Saturday, September 28, 2013

So Big

Sometimes Benjamin enjoys hanging out in his crib. Really, I get him in the morning and he often requests to be put back in there. If I ask to pick him up, he says "oh" (which is "no") and continues to sit happily and body slam his pillow.

Thursday morning was no different. He had a lot to say and was pointing out various things in the room and the pointed to the framed picture (of like 10 of his relatives, including his mama, mind you) and said "Dad" on repeat.

I told him his dad loved him. And then I asked him how much he thought his dad loved him.

He threw out his arms and said "BIG".

We both tell him we love him big all the time and he's now starting to say it himself. There's no denying it... we love this little boy so BIG.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How Unfortunate

I'm in a little bit of a mood today (partially due to poor sleep), so I figured it was a perfect day to write about my stillborn son. Because that also makes me angry and sad. Which is a mood. And not a positive one.

The husband and I were chatting with a couple we didn't know the other day. Benjamin was off playing in the church and they asked about children. We chimed in about our 19-month old son. And then they asked if that was our only child. I told them we had a son before and he died at birth due to a cord issue.

Her response (as she held her 6-week old newborn girl, their third daughter)...

"How unfortunate."

That response caught me so off-guard that I couldn't even respond. The proper response to the tragedy of a lost life is empathy/sympathy and sadness. Something along the lines of I'm sorry or that's horrible would've been appropriate.

It's unfortunate when you leave the milk out on the counter and it spoils. Or when you get a flat tire. Or when your favorite team loses a game.

When your firstborn son dies, it's a whole lot more than unfortunate.

It makes me angry that other parents don't even see the value of human life. You're holding a newborn baby. What if someone took her away? She died in her sleep? Contracted a terminal illness?

I'd have a whole lot more to say to you than how unfortunate that would be.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Seasonal Changes & Library Love

It's not quite summer anymore, but it's not quite fall/winter. The water park has been closed for a few weeks. The weather hovers in between both warm and cool seasons and we're still plenty active outside. My grand design is to get B outside as much as possible in the warmer months (anything above freezing) because winter is-a-comin' and he's never been this mobile in the winter.

I'm scared. Are other stay-at-home-moms that don't live in Southern California scared?

Thankfully, I bought two snow bibs and a nice jacket that should serve us well when he absolutely must be in the snow. And I bought myself a rockin' pair of snow boots that will keep me from falling on my arse this winter. My pair is tan/red and I think it will make me more motivated to schlep the kiddo places and do things like purchase food for my family. There have been winters that I get very creative based on my complete disinterest to exit into the negative degree temps.

Back to my original topic. What to do during the day with a toddler who doesn't much desire being cooped up inside and dealing with my sheer boredom of the same local parks we already visited 347 times this summer...

I strategically plan for things like swim lessons and gymnastics (and other classes, etc.) to take place in the winter months. It allows him to release some energy and it gives us somewhere to go when the weather is harrowing. I have a whole list of places/activities that work for winter and summer days. Fall and spring are in-between and overlap.

Winter: local church we attend that has an indoor play area & ride-on toys, swim lessons, gymnastics, library storytimes, children's museum, playdates at friends' houses, indoor play area we pay $1 each time, seasonal fests...

Summer: local and drive-to parks, water park membership, library storytime, splash pads, children's museum, playdates, seasonal fests, exploring in our own backyard (or the yards of unlucky neighbors with no fences!)

On both of those lists... library storytime. Not only are we religiously at the library to check out books and puzzles each week (the educator in me), but we attend about 1-3 storytimes for different age groups and at different libraries. Libraries we're not even members at sometimes! When no registration is required, it's basically an open invitation for free social interaction, early literacy exposure, and entertainment.

Our local library only has one small branch because we live in a small town in a big suburb. There is a 0-2 storytime and a 2-3 storytime we're attending each week. And the other libraries in our school district (but not the library we have membership) have tons of storytimes at each of the branches run by different people, with different kids, and different stories. We attend a toddler storytime for 18mo-3 and a family storytime of a hodgepodge of ages. We've even gone to Barnes & Noble for storytime! They have a toy train set and a Starbucks that sells Cheesecake Factory cheesecake slices, so that's always a winner, even if the books aren't. Just about every day of the week offers a storytime within a 4-mile radius we can attend.

I know. Totally a library junkie. But I didn't mean for it to be that way. It just drives me looney when I look at the calendar and see _______ for the day's activities. I feverishly find somewhere for us to go in order to break up the monotony of being home all day long. It's not fair to Benjamin and Lord knows I'm bored!

