singing hymns and completing composer studies.

Making playlists means it’s a quick click to start our “school” as soon as we get in the car in the morning!

Some of our playlists have become favorites and are asked for all day long – especially our folk songs! And I just love hearing them humming a song we’ve learned.

We follow Ambleside Online for our composer studies while picking some of our own music selections for Folk Songs and Hymns.

Click here to read about my Folk Song dilemma.

Feel free to take a peek at some of our playlists!

What do you listen to in the car?

♥ Tara

Why I run…

Why I run | article originally posted at www.oliverandtara.com

Well, I’ve officially been cleared to start running! Yep, you read that right. I’m running again.

Before I get too much further, let me set the record straight… this is not in an effort to get skinny, fit into size 4 jeans, lose my mom pooch, have a bikini bod, etc.

This is 100% for me. I used to run and I loved it. I want to run to be the healthiest mom I can be for my littles. I want to run to get 30 minutes in my own head, uninturrupted. I want to be an example for Pip and Liv. Period.

The way my body looks because of the running is simply a side effect.

I’m a goal orientated girl, so I need something to work towards. That thing is the WDW Half Marathon in January.

Crazy, right?! Well, my amazing friend Traci joined me in my crazy moment and we signed up together.

I’ve never raced before. Ever. Go big or go home!

So, expect running updates along with kiddo and homeschool updates in the months to come. Here we go!

-Tara ♥

Packing for a Frenectomy

Packing for a Frenectomy | A peek into what is inside Liam's procedure bag over at http://www.oliverandtara.com/packing-for-a-frenectomy/

I can’t believe we leave for LA today. Tomorrow we see Dr. James Jesse and Liam’s smile will be changed forever. For good reasons… but forever different. Is it crazy that I’m struggling so much with that? Anyways, on to what is in the bag…

I really racked my brain this week to try and figure out what Liam loves the most. What brings him comfort? What does he turn to (other than breastfeeding) when something hurts or upsets him? I also researched the interwebs to try and find some ways to offer him relief from pain beyond Tylenol. Below is a summary of some of his favorites that are in the suitcase today:

Packing for a Frenectomy | A peek into what is inside Liam's procedure bag over at http://www.oliverandtara.com/packing-for-a-frenectomy/His blanket. My mom found this on a discount site when I was still pregnant. It’s soft orange minky on one side and owl satin on the other. Whenever he wants to sleep he pulls it up over himself. Blanket is DEFINITELY in the bag (and I’ll pay you good money if you find “backups” of this… )

 

Packing for a Frenectomy | A peek into what is inside Liam's procedure bag over at http://www.oliverandtara.com/packing-for-a-frenectomy/White Noise. This kid sleeps better with sound, always has. He is a “startler” and sudden noise (no matter how little) in a quite room jerks him awake. I contemplated packing his white noise machine, but we went with our Happiest Baby On The Block soundtrack off of Amazon mp3 and this awesome Logitech speaker his uncle Curtis hooked us up with. It worked when he was tiny, so hopefully it still holds it’s magic!

 

Packing for a Frenectomy | A peek into what is inside Liam's procedure bag over at http://www.oliverandtara.com/packing-for-a-frenectomy/Mickey Mouse. Don’t ask, because I have no idea. I think it comes from the DNA he shares with his uncle Logan. But this kid has recently fallen in LOVE with Mickey Mouse. He treats him like his “baby” – rocking him, patting his back, kissing him. It’s freaking adorable. Trust me.

 

Packing for a Frenectomy | A peek into what is inside Liam's procedure bag over at http://www.oliverandtara.com/packing-for-a-frenectomy/Essential Oils. My doTerra and Young Living essential oils are packed up and ready to go. In the bag I have lavender, onGuard, frankincense, copaiba, clove, gentle baby, peace and calming and more. All to help him with pain, decrease the swelling, encourage rest and promote healing.

 

Packing for a Frenectomy | A peek into what is inside Liam's procedure bag over at http://www.oliverandtara.com/packing-for-a-frenectomy/Diffuser. This may sound CRAZY (and I’m not quite sure Oliver approves) but I’ve packed my diffuser as well. He has been sleeping much better recently when I diffuse Gentle Baby. And diffusing Thieves or OnGuard will help keep him healthy in the hotel after this attack on his immune system. Plus mommy may need a bit of “Peace and Calming” heading into Thursday’s appointment.

 

Packing for a Frenectomy | A peek into what is inside Liam's procedure bag over at http://www.oliverandtara.com/packing-for-a-frenectomy/Tylenol. I am all about natural interventions, but when there is a chance that my little guy can be in some significant pain I don’t hesitate to pull out the big guns. We don’t use Tylenol for teething and such, but I don’t think twice for big procedures. God gave people brains, and those brains created Tylenol. I’ll use WHATEVER God has available to me in order to keep my little guy happy.

