Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Becoming a Hoarder

I don't like clutter.  I don't like "things" everywhere.  I'm not one to collect knick knacks or souvenirs or have a special collection of some sort.  Yes, I'm totally boring.  Husband is the exact opposite, so you could say we even each other out.  Or we compensate for the other.  Ha.  I like things nice and tidy.  I thrive on organization.  My bedroom when I was younger was always spotless, neat and tidy.  I would go over to my best friend's house and clean and organize her room.  Or my sister's room.  It made me happy to put things away.   If my house is a mess I feel out of sorts and can't function until I sort through a few things (lately, it's just laundry.  But as long as things are put in a closet or a pretty box, I'm ok for now). 

With my appliance addiction, I've acquired a new addition (look at that alliteration, y'all).  It's a sewing machine!  I'm so excited.  Husband found a great deal and I convinced him to buy it for me now instead of waiting until Christmas.  The possibilities are endless.  Already I've attempted baby items and clothing for Princess's dolly.

However, my newest addition requires "things" to go with it.  Like fabric.  You know, to sew.  Seeing as how I'm cheap, I went into my garage, grabbed the bags of clothes we were going to donate, and tada I have a huge fabric collection (sorry donation place.  Maybe next time).  Right now the bags are piled in Flower's room, which I rearranged to fit a table with the sewing maching and all my other craftiness items.  It's a mess and it's driving me crazy.

Here's where the hoarding part comes in.  I can't get rid of anything now.  What if I could use it to create a super cute outfit for Princess?  Or her dolly?  I NEED these old shirts and buttons and elastic from this old bedsheet.  I could make something!  Seriously.  I think I'm going to become a hoarder.




Disclaimer:  I realize hoarding is a real thing.  This post was done in jest.  Please don't take offense or attempt to "educate" me.       


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

One of those Mondays

Monday was a rough day.  I gave four baths and had things thrown at me.  There was lots of crying, lots of screaming, and lots of mommy wanting to run away. 

It started off normally.  Husband got up, went to work, and the girls and I were left to our own devices.  I had just received my second CSA box and wanted to make something creative to use up a few of the items in it.  I had a ton of tomatoes (from the box, from my dad's garden, and from my own garden) that needed to be used.  Thus, homemade tomato sauce!  How hard could it be?  People do it all the time.

It's actually a lengthy process (when you have two children vying for your attention).  Peeling and deseeding a bunch of tomatoes is quite time consuming.  Then they get to simmer for a few hours.

Since I decided I could use my time a bit more efficiently and multitask, I chose to make zucchini bread at the same time.  I had zucchinis from the box as well that I could use.  That part was easy peasy.  I love the breadmaker.  Throw everything in it and it does the rest.  Seriously, no mixing, no mess.  Just measure, pour, and let be.  My kind of cooking.

Since tomatoes were going to simmer and bread was going to rise, I also decided to boil a whole chicken to make some chicken broth and get some chicken meat.

And boil some eggs.  Always good to have boiled eggs around.

And brown some meat.  Eggplant lasagna (with meat because Husband can't live without it) sounded like a nice meal to have.  I could use the sauce I was making with the tomatoes. 

I think that was it.

Anyway.

We had been out late the previous day so the girls got to skip their bath.  However, it was not to be avoided any longer since Princess smelled like vomit (she gets carsick and our long drive on Sunday was no exception).  Flower just smelled like sour milk.  Yes, I let them both go to sleep like that.

Princess played by herself all morning in her pajamas while I bathed Flower, washed a car seat and other various items (I have washed Princess's doll at least six times and STILL cannot get out the smell of vomit.  My next plan is to find an exact replacement somewhere), and started Googling how to do the tomato sauce.  I pestered Princess about getting into her bath, trying to let her make her own decision (plus, I didn't want to deal with a tantrum.  I figured eventually she would come around.  One of those pick your battles things).

