Finally! Giraffes

Yesterday, I lost my Mommy Mojo.  I was adrift on a sea of preschooler tantrums and disobedience and toddler crabbiness.  I couldn’t seem to do anything right from nap time to bed time. Miss wouldn’t listen to a thing I said.  She didn’t take a nap, so she was cranky and whiney.  My attempts to redirect and/or to discipline her left both of us frustrated and frayed.  I could not seem to find my usual groove with my big girl, and to top it off, my normally sunny, cheerful Lass was a crabby mess.  By the time I took Lass up for her bath, I was in tears.  I managed to rally and get Miss bathed and in bed happily and without struggle, but I ended the day exhausted and unhappy with myself.  I vowed to get it right today.
Today, Mama got her groove back.  Today, we went to the zoo with some friends and had a blast.  Both girls were wonderful.  Lass even sat in her stroller the whole time with minimal protest!

Miss was fantastic.  She listened well, helped with her sister, and was my usual happy, if sometimes slightly mischievous, girl.  She had so much fun.  Of course, there was plenty of goat feeding.

Lots of excitement over the big llamas.  These were thankfully fairly well groomed and free from matted, poo-crusted fur (click hereif you missed the post about matted, poo-crusted fur).

Lass made a new friend.

Miss played chase with her friend all over the zoo.

She was really interested in this tortoise.  The poor thing kept trying in vain to fit through these posts, and Miss was calling to it, “Come here big turtle. Come here so I can hold you.”  It was kind of pitiful.

And then.  After months of asking for them.  Three “zoos” and many animal encounters later, we finally saw the giraffes.

Initially Miss was timid about feeding them.  She wouldn’t do it herself, until she saw Baby Sister do it.  My little fearless girl.

After she saw her Sis do it, Miss gave it a try too.

The tall guys were definitely the highlight of the zoo.  It was a great day with friends.  And to top it off, both girls stayed awake for the entire hour-plus drive home (right at their usual nap time) and took fantastic naps after we got here.  That never happens.  It must have been some cosmic freebie to make up for yesterday.

But really, yesterday probably wouldn’t have been so bad if I had just managed to pick my battles a little more wisely and maybe count to ten a few times.  Yesterday I was not my best Mommy self.  Okay, let’s be honest.  Yesterday I was an ugly mess.  Today, I got myself a little perspective, took a deep breath, and got my Mojo back.

I Have a Princess Issue

When I first learned that Miss was a girl, I was so excited. I had all sorts of thoughts about being a mom to a little girl. Things I wanted to teach her and show her. I remember some family members teasing that she would be “such a princess” and having a yucky gut reaction to that statement. I guess I’ve always had a little bit of a negative feeling towards the “Princess Attitude.” That’s how I think of the attitude of some girls and women that they are entitled to things, that the don’t have to work hard, that they’re better than others, that they can’t get dirty or play rough or do things for themselves, that they’re helpless but that others are obligated to help them, that the most important things in life are having fancy things and having others cater to their whims, etc. I’ve known people like this. I do not want my girls to be like this. This is my “Princess Issue” and what I reacted to negatively in my gut when others teased that my daughter would be a princess.
However, somewhere along the line, my dislike of the “Princess Attitude” turned into an aversion to all things “Princess.” Part of this is that I really don’t like how absurdly commercialized the “Disney Princess” brand has become. Everywhere you look the Disney gals are plastered on toys and books, clothing and everything else. So my reaction was to not buy anything for Miss or Lass with these girls on it. I started feeling annoyed with Snow White, who, let’s face it, is pretty vapid and not too smart (what kind of a dummy would take anything to eat from that scary old woman??). I scorned Sleeping Beauty. I admit I don’t remember the whole story, but didn’t she just sleep through it and look pretty until some guy came along and kissed her? Puh-lease. I even avoided Cinderella and Belle, who at least had a little gumption in their stories. But, over time I started realizing I was being a little extreme. I was trying to avoid the annoying overly-commercialized “Disney Princess” junk, but in doing so I lost something.

I was missing out on the fun part of playing princess with my little girls and reading them the stories that the Disney movies were based on. I almost even forgot that the stories didn’t originate with Walt Disney and in fact are very old and rich tales, told by many different authors, probably most notably the Brothers Grimm. The problem is, these days it’s not easy to find an old version of these fairy tales. I’d even settle for the Little Golden Book version of them, which are based on the Disney movie versions of the stories and are what I remember having as a little girl. The last time I looked in the book section of Target they didn’t even have any Little Golden Books and the princess story book they did have was some weird compilation of spin off-tales of each of the characters. Not what I was looking for.
My point is that I have had to remind myself from time to time that “princess” does not equal “Princess Attitude.” My girls are not prissy. They’re not afraid to get dirty or play rough. We try to teach them to be the opposite of the attitude I described above. I’m not worried that they’ll develop the attitude, so I probably ought to lighten up on the anti-princess campaign around here. Okay, I don’t really have a campaign, I just tend to avoid Disney Princess crap, which is mostly what is out there for princess stuff.

