Tag Archives: parenting

Joe and Flappy

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Friends, especially fellow parenting friends, I have opened a can of worms and want nothing more than to chuck the entire container into the ocean but I have no idea how. Last Thursday one-or both- of the boys was in that pre-meltdown fuss, the phase of “I’m going to start asking for everything I can’t have just so I have a reason to pitch a fit” and my immediate response was to distract and diffuse. Now, I have done a lot of distracting and temper tantrum diffusing over the past several years, and it doesn’t always work but it’s usually worth a shot if I can keep my own temper in check. So in this very tense, pre meltdown “everyone is about to lose their minds” scenario, I started pretending to hold a conversation between two birds; “Joe” a great tailed grackle (I had to look that up after the fact. Basically a large, very vocal black bird popular in this area) who speaks with a somewhat British accent (I say somewhat because I suck at mimicking accents) and Flappy the pigeon, who speaks with a slow, country-southern-cowboy ish drawl. These birds are wannabe thieves, and the entire premise to start off the conversation was their ill fated attempts to steal the boys’ cheese burritos.

The “stories” are nothing but conversations, with occasional sound effects (which I am also really bad at) there is no set up, no description, no other part of a “story”-it’s just two really dumb birds with goofy accents talking to each other. The boys LOVE them. They demand Joe and Flappy stories from dawn to dusk, and even distracting them with books only works for so long. These birds have-tried to hitchhike and gotten blown off a van while racing us home from chik-fil-a, plucked out all their feathers in an attempt to disguise themselves, glued themselves together, gotten zapped on a powerline, dropped rocks on their feet, run into windows, Joe got his beak stuck in the lock yesterday trying to pick it, and today he got slingshot into a pesky cat via Flappy and a powerline and Flappy got peed on by a dog while hiding in the horse’s rearend of their Trojan horse costume.

A small part of me loves that the boys enjoy the storytelling since there are no pictures and yet they can tell you exactly what happened and they laugh at appropriate places. But the biggest part of me is tired, and having a hard time coming up with more scenarios for Joe and Flappy. I can SEE a lot of doable sight gags in my head, but translating that into poorly accented conversation that gets across what is going on is more work than my brain can do currently. I managed to get away with just one story today (whew) but I’m sure there will be more to come. I have a few ideas in reserve-picking which car to poop on is one I’m keeping for our up coming travel adventure to the beach (thank you, Rebecca, for the idea!)-but I need more.

So, help a mama out! PLEASE share any ideas for stupid slapstick comedy gags that could be successfully relayed via conversation and minimal sound effects, and centers around two really clumsy bird thieves going after the toys/food of two boys. Extra points for verbal jokes or one-liners that a four year old could understand. AND GO!

 

***Shout out to my siblings who have already provided me with a bunch of ideas!***

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Tickle, Tickle, Tickle

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Cade is a rambunctious little man, and since I remember all to well what it was like feeling like my emotions were entirely outside of my control, we work hard to come up with ways to express what he is feeling and find appropriate outlets. No hitting, pushing, elbowing, headbutting, squashing, tackling, kicking, or poking other people (usually Zane) is the rule we struggle with the most.

If it’s an action out of anger it’s a definite Time Out and I remind him to call ME when he needs help with Zane and I’ll try to fix it. It get’s exhausting, but he is doing a much better job of calling for help when Zane sits on his Duplo tower instead of clonking Zane in the head with a brick. Though if I don’t respond quick enough all bets are off. Buh.

Often he just gets so stinking excited during play so he’ll chase a madly giggling Zane down the hallway and shove him. Then he gets time out. Ten minutes later repeat the scenario except he remembers not to shove him at the last minute and instead elbows him. Time out. Repeat the scenario with any of the above “no no” verbs and that is pretty much our day.

I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out an acceptable way of channeling his energy, but it struck me about a week ago that I kept telling him things in the negative, “Don’t do this, don’t do that, if he’s crying you need to STOP.” without giving him an acceptable positive alternative like I do with everything else.

He’s gotten better at “I calm down! *deep breath* 1,2,3,4,5” but only if I threaten him with a Time Out, the stinker.

