Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year!

2013 has been good to us - looking forward to a wonderful 2014!

Audrey, 6 months and 1 week!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Katie's birthday!

I was only halfway through the door when the smell hit me. I'd mentally prepared myself for the screaming, the chaos, the pounding music. But nobody told me about the smell. It was the overpowering smell of sweaty, screeching, shoeless kids. Dozens and dozens of them! Add their weary parents and younger siblings, a couple of pimply teenaged staff members, and two rooms full of gigantic inflatable bouncy houses and slides and you've got the horror that is known as Pump It Up.

It was too much for me, but I lucked out: there was no way Audrey could fall asleep in the carrier as planned, not with all the screaming and jostling and frolicking. So I got to go outside and walk up and down the sidewalk for much of the 2-hour "Pop-In Playtime." Anthony wasn't so lucky. Not only did he have to stay in that madhouse, Katie also wanted him to accompany her through much of the bouncy-ness. The giant slides did look like fun, though. Katie had a blast. Unfortunately I'm already seeing the telltale signs of the virus she picked up. I knew it was inevitable but I prayed we'd get lucky. Of course, Katie pretty much sealed the deal by picking her nose the entire time we were there. Way to give those germs a head start, sweetie!

Pump It Up capped off a four-day whirlwind birthday extravaganza. Anthony took Friday and Monday off, and I'm sorry to report that he now needs a vacation from his vacation. Friday we all went to Katie's school together, Saturday we threw a birthday party for her, Sunday we had friends over, and Monday was Pump It Up. We're exhausted. Katie got everything she asked for: Balloons in every color of the rainbow, strawberry cupcakes, a box (What kind of box? A brown one! She never did tell us what she wanted there to be inside). She also wanted a lion. When we asked her where we could get a lion, she promptly said, "Costco!" We laughed, and spent quite a bit of energy finding some really cute lion figurines. Then, when Anthony was at Costco picking up food for the party, he spotted a giant stuffed lion! Of course we bought it - a lion from Costco! Just what she wanted! She also wanted a crocodile, so we got a figurine and an anthology of Lyle books. Anthony's mom outdid us all by buying Katie her very own play kitchen. (Don't worry, this time we picked it out. Also from Costco.) A pretty good haul for a three year old!

Happy Birthday, dear Katie! (pics to follow, I've got to go pick her up from preschool!)

Strawberry cupcakes, nom nom nom

A crocodile!

Katie's Precious Kitchen. Some assembly (and swearing) required.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I don't know. THIRD BASE!

I must be crazy for posting instead of napping right now, but I had to share a quickie. Inspired by Awkward Mom's recent post about grammar, here's a little dialog between Katie, Grammy and me that took place last week.

Scene: Outdoors. Katie and Grammy are playing in Katie's playhouse. Katie is inside and Grammy is outside, ringing the doorbell.

Grammy (to Katie): Say, "Who is it?"
Katie: Grammy!
Grammy: No, say "who is it?"
Katie: Grammy!
Grammy: No, I ring the doorbell and you say "who is it?"
Katie: GRAMMY!!!
Me (after controlling my laughter): Here, Katie, Grammy and I will show you what we mean.
Katie exits playhouse, I enter.
Before I can ask "Who is it?" Katie interrupts - 
Katie: GRAMMY!!!

And we all dissolved into peals of laughter. Katie didn't know why we were laughing but she joined in anyway. Good times!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sleep (or lack thereof)

Here I am again, folks! One daughter is napping peacefully, like a little angel. The other is talking, singing, banging on the walls, rummaging around in her closet, and generally just not sleeping. Can you guess which is which?

I would like to say I don't care, as long as she doesn't wake Audrey up...but I do care. Nobody in this family is getting enough sleep. Nobody. Audrey happens to be the best sleeper out of the four of us, and even she isn't getting enough. Katie woke up three times last night. Twice she woke up and screamed "POTTY!" and Dada took her to the potty. Once she woke up just plain screaming. And a couple of times she woke me up by talking in her sleep. Add those to the two times that Audrey woke up to feed, and the 30 minutes or so I spent pumping at 3 am, and I am one tired mama.

Dada is tired, too. Not only is he on "Katie duty" at night, but he is the worst sleeper imaginable. It takes him forever to fall asleep, so every time Katie wakes him up it's an ordeal. Three times in one night means that he got maybe 3 hours, tops. And not consecutive hours, either!

I think it might be time to take back the nighttime reins from Dada. We had decided that I'd take care of Audrey and he'd take care of Katie at night, but I don't think it's working. Katie's room is right next to Audrey's. I sleep in Audrey's room, next to her bassinet. If Katie wakes up, I'm going to hear it, so there's really no point in making Anthony get up too. Of course, he often hears Katie even without the baby monitor - she's that loud.

Sigh. Can I just point out how unfair it is that I finally have a baby who sleeps, but I'm STILL not getting any sleep myself? Audrey has been sleeping 5-6 hours at a time every night since she was about a week old. It's so good it's ridiculous. But Katie has to find a way to wake up screaming right in the middle of that 5-6 hour stretch, so I never get more than 3 hours in a row. Thanks, Fate or the Universe or Murphy or whatever. Thanks a bunch.

And napping. What is it with napping in this house? Katie hasn't napped in days and I can see it's taking its toll. Her little eyes look tired, she's crabby a lot, and we've had full-on screaming meltdowns in the evenings. I do everything I possibly can to ensure that she naps. I keep a consistent schedule, I use blackout curtains and white noise, we read books to wind down, and we have a sweet little tucking-in ritual that Dada and Katie invented. I even moved her naptime earlier. What more can I do? Give her a shot of whiskey?

And don't think we can just make her bedtime earlier or that she'll sleep later in the mornings. Oh, no. We've tried both. She'll only sleep about 15 minutes later in the mornings, if we're lucky. And putting her down early just results in more talking, singing and kicking the wall.

As I sit here listening to Katie on the monitor, not sleeping, I'm starting to dread the rest of the afternoon. The later it gets, the crabbier she gets. 5:00 is known as the witching hour for many families, not just ours, but it's 10 times worse if Katie doesn't nap. I'm also realizing that we're out of leftovers and that means I'll have to try to cook something around 5:00 too. OMG.

I pray this is just a developmental phase, or a growth spurt, or something. Lots of parents tell me their child gave up napping at age 2, or age 1, or some horrifically early age. But the sleep books all say that toddlers need naps until age 3 or 4. Whatever the case, I don't think Katie is getting enough sleep, day or night, and I don't know what to do about it. Help us, Mr. Sandman!

I'm sorry, I didn't mean for this to be a whine-fest. I'm just so tired and crabby. But things are looking up: tomorrow we go to the occupational therapist for Audrey's breastfeeding issues. We've been waiting almost a month for this appointment so I'm super excited. And, it's my birthday. So maybe we'll have a little bit of extra luck and get these feeding problems solved once and for all. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Let's hope a picture is worth 1000 words...

And here it is:

I have about 100,000 words to write, but no time in which to write them. I've been blogging like crazy in my head again, usually sometime between 3 and 5 am when I'm trying to get back to sleep.

By some miracle, both of my girls are sleeping right now. Even more astonishing is that I actually prefer them to sleep alternately (although a few minutes of overlap is nice.) The reason is that I like to be able to actually give one child my full (ish) attention, instead of trying to juggle them. I say full-ish because I also have to still do dishes, laundry, wash bottles (long story) and do all sorts of other householdy things that just won't wait. Don't worry, I am heeding the advice of "let the house go and spend time with your kids". Boy am I! This house has never been such a disaster. I think for my birthday I'm going to ask for house cleaning. I'm tired of living in squalor!

I hear Audrey stirring in the other room, so let's pray she falls back asleep while I write a quick update. Breastfeeding is still not going well, though it's going a heck of a lot better than it did with Katie. Neither of my girls latch(ed) well. With Katie it was just impossible to breastfeed her, so I pumped 8 times a day for a year. Pumping 8 times a day (that's every 2 hours, in case anyone's counting) is utterly, certifiably insane. Pumping 8 times a day while your toddler tries to tear your baby's toes off, squirt laundry detergent into her own mouth, draw on the walls with a pen and pour water all over the carpet...well, that's more than I can take. And yes, all these things have happened within the last 24 hours. If I had to list all the things Katie has done while I was either pumping or feeding Audrey, I'd be here all day.

Yes, you read that right: I *am* doing some pumping. I am in the process of trying to transition Audrey back to breastfeeding after a couple of weeks of feeding her with a syringe. This means drawing up some breastmilk into a syringe, attaching a thin flexible tube, taping the tube to your finger and letting the baby suck the end of your finger. The milk flows into her mouth through a tiny hole in the end of the tube. It's supposed to be better than a bottle because the finger is made of flesh instead of silicone, and the milk doesn't pour out as fast as it does from a bottle. Anyway - we did that for about a week and a half, and then we tried a bottle. The bottle was way easier to manage, but I was worried that Audrey, like Katie, would never want to go back to breastfeeding. Luckily, she is back on the breast using a nipple shield and an SNS. I'm starting to bore myself here, so I'll just say that the shield helps her latch on and the SNS helps her get milk faster than she would without it. For now, it's working. She's gaining weight and growing like a weed.

But it's hard! I guess I forgot how hard it is to have a newborn. I, unlike other mothers, am nearly always unable to tell why my baby is crying. You're supposed to be able to tell a hunger cry from a gassy cry from a tired cry...I'm just awful at this. I've been offering Audrey the breast whenever she cries, figuring that sucking will comfort her even if she isn't hungry, but I'm quickly finding out that if she isn't hungry she will SCREAM at the breast and fight and push away. But she also does that if she's too hungry! Gaaah! And Audrey is much less able to tolerate a wet diaper than Katie was. Katie couldn't have cared less if she was wet.

Crud - Audrey's up - guess I better do a diaper change! Til next time!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Finally, a picture!