When Miss’s flower girl dress came a few weeks ago and I took her to have it fitted, I mentioned to her that it was her “princess dress” and she looked just like a beautiful princess, and so on. When we went to pick it up the other day I almost cried it was so adorable on her. She twirled and pranced in front of the gazillion mirrors in the David’s Bridal alterations fitting room. She even ran into one of the mirrors because there were so many they confused her! She didn’t want to take the dress off, and it made me smile that she loved it so much. She doesn’t really have a super interest in being a princess, since I’ve not really gone there with the princess stuff. She hasn’t seen the movies. She only has one toy (a purse) with Snow White on it. She’s played with some stickers of the Disney princesses and she has a plate and bowl with pictures of them, but that’s about it. I really would like to read her the fairy tales though. And yes, eventually we will watch the movies too.

I hope that my girls will be well-rounded. Maybe partly tom-boy and partly girly-girl. Or whatever the heck they want. They can play swords, they can play princess, they can play warrior princess with swords, whatever.

I think my job is just to let them try all sorts of things, from making mud pies to baking real pies, playing kick ball to playing dress up, and everything in between. They’ll let me know what they love and that will make me happy.

Three Years

Three years ago today, I married the man of my dreams. I know. Saying “the man of my dreams” is totally cliche. However, I think the reason many phrases become cliche is that they are so true. My husband really is the man of my dreams. Before I met him, if I thought of the kind of person I wanted to, or dreamed of, spending my life with, I would have described him. Handsome. Intelligent. Funny. Considerate. Hard-working. Sans piercings… You name it. If I once wished for a quality in a potential mate, he has it. And then some.

Another way I could describe my husband is to say that he is my soul mate. All right. Another cliche. But it’s true! The man could have been created especially for me. He gets me. We’re a great team. He completes me. Oops! There’s another one 🙂

Okay, how about this? My hubby is my best friend. My BFF. Cliche? Maybe. But also true. I would rather spend time with him than anyone else. I love to spend time chatting with him about all sorts of things. I also just love to be in the same room with him even if we’re not talking. He could be working on his computer and I might be reading, and I will always choose to read my book in the same room as him just to be near him.
He is the person I look forward to waking up with every morning. He is my partner in all things. He makes me laugh. He does the dishes while I put the girls to bed. He encourages me to pursue my interests, like book clubs and cooking classes. He lets me know in many ways how much he appreciates me. He does fun things with me like our “Chopped” at home adventure. We share the same values. He loves me and respects me and takes care of me. He is a wonderful dad to our girls.


Here’s to three years of wedded bliss, harmonious matrimony, living real life every day with the man of my dreams. My soul mate. My best friend. My husband is all these things. Truly. Cliche or not. He floats my boat. Lights my fire. Trips my trigger. Yep. I love him.

They Listen

Ever have those moments (or days) when you swear your child doesn’t hear a word you say? When it seems like your little ones are intentionally ignoring you? When you feel like you have to repeat yourself ten times before your darling acknowledges you’ve spoken, and then half the time you get a response of “I don’t want to”?

 

Hello? Hello?


I told her at least three times to stop jumping on this ball before she stepped down.

Such is life with a toddler, I suppose. And of course, I know Miss hears me. She knows the things I’ve taught her. She can say her ABCs and sings all sort of songs I’ve sung to her. She can sort of count to 20 (the 14, 15, 16, 17 gets a little muddled) and she knows the sounds that all of her letters make. She can recite all or most of many of the books we have read over and over (one of my favorites is when she “reads” Brown Bear, Brown Bear and instead of saying “Teacher, Teacher, what do you see?” she says “T-shirt, T-shirt…” Perhaps I need to enunciate a little more). She typically uses her manners nicely. I hear her using phrases we have said to her many times, like “Keep trying” and “That’s not a toy,” or even “No Ma’am!” (said firmly to her sister). She recently started saying “Damn it!” after I said that in front of her once. Of course, much to my chagrin, she spent several moments in front of my in-laws last week saying over and over, “Damn-it-Damn-it-Damn-it!” while walking around their room frowning and pointing her finger emphatically. Lovely.

 

The point is. The kid hears what I say, even when she is studiously ignoring it. Both of my girls hear what I say all day long.

 

Yesterday Miss showed me something different about her capacity to hear me. She showed me that she really listens and internalizes the positive things that I say to her. Of course I’ve always known that she does, and this isn’t really a grand epiphany. Obviously a toddler/preschooler internalizes what she hears and sees from her parents all the time. But yesterday I had a moment when I saw just how important it is to tell my girls I love them a hundred times a day. To tell them how beautiful and smart and good and kind and strong they are. I tell them these things constantly, and now I have been reinforced. Yesterday Miss repeatedly stated, “My Mommy wubs me” and did this adorable patting of her chest with both hands. She did the same with “My Daddy wubs me.” I know, I’ve already posted here about the little love fest we’ve been having around here lately, but this is different. As amazing and swoon-worthy as it is to hear my two-year-old repeatedly saying “I wub you Momma” and many other variations on that statement, it was even more rewarding to hear her saying in such a heartfelt way in her tiny little voice, “My Mommy, she wubs me.” And just as good, when we were singing a song about her eyes she said, “My eyes are pwetty.” Yes. Cha-ching!

