The Taynors

The Taynors

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Navigating Life with a Food Allergy Kid

We found out Ryan (now 5 yrs old) had food allergies on his first birthday.  He had a terrible reaction to his first birthday cake that landed us in the ER.  See that Post Here.    So we have spent the past 4 years navigating the world with food allergies.

Currently, Ryan is severely allergic to peanuts and eggs, mildly allergic to tree nuts, and has a sensitivity to gluten.  When he was a baby this was really hard because I didn't know anything about food allergies.  I didn't know much about reading ingredients and substituting items and making special orders at restaurants.  But I learned quickly, the research junkie in me got on the internet and bought a ton of books and we figured out our new normal.

Well here we are 4 years later and I am hitting a new milestone- imagining his future as a big kid, teenager, even an adult, dealing with these very restrictive allergies.  And it is completely freaking me out.  Up until this time I have been completely in control.  Every where we go, I pack his food.  Lunch, snacks, desserts... whatever he needs I would bring a handy dandy lunch box and make sure he is safe.  But now that he is getting older, it is getting harder and harder to do that.  He is in more big kid situations, independent situations, that make food planning more difficult.

My brother in laws wedding two weeks ago was a perfect example.  We were going to Pennsylvania for the weekend, staying in a standard hotel room (no kitchen or anything like that) and had commitments to be at a rehearsal dinner, the wedding reception, and a breakfast with the bridal party the last day.  The boys were in the wedding, so they needed to be with us the whole weekend.  Well meal planning was hard, like really really hard.

First we got there for the rehearsal and the dinner after.  We did have a special chicken meal ordered for him (egg free, nut free, gluten free).  So we knew  he had a complete dinner, but he had a hard time not being able to participate with the rest of the people.  He couldn't have any of the appetizers or anything at the buffet, or the dessert that was ordered.  He just ate his chicken and the special cookies I brought for him.  Ryan is use to this, so it wasn't a huge deal, but I could see his frustration in being "different".

The next morning was hard, we didn't have much time and needed a quick breakfast before the wedding activities.  I brought a huge snack bag, but that didn't help with getting him a substantial meal.  The restaurant at the hotel was super basic, eggs and baked goods (Ryan can't eat either), so we scrambled to a WaWa to get him Yogurt and fruit so he could at least have something.  The day continued like this, just trying to scramble to get him any food that was safe and fill his growing belly (he eats like a teenage boy).  At home I would have made him all these meals from scratch, or have good options, but those things don't travel well.

But the actual wedding was even harder, for Ryan and for me.  He couldn't eat a single thing at the cocktail hour.  Mini slider burgers, cocktail appetizers, macaroni and cheese station... nothing.  First of all most things I was sure were either gluten or egg based, but even if I thought it might be safe, I didn't have anyone to confirm it with.  The wait staff was very nice, but they had not idea the ingredients in each individual appetizer (or if it was cross contaminated with egg or nut).  Ryan was hungry, and cranky, and just wanted to eat the things everyone else was eating.

For dinner, he had his "safe" meal- same thing as the night before.  Plain chicken breast with vegetables (poor kid, so boring).  But that was the only thing these places could offer him that was confirmed safe.    Then dessert came around, and again he couldn't eat a thing.  Most was baked with eggs, and again no way to confirm ingredients of each item, lots of desserts with nuts.  So he had a cookie I brought for him as a treat.

And then to top it all off, breakfast the next morning.  The bridal party picked this diner in Philly known for its specialty eggs.  I assumed we would be able to get at least fruit or something so that Ryan could go and hang out with the group.  Well I was wrong.  They had not fruit or yogurt or oatmeal, or anything at all he could eat.  Not a single thing.  The owner of the restaurant was very helpful, he closed down one of the griddles and cleaned it completely so Ryan could have some bacon that was cooked separate from the eggs, but that was it.  It was heartbreaking for me to see how much he couldn't fit in with the gang.  Mike ran out to WaWa again to get him some yogurt so he could at least have breakfast.

Bottom line, it sucked for him.  He was at a big giant party weekend with such great food, and he couldn't participate at all.  That lead me to the "what about the rest of his life" thoughts.  Will he never eat anything at a cocktail party?  Will he ever get to go out to the diner for breakfast with his college friends to talk about the night before?  Will he ever get to try new and unique foods at the new hot restaurant in town?  Or eat a wedding cake?  What about college dorm food?  Of the girl he wants to kiss for the first time?  Is he going to have to  stop in the moment before leaning in for a first kiss to say "hey what did you eat for lunch today"?  How is his life going to be majorly impacted by having food allergies to such a common food like eggs?

The doctor does not think he is going to outgrow the allergies.  His levels were still so high at age 5 that he doesn't have much hope.  And I won't be able to pack all of his meals, where ever he goes forever.  This is a tough pill to swallow.  Food allergies in a baby/toddler is do-able, the rest of their lives is the hard part.  Luckily my BFF talked me off the ledge a little bit, we have no idea what world our kids will live in by time they are adults.  Maybe there will be better options, or new allergy treatments to offer a cure, who knows.  I sure hope there is some kind of change  because based on the the number of children that have food allergies, our future needs some options.  I won't even get into my rant about why children have so many food allergies these days, that is a conversation for another day!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Review of Beaches Turks and Caicos

As previously mentioned, we booked a last minute spontaneous family vacation to Turks and Caicos.  We had been eyeing up the Beaches resort for a while, but every time we priced it out it was WAY to expensive. On a whim this summer I priced it out for a last minute Fall getaway, and I found a package for half the price, literally half the price.  We were very excited and booked it right away!  I couldn't wait for our getaway.

And a quick shout out to our wonderful travel agent Dina, that helped us book this trip very last minute and took care of all of our travel needs.  Call her when you decide to book-  Thank you, Dina!!

(Long post, but lots of good info if you are considering a trip)

It is expensive!   Even at half the price it is expensive.  But it is truly an all inclusive.  We did not pay a dime for anything once we got there.  All drinks, all levels of alcohol, water activities, kids camps... everything.  Even tipping is not allowed (if the staff is tipped, they need to turn it into the management to be donated to their charity), so it is not like other all-inclusives where you need to tip to ensure good service and good drinks.

