Bookworm

Thursday, March 24, 2016

To call The Big Sis a bookworm might be understating the situation. That girl eats, breathes, and sleeps books. My wallet is very appreciative of the library.

She’s been working through the Harry Potter series at bedtime with The Husband since probably late last year and (I believe) is currently on book 6 now. Because of her interest in that series, her teacher recommended the Percy Jackson series of books for her, and she inhaled that five-book series in less than a month. And each individual book isn’t some light 100-pager; these are pretty significantly sized books. She has now moved on to the Olympians series by the same author and is about halfway through the first book, weighing in at a hefty 500+ pages, after just two days.

I love how she tries to sneak in reading during whatever bits of downtime she can find. If it’s light outside, she wants to read in the car. (Well, she wants to turn on a light and read in the car if it’s dark too, but I don’t let her do that.) She’ll grab her book if she’s waiting on us to finish something before we begin helping her with homework, even if it’s just a couple minutes. She says she sometimes takes her book outside at recess, often reading even while taking her turn on a swing.

I know how important reading is for helping a child find the path to success, so I’m thrilled that she deems it so important herself. May her current passion for reading be a lifelong interest that always serves her well.


Bullet mania

Friday, March 18, 2016

All right, time for another bulleted update on random items since I’ve neglected the ol’ bloggie blog for too long. Not that anyone’s reading anyway! Here we go:

  • The Big Sis’s academic challenge team competed in the regional tournament a couple weeks ago, and they pulled out a third-place finish among the 77 teams competing and received a medal for the effort! Coming in second place in the region was another team from her school, with both of those teams just missing for first place.
  • We took both of the girls for eye exams recently (The Little Sis’s first, and The Big Sis’s second). The Little Sis got a clean bill of eye health, but The Big Sis has a slight astigmatism and they said that glasses to correct it were optional at this point. Chances are she’d need glasses in another year or two anyway, and either getting or not getting glasses now wasn’t going to change that, so we went ahead and got them for her so she can get used to wearing them before it becomes a necessity. I thought I might be upset if she had to get glasses, because I remember it was a hard thing for me when I needed them in 7th grade, but she’s actually really excited about having them, and she likes her frames, so I’m excited for her! I’m sure it helps her that so many of her friends already have glasses themselves, so there’s really not much of a stigma attached to it, at least in her current circle of friends.
  • I just wrapped up my second week at the new job, and so far so good! I’m still in the process of learning the ropes, and will be for a while, but I’m feeling more confident with what I need to be doing, and the feedback I’m getting is helpful and is indicating that I’m on the right track.
  • I will travel some for this job, and I just booked my first two trips, one to Dallas and one to Marco Island, FL, both in May. Overall I’m looking forward to the trips, though I’m a little bummed that the Dallas trip means I will have to miss The Little Sis’s preschool graduation. That part breaks my heart, but hopefully she won’t hold it against me for too long. 😦
  • We had to go with plan B for our summer vacation this year because our dog needs surgery next week, so we’ve opted to go to Boston and Maine to visit with friends and family, so we’ll still get to have a vacation but will significantly cut down on costs since we won’t have to pay for lodging (and some meals). At first I was bummed about having to go with alternate plans, but everyone is looking forward to seeing us, so I’m getting excited myself now.
  • The Little Sis had something click a couple weeks ago, and she was suddenly able to read very simple books (like the BOB books)! She’s known her letter sounds for a while, and has been sounding out the letters in words when we read, but she wasn’t able to string it all together to form the words herself. But now she can, at least for words that are pronounced how they’re spelled — words like hug, dog, cat, can, etc.
  • I will admit I was hesitant to have The Big Sis join Girl Scouts this year, but she has really enjoyed the meetings and activities (and even the cookie sales), way more than I expected she would! I believe she came in third place in her troop for cookie sales, which isn’t too shabby at all, especially given the fact that she did the bulk of the sales herself (as opposed to me or The Husband constantly soliciting orders). We stepped back and let her handle the bulk of it on her own, and I think she learned a lot of good things along the way.

Wednesday roundup

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

*The Big Sis lost tooth #6 (lower right lateral incisor) on April 22. This permanent tooth is going to be met with quite a bit of crowding and most likely won’t be coming in straight at all. Like The Husband and me both, she has quite a small mouth, so we will likely be headed to The Orthodontist at some point. I got lucky, however, and never did need braces (though you’d never think that if you saw my mouth when I was a kid).

*The Big Sis had a fundraiser, Jump Rope for Heart, for the American Heart Association at school recently, where she raised $405. And guess what? That ended up being enough to make her the leading fundraiser at her school, which I could tell made her so proud. She did a little movie where she was jump-roping and asking for donations, and I posted that on my Facebook page, so she really did help with the effort. A huge thank you if you were one of those friends or family members that donated!

*I think we’re on the verge of converting The Little Sis’s crib to a toddler bed. For the past week or two, she’s been asking to go to sleep on the futon in her room, which we’ve been letting her do, then we move her to the crib before we go to bed. Last night we let her sleep on the futon for the entire night and she did well; I think this is a good way to ease her (and us) into the freedom of a toddler bed.

*The Husband is scheduled for gallbladder removal on June 11 after having issues for a few months now. This cannot come soon enough for either one of us, as his attacks have been pretty miserable. (Mostly for him, of course, though I do know the misery of that pain. His attacks are more just inconvenience for me.)

*I’m heading to NYC this time next month, and I am crazy-obsessed-over-the-top excited.

 


Career day

Friday, November 8, 2013

I am not a good public speaker.

No, seriously.

One of the perks of my career as a copy editor is that I don’t have to stand in front of large groups for, well, anything. I get extremely nervous beforehand, then one of two things happens when it’s time. Either I completely lose my train of thought and can’t get it back, or I get on some tangent I hadn’t originally planned to talk about and veer way off from what I’m supposed to be talking about but can’t get myself to shut up and get back on track.

I probably should have, but I did not offer a story during the “sharing time” of my mom’s memorial service in April. The pressure of public speaking at such an emotionally delicate time was too much for me to handle, so I declined. (Which I don’t regret, by the way. My mom would have understood how uncomfortable it would have made me.)

Seriously, it’s bad. Or rather, it used to be, when I had to do such things back in my school days. But thankfully those days are largely in the past for me, so on a day-to-day basis, it’s really a non-issue.

So I was quite conflicted when I got an email from The Big Sis’ teacher earlier this week asking if I would come speak to the class on Friday about my career and my career path. On the one hand, I would LOVE to! I was one of those who knew pretty early on what I wanted to be, and I did follow that path to where I am now. Copy editing isn’t a “flashy” career, but it’s one I’m passionate about.

But on the other hand: ACK! Public speaking! And they’d be inviting another class into The Big Sis’ class for the presentation, so there would be 50 sets of eyes on me. Sure, those eyes belonged to 6- and 7-year-old kids, but the thought made me nervous all the same.

The teacher even gave me a perfect out, saying she would love to have me come in and talk to the class but understood if it wasn’t my cup of tea. Honestly, it WASN’T my cup of tea, but next thing I knew, I was replying that I would love to do it.

Wait, what?!

I guess I figured I should look at it as a challenge. Just because I’m scared to do something…why should I let that stop me from doing it? What if it were The Big Sis in that position? Would I encourage her not to take on that challenge, or would I encourage her to face her fears and find it within herself to do it?

So I began to prepare what I was going to say. I’m bad at public speaking, but I’m even worse at impromptu public speaking, so I needed to have an idea of what I was going to say. I didn’t want to read from a piece of paper, but I couldn’t just go into this unprepared. So I started practicing, first developing an overall point to my talk, then filling in with details and examples and anecdotes. Once I had a general idea of what I was going to say, I started practicing saying it out loud — in the car, in the shower, at the office before anyone else came in for the day…just whenever I found myself alone with a few minutes.

At times my practice went awesome. At times I couldn’t keep my concentration and would forget what I was going to say next. But I didn’t let that frustrate me too much and I kept practicing. Throughout the process, I would ask The Big Sis for some advice and feedback on some things I wanted to talk about, and she was actually very helpful in guiding me in some areas. By Thursday morning, I really felt pretty confident about my talk and I just wanted Friday morning to get here already! I practiced a few more times that day but felt pretty ready, so I didn’t overdo it.

Friday morning, I put on some nice clothes (skirt! pantyhose! heels! I never wear this stuff to work!) and headed to school, ready to do this. I was actually relieved to find out I was the only parent talking to the class about their career. Part of me was afraid there would be someone else there who had a super-interesting career and mine would seem boring in comparison, but it was just me there. I got up in front of the two classes pretty much as soon as I got there, and I must say…everything went perfectly.

Seriously, I’m not sure it could have gone much better, which is more a product of my preparation beforehand and practice, as I can assure it wasn’t a natural thing for me to be doing. But I engaged with the class, involved them in what I had to say, kept their interest the whole time, and even got some good questions at the end. All told, I was up there for 30 minutes, with probably half that time being my talk and the other half them asking me questions and me asking them some questions about what they’d like to do when they grow up. It certainly didn’t feel like that long — it felt like I’d been up there for 10 minutes (which had been the plan). The Teacher was particularly interested in what I had to say, as she said she usually thinks of writing when she thinks of journalism, so it was good for her to hear about a different side of things.

A couple of funny things: I’d brought “The Diary of Anne Frank,” as that was a big reason I went into journalism. I held it up, and one kid raised his hand, and I wasn’t going to call on him until the end, but it was too distracting so I called on him. He said, seemingly randomly, “My dad’s name is Frank.” At first I thought, “What the…?” but then I realized the book was by Anne FRANK. He heard Frank and made that connection and apparently just HAD to tell me. Somehow I managed to not lose my train of thought with that one.

Another girl saw the book cover and said, “Oh! I think I’ve read that book!” I thought to myself, “Wow, I HIGHLY doubt that…” and then she asked me, “Anne Frank is the one who is blind and can’t talk, right?” Sorry, kid. That’d be Helen Keller. Not quite the same. 🙂

I’m so glad I did this; I felt like a million bucks as I was walking away from the school after it was over. I was able to conquer a fear of mine (at least this one time — I’m not “cured” by any means), and most of all, I did it without embarrassing myself or The Big Sis.

Success!