I have so many things to write about, and exactly zero time. I'm up to my ears in diapers, nursing just about every minute of the day, and trying to squeeze in quality time with Katie wherever possible. I'm enjoying Audrey's first newborn days SO MUCH MORE than I was able to enjoy Katie's, mostly because I'm used to sleep deprivation! Anthony and I were marveling at how normal we feel - we're tired all the time but that's normal for us now. When Katie was born, we were zombies. I was so cranky! I don't know how we got through it, but I'm so glad we get to enjoy ourselves more this time around. I think we deserve it! :)

Anyway, without further ado...Miss Audrey!

Not sure what she's smiling about, but it probably has to do with milk. Or gas. :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Welcome, precious darling!

Audrey Gayle Cerna
Born at 12:14pm Pacific Time
8 pounds 15.8 ounces (holy mackerel!)
19 inches long

For you fellow mamas out there, one more statistic: head circumference 14 inches.  O. M. Bleepin G.

Pics to follow!

And to sum it all up: "If there's a next time, I want DRUGS!!!!!!" Lol. :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Time Out

So you probably know that I'm a big fan of the concept of "Positive Discipline," which I learned about from Katie's co-op preschool. At first I was really skeptical, but the more I use the techniques, the better they work. Yesterday I found myself trying a new one, without any advance planning. In fact, it was a technique that I thought sounded a bit weird and unnatural, so I surprised myself when I heard some of the words coming out of my mouth.

I think most parents have heard of "Time Out," even if they don't use it. Long before I had kids (you know, back when I thought I was an expert) I thought Time Out made a lot of sense. It certainly seemed better than spanking. But I hadn't had any real exposure to it - I hadn't watched a parent actually use it on their child. The first time I saw a Time Out used, I was at the park on a playdate with a mom I really like. It's clear to me that she is a really good mom with a good attitude toward parenting, and her three kids are incredibly well-behaved to boot. Her three year old did something that required correction, and she calmly sent him to a corner of the playground for a Time Out. He wailed and howled the whole time. Finally I guess he must have gotten over it, because he was allowed out and continued playing. He seemed unharmed, but I couldn't really see that anything beneficial had taken place. But I thought to myself, "It must work, because her kids are awesome."

Months later, I watched another family use Time Out on their 18 month old toddler. He was doing something typical for a toddler (can't remember what) and the parents were getting more and more upset, raising their voices and threatening "If you do that again, you're going to get a Time Out!" I'm really not sure if the toddler understood the threat, but I'm sure he understood the angry tone of voice. And of course, he continued to do whatever it was (because that's what toddlers do) and he was summarily carried from the room and left to scream alone in his bedroom. The whole scene just felt so ugly to me. Again, it's a lot better than hitting, but I just didn't feel comfortable with it.

I didn't think much more about it until I started reading the Positive Discipline books. In a nutshell, they categorize Time Out as a punishment; a nonviolent one, to be sure, but a punishment nonetheless. And their hypothesis is that punishment, in general, makes kids feel bad. I mean, that's kind of the point, right? "Sit in this corner and think about how bad you've been!" The authors feel that when kids feel bad, they act out, but when they feel better, they do better. So they propose a different twist on Time Out. They say the parents should take a minute or two in a quiet place, not the child! Or, that the parent should accompany the child into Time Out. Their idea of Time Out is just that - a little break from whatever drama is going on.

Like most of these new parenting concepts, I thought going with your kid into Time Out sounded pretty useless. But yesterday, Katie and I got into some drama. She wanted me to fill her bubble fan with bubbles. When I got the big 2-liter vat of bubble solution down from its hiding place, she immediately wanted that instead. I'm all for being flexible most of the time, but I said no. I couldn't stomach 2 liters of bubble solution all over the floor. But I filled up the bubble fan, brought it outside and turned it on for her. She was momentarily diverted while I put the bubble solution away, but soon she was back inside, and somehow managed to turn the bubble fan upside down. Bubble solution everywhere! But I kept my cool, and handled it just like we handle every other spill. I said, "Oops, the bubbles spilled! Let's clean up!" and I got a cloth for myself and one for Katie. We sang the clean up song and got most of the bubbles cleaned up. Then she decided she wanted to mop. I got the mop for her, but instead of mopping, she started waving it in the air and banging it on the sliding glass door. I asked her to stop, telling her that the mop belongs on the floor, but she ignored me. I took her arm and looked her right in the eye as I repeated myself, and she started to squirm away and scream.

And I just looked at her and said, "Do you need big hugs?" "No! No hugs! No!" But I could tell that this wasn't really about mopping or bubbles. So I gathered her into my arms anyway and said, "Let's go take a Time Out so we can both feel better." I was kind of stunned to hear myself saying it, but it felt right. We went into the den and read a book on the couch. I gave her lots of hugs and kisses. And when we both felt better, I asked if she was ready to try mopping again. She said "Yesh" and slid off my lap. We went back into the kitchen and cheerfully finished cleaning up.

I don't know if I did it right, or if it will work every time (nothing else does) but I kind of enjoyed Time Out yesterday! Somehow it felt really good to meet a tantrum with love. I know that my pregnancy is getting harder and harder for Katie, both physically since I can't be as active with her, and emotionally because she knows something big is coming. I wish the baby would hurry up so we can all wrap our minds around what it's going to be like as a family of four! It's hard enough for me to wait, I can't imagine what it's like for Katie, who doesn't have a real sense of time yet. She must think we're winding her up about a baby coming!

Cross your fingers and think labor-y thoughts for me! :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolli lolli lolli

Katie never ceases to amaze me. Today we were out grocery shopping. I'm not gonna tell you which store; if you've ever read this blog before you're undoubtedly nauseated by all the times I've mentioned it. Suffice it to say, they have mini shopping carts for Katie, and a find-the-hidden-stuffed-animal game. :) Today, the lady at the sample counter gave Katie a huge hint about where the stuffed panda was hiding, so Katie got to collect a prize. In the past, we've gotten clementines and apples, but this time the prize basket was full of candy. Oh dear.

Now I know what you're thinking: "Oh no, is she a Sugar Nazi in addition to being a weird crunchy hippie?" The answer is, sort of. For myself, I have a bigger sweet tooth than Buddy the Elf. But for Katie...well, I don't want her to grow up to be as sugar-addicted as me. I don't believe it's the root of all evil or anything, but sugar is so ubiquitous that I feel like it's a slippery slope if I even let her have a little. After all, she doesn't really know about all the sugary goodness that's out there, and she's a super happy kid, so isn't ignorance bliss?

When she's older, of course I'll let her have sugar. And to be honest, she actually is eating plenty of sugar now - the past two mornings we've had blueberry muffins for breakfast. Her yogurt has sugar. There's sugar in her peanut butter AND her jelly. Graham crackers? Hellooo, sugar! The orange chicken I made last night had a very sweet, sticky, sugary sauce. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Sugar is everywhere!

So I've just been trying to avoid giving her blatantly obvious sugar, like candy. She's 2 1/2 and she's only had ice cream twice (both in the past month, and both from IKEA. Now she thinks IKEA is a huge, blue-and-yellow ice cream parlor.) She only drinks water or milk, never juice or soda. And we don't do dessert after dinner. (Anthony and I do, after she's asleep.) Am I depriving her of one of life's simple pleasures? Maybe. But she's a toddler, and toddlers find pleasure in such a wonderful variety of things (playing in the mud, swinging on swings, spilling bubble solution all over the kitchen floor, squirting Dada with the hose, to name a few). Does she truly need sugar to be happy? I say she doesn't.

However, someday she will probably LOVE sugar, and I won't stand in her way. I would be the world's biggest hypocrite if I did. I had friends growing up whose well-meaning parents made them eat carob instead of chocolate (my mom even tried it with me!) To this day, Anthony loves sugary cereal because his mom never allowed it. I don't want for there to be that kind of backlash with Katie. I'm just putting it off until she actually starts to notice and care.

Anyway, today Katie was presented with a big basket full of salt water taffy and lollipops. She's only ever had one lollipop in her life, and it was this past Memorial Day. I'm not sure what she loved more, the candy or the fact that she got to imitate the "big kids," who were all eating Dum-dums. Either way, it was pretty cute. But I was surprised today when she went for a lollipop instead of the taffy. After she said "thank you" I put her down and she proceeded to tear off the wrapper and stick it in her mouth like she'd been eating 50 lollipops a day since birth. Even the guy giving out the candy was impressed with her unwrapping prowess!

My little cutie! I hope she continues to be ignorant about sugar (and enthusiastic about broccoli) for a long time yet!

Monday, June 17, 2013


Okay. So I know it's only 2 days past my due date. And I've had a relatively easy pregnancy so far (although not nearly as easy as my first!) But come on, baby, let's get cracking! It's not so much that I'm excited about the pain of labor (I'm not!), but I just want to get this whole thing over with. I'm so tired of worrying about what time of day it will be when labor starts! My mind keeps going over and over what time would be best, spinning in circles until I remind myself that it's going to happen in its own time, no matter what time I think would be most convenient. Ugh!

For example, sometimes I think it would be best if labor started just after dinnertime. Then Anthony could give Katie a bath (one of the few things she will "allow" him to do) and I could still be present (although probably breathing funny) for the bedtime routine. I could kiss my little sweetheart goodnight and give her extra hugs and squeezes (which I've been doing every night anyway). Then I could go downstairs and wait for the doula and my mom to come. My mom wouldn't have to do anything except wake up with Katie in the morning. Katie won't like it one bit that I'm not there, but she's usually in such a good mood in the morning that I think it would be the best time for her to have to deal with me not being here. Plus there are yummy breakfasts to be eaten, and then maybe a visit to the hospital, assuming we're ready for that.

My second choice would be going into labor around 5am. Katie's been waking up at 6:15 every morning, so I'd still be there when she gets up. Anthony wouldn't have left for work yet, so all I'd have to do is call the doula and my mom. My mom knows she has carte blanche when it comes to taking care of Katie on "The Day." She can feed her whatever food she wants, take her wherever she thinks will be fun, and it's even OK to skip her nap. Hopefully by evening we'd be ready for a hospital visit. Bedtime could be put off too, which might be a good idea so she'll be tired enough to go to sleep instead of crying for mama. And (hopefully) if I start labor that early in the morning, I'll be done and settled into the maternity ward so Anthony can go home, put Katie to bed, and sleep in a real bed instead of that ridiculous hospital chair that they claim "folds out into a bed." Dude, no it doesn't. Nobody could sleep a wink on that thing! (Especially my now-Ambien-deprived husband.)

