Bye Bye Bye Baby

Some weeks I look back and wonder, how did that happen? I had one of those weeks recently where in a mindless one activity to the next, I looked back and distraughtly noticed three major milestones conquered in days for my two-year old.

First, the adventures in potty training, I have written about them before just waiting for the momentum to really pick up and for her to grasp onto the concept. Finally it was me who committed hard-core, she wore big girl panties and a t-shirt at home most of the week. Strongly motivated by candies after successful tolieting and a rigorously timed routine of going to try about every 30 minutes she had very few wet accidents. She even stayed dry during an overnight in Nana’s bed, which after hearing about it made me panic since I had not warned Nana we were not there yet at home and she still wears diapers at night.

In the same week I assembled and painted her new big girl bed. With no plan or intention of making the transition, I just happened to have the time to work on the project. However, some days I end up being like the Mouse and the Cookie, with one step leading right into another. Before I really realized what I was doing her crib was disassembled in the basement and she was jumping up and down on her new big girl bed.

babaThe last major milestone was a completely happy accident. I don’t feel strongly about an age where pacifiers are unnecessary for other people’s children. For my child, I felt she was old enough and still she was hanging on to them. Despite chewing off the tips of the nipples and looking completely unappetizing, she would still cry for her “baba” to go to sleep or to ride in the car. She had been warned these would be the last baba’s she would have and when they were gone, they were gone for good. I frequently asked her if her baba was broken and if she wanted to throw it away, she did throw some away and as she realized she was down to her last one she lingered over the trash can a few times before deciding it wasn’t broken enough.

One evening before bed we searched the house together upstairs and downstairs, in the kitchen, in the bedrooms, in the bathrooms and through every nook and cranny to find her last baba, it went missing. I honestly did search hard, I was nervous about her big changes and adapting to life without her baba AND being in a new bed. At the same time I was silently cheering, the unnecessarily dependent relationship with this wrecked piece of plastic was finally going to be over.

After a good long search we had a talk about the baba being gone. My two-year old melted onto the floor for a few brief seconds and then went back to being excited about her new big girl bed. She asked for a baba a few times since and calmly settled herself when we talked about how it was gone.

A few days after the baba disappeared, it reappeared under the couch where I hadn’t been able to spot it before. I hurried to it before she noticed to keep it gone for good this time.

Thundersnow

02This is what I get for doubting the forecasts.

There is so much anticipation of big storms in Kansas City. Local meteorologists generate the energy of elementary students in their excitement for the possibility of snow. The warning of, “it’s coming, it’s going to be a lot, every county in Kansas has issued a state of emergency” all before a flake had even hit the ground seemed humorous to me. On more than one occasion there has been various other doomsday-like-conditions forecasted resulting in no precipitation at all. Needless to say, late last night after all the hype and not a flurry in sight I imagined this might just be another big weather disappointment.

01Peering out the window this morning I was alarmed to see how wrong I had been to doubt. Soft fluffy white covered the ground across the yard making it indistinguishable from the street and the yard across the street. Snow continued to come down hard with extra falling from the trees and rooftops when the wind blew. And to make this mini blizzard extra unique, the snow was accompanied by a little thunder and lightning.
00
Unsure of the snowfall totals from this morning, it has stopped currently and it is forecasted to begin again around 6PM – we shall see…..

Miss Independence

trainingpantsandcheeseThe other morning PJ woke up with wild bed head, we put on her training pants and a sweatshirt. She also strapped on her white glossy church shoes which will accessorize any outfit in her two-year-old mind, all to come to the kitchen for breakfast. When I asked her what she wanted to eat she replied “cheese,” despite it not being a meal this is an improvement from her usual response of “juice.” Before I could even get back to her about what breakfast meal to eat she opened the fridge and helped herself to the remains of the parmesan cheese container.

On another note, potty training has been a big success this week with a little sugary reinforcement. Maybe too good since she is now trying to go potty without my help so she can flush and say she went to get a treat then turn around to try to potty again two minutes later for another treat. Nice try smarty pants, not gonna pull one over on me yet

Life is always entertaining with this silly sweetheart, I love being her mommy.