Making the grade

Saturday, November 2, 2013

It’s report card time! Well, sort of. Grades K-2 don’t get actual letter grades, but they are assessed on a scale of 1 to 4 in 42 different areas:

1 – Not yet within expectations
2 – Progressing with help
3 – Meets expectations
4 – Exceeds expectations

Last year, The Big Sis did well on her report cards, but I think her teacher was pretty stingy with handing out 4s last year, and thus she didn’t get very many. (Example: One category was “Can count from 1 to 20,” and she only got a 3 [meets expectations] even though she could count much higher. Isn’t that exceeding expectations?)

Anyway, I haven’t gotten a sense of whether this year’s teacher is easy or strict with the assessments, but The Big Sis came home with 4s in all 42 areas.

The teacher’s comment for the 1st-quarter report: “[The Big Sis] is a pleasure to have in class. She stays on task and is exceeding expectations in all subject areas. She is becoming a strong independent learner and sets goals that will help her continue to be successful.”

Now, there may very well be other kids in the class with identical assessments and comments, but given how it’s often challenging to manage The Big Sis at times, this is such great news. Good things are in store for this one.


Blah blah blah

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Today marks the halfway point of NaBloPoMo. Woo hoo, we’re chugging right along!

Within the past few weeks, but mostly within just the last few days really, The Little Sis has had an incredible word explosion. I know I’m going to miss something, but here are some of her highlights:

*hi
*bye/bye-bye
*mama
*dada
*her word for The Big Sis’ name
*dog (usually “dah-dah”)
*belly button (“beh-beh”)
*baby (close to “beh-beh” but slightly different)
*thank you (this one is still morphing, but it most often comes out “tay-tyoo” at the moment)
*yeah (“yah”)
*book

The one that jumped into her vocabulary yesterday, though, was “no.” Now, right now we’re still in the stage where it’s cute and not annoying. I know this won’t always be the case, but it’s so stinking adorable right now. We’ll ask her a question, and she’ll declare, “No. Nonono,” accompanied by an eager shaking of her head. “Are you ready to put your coat on?” “No. Nonono.” “Do you want to put on your pajamas?” “No. Nonono.” Looks like it’s time to stop phrasing non-negotiable tasks in the form of a question!

With The Big Sis enjoying her new reading skills (I promise — more on that soon), it’s interesting to reflect back on all of the steps along the way that got her to that point. It wasn’t one thing that happened that taught her to read — it was a series of skills she gained over the years that brought her to life as a reader. For The Little Sis, those skills really start to take shape NOW, with learning words, learning context, and learning the flow of conversation. These beginning steps will yield a fantastic end result in a few years when she too learns to read.


Reaching new heights

Friday, September 14, 2012

This baby toddler is a climber.

It’s kind of taken me by surprise, to be honest. I would have thought that The Big Sis would have been my little climber, but that interest didn’t develop into her until the past year or two.

But The Little Sis. Oh, how she likes to climb. Basically everything she walks up to she hikes up that leg and tries to mount unless caught with an urgent, “Unh-unh! No climbing!” admonition.

The couch. The futon. The bathtub. The coffee table. The activity table. The babies lying on the floor at daycare (for reals!). If it’s raised off the ground, chances are pretty good she’s going to attempt to climb it.

And that wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that, you know, once she conquers the feat, she is unsteady and can’t get herself properly down from said object. Of course, SHE doesn’t think that — the kid has no fear thus far — so she’s all gung-ho … until she loses her balance and topples to the floor, a little stunned at the impact.

But does that stop her? Oh no. No, it does not.

I’m currently taking bets on whether I get gray hair or have a heart attack first.


Movin’ on up

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Last week, The Big Sis kept coming home from kindergarten and telling us that she was going to another teacher’s room for the morning. The first day I brushed it off, but then when it happened a second and third day, I decided to e-mail the teacher and ask about it — I just couldn’t figure out if this was somehow a good thing or if it was bad and they were trying to separate her from another student or something. And I’m sure they didn’t really tell The Big Sis much about why she was moved, so I wasn’t getting many answers from her. All I knew was that she was going there for reading time.

Her teacher wrote: “[The Big Sis] has been going to Mrs. M’s room for Literacy block. This is from 8:00 – 10:30, she teaches kindergarteners and first graders that are moving at a faster pace in literacy.  We felt this was a good placement for her and she has adjusted well.  We would like to have her spend the entire day in the K/1 class and her homeroom teacher would then be Mrs. M. She will be getting all of the kindergarten curriculum but at a quicker pace and may go more into the first grade curriculum as the students are ready.”

They continued doing the partial days last week and moved her full time to the K/1 room yesterday. To say I am proud of her doesn’t quite cover it. We knew she had the potential to do well, as she was certainly prepared well during preschool, but I’m so happy that she’s performing well enough that her teachers see the potential in her as well. One of the triggers for her challenging behavior is boredom, so I’m hoping this will help nip that in the bud. We haven’t met her new teacher but will have a chance to when we attend Curriculum Night tomorrow night. In reading through her classroom information, so far I’m happy with her new teacher and think she’ll be good for The Big Sis.

Her K/1 class will have weekly homework that includes a phonics worksheet, a rhyming worksheet, and a worksheet meant to teach them how to follow directions. Each week the class has five “wall words” — basically sight words — that the kids need to practice reading and writing. On Fridays, there will be a quiz to test the mastery of these words. (For example, this week’s words are: my, an, in to, come.) In addition, we are to dedicate at least 20 minutes of reading time per night, which can include us reading to her, her reading to us, or us listening to books on CD. (We do this anyway; last night we had 30 minutes, which is pretty typical.) Last night we also took things a step further on our own in an effort to reinforce the words and had her point out her wall words in our stories whenever she saw us read them.

The Big Sis is a little hesitant to move full time because she’s already made friends in her old class, and now she is sad she has to leave them behind and make new friends. I personally know this is a good move for her and that it’ll turn out fine and she’ll probably have a new BFF by the end of the week, but it’s hard for her at the moment. We will continue to reassure her that she’s good at making friends and will get to know the kids in her new class.

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In other school news, we let The Big Sis ride the school bus for the first time yesterday morning. The Husband will still probably drive her most of the time (especially once waiting at the bus stop means being COLD), but she wanted a chance to take it and see what it was like. I walked her to the bus stop and was pleased to see that there were probably six or seven other parents with their kids as well. (I wasn’t sure how it worked since I didn’t take the bus in elementary school. I was hoping I wouldn’t be the only parent there, but I definitely wasn’t.)

I think she was a little nervous, but her eagerness won that battle, and she lined up perfectly when the bus arrived. She found a seat with a neighbor who’d gotten on at another stop and tells me she had a great time. Not surprisingly, she’s asked to ride the bus more often, though we’ll probably make that a reward for good behavior.


She means it

Friday, March 23, 2012

I’ve been sitting on this post for about two months. It’s a difficult thing to write about, and I’ve had to let things sink in a bit, but I think I finally just need to hit the post button and move forward. I’ve made some updates, but this was generally left how I wrote it two months ago.

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I recently found out that there is a Mean Girl in The Big Sis’ preschool class.

To say I am not amused doesn’t quite cover it.

Now, what I know about the situation comes just from second-hand knowledge, as I’m not in the classroom long enough myself to observe what’s really going on. But from what I’m told, the Mean Girl has some anger issues and can really lash out when things don’t go her way, and she can have meltdowns on steroids. Sometimes when she’s in Mean Girl Mode, she pinches or pushes or kicks the other kids in the class.

Clearly her parents are at least partially at fault for letting this happen. Why can’t they just teach her how to behave properly? Actually, strike that — her parents probably don’t even care. Or they probably model this same kind of behavior for her and it’s no wonder she acts like this in the classroom. They need to tell her what to do and give her guidance so she shapes up and acts properly in a classroom setting.

I really, really want this Mean Girl to stay away from my daughter.

Except…well…it turns out this Mean Girl IS my daughter.

No one really talks about what it’s like to HAVE the Mean Girl. Everyone makes these assumptions that the parents don’t really care and just let it happen without making any effort to prevent it from happening in the first place. Believe me, nothing could be further from the truth in our situation. Every day is a struggle teach her proper behavior and appropriate coping techniques for her frustration, anger, and disappointment. Everything we do involves managing her transitions, her behavior, and her reactions to things.

In mid-January, we were called in to have a talk with The Preschool Teacher to discuss The Big Sis’ “behavior and anger issues.” If I’m being honest, I can’t say I was surprised; she is quite challenging at home, as well, and has been for a long time. Age three was basically a nightmare for us. I had been warned that it was a difficult year, but I think we were hit more so than many other parents. Ahead of our meeting with the teacher, I started thinking about things, really trying to get at the root of the problem.

And then it occurred to me — a light bulb went off and something clicked in my head. I strongly suspect there is a chance The Big Sis has ADHD. Like for real, not in that joking way that some people say. She doesn’t fit the inattention characteristic (in fact, I think in many ways she’s quite the opposite in that regard, with an incredible attention to detail and a great amount of focus when she’s engaged in an activity that she enjoys), but I think she certainly fits the hyperactive/impulsive version. For as long as I can remember, we’ve noted that she’s always on the go. She can’t sit still, even for reasonable periods of time for her age. She gets overly excited about things. She is very intense emotionally and often very sensitive, and tantrums are a bear; often they are way out of proportion to what is warranted for the situation. She interrupts all the time, again more than what I think is normal and expected for her age.

For the longest time I’ve been convinced that The Big Sis was just more spirited in personality than the other kids but still within the realm of normal, but I’ve observed many of her peers for a while now and I think much of her behavior is just outside what is normal for the age, even more than just having a spirited personality. Though she certainly has that, as well.

So we met with The Teacher in mid-January to basically touch base, compare stories about home and school to see what we’re each dealing with, and work on some strategies for dealing with her behavior. First thing we had already decided to do was to cut WAY back on TV. We had been very good about that for a long time, but then had become more lax about it, especially with The Little Sis’ arrival. So we instituted a system wherein she gets one gemstone per day for what we deem to be good, cooperative behavior. She doesn’t have to display perfect behavior 24/7, but basically if either of us feels like we need to yell at her at any point (which, side note, I HATE doing, but sometimes it’s the only way to get through to her), then she doesn’t get her stone. She may buy a TV show for 2 stones and a movie for 4 stones, so really at most she can watch about 2 hours of TV a week, assuming she has earned all of her stones. (She earns maybe four a week on average.) Every once in a while we’ll offer a bonus stone when we need a behavior incentive for certain occasions when she might normally have trouble controlling herself, like at birthday parties. We have noticed a great deal of improvement since instituting this system, so here’s hoping that continues. I figure it’s a win-win: Either she’s good and earns her much-desired reward while we also limit TV, or else she loses that privilege and is forced to find other productive things to occupy her time. She is better behaving when she is more active than passive, so this is crucial for us and something we should have enforced sooner, to be honest. It’s no wonder we are always on the go all the time — it’s how we have to keep her behavior in check. (Well, as much as that’s possible.)