Before you become all impressed about how studious we are, I'd like to point out that Benjamin spends the majority of the time being bribed with raisins to stay in the room, walking around and locating clocks, buttons, and opening any cabinets. And if there is a single electronic device that can be tinkered with at his level (or not, he requests "up please"), especially with bright lights or sound, he's off and running. The most recent storytime we went to, the lady was using a document camera. Right away I knew we lost him. He's not the kid who sits in my lap or happily participates in all the activities. That was my pre-walker. Now he cannot be bothered. And yet, we still attend. Because I figure a library is a fine place to explore where there are people, books, puzzles, and often times, a play area.

What's funny about observing his complete disinterest during storytime is that he loves books. He can't get enough. I don't read fewer than 50 books a day to this kid, and he has a name for most of the ones he loves. Thank heavens for a library card that allows me to check out other books that I haven't memorized. And yes, the sharing of germs simply have to be forgotten... otherwise we'd never leave the house.

I mean, this is the same kid who sucked on the stylus pen at the Target checkout a week ago. That still haunts me.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

98 Days. Gulp.

I read on a blog today that we're under the 100 day mark until Christmas. Which means we're close to 2014. Which means we are even closer to a certain beloved boy's 3rd should-be-awesome-but-it's-gonna-suck birthday.

I won't carry on about the cool things he'd be doing, saying, or bringing home from preschool. Okay, maybe that was enough.


I'm never ready for the seasons to change because that means we'll be at another candlelight vigil {just like my friend Brooke commented about yesterday} instead of excitedly pulling out the Christmas ornaments and decorating the tree. We'll still do that, but it still stings. We decorated our tree and home hours before delivering Andrew. Then we got to come home to all that festive crap, making the holiday sting even more painful. Not that I wanted him to die ever, but I sure wouldn't have chosen a December doomsday.

We had to turn down a Christmas party already because it landed on the dreaded 5th and of course that day is not a day to party it up for our family. We'll have a sensible dinner at the same local restaurant we went to last year and a dessert in honor of our firstborn. We'll attend the remembrance ceremony, light a candle and hang an ornament on the multiple trees they provide at the local ceremony for our dead children.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Doctor

We need one in our house.

B is hard on books. Specifically, books with flaps, manipulatives and tabs. Problem is, he loves those very same books. {as an aside, I totally recommend Pat the Bunny}. I've attempted to save many-a-book and now we're dealing with random pieces strewn everywhere that I save and wait until naptime to repair.

And then... he promptly plucks the pieces I feverishly taped and mended at next "read" of the book.

My favorite part is that he looks at me with furrowed brow each time he reaches these pages as if some sort of injustice has been done. As if to tell me that I must respond immediately to the emergency and right the wrongs.

Oh sweet boy. You did it. You plucked those little birdie heads from the page not once, but twice. I'm done repairing them. The headless birdies shall remain until the book has been so demolished that it lands itself in recycling. #toddlershaming
Baby Jesus and his parents have taken a long vacation from this page.
The birds used to open their mouths with a pull tab. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Naptime Blogging, Love & Logic and the Cute Kid

I seriously cannot get down anything coherent during these naptimes. I think I get all frazzled and nervous that I'll spend too much time uploading photos or whatever (hence no photos lately... not that we're not taking many!) that I'll miss out on the other stuff I have to get done during naptime.

Which brings me to the question... What do you guys do during naptime?

When naptimes were two (oh glorious days!), I refinished furniture, watched DVR'ed Bachelor episodes, cleaned, caught up on phonecalls to people I have neglected... but with one nap that is totally unpredictable at times? I am finding myself doing the dishes from lunch, dinner prepping a bit, reading blogs, returning emails, paying bills, eating lunch... and then it's over. Just. like. that.

So here goes nothing. I'm planning to blog more about stuff. General life and maybe a few photos a day. Just enough to meet the 5-10 minutes of blog time before I have to get on with the rest of that list before the little person wakes and dictates the rest of our day's schedule.

Here's a quick update about parenting this week. And then a photo if you're totally bored of my parenting chit-chat.

- I received a question about getting B to say please. I model it a lot in my own words to him, but when he says up, I immediately say please right after. I won't pick him up until he says it. He'll say up over and over again and I'll say please until he does. Then he gets picked up. I realize not all kids work that way. And Benjamin typically doesn't for most things before he's on the floor tantrum throwing. But this seems to work for us right now. Ask me next week. Hah.

