Category Archives: Toddlers

Dad-o

Standard

I happen to think that I picked one of the best men around to be the father of my children.

Side note: I happen to know tons of women who think they picked a pretty awesome guy to be the father of their children and that makes me really happy. I have a lot of gratitude about that, and I think it’s pretty cool that my friends have such great husbands.

Awesome dad exhibit 1: He jumped rope for them.

Awesome dad exhibit 1: He jumped rope for them.

Awesome dad exhibit 2: He wore these bunny ears while feeding the baby.

Awesome dad exhibit 2: He wore these bunny ears while feeding the baby.

DSC03219

Awesome dad exhibit 3: Then he let the kids ride on him – which they do ALL. THE. TIME.

In addition to being an awesome father, my husband also made me feel pretty special on Mother’s Day. Special like, took all three kids to the grocery store on a Saturday morning so he could make me French toast. Then sending me off for a pedicure with strict instructions not to return for several hours. And when I did finally return, not only did he make me chocolate chip cookies, but he also made me scotcheroos. I’ve never, ever, ever had anyone make me chocolate chip cookies. I’m always the one making them for other people – usually my family – and I LOVE doing it. But I would often jokingly complain that no one ever made ME cookies. And then he did. His first time ever. And they were awesome.

So I knew that I wanted to make Husband feel really special on Father’s Day. And I did make him a favorite dessert and get him a cool T-shirt and some of his favorite snacks and a gift certificate for golf. BUT, my favorite parte was something the girls and I worked on over a month ago. I asked them all the reasons they loved their daddy, or things they wanted to thank daddy for, and this is what they came up with.

Daddy …

  1. I want to thank you for making our bunk beds. (Bean)
  2. I want to say thank you for helping me do my best each day. (Monkey)
  3. I want to say thank you for cleaning up our toys downstairs. (Bean)
  4. I want to thank you for getting out our playhouse. (Bean)
  5. I want to thank you for picking up all the sticks in our yard. (Monkey)
  6. I want to thank you for covering us back up with our blankets at night. (Bean)
  7. I want to thank you for making food for us when we’re sick. (Monkey)
  8. I want to thank you for the special Mother’s Day for Mommy. (Bean)
  9. I want to thank you for buying us toys. (Monkey)
  10. I want to thank you for building our wood playhouse. (Bean)
  11. I love it when you give us hugs and kisses at nighttime. (Monkey)
  12. I love it when you snuggle with me at nighttime. (Monkey and Bean)
  13. I love it when you wrestle with us. (Monkey)
  14. I love it when you eat at the table with us and we’re all together. (Bean)
  15. I love it when you give us rides on the lawnmower and let us steer. (Monkey)
  16. I love it when you push us high on the swings. (Bean)
  17. I love it when you help me ride my bike. (Monkey)
  18. I love it that you help me in swimming class. (Bean)
  19. I love it that you help me pick up the apples from the apple tree. (Monkey)
  20. I love it that you help me with puzzles. (Bean)
  21. I love it when you give us horsey back rides. (Monkey and Bean)
  22. I love it when you take our pictures. (Monkey and Bean)
  23. I love it when you give us a bath and you let us throw toys at you and squirt each other. (Monkey)
  24. I love it when you play hide and seek with us. (Bean)
  25. I love it when you hold us. (Monkey and Bean) 

Daddy, these are the reasons why we love you!

I also had the girls answer these fun questions about their daddy:

 

All About My Daddy

By Monkey (age 5) and Bean (age 3)

 

My daddy is 17 feet and 40 inches tall

He weighs 40 pounds

His hair color is brown

His eyes are blue

His favorite TV show is baseball

He likes to go to Qdoba

His favorite food is Hello Dolly bars

His favorite drink is soda

For fun he likes to play with us

I love it when my daddy gives us piggy back rides

My favorite thing about my daddy is when he plays outside with us

I ❤ MY DADDY

Father’s Day 2013

Husband they love you sooooo much. They adore you. You are so important to them and this family and I am so grateful to have you as my partner in the most important job of our lives.

xoxo

They will always be daddy's little girls.

They will always be daddy’s little girls.

Exactly What I Needed to Hear

Standard

I tend to let my emotions rule my world. When I read, see or hear something really sad, whether real-life or fictional — i.e. spouses dying, children with terminal illnesses, child abuse, sexual assault, people battling with addiction — I sometimes can’t shake it for weeks. It stays on my brain. Sometimes I’ll even avoid reading or watching something because I know it will affect me for longer than I would like.

