Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Poopy Intruder

"Clomp, clomp, clomp," I hear heavy footsteps beginning to climb up the stairs.  My eyes bolt open as I attempt to snap out of a deep sleep and make sense of the darkness in the middle of the night.  I see light emanating from the light-sensored night light lining the staircase.

Somebody is climbing the staircase.   

"Clomp, clomp, clomp."  The footsteps climb higher.  My thoughts dart to the girls sleeping in their room at the top of the stairs.  I sit up and frantically glance around to see my husband sleeping peacefully next to me.  He's too much trouble to wake up and I wonder how I will save my family.

"Clomp, clomp."


"Bang!"  The intruder is now at the baby gate.  My heart races and I freeze as it bangs open.

Then a little blond head bobs into view, clutching a diaper to her chest and purposefully heading toward the bathroom.    

I let go of the breath I didn't know I was holding and hop out of bed to intercept her.

"What are you doing?" I question my tiny two-year old, probably a little too forcefully.

"Mommy, I go poo-poo in potty," she happily replies.

"What?  Show Mommy."

I follow her into the bathroom where she had indeed done quite a bit of business in her little potty chair.  Somehow she had managed to get out of bed, take off her pjs and diaper, and sit on her potty chair all by herself.

Then she realized she needed a new diaper so she went all the way to the downstairs stash to grab one and bring it up.  How she thought she was going to put it on herself, I have no idea.   

I helped her clean up, praised her for using her potty chair, put her diaper on her, and tucked her back into bed, all the while wondering how I slept through her getting out of bed in the first place.

Thankful that we didn't have a real intruder, I went back to bed and spent the rest of the night analyzing what I would do if my sleepyhead had been a real intruder.    

Monday, September 28, 2015

Calming Colic- Guest posting on BabyCenter today

Click on over to Babycenter to see my tips on calming colic.  Do you have any advice you would like to offer? 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dear homeless person, please enjoy my Ergo insert

I have a few different baby carriers, but the one I wear the most is my Ergo (Note, this is not a sponsored post.  Although I wouldn't mind representing the brand if the company feels so inclined!).  Since I had a newborn, I also used the infant insert that goes inside the carrier. 

It was definitely a bit of a hassle to use the insert (sorry, Ergo company, if you're reading this, but that's the truth).  First you had to put the baby in the insert (it wrapped around the baby like a cocoon and had a soft seat for the infant to sit on), then you had to put the insert into the carrier and then once everything was positioned correctly, then finally you could strap it on.   

My son was born at the end of May, meaning right when summer was approaching.  Thus, the weather was getting hot and the cushy, soft insert was making us both even hotter.  I solved this problem by separating the seat of the insert from the cocoon part and only using the seat.  It was like a little pillow that he sat on to help keep him high enough in the baby carrier so he could fit.

Again, awkward to use.  If I wanted him out of the carrier I had to catch the little pillow part and then hold it in one hand or under my arm or try to stuff it in my purse.  However, once I started getting pretty efficient at my Ergo infant pillow seat maneuvers I accidentally lost the pillow seat.

I swear it rolled out of the car when I was putting the baby in the carseat in the parking lot of Starbucks.  I had it when I wore the baby into the shop and didn't take my baby out of the carrier until I was back at the car.  So the only place it could have rolled out was in the parking lot, right? 

I'm normally a super crazy organized person who keeps track of absolutely everything, so it really upset me that I couldn't find the pillow seat when I returned home.  I didn't have a chance to go back to the parking lot until the next morning, and after doing multiple laps around the parking lot with three kids in tow, peeking under cars and in nearby bushes, I called it quits before someone decided to call the police on me for suspicious behavior.  I had to chalk it up as a loss due to my own negligence.

I woefully told my husband the tale of my missing infant insert pillow and he sweetly suggested that perhaps a homeless person had seen my nice cushy pillow piece lying ever so conspicuously in the middle of the parking lot and he or she decided to take it and use it as a pillow to rest his or her head on.