Just Like Winning The Lottery

I’m a little out of the loop on child development research and all of the very specific (I’m sure very useful yet soon to be out of date) information on toddler potty training. It seems there is a treasure trove of data regarding when to start, how to schedule and what reinforcement should look like in regards to toileting. On the one hand, had I taken advantage of what knowledge is out there I could have an underwear wearing two-year-old. On the other hand I could have spent hours carefully plotting my methods and then banging my head against the wall when my independently minded two-year-old sabotages my agenda (speaking from experience.) Needless to say, we bought a seat for her and have crossed our fingers for the last six months she would gain interest and decide when she is ready.

potty

In the last week she has requested “pooh-poddy” (she has a habit of creating her own nicknames for things) and successfully completed #1’s and #2’s in the toilet. YES – Progress! There were plenty more diaper changes than uses of the pooh-poddy, progress nonetheless.

And when she makes the request to remove her diaper and give it a try, I sit on her bathroom stool patiently observing her face grimacing and squeezing pause. When she sees my expression in response to the sound I hear in the toilet she looks as startled and happy as me. Parker receives high fives and praises. We have invited in daddy and any house guests who happen to be there to also give congratulatory high fives. We have called Nana’s and Papa’s on the phone to share the news and hear their encouraging “yay, big girl!” Her pride in a job well done is so enthusiastic.

And after she has properly wiped, flushed and washed; Parker gets a rewarding treat, of the Peez variety. She holds her treat between two fingers with an exploding grin. She dances and displays her prize holding it out long in front of her “Look mommy, look daddy… Look.” Finally, sometimes after some redirection, she finally puts it in her mouth and quickly chews it until it’s gone. She has so much energy and excitement about her new found accomplishment, just like she has won the lottery.

Harper, The Junk Yard Dog

harper2My dog Harper is a 90 pound gentle giant still waiting to escape his puppy energy. He has a fascination with little dogs, continuously steals laundry and is my big black shadow. You might think his relentless need to be at my side is a sign of his loyal and guarding nature, sadly I think it has more to do with his sheepish comfort and need to feel protected. My husband says “Harper is a free spirit.”

harper3Really though, Harper is my junk yard dog. I can’t even imagine the disgust of having a dirty gym sock in my mouth and that’s not even the worst of his dirty habits. He has thieved an entire stick of butter off the counter, ate a whole chicken carcass and has removed diapers from the dirty pale. Our kitchen trash can posted on a stool for years before we finally invested in a can with a lid to prevent Harper from pulling things out of it. And if a bag accidentally gets left within his reach on the deck, the contents are likely to turn up in the yard. Yes, we have been those neighbors around here for quite some time. The neighbors everyone else wishes lived on another block because of the random milk carton, sour cream container and various plastic bottles continuously showing up.

Last night I was alarmed to notice Harper was not his jovial self. On his last bathroom break to the yard I saw him lay down outside as opposed to his usual sniffing around, chasing Macy or pacing at the door. When he came in he hacked a little and then flopped his body down with a thud as if to demonstrate he is done moving for the night.

I racked my brain trying to imagine what he could have consumed to make him feel this way, it wasn’t normal for his cast iron stomach to respond and feel sick. His food hadn’t changed and he had no access to socks to swallow or trash to devour. I figured he may have had some table scraps from my daughter, though this too is very normal for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and even the occasional Play-doh spillage.

Then it dawned on me… Earlier this week I picked up new dog treats and opened the box for the first time yesterday. In an effort to try to cook more and eat healthier for the whole family, I bought some extra special treats for the dogs too. The treats are all natural, no preservatives, they look and smell like ginger bread cookies (shaped like hydrants, bones and squirrels.) Not stinky, not dirty, not plastic, I guess my junk yard dog is not accustomed to eating the good stuff.
harper

Help, Yessss, Lotion & Love

There are some commonly spoken phrases in our house. A growing mind of a two-year old, rapidly expanding her ideas, vocabulary and opinion are sometimes astonishing to keep up with. The following is a list I have compiled of the top five most common statements from both Parker and her mommy.

PJParker’s Top 5

1.) “How bout… this one.”
She says so thoughtfully and clearly to make decisions. Parker likes to express choices about clothes, food and what to watch on Netflixs. Back in my babysitting days, when Barney was new, I would get so annoyed with the singing purple dinosaur and swear when I had kids they would be banned from this programming. Unfortunately, a decade and a half later, I am eating my words as my tiny tot politely points out the forbidden show requesting “How bout… this one.”