Anyway, The Preschool Teacher confirmed my assessment that The Big Sis is fine when she’s engaged in an activity, whether an art project or helping sweep the floor. We have always felt like she does better when we’re on the go, and most of our issues seem to stem from inactivity or down time (or when we’ve finished doing something fun, despite the many efforts on our part to manage that transition). So The Preschool Teacher feels like there’s some element of her being bored in the classroom, which I tend to agree with. She knows all of the material they’re going over, so once she finishes the work, she becomes restless and trouble begins. And that’s not to say that “oh, my kid is soooooo advanced” or anything, but it really can’t be denied that she is experiencing boredom, and that’s when issues arise. The teachers are trying to combat this by keeping her as occupied as possible, especially when there’s down time, but they also have a classroom of other preschoolers to deal with, so trouble inevitably.

I mentioned my suspicion of ADHD to The Preschool Teacher, and while of course she wasn’t able to declare “yes, I think that’s it!” (nor would I expect or want her to), she did say that her adult son has it, in addition to her grandson, and she sees a lot of similarities among them. We shared some strategies we each find useful (as well as things that don’t work), and agreed to touch base regularly on this topic as it unfolds.

Basically as soon as I had my first realization about this, I began researching like mad, soaking in every bit of information I could find. I really do live by the “knowledge is power” thing, and this is something I had to do. And a strange thing happened. I began to feel a sense of calm inside — a sense of peace just knowing that it was the right path to pursue. Suddenly everything from the past couple of years began to make sense and I was able to see things through a slightly different perspective. Now, she very well may not actually have an ADHD diagnosis coming, but it cannot be disputed that behavior is an issue and we need to seek help for it. I planned to talk with The Big Sis’ pediatrician at her five-year-old checkup.

However, once we met with the teacher, I pretty much cast all the research aside while waiting for The Big Sis’ five-year-old well check. I think I needed to sit on this idea for a bit and let it just sink in some. It’s not a good thing to have to admit that your child might have a behavioral disorder. As much as I know it’s not our fault and as much as I know that we’re doing what we can to deal with it, it’s a difficult proposition to admit that it might be true. I know we’re good parents, but I’m afraid that other people who encounter her behavior deem us lousy parents for being unable to “control” our child. It’s easy to say who cares what they think, but no one wants that judgment made against them.

So we had The Big Sis’ pediatrician checkup in early February, and this was a concern that I brought up. A friend had recommended the Vanderbilt screening for ADHD, so I had filled that out prior to the appointment and took that with me. Now, The Big Sis can act a little reserved when she meets new people or is around people she doesn’t see very often. So I was a little afraid that I’d talk about all these issues with her behavior and there she’d sit like a perfect angel and he’d wonder what the heck I was talking about. “What, this sweet girl? Impossible!” Well, have no fear — she provided Exhibit A right then and there for him. Thankfully it didn’t come in the form of a tantrum (whew!), but rather with restlessness. While we talked, she would climb up on the exam table, sit for approximately 2.4 seconds, jump down, run around the perimeter of the room until she got back to the exam table, where she’d climb up again and repeat the whole thing. She did this probably 10 or 15 times as we talked, and I saw him notice her doing this; we shared a knowing look as if to say, “See? This is what I’m talking about!” It was a little frustrating at the time, but in hindsight it was a great illustration.

The Pediatrician said he thinks we’re moving in the right direction with this, and he recommended we meet with a psychologist to have a formal ADHD assessment done. He had me send him a list of in-network psychologists so he could recommend two or three for us to choose from (and hopefully some or all of it will be covered by insurance). I sent that list to him and I received an email with the recommendations, but I got nowhere with it because none of them would meet with a child her age, and two of them told me I’d have difficulty finding anyone who would do an ADHD evaluation before age 7 or 8. I understand the hesitation to do this, as much the behavior is developmentally appropriate for this age, to a degree. But the fact is that whether we get an evaluation or not, we still need help managing this behavior.

So I did some research and found some ADHD specialists at the local university. We have an appointment for a meeting with a LCSW as a starting point. He will not do an evaluation for ADHD until age 6, but we still need help here and perhaps he can set us in the right direction, especially need help from an actual M.D. We will meet with him on May 1.

I’m hesitant to put a label on this. I know ADHD is sometimes overdiagnosed (yet it is also a missed diagnosis in many cases, especially for girls). I also know how people perceive others with labels, and it’s hard to shake a label. Knowing that, however, it’s not really too upsetting to me at this point. Whether we receive this diagnosis or not, we will still be dealing with the same behavior, so we might as well seek out some guidance to help us manage it well, especially in light of the fact that The Big Sis starts school in less than four months. There are going to be many aspects of school that will be difficult for her to deal with, and we need methods in place to help her cope, especially if much of the first part of kindergarten ends up being a review of her preschool time, which is what I’ve heard from other parents who have kids who used to go to our preschool. As mentioned, The Big Sis has trouble with boredom, and I don’t want her to be bored and end up causing trouble and getting things off to a poor start and setting herself up for continued trouble.

I received another request from The Preschool Teacher to talk today. She asked how things were going for us at home (eh — some good days, some bad), and she informed me that things are probably worse than ever right now at school. [sigh] She is hitting and kicking her friends at even the smallest trigger and doesn’t back down. Most of the issue seems to be her reactions to when something doesn’t go her way, doesn’t go as she’d expected it to, or when her routine is altered. I’m at the point where I just don’t know what to do anymore. Clearly what we’re doing isn’t working, but I don’t know what will be effective. I’m just at a loss here.

In thinking about things further, I’m also wondering if oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is also something we’re dealing with. I know it can both stand alone or be present in conjunction with ADHD. In fact, our current challenges seem to be more ODD-heavy with a side of hyperactivity. She is usually cooperative with things she wants to do, but if she has to do something she don’t want to do, she fights it tooth and nail. She is defiant to both me and The Husband as well as to her teachers. Basically she has all of the symptoms listed in the link above except perhaps the last one.

So, she’s not a Mean Girl in the sense that you think of it with kids a little older, where sometimes girls will gang up on another girl and purposely exclude her — but I also don’t want it to head that direction, either. The fact is that right now she’s a Mean Girl because she doesn’t have socially accepted ways of dealing with her intense emotions, and her friends don’t react particularly well to that (understandably), and I want that to change. We need that to change. What makes me a little sad is the thought that other parents might have about The Big Sis and us — they may think that we don’t care, or that we are mean ourselves and she learns from her mean parents. But that’s not true at all. We care very much. We, in fact, have to manage most of The Big Sis’ reactions to things, whether beforehand with easing her transitions or afterwards with trying to get her to think logically and not nearly as emotionally. Would parents who don’t care really devote that much to it? Because I’ll tell you — it’s draining and exhausting. We have to be “on” at all times, ready for the next Bad Reaction or preparing her for What’s Coming Next, more so than other parents need to do for their children, I think.

Several people have asked me if I think The Little Sis’ presence is the reason for her behavior, but I really don’t think that’s the case. I mean, I think we’d be a bit naive to think there’s NO effect from that huge change in her life, but I don’t think that’s the root of the problem here, especially considering we’ve been dealing with this for way longer than the amount of time The Little Sis has been with us. In fact, I would almost argue that The Little Sis acts as a salve for her behavior at times…a place where she becomes more focused and centered. She acts out against her parents, her teachers, and her friends — but not her sister. About the worst offense so far with The Little Sis is when The Big Sis gets excited to see her and gets in her face too much and we have to remind her to give the baby some personal space.

So that’s that. We’re in waiting mode until our appointment in just over a month, and in the meantime we’re doing the best we can to manage all of this. I’m trying to remain positive that we’re going to get some useful help shortly and we’ll be on the road to better behavior. I have to think that, anyway, because the thought of this continuing as is, unchecked, is so incredibly daunting that I can’t let myself think that’s going to happen. We’ll get to a better place before long.

The good news is that she’s not like this all the time. In fact, most of the time she’s incredibly sweet, funny, polite, goofy, clever, active, healthy five-year-old and I love her with every cell in my body.


Head of the class

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When we left the hospital on Sunday evening, Baby B exclaimed, “That was awesome! That was better than swimming or ballet!” We had just left her New Brother/New Sister class, and I have to admit that I was surprised that she liked it so much, as my assessment was closer to “it was just okay,” which is really just a nice way to avoid saying, “Well, that kind of sucked.”

I can sum up the class pretty easily. The kids worked on coloring a worksheet about being a big kid when we were waiting for the late stragglers to show up. Then the kids all went to the floor and they were read a book about being a big sibling. Then it was back to the tables where they decorated a picture frame made from popcicle sticks with foam stickers. Then back to the floor for two more books and diapering the baby they brought. Then we went to the post-partum unit and looked in the nursery window and visited a typical mother-baby room. Then we were sent on our way home.

Now, we parents were given some handouts that contained some tips for how to deal with this change in our family, but at no point was any of this actually addressed with us. At no point did the kids talk about how to hold a baby, or why gentle touches are important. One of the books mentioned that the umbilical cord stump shouldn’t be touched, and one of the kids asked why. A legitimate question, right? The instructor’s answer was, “Well, that’s just something we shouldn’t touch.” Hey, lady, I’m no expert, but I’m not really sure that answered the question. Maybe she didn’t want to scare the kids, but I think it’s perfectly fine to say, “Because it needs to stay in place so it gets better like a boo-boo you might have. If it comes off too soon, it could bleed and maybe make the baby a little sick, and we don’t want the baby to be sick.”

So, there was much more I was hoping we could all get out of the class, but hey, it was free and Baby B seemed to enjoy it, so that’s really what matters.

**********

Last night, The Husband and I had the first class in our three-class “Laboring the Natural Way” series. This is a class that was not offered when I was expecting Baby B, and it’s another free one, so we figured we’d give it a shot. Out of probably 12 (or so — I didn’t count because we were class nerds and sat in the front row) couples, we were the only second-time parents. Not too surprising, I guess, but I thought there might be one or two more with us. That’s, of course, both good and bad. Bad because a lot of the stuff the nurse/instructor is talking about is stuff that we either know or have already been through ourselves. But, it’s also good because there are some things she’s talking about that I now have a personal frame of reference for, so I can understand things in a bit of a different way perhaps.