When he’s feeling really excited he has the option of clapping or giving him self a big hug (instead of screaming, shrieking, and/or hitting things).

When he wants to play chase with Zane he is allowed to “tickle”.  I took the time to remind him to be gentle and if Zane cries he needs to stop, but he was thrilled to finally be allowed to DO something at the end of the chase. And this is where it gets cute. Cade says, “Tickle, tickle, tickle!”  repeatedly and wiggles his fingers in that pseudo pinching tickle toddlers do as he chases Zane down the hall. Yesterday I realized that the nonsense syllables Zane was spewing in between giggles wasn’t nonsense.

My 1 year old says, “Uh oh”, “duh-duh” (bye bye)….. and “tickle, tickle, tickle.”

To the Woman on her Phone While her Children Play…

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…been one of those days, huh? Seemed like everytime you turned around there was a fight to break up, a toddler clinging to your knees, spit up on the floor, poop on the dog… Dishes were stacked and still stacking as you finally managed to get everyone fed (except yourself) and you were gearing up for another round of diaper changing when your eldest managed to get his arm stuck in a piece of furniture. You extracted that and kissed your “tough” little eight year old as you applied the appropriate bandaids, while your toddler managed to get the diaper off herself and your middle child kept a non stop running commentary about everything that was happening.

Somehow, you don’t really remember how, you made it through the morning until the toddler went down for her nap and you only had to break up the escalating squabbles between your oldest two over a toy that neither had touched for over a month. You refereed, you played make believe, you watched your son race his cars across the back of the coach for the umpteenth time and cheered him on…again… All the while you’re planning lunch, sorting laundry, trying to make cleaning up “FUN!” for your 5 year old daughter-she isn’t buying it by the way. When the toddler wakes up and everyone is fed and clothed and diapered and pottied you head to the park; you’ve got to get out of the disaster that is your own house.

Once your kids are all safely ensconced on the swing set and your eight year old is happily hanging off the monkey bars, you see the smiles all around and for two seconds you relax. You take a deep breath. And in that two seconds you take out your phone and you check facebook, or instagram, or your email, or your text messages. You unwind. You remind yourself there are adults out there that don’t need their noses wiped or diapers changed. Who can talk about more than Dora the Explorer or Thomas the Tank Engine. There is a world out there bigger than you, with other things happening in it, and for a few moments you can remind yourself that you, too, are an adult. You, too, have interests and desires and needs. You glance up every few seconds to do a perimeter check and make sure everyone is still smiling, but you take those few moments for yourself.

What you don’t realize, is someone is watching you, judging you, and condemning you. They’re labeling you as a horrible mom. A distant mom. A mom who is missing out on the lives of her children. They’re “saddened” by your not seeing the grin of your eight year old as he make sit across the monkey bars on his own. They’re “heart broken” by you missing out on the cackles of your three year old who is being helpfully pushed in her tot swing by her five year old sister. Bad mom, bad mom, bad mom.

As a fellow mom, let me offer you a sincere apology for the judgement of others. The truth is, the DON’T know your life. They don’t know you, or your children, or what you are going through in that exact moment. They’re quick to point fingers and blast you across social media, but the truth is they’re wrong to do so. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I have a one year old son and another baby on the way, and I will unashamedly say I am not “present” 100% of the time with my son. I can’t be. But I do my absolute best to make sure that I am engaged faithfully, and fully, and joyfully, everyday. You know what that means? It means I check my phone-or the equivalent since I can’t check my phone without Cade wanting to eat it. It means he’s hanging around my knees fake crying while I’m doing the dishes and I wash another dish before picking him up. It means I give him a cracker and while he is happily occupied munching I close my eyes for thirty seconds and check out. It means when he whacks me in the face with a toy hard enough to bust my lip I stand up, leave the room, and find something-ANYTHING-else to do for a few seconds.

I encourage other moms to do the same-or whatever works -to maintain your own sanity. To keep yourself from spiraling into a miserable depression, to keep yourself from being so focused on your children you lose yourself. I get frustrated, and tired, and close to tears if I don’t have time to unwind. And that translates DIRECTLY onto how I interact with my son. My mood is critical to the health and well being of my child. I take those little breaks throughout the day because it allows me to be happy, and patient, and calm the rest of the time I’m with him. Most importantly, it means I can enjoy all those moments of cuteness that I witness.