But, like I said, it's gonna happen when it happens. Today, as I was pushing Katie on the swings at the park, I thought it was starting! I got so excited! It felt kind of like period cramps that lasted a couple of minutes and then went away. Then they came back! WOOHOO! And then they went away again. I hustled Katie into the car and drove home, but that was it. They haven't come back. BOOOOOOO! Stupid Braxton-Hicks!

Let's get this show on the road, sweetheart! I can't wait to hold you!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

At the risk of jinxing it...

...I think Katie's sleep regression is just about over. For the past five nights and naps, she has gone to sleep with no crying at all! She doesn't fall asleep right away, of course, but then again, she never used to do that in her crib either. She likes to roam around, talk, sing and entertain herself before she finally falls asleep. That's perfectly OK with me! No tears!!! WOOHOOOO!

One thing she is still doing, though, is taking off her undies. I have no idea what this is about. I thought it was a protest against our leaving her alone in her room, but now she's totally comfortable with that and the undies are still coming off! I just looked at her on the video monitor - she's lying down, kind of rolling around, and her little tushie is in the air, completely bare. I would post a picture - it's hilarious - but she would seriously never forgive me! She won't use a blanket, or the mattress, for that matter, so we started putting her in leg warmers overnight. At least she's not totally naked from the waist down! Thank goodness it's summertime.

Anyway, she's sleeping through the night without crying. I cannot even express how wonderful this is! She does wake up occasionally and make little noises (once she started giggling) but no crying! I've spent the past week's worth of nights in my own bed without interruption! (Well, aside from having to get up to pee. Thanks, pregnancy!)

There were many, many nights during this sleep regression when I thought it would never end. I thought we would never get through the crying, the screaming, and the pooping on the floor. But we did, somehow! All it took was Katie finally seeing that we were serious about bedtime. It was not easy. I think I may have made the process even longer by "caving" a couple of times. It's so hard not to give in when your precious darling is screaming that she has to go potty! But I know now, with the benefit of hindsight, that she was full of it (or, more accurately, not full of it at all!) And when I stopped letting her use the potty after "Last Potty", she finally stopped testing me.

And she's going to bed without a struggle! The last couple of nights, she's even gone back to giving us good night kisses! Ohhhhh, I missed those so much! I am so thankful that we've solved this problem before the baby is born. I know we could be in for more sleep regression after the baby comes, but at least Round 1 is over.

Speaking of baby, we are getting really close! My due date is Saturday. WOW! I have two bags packed (labor & postpartum), my mom is (supposedly) leaving her phone on all night long, and I'm feeling as ready as I'll ever be. The baby's room isn't done, but there's a bassinet and a changing table. That'll probably be good enough for the first 4-6 months or so. We did paint it and put a really pretty tree decal on the wall. Really all that's missing is blackout curtains, and if all goes well, I might be able to get those tomorrow.

Whee! Can't wait to hold my new little one!

Monday, June 3, 2013

4am musings

Sometimes I'm awake at 4am for no reason whatsoever. Despite our recent bedtime woes, Katie slept all night long last night. I, on the other hand, woke up with a head full of thoughts and the beginnings of a migraine. So here are some of those thoughts, in list form. Enjoy!

Stuff I'm really looking forward to after the baby is born:
The baby herself (well, duh!)
Being able to lie down on my back or stomach!
Smoked salmon
Not having to obsessively wash my hands after touching deli meat
Being able to eat deli meat without microwaving it first (ew!)
Not bonking Katie with my huge belly and knocking her flat
No more swollen fingers, feet and ankles! (I hope!)
Weight loss without really trying (let's hope this happens again!)
The absence of worrying about Katie during labor & delivery
Being able to reach the upper kitchen cabinets without squishing my belly
Wearing the baby in a wrap carrier
No more heartburn!
The ability to take a few approved OTC medications for colds & such
Having Anthony home for six weeks! (even though they may not be consecutive weeks)
Cloth diapering and EC
Being able to get up off the floor without a struggle
Being able to hold Katie in my lap while I read to her, instead of awkwardly sideways

Stuff I'm really NOT looking forward to:
Insane sleep deprivation
The return of real migraine headaches
Less time to spend with Katie
No more "Expectant Mother Parking"
Trying to juggle TWO kids' sleeping/feeding schedules
No more baby kicks in my belly  (I really like these)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A new lesson

I learned something today from a fellow parent, and I'm having some mixed emotions about it. So instead of moaning about our recent sleep problems, which are still going on, or reading the parenting book I just downloaded, I'm going to write about it.

We were at our weekly park playdate. The weather was really nice - sunny, but with a very cool breeze that I'm so thankful for, this late in pregnancy! I put a hat on Katie and it was still just barely cool enough for a long sleeved cotton shirt, so I didn't have to slather her with sunscreen. Bonus! There were about seven other kids at the playdate, which was a pretty nice turnout.

Throughout the playdate, Katie kept coming up to me with demands. Such as, "Up, mama! Walk!" or "Up, mama! Swings!" Lately I've been putting my foot down about the tone and the words she uses for these demands. Usually I say, "Oh, you want milk. Is there a nicer way you can ask?" or something to that effect. Sometimes she absently adds "Pweese," which doesn't exactly make me feel better about her dictatorial tone. So I've been trying to help her brainstorm different ways to ask for what she wants. For example, "I'm feeling thirsty, Mama! May I have some milk, please?" When she asks in this way, I want to jump for joy. And she'll do it sometimes without prompting, if she's in the right mood. She doesn't use all of those words in the correct order, but that makes it even cuter.

Anyway, Katie kept wanting to swing today, and I complied several times. At one point, Katie grabbed her water and her snack and demanded that I push her on the swings. So many things going on at once! I told her that I'd be happy to push her if she would ask in a different way. I got a reluctant "Pweese" but I could tell this wasn't the time to press for more. Then I told her to put her water and snack down so we could swing. She refused. "No water down! No snack down!" I calmly said, "Ok, well, if you want to eat and drink, that's ok, but we don't swing at the same time. When you're done with water and snack, then we can swing." She was starting to work herself up into a nice tantrum, but I wasn't going to give in. (This is part of my self-imposed assertiveness training, which I'm hoping will spill over and positively influence our bedtime woes.)

Luckily, she got distracted by another kid at this point, so I breathed a sigh of relief. But soon she was back, and she deliberately picked up her water before saying, "Up, mama! Swing!" I looked at her and repeated myself, "Water needs to stay here while we swing." "No water here! No!" I glanced at one of the other moms and murmured, "She sure is testing me a lot lately!" The other mom totally backed me up, saying, "Hey, Katie, it's true we don't drink water while we're on the swings." Another mom chimed in, "Yup, that's right!" Then the first mom said, "Do you want to know why?" She had Katie's full attention, and mine too - because at this point I couldn't even remember why I didn't want Katie to bring her water on the swings. I was too locked into winning my battle for dominance! The other mom said, "It's because if we're drinking water while we swing, we could bonk our water bottle on the swing and that might hurt. We wouldn't want you to get a boo-boo!" And to my complete and utter shock, Katie mulled this over for a few seconds, then put her water bottle down on the table!!!!! I took her hand and as we walked to the swings, I grinned at the other mom and said, "Thanks! That was a really good explanation!"

My mixed emotions are these: Gratitude and awe at the other mom's clear thinking, and guilt and shame that I didn't think of saying that myself. How many other times have there been where a simple little explanation would have avoided a tantrum? Oh, and throw in a pinch of frustration and jealousy because sometimes it seems Katie will listen to other adults (teachers and whatnot) but not me!

So anyway, I clearly have a lot more to learn about communicating with Katie. The hardest part is coming up with explanations that are clear and above all, brief! It reminds me of that time I was supervising the play-doh table at Katie's school. One of the moms had brought her four-year-old along for the day, and she was playing at my station. The mom told her, "Ok honey, after snack time, Mommy's going to go have discussion time." The four-year-old asked, "What's discussion time?" And the mom launched into this long-winded explanation of how sometimes the mommies and the teacher sit together in the art room and talk about different topics, and how it's grown-up time, and how it wouldn't be interesting for kids. The four-year-old was remarkably patient through this sermon, but I could tell not much of it sank in. About half an hour later, Teacher Donna called out, "Discussion Time!" and a different older sibling asked, "What's discussion?" Teacher Donna said, "It means we go into a room and talk. Thank you for asking!" (Now that's how it's done!)

If I had today to do over, I think I would tell Katie that she couldn't bring her water on the swings because she needs both hands to hold on. Then I could make a silly game of counting how many hands she would need in order to hold her water too, or something like that. I am able to do that kind of thing, sometimes - but not all the time, and certainly not today. It's a good reminder not to get too entrenched in "because I said so." Boy, do I struggle with that! I remember as a child, my mom constantly told me stuff like, "Because I'm the parent" and "Because 'Y' is a crooked letter and can't be straight." (wtf?) I guess it's true that our kids bring out things in us that we need to deal with from our past!

OK, back to the parenting book! 'Til next time!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Midnight shopper

Hooray! In the midst of all the turmoil happening around here, I finally have something funny to post! Yesterday Anthony and I were talking about sleep training Katie, and wondering if we should put it off until Friday night. I'd spent the past two nights sleeping (or trying to sleep) on a mattress on Katie's bedroom floor. Anthony suggested that he be the one to try sleeping on Katie's floor. I looked at him and laughed, and said, "Honey, you can't even sleep in a perfectly darkened room, with a memory foam topper on the bed, a white noise machine, a sleep mask, and under the influence of Ambien. What makes you think you'll get a wink of sleep on Katie's floor?"

He grinned sheepishly and said, "Ok, you're right. And there's something else I apparently need in order to fall asleep."

I looked at him quizzically.

"Remember those two boxes that were delivered to the house today? I opened them, and they were both purchases I apparently made off of eBay around 11pm on Monday, but I have no recollection of doing so!"