And thank God Extreme Makover Home Edition isn’t on the air anymore. Husband really liked that show and for the last several years I’ve refused to watch it with him. Within two minutes of the show starting I can’t stop crying. It’s just too sad.

I’ve always been an emotional person. I have high highs and low lows. I get really excited about things. My friends tell me that I’m always the first person they call with exciting news because they know I’ll be so excited for them.

I also take some things to heart more than I should. Is it possible to have too much empathy? It’s something that I’ve managed better as I’ve gotten older.

In my life today, I think my biggest challenge is not getting too emotionally caught up in certain aspects of motherhood. What mother doesn’t always want to do the “best” or “right” thing for their kids? After reflection, I think my subconscious fear is that one “mistake” or one single decision is going to impact my kids’ lives forever. As if I only have one shot. As if the one day (or 20 days over the course of their childhood) that I go out of my mind with anger is going to be their only memory of their childhood.

Honestly, it’s not a real fear; it’s not something I think about on a daily basis. But I think my personality and temperament of:

a) wanting to control

b) wanting to do everything “right,” and

c) getting overly emotionally invested,

Sometimes leads to this “all or nothing” subconscious fear.

So anyway. Not only am I realizing that this isn’t realistic, I’m also realizing I need to cut myself a break. There needs to be more of a margin for error (for me and the kids). We are human, after all. People get mad. Sometimes really mad. It’s not the norm in my household. I feel terrible, I apologize to my kids and we move on.

I need to just let it go instead of hanging onto it and feeling terrible for days.

In my last post I wrote about how frustrated I was with Bean and her typical terrible two behavior.

I was venting, and over-the-top, and being dramatic, and not at all objective because I was getting out the culmination of all my pent-up frustration over the last several months. And we had had a rough morning.

(I also was trying to be funny with my quip about my mental image of her “running away” from bad things like drugs, peer pressure, etc., when she’s quite literally running away from me because she doesn’t want to do things. I think it’s kind of funny to see her naked butt in my head.)

It’s not that I don’t trust my gut, or trust my instincts, sometimes we just need to vent. And sometimes another perspective is helpful.

Sometimes when you’re in the thick of things you lose sight of the overall perspective. The “can’t see the forest through the trees,” sort of thing. Being an emotional person, this is the type of thing I struggle with when it comes to myself — I can console another mom (or person) all day long, but then I’m really hard on myself.

You would think that with Bean being my second child I would remember that these are phases, and they pass. They just really suck while in you’re in them.

After the last post I had two friends share this message with me (“I Don’t Want to Raise a Good Child”) about raising spirited kids, and it was exactly what I needed to hear.

In particular, this part:

“I don’t know what mama needs to hear this today. But let me encourage you from the bottom of my heart with three simple mothering perspectives you must hang on to:

1. Don’t take too much credit for their good.
2. Don’t take too much credit for their bad.
3. Don’t try to raise a good child. Raise a God-following adult.

You have no idea how much this meant to me: “I don’t know what mama needs to hear this today.” I felt like God was speaking directly to me.

It’s exactly what I needed to hear.

Oh, and one more thing. If you haven’t been introduced to Momastery yet, please, let me introduce you. Because I started reading Momastery in January, and once again, I felt like it was God (via Glennon) speaking directly to me.

All four of these posts came in a span of one week. Every single one of them spoke to me.

I. LOVE. HER.

The greatest thing that I took away from her addiction post was that when you don’t know what else to do, pray to God and alternate between “Thank you” and “Help me.”

I think everyone can use that advice.

Another thing that was exactly what I needed to hear.

This is What I’m Going With

Standard

Lately, I feel like everything with Bean is an epic battle to the death. And obviously, there are no winners.

Here’s a typical scenario from our house in the last three weeks:

Morning

The mere mention of going to the bathroom and getting dressed sends Bean into a flailing tantrum complete with arm waving (and mostly unintentional) hitting, kicking, tears and screaming. We’re talking head thrown back, on the floor, ear-piercing screams.

Sometimes, she will willingly take off her clothes, but then when I suggest getting dressed, she just runs away. If I happen to grab her before she gets away from me (because I refuse to chase her), then the above tantrum ensues.