 

Packing for a Frenectomy | A peek into what is inside Liam's procedure bag over at http://www.oliverandtara.com/packing-for-a-frenectomy/Toys and “Baby”. Anything that I can use to distract him from his pain! I’m bringing some of his favorite toys which include his poker chips with drop bucket, small balls and cars. I’m also bringing my iPad with “baby” (Baby Signing Time). It’s the only movie he is allowed to watch and I’m pretty sure Rachel (the creator/host) is his first crush.

 

Packing for a Frenectomy | A peek into what is inside Liam's procedure bag over at http://www.oliverandtara.com/packing-for-a-frenectomy/Popsicles and Ice. Everyone knows something cold is a huge relief with mouth pain. So I picked up some small ice cube trays and a friend loaned me her popsicle molds. My plan is to make some breast milk popsicles and ice cubes. The ice cubes I’ll put in one of his mesh bags. Again – relief is key!

We’ll try to keep you updates was we are able – probably on the Facebook page! Please keep those prayers coming and watch for photos over on my Instagram!

❤ Tara

All Tied Up: Lip Tied & Tongue Tied

Never doubt that “mommy sense”. Fight for what you feel is “wrong” or “off”. Do not let other’s belittle your concerns. You know your baby better than anyone else. I should have fought before, but I’m fighting now. And we’re going to win this curve ball after Liam has “surgery” next week in California..

Back Story

From the day Liam was born I thought something was off about his oral anatomy (and I know a bit about that, being an SLP and all). I asked the lactation consultant in the hospital and was told “it just looks different because he doesn’t have teeth and is so small…” How I wish I had been wrong, or that I’d fought more back then. Recently a few things were really itching that thought in the back of my mind:

  • People kept saying “oh those are the cutest two little teeth! You’ll get more soon” and similar phrases. Except… he has six teeth. Four on top that no one ever seemed to notice.
  • He doesn’t “pucker” his lips very well. I’ll post again this week with a video showing how he “kisses”.
  • When he drinks water, it is through a straw. But he more “pinches” it between his lips than puckers.  Also, it ALL falls out of his mouth if he takes the straw out.
  • When we try to feed him by bottle he always collapses the nipple between his lips.
  • [warning: may be TMI] When he nurses he doesn’t take the whole nipple into his mouth. He stays near the tip – I was constantly told this was just because he had a small mouth
  • He nurses for VERY short stints. A few minutes and then takes a break.

What sealed the deal was his top two front teeth growing in significantly recently. They came in with a big gap. When I was looking closer at the gap I realized it – his lip is attached through his top two teeth and onto his palate! I called Oliver from the airport (I was flying home) and told him “Liam is lip tied…. bad.”

ABM_1398706871

Facts

What followed was extensive research on my part. The biggest impact for me was realizing the following:

  • Lip ties are very common and mostly genetic
    (go ahead, run to the mirror. We all did…)
  • Most lip ties come with a tongue tie
  • There are two types of lip ties …
    • Frenulum Labii Superioris (inside the upper lip) – this is Liam’s
    • Frenulum Labii Inferioris (inside the lower lip).
  • It causes significant problems in breastfeeding – doesn’t stimulate milk production, damages nipples, bad latch, poor weight gain/failure to thrive, etc.
  • It is EXTREMELY common, but hardly diagnosed!

“Ties” are rated on a scale of “classes”. For lips ties, a class 1 is “normal” and a class “4” is the most severe. For tongues the scale goes the opposite direction. I know Liam has at least a class 3, but possible class 4, lip tie. You can see some great images here:

There are so many myths and “old school” mindsets out there that impact intervention on lip ties:

  • Many doctors/lactation consultants believe medical intervention isn’t needed, thinking children will “grow out of it”.
  • Many professionals will not treat infants/toddlers/etc.
  • Some suggest “waiting to see if it impacts speech, then intervening”

Ug! As an SLP I can say with assurance – NEVER wait to see if something “impacts speech”. By that time you are looking at extensive intervention to correct something rather than being “ahead of the game”. And the more research I did, the more I realized intervention was not only important, but necessary. And fast.