My husband's creative tale resonated with me, so dear homeless person, please enjoy my Ergo insert.  It served my baby and me well on our many outings and hope it can provide you with a little comfort that you might not normally encounter.  I will miss it, but I'm sure you can use it more than me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Preparing for kindergarten

I didn't think I would be one of those parents who made a big deal out of my child going to kindergarten.  I mean, she was in daycare every workday for the first three years of her life.  I said goodbye to her every morning, was away from her all day, then picked her up every afternoon.  That was life.

Then I had the opportunity to stay home with her once her younger sister arrived.  It was one of my dreams come true.  I wanted to be there with my children to experience life with them, to do all the day to day activities with them, to view the world through their eyes as they learn and discover new things every day.  From doing laundry and dishes to going on beach trips and expeditions to the zoo, we've experienced it together.  

She's been in preschool the past two years, but it's only been a few days a week, and a few hours at that, but it seems so insignificant compared to kindergarten.  I was still able to eat lunch with her every day and do day trips during the week on her off days.  I won't be able to do that with her anymore.  Kindergarten here includes lunchtime and of course occurs all week long  It's a huge difference to what we've been doing.   

My five-year old daughter starts kindergarten tomorrow.  Already! I am truly going to miss her.  She has been my little helper, my constant companion, my biggest challenge, and someone I love with all my heart.  I worry about her going off into the world of public school and encountering people I don't know, getting influenced by things beyond my control.  I know she will be fine, but as a mom I think it's ingrained in me to have that worry.  

I think she's feeling some anxiety about it as well.  Her emotions have been more vivid lately as I see her crying more easily and her anxiety manifesting as she frequently chews on her nails.  Being the booklover that I am, I gathered a group of books about going to school so that we could start preparing and getting in the school mindset. 

The big day is tomorrow and Husband has arranged to work from home so that all of us can walk her to school in the morning and pick her up in the afternoon.  I'm hoping for a smooth day for all of us as we cross into the next chapter of our daughter's life. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

19 easy steps to get sleep with a toddler who doesn't like to sleep

My children do not like sleep.  I have no idea why.  Sleep and I get along just fine.  As a matter of fact, I need sleep or I am cranky and irritable and have a very hard time functioning.  I've alternated between co-sleeping and sleeping in individual rooms. Whatever seems to be working at the time is what we do.  Currently my youngest (and I) sleep better when she is in her own room.  However, even then sleep can be a challenge.  Here are a few steps to getting sleep with a toddler who doesn't like to sleep:

Step 1:  Around bedtime, make sure toddler is fed, clean, happy, and sleepy.
Step 2:  Nurse or rock toddler to sleep, read a story, or just plop in the crib.  Whatever they are used to doing to fall asleep, just do it.
Step 3:  Turn on white noise machine in toddler's room to create a sound barrier so noisy cars and dogs and random neighbors do not disturb the tiny cherub.
Step 4: Close door to toddler's room, making sure monitor is activated.  
Step 5: Get yourself ready for bed.  Take a bath, read a book, whatever you need to do to relax.
Step 6: Turn on white noise machine in your room to create a sound barrier so noisy cars and dogs and random neighbors do not disturb your beauty sleep.
Step 7:  Check on toddler via baby monitor.  Use stealth tactics to adjust any blankets or temperature of the room if need be.
Step 8:  Sink into a white-noise induced, much needed, blissful sleep.  
Step 9: Wake up frantically multiple times throughout the night to check on toddler via baby monitor.
Step 10: Wake up multiple times to toddler yelling for you from down the hall.
Step 11:  Stagger back and forth from your room to toddler's room multiple times to help toddler fall back asleep.   
Step 12: Eventually fall into an exhausted sleep until morning.
Step 13:  Wake up to find toddler softly snoring next to you.  Start to drift back to sleep again.
Step 14:  Wake up to toddler jumping on you and yelling at you to get them dressed.
Step 15:  Stagger through the day attempting to function and do everything on the to-do list.
Step 16:  Wait until Husband comes home from work to entertain the children while you go take a nap.
Step 17:  Awaken from nap multiple times by toddler (and other children) coming to check on you.
Step 18:  Give up on nap and go make dinner.
Step 19:  Repeat steps 1-18 for the next few years.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