Bedtime

Most of the time Bean is all too happy to get into pajamas, but the tantrum inducer is when (gasp) her father, (God forbid) attempts to help her with getting ready for bed. Last night as I was brushing Monkey’s teeth and told Bean that daddy was going to help her, the above tantrum ensued. Same goes for helping her go to the bathroom, getting her pajamas on, washing her hands, you name it.

Mealtime

I made homemade waffles last weekend. They were dang delicious and so much easier than I remember. Especially now that my waffle iron is accessible and I learned not to overfill the darn thing. Bean loved them. But then she accidentally dropped one of her last two pieces on the floor. No biggie, right?

WRONG.

I picked it up and threw it away. Bad idea. Cue tantrum. Except a mealtime tantrum has the added bonus of Bean being strapped into a chair, thus able to fling her body back and forth and all around without falling out. It’s awesome.

I was stunned.

I explained to her that the waffle was dirty, but that it was okay because I would give her one of my waffle pieces.

Didn’t matter. She wasn’t hearing it. She wanted that dirty waffle piece back and there was nothing I could say or do to make her happy.

And generally, that’s how it goes.

The instant something happens that she doesn’t want (or the suggestion of something she doesn’t want to do), it’s the end. There’s zero ability to talk with her. There’s no communication. She just shuts down.

All of the wonderful parenting techniques that we employ with Monkey (all of the parenting articles I’ve been poring over), don’t really work.

  • It doesn’t matter if I give her choices. She just screams “NO!” back at me about everything.
  • It doesn’t matter if something is a rule (establishing rules and expectations so that I’m not the bad guy). “The rule is that when we get up in the morning, the first thing we do is go to the bathroom.” Or, “The rule is we brush our teeth in the morning and at night before bed.” We run through all the people who brush their teeth and go to the bathroom in the morning. Meh. Most times she could care less what the rule is.
  • Asking her if she wants to do something now or “in a minute” always gets the “in a minute” reply. But then when 5 minutes goes by and I tell her it’s time to do XYZ, generally we still get the tantrum or the running away, or the running away followed by the tantrum (like this morning).
  • We’ve been really trying to talk to the kids like we would talk to another adult. The example in an article I read was along the lines of, “If you saw an adult knock over their milk at McDonald’s you wouldn’t jump up and start berating them about how clumsy they were and how they should be more careful and then huff off to get some paper towels.” Not that we’ve ever done that; generally we’re pretty calm about those types of things. But, you get the point, which is, “Don’t treat someone poorly, or more importantly, force someone to do what you want, just because you’re bigger than them.” Because that sets up all sorts of problems that leaves kids vulnerable to sexual predators, peer pressure, etc. How-ev-er, like I told Husband, if he dropped his piece of waffle on the floor and I threw it away because it was dirty, he wouldn’t start flailing his arms, kicking his legs, throwing his head back and screaming. I’m pretty sure we’d just talk about it.

And that is my biggest frustration. There’s just no communication. No opportunity for any of the above. The only thing that somewhat works is empathetically saying how I think she feels. “I know you’re mad, honey. I know you want to keep playing. I’m sorry that we have to get ready for bed.” But even if she stops to listen to me, she still doesn’t then cooperate.

The only time she wants to do something is when she can possibly beat her sister to it. Which honestly is unfair to Monkey because then Monkey’s always second. Or, if Monkey beats Bean, Bean still cries and has a tantrum. Good grief. I’m exhausted just thinking of all the tantrums.

I feel beaten down. I feel like I’ve just had it. I am pulling out all the tricks and it doesn’t make one damn bit of difference.

I don’t yell much. We don’t spank. We do use time-outs, although this Aha Parenting Web site advocates for doing time-ins (sitting with your child) instead of time-outs (which apparently make them feel isolated and alone with their feelings). I tried that this morning with Bean when she wouldn’t cooperate about getting dressed. She just laid in her bed (naked) and yelled at me to get out. I stayed anyway. I have no idea if it helped.

Up to this point we’ve been trying to follow Love and Logic parenting techniques (I say “trying” because we like the philosophy but we don’t always execute) which focuses a lot on empathy and consequences (as well as choices, routines/rituals, etc.). However, Aha Parenting advocates for not issuing punishments or consequences (unless they’re “natural” and not “parent-imposed” consequences) because when kids are acting their worst, that’s when they need you to love them the most.