Interventions

When battling a “lip tie”, the individual needs a “frenectomy”. In layman terms, you need to cut the frenulum that attached the lip to the gums or the tongue to the floor of the mouth. This is primarily done one of two ways:

  • Cut with a scalpel then stitched (Z-plasty surgery)
  • Cut and simultaneously cauterized via laser

Stitches and a toddler sounded like a nightmare. And the healing for that was extensive and much slower than a laser. Research into the laser procedure gave us a general “picture” of how the appointment would go:

  • They would put local anesthesia into the frenulum being cut
  • After giving it a few minutes to kick in, they cut the frenulum
  • The procedure lasts approximately 6 minutes start to finish

This seemed like the best decision to us. The hardest part will be having to restrain Liam while they cut. So, now that we had decided we were going to allow someone with a laser into our child’s mouth, we needed to find out who does this procedure…

Specialists

I first assumed it would be a medical doctor or ENT who would specialize in this. But it is actually cosmetic dentistry! We searched and found the names of the leading specialists. If someone was going to be in my child’s mouth (an SPL’s kid!) with a LASER, they had better know what they are doing! We found one of the leading specialists (and researchers!) in the nation is Dr. Kotlow in Albany, New York. And his very first suggestion, if you can’t go to him, is Dr. James Jesse in Loma Linda, California. We did find some dentists who do the laser in our area, but we prayed about it and only really felt peace about going to California.  So I called his office, stated immediately that I was an SLP with a child with a class 3/suspected class 4 lip tie and probable tongue tie. They had an opening the following week.

What Can I Do?

Honestly, go check your little one. Talk to your friends about checking their little ones! Do you know someone struggling to latch/breastfeed? Or someone who is ready to give up due to pain/cracked nipples/etc? Share this post! Get them help – help that friend rid themselves of “mommy guilt” and raise awareness that this is common and FIXABLE! Be the answer someone else needs to much and keep more kids off the SLPs caseload by giving them a great start to their breastfeeding AND speech development!

Our Plan

We fly out Wednesday night to LA where we will meet up with my mom (she is flying in from San Jose). We then pick up our rental car and drive to our hotel in Loma Linda. Thursday as 2pm PST we have our appointment with Dr. James Jesse to correct Liam’s “ties”. We are cleared to fly home the very next day, but instead chose to stay until Saturday afternoon and give Liam some “chill time”.

Over the next week or so I will post what we packed for our trip, what helped with the surgery/recovery process and a less “informative” and much more “personal” peek into what we are all thinking and feeling through this process. Keeping it real!

❤ Tara

Some great blogs and websites:

Scrunchy: Toy Cleaner

Continuing on my “scrunchy trend”, I made some toy cleaner from my essential oils! I got this idea over the weekend from my friend Anna who had made some for her diaper bag. Between our day trips around Colorado and flights back to California, this stuff will come in handy! And the best part? It’s the easiest recipe you’ll ever have to follow!

Scrunchy: Toy cleaner made from essential oils like doTerra and Young Living! | found on oliverandtara.com

Toy Cleaner

  • 3 oz spray bottle (< $1 at Target)
  • Thieves (Young Living) or OnGuard (doTerra)
  • Water

Just fill the bottle up with water and drop in 3-6 drops of OnGuard or Thieves and give it a shake. Keep it in a Ziplock in your bag (in case of spills) with a cloth and you are ready for whatever hits the ground! And, because doTerra and Young Living are of the highest quality, you can feel confident in your little one putting that toy back in their mouth!

❤ Tara

The Next Two Months…

The Next Two Months | oliverandtara.com
Image Source

Wow – I had a lot of fun writing about breastfeeding last month. And I still didn’t have time to hit everything! You’ll still see the topic popping up time and time again. It’s a major part of my life as  breastfeeding mommy. But here will be the upcoming focus…

September

This month I want to hit My Favorite Things. A lot of you have asked “what are your top 5 things for…” – here are some answers for you! There is no way I will hit EVERYTHING in one month, so this will actually be kicking off a regular series. These posts will be more “summaries” than in depth Tried and True (T&T) posts. But, have no fear, a lot of these items will show up again in upcoming T&Ts!

October

October 7-13 is International Babywearing Week! If you know me, you know I *love* babywearing! So October will be dedicated to everything babywearing. I’ll be starting a regular series discussing why we wear, as well as giving you the in and outs of babywearing. What carriers get thumbs up, what get thumbs DOWN? What to look for, what to try, where to start – we’ll be talking about it here! I’ll be giving you a peek into my own stash, as well as others I have tried/borrowed/drooled heavily over. All the T&Ts will be focused on wearing as well. There may even be a few tutorials about some customizing I’ve done for my own carriers. I’m excited!

The New Year …

Oliver and I are really praying about where God is leading us. We believe we went through infertility for a purpose. We believe we’re beginning to figure that out. And this blog will play a part. But we are still really praying about the how, when, and what of this venture we are exploring. Please pray with us, and keep an eye out here for new about our new adventure!