Princess is great at excuses: "Right after I finish this, Mom." Or, "Just let me do this one more time."  Since she was entertained, I didn't push her to get into the bath until after lunch.  Then I reminded her I needed to wash her hair.  She HATES getting her hair wet.  I don't know what it is, but it completely freaks her out.  Subsequently, we rarely wash her hair unless we have something special going on, it stinks, or it's just been too long and I feel like I need to be a better mom and have a clean kid.  I had been reminding her all day that she was going to take a bath and we were going to wash her hair (we have to prepare her for things so she doesn't freak out as much.  Gives her time to process what's coming).  Once she was in the bathtub I reminded her again.  She told me, "Not yet."  After a bit, I told her I was washing it and that was that.  She did ok, but then wanted me to stop rinsing the soap out of her hair.  Which I told her no, and I would stop when the soap was gone.  Well, she didn't like that.  She got very, very angry and decided to start throwing all her toys at me and yelling at me to stop (I really hope the neighbors can't hear us).  I got up and left, telling her I would come back when she was done and ready to apologize to Mommy.  I swear I went back and forth from the kitchen to the bathtub at least twenty times.  It was the power struggle of the decade.  Princess screaming and yelling at me to come back, me telling her she needed to apologize for throwing things at Mommy.  She wouldn't, so I left again.  Repeat.  Eventually she caved (score one for mommy points!).  I finished her up, got her out and dressed, and she was good to go.

In the meantime, Flower decided that her digestion was up and running and let out everything she had for the past week.  Straight in the bath she went, a change of clothes and more laundry for me. That was bath number three of the day.

Somehow the time just goes by and pretty soon it's 5:00, Husband is about to head home from work, the house is an utter disaster, Flower has a tooth just barely poking through and doesn't want to be put down, Princess keeps demanding food, tomato sauce is splattered everywhere, the cat was in your way so you stepped on it, and you're exhausted from being woken up a million times the night before and you haven't been able to catch up.

Princess wanted to eat and I told her she had to wait until I was done with dinner.  I hadn't given her enough attention that day as I attempted to multitask the kitchen and she was at her breaking point.  She threw her dish as hard as she could past me and into the sink (she's into throwing things lately, I guess) and thought it would further her cause to yell at me that she wanted food NOW.  Well, the dish bounced out of the sink and broke on the floor.  I was not happy with how she was treating me (seriously, where does this come from?), and gave her a nice spanking on her bottom, made her pick up the pieces, and sent her to her room.

From which she then had to go to the bathroom (I really can't say no to that one, and she knows it).  Then she wanted to not go back into her room.  No way was I letting her out.  I told her she could stay there until Husband came home.  Cue screaming, crying, sobbing, screaming, running after me down the hallway after I forcefully carry her to her room multiple times.  Next I hear her throwing her toys down the hallway in a fit of rage.

Oy Vey.  I'm going to have to Google ways to help children express their anger.

Then I go back to the kitchen to juggle my messes and a crying Flower.  All the while Princess is screaming at me in the background.  Husband calls to say he'll be late, of course.

I put a crying Flower down to at least try to make some sense of what I have going on (it is so hard to think when children are screaming).  The meat is done, the chicken is done, the eggs are done, the bread is done.  I get the eggplant lasagna done and put in the freezer.  The sauce came out pretty good, although a tad burnt (oops), and I was able to get the kitchen cleaned up.  Princess did stop screaming at one point.  If you're wondering what she screams, usually it's just, "MOMMMMMM!!!!!!  MOOOMMMMMYYYYYY!!!!!!! MMMMOOOOOOMMMMYYY I WANT YOU!!!"  Over and over and over. 

Husband comes home and asks me why Princess is asleep in our bed.  Oops.  I guess when I was trying to ignore her while in the kitchen I missed her sneaking out of her room and into ours.  Where she had knocked over my nightstand and everything on it, as well as thrown items into the bathroom.  This kid is thorough, I gotta give her that.

Husband came home with a migraine, so he took some medicine and went to bed next to Princess.  I packaged up the dinner that I had planned, gave Flower her bath (bath number four of the day), and put her to bed.       

Then I went to bed.  In Princess's bed.   



  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Preschool

Princess started preschool a few weeks ago.

It was a big debate in the beginning (between Husband and I).  Should she go, would it be worth it, could we afford it, couldn't I just homeschool, what about socialization, etc, etc.

We decided yes she should go.  Maybe not should.  Could.  Yes, she could go.  It's not something we are forcing her into.  She is so excited to go and play in a different environment, with other children.  I think she was so used to going to daycare every day that preschool has helped with her yearning to go somewhere else with other children around her own age.

She goes two days a week for three hours each time.  I drop her off, piddle away the time for a couple of hours, then go pick her up.