Aha Parenting argues that when kids are dwaddling and being slow getting ready for bed, the last thing they need is for you to yank away stories or cuddle time as a consequence. But when we’re running out of time to get Bean to bed (and we KNOW she’s probably acting out from being tired), it seems like a natural consequence that if you’re not cooperating and you’re making things take longer, that you don’t get stories. It’s not even really a punishment! It’s not like we’re saying “No stories because you’re being sassy or because you hit your sister.” It’s a natural consequence. We ran out of time. I feel conflicted about this whole “consequence/punishment” thing.

I don’t really yell much. BUT, when pushed, I do raise my voice (not to a yell, but it’s raised), I do get a mean look on my face, I do lose the ability to negotiate and communicate and just start barking orders. Basically, I get angry and frustrated. I also say things I shouldn’t; things that I try not to say. And then I find myself still saying them: “Why do you have to be so uncooperative?” “I am so sick of this.” I know this is bad because I’m sending her the message that she, as a person, is bad.

Day after day, night after night, these are my interactions with my child. She knows that I’m frustrated. One of the things I remember from the Love & Logic CDs is that if you send your child the message that you can’t handle them, they’ll think, “Geez, I must really be bad if even my own parents can’t handle me,” and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The kid acts worse and worse, and the parent is less and less able to get a handle on the situation. I’m afraid that’s going to happen.

I also feel like the frequency of these occurrences makes it more and more difficult for me to remain calm when they happen. I’m immediately on edge because I feel like I already know the outcome (major tantrum), and no amount of choices, or empathy, or quietly speaking to her, or whatever is going to help.

I feel like a failure. Not just because she’s not listening and cooperating. But because there’s no room for any negotiation, communication, education, discussion. Period.

Aha Parenting says “Kids who feel connected to their parents naturally want to please them,” and that:

Defiance is always a relationship problem. If your child does not accept your direction (“I don’t care what you say, you can’t make me!”), it’s always an indication that the relationship is not strong enough to support the teaching. This happens to all of us from time to time. At that point, stop and think about how to strengthen the relationship, not how to make the child “mind.” Turning the situation into a power struggle will just deepen the rift between you.”

Since I seem to be engaged in a non-stop power struggle (epic battle to the death), obviously I’m not connected. Failure.

My child does not feel connected to me, she will think that I think she’s a whole lot of trouble and that she can’t be contained, therefore she will become increasingly troublesome, and basically I just ruined her chance at becoming a successful person, not to mention we don’t have a relationship.

I know this is extreme, but it’s my fear.

I am not used to this. I am not accustomed to encountering a problem that I can’t solve, even with repeated effort. Am I not trying hard enough?

Can anyone tell me they’ve been through this and have come out the other side with a happy, well-adjusted, still free-spirited but more reasonable child?

Will this get better? Will time (maturity with age) make this better? Will she become more reasonable so that I can actually employ these very useful techniques that seemed to work so well with Monkey? Am I ruining my child? Is she not connected to me?

I will also add that I think she’s definitely not getting enough sleep.

After getting through the difficulty of her wanting us to be in the room while she fell asleep and waking excessively at night (2-5 times every night), we’re now dealing with her early rising. She goes to bed beautifully now, but instead of sleeping until 7 a.m. like normal, her waking has gotten earlier and earlier. First it was 6:45 a.m. Then it was 6:30 a.m. The past two weeks it’s been 6 or 6:15. And today it was 5 freaking 40 A.M.!

She’s also started taking shorter naps. At least I feel like that’s more normal for her age — she just turned two, so I can’t really expect her to continue taking 2+ hour naps. An hour and a half is more in line, but sometimes it’s only an hour and 15 minutes, or like yesterday — 45 minutes! Between early waking and shortened naps, she is just not getting enough sleep.

And thirdly, her picky eating is at an all-time high. We trying our best to follow the advice of our pediatrician who tells us every time I express concern over her picky eating, “Your job is to prepare and serve healthy food. Her job is to eat it. If you start bribing, rewarding, coaxing or cajoling, you’re not doing your job.”

So, for the most part, we serve the food. Sometimes we’ll ask her to try one bite (she always refuses). But do you know how hard it is to serve your child a meal that has all the components of something they would like (or have eaten before) and have them push it away on sight, screaming and crying??? Or just start picking things off the plate saying “Yucky?” (Yes, I’m sure you do, because you’re probably a parent reading this). UUUUUGGGGGHHHH.

I bet Bean is down to a list of 20 things that she’ll readily and gladly eat, not including dessert, and only two of them belong to the fruit/vegetable category.