2.) “Yea… yessss.”
My husband is encouraging Parker to enunciate and use proper English. I wholeheartedly agree this is important, even though I am most often the one to slip and be a poor example to her with my lazy communication. In the last few weeks especially he has been retraining her to not say yea, and she is quickly beginning to correct herself. The adorable part of her correction is the long s sound which follows her yes’.

3.) “Hey that’s mine.”
This is spoken with a bit of a toddler lisp, comes with a frown and on the rare occasion a small tantrum. Sharing is tough.

4.) “Parry Rock” or “Da Lacy Sung”
In my effort to break from Yo Gabba Gabba, Sesame Street or Barney, I figured a girl who loves music and dancing might also love music videos. We have the music choice channel where we play videos on demand, she has her favorites and doesn’t like trying out new ones unless the beat immediately catches her attention. Two favorites she requests are LMFAO’s Party Rock and Bruno Mars’ Lazy Song. Not all the lyrics are appropriate for kids, though I figured she wouldn’t remember or know what it was about. I thought there could be no harm… Turns out she really enjoys the dancing and tries to mimic what she sees in the videos. Let’s just say we are all done with the Lazy Song now.

5.) “Halp you peas mommy.”
Parker does love to help me in whatever chore I am trying to conquer. She even got her very own play cleaning set for Christmas so she can follow along with my sweeping and scrubbing. However, this phrase is not about helping mommy. I figured out she learned to say “help you” when she needs help since I would catch her struggling in a task and questions “Can Mommy help you?”

Mommy’s Top 5

PJ&mom 1.) “Is that baba broken?”
Parker is clinging to her last two pacifiers and I am fully prepared for the end of them. They are both gnarley little pieces of plastic with the ends chewed off. She has chosen to throw other ones away once they were in the same condition, so I ask her everyday if they are broken and ready to throw away. One night she was on her way to the trash can and then decided it was not quite broken yet, agh so close!

2.) “Are you doing a stink stink?”
I ask Parker when she has separated herself to a corner or behind furniture with the concentrated pooping look on her face. She shakes her head no, despite my encouragement of trying it on the big girl potty. Then as I am changing her diaper after the fact, she sometimes requests what she calls to sit on the “poo poddy” not understanding it’s a little late for it now. I’m sure there will be more potty training adventure stories to come.

3.) “Lotion is not for eating.”
My day is filled with “no,” “stop,” and “don’t” type statements. I try to fill in the rest with choices or an explanation. For some reason I have to repeat this one too often since PJ has acquired a taste for lotion.

4.) “Give me some sugar.”
Parker is affectionate without announcement sometimes, and there are lots of times when we request it of her. She withholds kisses in a teasing manner sometimes, eventually giving in. The best is when I can trick her telling her I don’t want her sloppy kisses and wiping them away, then the sugar just keeps on coming.

5.) “You are beautiful” and “I love you.”
Browsing through my mom’s Pinterest quotes the other day one caught my eye, I’m not on it yet because I keep hearing about how addictive it is and I’m kind of scared to take on another online hobby. The quote said something about the statements you tell your children will become their internal voices later. This made me smile to know I am constantly telling my little girl she is beautiful and she is loved.

Color Comparison

I know, I know… Don’t compare your child to others. This is advise and knowledge given to parents all the time to calm irrational thinking about a child’s health, developmental progress, intelligence, creativity, athleticism etc. I understand my child is only two and has years to learn and grow. She will have areas where she excels above other children her own age and there will be other areas she may be average or below. Believe me, with my history of obtaining “below average” scores on standardized tests, from personal experience I greatly value not comparing. However, there has to come a point when you might potentially learn something important, something missing or a major discrepancy between what is normal and what you see happening… Right?

Here’s my confession, I have been stressing for 6 months pushing colors on my baby. It all started last spring, months before her second birthday when we hosted a play group at our home. One little brainiac friend of hers only a month older, was easily naming colors when prompted by her mom. I figured I’d boost up my tutoring of colors and within the next 30 days and she would be right up to speed with her smarty pants friends.

30 days came and went, the whole hot summer went by, her second birthday came and went… This whole time adding to the list of other 2-year-olds accurately responding “red, blue, yellow” to the command of “name that color.” I coached with blocks, in the bathtub with toys and with crayons. I tried naming, matching, providing choices and asking yes or no.