We Registered for Kindergarten Today

Just like that, my baby is growing up.  A few weeks ago she had a dental check-up (No cavities- Yay!).  We had her kindergarten physical today (she's growing well and is overall pretty healthy).  I filled out a pile of forms and turned everything in today.  She's officially on the list for kindergarten for the school down the street.     

Sure, she's been in preschool for the past two years, but that doesn't really count as "real school" to me.  Preschool has been great, but it's been a very sheltered environment where she pretty much goes to play for a few hours three days a week.  After agonizing over where to send her, we decided kindergarten is going to be in our local, public school.  And it's going to be all day long.  That's the part I don't like. 

Where we live, there are no half-day options.  Every kindergarten is all day long.  I guess I should clarify what I mean by all day long.  The students start school at 8:15 and the kindergarten is out at 1:15.  The rest of the school gets out at 2:45.  So while it's not exactly all day, it is including lunch time.  To me, that's a really long time.  This Mommy is not happy.  My little baby is not going to be able to eat lunch with me every day.  Instead, she'll be exposed to who knows what from her peers at school.

I've worked public schools.  I know that there are not so good things that kids talk about and introduce other kids to.  I was rather hoping to keep my daughter in a nice little bubble for as long as possible.  I know it's not feasible, but as a parent I think it's important to determine when they can be introduced to certain topics.  Now I'm going to pray about what to say and prepare myself for her to come home and ask random questions. 

On the other hand, she will be able to make new, local friends.  Our current preschool is in the next town, so planning any playdates is a bigger ordeal than just bringing her somewhere in the neighborhood.  Plus, when she makes new friends, I get to make new friends.  I'm one of those moms who wants to know the families of who my children hang out with. 

I also plan to volunteer in her kindergarten classroom as often as I can.  I hope to set up a regular schedule and coordinate with maybe another mom to watch my children once a week or so.  I'm excited to be involved and let another teacher be in charge.

It should be a great experience, but I still can't believe it's here already.  Well, technically I have through the summer and until August before she actually starts, but it's getting closer.  Until then, I'll be treasuring our lunches together.       

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Television Tuesday

I am one of those parents who is not a fan of screen time for the kids.  This means television, iPad, phone, video games,  etc.  I think children spend too much time in front of screens when they should  be outside in the fresh air, or moving around and doing imaginative play without the help of some electronic.

Do I think it is all bad?   No.  I think there is some usefulness in it.  I know certain shows are educational and definitely help teach the kids.  Video games and iPad apps can help with critical thinking skills and learning how to navigate technology, which will definitely be important for them to know in the future.

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under age two should avoid television and other media.   On top of that, studies have shown that all that screen time can lead to behavioral and developmental issues later on.  These are things that I would like to avoid. 

With that being said, if I had a little more willpower, my children would probably watch a lot less television than they do.  Meaning, zero hours per week, or maybe only a movie once a month or so.    My oldest is now five and has seen quite a few Disney movies and is up to date on the popular Disney Junior shows.  Since she is usually in the same room as her sister, my two-year old gets a lot more screen time than her sister ever did at that age.  

I have a love/hate relationship with the television.  When I am having a rough pregnancy day, I can turn it on and know the children will stay occupied in one spot and I can veg out for a bit until I feel better or I think their brains have been reasonably fried.  Seriously, this thing is like a drug.  My oldest will sit in front of it for as long as we have it on.  That's just her personality.  My youngest will also sit for a bit to watch, but doesn't stay for quite as long.  It tends to turn them both into little zombies.  