On a more personal note …

I’ve been a bit MIA from blogging because this weekend was a BIG deal. We travelled to Cincinnati, Ohio to celebrate my great grandmother’s birthday.

Let that sink in for a minute. *My* great grandmother. That makes her Liam’s great great grandmother. TWO greats in there folks, not a typo. And before you begin asking if we all sat around her bed in the nursing home, watching her being spoon fed pudding – you’ve got the WRONG idea. My great grandma is a spit fire lady with her mind still about her and her body only just beginning to fail her. It is only in the last year that she has begun needing a cane to steady herself. This lady has lived through the depression, the deaths of two husbands, 2 children, a daughter-in-law and one grandchild. She’s seen her legacy grow through 3 children, 5 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and now 2 great great grandchildren. And she still carries her head high, has a smile on her face, and doesn’t let anyone boss her around. Can you tell I love this lady?

So, for her 97th birthday, all she really wanted from Oliver and me was to meet Liam. We were getting regular calls, asking when we’d bring her great great grandson out. We began planning a trip, and my mom jumped into the planning as well. Soon we had it arranged so my sister would meet us there with my niece, and my brother would meet us there from LA.

I’m not going to lie. When we rounded the corner to see her walking towards Liam, smiling, I cried. I lost my grandparents (her son and daughter-in-law) when I was a freshman in college. I was VERY close to them, they lived with us for many years leading up to their passings. It was so very important to me that she meet my first child. But, as we spent years battling infertility, I was really worried that she wouldn’t be here. To see her walk up to Liam, pat his face, talk sweetly to him – and to see him smile back at her. I’m crying again typing this. I could do nothing less that praise the Lord.

Some pictures from our whirlwind weekend…

IMG_20130829_225811IMG_20130830_152811IMG_20130830_165316IMG_20130831_143816IMG_20130831_184738IMG_20130831_201940IMG_20130901_003934IMG_20130901_171332IMG_20130901_223119IMG_20130902_000626IMG_20130902_090728IMG_20130902_091104

❤ Tara

WBW: My view

My View [while nursing] | oliverandtara.com

When nursing, your view is sometimes pretty limited. Since learning how to breastfeed Liam in the baby carrier (read: STEEP learning curve) my view has improved. But with a bad back, sometimes I just need to sit and rest myself. Here are some of my views …

My view at home
My view at home

99% of the time, when I nurse at home, I am sitting in my chair. My beloved chair was a gift from my Mother-in-law when we announced our pregnancy. I spent a LOT of time picking it out, and it is my FAVORITE place to sit. Sometimes I have to remember that I can sit OTHER places when I’m not nursing! We set it in the living room at the condo, so we are a part of everything while nursing. This is important to me. No one should have to eat “alone” – including Liam!

The view in Colorado
The view in Colorado

When we move to Colorado, we will spend a couple of months at my parents’ house while we place offers on homes. We went out to visit for Mother’s Day/Memorial Day and this was my view while nursing. Ohemwow – I could get VERY used to this! It is very special early in the morning, when it is just the two of us. I can sit, nurse and praise the Lord for all our blessings … most specifically, Liam. 

This past weekend we took Liam to the aquarium for the first time. To say I got teary eyed watching him in awe is an understatement. But the best part was when he got hungry. Oliver led us to the “Open Ocean” exhibit to grab a bench. I think this is one of the BEST views I’ve ever had while nursing!

 

❤ Tara

 

Link Party Button #milkingit

Flying With Baby: Ears

A big consideration with baby and airplanes is pressure changes. As adults we are able to “pop” our ears by yawning or chewing gum. However, babies don’t have that much control (or understanding) over their bodies. The result can be your poor sweetie screaming in pain for a wwwhhhiillleeeee. Why does this happen? And how can you help?

Why?

OK, excuse me while I geek out for a minute. My undergrad degree is in both Speech-Language Pathology AND Audiology. So here is WHY your baby may be crying..

Image from kids-ent.com
Image from kids-ent.com

The “pressure” we feel when a plane takes off is caused by a few factors. As the pressure changes in the cabin, your Eustachian tube swells. This keeps the pressure in your middle ear from equalizing to the cabin pressure. As the pressure builds in your middle ear, so does the pain. The goal is is to get that Eustachian tube open as quickly as possible, to keep the pain and pressure in your baby’s ear to a minimum. Note: this change in pressure happens on both take-off AND landing .. so you have to be ready to help your little one on BOTH ends of the flight.

How Do I Help?

