Friday, October 26, 2012

Katie updates

Before Katie was born, I promised myself that I would be diligent about writing down and recording her milestones and the cute things she would do. I kept a "baby diary" for a while, in which I wrote little notes to her while she was in the womb. It was mostly stuff about decorating her room and complaining about work. Then about 10 weeks postpartum, I started an ongoing email to myself called "Katie Notes," which was mostly complaining about lack of sleep.

Yesterday I resorted to writing "Katie stacked 6 blocks, 10/25/12" on a scrap of paper and sticking it in my baby book. That's right, MY baby book - I haven't actually started one for Katie. It's funny to see my mom's progress in my baby book. The first half is mostly filled out and the second half is entirely blank. The first half is also written in the same ink, and it's suspiciously neat. She says she consolidated a bunch of hastily written notes and that's why it's all done in one day, but I suspect she also threw some inventions in there. Such as, "Kimberly sleeps through the night, 8 weeks." My dad begs to differ  - apparently he was responsible for the 2am feeding! So I guess it would be more accurate to say that my *mom* slept through the night when I was 8 weeks old. LOL.

Anyway, I thought I'd jot down some cute things that Katie has been doing and saying lately. She surprises us every single day with the stuff she comes up with. This morning she sang a song, or part of one, with an unusual amount of accuracy: "Cookie Cookie C!!!" Apparently while I was at my parenting class Tuesday night, Anthony showed her a Youtube video of "C is for Cookie" and she's been thinking about it ever since. She's heard Cookie Monster sing it on the radio a million times, but somehow seeing it in person is 1000 times better. She cracks up when the chorus of other monsters appears behind Cookie Monster, I have no idea why.

One of Katie's new favorite pastimes (aside from playing with water, which is her main obsession) is a game she invented called "Coop-Dump." (aka Scoop-Dump.) She asks to get in her crib, then says "Cooooooop!" which is my cue to scoop up as large an armful of stuffed animals as I possibly can, and then "DUMP!" them over her head while she peals with laughter. It usually takes 2-3 scoops to get them all. (Wish our relatives would quit giving her stuffed animals!) Then she throws each animal out of the crib and we start again. Or, she asks to get out of her crib and says "Keen up, keen up!" and puts some of the animals away in their cabinet. Don't get excited, though - she's only cleaning them up for another round of "Coop!" This delightful (ahem) game is not only very tiring for Mama but completely open-ended. It's very hard to get the animals to stay in their cupboard when it's time for bed.

What surprised me about Coop-Dump is that Katie started referring to herself in the third person while playing it. She had already been saying things like "Lambie in" and putting Lambie in the crib, or "An-i-muzhh in" and putting animals in. But when she said "Katie in" it really blew my mind. That means a) she knows her name and b) she knows how to tell Mama about it! Pretty amazing.

The first instance of "Katie in" was about 2 weeks ago, and ever since she's been amusing me with the cute things she says about herself. She's had 2 colds back-to-back (maybe 3, since it still hasn't gone away and seems to be worse these past couple of days). She now has a pretty yucky-sounding cough, which probably freaks the crap out of people when I take her out in the world. Anthony and I have taken to saying "Poor Katie!" when she coughs like that. One night, she woke herself up coughing, and we heard her cry for a second, then say "Pooh Kay-dee!" and go back to sleep. AWWW!

Another relatively new game is to call people and objects with "Where are you?" Although for Katie it sounds more like "Yaa-youu?" I think the roots of this came from Gymboree - there's a part at the end where all the kids are asked to call, "Gymbo!!!" and after they call him enough times, the teacher gets out a Gymbo puppet. One day, in an attempt to lure Katie upstairs for her nap, I suggested we go find Lambie. She immediately called, "Maaaaaaaammie!" I started calling "Lambie, where are you?" Not only did Katie pick up on the "where are you," but she also started imitating the way I cupped my hand around my mouth to magnify the sound. Except she does it with her palm against her cheek. Last weekend Anthony and I were watching football, and the referee called a penalty for illegal hands to the face. I said, "Look! He's calling Mammie Yaa-youu!"