You will know heartache when your toddler does something adorable and you are so emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted you want to cry because you can’t bring yourself to smile. It is one of the worst feelings of the world, and I’ve been there. And I bet other moms have been there, too.

So I don’t care if you are a mom of eight with 24 grandchildren, you have NO RIGHT to judge ANY mom. I am going to ask you politely, and respectfully, to keep your mouth closed and your heart open. And this goes ALSO to the general public, who with or without children, also have ZERO right to be judgemental because you don’t know. And honestly, Christians, what gives? You, of ALL people, should know better. Love, encourage, uplift-even if you feel like someone is in the wrong-leave judgement to the Lord because He is the ONLY one who really knows. You. Do. Not.

 

**So it must be something in the air, because I’ve recently stumbled across several other articles on “mommy wars.” Here’s two I appreciated 🙂

Be Careful LIttle Mommy, What You Say

Mom vs. Mom

Sleep vs. Poop

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Ok, so, one of the ubiquitous cliche type things that are said about-and especially to-new moms is that they’ll start talking about poop more frequently than any other conversation topic. Maybe this didn’t happen to you (other moms) but I did get variations on this theme fairly regularly (HA! That could be a poop joke) while preggo with Cade. It, like so many of the well intentioned but incredibly overused and/or inappropriate advice/jokes/small talk/sayings, annoyed me. Yes, it’s true, you DO do a lot of poop handling (do-do, see what I did there?) when you become a parent (unless you’re Brian, who makes himself scarce every time I unsnap Cade’s onsie) and since your munchkin will probably not be able to communicate very well until older, diaper contents are analyzed as clues to the health and well being of your child. But this doesn’t mean I instagram Cade’s dirty diapers, or talk to friends about whether or not I think Cade’s morning dumps are a tad smellier than usual and if that’s because he’s teething or the result of too many beans. Honestly, it’s just poop. I don’t talk to my friends about my teeth brushing habits either. Does it consume a great deal of my time? Well, the actually diaper handling seems to, and yes, especially recently when Cade’s bowel movements have been all wonky from all the recent huge transitions in his life, I analyze the shit out of it (HA!). But(t) it is STILL not something I have felt the urge to ever bring up in casual conversation. Even with other moms. With my family-especially those who are also moms? Absolutely. If Cade manages to blow-out a diaper while I’m on the phone with a friend? Yeah, I’ll probably mention it. However, it does not dominate my thoughts nor my conversations and I hope it remains that way.

 

I submit, based on the sheer amount of research alone, that the topic that will dominate most new (and old) parents’ thoughts, time, energy, and often conversation (if they are awake enough to make any)-is sleep. Especially because you tend to lack it for quite awhile while raising small children. Now, besides the cliche of “You should sleep when the baby sleep” which makes me want to throat punch WHO EVER decided that was a good thing to say to new moms, I didn’t get a whole lot of advice/comments/stupid sayings about baby sleep. My theory on that is: Parents are all still clueless on how or why their children sleep or don’t sleep. Parents of older children have blocked out the memories in a fond haze of rocking chairs and lullabies and the vague acknowledgement that “oh, sometimes it would take awhile to get *name of child* to sleep…but he/she was so cute when *insert nostalgic story*. They don’t really remember when their children didn’t sleep, or how often they fought sleep, or how frequent they woke up, or really even any solutions to sleep problems. Today, there are SO many different theories on sleep-all claiming to work hands down for every kid in the world (which is a stupid) and the two main camps say basically you’re a bad parent if you don’t subscribe to the cry it out method-because you aren’t allowing your child to learn the vital knowledge of how to fall asleep on his/her own and he/she will probably suffer from chronic sleep issues/insomnia that will result in them living jobless and alone in your basement when they’re forty, or you’re a horrible, neglectful monster if you don’t subscribe to the gentle “no-cry” method(s) and your child will have chronic anxiety, stress, self esteem issues that will result in them living jobless with ten cats in your basement when they’re forty. So most parents who DO still retain a few details on their kids’ sleep patterns are reluctant to share for fear of judgement or guilt and don’t want to admit that they did something that may permanently screw up their child’s future depending on which camp you end up subscribing to (One camp not previously mentioned is the “I have tried everything and nothing works except apparently feeding my kid a cookie (or insert any other “frowned upon” habit) an hour before bed and I know that’s a lot of sugar but they sleep and I NEED TO SLEEP TOO”)