Her complete and utter refusal to get involved in the process had me worried maybe she really couldn’t see what I was talking about. Of course she wouldn’t know which color I was talking about if all along she was seeing shades of gray. Really all I was accomplishing was torturing a colorblind child?

In December I had an opportunity to get together with my cousin, his wife and their big eyed, squeaky voiced nearly two and a half-year old princess. He relayed the same stress I was feeling and admitted play-Doh was the incentive for his daughter to identifying colors. reinvigorated with hope, and coincidentally a freshly purchased barrel of play-doh from Christmas – I was ready to get back to color training.

Parker practicing color with play-doh

Parker practicing color with play-doh

The next week Parker was enthusiastic about her play-Doh, she appeared to be catching onto the idea of responding with the name of a color. I held up the yellow play-doh and asked “What color is this?”

“Lellow,” she said to receive applause and a congratulatory high-five. Testing again, I held up the blue container and again asked for the color. She paused before replying “Lellow.”

“No, try again PJ.” I said patiently.

“Lellow-ink?”

And so it turns out, she says yellow for everything. And as if yellow-pink were a color, this is always her second choice. Her other frequent responses to color related lessons are “I unno Mommy,” and when I tell her the color answer I was looking for “Oooooh, I see Mommy.”

Progress maybe, and yet nowhere near where many of her two-year old buddies are at with their art skills. Again, I know I shouldn’t compare, yet since we happened to be at the pediatrician earlier this week I went ahead and asked. Dr. Loeb reassured us not to worry about color blindness and typically kids don’t differentiate colors until around the age of 3. Whew, I guess I will give Parker another 8 months to study up!

Not your average holiday letter.

One thing I love the most about this time of year is all of the mail! The tradition of catching up with old friends by a Christmas card, a family photo or yearly update with a good old fashioned stamp on it makes me smile, plus fresh frame-worthy pictures to update frames is a bonus. Snail mail anytime of the year is welcome, though, I know I send and receive the most in the month of December.

The holiday letter is kind of a funny thing to me. When a simple card or picture will not do, individuals and families might opt to generate a quick synopsis of the last 12 months to update friends and family who might not otherwise hear all of the news flashes throughout the year. I’m not sure when my mom thought this would be necessary to write one for our family, though, I remember the year I did not approve. In 1996 I was 14 years old and read over her draft of the family holiday letter. I’m sure she highlighted many major events, boasted about how wonderful her kids were and used proper sentence structure and punctuation, yet it seemed to make us even more boring than we actually were. By pointing out the yawn factor, she challenged me to come up with something better. The product ended up being a sarcastic summary of life in our household and I was required to continue writing holiday letters until long after all of us kids were grown.

A few years back my mom’s friend Sue mailed me a stack of my holiday letters she had been saving. Her note said she had been doing some deep cleaning and heard I hadn’t been keeping copies. I guess rather than holding onto the letters themselves I will purge them onto the internet to be able to look back on and maybe inspire someone else to create entertaining holiday notes. Starting with letter #2.
-letter1997
-letter1998
-letter1999
-letter2000
-letter2001
-letter2002
-letter2003
-letter2005
-letter2006-letter2007
-letter2008
-letter2009

Amazing how my mom folded each letter identically over the years, huh? Now I am anxiously awaiting the mailman’s arrival!

Bedtime Stories

Parker with Muno, one of two “Yo Gabba Gabba” characters she sleeps with every night.

Her second birthday was celebrated the first week of October, and we are oh so thankful for some shreds of baby we are hanging on to.  Mainly sleeping in a crib.  At some point parents have to make a decision about when the timing is right to make this transition to a big kid bed.  Some kids, like my nephew (now 2 1/2) make this choice for their parents by making it impossible to secure them safely in a crib.  Parker, on the other hand, has proudly called me in to her room saying “Look Mommy” as she got herself stuck straddling the railing with no where to go – and has not done it since.

In the last few weeks she has given me reason to hope she can stay in her crib until she goes off to college. I’d hate to think of all of the re-training of bedtime rules which will have to be implemented and reinforced when the time comes for her to begin sleeping in the toddler bed. Needless to say this might also trigger the end of nap-time, I just can’t imagine her staying mattress bound if toys are within sights and reach in her bedroom.