Let's see, what else? We dug ourselves into a hole recently when we discovered that Katie likes to pick her nose. The parenting books say to ignore it, that trying to make her stop only makes her more determined. That sounds like Katie to a T, so that's what we're doing. But Dada couldn't resist teasing her a little, and one night as we were putting her down, she was really going to town on her nose. Dada said, "Goodnight, Princess Pick!" and the name stuck instantly. Now "Princess" and "Pick" are inextricably linked. If you say "Princess", she starts to pick her nose. OMG. And of course, what did we decide she'd be for Halloween? A princess, of course! Double OMG. If I manage to get a picture of her picking in her princess dress, I'll definitely post it. Sigh!

That's all for now; Princess Pick has finally stopped playing and decided to nap. TGIF!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sigh...

Don'tcha just hate it when you forget stuff? I recently thought of a brilliant gift idea for Anthony this Christmas, and now I've clean forgotten it. Great gift ideas for Anthony are pretty rare, so I'm extra annoyed that I forgot. I'm reasonably sure it could be bought at Home Depot, but that's all I can remember. I'm sure it wasn't a drain augur (eww) or right angle drill bit attachment. It wasn't a toilet lever handle, because I already bought one of those recently. It wasn't a shovel. (I bought one of those yesterday at Target, despite our avowal not to dig up any more of the rose bushes.) It wasn't anything to do with the compressor for his airbrush. Pretty sure it wasn't an American flag, because that's a gift idea for Katie, not Anthony.

Was it something for his car? Doubt it.

A SQUEEGEE!!!!!!  That was it!! Like, a real professional one. Ok, I'm so glad I remembered, but now you're thinking, "Are you crazy? You'd get your husband a squeegee for Christmas? Does he buy you vacuum cleaners and ironing boards?"

No, he doesn't, and no, that won't be the only thing I get for him. But last weekend he decided that the back sliding glass door was filthy (which it was) and he went to find the only squeegee we own. It's cheap plastic and it did a terrible, streaky job. My man likes to have the tools to get a job done right, and who could blame him?

Ahh, thank you, memory, for coming up with this one. Even if I decide not to buy it for him, it would have driven me nuts trying to remember. :)

Have you started your holiday shopping yet? I've got a couple of ideas so far, but no gifts purchased yet. Can't believe it's right around the corner!

A squeegee? Are you joking, Mama?

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Trouble with "No"

I've been reading a new book, prompted by Katie's first class at pre-preschool. I mentioned before that the parents alternate weeks being "observers" or "supervisors." When you're a supervisor, you stay at one station (art, sandbox, riding toys, music, etc) and try to keep the toddlers from getting into too much trouble. I noticed that they have some pretty strict guidelines about what you are and aren't allowed to say to the kids. They strongly discourage you from saying "NO, don't do that!" or "Stop throwing sand! or "Don't put paint on the other kids!" Instead, they invite you to say things like, "Nathan, the sand stays in the sandbox" or "Amelia, please keep the paintbrush on the paper."

I thought that was an interesting approach, and of course I immediately thought about all the things I've been saying to Katie lately. "No" and "Stop" and "Don't do that"? Um, yeah, I say those all the time! Don't we all? So I was pretty nervous about my first time being a supervisor. Luckily, I was assigned to be an observer for our first week. The first thing I observed was how much Katie enjoyed the sand table. She enjoyed it so much, she thought she'd throw some sand on her neighbor. The supervisor said kindly, "Katie, please keep the sand in the sand table." Katie looked at her, perplexed, and then threw another handful onto her neighbor. "Katie, Melissa might not like having sand all over her." Another handful. "Katie, would you like to try scooping some sand with a shovel?" Another handful. And then I couldn't take it anymore. I scooped her up and said, "Sweetie, how about we go and explore the musical instruments?"

This sort of thing happened a couple more times during our class - at the water table, mostly. And I wasn't always there to intervene, because the observing parents were having our class discussion. So I hope Katie wasn't too out of line. By the end of the class, I was convinced that the not-saying-no approach was malarkey. But I decided to download the book it's based on, because I was so curious about how they could even think such an approach could work with an active toddler like Katie. (It's called Positive Discipline: The First Three Years.)