 

Hearing this from my older girl just thrills me and I hope to hear lots more of it from her and similar things from her sister. I know there will be days when the “I love you Moms” won’t be so forthcoming, but as long as my girls know how much their Old Mom “wubs” them, we’ll be okay. They might curse me someday for any number of imagined tortures. But deep down they’ll know, if I say something like “You-are-not-going-out-of-the-house-wearing-that-studded-leather-biker-jacket-I-don’t-care-if-you-bought-it-with-your-own-money,” I’m saying it out of love and a desire to not have my darling daughter look like a Hell’s Angels groupie (and in case you’re curious, yes, my Mom said something almost exactly like that to me 20-ish years ago). Hopefully somehow they’ll remember that things like curfews, and sleepovers not permitted because the other kid’s parents are sketchy, and “don’t forget to floss” nagging are all coming from the place within a Momma where every hope and dream for nothing but the very best for her children resides.


 

And if my girls remember that their Momma and Daddy told them every day that they are beautiful and smart and funny and good and kind and strong, maybe it won’t sting so much if other kids sometimes tease or tell them otherwise. Maybe (please oh please) they won’t really care if the boy they kind of like doesn’t return the sentiment. Hopefully, when they make mistakes or experience failures, they will not be defined by them. Hopefully they will be confident and kind and strong. Maybe it all starts with “My eyes are pwetty.” Yes. They listen.




I’m Getting Up Now

When I started as a prison psychologist, I had to go to the same two-week training that the federal government makes all correctional workers go through. Among other things, I learned self defense, spent a lot of time on the firing range, had physical fitness tests, and learned lots about how to prevent and handle a “major disturbance,” which is prison staff lingo for a riot. I remember one instructor saying something like, “We have the control in our institutions because the inmates let us have control. There are way more of them than us, and they could take control at any time. We will always get it back, but don’t forget that they could take it.” I heard this idea several times in various trainings I went to over the years. I think the purpose of saying this was to stress to us that our control was fragile and we needed to exert it with respect, lest our residents decide they weren’t gonna take it anymore.

Fast forward seven-ish years to a day in the life of me, The Mom, the one with the “control,” and Miss, The Toddler, the one who generally goes along and lets me have control because life flows better that way. The one who decided yesterday that she wasn’t gonna take it anymore and went into all out riot mode. Yes folks. My 2’7″, 26-pound 2 year old brought me to my knees yesterday.
Remember my post from the other day when I said potty training was going so well? Remember how I said I firmly believe you can’t force a child to go to the bathroom? Well. My daughter firmly proved me right yesterday. And I never even tried to force her to go to the bathroom. I just tried to get her to not go on the floor. Or on her little chair in her room. Or on the couch. Yesterday was not my best day as Mommy, and Miss decided to seize control of things by controlling what she could – her bladder. Yes, potty training worked very well. Miss does know when she has to go and she is able to tell me. She had been doing this very well all week. One thing she had not been doing at all was napping. So after five days without a nap, we were both tired and a bit frayed. She had an accident yesterday because she did not tell me she had to go. Throughout the entire training process up to that point I had been super positive and upbeat, even with accidents. “Next time just make sure you tell Mommy when you have to go so we can keep those underwear dry, okay?” Well, yesterday I had a not-so-wonderful Mommy Moment and I scolded her for her accident. Nothing too awful, but I definitely used a stern voice and told her that she was supposed to tell me when she had to go and not pee-pee on the floor. I think I gave an exasperated sigh or two. I did manage to regroup fairly quickly and then in my more upbeat voice repeat the usual reminder to tell me when she has to go the next time. But apparently she was not all that forgiving of my moment of testiness. From that point forward, she was in control and letting me know it. She refused to go to the bathroom when I took her in to let her try. I never pushed the issue, but did try to get her to go a few times in an attempt to stop the madness that had begun. She wouldn’t even sit when I’d take her into the bathroom, but then would go moments later in a less favorable spot. She wasn’t giving an inch. Suffice it to say, she had many accidents throughout the afternoon. I was trying so hard not to get into a power struggle with her, which was ironic, given that I had absolutely no power with this issue at all.