It's always fun trying to pull out of her what she has done that day.  I know they usually sing songs, she plays with the toys and other kids there, they might do some type of story (at least in their newsletter it says they do, she never remembers if there is a story), a craft, and a snack.  Princess's favorite part of preschool is the snack.  She always remembers what the snack for the day was.

Later she will come to me and ask me to sing one of the songs they sang.  I'm pretty proud of myself for using my YoutTube skills and three year old interpretation skills and I can usually find the song they sang in class.  Princess is pretty good about telling me if I have found the correct song or not.

I like that Princess is able to go to a different environment to play and learn.  The teachers are extremely nice and patient, and I feel that she is well taken care of when I leave.  There are only five girls in her class of fifteen students, which was surprising to me.  That just means all the girls tend to play together. 

One of the perks of preschool that I was looking forward to was meeting other moms.  And I have!  I've had actual conversations with a few of them and even exchanged numbers with one (granted, I haven't actually called or texted her or vice versa, but to me exchanging numbers means I made a friend).

We have Open House next week where we get to see what she has been doing in class and talk with the teachers.  I'm very excited to be on the other end of this game.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Window

I've slowly been learned Flower's personality and figuring her out.  She's a pretty happy, easy-going baby.  She loves to smile and make silly faces.  She did a face once where she scrunched up her nose, pursed her lips, and breathed in and out quickly.  We thought it was hilarious, so she continues to do it to make us laugh.  Of course we have to make the face right back at her.  She's so fun.

She also likes to sleep a lot.  I seriously don't remember Princess sleeping this much.  I've semi-mapped out Flower's sleeping habits.  She wakes up around seven am (unless Princess wakes her up earlier.  I usually have to fend her off every morning).  She will then have a window of about one and a half to two hours of happy awake time.  Then she will take a morning nap from nine to ten thirty or eleven.  She will wake up for a bit, then take an afternoon nap from one to three (give or take).  Wake up for a bit, then take a short evening nap around five.   She will usually wake up when Husband gets home and we eat dinner, around six.  Then she will take a bath and go to bed at eight.  She will wake up a few times at night to eat, then repeat the cycle.

Occasionally she will switch her schedule around a bit and be awake for a longer period of time.  This happens if we are out and about and she is curious as to what we are doing.  Then she might end up taking a longer nap later to make up for it.

I call her awake periods her window.  That's when we can plan to do things.  If we pass her window of awake time she gets very cranky and just wants to be put down to go to sleep.  If I pay attention to her sleepy cues (rubbing her eyes, burying her face in my shirt), then she remains a very happy baby.      

Friday, October 4, 2013

I Joined a CSA

 I joined a CSA.

A what?  Caesar Salad Association?  Crime Scene Assistant?  Cute Sister Academy?

Um, no.

Community Supported Agriculture.  CSA.

Let's do this interview style:


Q: What does that mean?
A: Well, it means I signed up to receive a box of organic grown produce from a local farm. I pay them directly and they deliver right to me (well, not really.  I have to go pick it up at a drop off location but it's pretty close).   They had options for once a week or every other week, and I chose every other week. 

Q: Why did you sign up? 
A:  In my quest to be healthier (and make my family healthier) and eat more fruits and vegetables, I thought this would help get me out of my comfort zone.  It's not a pick and choose type of deal.  Whatever is in season and ripe at the moment is put in the box.  I was hoping to use it as a replacement for buying my fruits and vegetables at the grocery store.

Q:  How much do you get?
A:  We've received one box so far and it's been plenty for two weeks.  When I made meals, I made enough to freeze half, so I think it's enough for us.  We still have quite a few items left, so I might even have a surplus. 

Q:  What was in the first box?
A:  In my box, I got three Asian Pears, a basket of cherry tomatoes, three large Roma tomatoes, a head of Kale, a bunch of tomatillos, two eggplants, two red onions, a bunch of small zucchini, a squash, a small watermelon, and four red spicy peppers.

Q:  Did you know in advance what you were gong to get?
A:  The farm I use has a website where they post what is in the box of the week.  It listed out most of the items, although it had said I would receive sweet peppers instead of spicy peppers (they sent out an apology email stating they had packed us the wrong ones).  Also, it listed things like strawberries OR Asian pears.  Thus, I wasn't completely sure which would be in my box, but I had some idea. 