In an effort to limit the television usage, we have instituted "Television Tuesday."  Tuesday is the only morning we don't have a specific place we are supposed to be, so the girls get to watch TV in the morning when they wake up.  They LOVE it.  They wake up in the morning shouting "TV! TV!"  Apparently Mommy isn't that exciting.  

We have a few other occasional television times, such as when they watch a movie or cartoon together in the evening with Daddy.  Or when somebody is sick and needs to rest on the couch (although my oldest will try to pretend that she is sick a lot, so she can watch TV.  But we are on to her).  

Am I being overprotective?  Maybe.  I think my husband thinks I am a little crazy.  Although I think they still watch way more TV than they need to, when they could be playing with toys or running around outside.  However, they are pretty happy with the current situation, so we will see how it goes.      


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Beach Date with my Girls

Husband was out of town for a few days and the weather was absolutely gorgeous.  I wanted to do something or go somewhere, but I didn't want it to be too complicated.  My solution:  The beach. 

Yes, the beach is a couple of hours drive away, and I would be all by myself with the two children, but it sounded fun and exciting and I was up for the challenge to be supermom. 

First order of business was figuring out what to pack.  I needed to be able to transport everything to the sand entirely by myself.  Luckily, I'm a natural minimalist, so it wasn't too difficult.  I brought along the shade umbrella, a couple of towels, sand toys, and packed a lunch.  I was going to attempt to push everything (children included) in the double stroller. 

The drive down was uneventful, which is what I was hoping for.  Both girls slept for most of the drive, and nobody got carsick (which actually happens quite often). 

We arrived at the beach and I drove along the coast until I could find a parking lot.  I unloaded everything, packed the stroller up nicely, and began the long walk to the beach. 

This is the view from our walk.  

Pregnant me pushed the two girls and the stroller full of stuff quite a ways to the sand.  I knew a beach that had a ramp to get down, so that's where I headed.  I got to the sand and made the older one jump out (my stroller isn't built for off roading).  I then grabbed the front of the stroller and dragged it across the sand until I found a good spot to park.  I'm sure I was a sight, pregnant belly dragging a stroller with a frightened two year old in it. 

 The view of the ocean over my big belly.  This thing is growing fast! 

We set up camp and the girls went to town playing in the sand.  We were right next to an abandoned sand castle, so they also had a good time playing Godzilla and obliterating that thing.  

The girls started getting antsy and I really had to use the restroom.  I hadn't quite figured out how to make that happen.  I couldn't leave the girls and the stuff, so I packed us all up again and headed to the nearest restroom.  The closest open one happened to be on the pier, so we wandered down the pier, enjoying the view of the ocean and the people.  

At the end of the pier are cutouts where you can look down and observe the sea lions sleeping and playing and barking.

We grabbed fish and chips and some candy to snack on while we sat on a bench and observed the ocean.  

Then we packed it up and headed home.  Overall, I was extremely proud of myself for taking the trip to the beach with the two girls alone.  My oldest was such a good helper and all three of us had a great time.     


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sharing is Caring

My two daughters are almost 5 and almost 2.  They are at the exciting age where they can play together, laugh together, dance together, and  communicate pretty clearly with each other.  It's a proud Mommy moment when I see the two of them showing sisterly love.   That's when I get out the camera.  
One thing I didn't realize was that they would also fight together.  I mean, I knew there would be little squabbles.  It's inevitable that things will run smoothly all the time. However, I thought they would be able to play together with no issues, the older one helping the younger one, and the younger one learning from the older one.  Apparently not the case as often as I would like.

Husband and I have discussed this a few times, trying to figure out the rules of sharing, so to speak.  In public places, the rules are pretty simple.  The equipment or items are there for everyone to use, so everyone should take turns.  However long the turn takes is ultimately left up to the children or parents present.

When at a friend's house, we make it clear that the toys are not ours, so the friend is in charge of who can play with what.

If we have a friend over our house, we first put away any special items that they do not want others to play with, then leave out the ones that they do not mind if others touch.  My girls are expected to let their friends have first pick of toys because their friends do not live here and do not get to play with the toys all the time like they do.