Since we don’t make separate meals, and since we nearly always give dessert (so as not to set up a good food/bad food paradigm), Elise gets a lot of yogurt for “dessert.”

Do all of these things mean anything together (lots of tantrums, not getting enough sleep and picky eating)? Am I missing something?

I have been praying. Praying that God will guide me, help me, direct me to the resources I need. I pray that he will let Bean see how much we love her and that he will open her heart to listen to us.

Believe me, I DO NOT want to crush Bean’s spirit. I do not want her to grow up believing that people who are bigger than her get to tell her what to do.

I get it that it’s a good thing that she isn’t going to do what she doesn’t want to do, just because someone else says so. I know that research shows that she will be “almost impervious to peer pressure.”

But in the meantime, I don’t know what else to do.

Aside from reading parenting articles, pouring out my feelings on this blog, asking for help, and praying, the only thing I can think to do is this:

Every time I see her naked butt running away from me I’m going to think, “She’s running away from drugs,” or “She’s running away from a stranger trying to harm her.”

Every time I see her flat-out refusing to do what I ask, I’m going to think, “She’s saying no to underage drinking,” or, “She’s saying no to teenage sex.”

At least that’s what I’m going with now.

But I’ll repeat my plea: Can anyone tell me they’ve been through this and have come out the other side with a happy, well-adjusted, still free-spirited but more reasonable child?

Will this get better? Will time (maturity with age) make this better? Will she become more reasonable so that I can actually employ these very useful techniques that seemed to work so well with Monkey? Am I ruining my child? Is she not connected to me?

Belated

Standard

It’s almost two weeks late, but I didn’t want to let my Bean’s second birthday go by unmarked.

She is such an interesting child. She is so determined. I think her biggest daily goal is to keep up with her big sister, and it doesn’t EVER occur to her that she won’t be able to do something that her big sister can do.

Whatever Monkey does, Bean does. When Monkey runs, Bean runs. When Monkey jumps, Bean jumps. When Monkey climbs, Bean climbs. When Monkey screams, Bean screams. One time Monkey jumped up in the air and Bean mimicked her so instantaneously that I couldn’t help but laugh.

A few weeks ago we went to a local indoor activity gym with a giant climbing obstacle. Bean ran right in there after Monkey and Monkey’s friend, and managed to climb up the first few obstacles by herself. Eventually the spaces between the levels got a little too tall for her legs and she cried while I looked on from the floor level. She wasn’t crying because she was scared though. She was crying because she was mad. Monkey had gotten so far ahead of her and she couldn’t keep up.

Monkey, bless her heart, came back and gave Bean a boost at each next level.

The girl has no fear.

This past weekend we went to the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, which has a gigantic indoor water park. In the center of the park, was an expansive multi-level kids play area with slides as tall as 20 feet.

This is what it looked like.

Kalahari's Leopard's Lair. Bean scrambled to the top of this gigantic kids play area to go down those green and yellow slides you see on the left. (Copyright: Kalahari Resort)

We no more than walked over to it, and Bean was already making her way to the top. The very top. Like, I was literally running through this thing to keep up with her. She got all the way to the top, pushed past the line of 5-, 6, and 7-year-old kids waiting for the tallest slides, and stood expectantly in front of the lifeguard who nodded at her and motioned her over towards the yellow slide to which she casually walked over, sat down, and went. I got there just in time to see the lifeguard nodding at her (did he not see her push past all the other kids waiting in line??), and incredulously watched her go down like she had done it a hundred times instead of her first. I frantically started waving to Husband who was 20 feet below that she was on her way down. The pool at the bottom of the slide was only six inches deep, and the slides were okay for kids as young as her, but still! She just took off and didn’t wait for anyone’s approval or permission.

A little too brave for her own good, if you ask me.

She also followed her sister up this rope wall without any hesitation, and mastered it after the second attempt.

This is the rope net that Bean tackled as soon as Monkey approached it. (Copyright Kalahari Resort)

I think her favorite word is “Me!” As in, whatever Monkey says she wants to do, or we tell Monkey she can do, Bean is right there to echo “ME!” because she wants in too.

I think Bean will be the type of child who constantly is emulating her big sister. And given that Monkey is a natural leader, I think it will be a good thing. I feel very blessed that their “short” age gap (just under two years) has led them to be the best of friends. They’re always looking out for one another.

Bean remains loving and empathetic as she tends to her babies, and while she can be very cuddly and clingy, she won’t give up kisses and hugs when she’s in a stingy mood.