Things did improve somewhat right before bed, but by that time I was a wreck. I was berating myself for being the most horrible mother ever, and thinking I had ruined all the hard work we had done on the potty training by scolding her and that I had perhaps scarred her for life as all sorts of Freudian theories came to mind. And yes, this is a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Just ask my mom, who I called near tears while chugging a glass of wine within minutes of putting Miss to bed. Or my husband who wasn’t able to get home until late last night and came in to find me grumpy and tearful and asking him to go get me ice cream (he did).
Of course, at the end of the day, when your toddler takes you down, you just have to get back up. By the time I went to bed, with the help of my husband, my mom, some wine, and some ice cream, I was feeling much better. I went to bed hopeful that yesterday would just be a bump in the road and that today would be a huge improvement. And of course it was. Miss had only one accident. She was happy to go on her potty and glowed at the praise she received. I was going to leave her with our babysitter so I could go grocery shopping this afternoon. I desperately needed to get some groceries and had wanted to go yesterday after her non-nap, but she refused to go to the bathroom, and I wasn’t willing to take her out in public with a full bladder with the way things were going yesterday. So today I thought I’d just avoid any problems and let her stay with our babysitter, whom she loves. But as I was getting ready to go she said, “I want to go store too. Pwease Mommy. I not get my pants all wet.” Well, that just melted my heart and so of course I let her come along. We had a great time. And when we got back, wonder of wonders, Miss finally took a nap! Oh halle-freaking-lujiah!!! All the world looks so much brighter on this side of a nap.



There are days when being a Mom just kicks the crap out of you. I really believe that there isn’t any more important job. Therefore, when things don’t go right, when I screw up, my feelings of inadequacy and guilt are greatly magnified. I question myself and feel like a failure. No one can make a mother of a two-year-old feel more impotent than that two-year-old. But amazingly, even when she is being a stinker and I’m at the end of my rope, the girl is sweet and loving and brightens my world. Just when I feel like I want to go crawl under my covers and stay there, she will say something like this comment from yesterday, “Lass so sweet, Lass so cute,” and then when I ask her if she’s cute say, “No, I not cute. I pwetty.” My girls make me laugh. They make me smile. They make my heart swell until it feels like it’s going to burst. Sometimes they make me want to pull my hair out. Always they make me want to be a better Mom. Even yesterday. Hell, especially yesterday! I’m not perfect, and sometimes I totally suck at this Mom thing, but in the words of that instructor, I “always get it back.” I guess that’s just what moms do. We do our best for our kids and sometimes we totally lose it. But we always get it back.

Day 3 – We’ve Come a Long Way Big Girl

Potty training can be tough!!

Today was Day 3 of the 3-Day Potty Training Method. We had a few ups and downs. But over all, definitely much forward progress. Miss seems to have gotten the hang of telling us when she needs to pee, though we had a minor set back today when I had put her down for her nap and she called out that she needed to pee but I didn’t hear her, so she wet the bed. And with less opportunity for practice, we’re still working on completely getting to the potty in time for #2. But in general, I say the program was a success. From starting on day 1 with frequent accidents,

to consistently staying dry by the end of day two,
to weathering a setback today and finally making some progress on the poop factor (she held it all through the first two days!),
I’m very happy with the result of all our hard work this weekend. I would do a little dance if I weren’t so tired.
Why am I so tired you ask? Well, in addition to the focused nature of this potty training program, which is surprisingly exhausting and will be discussed further below, we did have wet sheets last night when I checked on Miss around 3 am. I got her up, changed her, peeled off the wet sheet and waterproof mattress pad, took her to pee, and she went right back to bed. She was amazingly sweet throughout the process too. Unfortunately, when I brought the sheets down to put them in the washer, I found that my old dog had decided that I hadn’t cleaned up enough pee these past few days, so she peed on the floor in the kitchen. And pooped just for good measure. By the time I got back to bed it was after 4, and just as I was finally getting back to sleep, Lass made her presence known by yelling a few times before peacefully and quickly going back to sleep (her, not me). But then what would motherhood be without lots of pee and poop and lack of sleep???
Small price to pay for moments like this
Lass was an absolute angel this weekend. In spite of being unceremoniously plopped down a few times so I could run her sister to the bathroom, and even once or twice being yanked off the boob while nursing for the same purpose (this mostly occurred on Friday when the peeing was frequent and the hubby was absent), she maintained her sunny disposition. She used the time to practice her mobility, which is increasing more and more every day.
And of course she managed to be adorable even though the poor girl never even got changed out of jammies most of the weekend (I didn’t either for that matter).