When it comes to price I have two thoughts.
1.  Even though they are rare, you can get a discount, especially in the off season, so just keep shopping or have a travel agent keep an eye out for promotions.
2.  I think it is worth the money.  After experiencing the resort and all it has to offer, I do not think we overpaid.  IT IS WORTH IT!

We choose to stay in the Caribbean section.  It is the cheapest and the most simply done.  I believe it has also been around the longest, so it's a bit dated.  We personally didn't need the room to be anything special, so it wasn't worth the extra money to upgrade to the Italian, French, or Key West sections.  But if you are particular about your hotel room, need more space for more kids, or really want to stay in a "nicer" room, I would select a different section, there are plenty of options to fit your needs.

I would describe our actual building as OK.  The rooms were standard, two full beds, and a pull out chair.  It was definitely dated, nothing special.  They were clean, and the staff took good care of the buildings, but they were just very basic.  Our room was well located, we had a nice view and could see the ocean in the distance. And we loved being so close to the kids clubs, water park, and beach.

To be honest, our first impression the first 30 minutes at the resort was "oh no, maybe it's not going to be as great as we thought."  The shuttle brings you right into the Caribbean lobby, which is small and dark and dated.  And then we went straight to check into our room (no wait at all, we got right into our room).  So the blah lobby and the basic room did not impress us.  Luckily, that feeling of oh no didn't last for long.  As soon as we got our bathing suits on and explored the property, we were thoroughly impressed.

Bottom line- Caribbean has a great location, and plenty of options, but the rooms are fairly basic and a bit outdated.  We would stay in them again if we got the package discount we got.

(View from our balcony when Cookie Monster visited)

The beach was AMAZING! Most beautiful beach I have ever been to and I am blessed to have been all over the world at various beaches (Hawaii, Cabo, Riviera Maya, St. Lucia, cruises, Bahamas, Italy, California, Dominican Republic).  This was my favorite.  We were there the last week of September, so thankfully the place was very quiet.  We never had to fight for a spot on the beach, a turn on the floating rafts, a cabana... We had our pick of whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted it.  I can not wait to be back on that beach.

(A few different days on the Beach)

The Resort overall-
The place is huge, so many different areas to wander.  The Italian section was the main area- biggest pool, zero entry pool, kids area, hot tubs, nicest swim up bar, the main buffet restaurant, and right off the beach.  Key West was towards the end of the resort, but had two very nice upscale restaurants and felt very cozy and quiet.  The French section was new and updated, close to the water park area, great little coffee shop open all day and late at night, near the main stage for entertainment and some great restaurants.  Each section had its own personality and some nice attributes.  Again because we traveled in the off season, we never had to fight for a spot at the pool, we could go anywhere.

I am not sure how many pools there are, but we spent time at 4 of them!  It was fun going to different areas each day because each pool had something different about it.  All had a swim up bar, that of course Mike and I loved, but the kids loved just as much.  The bar tenders would happily make the kids strawberry smoothies or apple juice.  They loved it.

They had about 19 different restaurants!  19!!  That is so great when you are traveling for a week.  They had a few basic buffets for breakfast and several more options for sit down dining in the morning.  They had family friendly restaurants and then they had fine dining for adults only, and everything in between.  At the time we traveled a few of the restaurants were closed, and they all opened on a rotating schedule.  So we had a calendar with all the options and when they were open.  At first this kind of annoyed me, but in the end it worked great, we always had plenty of great options.

We ate breakfast at Mario's and Guiseppis two times each, these were buffets, it was the easiest option with the kids and to start our day.  Then one morning we ate at Barefoots, a restaurant in the sand, which the kids loved because they could play as we waited for our food.  Then the last morning we had breakfast at Schooners which had unique food and ocean front, nice way to end the trip.

For lunch, my favorite option was Dino's pizza.  We could come right out of the water park or off the beach and sit in the "Town Center" for pizza, salads, or sandwiches.  We always had a good lunch there.  Then we also tried Bobby Dee's which is in the water park for days where we were right out of the pool, super casual, burger and fries kind of lunch.  Bobby Dee's also has an ice cream and milk shake bar open all day.  Lastly we tried Arizona's for a lunch buffet with a Mexican twist.  All the food was good and we loved the variety.

For dinner, Mike and I ended up spending a lot of time on our own (see kids camp section).   Our first night we ate as a family at Neptunes which is a bit fancier but kids are allowed.  The fish was delicious and the wine was good (they refill your glass every time they walk by, your wine glass never gets empty!).  After that the kids wanted nothing to do with us, so we got a lot of date nights.  Sky was a romantic ocean front dinner with a great menu and champagne, and Arizonas for dinner offered a delicious steak.  Soy was a casual Japanese style restaurant and the sushi was soooo good!  I don't think we had a bad meal!

In addition to the dining, we loved stopping in the coffee shop for an afternoon cappuccino and warm chocolate chip cookie, or grabbing ice cream to go from the ice cream shop.  We definitely ate and drank our moneys worth.

Kids Camp and Activities-

The reason we picked this resort is because we were hoping for a mix of family time and adult time.  And that is exactly what we got.  We were able to spend a lot of time as a family doing things we love,  AND we were able to comfortably bring the kids to camp and spend some time as a couple relaxing and enjoying the beautiful island.  It was truly a perfect happy medium.

I wasn't sure how much we would actually use the camp, we travel as a family because we want to spend time together.  But the camp was so awesome, that the kids wanted to go frequently and we were comfortable sending them.  The camp is broken down into many groups- under 1, 1-2 yr old, 3-4 yr old, 5-7 year old, 8-10, year old, teens, etc.  At first I was a bit bummed Patrick and Ryan wouldn't be in the same group, but as the week went on it really didn't matter.  Patrick's group did so much age appropriate activities, and Ryan's group did more big kid adventures, they were both so happy.  It was nice to have them broken into an appropriate age group so that they aren't mixed into one big group.

Examples of some of the scheduled activities for the 3-4 yr olds: Cookies with Cookies Monster, Art and Crafts with Abby, swim time in their private kids pool, Letter or the Day, movie night PJ party, Beach Party with Big bird, Face painting, Duck hunt, playground adventure, Story time with Elmo, and Dress up costume parties.  Every day was different, every hour was different.  So much fun.