She has more interest in reading books (by herself), and still wants to color and draw like her big sister.

She’s never been a real big “entertainer,” like her sister, but we do notice her laughing and trying to make us laugh more often. I know that sounds weird, but she was never that baby who would just laugh and laugh at your silly antics. It was only six months ago that this was still her face du jour:

This was Bean's emotion du jour for the longest time - the pout; aka stink face

And she continues to challenge us in ways different from her sister. After reflecting for awhile, I think that Bean is more strong-willed than Monkey, but Monkey was no cake walk either. Monkey was the child who, when transitioned to a big girl bed, was an ABSOLUTE TERROR. Ev-er-y single night she would rip ALL of her clothes out of her drawers, scatter her books all over the room, and tear the diapers out of the box in her closet. Every night. FOR MONTHS. Bean has not done that even one single time. She mostly stays in her bed and the “worst” she’s done is gotten out of bed to read books.

Bean seems to have more of a desire to control things, have things her way, and is less willing to listen and cooperate than Monkey was at the same age. Maybe this is because she’s the second child and is constantly “keeping up” with her sister, rather than getting to choose things for herself. Maybe she wants to leave her own mark. She also seems to want to experiment with pushing the boundaries more than I recall Monkey doing. Latest case: after being potty trained for a month, she’s majorly regressed. After ruling out a bladder infection and constipation, her pediatrician and I think it boils down to peeing in her pants because she can. Because she wants to gauge our reaction. She wants control. I find it highly unlikely that she forgot her body’s cues because she still proactively asks to go to the bathroom for No. 2 and hasn’t had any poop accidents.

I have to say, that I may be putting on my rose-colored glasses when reminiscing about Monkey’s Terrible Twos. I mean, at the time I certainly remember thinking she was *extremely* challenging. I wonder now if I’m forgetting some of the most challenging parts, or if Bean really is more challenging; or, like I said, that they’re just challenging in different ways. 

I’m hopeful that as her vocabulary is starting to expand, she’ll be more apt to communicate with us so we can reach compromises, rather than just throw fits and/or run away when we want her to do something.

One thing I know for sure — she is one smart kid.

Her pediatrician just reminded us this week that the traits we find most challenging — her stubbornness and desire to control, will translate into really good things later on. She definitely has a strong sense of self.

Finally, here’s a fun little thing I saw on Pinterest that I thought would be fun to do with the girls every year on their birthdays. Technically, you’re supposed to start when they turn 3, so Bean is a little young for this, but here goes:

20 Questions with Bean — Age 2

1. What is your favorite color? Pink

2. What is your favorite toy? Baby doll

3. What is your favorite fruit? Um. Nothing. The kid doesn’t eat fruit. She eats vegetables. Preferably green beans

4. What is your favorite TV show? Sesame Street

5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Mac and cheese

6. What is your favorite outfit? Nothing in particular, except she has to pick it out

7. What is your favorite game? Trouble (because she likes to push the bubble)

8. What is your favorite snack? Cheese, Goldfish crackers, pretzels

9. What is your favorite animal? Dogs

10. What is your favorite song? Mr. Bassman (Laurie Berkner)

11. What is your favorite book? Duck and Goose: How are you feeling? (she loves to make the “angry” and “happy” faces)

12. Who is your best friend? Monkey

13. What is your favorite cereal? None

14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Climb, swing, slide (but without getting her hands dirty)

15. What is your favorite drink? Milk

16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas?

17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Blanket, lovey and Curious George

18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Eggs

19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Mac and cheese and green beans

20. What do you want to be when you grow up? TBD

(No More Nuky) WOW OH WOW!

Standard

On November 9 we made a big move in this household — it became NO MORE PACIFIER DAY!

We finally exhausted all the reasons to let Bean keep her pacifier — her eye teeth (aka canine teeth, aka cuspids) came in, she had her tear duct surgery, and she wasn’t sick.

I finally got Husband to agree to set a date. And we did. And we did it. And it was fine. (Husband had been more reluctant than me to ditch the paci mostly because it meant knowingly committing to more nightly interruptions and less sleep for him; which is totally valid because he regularly gets only 5 hours of sleep every night.)

And, let’s be honest, the nuk is a fast and easy way to calm your child. Even though Bean only got her nuk during naptime and bedtime, it also was a crutch in church, in the car, and when she was unusually belligerent.