I think there are lots of 3-day or 4-day or “Boot Camp” potty training methods out there. I honestly didn’t research all of them because the one I chose to use was recommended to me independently by two different, trusted mom friends. Plus several other friends, who got the same recommendation and have older kids, have already tried it with success. And after reading through all the strategies in this program, it just made sense to me. I don’t want to go into explaining all the strategies of a copyrighted program, but I do want to share why this program seemed a good fit to me. It doesn’t involve making your child sit on the potty for long periods of time. In fact, the mom who developed this program insists your should never make your child sit for a long time on the potty. She says you should never make them sit at all. Her strategy pretty much takes all the power struggle out of potty training, and that had a great deal of appeal to me. I am a firm believer that there are two things that you can not make a child do, though many parents seem to try to make their children do them. You can’t make your child eat, and you can’t make your child go to the bathroom. You can make a child sit at the dinner table. You can make a child sit on the potty. I’m personally not a fan of either of these things, so I love that with this potty training method, you are actually encouraged not to make your child spend time on the potty. Among other good points of this method, this was one of my favorites. Now don’t get me wrong. I know there are tons of different ways to potty train a child. And short of a method that involves berating a child and telling her she is bad or dirty for having an accident or not going in the potty or whatever, I don’t think any of them are wrong. They all have their strengths and weaknesses and all eventually result in a child who learns to go to the bathroom on the toilet.
So what’s the verdict with this strategy? Although I can’t say Miss is 100% “potty trained” in 3 days, I will say she’s got the idea and I am not worried about going to music class tomorrow without putting a diaper or a pull up on her. I feel quite confident we will have very few pee accidents during waking hours, and that consistent pooping in the potty is only a few more tries away. And I’m confident that consistently staying dry at naptime and bedtime will occur soon.
The pros of this method?
As mentioned above, no forcing long or frequent periods of sitting on the potty “trying” to go.
No coercion or bribing. Though I did give Miss rewards (stickers, sometimes a yogurt covered pretzel, a small prize the first time she got poop in the potty), I generally didn’t tell her “if you go, you’ll get XYZ.” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the practice of explicitly offering a reward for compliance, I just don’t love doing it myself, especially in this type of process.
No pullups or training pants.
Success in a very short time, even if it isn’t necessarily completely done in 3 days.
It helped Miss learn pretty rapidly to identify for herself, and to tell me, when she has to go.
Zero power struggles.
Strong focus on positive reinforcement and even staying positive and upbeat when accidents happen.
I spent a lot of quality time with Miss this weekend. I mean a lot.
Cons of this method:
It is very time and energy intensive for at least three days. You cannot leave the house. You can’t really do much of anything but stay by your child’s side and remind her to tell you when she has to go (of course while playing or otherwise interacting positively with her). Over and over and over and over. . .
That’s really the only con.
So overall, I would highly recommend this method of potty training. It is working for us. I’d do it again. Now to bed. . .

Three Day Potty Training – Day Two

We are potty training this weekend. No pull-ups. Not even at night. Miss threw away her leftover diapers at the start of day 1. We’re using this 3-Day Potty Training Method and it’s working like a charm. I selected this method for several reasons. One is that I know several people who have used it successfully. Two is that it doesn’t drag out the process of potty training. Three is that is makes sense to me. I could go more into detail about why I like this method, but it is a pretty intense, focused potty training strategy that has left this momma pretty tired after two full days of hovering over my two-year old, saying over and over and over “Make sure you tell Mommy if you have to go pee-pee or poo-poo okay?” So I’m too tired to do a lengthy post tonight.
I’ll just say for now that we started with many accidents and mad dashes to the potty. But today we had no accidents except a little dribbling when Daddy didn’t quite get Miss to the potty in time. She even had a couple of times when she told me she had to go in time to keep her underwear totally dry. We have had dry underwear after naps on both days, and this child who has been such a heavy wetter at night and has never woken up with a dry diaper made it through the night with only slightly wet underwear this morning. I went in to check on her at about 3 am, fully expecting to have to change her jammies and sheets (or peel off the top layer of my two-waterproof-layer-sheet system),and she was dry then. So I’m happy with the strategy we’ve chosen to use. I’m thrilled with my girl who just gets it. Here is an amazing video of my amazing girl (in her big-girl underwear) dancing with her shadow. I couldn’t stop watching this.