I think that overall the class will be useful. Last night was mostly just sitting for a PowerPoint presentation giving an overview of things like the birthing process, medications that are available if you so choose, benefits of unmedicated birth — things like that.

I’m definitely learning that traditional relaxation techniques aren’t necessarily for me. Like, we did a hypnosis/guided imagery type exercise where the nurse spoke to us calmly (with soothing music in the background) to get us to relax. Which is fine to a point, but then she’d say something like, “Now double your relaxation.” And that just shoots any hope I have of relaxing right out the window, as I start thinking, “DOUBLE my relaxation? How am I supposed to double it? Is that even possible? How will I know when it’s doubled? What if I accidentally triple it? Will it be too much??” And then thinking all of those thoughts starts to make me laugh.

As a result, I’ve decided I need to come up with a new labor relaxation method that’s based on humor. It’s my million-dollar-idea-of-the-day-that-I’ll-never-actually-follow-up-on. I still have fond memories of the pushing stage with Baby B because me, The Husband, and The Doctor were having a grand old time just talking and joking and laughing (well, I was when I wasn’t, you know, pushing). I hesitate to say that it was fun, just because it sounds weird to say that, but it really was! And I think that approach helped me relax, focus on the task at hand, and do what I needed to do. Now, I do concede that I’d had an epidural, so I was able to get plenty of rest before the pushing stage, and I’m sure that helped things, but that’s not my point. My point is that I use humor in so many other instances of my life — both good and bad — and it seems like a good tool for me to use. No labor/birthing methods I’ve run across seem to take this sort of approach, however.

I think it’s still going to be a beneficial class, if for no other reason than it gets me thinking about this kind of stuff and gets me excited for what’s to come soon. I have to say, at least at this point, I have no nervousness about labor and delivery, probably because a lot of the unknowns from last time are not unknowns now. The only nervousness I have is if I have to get an IV. We were told last night that it’s up to your physician whether they want one in “just in case,” so I’ll need to ask about that next week. The IV was the worst part last time, taking multiple nurses and multiple painful sticks. If they make me have one, I will be demanding the best IV-putter-inner in the whole hospital from the start. None of this, “I should be able to get it” like last time. Give me your EXPERT. Give me the one who is routinely successful with squirmy kids. Give me the one who is able to find a vein in chemo patients whose veins are nearly all tapped out. I want THAT person, please.

I really don’t have a specific “birth experience” in mind — it’s just not one of those things that’s super important to me, as I’m still in this for the end result. If I can do it without an epidural, then awesome. If it becomes necessary, then so be it. I do know that I would like to do all I can to avoid a c-section if possible (thus want to avoid a lot of the interventions that can lead to one), but as long as this baby makes it safely here, that’s all that matters.

Tomorrow is that magical 35/35 day, where I’m 35 weeks pregnant with 35 days until the due date. Finally getting to the point of being close, but in the meantime, I’m doing my best to enjoy the family I currently have. We have so much fun, and while I look forward to all the new things headed our way, I don’t want to wish away our great summer either.

Wordy Wednesday: Rhyme time

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

As a copy editor, it’s probably no surprise that words amuse me on many levels, so it’s quite fun to see Baby B really  playing around with the language. Her obsession for the past few months has been rhyming words. We’ll be having a regular conversation and she’ll then tell us which words rhyme. If I say, “Time to go to school!” she’ll answer with, “School and pool RHYME!” And apparently there is no end point to this game, as her saying, “Hey! _____ and _____ RHYME!” is probably the most common thing I hear from her each day. Or, she’ll get into a rhyming mood and we’ll play a game of coming up with as many words that rhyme with her initial word as possible. Or we’ll read a book that is written in rhyme, and she’ll insist on saying the rhyming words herself, even if it’s a book we’ve never read.

I was talking with The Teacher the other day, and she said that Baby B is as ready for kindergarten as the kids who will be moving on to kindergarten in a few months, so that was nice to hear. Add one more year for further preparation and she should most certainly be set when it’s time for her to move on. We were talking about how she’s good with her letters and most of the letter sounds (she gets confused sometimes with those letters that have multiple sounds, which is certainly understandable), so The Teacher said, “I’ve run out of things! What am I going to teach these kids next? Reading??” I told her that one thing we’ve started working on is learning to sound out and spell basic words. We have some foam letters for the bath, and she really enjoys spelling out words on the wall — so much that sometimes she’s VERY eager to take a bath so she can play with her letters. (She’s been bath-resistant lately because she hates water getting in her ears when washing hair. We use ear plugs, but she doesn’t like them much.)

Since Wordless Wednesday generally involves a photo of some sort, here’s a recent one that fits this wordy post. I asked her to spell dog, and she insisted on spelling the word “spell” too. She did really well sounding out the word herself too. She didn’t quite get it completely right all by herself the first time, but pretty close.

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Let me tell ya ’bout the birds and the bees…

Friday, March 4, 2011

The mom of one of Baby B’s good daycare friends is very visibly pregnant — due in late May. On the way home from school on Wednesday, Baby B told me, “I told [friend’s] mommy that she has a fat belly.” I first explained that saying someone has a fat belly isn’t a nice thing to say to someone else, but I asked her if the mommy explained why her belly was big. She said, “Yeah, because she’s going to have a BABY! Sometime, can I have a baby sister? Or, it could be a baby brother.” I told her that would be a lot of fun — just a noncommittal answer to acknowledge her wish but without giving anything away.

And then the flood of questions came. I wasn’t fully expecting it today, but the big questions came (just a sampling…there were many more):

How does a baby get inside a mommy’s belly?

Why is a daddy a daddy if the baby isn’t inside his belly?

If it’s a really special baby, could it grow in the daddy’s body?

Does the mommy swallow the seed so it can get to the egg? How does it get there?

How does the baby come out of the mommy’s body? Why doesn’t it just fall out sometimes?

Does the uterus come out of the mommy’s body too when the baby comes out? (I’d explained that a uterus was the baby’s home.)

I feel pretty strongly about answering such questions (well, pretty much any question she asks about anything) with a straight-forward answer, even if it’s a complicated concept. We don’t dance around the topic of death. We answered all of her recent questions in an honor manner when she asked about “bad guys” who break into houses to take stuff. I don’t want to make up silly stories about reproduction, either. (Growing up, for the longest time I thought a woman became pregnant by drinking milk. If only it were that easy!) Of course, we put things in terms she can understand, and we might occasionally leave out certain bits of information that might scare her too much right now (like we didn’t mention the fact that bad guys don’t break in just to steal things but sometimes end up hurting people), but it’s important to me to address her very legitimate questions with this approach.

I really think the conversation went well. Of course it’s not the only time we’re going to have to discuss the details of human reproduction, but it’s kind of fun right now to hear the kinds of questions she’s coming up with. She asked some pretty detailed questions that could be potentially awkward to answer, but I think I explained things well during our talk, and she was receptive to the answers she was getting.

I made sure to give The Husband a quick heads up when I got home about our conversation in the car, as I imagine this topic is not closed and she’ll start asking an endless string of questions again soon. Didn’t want him to be caught off guard and not know it was coming. 🙂


Ponderables

Monday, October 11, 2010

There is nothing that makes you realize how little you really know than when a young child asks you a question you can’t answer. I’ve observed this phenomenon countless times as an outsider, listening as befuddled parents make up an answer (that’s not even close to reality) and move on, and long ago I vowed to never do that. We live in an age with information readily available, and even if I can’t instantly answer her question, we can certainly come up with a reasonable answer together first, then delve into it a little more later. I know that’s impossible to do with every question she asks, but I want to make a reasonable effort, especially with the more important or complicated questions.

Truth is, I secretly love it when Baby B stumps me with a question. Sometimes it’s because I’ve forgotten what I learned long ago (“How do bees make honey?”) but other times because the question never even occurred to me in the first place. But I love it most when she points out a flaw in logic or notices something that happens in a story that isn’t possible.

For example, we were reading “Cinderella” the other night, and she asked, “Why doesn’t the shoe that she left behind disappear at midnight with everything else?” Oh, well, that’s because…um…well…hrm. Hey, YEAH!! Why didn’t that shoe disappear with everything else? And it turns out? A basic Google search reveals a few others asking the same question, but no one else can come up with a solid answer. And I’m just baffled because I’ve always accepted this crucial plot point without a single question, and here is Baby B right on top of it.

She’s also started taking an interest in words and the meanings behind them, which very much pleases her mother the journalist and her father the English major and resident word nerd etymology fan. This morning on the way to school she asked The Husband where the word “penguin” comes from. He thought she was asking a simple, straightforward question and told her it was a bird, and she said, “But what does it MEAN? The WORD?” This stumped even The Husband, until, of course, he looked it up when he got to work. (In case you’re on the edge of your seat, he says it’s of unknown origin, possibly from Welsh, pen = “white”, gwyn = “head.” The word was first used for the giant auk, which became extinct, and was transferred to the penguin we know now. And giant auks had a prominent white mark on their heads.) He was successfully able to answer her next question of where the word “car” comes from.

It makes me very proud when she comes up with questions like these, as a large part of my job is spent looking for inconsistencies and flaws in fact and reasoning as well as not just reading words but also fully understanding them and the fuctions they perform in a bigger piece of writing. This takes a certain degree of critical thinking, and I’m so glad to see her practicing this essential life skill.


The write stuff

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

One area of weakness for Baby B has been visual letter recognition. Despite the fact that some kids a full year younger than her can recognize all the letters instantly, it’s not been something she has picked up quickly. We’ve tried making a game of it, we’ve tried quizzing, we’ve tried toys that make learning letters a game, but no to avail. However, it’s not something I’ve worried about because I know she’ll pick it up when she picks it up. We keep talking about letters and offering her opportunities to learn them, and at some point it will all fall into place.

So wasn’t I surprised yesterday when I was told about this development by her preschool teacher yesterday. Each of the kids has a photocopied worksheet that has their first name written in dots. A few times a week, they get to practice “writing” their name by connecting the dots. The Teacher said that Baby B had been flying through the activity recently, and she suggested that Baby B try to write her name by herself. And wouldn’t you know it — SHE DID IT! When The Teacher told me this, I was floored — and so, so, so proud! I looked at the worksheet, and sure enough, she had it written out very legibly. The Teacher said that even some of the kids that just went off to kindergarten this year didn’t write their names as well as that.