The information on sleep regressions and typical baby sleep I find more helpful, basically because they clue me in to what is going on and offer suggestions on what “MAY” work without implying I’m a lousy parent or that there is something wrong with my child if the method doesn’t work. However, the general ambiguity of “sleep issues” is just plain ridiculous. Sleep regressions can last up to 6 weeks and have a 2 month window of “when they may start” and basically occur every four-six months. Teething is chronic for pretty much the first two years of life. A lot of the regressions link with milestones that personally don’t help at all with Cade, because he hit the physical milestones on the early side. The 12 month sleep regression talks about babies mastering walking-Cade’s been a solid walker for over three months, he is now running up and down the halls-he just turned a year old. Then they’ll say things like “A change in schedule or routine may disrupt sleep.” But they can’t tell you HOW it disrupts sleep, what it may look like, what to do about it, NOTHING-because it’ll be different for every child. 

Cade sat up in bed last night at 1127 pm and started screaming/shrieking like he was dying. There was no apparent issue when I glanced at the monitor, but it was so unlike his usual crying that I went in to try and console him. He was completely inconsolable for thirty minutes. Screaming, crying, struggling, fighting me, all without opening his eyes. I changed his diaper, turned the lamp on, rocked, sang, finally even took him to the kitchen and gave him a few pieces of chex and some water, which seemed to calm him down, I sang “Amazing Grace” (all four verses) probably twenty times, rocking him, then putting him in the crib with my hand on his back, then just standing by the crib, then slowly backing away…It took over an hour to get him “back” asleep. I did my usual google search today to try and get an idea of what in the world is going on annnnnd apparently Cade may have experienced an “extreme confusional event” aka, night terror. Basically, you know how people sleep walk/talk? That’s called a “confusional event” because the person’s brain is trying to be awake and asleep at the same time. Not only is it not a great idea to wake a sleep walker/talker, it’s also pretty darn hard to do. I was a sleep walker/talker as a child and I figured Cade’s usual fidgety sleeping/moaning/groaning/giggling was all pretty normal. And it is. A night terror is just more intense. And also normal (not super rare, although not entirely common). There are whole discussion boards with parents discussing these events with their children. Tips and tricks to avoid triggering them, how to cope when they happen, EVERYTHING. I posted a few months ago about my experience sleep training Cade and pointed out that it was more about training ME to stop going in an ticking him off by picking him up every time he fussed. Well, that’s because when anyone is transitioning between sleep cycles and IF they have a confusional event (sleep walk/talk/night terror) the worst thing you can do is bug them. Cade is a wiggler and a moaner when he transitions between sleep cycles (something that makes him a poor roommate for a light sleeper such as myself) and my picking him up and “calming” him made him more confused. If Cade has another night terror, the consensus is to maybe turn on a small lamp and sing to them, but don’t-on pain of making it a much MUCH longer episode-touch them. This explains so much better why all my attempts at the gentle “no cry” methods resulted in a screaming-for-forty minutes infant whereas “Ferberizing” resulted (for me) in a through-the-night sleeper.

 

Ok, ok, I’ll stop now. See what I mean? I could talk about sleep ad nauseam (and probably help many of you fall asleep to the soothing drone of my voice) because it is CONSTANTLY on my radar. Is he sleeping well? Is it time to drop a nap? Is he teething? Is this a regression? Did he just pull a blanket on his head? Is he hungry and that’s why he woke up? How long will this stretch of good sleep last? How long is this phase of bad sleep? Am I getting enough sleep for baby 2.0? AHHHHHHH

Poop? Oh. Well. It’s been a little loose lately, I think the move and subsequent change in routine has made it a little weird. I miss solid turds (easier to clean). But, um, maybe he’s teething? Does it matter as long as he IS pooping? Maybe he pooped in his sleep and that’s what woke him up? OH! see, can’t even escape sleep topics when I try…

 

Sweet dreams, y’all. (And happy poops?)