Examples of the schedule for 5-7yr old "little Pirates": puppet making, beach olympics, pool games, beach science experiments, snorkeling lessons, treasure hunt, sand castle making, Kids Mini Dance party, Bonfire with marshmallows, Boat Cruise, and talent show.  This was a great age where the kids became friends and looked forward to seeing each other each day.

By the end of the week, Ryan knew all the kids.  He was famous, he was the social director letting everyone know when he would be in camp so that they could plan to be there too.  He even signed himself up and participated in the talent show (without me having any idea, I missed it)!  The teens where doing it and his group went to watch, and he asked to enter and participate.  He did the Robot dance across the stage for 2 minutes and was from then on known as Robot Ryan by all the other guests.

The camp counselors were wonderful, they knew the kids by name and greeted them with big smiles and hugs every time we dropped them off.  It was really a great experience.

(hard to see but this was the science experiment on the beach)

In addition to the camp- there was so much to keep the kids busy.   The water park area was legit.  Three large slides, two medium slides, a smaller splash area with small slides, lazy river, and surf simulator.  We all had a great time in the water park.

They also had parades, character shows, bonfires on the beach, Character parties, and an xbox lounge and game room.  We were not bored for one moment.  You could do as much or as little as you wanted.  That is one reason we loved the camp so much.  The kids had the opportunity to go go go and do everything they wanted to do, and Mommy and Daddy could check out for a couple hours each day to chill and do nothing.

We also took advantage of the free snorkeling, and brought Ryan along with us both times.  One time we took the short boat ride off shore and snorkeled on a local reef, and then the next time we got a tip from the hotel and just walked down to the end of the property and snorkeled right off the beach.  Ryan loved it!  Such a cool way to introduce him to the activity and not spend extra money.

I would say this resort is set up to accommodate families with kids of any age.  They have something to offer everyone.

Lazy river

kids only swim up bar

some slides

little kids area

medium slides in the back ground

lazy river

one of Ryan's many camp friends

examples of that weeks schedule

boat trip

One of the best parts about the trip, especially if you are use to Disney, is the character availability.  We saw them and interacted with them so much.  Just hanging by the pool, they would come by and say hi.  While sitting at lunch.  They participated in the kids camp activities, they just walked around the resort.  Even if you aren't a character fan, it just brings some extra fun for the kids to always see them around.  Some of the girls from kids camp even arranged a surprise (not paid for) visit from Cookie Monster to our room for pictures and he brought a small gift for the kids.  It was really special to not have to fight for time with them.  

Examples of how we spent our days-

1st Full day-
Breakfast at Mario's
Water park as a family
Lunch at Dino's
Quick little nap for the kids, cocktails on the balcony for the parents
Kids went to camp to try it out from 3:30-5pm
Mommy and Daddy went to the beach and had a drink at the pool bar
Live character show at 6:30
Family dinner at Neptunes
Kids to bed, relaxed on the balcony

2nd day-
Breakfast at Guiseppe's
Kids to camp 9-11:30am
Mom and Dad went to the beach, had drinks delivered to our chair, and were buzzed by lunch- oops
Lunch at Dino's again, we loved the pizza
Italian pool as a family
rest time for the kids
Cookies monster to our room
6-8pm kids to camp for the kids talent show and party
We went to dinner at Sky and sat by the fire after until pick up

And then the days continued like that- a combination of family time, camp time, pool time, water park time, beach time, etc.

Last but not least, Food Allergies-

Traveling with food allergies is not easy, especially when its several allergies.  But I would say Beaches is very good at dealing with it.  They are not Disney, Disney is in a league of its own with allergies, but they were good, thorough and I felt safe with Ryan eating.  The way it works is you have to go to the food concierge at the main lobby, and put in food requests ahead of time.  This overwhelmed me at first, because I didn't know where we were going to eat and when.  But after the first day I saw that it was worth it to take the time, plan out our dinners, and put in a food request in advance so that we could get Ryan a good meal.  This even worked on the nights he went to kids camp for dinner.  As long as the chef had a meal request, he would personally deliver Ryan is dinner whether he was with us or with the camp.

Breakfast we just did the buffet and I would get Ryan yogurt, fruit, cereal, and bacon because I knew they were safe options.  Only one day I put in a food request for special pancakes on the day we went to the sit down restaurant for breakfast.  Lunch we knew the pizza at Dino's was safe, so that was a good option.  And Bobby Dee's I just spoke to the manager on site if we went and confirmed a safe meal for lunch, so I didn't have to put it special requests in advance.  So really only dinner needed to be pre-planned.

They also had the chef make him gluten free, egg free, nut free cupcakes and cookies that I picked up from the front desk that he was able to bring for desserts.

Bottom line- there was always a safe meal for him, it just took a little pre-planning  and organizing.  I consider this a success for our first time traveling out of the country with a food allergy kid.

If you are looking for a family vacation, a beautiful location, a chance to relax or to fill your day with activities, kids to be entertained, good food and wine, and a break from reality... then this should be your next vacation.  Start saving now, its not a cheap get away, but its worth it.  The Taynors will be back!

Our Journey Towards Baby 3

Right off the bat, this is not a pregnancy announcement!  It is actually the opposite, it's the story of how we have been struggling to grow our family.  It has been a challenging year plus on this roller coaster ride, and I am ready to get it all off my chest.  You never know who will find this post, that may be going through a similar struggle, and find peace in knowing they are not alone.

Almost immediately after Patrick was born, I knew our family wasn't complete.  I knew right away we would have another baby.  I didn't know when, but that is what I felt in my heart.  When he was about 1, I felt we were ready, but Mike and I had an adult only trip to Colorado planned that summer, and I really didn't want to go pregnant.  So we decided as soon as the trip was over we would officially start trying.  Leading up to that time, I tracked my cycle so I had a pretty good idea how long my cycle was and when I ovulated each month.  August 2015 we "pulled the goalie" and started trying for baby 3.  With both my past pregnancies, it only took about 3 months, so we were hopeful that we would be pregnant by the Fall.