OMG! He bought a new pair of shoes (which are a bit than he usually wears) and three (THREE!) sets of Matchbox car tracks, the kind with a loop-the-loop. Mind you, we don't actually own any Matchbox cars. I guess that's a purchase for another night!

What's really scary is, sometimes he answers work emails from bed, after taking Ambien. I wonder what kinds of things he's written! LOL!!

I remember that there were some weird side effects for Ambien, like sleep-eating (yes, this is apparently an actual medical term.) But nobody warned us about sleep-shopping! Maybe we should sue? LMAO!!!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

We're still alive!

Sorry we've been so quiet around here, folks! So far the month of May has been a real doozy. I mentioned that Katie started climbing out of her crib at night. Well, the problem got worse and worse until we decided to take the front crib rail off. This, naturally, led to an entirely new problem: how to keep Katie from running down the hall, screaming, at all hours of the night!

Katie didn't want to sleep in her crib, with or without the rail, and this completely destroyed our previously bulletproof bedtime routine. We went from a predictable 20-30 minute routine with books, lullabies and kisses, to 3-hour-long tantrums culminating in Katie passing out half-naked on the floor. Naps went completely out the window, too - she refused to even lie down for a second.

I'd like to say that I figured out how to deal with these problems on my own, but I didn't. I enlisted the help of a "parenting coach." Ugh, I'm cringing - am I really that incompetent at parenting that I need a tutor? Evidently, yes! But whatever, this isn't about pride, it's about making it through the day with my sanity somewhat intact. The parenting coach has helped us immensely.

She made some simple but effective suggestions that have ended the bedtime power struggles. Katie was begging for us to turn the light back on at bedtime. We weren't sure if she was testing us or genuinely terrified, so for a couple of nights we caved in to her demands. The coach told us that if we stayed in the room with her, it was perfectly reasonable to turn the lights out. So, in order to prevent Katie from turning the lights back on herself, I unscrewed all the light bulbs in her overhead light and started using a small table lamp instead. When lights-out time comes, I unplug the lamp and put in one of those outlet covers. Power struggle over!

Same with the door. I've already explained about our woes with the lever-style door handles. We ended up buying an inexpensive round doorknob at Home Depot and installing it with a childproof cover on the inside of Katie's room. That way, we can get in and out as necessary but Katie can't get out in the middle of the night and roam the halls. Of course, Katie managed to rip it off twice the first night, but I reinforced it with duct tape and we've been struggle-free ever since. (Except when I neglect to pull the door completely closed - if the closing mechanism doesn't engage, Katie can just pull the door open without turning the handle.)

We also Katie-proofed the rest of the room by taking everything off the top of her cabinets so she wouldn't be as tempted to climb them. We removed the changing table topper from her dresser, because she was holding onto it and climbing up. We removed the knobs on her dresser drawers so they wouldn't be used as a tiny rock climbing wall. Today I mounted her white-noise machine high up on the wall with masking tape. I removed the knobs on her cabinets so she can't open them and play with toys when she's supposed to be sleeping. I had to take down her adorable growth chart, and remove a whole bunch of her books. Her closet door is still a problem - she can totally defeat the childproof lock on it - so I'm looking into another solution.

Doing all of these things has really helped us to be consistent with enforcing bedtime. I think some of the worst parenting moments are the ones where you feel ambivalent about the rules (Should I let her go to the potty one last time? What if she really does have to go??) The parenting coach told me that we could establish a "Last Potty" time as part of our bedtime routine, and that it might take an accident or two for Katie to understand what "Last Potty" meant. She reassured me that having an accident wouldn't traumatize Katie, that it would be a learning experience instead. But oh, the thought of not letting her potty when she really needed to go...that was too much for me! Thankfully we've had a little potty in Katie's room since she was tiny, so I know that if Katie really does have to go, she can.

And what can I say? It's been a bumpy road, full of tantrums and empty of sleep. But I think we're making progress. Katie is now sleeping in her room for nights and naps, although she's still waking up several times a night. But hey, I have to get used to that anyway, right?

I hope we can get back to shareably-funny blog posts soon! You know, instead of just whiny. ;)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I found one!

Hooray! I found a fairy godperson today! I was convinced that there weren't any in California - everyone seems so distant and into their own thing here.

Today at Trader Joe's (where else, right?) I got to the cashier and realized that my wallet wasn't in my purse. Not cool at all - especially when Katie's running amok with her tiny shopping cart. I asked the cashier if he could put my groceries to the side while I went to the car to look for the wallet. Then I walked (dragged) Katie across the parking lot and let her climb around in the car while I frantically looked for it. I found many things, some of them sticky, some of them smelly, but no wallet. So I dragged Katie back across the parking lot (why is it that her legs turn to jelly the instant she realizes I'm in a hurry?) and back to the cashier, thinking that maybe the wallet had fallen out in the cart during my disagreement with Katie on whether she should be sitting in it. No dice. So I had to abandon my groceries, but the manager was nice enough to tell me she'd hold them in the back until later.

On our way back to the car, our fairy godperson appeared. It was the nice lady who had been in line behind us. She saw me struggling with a squirmy, escape-happy toddler and a round pregnant belly, and she offered to buy my groceries for me! Wasn't that the sweetest thing ever? I thanked her profusely but told her it wasn't necessary. It was only a few items, and we'd just go get my wallet and come back later. But still - faith in humanity restored! It also made me realize just how desperate and bedraggled I must look, but that's another story.

When we got home, I cleaned out my car while Katie looked around for trouble in the garage. Cleaning one's car while 7 months pregnant is easier said than done. I tried to crawl around and look under the seats, but I'm just too big! But it felt great to get all those layers of junk out of there. My goodness - the back seat looked like an episode of Hoarders. And, truth be told, it didn't take THAT long to clean it all out, so why do I let it get so awful before I finally do something about it?

Anyway, still no wallet, which means it's probably at the car dealership, where we were last night. We leased a new Nissan Leaf, for some very specific, strategic reasons. The primary reason is that the Leaf is one of only a handful of cars that qualifies for a carpool lane sticker in California. That means that Anthony can drive to work in the carpool lane, even though he's by himself. He commutes 25 miles each way, and the traffic is so bad that it sometimes takes him over an hour each way. So we'll see what a difference the sticker makes. I hope he gains at least 30 minutes roundtrip. Who couldn't use 30 extra minutes in their day? Anthony wants to spend every single second with Katie. :)

The second reason we got the Leaf is that it was insanely cheap! There's a $7500 federal tax credit that the dealership can collect for every Leaf they sell, so they are offering crazy-low monthly payments and very little down. We'll save money on gas, too, because there are free charging stations at Anthony's work. He'll only need to do half of his charging at home. The dealership says (so I'm taking it with a grain of salt) that it costs about $1.50 for a full charge. Even if he had to charge it fully at home every day, that's still better than the $8/day he was spending on gas. Depending on how good the battery's range is (dealership says 110 miles, real-life users say 75) he might be able to skip charging at home altogether! Woohoo!

And the third reason, of course, is that I'm sorta crunchy and I like the idea of supporting greener technologies. Of course, I realize that the batteries in these things are far from eco-friendly, and that electricity is not necessarily a green energy source. I think people forget about that. According to California's online Energy Almanac, only 14.6% of the electricity we produce in-state comes from renewable sources. But, I still think the electric car is a step in the right direction, and I hope that our purchase makes an impact (however small) on improving infrastructure and encouraging innovation.

So, hooray! New car! Now let's hope the dealership has seen my wallet...

Monday, April 29, 2013

L'il Houdini

What an interesting week it's been! Katie has been demonstrating her ability to stay one step ahead of us. I believe I already mentioned the time she escaped out of the garden gate, several months ago. Well, Wednesday she discovered that she can unbolt the front door and disappear that way too. I'm so lucky that I was just in the next room when I heard the front door swing open. Thank goodness it makes a unique swishing noise that I recognized immediately. I dropped everything and sprinted (waddled) after her. She is FAST! She made it almost all the way to the next cul-de-sac before I caught her. I'm really glad she likes to run on the sidewalk instead of into the street, but still!

So I went to Target in search of a solution. We have lever door handles on every door of our house, which, in addition to being decorative, are extremely toddler-friendly. They're not parent-friendly, though - not if the parent prefers to keep her toddler from running out the front door. They do sell childproof locks for lever handles, but they are pretty complicated to install. So I got an idea. I bought a three-pack of those round doorknob covers, but instead of snapping them onto the door handle, I put them around the deadbolt! It's totally working! I also put one on the hot-water valve under the bathroom sink (which she loves to play with) and the hose outside. Woohoo!

The next day, Anthony and I were sitting in the living room gloating over the success of these new devices. We were comparing notes on how long it takes each of us to catch Katie when she gets away. All of a sudden I realized I hadn't heard her make noise in a few minutes. I went to make sure the back gate was latched. It was. But then, I realized...THE GARAGE DOOR WAS OPEN! She'd snuck out that way and run around to the front, undoubtedly right past the living room windows while we sat there! I started running and calling her name, and finally found her four houses down, playing with a neighbor's lawn ornaments. WOW.

Since then, we've been extra-vigilant about the garage door. We haven't had any front-door or garage door escapes for the past three days. But...

Just to keep us on our toes, Katie has also decided to escape from her crib. The first night she did it was Friday, when Grammy was watching her. Grammy has been having zero success with putting Katie to bed, so we told her she might have to put Katie in the crib and let her cry. (Which we HATE doing!) Grammy did that, and soon after heard a big THUMP! followed by Katie opening her bedroom door. Not good. We figured it was because Grammy had also been unable to put on Katie's sleep sack, which generally prevents her from getting her leg up high enough to climb out of the crib. However, last night Katie managed to climb out, sleep sack and all. At 4am. And wouldn't go back to sleep until 4:45. Sigh.

So now we're going to have to convert Katie's crib to a mini toddler bed with a guard rail. I don't like the idea of doing this, because it means Katie may be getting up at all hours of the night and coming to find us. But I think it's the only safe thing to do. Apparently "crib tents" are no longer sold because of safety issues. Darn it, that would have been a really good solution to our problem.