Morning Meltdown and a Messy Make-up

Okay, so I am floundering a bit with this “Terrible Twos” thing. I hate even saying that. “Terrible Twos.” Having a nearly-two-year-old is not terrible. Most of the time, it’s pretty great. But I have found myself in this place recently where sometimes, just sometimes, it is totally. crazy. psycho. During Miss’s toddlerhood thus far we’ve had our share of “moments.” Brief little fits. Minor tantrums. They were usually short and they’d blow over quickly. Miss could be distracted pretty easily, and if not she’d pull herself together without too much drama. The one area where we sometimes would have a big meltdown would be after nap when Miss would sometimes wake up in a terrible mood and just have a screaming fit for what seemed like an age.
And then we had today. This morning. My girl woke up like a little ray of sunshine, as always. We had fun playing and coloring and watching a little bit of Sesame Street. We pretended to be dinosaurs. She pretended to make lemonade. Then she said she was hungry so I took her in the kitchen to get a snack. I asked her what she wanted. “Bunny crackers.” “Yogurt.” Okay, no problem. I got out the yogurt, got a spoon, opened the yogurt and started to put it in front of her. Strawberry yogurt. Yum.
Then she asked for a sandwich. I simply said something like, “Well honey, let’s have a little snack now and then I’ll get you a sandwich at lunchtime.” Hello. Commence screaming. Seriously. She started howling like a banshee and did not stop. I tried all my usual tricks. I tried to get her to laugh. I said something like, “I’m sorry you’re upset. Please use your words to tell me what you want and I’ll be happy to help you.” Ha!! After a while of more shrieking I thought I heard her say, “bunnies,” so to try to positively reinforce her “using her words” I got the bunny crackers out and put some on her placemat. She screamed harder. I ate her yogurt and tried to wait her out.
She said “down” so I got her down from her chair, at which point she fell to the floor and continued howling. My husband, who was upstairs trying to sleep came downstairs and asked her why she was crying. She stopped for a second, said “Daddy” and then went right back to yelling. He looked at me, I shrugged, he went back upstairs with a comment to the effect of, “Well, I just wanted to make sure that you weren’t knocked out down here or something . . .” The rest of what he said was lost in the noise of our daughter. I’m pretty sure that was his not-so-subtle way of saying, “Okay, since you’re conscious, can you please do something about our child’s insane wailing?” It didn’t help that he happened to come downstairs during the part where I was eating her yogurt and trying to wait her out, so it probably looked like I was just chillin’, having a snack, not realizing that our child had turned into a little puddle of insanity on the floor.
Anyway, it went on. I could describe the whole painful morning in detail, I’m sure, as it feels as though the scene is scorched into my brain, never to be forgotten. The First Big One. But I’ll spare you the details. Okay, I probably already gave way too many details. So, we can leave it at, It Was Bad, and move on.
I probably could have ended it rather quickly by turning on the TV or letting her watch Yo Gabba Gabba on the computer or something like that. But I could not bring myself to do that. It just felt like that would have been reinforcing a behavior I’m not anxious to have repeated. Okay, don’t laugh, I know it will be repeated in some form quite a few times and probably agonizingly in public on at least a few occasions too. I’m just saying, I don’t want to increase the frequency of the Tantrum From Hell by reinforcing it. I’m a psychologist. I’m all into my behavioral principles. I know them forwards and backwards. I guess I automatically get Skinnerian in my head when dealing with this discipline stuff.
But I gotta say, this morning, I felt L.O.S.T. I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t really even upset. I just had no idea how to make it stop. I knew I didn’t want to reinforce the behavior, but I also wasn’t trying to punish her. She’s almost two. She doesn’t have good control of her emotions and still has trouble expressing herself. She’s learning to deal with this stuff just like I am. But wow. I felt like I had been dropped into the deep end and had forgotten how to swim. I suppose, to stick with this simile, I managed to tread. And you know what eventually worked? I sat down on the floor where we had been coloring earlier, picked up a crayon, and started coloring. Within a minute she had stopped crying and was sitting next to me coloring away. Who knew?
So, I don’t really know where I’m going with this post, except to say that I am finding more and more Mommy Moments when I really feel like I’m not sure what the heck I’m doing. I always end up just going with what feels right to me, and things turn out okay. But then I look back and analyze everything and wonder if I did it right and am I going to screw my kid up forever or is she going to turn into a raging brat because I didn’t discipline her enough or did I do it too much and now she’s going to be insecure or rebellious??? Maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. I’m not quite that neurotic.
But I do tend to look back on what I did and see if there’s something I should do better or differently the next time. I guess I’m just making a mental note to myself that, even with all my principles of reinforcement swirling in my head, I still need to learn how to make it work with this girl. And maybe it will be different every time. And then I’ll have to learn it all over again with Lass. And so on. So, I’ve come to realize that there is no greater in vivo learning experience than motherhood. This is my classroom.

After Miss’s fit resolved, I got Lass (poor thing was just hanging out playing during the whole drawn out drama) down for a nap and asked Miss if she wanted to do some finger painting. This was a first for her so she had no idea what I was talking about, but she sure thought it sounded cool. So we got messy as our way to “make-up” (not quite the right word, but I liked the alliteration of the title) after the meltdown.


She liked squishing the paint between her fingers.
Masterpiece #1.
A bit of a lighter touch with this one.

After a while she got freaked out that her hands were so messy.
So she cleaned them off and got right back to it.
She decided to try tasting the paint and didn’t much care for it.
For the record, Crayola’s “washable” finger paints are indeed washable.
Gallery.
She seemed to like this set up better.
Aaand, we’re done.
What better way to finish a messy craft time than with a bubble bath?
Hanging out with Lass at lunch time. We had no more eating-related meltdowns. She had forgotten entirely about the sandwich. For lunch she wanted strawberry yogurt and Cheerios. Unfortunately I had eaten the last strawberry yogurt while she was howling face down on the floor, but she was content with apple. And I wasn’t gonna fuss about the lunch menu today. Apple yogurt and dry Cheerios? Sure.
And here she is proudly showing off her artwork to her Daddy when he woke up.
Before I click “Publish Post,” I feel like I should say that I know this is my second post in less than a week that might seem like it has a bit of a “complain-y” feel to it regarding mothering a toddler. I am not complaining. I realize all the time how lucky I am to have these two little people to bring up in the best way I can. Sometimes I screw up, and sometimes I nail it, and always I hope that I will learn and get better. And this blog is my way of chronicling this journey, and sharing it, and helping myself to figure it out by getting the words out of my head. So that’s it. Going to Arizona tomorrow. Wish us luck on the plane! Good night.