  • One way we open the Eustachian tubes is by moving our jaw and palate. You and I can do this by chewing gum because it causes us to move our jaw and swallow. If we end up on a plane without gum, we can just continually swallow while opening and closing our mouth. For baby? Drinking! Breast or bottle feeding while take up requires them to be moving their jaw while sucking, and their palate by swallowing! So try to offer that baby a looooong sip while taking off and landing. For us this meant a cranky baby before take-off (he was hhhuuunngggrrryyy), but a happy baby during the flight! Don’t worry, the people next to you will forgive you for the screaming baby when it doesn’t last the whole flight *smile*
  • If take-off happens and the poor baby is in pain, there is something you can do once in the air or after you are on the ground. Do this at your OWN RISK. There is a chance of burns – so you need to be careful and use common sense.
    • Get two Styrofoam coffee cups, one empty and one full of steaming HOT water. You’ll also need a few napkins.
    • Dip the napkins in the hot water and ring them out COMPLETELY. You do NOT want them to drip!
    • Stuff the napkins in the bottom of the empty Styrofoam cup.
    • Place your hand over the top of the cup to make sure the steam isn’t too hot for the baby’s skin. You just want it steamy and warmer than the outside air.
    • Place the cup to the baby’s ear and hold it there, allowing the steam to do it’s magic
    • The change in temperature can cause the ear drum to relax and help with the pressure in the Eustachian tubes.

 

Happy flight!

❤ Tara

P.S. We were told giving baby a lollipop like these can help as well – which makes since because they are using a sucking motion and the novelty could keep them munching!

Similar Posts:

Flying With Baby: Baby Wearing
Flying With Baby: Car Seats and Strollers
Flying With Baby: Carry-On

Flying With Baby: Carry-ons

Ahhh – carry-ons. This was hard for me before baby. But now I have to SHARE one of my carry-ons with Pipsqueak – i yi yi… And if what he needs isn’t in his carry-on we don’t have it. We don’t have it for upteen million hours in the air. Ok, more like a few hours. But without that ONE item, it can feel like a million! So, how was I going to pack all my things in one acceptably sized bag, and all of his things in an acceptable sized bag as well? AND haul it all!

My Things

I chose to bring along my rolling briefcase. This can hold all my tech, plus the few other little things I *need* – lotion, lip balm, a jacket. This was also good because it didn’t require me carrying it on my shoulders, which were already hauling a baby.

Baby’s Things

As much as I love the baby’s diaper bag (I stalked eBay to find it because it matches my stroller… and I *HATE* eBay!), it just isn’t big enough anymore. After doing some research I decided to go with a backpack diaper bag. It would give me plenty of room and be conducive to wearing the babe. I shopped around for a while and was REALLY depressed at what I found. Some were around $150 – I’ve never even owned a purse that cost that much! The other end of the spectrum felt soooo cheap. I was sure I would split a seam packing it with all his things. But when I really stopped and thought about it, what did I need

Image fro rei.com
Image fro rei.com

from a backpack specifically made to be a diaper bag? The big “featured” seemed to be an insulated pocked for bottles. Considering Squishy’s milk isn’t provided via bottle, I really didn’t need that feature. So I headed over to R.E.I. to find a backpack – I was sure to babywear so I could make sure it fit on with the carrier. Let me introduce the Flash 22 Pack

  • Super light but sturdy – all the weight can be in the contents!
  • No dividers inside, making it quite roomy for baby things
  • Two mesh pockets on the sides for things you need quick access to
  • Zip pocket on the “hood” for things requiring safe keeping but easy access
  • Loops down the front for hooking items to

So, how did I pack Pipsqueaks bag? I’m all about grouping items. So, everything goes into it’s own smaller bag/container. Some key contents inside..

  • All the diapers went into a diaper pouch – mine was a gift from Lou Bugs Boutique
  • Wipes in the Skip Hop case. I love that the diaper pouch an wipes containers both have loops – I loop them together since I never need one without the other!
  • A diaper changing pad (you never know what germs are on surfaces! Ewwww!)
  • A wet bag – able to hold soaked items in a pinch, but holds all his teething toys in the meantime!

While some key contents for the outside …

  • I put my wallet in the top zipper pocket..
  • My nursing cover, a blanket and burp rags in the mesh pouches
  • My luggage tag and bag dispenser (for soiled clothes and stinky diapers) on the front loops!

It worked AWESOME! So much so, that I haven’t gone back to his diaper bag! I *love* this thing!

❤ Tara

Similar Posts:

Flying With Baby: Baby Wearing
Flying With Baby: Car Seats and Strollers
Flying With Baby: Ears