Any tips on keeping kids in their own beds? I'm all ears!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

How dry I am...(now)

I'm depressed. Just when I think I have all the answers, Katie throws me a curve ball. I've spent the entire day today studiously avoiding asking Katie to go potty. I've been a paragon of restraint! I didn't ask when she woke up. I didn't ask before or after breakfast. I do admit I lured her into the bathroom when I needed to go, then said "Katie's turn!" when I was done. (Which, by the way, worked.)

I didn't ask her at the park. I brought her potty along but I was pretty sure she wouldn't need it. I just put it down in the shade and didn't say a word. I didn't ask her when it was time to leave, or before getting in the car. I didn't ask her before she sat down to have lunch.

I didn't ask her before her nap. And that's the one that came back to bite me in the you-know-what.

I thought about it, and I kind of alluded to it before we put on her sleep sack: "Is there anything else we should do before we put on your sack?" She ignored me, so I shrugged and proceeded with the nap routine. I knew perfectly well that she hadn't peed in almost three hours, and that she wasn't going to make it an additional two hours for nap. I'd just changed her sheets from the accident she had overnight, and I knew I'd be taking them right off again after nap. I was ok with all of that.

But I had no way of knowing how it was all going to go down. I figured she'd take a nice nap and wake up wet. Then I'd just start another load of laundry, no biggie. Her mattress is waterproof. But no. Instead she woke up screaming and crying, after 45 minutes of napping. I knew why instantly - she had to go pee! I went into her room and tried to console her. "Oh, I see, you need to go potty!" "NO! NO! NO! NO POTTY! NO!" I saw a small wet spot on her sleep sack, so that meant she'd started to pee and was now holding it. "Let's take off your sack." "NO! NO! SACK ON!! ON!!!!" I walked her up and down the hall once. "KATIE'S ROOM! KATIE'S ROOM!" We went back to her room. This time I didn't ask, I just unzipped her sack and took it off. She screamed and thrashed more than ever. I tried to put her on the little potty in her room. "NO!!! NO!! WALK, MAMA, WALK!!" So I took her back outside into the hall. And then she started to pee, all over me. I quickly ran into the bathroom and sat her on the potty, where she continued to pee. I tried to mop her up. She continued to scream. I brought her back to her room and offered her a choice of undies. She kept on screaming, but chose one. I put them on her (more screaming). I put the sleep sack back on (with the small wet spot, don't judge! I couldn't find the other one). I tried to rock her and soothe her, but she was getting more upset by the second. She even rejected Lambie! The only thing that distracted her was reading her favorite book. Finally she calmed down. I put her in her crib, and thank goodness, she was able to go back to sleep.

And then I went and changed clothes. My only clean shirt and the only jeans that fit me, are now soaked. Lovely. The carpet in the hallway outside Katie's room is also sprinkled with a trail of pee that leads to the potty. But I can't steam clean it because it'll wake Katie up. Good lord.

I seriously do not think I could have done anything differently. I obviously should have insisted that she potty before nap, but insisting only makes her resist more! I'm so frustrated! I thought that dropping my end of the power struggle was going to solve our potty problems. It really galls me that I was so wrong!

Ughhh...oh well, at least I'm in dry clothes now. A load of laundry and some steam cleaning, and we'll move on. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Drop the rope!

My dad once told me that if you don't want to play tug-of-war anymore, all you have to do is drop the rope. It's easier said than done, especially when you really have a vested interest in winning said game of tug-of-war.

But today, I've done it. And it's actually working (so far, anyway).

When Katie woke up this morning, I vowed not to say anything about the potty. And I did pretty well for the first hour. The second hour I caved - I asked her if she wanted to go potty. "NO!" I was really starting to get tired of following her around everywhere in hopes of either catching an accident before it happened, or at least seeing where the accident landed so I could clean it up. The third hour, I was starting to get desperate. Katie said she wanted to go out in her stroller, and I told her that she would have to potty first. We went back and forth with that for quite some time. I really tried to be neutral and matter-of-fact about it. I told her it was up to her, and as soon as she went on the potty we could go.

I watched her do several different variations on the pee-pee dance: crossing her legs, holding her hand to her crotch, shifting from side to side. It was a Herculean effort not to just grab her and force her on the potty. But we all know how that would have turned out. In the end, she FINALLY, FINALLY went on her own. And I immediately dressed her and whisked her off to run errands. There was no time for a stroller ride, so Grammy's coming over later to take her for a stroll.

During our errand-running, she intermittently drank water out of her sippy cup. When we got home, she drank lots of milk with her lunch. I didn't say a single word about the potty even though it had been over 2 hours since her last pee. And guess what? While we were playing, she suddenly said "Potty!" and turned and walked to the bathroom. I silently helped her with her clothing and that was that.

So, lesson FINALLY learned. Katie is not me. She is not Anthony. She is not anyone else I've ever known. She is the only human being on the face of the earth who can wait 3 hours to pee after waking up. But hey, I think this is proof that she does actually know when she needs to go. So quit nagging, Mama!!!!

Makes you wonder: with potty training, who's training whom? :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I'm doing it all wrong!

Well, folks, potty training got off to a pretty good start, but it hasn't been exactly smooth sailing since then. That first day, Thursday, we had the two misses I mentioned in my last post. Friday we had more misses, and these were more serious. I know this is an unrealistic goal to have as a parent, but I fervently, passionately do not want my house to smell like pee. I am a pretty bad housekeeper as it is - I do not need peed-on carpets undermining my halfhearted efforts to keep the house smelling clean.

With equal fervor, I don't want to freak out when Katie pees on the carpet. I don't think that would be good for her self-esteem or the potty learning process. But it is a lot easier for me to be nonchalant and casual about misses that happen on the bathroom floor, which is tile. So I tried my very best to keep my tone of voice light as I watched Katie pee on her bedroom carpet, the carpet outside the bathroom, and the rug in the den. But I probably failed miserably. I vaguely remember saying "Wait wait wait, on the potty! On the potty!" and trying to maneuver her over to the potty without making the mess worse. Oh dear. But she didn't seem to notice anything was amiss. She enjoyed helping me with the steam cleaner afterwards, so much that I was worried this was becoming a fun new game.

By Friday evening, when the third carpet-miss of the day happened, I turned to Anthony and said, "I'm done. Let's go back to diapers. I just can't do this right now - I'm too exhausted to keep reminding her to potty, only to have her pee on the rug within 45 seconds after being reminded." But that night as I was trying to fall asleep, I vowed to keep going. After all, I'd have Anthony's help for the next two days.

And of course, the next two days went really great! We only had one miss on Saturday morning, on the bathroom floor. I was in the shower when it happened, and the first thing I heard when I turned off the water was the sound of the steam cleaner. But, it turns out that there was nothing on the carpet - Katie just thought it would be fun to get the steam cleaner out. (See, she thinks it's a game!)

Sorry, it's taking me a long time to get to my point. Yesterday and so far today, we haven't had any misses, but some serious power struggles are brewing. I'm having more and more trouble convincing Katie to go potty, even when I'm 95% sure she has to go. And I'm getting more worked up about it than I'd like to be, because of the aforementioned carpets. For the past five days, Katie's overnight diaper has been dry in the morning. (Which is awesome and completely unexpected - I thought we'd still diaper her at night for at least a few more months!) But doesn't that mean she probably has to pee when she wakes up? I mean, doesn't everyone? When she finally agrees to go on the potty, she pees a lot! So, aside from the fact that she is two, I have no idea why she keeps saying "NO! NO! NO!" when I ask her if she'd like to potty. I've tried waiting a few minutes before asking. I've tried giving her a choice of potties. All I get is "NO! NO! NO!" until she finally decides it's time.

If this were anything but potty training, I would just let it go and let her do it when she wants to. I know that's ultimately what I'm going to have to do. And I will just have to keep steam cleaning the carpets until she gets it. WAAAAAH! But this does put a bit of a strain on going places. It's one thing if she wants to take her time going potty upon waking up. But I'll be darned if I'm going to let a fledgling undies-wearer leave the house without pottying first. So it's been taking us FOREVER to leave the house. Luckily, we only have one or two things each week that we need to be on time for. If we had to get out of the house at a certain time every day, I think I'd be going insane.

Thanks for letting me rant! I am going to try an experiment when Katie wakes up from her nap today. I'm not going to mention the potty even once, and we will see what happens! It reminds me of something I once heard at a parenting class: "Sleep - you can't make 'em do it!" Same goes for pretty much EVERYTHING with a toddler. Pottying? Can't make 'em do it. Eating? Can't make 'em do it. Even sitting in the car seat. I thought I could make Katie do it, but you all remember how that turned out.

Cross your fingers for dry carpets this afternoon!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

It's happening!

Wow. Remember how I said I was gonna let the pee part of potty training "just happen?" Well, it's happening! Today it happened all over the play structure at the park, and later, all over the downstairs bathroom floor. Suddenly I'm not so sure I'm a fan of potty training! LOL!!

It actually started last Thursday at our weekly park playgroup. Two of the little girls had potties at the park, as they'd just started training. Katie was fascinated. I don't really know why - she has (at last count) four potties of her own and two potty seats, and has had them since before she could walk or talk. Of course, these were different shapes and colors, so maybe that was it. Anyway, I took the opportunity to point out Katie's friend Molly's cute "big-girl" undies. I've been trying to persuade Katie to wear undies for the past 8 months or so, and she just refuses and screams for her diaper.

But maybe seeing Molly in her big-girl undies did the trick. Yesterday at Target I asked Katie if she would like to wear Hello Kitty undies. (They had a 7-pack, super cute!) Unlike last time I'd asked her, this time she said "Yes!" I explained that she'd be wearing these instead of a diaper, and she seemed OK with that. So I bought them. Cool!