Movie Therapy

Today was one of those days. The kind of day that leaves me begging for naptime, and cursing the fact that of all days, today my two girls did not nap at the same time. Lass has not been sleeping well, so I’m more tired than usual. Miss is being ornery. And being tired certainly has me bit less tolerant of typical toddler behaviors, like her looking right at me with a mischievous grin and doing, very deliberately, the exact thing I just instructed her not to do, or something she knows very well she is not allowed to do, like putting her feet on the table during a meal or climbing up onto the kitchen counter. I forgot to get out the venison to thaw for meatloaf, so I made omelets for dinner that tasted horrid because they got burned while I was preventing Miss from breaking more eggs (she thought this was great fun in “helping” me to make dinner) or climbing up the front of the stove to see what we were cooking. And I couldn’t even go out somewhere today to help maintain my sanity because my husband is working nights this week and he went to bed before I managed to take a shower and get dressed, so I sat around with greasy hair in my PJs all day. For the record, as I’m typing out this pity-party post, I’m beginning to laugh at myself and at how, well pitifulI am sounding. My mom is probably making a “sup-supping” sound at me right now.

Anyway, I always find that the best therapy for days like today is to remember the good moments. The bring-a-tear-to-your-eye-wow-I-have-the-best-job-in-the-world moments. Because of course these greatly outweigh the crappy moments, both in number and in magnitude. So even on days like today there are plenty of these happy moments to reflect on. Like when Miss climbed up on Lass’s crib while I was getting her up from her morning nap and said, “I yuv you sissur.” Like the belly laughs from Lass when I tickled her chubby thighs during her diaper change before bed. Like the funny wave and “Hi Momma, hi Sweetie!” from Miss this afternoon when I went to get her from her nap. Like the fact that Lass finally took a whole bottle from her daddy this evening (hooray!). Like when Miss unexpectedly grabbed tightly around my neck as I was getting her in her seat for her snack and said, “I yuv you Momma.” And just in case thinking about these and other great mommy moments from today weren’t enough to brighten my mood (they were), I made a few fun video clips from the past few days that make me smile and occasionally laugh out loud.
Here is the sisterly love video that goes along with the photos I posted yesterday. Miss starts out singing to Lass and then gasps, and I love how she says, “She spit a little bit!”

Here is video documentation of my sweet, non-sleeping girl rolling over.

And here is my favorite video of Miss singing. She has really gotten into singing songs from her favorite show, Yo Gabba Gabba. The first one here is “I’m so, I’m so sorry. I’m so, I’m so sorry. I can fix it, I can make it better.” When she doesn’t know the words, she just wings it. And you can’t really tell from the video, but she is looking at her reflection in the glass doors of our fireplace while she’s singing this one. The second song I prompt her to sing, because I love the accent she sings it with, “Keep troying. . .”

And that’s my movie therapy for tonight. Lass has already woken up twice (and only been in bed for an hour and a half), so this could be a long night. I’m going to go wash my greasy hair and try to get some sleep.

Grandmas and Grandpas

Grandparents are great. I spent some time today looking at family photos and showing them to my girls. I like to tell them about my grandparents. I love seeing the photos of Miss with them. I feel sad because I will not be able to have photos of Lass with all of my grandparents. In the past year two of my grandparents passed away, and she will never meet them. Last December, my Papa B passed away and in February my Grandma C. I don’t want to make this a sad post or to sound like I’m saying, “Poor me.” The fact is, I don’t feel like “Poor me” at all. I am the only person I know who was lucky enough to have all four of my grandparents living and in relatively good health up until this past year. I’m in my mid thirties and have had a long time to enjoy great relationships with my all of my grandparents.
So, I know that Miss won’t remember my Grandma C and Papa B, and Lass will never meet them. But I talk about them. I want my girls to know how good they were and how much I loved them. How much they meant in my life and how often I still think of them. Right now I mostly just show pictures and tell the girls who they were. I do the same with pictures of my Grandma B and Grandpa C, who happily are still with us. When the girls are older I will tell them more. What kinds of things will I tell them?
Well, I’ll tell them how my Grandma C used to make pancakes in animal shapes. It seems like she could do any animal we requested. I’ll make her delicious potato salad with them and make sure they know it’s her recipe. And I’ll tell them that she used to give me free reign in her jewelry box, which was heaven for me as a little girl. I used to spend hours draping myself in her necklaces and clipping her earrings on. I’ll tell them that she always seemed absolutely thrilled to see me, and how good that made me feel. I’ll tell them that she never failed to tell me how much she loved me and how much she missed me, as I have lived far away from her and my Grandpa for many years. I’ll tell them how much she loved Miss and how much she would have loved Lass had she been alive to know of her.