As it turns out, it's a fantastic book! It's not malarkey at all. In fact, without even knowing it, I'd done exactly the right thing when I intervened and took Katie away from the sand table. It's called distraction and redirection, and it works wonders for a toddler like Katie. The positive talk, like "food is for eating," may work well on other toddlers, but for the most part, distraction is essential for Katie. We have had one success with positive talk, and that's the word "Nice!" Katie now knows, through endless repetition, to touch things gently when we say "Nice!" We can say "Nice doggy!" and she will pet the dog gently. Or, at times, "Nice mommy!" and she will stop hitting or scratching and pat my face gently instead.

I really feel like we dodged a bullet with the hitting and scratching thing. Katie started doing it a couple of months ago, as most toddlers do, and at first we tried saying "No!" We tried giving her stern looks. We tried shaking our heads "no." We tried holding her hands down. It was clear from the very first time that she immediately thought this was a cool new game. She was fascinated with how she could get a rise out of us! You could tell by the way she would hit, and then step back and watch our faces so intently. By some miracle, I figured out that acknowledging the hitting was making it worse, so I decided to ignore it and distract her instead. It was the only thing I could think of to keep it from escalating. Turns out, that's what this book says you're supposed to do! (Woohoo!) And I can really see how well it works.

Saying "No" to a toddler Katie's age (under 3, I believe) is next to useless. They just don't have the capacity to understand "No" the way we do. They understand that Mommy is angry, probably, but they are unable to grasp cause and effect at this age. So all Katie was really getting from my "No's" was the brunt of my anger and frustration. She certainly wasn't learning not to hit.

This book has transformed my relationship with Katie already, and it's only been a week and I'm only about halfway through! I'm saying "No" a lot less, but I don't feel like I'm being overly permissive. In fact, the book is very clear about not being permissive. It would be a recipe for disaster if I just let Katie do whatever she wanted. But instead of arguing with her or telling her why she can't play with water in the living room, or hold the knife I've been using to slice bread, I just distract her. All those words were going right over her head anyway. I even successfully used this book's methods to get her into her bath. She was kicking and screaming and saying "No!" Before, we would have either tried to force her into the bath and hope that she'd calm down once she felt the water, or just skip bath altogether (hello, permissive!) But instead, I asked if she'd like to test the water with one finger. "Is it hot? Is it cold?" Would she like to put her toe in? Would she like to splash with her foot? And the rest was easy.

I'm off to read the rest! :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Decisions, decisions

As impossible as it seems, my little princess is going to be 2 next month. I don't know what to do for Katie's second birthday. I don't really want a repeat of last year, but I'm not really sure what else to do.

Last year we threw a very small dinner party with the in-laws. That was probably my first mistake. Dinner - really? Anthony cooked chicken on the grill and I was in charge of sides and cupcakes, but even that was WAY too much effort. Plus, Anthony was so distracted because of having guests that he overcooked the chicken. I was really stressed throughout the whole thing. The most vivid memory I have is of Katie's first birthday cupcake. Katie was eating it quite daintily for a 1-year-old, sticking her finger in the frosting and tasting it, and Crazy Grandma came up and smashed the whole thing in her face, just so she could "get a cute picture." WTF! Naturally, Katie screamed, and the party was pretty much over at that point.

So you can see why I'm looking for something somewhat less anxiety-producing this year. I know that 2 year olds don't really understand the birthday concept, so I'm not worried about Katie having a good time. She's a happy kid; she'll have a good time even without a party. But I would like to do something to mark the occasion. Even if Katie doesn't remember, we will - and I don't want her birthday to just slip by uncelebrated.

In my fantasy world, we'd have 2 or 3 other toddlers and their parents, who of course would be super hip and cool. We'd serve some yummy snacks and light appetizers, and the grown ups would sip wine and chit chat while the little ones played outside in Katie's play house. There would be no fighting or hitting (hey, it's a fantasy, right?), and everyone would have a fantastic time. It would be relaxed and enjoyable for everyone, including the hosts.

In the real world, we really don't know any other families with toddlers well enough to invite them (except our friends in L.A., but that would be a pretty big drive for them.) So it's probably going to end up being the same guest list as last year. At least this time I won't be foolish enough to serve dinner! Maybe we'll have the party in the morning. Is that weird? Katie has a 2 hour window between 9:30 and 11:30 when she's nice and cheerful and playful. Hmm, morning party. Yeah, it seems pretty weird. But our only alternative is afternoon, and with Katie's erratic napping, it could mean the party starts at 4pm. Which means it will run into...dinnertime!!! No thanks!