I should also mention that for the past couple of days, Katie's had a ton of what E.C. calls "catches" - basically pees that went in the potty instead of in the diaper. A pee anywhere but a potty is known as a "miss." We usually would have a catch or two a day, and 5 or 6 misses in a diaper. I wasn't really keeping track because I'd just decided to let potty training happen on its own. Katie had an entire day (Saturday, I believe) with no misses at all! Every time we'd go to change her, the diaper would be dry. Then we'd put her on the potty, and she'd pee. It was great!

Yesterday before dinner we let her pick out a pair of new undies, and she wore them until bath time. She successfully (with a little help from Dada) got them off when it was time to pee. YAY! We diapered her as usual for bedtime (baby steps)! This morning she peed on the potty, and then we put a new pair of Kitty undies on her. And then I guess I got greedy.

Since I knew the other girls would be at the park today with their potties, I figured Katie would probably be willing to go potty alongside them. So I put her in undies and brought a change of clothes and one of her potties. I was pretty worried about the car ride, but it was fine. We got to the park, and I asked her if she wanted to go potty now, next to the car, or at the park. She said park, so off we went. I put Katie's potty in an accessible spot in the shade near the swings, and asked again if she wanted to go. "No!"

She was climbing on a play structure when it happened. She stopped suddenly, and shifted her weight to one side. One of the other moms said, "Oh, she's peeing!" OMG! I grabbed a diaper from the diaper bag and tried to mop up. Then I stripped Katie from the waist down, saying, "Guess what? I have a dry change of clothes for you in the diaper bag!" She chose a new pair of undies, we put the dry clothes on, and that was that. Then I used my water bottle to rinse off the play structure. Ay yi yi. Hope the other moms were OK with that - I didn't know what else to do!!!

I realized that next time I'll need to bring two changes of clothes. After the first accident, I realized that we were out of options if there should be a second one! All I had in the diaper bag was a onesie for a 6 month old, some wipes, and a couple of cloth diapers without covers. Not exactly Boy Scout caliber. Thankfully, we made it home dry. As soon as we got here, I asked Katie if she wanted to go potty. "No!" She played in the garage for a bit while I made lunch. Then I asked her to come in and wash her hands in the sink. Once there, she wanted to wash her tea set too. I let her do that for a while. When I went to check on her, she was squatting on the floor, clearly trying to get her undies and pants off, but they, the floor and her socks were soaked. Oh well. We changed again and ate lunch.

Then we went upstairs for her nap. I asked if she wanted to use the potty. "No!" I put her in undies again, knowing that I'd probably be washing her sheets and sleep sack afterwards.  She took forever to fall asleep, talking and singing at the top of her voice. Then she screamed. It wasn't a real scream - it was high-pitched and short, and sounded like her frustrated scream. But because of the diaper situation, I took the stairs two at a time. I expected to find her standing in a soaking-wet sleep sack. But no, she'd screamed because I'd left her curtains open. (wtf!! Toddlers!!!!) However, I was able to convince her to use the potty. Hallelujah! I'm fairly confident that she will make it through her nap dry, as long as I go and get her immediately when she wakes up.

And just now, as I was hanging diapers on the line outside, I realized...if I'm able to keep this up, we could be done with diapers. Just like that! Obviously we're going to have more misses, but this might be the end of diapers! Am I ready for this? Am I ready to constantly ask Katie whether she has to go? Ready to have her say "Pee pee!" just as we're pulling out of the driveway, late for school, when I've just spent the last half hour begging her to go? I know diapering is kind of a nuisance, but in a way it's also very convenient.

Oh well, I'll adjust - it was just a shock to think I might not be washing diapers anymore. At least, until Little One #2 comes! ;) Can't wait!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Big, Big, BIG slide!

Well, folks, this proves it. Despite the fact that Katie pretty much hasn't been out of my sight since the moment she was born, I think she must have been switched at birth. She can't possibly be my child. (Let's also ignore the fact that she has my cheeks, my stubbornness, and my narrow feet.)

Today, at the ripe old age of not-quite-2 1/2, Katie went down the biggest, steepest slide imaginable. Seriously, it's said to be the second-largest in California. Here are some pics:

See? I couldn't even get the whole thing in frame. It's nearly three stories tall! And not only did Katie go down it once, she wanted to go again. And again. And again!

Here's a video - watch the grin on her face as she shoots out the bottom at 100 miles an hour. (OK, it wasn't that fast, but when it's your firstborn, it sure seems like it!)

We had so much fun at this playground. There were only 3 or 4 other kids there, so that made it even nicer. I didn't have to worry about bigger kids pushing Katie out of the way on the climb up to the big slide. All I had to do was make sure she safely got past the last opening on the staircase (she loves to try to climb down things that are way too advanced for her - in this case, a 10-foot vertical rock wall). After that, the staircase was entirely enclosed. I climbed up with her the first time to make sure it was safe. She didn't need the least bit of reassurance, just a reminder to go feet first! After the 5th or 6th time, I was finally comfortable enough to let her climb by herself while I hurried to the bottom of the slide. I heard her say, "Feet first, here comes Katie!"

My little daredevil! Who knows where she gets it from!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Date night!

We finally had another date night! I'm pretty sure our last date was at the end of July 2012. We were way overdue! It was so nice, too. We had Grammy come over around 4:30 so the transition wouldn't be too abrupt. Despite Grammy's protestations that she could handle it, I gave her a quick rundown of the basics of Katie's bedtime routine. We left around 6:30. We told Katie goodbye, emphasizing that we would be back after she was asleep. I also told her we'd come in and say goodnight to her, since that seemed to work OK last time. Grammy held her up so we could all wave bye-bye as we drove away. Everything seemed fine, no tears or anything! Yay.

We went to a cute bar & grill with outdoor seating and (thankfully) heat lamps and fire pits. I had fried polenta with goat cheese on top, with bolognese sauce. (Sorry, probably boring you with unimportant details, but it's been SO LONG since I ate in a restaurant!) And we talked! We joked, we laughed, we commiserated about missing Katie even though we'd been gone less than an hour. We got to have an entire conversation without being interrupted every 45 seconds! It was delightful.

I didn't even worry about Katie, well not much anyway. I did check my phone for texts pretty often, but it didn't get in the way of our evening. We decided to text my mom on our way home, to find out if everything had gone smoothly. She didn't reply, which could mean that she was still trying to put Katie down, or that her phone was out of battery, or that she'd left it downstairs, or that she couldn't figure out how to send a text back. Sigh, parents and technology!! So we got home, not knowing what to expect. If Katie was resisting going to bed but Grammy was making headway, we didn't want to interfere.

We tiptoed into the house and listened. We didn't hear anything. Good sign. Then I crept up the stairs and saw a light coming from under Katie's door. D'oh! That meant Grammy was in there with Katie, with the light on. Probably in the rocking chair. I went back downstairs to report this to Anthony, and just then we heard Katie start to wail. She sounded really, really unhappy, so we gave up and went in and got her. Poor baby - she was standing in her crib, crying, while Grammy was sitting on the rocking chair, trying to say soothing things. Katie kept crying after I picked her up, but soon calmed down. Then Grammy informed me that Katie had a regular diaper on, not the one we use overnight. She was also not wearing her pajamas underneath her sleep sack. So I unzipped her and started over. A few minutes, one book and one lullaby later, and Katie went into her crib without further protest.

Then I went downstairs to hear what had happened. It turns out that, unlike when Dada watched her, Katie wasn't happy at all to be left with Grammy. She'd get interested in something for a few minutes, then remember we were gone and start to cry. Grammy did everything she could think of to entertain her, but nothing would last. Finally it was bedtime, and Grammy took her upstairs to change. Katie absolutely refused to have her diaper put on. She writhed and screamed and bucked and kicked. She had an absolute meltdown. Apparently she ran downstairs, screaming, and was trying to open the door to the garage, when...she started to poop. Katie prefers to poop on the potty, so she must have been pretty wrapped up in her tantrum and pretty focused on getting that door open. To Katie's credit, my mom said she turned and ran for the potty, one little hand over her bottom, trying to keep the poop in. (omg!) Suffice it to say that Katie had another reason to say "Dada clean it poo-poo rug" the next morning. Thankfully, there were only two tiny little spots and they both came out completely.

After my mom cleaned Katie up, she still didn't want to put on pajamas or a diaper. So my mom turned on the TV ("Thank goodness Lawrence Welk was on!" Seriously??) She quickly put a daytime diaper on Katie while Katie was standing up, mesmerized by the wholesome mid-century musical antics on TV. I'm guessing she got Katie's shirt and sleep sack on in the same way. I don't know how she got Katie upstairs, but I'm guessing Katie didn't go quietly. And that's roughly where we came in.

So date night didn't go all that smoothly. Good thing Grammy wasn't scared off - she actually wants to try again, which I think is kind of a miracle. Wish us better luck (and less poop) next time!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Flash Flood

Sometimes I feel guilty about how much time I let Katie spend entertaining herself. I've developed a sixth sense that's mostly based on sound. As long as I can hear what Katie is doing, it's almost as good as seeing her. I have a razor-sharp awareness of unfamiliar sounds (like something breaking, or ripping, or foreign objects being scribbled on the walls). Ditto anything to do with the toilet. If she so much as touches that thing, I'm there in an instant.

And that is how I get through my day, especially now that I haven't enough energy to do anything besides sitting down. I let Katie play and I check in on her periodically. But then I watch Anthony or Grammy with Katie, and they seem to do a lot more active playing. I rationalize that they don't have to watch her for 12 hours straight. I wake up with Katie and I put her to bed, so I've learned to pace myself. But I still feel guilty, like I'm being lazy.

Well, today I wasn't being lazy. I wasn't lying in a hammock, eating bonbons. I wasn't watching soap operas or reading romance novels. I wasn't painting my toenails (ha, like I can even reach my toes these days!). No, I was simply trying to have five minutes to myself in the bathroom. Is that so much to ask? If you're a mom, you know what I'm talking about. I never dreamed I'd be going to the bathroom with an audience. And most of the time it's fine - I tell myself that it will help Katie to potty-train if she watches me. But sometimes, I just want to be alone.