There are some things I find it hard to describe about her. Sometimes when I am rocking Lass, I notice that I am rocking and patting her in a rhythm that reminds me of my Grandma. I’m not sure why, as I’m sure I don’t remember her rocking me that way. Maybe I saw her rocking and patting my younger cousins or older cousins’ children that way. She loved holding babies! She was so loving and always wanted to hold my hand or pat my knee when we visited. Things like the sound of her voice or the feel of her hugs, which I remember well, will be hard to explain to my girls, but I will tell them as much as I can about her, so they can feel a little bit like they know her too.
I’ll tell my girls about my Papa B too. I’ll tell them that he was kind and funny. He was a great photographer, and I wish I would have become interested in photography when he was still living so I could have learned about it from him. I’ll tell my girls that he was hard working and a WWII veteran. We have his old coffee thermos that he used to take to work in our kitchen, and they’ll know that it belonged to their Great Papa. I’ll tell them about his wonderful warm voice and surprisingly soft hands. I’ll tell them about his great laugh. He had an ornery giggle when he was teasing, and a great happy laugh that made me smile. I’ll tell them that he was funny. I’ll tell them that he had a big laugh, and big ideas, and a big heart.
I’ll tell them how he was legally blind in the latter years of his life, but he still golfed. He just had my Grandma orient him to the ball and away he went. I’ll tell them how he obviously adored my Grandma, which was a wonderful thing to see. They were married nearly 70 years. I’ll tell my girls how he’d say “Hey Kid!” and pinch my side. At his memorial service this summer I showed Miss a photo of him and said “This is your Great Papa. Can you say Papa?” and she did, for the first time.
I love to tell my girls about my Grandma B and am excited for Miss to see her again and Lass to meet her in a few months when we go visit her. They have tangible items all around that are constant reminders to me and to them of her. Miss plays with a Raggedy Ann doll that my Grandma made for me when I was little. And my Grandma recently sent Miss a beautiful quilt (to be featured in a future post). There is an afghan crocheted by my Grandma and a pillow embroidered by her in Miss’s room. And Lass has a doll that my Grandma gave me. My Grandma puts love into her stitches, and we can wrap ourselves in it all the time. When we see or hold these things, I tell my girls where they came from.
I have many memories of singing with her as a little girl. She has a beautiful voice. She can play the piano and the dulcimer. She made the best grilled cheese sandwiches and we made s’mores on her gas stove. I can remember standing on a chair and her helping me to toast my marshmallow. Who needs a campfire?? And she makes a cherry cheesecake that is the best I’ve had. I just feel happy when I think of her. She is very special to me. She has always been patient and kind and loving. When I was in graduate school I went through a very painful break up. My Grandma sent me the most beautiful card to tell me that she was thinking of me. She is thoughtful that way and I’ll never forget how that card made me feel better at the time. I still have that card. My Grandma has always been the best at making everything better.
I loved seeing Miss with her this summer when we were together for my Papa’s memorial service.
My Grandma never wastes anything. She doesn’t throw things away if she can reuse them, and she often does. I think she said she was going to make flowers out of the tissue paper in the photo below. It seems like she can make anything. She makes most of her own clothes and made those of my Papa. She is the keeper of our family memory, putting together photo albums for everyone in the family packed with history.
My Grandpa C has a very special place in my heart. He is strong and proud and good and loving. He and my Grandma had six children and he always wore a tie clip with the birthstones of all of his children on it. I remember sitting on his lap when I was little and saying the names of all of my aunts and uncles as I pointed to each of their birthstones. I had a funny rhythm in which I would repeat the names, over and over, and he was always patient and attentive as I did it. I loved that tie clip!!

He calls me “Amesville” and has a similar nickname for nearly everyone in our family. I can hear his big voice in my head calling out this nickname when I would walk into their house in years past. Now his voice is softer but the nickname is the same, every time. He is Italian, and Miss was given an Italian name because of him. She goes by a shorter version of her legal name, but he always calls her by her given Italian name. He is the only one who does.


I also enjoy telling my girls about their Great Grandma S, my husband’s grandma. I don’t have the memories to tell them about her like I do with my grandparents, but I can tell them what a delightful woman she is and how loving and devoted to her family she is.

I think grandparents are the greatest thing. I think of mine often and hold my memories close. Even though I didn’t always live near them, they seem to be a big part of who I have become. I like to hear their stories, whether directly from them or from my parents. I could look for hours at the photo albums my Grandma B has put together with her captions. My favorite is the one of her and my Papa in their “courting” years and early years of their marriage.
In addition to having all four of my grandparents living until recently, I was fortunate enough to know two of my great grandmothers. I have great memories of them as well, particularly G-Grandma J, who lived near me when I was growing up. I remember writing a paper about her when I was in 5th grade and being so intrigued by her life. Family history is so important and special. I hope my girls will love it as much as I do.
And even though we don’t live near their grandparents either, I hope they will have wonderful relationships with them as well and make the same kind of memories that bring warmth as only grandparents can. That is why my husband and I travel with them as much as we do. To give our girls the gift of family and grandparents and great grandparents. There’s nothing like Grandmas and Grandpas.
They give lots of love.





They make everything amazing and interesting and fun.






Grandmas and Grandpas are the best.