Q: What did you do with everything?
A:  I'm glad you asked!  The teacher in me was so excited to sort through everything and start meal planning.  I compare it to lesson planning.  In lesson planning, you have a standard that you plan to teach, or an objective you hope the students will accomplish.  In meal planning, the produce item was my standard to work around.  I was able to do some online research, read reviews about what worked, and implement some recipes.  (I know, I'm a dork). I haven't used everything up just yet (this is a two week plan and I just finished the first week), but I'm on my way.  I don't want anything to go to waste.

Q:  So what meals did you plan?
A:  The first night I just did a basic steak stir fry with the kale and zucchini and peppers and whatever other items I already had (spinach, lima beans, onions, garlic).  That was delicious.  The others are recipes I found off the internet.  However, when I "follow" a recipe, I tend to look at it as more of a suggestion.  Thus, I don't always use measuring cups and all those fancy things.  I just toss items in as I see fit (Husband is not always a fan of my methods.  But, hey, I'm cooking!)  I'll link to the recipes, but keep in mind that my reviews are based on my interpretation of what I did, not on the exact recipe. 

The next night I made Slowcooker Beer Braised Beef with Kale.  A bit more prep than I am used to, but it turned out wonderfully.  I made a bunch, so half of it is in the freezer to be enjoyed at a later date.

After that, I had planned to do stuffed peppers, but the peppers I received are insanely spicy instead of the sweet that I was expecting, so that was out.

I attempted Crockpot Jambalaya with Eggplant but that was kind of a disaster.  It was way too bland for Husband and I.  I saved what we didn't eat and I'll experiment with adding some flavor at a later date. 

I'm currently cooking something else in the crockpot, but we'll see how it turns out before I post about it.  It smells good so far, although that's not always the best indicator of how it will turn out.

Q:  Why are all the meals in the crockpot?
A:  Because I'm lazy.  And I have two children who constantly want my attention.  Plus, I find it harder to mess up crockpot meals.

Q:  Do you recommend the CSA to others?
A:  At the moment, I recommend it to those who don't know what to get when they go to the farmer's market or produce section of the grocery store (that's me!) and for those wanting to support a local farm and business (also me!). 

I'll try to keep you updated as I continue this adventure! 

 


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sticker Chart

Princess is three years old.  Three and a half, actually.  It's time for her to sleep (all night) in her own bed.  Some of you say she should have done that years ago.  Others of you say let her stay with us until she moves out.  Whatever your opinion, this has been our parenting decision.

Princess has been going to bed in her own bed just fine for a while now.  The problem is that she comes into our room in the middle of the night and crawls into bed with us.  I wouldn't have too much of a problem with this, but she tosses and turns and thrashes about.  I already have Flower in bed with me.  I don't want Princess to accidentally injure her.  Thus, I stay up all night trying to ward off Princess's attacks.  It's seriously more exhausting than waking up every couple of hours.

We tried talking about being a "big girl."  We made her room into a pink princess getaway.  She has a nightlight.  She has a unicorn pillow pet thing that shoots stars onto the walls and ceiling.  She has her dolls and stuffed animals.  I know none of this is a replacement for cuddling with Mommy and Daddy, but Mommy and Daddy need space.

Enter the sticker chart.

A friend of mine told me about doing a sticker chart with her daughter for something (for the life of me I can't remember what).  But the idea is brilliant (and as a teacher I'm very familiar with the concept).  For Princess's sticker chart, we are using a calendar.  Each night she stays all night in her big girl bed (excluding getting up to use the restroom), she can put a sticker on the calendar the next morning.  In a week, she has the chance to earn seven stickers (duh).  To make the idea more attainable, she only has to earn five stickers within a given week to earn a prize.

We worked out that the prize is a "sleepover" date with Daddy.  They hang out, eat popcorn and/or ice cream and/or Oreos with milk, and watch a Disney movie of her choice together before she goes to sleep.

Princess is loving the sticker chart.  She is so excited to earn her stickers and constantly talks about the movie she is going to watch with her daddy.  We've been doing it for over a month now and she's been able to watch quite a few princess movies.

I can't say that it's been perfect (some weeks she just decides she doesn't want her sleepover and crawls into bed with us practically every night), but the sticker chart has definitely been motivating to her.  I've been able to get better quality sleep (this is huge for me), and she has something to work towards.  I'm not sure how long we will continue it, but I don't see an end in sight in the foreseeable future.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Appliance Junkie

In my quest for domestication, I've taken to creating more things at home.  For example, I'm trying to cook a lot more from scratch now.  I have been reading a ton about healthy eating and how what we eat really affects us, so I'm trying to feed my family healthier.  Or healthy-ish.  Or just better.  This means making many items at home instead of buying from the store.