September- I got my period.  October- negative pregnancy test.  December- Not yet.  And this continued for a few more months.  I was trying to stay positive, I know it takes many women a long time to get pregnant.  But each month we were disappointed to find out we still were not pregnant.  I never even considered after two great pregnancies that it would not come easy again.

In March 2016 we finally got pregnant!  I was soooooooo excited!  Shocked, relieved, ecstatic!  I had a cute little way of surprising Mike with the news, and he was more excited then he has been with the past two pregnancies (he always gets nervous when I am pregnant).  I think since we had to work a little harder for this one, made it a little extra special.

Everything seemed to be going well, I had morning sickness, peed all the time, the normal first trimester fatigue... all of my regular early pregnant symptoms.  My first doctors appointment was scheduled for when I would be 8 weeks, April 1.

It was at that appointment, during my pregnancy confirmation ultra sound, that we knew something was wrong.  The minute the doctor started the scan, I knew there was a problem.  I didn't see anything on the screen.  Not a sac or spot or anything at all.  The doctors face was blank.  There was no baby there.  But the doctor didn't say that.  We immediately started going through all the possibilities.  Maybe I was earlier in the pregnancy then we thought, maybe the sac was hidden somewhere in the uterus, maybe we should have a specialist do the scan.  That lead to a week of doctors appointments, blood work, and ultra sounds.  Long story short, about a week later the doctor confirmed it was a miscarriage.  My hormone levels were all great and growing as a normal pregnancy should, but the baby wasn't growing along with it.  After some consultation, we decided to do the D&C procedure that week.

Well we were heartbroken.  Completely devastated.  It was like the rug was pulled out from under us.  We were so excited and hopeful and happy to be pregnant, that we immediately got our hopes up.  We immediately imaged our family with 3 kids, we immediately planned how we would set up bedrooms, when I would go on maternity leave, how we would tell our families on our Disney vacation, pictured Ryan and Patrick as big brothers.  Ryan has been praying every night for a baby, he was going to be so happy.  Learning that we were no longer pregnant just ripped that all away.  I didn't know how to process the emotions.  Especially since physically I still felt pregnant for another couple of weeks.  It was a terrible loss, the sadness ran very deep.

The doctor said he didn't see anything wrong, he had no reason to believe something was wrong with my  health, and that we were free to start trying once my cycle returned.  So we did.

I got my period the end of May, we started trying in June, and I found out I was pregnant again by the end of June!  Even though we had just gone through that horrible experience, I didn't really worry it would happen again.  Seeing the positive so soon took my breath away.  We were happy and excited, this time we would have a health pregnancy.  I became an expert at pretending to drink at social events, so no one suspected a thing.  I could not wait to finally announce it to the world that we were growing our family.

We scheduled our 8 week appointment, went for our first scan, and got the bad news again.  This time we saw the sac trying to grow, the baby got to about 6 weeks before it stopped growing.  I did the blood work and scans and appointments just like we did in April.  All with the same results.  Another miscarriage and a D&C in August.

I couldn't believe we were going through this again.  I think the second time around I felt more angry than sad.  Why was this happening?  What was wrong with my body?  What else could I be doing to help get pregnant?  Why did the whole world around me seem to be pregnant?!?!

This second miscarriage also lead to me re-evaluating the whole process.  Are we not meant to have another baby?  Should we stop trying?  Is this a sign from God that my body can't handle a pregnancy?  Or is it just normal, like so many people keep saying?  Should I see a fertility specialist?  Or should I just keep trying and it will happen when its meant to happen?

So to help us grieve, we planned a spontaneous last minute family vacation to Turks and Caicos (that post is coming next).  We wanted to appreciate the family we have, the blessings in our world, and not agonize over getting pregnant and the loss of these babies.  I know that sounds crazy, but the time away gave us perspective and took the edge off.

In the meantime, the doctor ordered a full list of blood work, to take a look at everything going on that may be affecting my pregnancy.  At this stage they are not considering it an "infertility" issue because I had two healthy pregnancies, I am under 35, and its only 2 miscarriages, not 3.

Our current status is this- my blood work came back with a few areas of concern,  One thing specifically is that my cardio lipids are very high, leading to blood clotting.  The doctor suspects the blood clotting is causing the problem, because not enough blood is flowing to the baby to give it the ability to grow.  He also recommended I see a hematologist to help review the blood work and explain whats going on.  I also decided to see a new OB for a second opinion.  I want someone else to see the results, hear my story, and let me know what they think is going on.  I like my OB but he seems very nonchalant about the whole thing.  The new OB appointment is this week, and the hematologist is next week.  So I guess we will see.  Hopefully they can create a plan for us.

We really really want this baby.  As much as I am nervous to get pregnant again, my gut still tells me we are not done.  There is another baby for us.  We will continue this journey, work with the doctors, and pray a whole lot, and I believe whatever is suppose to happen will happen.  My Rainbow baby will be here one day!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Inside the Brain of a Mom on the 1st Day of Kindergarten

Well today was the day, I sent my oldest child off on the bus to kindergarten.  And it was really hard, like really really hard.

I didn't think I would be the mom that cried at the bus stop and was fighting the urge to follow to bus all the way to school.  But about half way through this summer I realized that was totally going to be me.  My anxiety was at an all time high.  Unfortunately the Kindergarten orientation two weeks ago did not help the situation at all.  I left feeling more scared and more sad and more worried about how he was going to handle this new school schedule and how was I going to handle having him away from me from 8:45am-4:10pm every single day.

So why is it so hard?  Why am I such an emotional mess? I think one big part of it is that kindergarten represents the next big stage in life.  His baby, stay home and play with mommy, responsibility free years are over... and never coming back.  He will now be in school full time for the next 13 years (any hopefully more with a great college education)!!  He will spend way more time in school, following the rules, going through the motions of public education, conforming to what he is suppose to be doing, then he will at home with me and exploring the world.  That makes me sad.

But it's also hard because I need to come to terms with the fact that he won't need me as much.  He will be gaining independence daily.  He will become a big boy, slowly drifting away from my little buddy that needs mommy's hugs and kisses for everything.  This realization is equal parts pride and heartbreak.