CY (baby) A: A How To on Diapering

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The Ambush:-Using the element of surprise to baffle and momentarily freeze the target, this technique leaves no room for error as the target will recover quickly and forcefully resist. Loses it’s effectiveness with repeated usage as the enemy wises up to the startegy.

Everything is laid out partially hidden by the diaper bag, or chair, or large toy. The enemy comes bounding into sight, blissfully ignorant….ATTACK! Breach the walls before the enemy has a chance to recover! Use any means necessary to keep the target pinned down as the attack plan unfolds rapidly.

 

The Frontal Assault:-Like trying to lay seige to a moving castle. Plans are carefully laid in advance, but you and the adversary both know what is coming. You mount your offensive strategy as he prepares his most foul defensive techniques.

Your weapons are prepped and laid within easy reach, visible to both you and your opponent. He eyes you steadily, showing not the slightest hint of fear. You can already smell the toxic gases he’s prepared for his defense. CHHHAAARRRGGEE! You scale the front walls and hit the first wave of unbearable stench (your enemy has no regard for the Geneva convention), he is frothing at the mouth, screaming profanities, struggling with the strength of ten men. Quick! Secure the main artillary before you are overrun! Wipe down the flanks and COVER THE REAR! COVER THE REAR! With an almighty lurch your enemy twists out of your grasp and surges to his feet, toddling away in indignation as you sit back wearily and wipe your sweaty brow. Never easy, the frontal assualt is not for the faint of heart.

 

The Sherazade-A combintation of the above with the addition of heavy distraction. The success of this technique mainly depends on the mood of your foe.

Your weapons are prepped but partially hidden as in the ambush. You lure your opponent to you with enticing bits of entertainment (chicken noises, the fishy face, perhaps the hokey pokey?) He comes, not wholey unsuspecting, but enjoying the show. You maneuver him into position with more games and teases, maintaining eye contact while you try to surreptitiously infiltrate his main defenses. At this point it can go one of three ways: One, he is entirely fooled, heartily entertained, and uncaring of your proceedings, Two-he suddenly notices what you are doing with surprise and things proceed like an ambush as you hastily wrap things up, Three-he knows exactly what you are doing and waits until you are vulnerable before alligator death rolling out of your hands and running, shrieking, free as a jaybird down the hall. You must finish things with a full on frontal assault.

 

Things sure do stay exciting around here…

 

 

Cade Stories

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So, I talk about Cade a lot. Because, well, puzzling gets boring to talk about (hey! I got four more pieces in during nap time! Woohoo!….exhilarating) and I don’t want to take the effort to write about the books I’m reading (just finished the Ender’s Game series) AND a lot of other things I’ve been tempted to post about are controversial and also make me grumpy. BUT, I am going to write yet another post about Cade not only for the above reasons, but also because I want to be able to look back and reread these stories someday. Here goes:

He “kisses” my nose. A lot. By kiss, I mean he tries to eat the whole thing (no small feat, my nose is not exactly pixieish) and results in a lot of drool up mommy’s nostrils. It is so gross, but I can’t help laughing every time he does it! He doesn’t try to bite, he just puts his whole mouth over it for a few seconds and then backs up and grins at me. Baby waterboarding?

He has a new noise/face. He snorts. Mouth open, nose scrunched, eyebrows angling towards the ceiling, and he snorts rapidly. He finds this noise/face hilarious and repeats it frequently. He also has figured out how to make a weird clucking sound with his tongue and nose and top of his mouth. He may never speak English, but his own language is pretty complicated.

When I offer a hand to steady him while he walks around he is VERY particular about which finger (s) he grabs. Sometimes he’ll use both hands and sort through my fingers before curling his fist around one or two that apparently meet his standards. When he switches his grip while walking he repeats the process.

Because I’ve been encouraging him to walk on his own by clapping and cheering, he will sometimes take two steps and then applaud himself, then two more followed by more applause, then two more…etc. It’s so cute.