The first major appliance I bought was a crockpot.  I had a small one that had been a wedding gift, but I wanted something larger.  Plus, I had prepped all of those crockpot meals for when Flower came and I needed a crockpot large enough to cook them in.  I shopped around and found a Hamilton Beach 6.5 (I think) quart crockpot.  I have definitely gotten my money's worth out of it, and plan on using it until it dies.  It's a good size, easy to clean, and easy to use.

My brother gifted me a little Ninja food processor, and I absolutely love it.  I think I use it practically every day.  It's a great size, easy to clean, and chops wonderfully.  Plus, Princess loves to help me use it by pressing the lever to make it chop.  

The next appliance I bought was an ice cream maker.  Due to my dairy strike (Flower's little intestines were irritated when I would eat dairy and she would have blood in her diaper, poor thing), I really wanted ice cream.  However the soy and coconut milk ice creams that I found were limited in flavors and a lot more expensive than I had anticipated.  Thus I came up with the brilliant idea to make my own non-dairy ice creams.

After trying to make a batch of ice cream using the baggie method (Google it), I gave in and bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker.  Princess and I have fun making different batches of ice cream depending on what we have on hand.  I think I may  have gotten carried away, though.  I have about a gallon of ice cream in a variety of flavors in my freezer right now that needs to be eaten.

The next item I want is a bread maker.  Supposedly bread is super easy to make.  I know I've made bread in the past before without a breadmaker, but I think those make it a little easier.  How cool would it be to create my own bread every few days.  I can smell it now, rosemary herb wafting in the air as the dough rises....

I also want a juicer.  Apparently juicing is totally in right now.  Or maybe it's on the out and I'm behind in the times.  Whatever.  I'm concerned about the amount of vegetables Princess is eating (like none), but I know she loves juice.  I make smoothies a lot now, but Princess doesn't always drink them with me.  I don't think she likes the texture. Plus, how fun would it be to say, "My baby drinks homemade apple juice."  Ha. 

Add to my list a stand-up mixer.  Hello, homemade pasta!  And more cookies. And mashed potatoes.  And mashed cauliflower.   (Although I tried it one time and no way did it resemble mashed potatoes.  Need to revamp and try again.  Perhaps the stand up mixer is the secret).

That's it for now.  Goodbye counter space.   

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Swim Lessons, Summer 2013

Princess took swim lessons for two weeks this summer.  It was the same class she took last year, Sea Turtles.  Last year she sat on the sidelines and had to be coaxed into the water.  At the end of the class she received a report card that showed her as not mastering the skills needed to move on.  Husband was very disappointed and was excited for her to try again this year.

This year Princess was in a class with one of her good friends, so we were hoping it would be more motivation if they were together.  She was also in a class of all girls, as opposed to last year's all boys.

She did very well this year.  I was a proud mommy watching from the sidelines.  She paid attention and tried most everything the instructor asked her to.  She kicked.  She sat on the steps and listened.  She pretended she was a star fish.  She attempted to blow bubbles (she really does not like to put her face in the water).

One thing about this class that I didn't like was one of the other girls in her class (there were four students total, including Princess).  This girl was bigger than all the others.  All through swim lessons she seemed to pick on Princess.  I don't think she did it on purpose, per se, but I was hoping the mom would have stepped in more.  This girl, we will call Red.  Red wanted to pour water over Princess's head (Princess hates getting her hair wet).  She wanted to keep pulling Princess's braids.  She would grab Princess's legs whenever it was Princess's turn to go swim.  She was all up in her space.

I was outside of the pool watching all of this going on, standing right next to Red's grandma who had brought her.  Red's grandma said that Red has epilepsy and maybe some other disorders.

Is it rude of me to think, "So what?"  I commented to Red's grandma that Princess didn't like people touching her and wanted her own space.  Red's grandma just made some excuse that Red liked other kids.

Princess handled it very well.  She would scoot away from Red, or hold her hands up in front of her to block her off.  The instructor was good, too.  She would grab Princess and make it her turn to swim if she saw her being picked on.

Besides Red, swim lessons this year were a lot of fun.  Princess was a little more confident in the water, even though she still refuses to put her head under water.