Luckily for everyone, he woke up this morning excited and ready to start this adventure.  When the bus came, he ran, literally ran down the street and jumped right on.  That made me happy and relieved and soooo sad that he so easily just blew me a kiss and went on his way.

Within a few minutes my parents went back on with their day, Mike left for work and took Patrick to my inlaws, and it was just me.  I sat in the kitchen, drank my coffee, and cried lots of tears.  Here are some of the thoughts that ran through my mind:

- I can't believe my little baby is on that big bus driving to a brand new building without me.  He is to young for that!  How can he possibly do that by himself??
- I hope he can open his lunch box and all his snacks?  What if he can't open the bag of grapes, or zipper it back up?
- I pray pray pray he doesn't try to share food with any other kids, he still doesn't really understand what is safe and not safe to eat with his allergies.  The lunch room is a scary place!
-What if he talks to much? He loves to talk, and he is so enthusiastic, but what if he doesn't understand when to stop?
- Please be a kind love-able boy!  I hope the teacher loves him too and he doesn't become the "bad" or "annoying" kid in class.
- What shorts is he wearing?  Is he going to be able to button them by himself after the bathroom?
-I hope he doesn't get overwhelmed and act like a crazy kid.
-Does he miss me?  I hope so because I miss him, but I hope not because I don't want him to be sad.
-Do they get to spend enough time just playing and being kids?  They are still so young, being in school all day is hard!!
-I hope he eats his lunch and snack, I don't want him to be hungry.
-Is it 4:10pm yet???

The time finally came to meet him at the bus stop.  When the bus arrived the bus driver had to remind him several times that he had to get off the bus, he could see his friends tomorrow.  He spent the next 2 hours telling me lots of stories about the classroom, the boy on the bus, the kid he helped walk to the nurses office, the boy who hit him by mistake in the face (I didn't love this part), the lunch room, and how he needs to wear his nice blue sneakers on Tuesdays.  My heart was full to hear about his great first day.  Tomorrow will be a tad easier, but the feelings of worry and sadness will not be gone.  But hopefully seeing him happy, a great teacher, and new friends will help ease the pain and lead to an amazing first year of school!!

They say things are much easier when the kids start 1st grade.... that better be true!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

What do I want to be when I grow up?

When kids in high school or early college say "I am not sure what I want to do when I get out of school", I laugh, because I am 33 years old and I still can't wan't answer that questions.  This particular topic has been messing with my mind on and off over the past 2.5 years (since Patrick was born) but has been overwhelming me recently.

Recently we have been having a lot of debate and discussion about moving to North Carolina (that is the next post), but it seems like we will be staying in put in New Jersey.  Along with this decision is the decision that I really need to continue to work, being a stay at home mom is really not an option.  The cost of living in New Jersey is high, the taxes are high, the amount of projects we have for our house is high... bottom line is that if we are living in New Jersey, we need to be a two income family.  I am okay with this decision, I really know its best, but it leads me to question my current career.

You see, if I am going to work, I want it to be worth it.  I want to make enough money that it is worth leaving my kids with a babysitter.  I want to be motivated and feel like I am doing something that matters.  I want to feel like I can grow and develop in a career.  And if I am being honest, that is not how I feel right now.  I feel over qualified in an under paid job.  If I have to pay for a babysitter, I basically work for free.  And I feel stuck in a rut, its the same thing over and over for the past 5 years.

When I first started working in the Chiropractic office, it was the perfect transition for me.  Ryan was just about 7 months old, we had decided going back to teaching full time wasn't the best plan for our family, and I had my inlaws and parents to babysit regularly so I wasn't paying babysitting (which meant my low pay was okay).  And it was new and exciting!  I loved the people I worked with (I still do!) and it was a new position that I had to learn, and I loved being in the health and wellness word.  Over the past years I have learned soooooooo much and made so many great connections.  But now five years later, I am bored.  I dread going to work every day, my pay checks are so low that I feel like I am going to work for nothing.  I don't have my inlaws and my mom to babysit as consistently as I did before, so I have to pay for a lot of child care.  It is just not working the same as it was when I started.

So I am back to the drawing bored, and it's stressing me out!

Do I stay at the chiropractic office because it is comfortable and flexible and routine right now, and stop worrying about my qualification and lack of pay increase? Or do I start to search for a new, better option.  I think the stressful part is, I am not exactly sure what the next job would be.

I am lucky in the sense that I have a lot of qualifications.  I have a business marketing and management degree, I have my license as a hairstylist, and I am a certified English and Business teacher.  I have work experience in offices, fundraising, event planning, hair salons and bridal hair, teaching, assistant teaching, sales, childcare, and I can keep going.  I have had a million jobs since I started working at 16 years old!  I truly believe I could be good at whatever I decide to do.  I am super hard working, motivated, determined, and stubborn (haha I won't let myself suck).  But none of this helps me make a decision on what the next step is.

I have been trying to think logically- what are the most important aspects of a job that I am looking for-

1. Flexible schedule!!!  Absolutely first thing.  I still want to be mom first.  So a job that allows me to go to school shows and take the kids to doctors appointments and put my kids priorities first is the most important factor.

2.  Good pay.  Like I said before, I have a lot of qualifications and skills.  If I am going to leave my family to work, the pay needs to be worth the time away.  We are blessed enough to not be scraping by, but my income allows the opportunity to do the things we want to do.

3. Something I enjoy doing.  I don't really want to sit behind a desk doing paper work or answering phone calls.  I want to be motivated, achieving goals, interacting with people.  I want to be proud of what I do.

My husband's input is this- I have changed jobs a lot (its true, I can't be mad at him for pointing this out) so he wants me to try to find something that I am happy enough doing that I won't be having this same conversation in about 5 years.  And I do agree with him, that will be ideal.  But I don't think its a deal breaker.  I personally don't really think its a "bad" thing that I have changed jobs a lot, or that I look for change every 5 years or so.  Every time I have made a change it has been for the better, each new job has given me new motivations.  Also each job has been perfectly suited for our family situation at that given time.  I am not a career woman, trying to climb a corporate latter and making big raises by staying at a company for the long term.  I think it is okay to seek change everyone once in a while as our family dynamic changes.  And it might mean that by time I retire I will have had 20 jobs, but is that really an awful thing?  I don't think so, but maybe I am missing something?