He is trying to figure out how to snap his fingers. He’s nowhere near succesful, but when I do so he looks at his hands and tries to mimic my finger movements. I love it. 🙂

We visited his cousins (and my sister and her husband) for an extended stay this past week, and my little man definitely has some introverted tendencies although he does love watching his cousins. He tried to smack his two month old cousin in the face multiple times in his enthusiasm, but thankfully she watched his shennanigans with mild interest and good humor. He used his two year old cousin to pull up on, and she did a really good job learning how to navigate being viewed as a “big person” by a walking, babbling baby. She even attempted to walk him around by holding his hand. It was kindof more of a drag, haha, but she tried. I love my nieces. 🙂

Cade is FULL of drama. When I tell him “No” he’ll stop whatever he’s about to attempt and glance back at me with an “Are you sure?” kindof look. When I tell him “No” again (because he’s turned back around to try again) he stops and looks back at me and then a big, cute grin will spread across his face like, “You didn’t REALLY mean that…” The third (or fourth) time I have to say “No” I will then either remove him from the object or block access to it. After multiple futile attempts at returning to the object he will invariably start whining, then fussing louder, then finally flinging his head back, stiffening his back, kicking his legs on the ground and wailing without any actual tears. Don’t tell me a 9 month old doesn’t understand the word “No” my friend- Cade is completely aware. Somtimes he’ll actually listen and just leave the object alone in the first place. But mostly he pitches fits. Fits in which he is absolutely inconsolable until he runs out of steam (usually about 5-8minutes). Little drama king-he definitely gets that from his mom. (Objects in question are usually cords or other electronics, or Remus’s water dish which is elevated and Cade has a deep rooted desire to pull it off it’s perch and dump it all over himself.)

Alright, it’s snowed here, and since Cade out grew his only winter outfit and stores have already switched to summer clothing (idiotic stores) I’m gonna go duct tape some bread bags on him and push him down a hill. 🙂

Why I No Longer Envy Firstborns

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You’ve all heard it: First born children often struggle to adjust to having siblings because up until that they had mom and dad’s complete, undivided attention. Those first few years are blissfully spent with parents at their instant beck and call. And it doesn’t stop there, as the first child every new thing is discovered by them-first. They walk first, talk first, potty train first, go to school first, go to an extra curricular activity first, drive first, date first, go to college first…By the time the next child does any of those things, it’s old news. As a third child, I envied my older sister, thinking that ” the oldest” was much better than being “third in line.” Since having my own “first born” I am rescinding that envy, and replacing it with a hearty dose of sympathy.

 

Yeah, first borns get the undivided attention of mommy and daddy those first few years because, lets face it, mommy and daddy have NO CLUE what is going on. I have tried so many different things with Cade, from diapering to feeding to sleeping to playing to travel and most of the time I was so frazzled by all the conflicting advice and methods that I’d end up trying a little bit of everything to figure out what worked. First born children NEED those first few years with exclusive attention to make up for all the screw ups mommy and daddy practice on them! I know every child is different, but at least with the second one you’ve mastered SOME of the basics-like how to put on a diaper, how to hold them, how to burp them, how to nurse (a biggie for me!), how to play (ie, having a whole repetoire of silly games to run through to find one that works instead of playing peekaboo for ten minutes and wondering why your son is crying before you figure out he prefers that you just blow obnoxiously in his face…), and various other tricks that work not only for baby but for mommy and daddy.

 

And it gets worse, not better, because first born children are ALWAYS first born. So mommy and daddy continue to scramble to figure out how to discipline, what ground rules to lay, what activities to try, etc,., and the first born is the guinea pig for it all. I’m pretty sure my dad wouldn’t have allowed my older sister to pierce her ears until she was thirty without mom’s intervention. By the time it was me and my younger sister’s turn the age was down to eleven…or was it nine? I’m not sure if he could even remember the rules Rebecca had to endure by the time Rachel and I came along (we were VERY helpful in “remembering” when Rebecca could or could not do certain things…minus a few years…). It helped, too, that we were sisters. Our brother-although second in line-still got some first born issues for being the first (and only) boy.

 

So first borns everywhere, boy I’m glad I’m not you.

 

And Cade, I really hope your brains aren’t completely scrambled yet, because we’ve still got your whole life to make mistakes parenting you. But we love you, and I hope that helps.