I never thought I'd be the kind of parent who'd say this, but I'm kind of looking forward to having her birthday someplace like Pump it Up, where someone else can do all the work! LOL.

On with the party planning!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cha-ching!

I'm not ashamed to admit it. I just spent $30 on a Halloween costume for Katie. That's right, something she will wear for just a few hours, and then outgrow before you can say "Dress up!" Something I could have made myself if I had either the time or the sewing prowess. (OK, I am a little ashamed.)

But she's going to look so CUUUUUTE! I won't say what she's going to be yet, but I will say that it's Disney and I'm not ashamed of that either. Sure, the feminist in me thinks the whole princess thing is not appropriate to be teaching my daughter, but...did I mention the cuteness? Or that the kid in me still wants to be a princess myself?

The only thing I can't figure out is how I'm going to do her hair. I'm not talking about being indecisive about the style. I'm talking about logistics. Lately Katie says "Owie!" when I even go near her hair with a hairbrush or comb, so this could be tricky. Not to mention that she needs a haircut in the worst way. Poor girl, she looks so scruffy! (So does Mommy, for that matter - must make a hair appointment soon!)

But enough about appearances. We'll think of something, I'm sure, otherwise we'll say that our princess was out running through some scary dark woods, and that's why her hair is so messy. (Did I just give it away? Or do all the princesses do that at some point?)

I'm starting to get kind of excited about Halloween! I pulled my door decorations out of the closet, so now it's just a matter of finding some energy to put them up during Katie's nap time. I think I better get rid of this horrible cold first. Ugh. I'm cooking up some interesting projects in my head, involving red LEDs and black felt. Stay tuned - if they turn out good, I'll post pics.

What are you going to be for Halloween? :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Serenity now!!!


God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Just for the record, I'm not in AA. And I'm not really the praying type, either. But the older I get, the truer the Serenity Prayer becomes for me. There's an ebb and flow to which of those three virtues I need at a given time. At times, the "serenity" part speaks to me. At other times, the "wisdom" part seems the most pertinent. And of course, there have been times when the "courage" part seemed most necessary.

Right now, I need a little serenity. The backstory:

Katie and I visited a co-operative, parent-run preschool this week. It was awesome. There were 15-20 toddlers, each with a friendly parent. There were more than a dozen different play activity areas: music, dress-up, wheeled toys, painting, train table, sandbox, climbing slide, play house, gravel pit, and - the pièce de résistance - a really large and fun water table! As soon as I put her down, Katie made a beeline for the kids at the water table, and all the adults gawked at how easily she fit in. Like a duck to water! Of course, for a 22-month-old, "fitting in" just means being comfortable playing with toys. I don't think any of them care who the other kids at the table are, as long as nobody is touching their toys! 

Each activity station had one parent as a supervisor. Each week, they split the parents into two groups: supervisors and observers. The supervisors each take a station and basically make sure the kids aren't playing too rough or getting hurt. The observers are kind of off-duty; they watch what their child is up to that day, and fill out a thoughtful questionnaire about their child's development and activites. After snack time, the observing parents get to go into a separate room with the teacher, and have a lecture and open discussion about parenting! How cool is that?

The entire school was set up with toddlers in mind. Everything was at toddler level, there were tons of well-made, sturdy, safe toys, and I just got the sense that Katie could run wild and have an amazing time exploring, and not hurt herself in the process. Not that I generally worry about her hurting herself - she's the toughest kid I've ever met - but it's nice to have peace of mind anyway. 

We were so impressed, we decided to sign up. The 20 hours of required work didn't seem too bad once they explained what it's all about. Neither did the 3-hour yearly maintenance duty. I'm absolutely thrilled - we start on Monday!

So why the serenity?

Because Katie caught a cold during our visit. She is now a sniffling, sneezing, fountain of snot. Poor girl! I've never seen anyone sneeze this much. Plus she just threw up ALL OVER ME.

Sigh. 

I know I have to accept viruses if Katie is going to be with other toddlers in a school setting. And I think the school will be great for her social development, as well as my development as a parent. So I'm just going to have to bite the bullet. SERENITY NOW!