Today was one of those days. I sneaked upstairs to the bathroom and perked up my ears to listen in on whatever Katie was doing. At first, all was well. Then I started to hear some weird sounds. Weird sounds are never good. This sounded a little bit like dripping. Oh dear. But I shook off my feeling of dread. Then I heard Katie's "frustrated" scream. It's a little more high pitched than her usual screams. But I figured being frustrated for 5 minutes wouldn't kill her. Then I heard a real cry, but it didn't really have that much urgency. When Katie hurts herself, there is no doubt. The entire county can hear her. And then I heard a sort of splat, and an even louder cry, and that's when I gave up on my uninterrupted bathroom time.

I hurried downstairs to find Katie crying, naked, in the middle of the biggest puddle of water I'd ever seen on the kitchen floor. It clearly started at the fridge water dispenser that I'd thoughtlessly left unlocked, and it reached nearly from one side of the kitchen to the other. It was a LAKE. It was creeping under the baseboards under the stove, leaking under the fridge, and had almost made it all the way to the pantry. And Katie was right in the middle, getting frustrated because she kept slipping and falling down. I just stood there, mouth agape, for several seconds. I literally didn't know where to start mopping it all up. I took off my socks, waded over and picked up Katie, and went in search of a couple of old towels that we use for big messes. It took two full-size bath towels to soak up the water!

And this was all fun and games until I realized that our kitchen floor might be permanently ruined. We were stupid enough to put hardwood flooring in our kitchen, and even stupider to use an engineered wood instead of the real thing. This stuff has a pretty thick layer of real wood on the surface, so it's supposed to be much more durable than what you find at Lumber Liquidators. Even so, you're really not supposed to dump gallons of water all over it. I see quite a few areas where it's warped. I pray that leaving the windows open helps it dry and that the warping goes away, because I really don't want to explain all this to Anthony. He may be the world's most understanding husband, but he's still not going to be happy about thousands of dollars' worth of damage.

Sigh. I wonder exactly how she caused the flood? She was naked, so I wonder if she took me seriously all those times I joked about the water dispenser? She likes to press the valve that makes the water come out, and I sometimes say, "It's a good thing that's locked, or you'd be getting a very cold shower right now!" Maybe she was hot?

Never a dull moment around here!

Friday, April 5, 2013

A stinky little secret

I've posted before about how much I love cloth diapering. I really do - it's great. And most of the time if the subject comes up, either in my blogging or in conversation, I find myself being a great big cheerleader. I guess it's because I don't want to say anything negative, just in case someone is on the fence about giving cloth a try.

But let's face it! I don't think there are that many people on the fence. Most people I meet are either cloth diapering and loving it, or using disposables and loving it. So I'm not worried that what I'm about to post is going to change anybody's mind. Although, I do hope it won't give the cloth-diaper-haters ammunition to use against us cloth-diaper-lovers. No hating, please!

My secret is: my cloth diapers have got a case of the stinkies. They smell just fine coming out of the washer - like nothing at all, which is exactly how they're supposed to smell. They smell fine once dried, too, whether I dry them outside or in the dryer. But once they're wet, they get stinky pretty quick. When the diapers were new, they would only smell very faintly of fresh pee when I took them off Katie. Now they're a little more likely to have ammonia-funk-smell. And gone are the days of being able to go three days between washes - the diaper pail gets pretty ripe after two days!

So, it's time to strip them. I've been really lucky so far - this is only the third time I've stripped diapers in almost 2 1/2 years. so really that's not so bad. Unfortunately, my internet research has turned up 10,000 different methods on how to strip diapers. I am lucky to have the absolute easiest diapers to strip - cotton prefolds. I've heard that synthetic fabrics hold stink a lot more, thus have to be stripped more often. Not so with cotton. Plus, my prefolds don't have any waterproof fabric attached, so I can toss them into a pot and boil them. All-in-ones or pocket diapers often have the waterproofing attached, and it can melt if exposed to high temperatures.

So Katie is in her crib for naptime (although she's definitely not asleep yet) and I have just put a big pot of water on the stove to boil. I'll add 2-3 diapers at a time once it's boiling, and boil them for 5 minutes or so. Then I'll cool them off in a colander, wring them and hang them outside. I know it sounds pretty arduous, but a) I'm only boiling a dozen diapers, so it won't take long, and b) there's something about boiling laundry that makes me feel like a pioneer woman. This is great, because I can get that homesteading feeling with a project that will probably take less than an hour and won't create any additional mess for me to clean up. Yay for that!

Got any household rituals that take you back to our homesteading roots?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Toddler Scramble

Isn't it funny how quickly things happen around toddlers? One second you're introducing a fun new activity, and the next second your house is a complete mess. Today Katie took my breath away with her powers of destruction. Not in the scope of the disaster, which was pretty small, but how quickly it happened.

It started with me offering Katie some scrambled eggs for "second breakfast." Ever since I stopped giving Katie a bottle when she wakes up, I've been at a loss about when breakfast time should be. She used to drink her bottle, then have breakfast around 8:30. Now that the bottle is gone, I've been feeding her around 7:30, and then feeding her again before we go out around 9:30. Maybe if I skip the second breakfast, she'll be hungry enough to eat the 10:00 snack at school. We'll see.

Anyway, Katie said an enthusiastic "Yesh!" to scrambled eggs, and immediately followed up with "Help!" (Meaning, Katie help make eggs!) So I let her pull a chair over to the kitchen island while I cracked the eggs into the biggest bowl I could find. I handed her a whisk and let her go to town. It was a real challenge to put the frying pan on the stove and get the milk out of the fridge while keeping my eyes on her at all times. Last time we tried to scramble eggs, she wanted to stick her fingers in for a taste. I never used to be afraid of salmonella - I've practically eaten my weight in raw cookie dough over the years - but since Katie was born I've become paranoid. Luckily, this time she was having too much fun with the whisk to be curious about how raw eggs taste.

I got out the pepper grinder and let her do that for a bit. It's too difficult for her tiny hands, so I had to help her out a little. She sure had fun watching the pepper come out! Then it was time for salt, and that's when things went a little haywire. After years of watching Food Network, I keep coarse kosher salt in a little ramekin, and I use my fingers to add a pinch to my cooking. Katie has watched me do this a million times. I approached the bowl with my ramekin, and quick as lightening, Katie grabbed a whole fistful of salt and threw it partly into the bowl and partly all over the countertop. Then, after I wrestled the bowl away from her, she furiously swiped the countertop from side to side with both hands, scattering salt EVERYWHERE. I stood there, stunned, having gone from "fun with cooking" to "Sodom and Gomorrah" in less than 1.2 microseconds. (Ok, that's a stretch, but you know, salt...)

It could have been much worse - coarse salt vacuums up easily - but WOW. We enjoyed our salty eggs anyway, though, and I hope Katie got some good learning out of it! I sure did - next time, a normal salt shaker! LOL.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Day 5, Bottle Free

That's right! I finally did it. I decided to go "cold turkey" - mostly - with bottle weaning. I've been putting it off due to illness and fatigue, but now's the time. I want to make this change well before the baby comes, so Katie doesn't have to get used to too many new things at once. The baby will be quite enough change all by herself! So on Saturday morning I talked to Katie about the fact that she knows how to drink her milk from a cup now, so she doesn't really need a bottle anymore. She seemed to accept the idea, and even said "No more bottles," so I thought that was a good sign. Of course, she was drinking a bottle right at that moment, so I'm not sure if she was fully aware of the reality of "no more bottles."

But, since then it's been pretty much OK. Saturday afternoon was the first completely bottle-free wakeup from her nap. She protested (read: screamed) when she realized I didn't have a bottle for her. I told her cheerfully, "Remember? No more bottles?" and then distracted her with her favorite book. She soon forgot all about it. That night, however, it was clear that she wasn't ready to give up her goodnight bottle just yet, so we let her have one. The next morning and nap went a little smoother, and at bedtime she forgot to even ask for her bottle in the excitement of having her hair washed and blow-dried. Monday was ok again, but Monday night she threw a fit and we gave her what I hope is her last bottle ever. Tuesday went ok, and this morning did too. We're on our way!!!

In other news, I took Katie to our local science/wildlife museum yesterday. To say she loved it would have to be the understatement of the year. Her favorite exhibits were the fog machine (much of the museum is focused on our local ecosystem) and a really cool vertical wind tunnel, into which the kids can throw styrofoam shapes. The shapes go swirling around the tunnel and come shooting out the top, and then you can pick them up off the floor and start over again. Endlessly fascinating for a toddler! (Pretty fun to watch as an adult, too!)

We also saw a live falcon and a live owl, on the arms of museum staff members. Katie was totally fascinated by the owl, and wanted to get a *little* too close for my comfort! (Its beak looked really sharp!) There was also a super-amazing sand and water table, meant to demonstrate erosion or drainage or something educational. Katie couldn't care less about that stuff yet, she just wanted to get as wet and dirty as possible. They had little step stools for her to stand on (her new favorite thing) so she was in hog heaven. I was really impressed that they also had a small bubbling fountain in which to wash off sandy hands. Naturally Katie went back and forth, washing, then getting dirty, then washing again. We could have stayed there for several more hours, I bet.

I thought about buying a membership to the wildlife museum, but I don't want to go too crazy. After all, come June I'm not going to want to do much museum-ing. We've already bought an annual pass to the aviation museum, which I didn't really think through. But, it was pretty cheap and we've been there every week since becoming members, so I think that one's paid for itself. Plus, we got in free to see the Easter Bunny arrive by helicopter, which Katie's been talking about ever since.

What other good stuff is happening here? Plenty of baby kicks and hiccups in my growing belly. (Seriously, I am already huge.) I am also exhausted. I don't really remember being this tired in the third trimester with Katie, but maybe I've just blocked it out. I do remember not sleeping well because of hip pain, and that's definitely happening again. My friend Emily asked me a month ago how on earth I was able to keep up with Katie amidst the fatigue (her two boys are over 6 years apart, so it wasn't an issue for her). I told her it wasn't too bad. Well, that's because I was still in the second trimester! Now I'm really drooping. Yesterday I even considered asking my mom to come over and watch Katie for a while. Longtime readers know that I must be REALLY tired if I'm willing to put up with Crazy Grandma!