At the end of the session, Husband eagerly awaited this year's report card, hoping to see some improvement.  However, the apologetic instructor had forgotten to bring it.  Thus, we didn't get one (I suppose I could have come back another day to get it, but I didn't think it was worth it).  The instructor did tell us to have Princess repeat the class next summer, hoping she's more comfortable with going under water then.

Third time's a charm, right? 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Not Going Back to School

It's weird, knowing summer is ending, and everyone else is going back to school.  All my teacher friends on Facebook are posting about setting up their classrooms, endless meetings, new expectations, and getting ready for the students to come. 

I think I'm jealous. 

Maybe. 

I feel like I'm in limbo.  I am choosing to stay home with my babies, but feel like I need to be doing something more for some reason.  I keep trying to remind myself of how stressed I would be right now if I was going back to work.  How I would be getting overwhelmed with meetings and setting things up for the students.  How the first few days are the toughest because they set the tone for the rest of the year.  How my babies at home would be pushed aside as my priorities were rearranged.  

Then I have flashbacks of the best classes I ever had from this past year.  How amazing those kids were, how driven and sweet and just plain FUN.  I miss them.  Maybe because I didn't close out the school year with them, my unrealistic subconscious tells me if I go back it will still be the same.  That the same students will be there and all will be as it was. 

But then I go out somewhere and see defiant children backtalking and bullying and being punks.  And I remember the students who were challenging, who made me think about different ways to reach them, who made me preoccupied when I was home and should have been focusing on my own children. 

I try to recall the meetings.  The endless, endless meetings where you are told to rearrange things a certain way, fix the way you are doing things, change this, change that, but come to another meeting so people can just babble on and on about nothing when you could actually be in the classroom getting ready for the students. 

But I miss the camaraderie.  The joking with the other teachers, the commiserating, the collaborating over lessons and students. 

Am I going to stay home forever?  No.  I think I would shrivel up and become empty if I didn't have more to do.  I think I need to find a project, just for me, something to do where I can challenge myself, but also take my children since I can't afford daycare anymore.  Preferably something that can make extra income.  That would be nice. 

In the meantime, good luck to all the teachers pouring their hearts into their classrooms right now.  To those memorizing class lists and critiquing lesson plans and designing bulletin boards and attending meetings and changing curriculum and speaking to parents and collaborating with coworkers and spending hours thinking and planning and prepping to make connections.  Thank you for all you do.  I know it's a lot. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Donating My Children to Science

After Flower was born I received an invitation in the mail from the local University asking if I wanted to sign my child up for any upcoming studies.  I talked it over with Husband, and while he was disappointed I would not receive monetary compensation, I thought it would be neat to have her included in childhood research.  I responded positively to the invitation. 

In college I took child development classes and we learned about studies that were done with children to discover how they learned, developed, etc.  I remember watching one video of babies learning depth perception.  They had a ledge with a plexiglass over it, and the babies wouldn't crawl off of the ledge, even though it had the plexiglass over it.  It was interesting to watch.  How cool that Flower could be part of something like that.

A couple of months later I received a phone call from the University saying they were doing an experiment with children and would Flower like to be part of it?  Yes! I don't remember the exact phrasing, but it was something about facial recognition of certain animals.  Flower would be on my lap the entire time and I could stop if we didn't feel comfortable.   

A week later I brought Princess and Flower to the research center and checked in.  We were led to a waiting room that looked like a toy shop had spit up in it.  Princess ran straight to a little car that she could ride and had a blast zooming around.  The center was nice enough to provide childcare for Princess while Flower was participating in her experiment.  I thought that was really neat, and was not the least bit worried about Princess because she was clearly having a blast.

The girl in charge (she looked like a college student, and had two interns following her around) explained forms to me and I signed a few things (they would not release any of my info in any of the results, everything is completely confidential, I could stop at any time, etc.).  However, Flower wasn't ready yet (she was sound asleep in my Moby), so they said I could hang out and wait in the waiting room with Princess for a little bit longer.  Of course, the moment they walked out the door she woke up.

They came back and Flower and I followed them down a hallway and into an office that had been divided into two sections.  On one side there was a chair set up in front of a television screen.  On the other side of a divider was a desk with a couple of computers.  One computer would control what came onto the television screen and the other was connected to a video recorder to record what the Princess did.