So that leads to my husbands next question- what is your passion?  Find something you are passionate about and do it!  Much easier said then done.  I have tons of passions-

1.  Healthy and wellness- especially with raising kids.  Educating kids and families on real wellness.
2.  Research junky on the nutrition (gut), brain, nervous system connection for kids with special needs, and also anything health related- clean water, removing toxins for homes, getting our bodies back to the way nature intended it to be.
3.  Organizing.  I know, weird, but I  LOVE organizing.
4.  Planning.  I love planning parties and events and schedules.  Goes along with my love for organizing.
5.  The beach (can I make a career of going to the beach?)
6.  Travel- I love to travel the world, and I love to plan and research travel.
7.  Management- One of my favorite parts of my current job is the management aspect.  Coordinating people and appointments and tasks and making sure everyone is doing what they are suppose to be doing.
8.  Kids-  I love being around them, teaching them, motivating them... I love working with kids.
9.  Being in charge.  Its part of my personality and something it is a negative trait, but I love being in control and making decision.  Total type A personality.
10.  In general I just like working with people.  Helping them, communicating with them, working together.

I am sure there are plenty of other passions I have, but these are the ones that come to mind.  Now is the hard part.  I need to take the "must haves" list for a new job and combine it with some of these "passions" and hopefully find a great new career option.  And to make it even better, hopefully I already have the schooling for whatever I want to do so it does not mean going back for another degree or certification.

In the past few months I have been tossing around a few ideas, some more attainable than others.  But I haven't put my finger on a plan yet.

- Travel agent-  I love everything about this, except for the inconsistent pay.  I love travel, research, working with people.... but I don't know if I can give up my steady pay check for the irregular income of a travel agent.

-Building my Bridal Hair business enough that I can do only that.  This is a great plan, and I love doing it.  But I can't see myself committing to working every Saturday and most Sundays from March-October.  That is our only family time.  What happens when the kids are older and have weekends loaded with sports and activities.  I love doing weddings, but I don't want to miss every single weekend for months at a time.

-Real estate agent- this option is a front runner right now.  It is flexible, I can do as much or as little as I want with it.  It's more money then travel agent.  And it also ties in with one of our family goals to continue to invest in income properties and possibly flip homes. Yes I need to take the course and it will take some time to build up business (agents are a dime a dozen) but I think its an accomplishable goal.

- Occupational therapist-  This is a dream job at this point, but also the most far fetched.  I am attracted to it because its a true career that I can work part time.  It involves working with kids.  There are many career options within the field.  I can use my health and wellness and passions for helping kids.  But its a LOT of school.  I would need to do a semester of pre-reqs and then apply and pray to get in, and then two  years of full time school.  That would be a stretch financially and logistically for our family.

-Some kind of social worker/therapist.  This is very vague.  But one of my favorite parts about my current job is working with the moms who come in and are lost and looking for help.  Guiding them through health and wellness, giving recommendations for their kids, connecting through my past experiences... I just love being able to talk to other families help them the best I can.  Maybe working with postpartum moms, or families going through the special needs process with their children.  I really don't know.

- Or of course, stay where I am.  It's comfortable, and flexible, and I can suck it up and just be happy there.

Okay longest, rambly blog post ever.  I am done for now.  Ahhhh I feel better just getting it all out of my head and onto paper.  I think I will just pray a lot, see what happens with Mike's career in the immediate future, and hope that the answer just comes to me.  I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Whats going on these days?

Its been a wild few months.  Lots going on.  Good things, bad things, stressful thing, exciting things.  I am not going to get into all of it right now, but here are a few notes on the Taynor family happenings.

-  We are trying to sell our Coolidge house.  The renters are ready to move out, and keeping it is not a great long term investment, so we hope to sell it soon.  It has been on the market for 2 weeks and had lots of showings and one offer we are currently negotiating with.  I am hopeful we can get it sold quickly and move on.  The goal is to use the money from that house to buy another home in North  Carolina.  The NC can be an investment home or a home for us to live in if we decide we are heading South.  That is a conversation for another day.  Owning three homes and being landlords has been a fun yet challenging new business venture we have started the past couple years.

-We are actively debating whether we should settle in here in NJ or make the move to NC like so many others have.  Lots of pros in both directions.  I have kind of thrown my hand up in the air, I pray every night, and I am asking God to take the wheel on this whole process.

-As usual I am debating my job situation.  My bridal hair business is growing and I am happy with the progress I have made.  I do hope it continues to grow and allows me the ability to leave the office job.  I am also looking into other options of what I can do from home to supplement my income if I decide to the leave the office.  The balance of babysitters and office hours has become very difficult, especially for how little I make and if we plan to have another child (lots of prayers for this too)  then this problem will not go away anytime soon.  So its the constant battle of being home a lot, taking care of my family, and still making enough money to contribute to our monthly finances.  One option I am considering and in the process of working on is a travel agent.  I figure I love planning, I am very organized, and like my previous post states I am travel obsessed these days, so it might be a good fit along with the bridal business.

-Mike and I were training for a half marathon.  Unfortunately I was sidelined at the last minute (tough look after training for 3 months, I didn't even get to run the race), but Mike ran with my sister and they did awesome.  We are hoping to keep it up because we do enjoy running together.

-We have been doing lots of work on our house.  Some little projects, some big projects, but slowly but surely we are making changes.  I'll do a post with pictures soon, but its nice to see some progress.  But I will admit, when I look around this house I still just see work.  A big property that needs lots of love, a basement I would love to finish,  these ugly counter tops that I dream about changing... so while we wait and save to do it, I just watch a whole lot of HGTV and dream.

-Ryan is officially registered for kindergarten.  It makes me so sad and proud at the same time.  I can't imagine him leaving at 9am and not coming home til 4pm every single day!  I am going to miss him like crazy and am getting ready to buckle in for a rocky year.

-We are getting ready for wedding season.  We have another 5 weddings this year!  I thought I was too old for his!