Now here's the issue: at home between the two girls.  I have two different situations I have been mulling over in my head.  The first is that of ownership.  The girls do have their own toys that have been gifted to them throughout the past few years.  They were given to each child individually.  So should they be required to share their own personal gifts with each other?  They can choose to share with the other if they like, but if they are literally fighting over it, when do I step in?   

A problem with ownership is that the younger one has not been around long enough to have amassed the same number of items as the older one.  Instead, we've been passing down the toys from the older one for the younger one to play with.  This has worked fine when there was a bigger discrepancy in their ages.  Now that the little one is interested in what the older one is playing with, we are having property battles. 

That brings me to the second situation, that of first come, first serve.  Whoever gets a toy first gets to play with it, even if it belongs to the other child.  Should the toys then be fair game?  We do have toys that were given to both of the girls, so it makes sense that those are a first come, first served basis.  I also try to give whoever is playing with the toy plenty of time for a turn.

Here's an example of a common fight:

Flower (almost 2) is playing happily with the Duplo Legos.  Princess (almost 5) starts playing with a baby doll that was given specifically to Flower for Christmas, but is kept in the communal doll pile.  Princess happily talks to the doll, mothering it like a good little mother.  She takes the baby doll for a walk, happening to go past where Flower is playing.  Flower looks up and notices that Princess has her doll.

Ensue crying and screaming and tug of war of the doll.

Cue my Mommy dilemma.  Do I make Princess give the doll to Flower, since it is hers?  Or do I continue to let Princess play with the doll, since she had it first?  Or do I take the doll away until they can figure out who should play with it?  Or do I ignore them and hope they figure it out without doing bodily harm?

For now, I'm buying two of everything.  



Monday, January 19, 2015

Going Into Kindergarten: What I Want

My oldest daughter is starting kindergarten this upcoming fall.  I am actually excited for her to go.  She loves being around other children her age.  She enjoys a stimulating environment where she can grow and learn.  I know she will have a blast making new friends, enjoy learning a new routine, and going to a "big girl" school.  

I am pretty sure that wherever she goes will be fine.  However, I want a school that will be more than just "fine."  I want a school that will challenge her.  One that will excite her.  One that she will be proud to go to and I will be proud to tell other parents where she goes.  I want a school known for excellence, for having students with great critical thinking skills who aren't afraid of a challenge.    

I want an organized classroom with clear expectations for students.  I want the classroom to have explicit, basic routines that every child can easily explain and follow.  I want my daughter to have a feeling of belonging in the classroom, a sense of purpose and contentment.      

I want my daughter to have a teacher that is innovative and understands how children learn.  I want my daughter's teacher to listen to her and respond appropriately.  I want her to have a good relationship with her teacher so that she can ask questions and master concepts before moving on to the next.  I want her to come home and be bursting to tell me all of the things she learned that day.  I want her to be excited for upcoming projects and activities.  I want my daughter's teacher to plan lessons that are engaging and involve music, art, movement, and everything else that my daughter might consider fun.   I want an open classroom where I can observe my daughter learning at anytime.  I want to feel welcomed by the teacher and part of the learning process.

I want a safe school environment where rules are enforced and students are kind to one another.  I want parents to know what their children are doing at school.  I want to know the other families that are at the school.  I want to know that if there is an issue with my daughter and another child, that I will be notified and the situation rectified fairly and efficiently.  I want my daughter to feel comfortable with the other children and teachers and staff in charge.  I want teachers and staff to be approachable, yet maintain their authority.  I want the school to be fearless in trying new techniques, but to stick to something long enough to test its efficacy.         

I want the teachers of the school to have a collaborative environment, where they have affable relationships and are proud of the place they work and the jobs they do.  I want them to be constantly learning and tweaking and refining their practice to make their school the best possible school it can be.  

I want the best for my daughter.  Is that too much to ask?