- Love & Logic is going well. Not that he's a better behaved kiddo (as we still get hit and bit regularly), but we are practicing love, empathy, "calm down time" immediately following an incident like hitting, and most notably, we're offering him lots of choices. The philosophy (in short) is that if you offer your child choices that are both favorable to you, there are less no/yes responses, less breakdowns, and more ownership and pride on their part because you are allowing them a say. We ask him questions all day long from trivial things to important ones. Examples:

Would you like a muffin or toast for breakfast? (show both so he can point)
Would you like butter or peanut butter on your waffle? (he chose PB)
Would you like to go to the park over there near the school or the little green one? (pointing)
Would you rather put on your shoes before going outside or stay inside? (notice there is no option to not wear shoes outside as he originally wanted...both options meet our needs, too)

- Offering him choices at mealtime have somewhat helped my very picky eater to become less of a pill during that time and actually eat a bit more from both options we select for him.

- While he is still young and language development is picking up (while rapidly, but slow by way of communication), this has been successful for us. It's also a lot more fun parenting, just like the book boasts. Not that it's the be-all book to parenting, but since I mentioned we were reading it in the last post, I wanted to follow up.

- He still hits a lot when he's trying to communicate that he does not want to do what we are doing. We calmly tell him that he has chosen to hit and that hitting hurts people. We do not hit and because he made the choice, he will need time alone for a minute. Using love and empathy so he doesn't hit "fight or flight", we try to reason with him that way. Follow-through is key.

There's more, but I don't want to type the whole book out (seems like I did!).

Demonstrating how to pick raspberries properly. Pick and eat immediately.
Photo taken about a week ago when my mom came to visit (we got a date night without the third wheel!). More pictures to come...
p.s. My kid has another cold. Like honestly. You think it was the stylus pen he sucked on at the Target checkout the other day? (egad!) Frustrating, but at 2:00 a.m., I sat in bed holding my 18-month old as he was sound asleep for 30 minutes... before I laid him next to me and he rolled over and started talking to his dad. He got the eviction notice then. But that 30 minutes of baby drool on my chest and his little body draped across me? Magical.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Thought that after a week or so of blogging that I'd have anything to write here... but I don't really.

We've spent the last week month trying to manage the little terrorist that has taken over our home. I'm willing to get on my knees here and admit that this is no easy task parenting an independent toddler. He's independent in that he knows what he wants, but insists I aid in his efforts, all while not being able to communicate his needs very well verbally. Which then result in him assuming I don't understand or want to understand/let him express his free will and then a tantrum ensues. Which of course is not true at all. I'm all about fairness and compromise. In fact, I think that's the only way to parent a child who will become a responsible, law-abiding, reasonable, fair adult.

We're resting on about 30+ words at this point and none of those include polite words. We're working on please. He sat and kicked off his shoes and whined under a swing yesterday because he refused to say please after telling me he wanted up in the swing. It's a non-negotiable. You want something and I want something. We both need to feel respected here.

He must say the word "up", which I taught him instead of whining and motioning for picking up, about 150 times a day. At least. It's cuter than the whining, but it's now sounding more demanding. I am now requiring all of his ups be followed by a please... which he says peas and pretty much melts your heart. 

I know toddlers are demanding. And busy. And tantrum-throwing little people because they are trying to assert their independence and new learning. None of this is lost to me. But MAN. It's exhausting. 

We just bought this book. 

Not only are we reading it, but a local friend is reading it as well so we can chat and follow through with the principles together since she's a couple months ahead of us in this toddler-raising business. This book has been recommended to me by many parents I trust and admire who are way further into the game than we are. It totally feels like a game sometimes. Maybe pinball? And I'm the ball?

Some days I sit and wonder why I don't hear other parents talking about the terrible toddler times and how they have managed to keep from turning completely gray. I wonder if I'm the only one who has such a rotten devil child, but then I think about the circumstances being different for other families who have caregivers or work part time or have help from family to make it feel like less of a brain drain on the parents. (Please forget that the grammar and incredibly long run-on sentences exist in this post. And maybe all posts until Benjamin graduates college. Thanks)

I think it would be easier if I didn't spend every waking moment with the little monster, but at the same time, I don't want to run away from the most important and challenging (cliche much?) job I'll ever have. I want to tackle this head-on and show that I respect and love the little guy who we were so lucky to be given in the first place. And if you're encouraging me to get him involved in activities, we are. Between a few storytimes a week, an indoor playhouse, parks, friends' houses, gymnastics, swim lessons, and errands, we're attempting to keep him engaged. I even plan to put him in a structured 1 day/week early preschool program around his 2nd birthday. But we're not there yet. I still have to simmer down and remember he really is just 18-months old. 

But man. Some days just may call for a cocktail at naptime. No, I haven't, but don't think I haven't wished it was appropriate!

Comments about struggling with your tantrum-throwing toddler or how you handled it are totally appropriate here. I appreciate empathy. If you have perfect kids, commenting might land coal in your stocking. Wink.