I think those are the hot topics as of right now!  Look at me catching up on lots of blog posts.  Still to come- Disney re-cap, birthday party details, ADHD discussion,  and home improvements update.

Travel Dreaming

Traveling has become my passion.  It is what gets me excited, makes me want to save money, how I spend my free time (haha).  I love having a trip on the calendar and am always planning the next one.  We just got home from an amazing Disney vacation.  I really loved it and so did the boys.  We hope to have many Disney trips over the years, but I also really want to travel all of the world.  There are so many places to go and amazing places out in the world, I want to do my best to see a lot of them.  Luckily it appears Ryan has my travel bug and interest in seeing the most interesting places.

One day I asked him where he wants to go on our next vacation, and this is the list he came up with:

-Himalayan Mountains
-Great Barrier Reef
-The Grand Canyon
-Whale Watching
-Noah's House (North Carolina, I love that this was on his list)
-On a cruise
-Swimming with the dolphins

I love this list!  I love that this is how his brain works.  I can't wait to take him to some of these places!  And lucky for me, some of these trips are on my list too.

I will go pretty much anywhere, but here is my list of the top places I want to travel:

-Turks and Caicos
-Atlantis (we can swim with the dolphins here!)
-Florida Keys
-Disney Cruise
-Niagara Falls
-Grand Canyon
-Zion National Park
-Skiing out West
-Spa Resort in Arizona
-Alaska Cruise
-River cruise through Europe
-Bora Bora

This list is not all inclusive- if an offer or a new idea pops into my mine, I'll try it!   Luckily I have a couples vacation coming up in a couple weeks to Myrtle Beach (golf for the guys, beach for the girls).  Then we are in the works of planning a friends vacation for next summer, so I have some things on my radar.

The Taynor Brothers

As usual, I haven't blogged in forever.  I missed Patrick's 2 year old birthday update and party details, and I missed Ryan's 5th birthday update and party details.  Life is busy, blogging slips down on the priority list.  So instead of trying to back track, here is my post about my precious boys.  Hopefully I will still get to posting about their parties.  I had a lot of fun planning all the details and would love to share.

So as of today- Ryan is 5 years 3 months old and Patrick is 2 years 4 months old.


-His personality makes us laugh and shakes our heads all day.  He is funny, charming, moody, a trouble maker, and super cuddly.
-Patrick is the type that will do something wrong, know he is about do get in trouble, so he will do something really super cute immediately after so that everyone laughs and smiles and suddenly he is no longer in trouble (my brother was very good at this trick too, I know it well).
-He is still sleeping in his crib and in diapers, but we plan to start transitioning both things this summer.
-He occasionally goes on the potty, and when he does we have to have a big celebration
- Patrick can be a bit of a couch potato (he gets it from his Daddy).  Umizomi, Little Einsteins, and Paw Patrol are current favorites.
-Talking is coming slow for him, just like his brother.  But he is a very good communicator and the words are slowly catching up.
-He calls his brother Yaya and he is in love with him!
-Sleep habits are pretty routine- in bed around 7-7:30, sleeps til anytime between 6-7am and takes a 48 minute nap (I'm serious, all  naps are exactly the same length, we have still never gotten a nap over 1 hour).
-He is in the "I do" stage which I kind of love.  He wants to try to do everything himself and he is determined to keep up with his big brother.
-We registered Patrick for school, so he will be starting preschool 3 mornings a week in the fall (ahhhh!)
-Patrick can be stubborn.  He know what he wants and that's it.  If he doesn't get it, tempers flare.  But luckily the tantrums never last long.
-  He is a picky eater.  By time we get to dinner he pretty much eats nothing.  I am a mean mom.  I make one dinner for the family, he eats it if he wants, or he eats nothing for dinner.  I am not starting the bad habit of multiple meals or eating junk for dinner.  I am not overly concerned because he eats a great breakfast, a decent lunch, and has lots of healthy snacks all day... so I know the kid won't starve.  He will start eating dinner again when he is ready.
-On the food topics- his favorite foods are pouches, bananas, avocado, yogurt, veggie straws, waffles with sun butter, and pasta.
-He finally has his own friend.  Up to this point its been all Ryan's friends or his cousins.  But now he has play dates with his little buddy Rex and they have a lot of fun together.  Its very cute.
-My favorite part of the day is Partick cuddles.  He loves to hug and kiss and cuddle up in my lap.  I think he would curl back inside the womb if it was possible.
-Patrick's the kind of kid that everyone loves.  He is cute, he puts on a show for everyone, he is a social butterfly, people just  love him.


-Ryan brings me all the greatest parts of my day and all the hardest parts of my day!  He is a lot of love, personality, emotions, and energy every single day.
-Recently Ryan has been blowing us away with his knowledge and questions and quests to learn about all these fascinating topics.  He is obsessed with whales, sharks, underwater life, scuba diving, dinosaurs, and traveling around the world.  And the obsession is not just about playing with these kind of toys.  He wants to read books (like real encyclopedia style books), watch documentaries, and tell everyone about what he is learning.
-When you ask Ryan what he wants to be when he grows up he says "a scuba diver that can take pictures and videos of whales and sharks and use to it do research to learn more about them and teach kids" or to work at a rescue center for sea animals that have been injured.
-He also has become very artistic.  His teachers always pull me aside to tell me how great his imagination and art skills are.  We are looking into an art summer camp for him.
-He loves people, all people, all the time.  Everyone he meets he wants to become friends with.  He has invited many grocery store clerks or target employees to our house for dinner.
-Ryan is currently enjoying playing soccer on Saturday mornings and going to his gymnastics class.  He is doing much better with following the structure and improving his skills.
- We are working everyday with his ADHD behavior needs and his sensory issues.  Its been a tough few months.  He goes to OT once a week and I am constantly doing research, going to seminars, watching webinars, to find out more about what I can do about helping him.  As he gets older, we are encountering new more challenging issues with his ADHD and compulsive behavior.  Its a lot of work to keep up with but we are trucking along.  I hope to do a separate post about this soon, I don't want my Ryan update to be all about his disability.
-Ryan is very very emotional- from the highest highs to the lowest lows.  When he is excited he is barely able to contain his joy, and when he is upset he cries to the point of throwing up and not breathing.  The pendulum can swing from one emotion to the next in just seconds.  He keeps me on my toes.
-This kid is LOUD, like really loud all the time.  I didn't realize how loud he was until he wasn't around for a few days and the house was eerily quiet.  He talks loud, laughs loud, cries loud, plays loud.
-Just like I was saying about Patrick, Ryan is full of love.  Lots of cuddling, hugs, kisses all the time.  Many days the boys fight over who gets to cuddle with mom- I don't mind this at all!
-Ryan loves to be outside, exploring in the woods, doing yard work with Daddy, swinging on the swings.  He is very excited for summer to be outside all the time.