We’ve had some big milestones in the past 3 1/2 years, but I have to say, probably next to walking, this has caused the biggest instant reaction. And I can honestly say that it doesn’t matter one bit to me that it happened at preschool and not at home; in fact, in reinforces the fact that the curriculum is helping her learn, and by the time she starts kindergarten, she will be ready.


It’s a draw

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Maybe a month ago, Baby B was in the preschool room at daycare when I went to pick her up, and all the kids were sitting at a table coloring with crayons. One of the girls who is normally in the preschool room was there, and I noticed her drawing a very recognizable princess and castle. Even though she’s a whole two years older than Baby B, I just had a hard time imagining a time when Baby B would be drawing something that recognizable. It just didn’t seem remotely on the horizon.

Fast-forward just a few weeks, and it’s amazing what a difference that little time can make. While Baby B isn’t drawing on the level of a five-year-old (of course), some of her drawings have begun to take the shape of recognizable forms, which is a big step forward from her scribbles that she declared was a dog or swimming pool or some other object, to which we exclaimed, “I think I see it! Was that hard to do??” when really it looked like scribbles to us. Several times now, however, she has drawn people that can be recognized as people. (Much better than any person that I might draw!) And I was stunned when she drew an owl — very clearly — the other day.

I’m not saying she’s the next Leonardo Da Vinci, but as someone who lacks any art talent whatsoever, it’s just nice to see her developing some basic skills in the area.


The Maybes

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Being three years old, Baby B is filled to the brim with questions, sometimes unable to wait for a full answer before moving on to her next question. Some questions are simple: What’s that man doing? Is that a gas station over there? How do we turn on the shower? These questions generally have a single, known answer, so they’re easy to reply to, then move on. That man is mowing the grass. Yes, that’s a gas station. We turn this knob and pull this lever to turn on the shower.

Then there are speculation questions, where Baby B is wondering the whys behind it all. On the surface, these questions are also pretty simple; most of her questions have one answer that is more likely true than others, so I could just give that answer and leave it at that.

But here’s the thing. I want her to know that it’s good to think of several different answers, assess the likelihood of each answer, and talk it through so that she can reach the most likely answer to the question. I also want her to know that sometimes we don’t really know the motivation behind other people’s actions, but we can still put ourselves in their shoes to try to think about why they’re doing what they’re doing.

So for example, the other day Baby B saw a man jogging without his shirt on. She asked, “Why’s he not wearing a shirt?” As it was a fairly warm day and I know how hot you can get when you run, I could have just said, “He gets hot when he runs, and running without his shirt makes him feel cooler” and just left it at that. She probably would have been satisfied with that answer, which was the most logical one, but instead I began what I call The Maybes, where we take turns thinking of answers to her question. So I started out with the obvious answer, “Maybe he got too hot running.” She countered with, “Maybe he doesn’t own any shirts.” Okay, not as likely, but she’s thinking here. I said, “Maybe all of his other shirts are dirty.” She came up with, “Maybe he forgot where he put his shirts.” Ultimately, though, we decided that it was probably because he was hot while exercising.

On the way home from daycare recently, Baby B saw a parked car in the middle of a field — not anywhere you’d be likely to see a car. Not surprisingly, she asked why the car was in the middle of the grass. (Which, to me, had no real logical answer! LOL) I said, “Maybe they accidentally drove off the road because they weren’t paying attention.” She thought for a minute and came up with, “Maybe they ran out of gas,” which impressed me a little because how the heck does she know about running out of gas?! Then threw in a silly answer with, “Maybe their dog was driving the car and didn’t know how to drive very well.” She laughed at that, and then said, “Maybe they were too tired to drive and had to take a break.” Again, I could have probably just answered that the car had an accident and ended up there, and she would have accepted that. But I like for her to think of all the possible reasons something could occur and come to her own conclusions.

Of course I still help guide her to those conclusions, but I think it’s very empowering for her to think in this way. I’m constantly trying to find ways to hone this skill, which will be crucial as she grows up and has to make these assessments on her own. I love that even if I do give her a simple answer, she still often comes up with alternative answers on her own.

It’s also a great way to talk to her about appropriate and inappropriate behavior for kids her age. If she sees a kid doing something that s/he probably shouldn’t be doing, she’ll ask about it: “Why’s he throwing sand out of the sandbox?” We’ll come up with some reasons why he might be doing that (maybe he’s angry, maybe he doesn’t know good manners, etc.), and then I’ll ask her what she thinks about the behavior. “Do you think it’s a good idea to throw all that sand out of the sandbox?” She almost always comes to the appropriate conclusion, and then we take turns giving reasons why it’s not a good choice (and thus why it’s not something she should do). I could have cut to the chase and said, “Because throwing sand out of the sandbox is messy and not polite to other people or their stuff.”

But I think doing things in this way helps make her less resistant to the rules we do have because she can understand some of the thinking behind it, rather than just being told that “hey, this is a rule that must be obeyed.” I’m pretty big on having concrete reasons behind our rules instead of implementing rules that just seem random and controlling to her. So I think it’s worth the extra few minutes it takes to have these conversations with her if it can help her better understand what we expect of her and what others expect of her. It’s not a perfect method, of course — she still has her Jekyll and Hyde three-year-old moments for sure — but I really think this approach has helped her in many ways so far, and I look forward to seeing how it helps her in the future too.


It’s going swimmingly

Monday, May 3, 2010

When I was probably 6 or 7 years old, I took swimming lessons at the local pool. I did well in the class until it got to the part where we had to jump off the diving boards and tread water in the deep end. I did my first jump off the lowest board — maybe a couple meters up — surfaced, then had trouble treading water and felt like I was struggling too much. However, the instructors didn’t come over to help me, so that put me in distress. In hindsight, I don’t think they were neglecting me, but I think they were giving me a chance to figure it out for myself, though of course I couldn’t see that at the time.

We heard that the next day, they were going to have us jump off the very big high dive. That was the day I quit swimming lessons, which thankfully my parents supported. (We just had one or two lessons left, so it’s not like I was missing out on much.) Even though I do wonder sometimes if I could have done the high-dive jump that day, I have no regrets about quitting, and I managed to learn enough about swimming through those lessons that I consider myself a decent swimmer. I’m not going to the Olympics at any point, but I feel capable enough for the swimming situations I find myself in.

Two years ago, we did the swimming class through our city’s Parks and Recreation, but that turned into a big joke. It was a parent-and-kid class, and it was supposed to focus on fun things like songs and games while also addressing some water safety issues. The instructor never seemed to have her act together, and she never made it feel like a cohesive class — it basically felt like we were just in there with her doing our own thing.

So we skipped swimming class last year and decided to start this year with real swimming instruction. I checked the schedule of the YMCA last week, and I found there was a class starting on Monday (today) that had one opening left, so we grabbed it and are set to begin our lessons tonight.

I’m excited to see how this goes. I think it’ll go well overall, but with Jekyll and Hyde a three-year-old you just never know.


Costume contest

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Confession #1: Baby B knows the Easter Bunny isn’t real. She knows it is just a person in a costume. She knows it was not the Easter Bunny who came on Easter morning to leave treats in her basket.

Confession #2: She knows all this because we were the ones who told her.

Like most kids, Baby B has had an intense fear of costumed characters. She even grabbed onto another mom’s legs when she panicked at the sight of Monkey Joe one day. We were presented with two options: 1) keep pretending they were real and continue to reassure her, hoping she overcame the fear at some point; or 2) explain to her that it was just a person in a costume (like at Halloween) and that’s why it wasn’t something to be afraid of. We chose option 2, even though it meant losing the childhood “magic” of things like the Easter Bunny and (if we ever go to Disney World) all the Disney characters, for example.

It was a fantastic decision. She still doesn’t want to approach the costumed characters (and we certainly don’t make her), but she just says calmly, “It’s just a costume. There’s a person inside there,” and she doesn’t freak out about it. Soon we should probably let her in on the fact that she shouldn’t blow the secret for other kids — though that might specifically make her want to tell everyone, so perhaps it’s better to just let it go.

One could probably ask, “Well, why continue the illusion of something like Santa Claus if you’ve already ruined the Easter Bunny for her?” I can see the point, but there’s one main difference: She’s not scared of Santa Claus. (At least not at this point in time.) If she ever becomes scared of the jolly old elf, we’ll reconsider.

Thinking about costumes led to Baby B asking me the other day, “What’s inside me? Am I a costume?” I thought that was an interesting way for her to think about herself, because if you think about it, our outer appearance really is a costume that presents a certain image while masking other parts of yourself. I didn’t get that deep with her, of course, but we did start talking about things like her heart, lungs, and bones. Boy wasn’t she fascinated when she learned there’s a whole skeleton inside of her! 🙂


Independence days

Thursday, January 21, 2010

“Don’t do for children what children can do for themselves.”

As I’m wrapping up Positive Disciple A-Z and beginning Positive Discipline for Preschoolers, the sentence above really grabbed my attention.

I think it quite succinctly summarizes one of the main approaches that The Husband and I take to parenting. As Baby B has gotten older and moved through the toddler years, we have been taking tiny steps back to allow her to do things for herself. We are certainly available if she would like to ask for help — or ask for ideas on how she can do it herself — but she’s showing us each day that she’s capable of performing more and more everyday tasks, so we allow her the opportunities to do so. Without the opportunities, she does not have a chance to learn.

It is not my job to rescue her.

It is not my job to make sure she’s happy 100% of the time.

My job is to make sure she has developed skills to properly deal with the challenges that will be thrown at her as she grows up and then adjusts to life as an adult. Adults who always need to be rescued? It seems like there has to be a better way.

If we swoop in and rescue her every time she struggles with something, how is she ever going to learn how to do things for herself? How to deal with challenges, big and small? How to tackle disappointment, which is inevitable for everyone?

As part of this thinking, we have started giving Baby B some additional responsibilities around the house. It is her job now to feed The Dog at dinnertime. She must use the toilet all by herself (and can ask for help if she needs it). She now removes her plate from the dining room and places it on the kitchen counter for now (at some point she’ll also be responsible for scraping her plate into the trash and putting it in the dishwasher too).

I feel like giving her these tasks helps empower her — shows her that she can do all these things for herself — and that in turn leads to more confidence that will allow her to try new things on her own. We give her the opportunities, and she follows through.

I think it also helps The Husband and I when we’re trying to see what kinds of things Baby B is capable of doing  and what kinds of goals to set for her. We aim high, but not too high…though we use those currently out-of-reach tasks to figure out what we work on next. Obviously she can’t do her laundry by herself at this age, for example, but why should we not show her how it’s done, let her help us with it, and make it a goal for her to do her own laundry sometime in the future? I know some adults who still had Mom doing laundry for them post-college, which is fine if it worked for their family, but I can say that I don’t want to be in that position 20 years from now.