In the past few weeks there have been several nights of waking up after being asleep for a few hours. The first night I went in to find her baba (pacifier) and remind her it was bedtime. A few minutes later my husband gave the same thing a try. Finally for the third visit I returned and laid her back down reminding her it is time to sleep. As a final plea to get me to come back after her door was closed I could hear desperately “Mommy, peas, Foofa needs you.” As if her stuffed character resembling her beloved TV show cast could get me to come running back in. When this cry didn’t work she gave in to a good night’s sleep.

Last night my husband went in to check on Parker when he heard her calling several hours after she had gone to bed. “Wheremommyat,” she wanted to know.

“Going night night, PJ, it’s night night time.” He informed her. Only to be further interigated about the whereabouts of all the family pets to hear the same response. “Harper’s going night night, Macy’s going night night too. Everyone’s going night night Parker.”

He talked to her a bit more telling her he loves her and asking her if she loves him. Parker said “Yes,” and added, “Mommy loves me.” (insert the sound of my heart melting here.) I guess she really does hear me when I tell her these words on a daily basis.

Unfortunately it didn’t end with this for Parker, after Daddy left the room we continued to tune in on the monitor to hear various songs, pleading for us to come back and play, laughing at herself and the discouraged “ahh man” remarks when she was giving in to sleep. She sang “Be nice to everyone” from the TV show Yo Gabba Gabba and it sounded as if she was acting out “Ring Around The Rosey” while she sang it. The other song I remember hearing is her own version of a children’s song, though, rather than singing Thumbkin or Pointer, she fills in with mommy or daddy.

“Where is Mommy, Where is Mommy? Here I am, here I am. How are you today sir, very well I thank you. Run away, run away.” My ear is finely tuned to her language so I know what she is singing often by the melody more than the words.

Well, the new bed is due to arrive next month yet I don’t know how ready we will be to use it. Now is as good a time as any to give it a try.  I’m just crossing my fingers she will stay in her big girl bed when she is feeling restless and wants to sing.  And I don’t even want to consider what life will be like when she grows out of naps.

Baby Doll, Parker

“Baby,” she asked as quickly as her feet hit the ground this morning.  “Wha es baby?”  She looked and gestured towards her play cradle in the corner next to her crib for her doll.  Parker is the third generation to play with this cradle, my grandpa originally made it for my mom.

“I don’t know where you put her, where is baby?”  I replied to ensure she knew I understood her inquiry.  Her language is rapidly developing in the past month and it’s amazing to witness progress from one day to the next.  She is formulating her own statements and questions in a way she only used to be able to repeat after hearing.  And for each exclamation she is able to create it is met with equal or greater insistence for someone to verbalize acknowledgement of her new found vocabulary.

When properly rested she can communicate almost anything, both with her language and continued use of signing.

“Maybe baby is in mommy’s room,”  I encouraged her to go look.

The doll could not be found, though, she was happily distracted by a bottle of body spray her daddy left within reach while shrugging  “Wha es baby, I unno wha es baby?”  She easily gives up the bottle of spray as I sent her to the kitchen to search again.  My last memory of the baby doll was Wednesday evening when she got upset because the doll didn’t swallow the jello dessert she was trying to share with it and we had to wash it’s face.  Again a reminder of why I shouldn’t try to wash dishes while she is eating.

A minute later Parker returns with the doll, pleased with herself for the safe recovery.  She carts the baby off to her room and back to the cradle to tuck the doll in.  Shortly after I hear a small thump and whimpers from Parker.  In the corner of her room I can see she was attempting to climb into the cradle herself when the bottom fell out.  When I was two I got in the cradle with my baby dolls too, although, after three generations of play the wood and glue is just not holding up the same.  

I crouched down to gently remind Parker the cradle is only for the doll and not for Parker while I reassembled it back together.  When it was ready for use again I helped her put the doll back in place and tucked under the blanket.  At this point she tried to tell me “Pawker, Pawker, Pawker,”  pointing straight down into the crib.

Curious of what she was trying to tell me I guessed.  “Did you name your baby doll Parker?”  My guess was obviously wrong.

She gave me a very serious frown and bawled up her fist to use her thumb pointed towards herself.  As if to say Are you stupid, I’m Parker.