Now lets take a quick peak at their relationship as brothers.

-They love each other so much, its very sweet.
-Ryan loves to protect Patrick, he gets very worried about him and making sure he is safe all the time.  But at the same time he can totally body slam him in a wrestling match and not thing twice about it.
-Ryan wants to be just like Mike, and Patrick wants to be just like Ryan, so this leads to a lot of following each other around and fighting over toys.  When they all play together, Ryan wants to do whatever Mike is doing, and Patrick then wants what Ryan wants, so even though we have a room full of toys, all three boys are fighting over the same sword (or dinosaur, or truck, or lego piece).  It is an odd dynamic because their love for each other and want to play together leads to lots of fighting and tears on a daily basis.
-Both boys are very boyish boys.  They are loud, like to get dirty, wrestle a lot, play with bugs, constantly on the move.  The activity level in our house is always very high from the minute their eyes open until they fall asleep at night.
-We have reached the fighting and tattling stage.  Its tough and I don't think its going away anytime soon.  Like I said they fight over toys  ALL OF THE TIME, and we get a lot of "Patrick hit me" or "Yaya gave me boo boo".  We have a lot of lessons in sharing and keeping your hands to yourself in our future.
-But they can't leave the room without giving each other hugs and kisses and saying I love you, 100 times a day.

I am sure I could go on and on about the little things that make me smile every day, or the little things that make me want to pull my hair out (like Patrick's habit to poop in the bath tub or Ryan's ability to leave a mess wherever he goes) but at least I got some of their little personality traits down on paper!

Seriously I need to get better at posting more often, then I don't want to worry about getting it all down at one time.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Adventures of Making Adult Friends

I have been saying for a while that making adult friends is like dating.  But events of the past few weeks has proven this to be more true than I was even realized!  So I will say it again, making adult friends (after college and marriage and kids) is the same thing as dating!

I have been very blessed with the very best friends, and they have been in my life since as early as elementary school.  The same group of girls has been with me through every detail and drama and bad hairstyle I have had for the past 18 plus years.  I never really needed to make new friends.  But the past year lead many of my best friends heading in different directions.  They will forever be my best, the friendships are not going anywhere, but I became acutely aware that I needed to find some girl friends closer to home.  Ones to go out for a girls night with, or to bring their kids over for a pizza night every once in a while.  I couldn't drive South Jersey or Maryland or fly to NC every time I needed some girl time.  That is what started me on my adventure to find some new adult friends

Back to why it feels a lot like dating- Some examples-

-It can be awkward at first, you have to the play the whole getting to know you game.  At first it may seem like you have mutual interests, but after a few times hanging out all of a sudden you realize you are very different people.  What do you do next, keep working on it?  Let it go?  It's a bit weird.

-Sometimes you find out they are crazy.  Unfortunately I have had a few issues of this recently.  Girls can be drama filled and over the top and everything is the end of the world.  I don't have time for this in my life, I haven't dealt with that since middle school, and I certainly have no interest in drama filled, crazies in my life as an adult.  But just like some of the weirdos we have dated, its hard to shake them.

-Playing the should I call/text game.  I know this sounds funny but it's true.  You meet someone you think would totally be a great new friend.  But you don't know if they feel the same connection (haha I am laughing as I write this).  So do you call them?  Find something random to text them about?  When is it okay to reach out and ask them to do something?  Or now that you have hung out a few times, and you feel like you are always the one making the plans, do you keep initiating or do you stand back and wait to see if they reach out.  Oh the stress and anxiety over trying to read the situation.

-Deciding what to wear.  Women know they really only dress for each other, right?  So I seriously found myself in a situation last week over thinking what to wear for dinner out with a new friend.  We have known each other for a while now, see each other at daily school drop off in our yoga pants, even had a few social events we both attended... but we had never been out for a girls night just the two of us.  I didn't know what her usual dress would be for a girls night (with my high school girl friends I can pretty much predict what each one of them will be wearing to any situation because we know each other so well).  Was our night a casual jeans and flats and a sweater night, hair in a pony tail running out the door kind of night?  Or would it be more of a "yes we are free, lets get all dolled up for a night on the town" kind of night?  I went somewhere in the middle, and luckily it turned out to be just fine.

-Continuing with the same night, it was all about trying to figure each other out- are we ordering full meals, or just bar foods?  Would we split some appetizers or like totally different things?  Do we pick up this small stuffed endive and eat it whole or cut it up into little pieces (yes this moment actually happened and we laughed a  lot about it).  We each have our own norms when it comes to going out with friends, but we had to get use to each others.

- But lastly, and just like with dating, if you meet someone who is a good fit, then all these silly little things become easy.  Just like when meeting a guy that turns into a real relationship, it should be easy and fun and none of the stress I described above.   It's the same with making new friends.  If it's easy and fun and you enjoy having this new person in your life, then it probably means it will be a good friendship.  If its awkward and work and doesn't make you happy- cut the losses and move on.

Again, I am lucky to have my girls.  We know what we will wear, what we will order to eat, what kind of activities we like to do.  We know who wants to go out and get a bit tipsy and who would rather sit in sweats on the couch and chat.  We know each others quirks and have no judgments about them.  We understand each others relationships with our husbands and parents and inlaws and children.  We can be ourselves 100% all of the time and know that know matter what these are my best friends that I can go to whenever I need them.

I am hopeful that going through this friendship dating game will lead me to a few more new friends that live a little closer to home.  Until then I will blog about my adventures!