My little baby isn’t such a baby anymore, but is that really such a bad thing? We’re helping mold her into someone who can tackle life without being dependent on others. No one ever said it was an easy job, but it’s one I know will be worthwhile when she’s a confident, capable, and put-together adult.

Well, assuming we didn’t screw up something else along the way. 🙂


100% chance of showers

Monday, January 18, 2010

We started doing showers with Baby B pretty early on, mostly in an effort to get her used to the falling water and the experience that is quite different from a bath. We’d been using both methods of getting her clean until maybe 6 months ago when she suddenly started hating showers and refused to take them with us, so we didn’t push it and just went with baths since we were still meeting the goal of getting her clean.

A few times recently, Baby B has come into the bathroom when I’ve been taking a shower and she said, “I want to take a shower with you!” Each time it had not been a good time for her to do that with me, but I told her that maybe we could try that later.

So last week she asked again, and at a better time. She said, “I want to take a shower.” I said, “Sure, I’ll go get ready,” thinking I would take a shower with her. And she said, “No, all by myself.” I asked, “Are you sure you want to do it all by yourself?” She assured me that she did. We’re all about letting her do things by herself when she’s ready, so I told her I’d let her give it a try. I honestly expected she wouldn’t like it because of the water falling down and getting into her eyes or ears (she hates both of those), but I trusted that she thought she was ready, so I allowed her to try.

But within seconds of getting in the shower, she had walked through the water and was giggling with sheer happiness mixed with undertones of pride. She was really digging this shower-by-herself thing.

So that’s what we’ve done the last three times it has been bath night. Which I guess we should call shower night now. I sit in the bathroom with her and read a book and talk to her while she takes care of cleaning herself first with the shower curtain open a little so I can see her and then for a few minutes when she asks to stay in there with the curtain closed all the way.

So far she’s done great with taking control of her showers, and I really like being able to empower her to do these types of things for herself, not just because it gets me out of the work (bonus!), but because it will help her gain confidence and want to do even more for herself (and isn’t that the ultimate goal in parenting?). I really try not to mourn when she “doesn’t need me anymore” and instead celebrate the steps she’s taking toward independence. It’s a long process, so each of the victories along the way is worth cheering.


Readers digest

Monday, October 19, 2009

As an update to my last post, Baby B recovered nicely from Thursday’s illness. She could have gone back to daycare on Friday, I think, but we went ahead and kept her home with me since I was off that day anyway.

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I’ve got a journalism degree and read every day for a living and in my spare time, and The Husband has an English degree and gobbles up books faster than he can get them from the library.

To say that reading is an important activity in our house might be an understatement.

We understand first-hand how much reading can enhance your life in so many ways, and of course we want that for our daughter, too. It can exercise her mind. It can help her analyze information. It can help her learn to focus. It can help her focus on her goals and point her in the right direction in life. It can help her understand the world around her.

I think I can speak for both of us when I say that it makes us so happy when Baby B makes the choice — all on her own, without our insistence — to read books. She she’s deemed this a worthwhile activity that she enjoys doing. Sometimes she’ll ask us to read her a story, other times she’ll flip through the pages and narrate what’s happening in the pictures, throwing in snippets of plot she remembers from before and asking occasionally, “Can everybody see the book?”

But what I love best is when we leave her room at bedtime and she asks to read every night before going to sleep. This is not something we are going to discourage. She’ll ask us to keep her dimmer switch turned up a little so she can see, and sometimes she’ll spend half an hour devouring the books she has chosen. We can see her on the video monitor, and she looks determined to get every bit out of those books that she can. I love it.

Does it cause her to miss out on a little extra sleep?

Sure, it does.

But does it offer her so many benefits that will last her a lifetime?

Most certainly, yes.


Just the facts, ma’am

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I am a copy editor, so a big part of what I do is read stories and look for the factual holes in the story. I look for what doesn’t make sense in a situation. I know this is a case of Baby B just being a normal, logical toddler, but this is a girl after my heart.

We were reading one of her Clifford books from the library. In it, Emily Elizabeth says that the pier is too crowded so she can’t stand there to fish, but not to worry because they can stand on good ol’ Clifford. Baby B took a look at the first picture with the crowded pier, and she looked at us and said, “Actually, there’s room on the pier…right here” and pointed to a small clearing among the people.

I love that she questioned it. I love that she questions nearly everything. I’m sure there will come a time when the questions drive me bonkers, but I love them because it means she has a curious mind and wants to learn about the world around her. I could not ask for more.


That big fishbowl in the sky

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Our new red fish, Hermit, is no more. He has ceased to be, as they say in the “Dead Parrot” Monty Python skit. Thankfully Baby B was satisfied with the answer of , “He had to go somewhere” when she asked where he was. (Thankfully The Husband found the fist this morning before Baby B noticed.)

Guess we need to figure out how we’re going to answer these types of questions because something tells me that response isn’t going to hold up for the rest of her childhood years.


Nummy, nummy

Saturday, February 7, 2009

We work on numbers and letters at home with Baby B, but for a while now she’s not gotten any further than counting to 2 or 3 on her own, without prompting from us. So you can imagine our surprise last night when she was standing on a stool (with us right there) to jump off and she reeled off:

One
Two
Fwee
Fourrrr
Five
Six
Nummy
Eight
Nummy
TEN!

(And yes, it cracks me up that seven and nine are apparently “nummy” to her. Every single time she counted for us, which was a lot. Perhaps it’s her word for number?)

She spit it out just out of the blue, as confident as could be, like she’d been doing it for months! The Husband and I looked at each other, jaws simultaneously dropped, completely amazed at what we were witnessing. I know plenty of two-year-olds count to ten all the time, but it was just stunning since last we knew, she hadn’t been even close!

That reminds me of one of my favorite stories that my mom likes to tell. When I was in kindergarten, I brought home an announcement letter from school and had told her something that was on the paper. She said, “How did you know about that? Did your teacher tell you?” and I told her no, that it was on the paper. She said, “How come you didn’t tell me you could read?” I said, “You didn’t ask!”


Mommy dearest

Friday, February 6, 2009

Baby B has had (and loved) her baby doll Ashley since she was 16 months old, but we recently gave her a Cabbage Patch Newborn baby named Tara for her birthday since she’s been so obsessed with talking about our friend’s new baby for the past two weeks. I thought she was cute with one baby doll? Goodness she is supercute with two!

We have a toy high chair that attaches to our kitchen table, so Ashley and Tara get to eat dinner with us, sitting side by side in the chair, right beside Baby B. She feeds them both pretend food and her real food, and also gives them occasional drinks of water. The other night, she picked up Ashley after she’d finished her dinner, held her close to her chest, and started swaying forward and back in her chair as though she were trying to soothe her.

She also likes to put them in her doll stroller, side by side, instructing them, “Sit up!” or “Get down!” if she needs to adjust them. To watch her concentration and her level of care increase so much as she’s been playing with these dolls over the past eight months — well, it just melts my heart.


Ch-ch-ch-change

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

(Wordless Wednesday is coming later today; I was away from home last night and didn’t have a chance to set it up ahead of time like I usually do.)

With her recent birthday and space available in the next room at daycare, Baby B has been making the transition from the toddler room (just one-year-olds) to the 2s/3s room, which we’ve been calling The Big Room. We thought Baby B would move up without any issues, but it appears as though she’s been getting upset when first dropped off, though we’re told by several teachers that she’s just fine once she’s there for a few minutes. She’s rejoining her two best friends (who moved up a month ago since they’re both a month older than her), and she is moving up with two other good friends who have birthdays within a week of Baby B, and that should help make the transition easier. One of her those friends who has been in The Big Room for a month told Baby B yesterday, “LIKE big room!”

Baby B regularly does well in new settings that are out of her routine, but I think the problem she’s having is that she misses one of her toddler room teachers, who she really came to adore over the past several months. I do feel bad for her, but I know she’ll adjust fine. Both of her new teachers in The Big Room have been around her plenty in the past, and they’ve really helped make her feel welcome in her new digs. The Husband and I have been talking at home about what a great place The Big Room is, letting Baby B “eavesdrop” on us. (Incidentally, this is one of the BEST pieces of toddler advice from “The Happiest Toddler on the Block.” It involves you talking to another person (or a doll or a pet) about your child, but within earshot of the child, not making it obvious that you want them to overhear. The theory goes that you almost always automatically believe something that you overhear about yourself as opposed to something that someone tells you directly. Sort of like if someone compliments your haircut to your face, you wonder if the person is just being polite, but if you overhear someone say to another person, “Wow, I like Margie’s haircut!” then you’re more likely to believe that’s a genuine statement. Same theory goes here, and it’s unbelievable how well it works as a toddler confidence booster!)

I suspect by next week, Baby B will be back to running off to play in The Big Room as soon as she gets to daycare as opposed to clinging to The Husband and crying for her old teacher.


Towering over the kitchen

Monday, February 2, 2009

One of the many wonderful birthday gifts that Baby B received this year was The Learning Tower, a step stool with a raised platform that you can put next to the counter to let your toddler or pre-schooler help with kitchen activities. (Sure, she could stand on a chair, but this is much safer.) We’ve had it out for a week, residing just outside our kitchen, and Baby B loves to climb into it and “hide” when we put a blanket on the top of it and we pretend we can’t find her. Many giggles ensue.

We didn’t really have many activities she could help with in the kitchen until Saturday morning, but I was making dinner for friends that night and had several bits of prepwork that I could stand to get done early in the day. We were letting The Husband sleep in on Saturday morning, so after breakfast, Baby B and I took the Learning Tower into the kitchen and began our tasks. At first I had her “help” peel potatoes, then I gave her the bowl of potato scraps and asked her to stir them up. Obviously this served no real purpose other than to give her something to do while I got real things done, but it certainly occupied her time.

I’d also made some iced tea in my iced tea maker, so I gave her the real task of stirring it. And let me tell you, that was some of the most-stirred iced tea I’ve ever had! She didn’t want to stop stirring it, but I needed to get it out of the way, so I thought of another fake task for her to do, and this one held her attention for well over an hour (!!) while I got other things done.