We had tried to get Bean to give up the nuk in March when she was 13 months and it didn’t work very well. She just wasn’t ready, and since we had teething and surgery issues, I didn’t care enough to push it. In retrospect I’m glad we waited, if only for the surgery alone. I think it provided a great comfort to her, and helped quell her hunger.

BUT, as soon as she turned 21 months (3 months older than Monkey was when we got rid of her nuk), and her surgery was complete, I was anxious to ax it because I know the next major transitions are just around the corner: big girl bed and potty training.

I’m going to keep Bean in her crib as long as I can to cut down on the inevitable frustration of her having total and complete bedroom freedom — it was somewhat of a disaster with Monkey, probably because she was only 19 months old, but I can’t help it that she took a flying leap out of her crib. But, I know that moment could come at anytime, and I was going to be d@mned if I was going to be searching a big girl bed, and sheet, and comforter, for a dang nuk in the middle of the night. It was annoying enough to do it in her crib with no flat sheet or big comforter.

And sometime either before or after the big girl bed comes potty training. We were able to train Monkey in three days when she was 23.5 months and I have no idea if it will be that easy with Bean, but I’m sure we’ll give it a shot.

At any rate, I didn’t want Bean to be going through three major transitions in her life, so the nuk had to go!

I knew we would have to go a different route than just cutting off the tip. When we tried that in March it didn’t work AT ALL. As I’ve mentioned, Bean can sometimes be difficult to console. And she was P*SSED. In fact, she was downright furious.

I happened to be on Twitter about a week before we were planning to pull the plug when I stumbled across some Sesame Street You Tube videos about giving up the pacifier. Apparently, November 4 was NO MORE PACIFIER DAY, and Elmo had a series of cheeky videos about how kids could give up the binky in preparation for the big day (i.e. give it away, make an exchange, use a sticker chart, have a visit from the pacifier fairy, etc.) How fortuitous.

Elmo putting down his binky.

Since Bean was a little older, I thought she would understand the whole “give the nuk to a baby,” trick and settled on that as our main tactic. About a week before the big day, I started telling Bean that she wasn’t a baby anymore and that we were going to give her nuks to her baby cousin C. Every time I asked her if she was going to give her nuks to C she replied with “No.” 😉

We watched all NINE Sesame Street videos multiple times over the course of that week. On the morning of the big day I took Bean to the store and bought her a brand new baby doll in exchange for her nuks. That afternoon, before her nap, we gathered up her four remaining nuks, put them in a box and I again told her that I was going to mail them to her baby cousin. The next day, Bean’s Nana did the same thing.

We also stopped referring to her as a baby and really amped up the “big girl” praise. For MONTHS, Bean has referred to herself and any other child, larger or smaller than she, as a “baby.” Initially after giving up the nuk when we asked her if she was a baby she would respond enthusiastically, “Uh huh!” But it only took another week and she would respond, “Noooo, mama.” I think she loves that she’s a big girl now like her sister.

That first night Bean cried half heartedly on and off for about 30 minutes. We went in a couple of times and patted her back and eventually she fell asleep. She then proceeded to wake up about 5 times. I’m not gonna lie. It sucked. Husband and I were switching off going in and patting her back (but giving in was never an option). Finally, Husband fell asleep in the chair in her room.

Luckily for us, the next night went smoother with 15 minutes of half-hearted crying and only waking up once during the night.

And that was that! It’s been almost three weeks now and while it does take her longer to calm down at bedtime and fall asleep — meaning that she’s not crying, but that we’re having to go into her room a million times after we put her to bed, although this could have more to do with the fact that she’s had back-to-back illnesses — it’s really been easy breezy with minimal night wakings. I don’t know what was easier — cutting the tip for Monkey or doing an exchange for Bean. I guess it’s all a matter of finding the best method for your kid.

Check out who’s a big kid now!

Elmo helped Bean celebrate putting down the pacifier.

Gratitude

Standard

For me and many people, the month of November is a time to reflect on what we’re thankful for. A time to count the blessings that have been bestowed upon us over the last year. Something about THANKS-givin’ (as my friends from the South would say) does that to a person.

There are moments, okay some whole days, where I’m just so frustrated with my kids’ belligerent behavior, sassy attitudes, the mess, the lack of organization, the mounds of laundry and the overall list of things to do.