Yawn! Oh - I almost forgot I promised you a tale of stalking! When we used to go to Gymboree, there was a little girl named Anna who used to come with her nanny. We've bumped into them a whole bunch of times outside of Gymboree, like the library, the store and, most recently, the aviation museum. The nanny told me that they go to the aviation museum every Thursday, and they usually meet up with another little boy from Gymboree. In my search for a babysitter for Katie, I suddenly remembered Anna's nanny, and how great she is with Anna. I wonder if she would be willing to take on a couple of extra hours here and there? So I'm trying to accidentally bump into her at the museum. Last week they weren't there, but here's hoping for tomorrow! There's a 90% chance of showers, so hopefully some of Katie's regular playgroup will show up too, and I won't look like a stalker at all. :) Wish us luck!

Thursday, March 28, 2013


I'm not sure how much I've shared with you all about babysitting. I have a huge backlog of draft posts and I'm never sure what I've published. I'm sure I mentioned that we are trying to ease Katie into the idea of someone else taking care of her for short periods. We had some great successes with Anthony putting her to bed (mental note: we should try that again soon, before she forgets and we have to start all over).

But we need to take the next step, and let a real babysitter watch Katie. I got a recommendation from another mom at Katie's school, and I met with her last week. She was really nice, and clearly great with kids. Katie seemed to take to her right away. She's a student at the local community college, and she lives close by. All good things. But...there were some red flags. And since I'm brand-new to this, and tend to over-think all this parenting stuff, I'm not sure if I'm overreacting. See what you think.

There were really only two complaints I had about this sitter. Firstly, and I'm not sure how to put this kindly, she didn't seem overly bright. Friendly, sweet, nice, yes! But not too sharp. We almost had a big mix-up via text, because she told me she could meet Friday morning, but not before 2pm. Huh?? Took a couple tries to straighten that one out. When we met, she read Katie one of Katie's favorite books, and I could tell there were some pages she just didn't understand right away. I was kind of shocked. I don't think Katie noticed, but it made me wonder if it's safe to leave my child with this person.

The other complaint is that her childcare philosophy doesn't seem to be in line with mine. Ever since we joined Katie's co-op preschool, I've had a whole new outlook on parenting. I've been devouring parenting books like there's no tomorrow. I really believe in Positive Discipline and many of the other philosophies I've been learning. For example, I now know not to label my child as "pretty" or "smart" or "shy" or anything else - even positive labels can be destructive. The first thing this sitter did with Katie was quiz her on all her colors, and then tell her "You are so SMART!" What if Katie had missed one? Would she not be smart?

On the other hand, naming colors can be a fun game. Katie loves to talk about colors. But there was something in the way this sitter did it that made me uncomfortable. Usually when I talk to Katie about colors, it's to ask "Would you like to play with green play-doh, or purple?" Or we sing a song about the rainbow that we heard on Toddler Radio. Or she tells me which colors she wants to paint with. Or I make some really lame-sounding comment about the colors she used in her artwork, like "I see you made the blue paint go round and round!" I guess what I'm saying is, the more I read in these books, the less comfortable I am with quizzing Katie on anything. I do sometimes ask her if she sees a particular object (like a flag, her favorite) in the pages of her books, but somehow that feels OK. It's more like, "Oh wow, is there a flag on this page?" And she says "Yesh!" and points to it. I don't say "Good job, you're so smart" if she gets it right, I just celebrate with her that she found something she likes: "You found an American flag!"

The point is, I feel like I just barely learned some of these things in time, and there are many I wish I'd learned sooner. I am far from being a perfect parent, but it feels really good when I use the new tools I've learned. I feel relieved, like I've maybe saved Katie half of a future therapy session. Over time those are gonna add up! So it's really hard for me to think of leaving Katie with someone who will, in essence, parent the way I would have before I learned more about it. What will this sitter do if Katie seriously misbehaves? Will she yell at her? Scold her? Put her in time-out? (Not to say time-out is bad, but at this age I'm not using it yet, and I might not ever.) How much does the sitter understand about what makes a 2 year old tick? This has saved me untold aggravation - simply understanding more about Katie's capabilities at this age.

And, moreover, will the sitter understand if I try to explain any of this?

Maybe I need to sit down with her and briefly explain our house rules. I was thinking about this earlier today - that we don't have any official "house rules" and it's probably time we did. I remember Teacher Donna talking about her own personal rules for when to discipline her daughter and when to just let it go. It was something like: Health, Personal Safety, Safety of others, Safety of property. There was a fifth one, I can't remember it. So basically if what the child is doing doesn't jeopardize any of those things, then it's OK to look the other way. 

So when Katie wants to wash her tea set in the bathroom sink, getting water everywhere and her clothing soaked, I ask myself: is her health at risk? Her safety? My safety? The house? And the answer is, No, as long as I make sure she doesn't soak the hallway carpet, and that she doesn't slip and fall. A few splashes is OK though, and so is a change of clothes. Our bathroom floor is actually cleaner than ever because of all the times I've had to mop it up recently. :)

I actually talked to Teacher Donna about this in a conference last week. She said that it might be hard to find someone whose parenting style is exactly like mine. I accept that. She also said that a couple of hours a week won't undo the work I've been doing. I hope that's true. Unfortunately, I have a pretty early memory of a babysitter who made fun of me once, and that doesn't make me feel too confident. Sigh.

Sorry for the rambling post, folks, but thanks for letting me get all that off my chest! Next time: Stalking other kids' nannies in hopes that they're looking for a few extra hours a week of babysitting work!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Practice makes awesome!

Last night went so much better than the night before! We did the same thing - I said good-bye to Katie right after dinner, and she waved and watched my car pull away. No tears! Dada gave her a bath and they played together in her room. (And, if truth be told, he showed her a LOT of Sesame Street videos on his phone.) My seminar was super lame, so I came home half an hour early. When I opened the door, the whole house was dark and quiet. Where are they? I wondered. It was 8:45, and Katie's bedtime is 8:00. I tiptoed into the den to see if they were both asleep on the couch. They weren't. Then I heard Katie's voice coming from her room, saying something about Lambie. I heard Dada sing her lullaby and put her in her crib. I figured she'd woken up crying and that he went in to comfort her. Not so! Turns out he was just putting her down for the first time at 8:45! LOL. I think maybe dads have a slightly more lax sense of time than moms. But no biggie - the main thing is, Katie went to sleep without a single tear! This time she KNEW Mama was coming back. HOORAY!!!! (And the reason I know this is, when I went to get her this morning, she said with delight, "Mama's home!")

So I think we are making incredible strides. I'm so pleased, and relieved. Today I had to go to the doctor to have the "1-hour glucose" test for gestational diabetes. Which means I had to go in, drink a disgusting sweet drink, and come back to have my blood drawn precisely 1 hour later. Since the doctor is only about 10 minutes from our house, I decided to drive back home in between. The first time I left, we did the routine where Katie waves bye-bye as I drive away. When I went back for the blood draw, she said "Bye Mama" without even looking up from her Play-doh. Great strides, I tell ya!

Too bad my seminar was so lame. There were several red flags, right from the beginning. Firstly, the lecturer told us she had copies of her book for sale, right off the bat, practically before she even introduced herself. Secondly, she said that parenting books for specific ages aren't that helpful - that you don't have to re-learn parenting for every stage of your child's life. I couldn't disagree more - some of the most helpful books I've read are age-specific. Thirdly, the lecturer said that she was looking over her lecture notes and she realized that the tips she was going to talk about really apply to ALL children, not just "spirited" ones. Umm, What? Then why did you call the lecture "Raising a Spirited Child," if it  was just going to be a lecture on "Raising Any Old Child?" Grr. That third red flag should have been my signal to get up and leave.

The lecture turned out to have three parts. For the first part, she read a list of traits of Spirited Children, which she totally ripped off from the book "Raising Your Spirited Child." (Although she did give them credit at the bottom.) It was mildly entertaining to see from the nodding heads of other parents, which particular traits drive us the most crazy. The second part was focused on "Ways to Help Your Child," which I found utterly useless. There were nine points on that list, and they were all common-sense, basic parenting tips. Not one of them dealt with the promised "avoiding power struggles" or "improving cooperation." The third part was Q&A, and parents were asking questions about much older children than mine. And despite what the lecturer thinks, advice on what to do about an 8 year old is NOT that helpful to parents of toddlers. Age-specific advice IS important!

So I guess I could have ducked out earlier than I did. But I was determined to take away at least one nugget of information that would be helpful. I had to dig deep, but I came up with two. The first has nothing to do with "spirited" children, but it's something I come up against a lot. I have a hard time not telling people their kids are cute. I know, intellectually, that we're supposed to focus on inner strengths, but doggone it! Babies and toddlers are CUTE. Some of the kids at Katie's school just melt me with their sweet expressions and funny antics. And, out in the world, a fair number of people tell me Katie is cute. And I know I'm supposed to scowl or protest or something, but I just say "thanks" because I happen to agree. But anyway - the lecturer said that when people said her daughter was pretty, she'd just add "She's even prettier on the inside!" And I thought that sounded nicer than scowling. Of course, she didn't have any tips on how to keep my big mouth shut about other people's kids, so I'll just have to try to contain myself. :)

The second nugget was actually related to spirited children. The lecturer said that spirited children tend to be very perceptive, meaning they notice every detail around them to the point of distraction. That definitely sounds like Katie. So, the lecturer said, they might not be simply ignoring you when they're examining a piece of lint on the carpet while you're saying "Let's go, let's get in the car and go to the park!" They might genuinely not "hear" you. In other words, Katie's not deliberately trying to drive me crazy by not responding to my repeated requests to do something. I think I'm taking it personally because I vividly remember ignoring my mom when she'd call me - but I was doing it out of adolescent spite, not distraction. The bottom line: if I want Katie to do something, I'm probably going to have to get down to her level and make eye contact. Which is what I do anyway, but now I'm going to cut out the part where I tell her 10,000 times from across the room first.

Anyway, the lecture may have been a bust, but Dada's success in putting Katie down was so worth it. I am so proud of both of them!