My secret of success? I gave her a mixing bowl and partly filled it with water. Then I got out a flat, opened can of Diet Dr Pepper from the fridge that I’d meant to drink a few days before but was going to pour out since it was too flat.  I poured that into the bowl and asked her to stir it slowly. I also gave her a cup, and she would ask for water in both the cup and the can, then would stir her concoction very carefully. Periodically I’d have to pour out some of the water, but I just acted like this was part of the normal cooking process and she was fine with it. (Normally she might freak out that I was pouring out “her” water or that I was taking “her” turn.)  Sometimes I’d add ingredients to what I was making  (meatloaf and mashed potatoes), and she would insist I put those in her bowl too. I’d say, “Oh yeah, that’s a good idea! That’ll make it taste really good!” So her bowl eventually got some ketchup, some pepper, and some ranch dressing, with her eagerly stirring her concoction each time.

Usually if I’m trying to get something like this done around the house, Baby B interrupts me and (understandably) wants more of my full attention. But with the exception of having to refill her water cup and can periodically, I was able to make the mashed potatoes and meatloaf, and I never felt like I was ignoring her since I was right there talking to her and sharing this time with her, but I never felt like she was in my way or anything. She had her own tasks she was doing, and she was very clearly content to ” help” out in this way.

I’ve always loved cooking and baking, and I’m thrilled this is something I can share with her. For now, it’s mostly fake tasks for Baby B, but in the coming year, she’ll be assigned real tasks she can help with. I’m convinced that my love of cooking and baking comes from being able to help my parents with these activities early on, and I hope to instill the same passion for these in Baby B.

(And no, I’m not being compensated for touting the Learning Tower! I just like passing on a good recommendation when I have one.)


Ice, ice baby

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I think one of the biggest challenges of being a working parent comes when you don’t have your regular childcare available but still need to go to work. Thankfully this doesn’t come up too often with a daycare center (and it’s one of the reasons I hesitate about in-home care), but we had to scramble to figure out Plan B twice this week when our daycare closed for two days because of an ice/storm storm we got on Monday night/Tuesday morning. Thankfully we were able to figure it out okay, but it was a bit stressful trying to get it worked out.

After I got home from work last night, we bundled up and took Baby B for a walk around the neighborhood to look at the snow and ice because, really, if you don’t have to get out and drive in it, it’s certainly a beautiful site. She was very interested in all the icicles, the ice-encrusted mailboxes, and also running through the snow. The last “significant” snow (put in quotes because we live in Kentucky; we’re not talking two feet of snow or anything…I just mean enough to cover the grass, which is average for here) we had was last year right before Baby B started walking on her own, so this was the first snow she could romp through on her own, and she took advantage of it!

I almost even forgot that I was cold as I was enjoying the ear-to-ear smile on her face. 🙂


Little people love Little People

Monday, January 12, 2009

Baby  B’s latest obsession: the Fisher Price Little People. (Don’t worry, the obsession with “The Nutcracker” also remains in full effect.) She received the airplane and the farm for Christmas, and she’s played with them some since then, but it wasn’t until this past weekend that her interest reached Official Toddler Obsession Level. I think part of it was that we let her watch the DVD of the old claymation Little People series that came with the farm, and she was enthralled. I’ve never seen her sit for any sort of TV in her entire two years, but she sat on my lap for the whole 20-minute DVD that told three different stories (complete with life lessons spelled out at the end).

I feel the need to mention that we don’t mind her watching some TV, but I want to avoid using it as a babysitter so I can get other things done. If she’s watching something — Animal Planet is about the only thing, really, or now this DVD — then we’re right there with her, pointing out things she’s seeing and asking her questions about it. I find that if we let her get a 10-minute fix of an animal show, she doesn’t beg to watch TV when we don’t want her to. (I know parents have a range of opinions on the matter of toddlers and TV, but this is what has worked for us.)

Mostly what I like about the Little People is that it gives her things to jump-start her imagination, which is quickly developing at this age. Though, I must say I’m a little disappointed with the 21st-century version of Little People. From what I remember from when I was little, all of the people and animals were interchangable (they had the same base) and would fit in any of the other locations like cars, the garage, the zoo, etc. However, the animals from the modern farm will not fit onto the seats of the airplane, for example, because the base of the animals is too big. How in the world is Mr. Sheep supposed to go on vacation? In a cargo plane? Please!


Two in diapers?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The other day Baby B was playing with her Fisher Price Learning Puppy (affectionately known as “Puddy” to her) while I was doing something else. I paused to watch her for a few minutes when I heard her start talking, and I’m so glad I got to witness this. I saw her turn over Puddy and pull back the flaps of material that cover his batteries. She said, “Poop?” and tried looking inside, then said, “Nooooooo….” She paused for a second, turned him over onto his back, and said, “New diaper, Mama!” I chuckled, then decided this was a good chance to teach her how to put on a diaper.

I went to get an old size 1 diaper  (so it would fit Puddy better) and showed her each of the steps, and she caught on pretty quickly. After a few changes, I still had to help her position the diaper initially, but she could do the rest. Pretty soon, she started demanding the “goop,” which is what she calls the Aquaphor we occasionally put on her “bumma” (her word for bottom). So we had to get the goop to make it more authentic. (I drew the line at really putting it on. I pretended I couldn’t open it. LOL)

It was so fun seeing her be a little mommy like that. Though I made sure to tell her when she was taking off Puddy’s diaper each time that, “This is NOT how you take off YOUR diapers. Your diapers are MUCH more complicated than this. So I wouldn’t even try if I were you.” 😉


No hate for ’08

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Boy, and I thought 2007 — the year Baby B was born — was a fantastic one, but it was boring compared to 2008 for us! 😉 We had so many adventures throughout the year, and I have to wonder how we can top ourselves next year!

We began the year visiting the in-laws in Connecticut for New Year’s weekend, where Baby B got to spend time with her grandparents and meet her aunt and cousin for the first time. January also marked Baby B’s first birthday, which we celebrated with my parents and a few close friends. She had her surgery for ear tubes in mid-February, and that was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. She has had zero ear infections in the 10+ months since the surgery. Much relief for everyone!

March was a pretty laid-back month, but she was certainly on the march for April, when she started walking full-time at 14 months old. Everyone warned us that we’d hate once she became that mobile, but I can honestly say we’ve loved it. Yes, it forces us to be more active, but is that really such a bad thing?! April treated us with gorgeous spring weather, and we were able to get out of the house to enjoy the outdoors (and all the local parks) much more often. Baby B was also treated to her first ice cream cone on one of our outings that month.

In May, Baby B surprised me with breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day, and we traveled to attend a family reunion of my mom’s family. For Memorial Day, we packed up and flew to Boston to visit with Serenity and her little Baby O, and we also took in the children’s museum, the swan boats, and a nearby beach (Baby B’s first time at a beach!) with them while in the area.

With June came a day trip to the zoo in Cincinnati and my first real race, a 3K. In July, we went downtown to enjoy our city’s Fourth of July festival and parade, and we went back downtown later than night for Baby B to experience her first fireworks display. We also attended our local fair, and even though Baby B wasn’t big enough for most of the rides, she still enjoyed looking at all the fair had to offer. In mid- to late July, we attended two weeks of swimming lessons, then took a daytrip to Gatlinburg so The Husband and I could celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary. At the end of the month, we headed back to Cincinnati to go to the aquarium, which we all loved.

In August, I had my second race, a 5K through downtown. The previous month, I had decided to train for the half-marathon, so my training continued through the late summer and early fall months. In the middle of August, we took a trip to Cincinnati (yes, again) to go to the children’s museum there, our second children’s museum of the year. We hit our third children’s museum when we went to Milwaukee to visit friends over Labor Day weekend, and we also visited the Milwaukee Zoo and observed the Harley anniversary festivities along the lakefront while we were there.

September brought us the annual dog swim at one of our local pools — always a riot to watch! We enjoyed the continued warm weather by visiting parks as often as we could, and at the end of the month, The Husband ran in his first race, the 5K Race for the Cure. After the race, we stayed downtown and visited our city’s children’s museum (#4 of the year), which isn’t as fancy as some of the others we’ve been to, but it still kept Baby B entertained.

In early October, we went to not just one but two pumpkin farms and enjoyed corn mazes, big slides, petting zoos, and fresh-picked apples among other things. We met a girl from one of my parenting boards, her husband, and their son, Luca (who is about a month younger than Baby B), when they were traveling through our parts. It was so much fun to see them playing together! That weekend, The Husband and I went on our first overnight trip without Baby B, going to see Cirque du Soleil and enjoying a nice grown-up dinner in Cincinnati. In the middle of October, we drove two hours for an overnight trip to my parents’ hometown for my third official race, a 10K. We painted pumpkins for Halloween, and Baby B dressed up as Raggedy Andy for her daycare Halloween party.

We went to Indianapolis during the first weekend in November so I could run my half-marathon, which I did significantly under my goal time. The race could not have gone much better than it did, and this ranks as one of my biggest life accomplishments at this point. While in Indianapolis, we visited their children’s museum (#5 for the year) twice, as it’s supposedly the largest in the world.

We played in leaf piles in November, and we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade together as a family before joining my parents for Thanksgiving dinner. I have so much to be thankful for!

Just because the year was winding down in December doesn’t mean that we were! We made Christmas cookies with Chef Baby B, and visited with Santa. We decorated the Christmas tree together, enjoyed Baby B’s performance of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at the daycare party, and went to a local drive-through lights display. And how could we forget a wonderful Christmas at the end of all that?!

And that’s just a brief summary of our year’s activities. (Whew! No wonder I feel so tired!) That’s not even getting into all the other changes in Baby B over the past year, including an even more developed (and silly) personality and the arrival of HAIR (finally)! She’s gone from being able to say one word to being able to converse with us quite well. Of course, we’ve also seen the introduction of super-picky eating and toddler tantrums, but you take the bad with the good, and I wouldn’t trade all the good we have for anything.

So after a year like that, how could we possibly have more fun next year? I don’t quite know the answer yet, but I can promise we’re sure going to try hard!


Mr. Roget would be proud

Sunday, November 30, 2008

For a long time now, we’ve had to avoid saying the word “walk” around The Dog because hearing it causes him to get excited, even if it’s not in reference to him going for a walk (though it usually is). Same thing with mentioning the park; we have to say, “Do you think we should go to the place where all the doggies hang out?” or else we face an attack of the excited pup.

The same is proving true for Baby B. (Wait, did you just compare your child to your dog? Why yes, I did, thanks for noticing. It really is amazing how many similarities there are, and I’m not above comparing the two of them.)