Flower was supposed to sit on my lap and look at the television screen.  I went in and sat down, and Flower started crying.  We got back up and walked out (the room was dark, except for the television screen so I think she was frightened).  She was ok with me holding her in the hallway, so we went back in again.  Nope, same reaction.  I took her out again and the girl led me to an adjacent office where I could sit in with Flower to try to comfort her.  I was thinking maybe this wasn't going to happen after all.  The girl gave me a survey to fill out (usually the subjects fill them out after the experiment, but for the sake of time I did it then).  It asked questions about household pets and Flower's interactions with them.  The girl gave Flower a rattle to play with, I nursed her, and that helped calm her down.

Round three worked.  We sat down and Flower seemed interested in the screen.  It helped that they had changed the screen to pictures of other babies (previously it had been dancing hippos).  They put a headband on Flower that would track her head movement and feed it into the neighboring computer.  I got to wear blackout glasses so I wouldn't see what she was seeing (they said babies react to what their mothers do, even subtle movements, so they didn't want her reacting based on me).  Then they started the experiment (they showed me the video of us after it was completed so I could see what she had seen and how she reacted).

They started by pinpointing where she was looking by having her follow a colorful dot upon the screen.  Somehow the computer was able to do this by monitoring the tilt of her head.  Then they put various pictures of faces of dogs, cats, and monkeys on the screen to monitor where on the pictures she would look.  Any time she turned her head to look elsewhere (like around the room), they would play some music or a video clip of a cartoon to get her attention again.  Then she was done.

It was really neat to see the experiment after it was completed.  I could see what part of each picture she was looking at.  They said she did really well.  I'm not sure what that means, but I'll take it.  Then they gave her a certificate of participation and let me choose a toy for her to take home (I chose a touch and feel animal book). I dragged Princess away from the room of fun, and we went home.

I'm glad we were able to participate in the experiment, and I'm pretty sure I'll go again if they ask.  I am also relieved that we were able to do it.  Third time was a charm, apparently.  I was pleasantly surprised by the certificate and the book, but now I have something to put in her (nonexistent) baby book. 


 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

"You're Such a Girl!"

Since when is being a girl a negative thing?  Since when is it okay to make fun of people for being who they are?  For saying the word, "girl" in such a way that implies one is a sissy, a wimp, weak, can't do something, etc? This drives me crazy to no end.

Husband was watching a cartoon the other day while Baby and I were in the room.  Have you noticed cartoons these days are totally different from when we were kids?  Maybe it's just me.  I was sheltered and didn't really watch cartoons when I was young (unless I was at a friend's house and snuck one in).   Husband had a lot more variety in his television viewing and to this day still enjoys watching his cartoons (and to clarify, this was not an adult cartoon, but one specifically geared toward children and teens).

I try really hard to limit Baby's television time, but Husband was enjoying this cartoon and Baby was happily playing, so I didn't address the issue.  However, I did pay attention to the cartoon.  Let me say, it just made me mad.  There were a number of things that I had a problem exposing my daughter too, among them being the aggression and the fighting between characters, the lack of integrity (one of the characters had made a deal with another, but ran away because he got what he wanted and didn't want to follow through on his end), the betrayal of another character's trust (the same character tricked his friend into doing something for him and passed his problem off on his friend, leaving him to deal with it), and the name calling.

In one scene, the characters were fighting and one of them (I think it was a male, but I'm not sure), called another one (a female), a "girl."  She responds with, "What did you just call me?"  And the other character replies, "You heard me."  Then the girl does some super power shield thing that knocks the other character off its feet.

Baby was in the room the whole time, possible hearing and absorbing this encounter.  Having it sink in.  I can't help but to get angry at the message she is hearing.  That being a girl is something one doesn't want to be.  That it's not okay to be herself, that she needs to somehow overcome who she is. I heard someone say this phrase the other day when Baby and I were out.  I bristled, but didn't know how to react.  I just ignored it.

I want Baby to know that she's capable of doing anything she sets her mind to, no matter what her gender. That it doesn't matter what people call her.  She doesn't have to be ashamed, and she doesn't have anything to prove.

I know, you're thinking I'm overreacting.  I'm taking this way too seriously.  Maybe I am, maybe I'm not.  I just know I'm not okay with it. 







Thursday, June 27, 2013

Becoming a Hermit

Baby and Baby2 contracted colds last week, so we stayed home and didn't venture out to all the normal kid places like we normally would.  I figured that's where the germs came from in the first place and I didn't want to expose them to more while their immune systems were working overdrive.