And then I remember the premise of a book that my BFF recommended, which is, this is the life I asked for. This is the life I wanted. I wanted a house I could call my own. I wanted a big yard with room to run. I wanted a husband and children. I wanted a family. And I got it. AND, those things come at a cost — yard work, lawn mowing, home improvements, spending money, and oh yeah, RAISING kids.

Kitchen table or craft table? Don't forget the baby and its bottles!

Two coats, four gloves, two pairs of boots, a backpack, a scarf, a hat and a piece of play broccoli!

Books, books, babies, books, baby clothes, books.

Just more typical mess.

For the past 12 months when I feel like I’ve reached my limit I try to remember to take a breath, pause and remember that this is what I wanted. And I’m grateful.

I am thankful for:

  • Girls pulling each other’s hair
  • Girls pushing and hitting each other (usually the small one hitting the big one)
  • Girls pile driving one another (usually the big one pile driving the small one)
  • Girls fighting over toys
  • Girls shrieking, screaming and making the most annoying mouth noises (gah, where do they learn that!??)
  • Girls invading each other’s personal space
  • Cleaning food off the floor after EV-ERY meal (uugh, I think this is my most hated parenting task)
  • The utter disaster of my living room
  • The utter disaster of my older daughter’s room
  • The mad rush of getting two lazily playing, daydreaming girls dressed, fed and out the door on time
  • The annoyance of realizing you bought the next season’s clothes in the wrong size (Why didn’t I anticipate Bean would be in 3T winter clothes when she’s been in 2T since last spring!!?) — and then having to switch over her entire wardrobe. Again.

I am thankful for all of these things because they mean that I have two healthy children and a happy home. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the minutia; by things that don’t really matter. But when I do that, I lose sight of that fact that all of these things mean that I have what is most important to me.

And I am grateful.

I Love This Face

Standard

Runny nose and her crooked smile. Love it.

I just love this face. I am truly, madly, deeply (thank you Savage Garden) in love with this face. The love I feel for Bean is so intense and so deep and that makes me SO happy.

(Especially because I didn’t feel that instantaneous deep connection with her like I did with her older sister. When another blogger told me she felt the same way with her younger daughter, and pointed out that it was almost impossible to compare the love you have for someone you’ve only known for a few months versus someone you’ve had a chance to love for years, it made me feel so much better. She was totally right.)

Bean has an opinion about fashion.

She pushes away shirts and socks she doesn’t want to wear, and when I hold up pants she says, “No, mama. Jean.”

Whaaa!? What 21-month-old doesn’t want to wear an Elmo shirt and has a preference on what elastic pants and multi-colored socks they want to wear!?

Her hair is finally, FINALLY starting to grow longer. It’s definitely in an awkward stage, just barely peeking out from behind her ears, and when it gets pushed forward (instead of swept to the side) it covers her eyebrows and she looks like a crusty old man.

Are these not the tiniest and most adorable pigtails you've ever seen? She *insists* on having her hair done like her big sister.

When she wants to show me something that she knows I’ll find exciting or surprising she runs to me with this priceless look, eyes wide and mouth open like an “O” and then waits for my reaction. I’m guessing she’s modeling that after me. She also says “Ta da!” OMG. Cracks. Me. Up.

She seems to understand humorous things better than Monkey ever did. If she’s watching Sesame Street she’ll laugh at the funny parts. Monkey’s just starting to get that stuff now. Either Bean just gets humor better, or she’s learning from her older sister.

It’s so interesting to me to see how these two children are affected by birth order. For example, we purposefully spent time teaching Monkey her colors, the alphabet and how to count to 10. With Bean, I’m a little ashamed to admit that it’s kind of an afterthought. Yet, the other day I started counting with her and asked her if she could say “One,” and she immediately replied “Two!” So she knew it, but probably because she observed it and not because we purposely taught it to her. In some ways Bean seems “smarter” than Monkey was at this age, yet her language is not as developed. I think it’s because she spends a lot of time copying her sister and less time talking.

One of her most adorable phases as of late is that we’re seeing less and less of “the pout” and more and more of the “CHEESE” face.

Classic pout. Or stink face as we like to call it. Copyright McManigal Photography

As soon as the camera comes out she starts saying “CHEESE” over and over again, many times without even actually looking at the camera. After I took pictures of her yesterday she also set up her baby for a photo shoot, saying “Cheese, baby.”

CHEESE!

She was trying to make a cheese face here, but I think it turned into stinky cheese.

I can’t believe she’s almost two. 😦