We’ve got certain key words that we cannot say around her, or else she’s going to get excited. Which is fine if we’re going to follow through on something, but not so good if it came up in conversation for another reason. So we’ve taken to using convoluted synonyms when mentioning such key words around her. Enjoy a few that I’ve included here:

  • outside = that place that is not in the house
  • milk = the liquid that comes from cows
  • cookie = the confection with chocolate chips
  • dinner = our evening meal
  • baby = tiny, crying person
  • bunny = that which hops and eats clover
  • color = to mark with Crayolas
  • potty = that white thing next to the scale
  • pen = ink writing utensil
  • food = yummy nibbles

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And thus today brings to a close the NaBloPoMo challenge, which I successfully completed with a post every day of the month. WHEW! It was challenging at times, but overally I found it to be easier this year than last. I sort of chuckle when I see a blogger with a toddler who says things are boring and not much is going on in their house. I find the complete opposite to be true, and sometimes I have too many things to write about! Still, I’m looking forward to slowing down a little for December and not being required to post each day, though I’m glad I did it for November. Until next year…!


Rising like a phoenix from the ashes

Monday, November 24, 2008

“A mythical bird that never dies, the phoenix flies far ahead to the front, always scanning the landscape and distant space. It represents our capacity for vision, for collecting sensory information about our environment and the events unfolding within it. The phoenix, with its great beauty, creates intense excitement and deathless inspiration.” – The Feng Shui Handbook, feng shui Master Lam Kam Chuen

So it is today that I rise up and begin again, like a phoenix rising from the ashes of its former self. Although I don’t think anything I wrote in my post last night was a surprise to The Husband, he felt a little blindsided by my post. My blog generally isn’t my outlet of frustrations; it’s typically me telling the story of my life with my new family. It’s not all sunshine and roses, of course, but I try to keep major issues out of this blog because I look at this as a sort of virtual baby book for our daughter, and who wants that to be cluttered with stories of “this really sucks right now”?

So I just want to emphasize again that The Husband is not a bad father. Not by any stretch of the imagination; I have no idea how we’d function without him. We’ve now talked (again) about some of the current child-rearing issues we’re facing, and he’s brought up new issues that have been bothering him about how we get baby-related tasks done. We both have ways we can improve, and I know we’ll find our rhythm again, as we’ve done before. Sometimes, as Baby B’s needs change, we have to stop and reevaluate how we go about things; we’ve done this every few months ever since she was born. This is just another one of those times.

One of our top priorities is making sure that we look out for Baby B’s best interests, and right now the best thing we can do for her is to be on the same page with each other. It’s not me versus The Husband vs. Baby B. It’s US against HER. In order to conquer this toddlerness, we need to band together and use our combined powers to do battle and come out with a victory.


I am no longer my dog’s keeper

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Baby B has always liked to feed The Dog pieces of his food from his food dish. It makes her happy and feel like a helper, so we let her do it sometimes, especially if The Dog is being finicky about eating, as long as she washes her hands afterward.

Yesterday I had to stay home with her in the morning because she had a very minor cold and low-ish fever (the fever is what kept her home), and it came time to make her lunch. I’d gone into the garage to get something out of the freezer, and I didn’t latch the door all the way because she likes to make that her job.

I went back to preparing lunch, and she got quiet, but I didn’t think much of it until I heard the unmistakeable sound of dry dog food going into a metal bowl. I turned my head to see that Baby B had stepped into the garage, opened the plastic bin where we keep the dog food, and had gotten a scoop of food for him. I laughed and said, “WHAT in the world are you doing?” She looked up at me excitedly and said, “Foo?”

So now that’s her new chore: feeding The Dog. She did it this morning for his breakfast and for his lunch. (She was feeling better, but she hadn’t been fever-free for 24 hours per our daycare’s requirement, so we erred on the side of keeping her home again.) I’m working with her on understanding that just because The Dog’s food dish is empty doesn’t mean he needs more food right then. As soon as The Dog had eaten breakfast, she started doing the sign for more, reached for the garage door handle, and said, “More foo, Dog-doh?” I explained that he eats at certain times like we do, and I know she didn’t fully understand it, but hopefully she will soon.


Maid for this

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We had the fit to end all fits earlier today, and you know why? Because we had to make Baby B stop Swiffering the kitchen floor, which she’s already been doing for 15 or 20 minutes. No really. We’re talking Tantrum City because we wouldn’t let her continue cleaning the floor. After I’d already had her do some dusting on the furniture in the living room. And Swiffer the foyer floor.

How much longer until she can start washing dishes?


Wordless Wednesday: Dr. Baby B, the ear-ly years

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

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For more Wordless Wednesday participants, click here.


Letter figure it out

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Recently I bought Baby B some foam alphabet letters that are intended for use in the bathtub. I thought it would be a good way to practice learning her ABCs while having fun. They already performed a wonderful duty in helping get her past a temporary bath and shower strike a couple weeks ago. Every bath and shower since buying the foam letters has gone extremely well, just as before.

So last night was bath night, and we were playing with the letters. I laughed as Baby B handed me a yellow D, noting that she gave me the letter that my first name starts with. Baby B leaned over again, and the very next letter she picked up was handed to The Husband…and it was the first letter of his name. We looked at each other and laughed it off, knowing it was quite a coincidence, but a fun one.

I laughed and said, “Okay, Baby B, now can you find your letter?”

And I’ll be damned if she didn’t lean over instantly and correctly pick up the first letter of her name and stick it on her chest…from among the two complete sets of alphabet letters and one set of numbers floating in the tub.

From 62 objects in the bathtub, she handed my letter to me, The Husband’s letter to him, and picked out her letter — all consecutively and probably within a span of 20 to 30 seconds.

The Husband and I looked at each other, temporarily not sure whether we had a supergenius on our hands or if coincidence can really be that crazy. We know, of course, that it was a complete coincidence, but even that being the case, it was very bizarre indeed.


This post is brought to you by the color yellow

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Did you know that every shirt Baby B owns is yellow? And did you know that our carpet is yellow? And did you know that every toy that Baby B owns is yellow?

Well, that’s what Baby B would tell you, anyway. Apparently her favorite color is yellow because every time we ask her what color something is, that is always — and I mean always — her first answer.

And apparently her favorite letter is O. We practice the alphabet several times a day, including in the car on the way home from daycare, and here’s how the middle of the alphabet always goes:

Me: Can you say K?

Baby B: K

Me: Can you say L?

Baby B: O

Me: Can you say M?

Baby B: O!

Me: Can you say N?

Baby B: O!!

Me: Can you say O?

Baby B: [silence]

Yep, the moment she’s supposed to say O, she clams up and doesn’t say it anymore, despite it being her letter of choice for the past three letters.

Oh, and in case you’re keeping track, her favorite number seems to be 2. *shrug*


Toddler tales

Monday, September 15, 2008

*Baby B is making it clear that some things have to go her way, and with minor things we do amuse her and let her win those battles. One example from this weekend came from our trip to the park. We romped up a little hill to an area with some trees and a memorial to a horse that had died. Baby B sat on a 2-inch deep edge of the memorial stone because her butt is tiny and can fit there. She looked at The Husband and started patting the stone to her left until The Husband sat down. I knew my turn was coming, but I tried to get out of sitting on that tiny edge (because my butt needs more than 2 inches, thank you very much). My plan didn’t work, however, and Baby B insisted that I sit on the edge to her right, where she was patting the stone next to her impatiently. How could I not indulge her that?

*When I was making dinner last night, Baby B was standing at the front screen door looking outside with The Dog next to her. When The Dog would decide to leave, she would take a few steps away from the door and say in a stern voice, “Dog-DOH!” and point toward the door, making it clear that she thought The Dog should be there at the door with her. (Bossy much?) A few minutes later, I heard some singing, and I tiptoed over to find her singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” except she was just singing, “Head, toes, toes” and doing the body motions that go along with it. I may be mistaken, but she may have been trying to teach The Dog how to do it.

*Also before dinner, Baby B decided to feed The Dog his uneaten food (it’s been a while since she’s done this). At first he was cooperative, but then The Dog decided he didn’t want to eat anymore. Baby B knew this, so what did she do? She started doing some of the same things we do to her to try to get her to eat when she’s being picky: She’d hold the food out, say “mmmm!” and open and close her mouth like she was chewing, trying to encourage him to eat.

*Before bed last night, Baby B placed a pillow on the floor at the foot of the bed then asked to come “Uh! Uh!” (up) on the bed. She scooted on her butt to the edge of the bed and slid down the foot of the bed (with me right there just in case) and landed on her butt on the pillow. I let her do this a few times, then she started patting the pillow and looking at me expectantly, wanting me to do it, too. I figured this was a good chance for me to show her that she could get hurt doing it, so when I went down, I purposely landed on my knees and started acting like I was hurt, grabbing my knees and saying, “Ouchie! Ouchie!” Baby B still asked to take another turn. She slid down and immediately started doing the same thing I’d been doing, grabbing her knees and saying, “Ouchie! Ouchie!” — even though she’d landed square on her butt. LOL


What does Momma say?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The most-overheard question in our house this days is: “What does ____ say?” and fill in the blank with any animal you can think of. For a long time, whenever we’ve pointed to a fish in a book and ask, “What does a fish say?” Baby B would say, “Momma!” before making her fish lips. We’d laugh and say, “No, fish don’t say Momma!”

Fast-forward a few weeks when we were putting a swim diaper on Baby B. I saw Nemo on the front of the diaper, and without showing it to her, I asked her out of the blue, not really expecting an answer, “What does Nemo say?” I was definitely surprised when she did her fish lips immediately, since we’d never taught her who Nemo is; she must have learned that at daycare because it’s never come up at home.

Well, two days ago we were eating dinner and asked her what a fish says. Again she said, “Momma!” before doing her fish lips. The Husband suddenly realized that she was saying Nemo, not Momma. We laughed and I asked, “Well, what do mommas say, then?”

Without missing a beat, she put on a serious face and proceeded to cross/fold her arms in front of her on her chest.

Oh. Well. Hrm. I guess Momma says that sometimes. Er, quite a bit, it seems, if it’s enough for her to notice.

The Husband and I started cracking up, and I had to leave the room because I was laughing so much. Poor Baby B must’ve thought she had done something wrong or was in trouble, because she immediately burst into full tears, and we had to explain to her that it was good and that she’d made a funny joke!

Later that night, I decided to ask her again to see if her initial answer was a fluke. “What does Momma say?” I asked.

She folded her arms on her chest again.

I think Momma needs to work on something else to say!