It got pretty comfortable staying home.  Remember how I always like being on a schedule?  This was a different kind of schedule.  Instead of rushing out the door to gymnastics, we hung out at home.  Instead of trying to make it to story time on time, we stayed home.  It was rather nice.

However, I am now having feelings of anxiety when it comes to taking the two of them places.  I'm afraid I'm going to look like a bad parent in public.  Someone will see my child screaming (Baby) or yelling at me (Baby), or running away from me (Baby), or just plain not listening (Baby).  Or a child will have a massive blowout all over me (Baby2) or start crying and can't be consoled (Baby2), or any number of things.  

Thus, I have conversations with myself:
Go to the grocery store?  Nah.  I can come up with something from what we have.

Go get gas in my car?  Nah.  Not gonna drive anywhere so why buy it?
Take Baby to storytime?  Nah.  I can read to her here.
Take Baby to gymnastics?  Nah.  She can climb all the furniture in the house and do somersaults in the living room.  She's good.
Return an item that was broken?  Nah.  I can attempt to fix it.
Shop for new curtains?  Nah.  That's what the internet is for.

Matter of fact, I can do everything online!  Who needs to leave the house? 

(Ok, I'm only half joking. I did get myself in gear and bring Baby to gymnastics.  It wasn't super stressful.  Baby2 barely cried, only spit up all over the floor once, and Baby didn't run away from me forever.  I survived.)  


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Puzzle Memory

We are finding out that Baby has an amazing memory.  She can remember things really well.  Things that I wouldn't think a three year old would be able to remember.  She recalls details of places we went, theme songs that go with different Disney princesses, people we went places with, etc. 

Once we show Baby something a few times, she remembers it pretty well.  For example, her puzzles.  Baby likes to do puzzles.  She has a couple of favorites.  One is your typical alphabet puzzle where the wooden letters fit into their slots.  Another is a puzzle of people in the neighborhood, like a firefighter, police officer, etc.  That's a cardboard one where the pieces fit together on a board.  It has 25 pieces.  Her other favorite is a Mickey Mouse puzzle that she got to color herself.  It's one of those felt drawings that helps you color in the lines.  It has Mickey and Donald and Daisy.  It doesn't have a backing; it's the most similar to an adult puzzle where there is no outline to put the pieces in.  You just fit all twelve (maybe sixteen?) pieces together.

Baby couldn't do the puzzles on her own initially.  Now she is a pro.  However, watching her I realized that she just memorized where the pieces went.  The alphabet one is easy because the letters either fit in their slots of not.  With the people in the neighborhood, she doesn't fit the pieces together at first, but looks at the pictures and puts them where she remembers they are supposed to go.  Same with the Mickey puzzle.  She knows Mickey's head goes in the top right, and Daisy in the top left.  Then their bodies, and the rest until it is done.  She demanded we do these puzzles over and over with her until she knew where everything went.  If we tell her to figure it out and try different pieces to see what fits, she gets very frustrated and acts out by throwing the pieces at us whining, "I can't doooo iiiitttt."

Another activity that she likes are the hidden pictures.  Objects are hidden in pictures and you have to find them.  She gets a kids magazine each month that has this activity in it.  She doesn't like to look for the items herself, but once you show her where the hidden objects are located, she remembers for future reference.  She can pull out any of her old magazines and tell you where all the objects are. 

She has great recall, but I'm not sure if I should be concerned that she won't try anything out for herself first.  Her personality is like this though, too.  She is very cautious and will watch other people for cues on how to act in certain environments.  She will follow the strong personalities and do what they do.  This is great if she chose to follow the good kids.  However, she much prefers to emulate the troublemakers. 

Hopefully she will become more confident in what she does.  In the meantime, she will watch someone else, then remember for herself. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Track and Field, Class 3

Baby earned her chocolate milk today. She ran right in to do the stretching, raced with the other kids, lined up at her cone, followed directions, and had fun.

Today I thought the class was a little less organized.  There was a lot of downtime while the coaches set things up or transitioned into the next activity.

Today was stretching, racing, throwing frisbees, hurdles, and the most fun was a parachute.  I wasn't sure how the parachute was a track and field item, but the kids had a blast running under it.

Baby had set her mind to earning her chocolate milk today, and she did just that.