My Little Storyteller

In the moments Parker will go play by herself it’s not unusual to peer into her room and find her occupied with books.  Sometimes she curls up in her brown corduroy rocking chair and looks through the illustrations.  My favorite is when she lines up her dolls or stuffed animals and presents the books as though she is reading to her own make-believe classroom.  She carefully tells the story of each page before lifting and turning the book to her viewers to see the pictures.  01booksEach night we read each other one story before bed too.  She has several stories or lines out of books memorized and even mimics the inflections and character voices I use when I read to her.  A lot of her reading is completely made up as she goes along incorporating characters from the story I had read or from events that happened in her day.  It won’t be long before she is truly reading the words on the pages but for now she is using her imagination and her own words for storytelling.

Parker has an advanced vocabulary and communication skills for her young five years.  She is full of opinions, questions and comments and is fearless about opening her mouth to speak.  I want to empower her to continue this since it demonstrates curiosity and leadership, while also trying to rein her in and ensure she remains respectful with her words.  It’s also been a priority for me to educate her on the proper use of her vocabulary and practice pronunciation.  It’s not uncommon for her to completely make up words and throw them into sentences.  She has a few words she frequently stumbles over, like before she could say computer and asked to play on the “paduter.”  There are two words which come to mind I hear currently mispronounced, as long as she is not still saying them this way five years from now they will be a fun memory of her growth.

“Mom, we are out of skabetty?  That’s just rediclius.”

(*Spaghetti, ridiculous)

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Not Quite Ready To Grow Up

My Bye Bye Bye Baby post (here) may have been a little too premature to celebrate. I boosted about Parker’s progress in potty training, going without a pacifier and abandoning her crib all in one week. Turns out she is not exactly ready to shed her baby skin completely. Maybe it was too much too soon and once the thrill of it all was gone she decided growing up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be… At least I feel that way sometimes.

PJ did well in her toddler bed for several nights, maybe even a full week, with no problems. And amazingly she still called in the morning, from her room, to let me know she was up instead of charging through the door. Taking naps in the new bed became a challenge, as predicted, she petifully looked at me with her head tilted to the side reporting “I’m not tired mommy, I don’t want to take a nap.” Then as I told her she could just lay down for some quiet time then (hoping a change in the name might change her attitude), this frequently ignited a brief crockadile teared tantrum clearly insinuating the need for a nap. For days Parker was able to escape taking naps just for the simple fact of not being able to keep her horizontal long enough to doze off.

Eventually Parker began leaving her room in the morning too, discovering she could hop right into mommy and daddy’s bed when she wakes up. It was fun at first, a little bit of snuggle time before breakfast. Then morning after morning she came in earlier and earlier until our usually late sleeper was now rousing each morning at 6AM. Too tired to even calculate how we were going to curb this new behavior and determine who was going to have to adjust – her or us – then the night of doom happened.

The day was normal, the nighttime routine was normal, by all accounts she appeared healthy and content when I put her down to bed. Then two hours after she had been sound asleep she woke up crying. Daddy addressed her crying and she went back to sleep, two hours later the same thing only this time we had gone to bed and she met me at my bedside. The rest of the night was more up and down, screaming at my bedside and exhausting any idea of what could be wrong. It felt like I was back to having a newborn to care for again except this newborn sprung from bed and hopped into my face to let me know she wasn’t sleeping. We took her temperature, rocked, changed pull-ups, drank milk, laid in her bed, and tried for about an hour of the night to see if she would sleep in my bed. The night was a blur of activities, screaming, scattered sleep and no clear idea of why it was all happening.

sleepThe next day when she continued to plead for no nap she was not tired, I knew she had to be exhausted. Again, she was not cooperating with the need to stay in bed so I offered her the option of sleeping in her big girl bed or a pack and play. I offer her choices a lot of times to try to employ her to make the positive choice, she often chooses the other option to see if I will carry through with the consequence. So, out the pack and play came since the crib has been disassembled and stored away. The afternoon after the night of doom she slept a good nap in her pack and play. And since then the pack and play has remained set up in her room, next to her toddler bed and she continues to choose to sleep there for night time and naps.

Maybe it’s more comfortable to be enclosed? I don’t know why it’s her preference for now, as long as we don’t end up shipping the pack and play away to college later on I suppose we are okay.

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.

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!

Daddy & Daughter Demands

My daughter is becoming fiercely independent.  Don’t get me wrong this is exactly the kind of attribute we want to praise and encourage for her to develop and benefit from throughout her life.  Years from now she will have the strength to stand up for herself and others.  She will be able to advocate for what she needs and she will not take no for an answer…  years from now.

Right now, though, this independence is too much for her to handle.  My daughter wants to be on her stool washing dishes, standing on the toilet to brush her teeth, unlocking the front door after errands, turning on the stereo (and turning the volume waaaay up), reading her own books, cooking, and dressing herself.

I was so pleased when she learned how to pick out a pair of shoes, put them on herself, and cooperate with switching when I told her “wrong foot.”  Even when she is opinionated about choosing the pair which didn’t necessarily coordinate with her outfit, her learning this task made me happy.

Not all of the independent tasks she is trying are coming so easily though, and some of them seem to be incredibly frustrating to her nearly 2-year-old mind.  “No” seemed to be absent from her vocabulary up until the last few months and now it seems too many statements or questions are met with a sharp “NO.”  When she gets stuck in a task she cannot figure out there is tantrum and tears, yelling and refusal of help.  One night over the weekend she fought to put on her own pajamas, whining and squirming with them.  When she got her legs stuck in the arm holes the body flailing began, so mad these pajamas could do her so wrong.

I allow her to have as many opportunities to practice her skills as possible.  I stand outside in the heat for an extra five minutes for her to put the key correctly in the lock, I take the time to show her the correct method to get results, I step in to take over when she has lost control and I spend plenty of time cleaning up her messes.  Let’s face it learning can be dirty sometimes.  I wrestle with thoughts of psychology, child development and reinforcing behaviors, how much is too much and am I raising her right…  Quickly snapping back to reality as duty calls for a second bath for the day when she attempted changing her own diaper in her crib after the nap.

Is this the terrible two’s, has it already arrived four months before she even turns the dreaded age?  This stubborn toddler now demanding her way and don’t help, will be challenging my stress level for how long?  When will she grasp the limitations I put in place for her and stop trying to push it?  (dumb question I realized this after I wrote is since there will be evolving changes all the time.)  The hardest part about meeting her demands is when my husband so honestly pointed out “How will you be able to deal with BOTH of us?”  See he exudes much of the same childlike intolerance for when things don’t go his way, minus the body flailing.

There are far more smiles, hugs and expressions of cooperation then there are the no’s, the tears and the tantrums.  With both my hubby and my toddler I will keep practicing patience, choosing by battles and providing loving support when it’s accepted.

And when my husband voluntarily gets up with my daughter in the morning and serves her chicken, pepperoni and cherries for breakfast.  I’ll just say “Thank you for letting me sleep in” and wake up tomorrow.  Life is perfect right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.