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.

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!

Cookie Monster

Parker disappeared from the family gathering in the living room. “Parker,” I hollered only to catch her out of the corner of my eye pulling herself up on the bar stool in the kitchen to reach the contents on the counter. She had been eyeing the tray of cookies and now with everyone distracted, her two year old independence was about to be rewarded.

I made it to her just in time to pull the tray out of her reach, though, since she gave it such a good effort I let her pick one out. She immediately choose a peanut butter blossom – the kind with a Hersey kiss in the middle. Parker goes for the chocolate first and eats the cookie second. After her treat we resumed activity with everyone else in the living room: playing with cousins, checking out new toys and clearing the debris of wrapping paper and boxes.

Later I was called back into the kitchen by my brother and my mom. Parker also joined and again pulled herself up on the bar stool to position herself next to her big cousins. They pointed out how 3 cookies were missing bites out of the top of the chocolate kiss and all knew who was likely responsible, my little cookie monster.

Parker reached for a sugar cookie and got one off the tray before Nana could intervene. “You need to ask mommy first Parker,” She told her in a loving Nana way. Parker looked right at me with her big brown eyes maybe thinking of asking permission.

Instead she said “Thank you Mommy.” And took a big bite of her cookie.

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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.  

 

Can’t help it, sleepy farts are funny.

A five AM wake up call occurred Saturday and Sunday morning this weekend on our trip to Des Moines for a wedding.  Our tiny tot, Parker, usually goes to sleep easily and sleeps in late in the comfort of her own crib.  When she sees us sleeping in the same room, as we did in the hotel, it’s game on for partying late into the night and a restless nights’ sleep.

Two mornings in a row her wake up call started with a slow whine, and while both of us likely heard it from the beginning neither of us stirred.  Rolling over, talking to her or even taking a deep breath might indicate readiness to get up with her…  Instead I prayed silently she would nod back off to sleep.  The intermittent whining begins to lengthen and get louder, soon Parker is rubbing her legs back and forth against the pack and play out of boredom.  She begins rolling around and finally sits up, I don’t open my eyes and hold my position as asleep.

Her whimpering language is not one of being scared, needing to be changed or sad.  She very clearly was crying “I’m awake and I see you there in bed and want to be there too.”

Hats off to parents who prefer co-sleeping, it’s painfully difficult for me to sleep in bed with my toddler.  Parker wiggles, squirms and most often ends up asleep sideways in bed between me and my husband.  So at 5AM evaluating the situation in a half sleeping state, I understand picking her up and letting her come into bed will only reinforce her waking up and getting into bed with us at every opportunity we are sleeping in the same room.  My husband and I alternate begging her to lay down and go back to sleep.  I wondered if she would wake up the rest of the 24th floor hotel patrons before she would give up and go back to sleep.

stretched out on the king-sized bed.

Knowing the stubborn streak of genes she inherited, “giving up” is not in this girl’s capabilities.  Reluctantly, I gave in and put her in bed Saturday morning, Sunday morning my husband was the first to give in.  Our silence encouraged her to remain silent from this point forward, although she tried her hardest to wake us up to play.  She climbed on top, put her nose to my nose, jumped between us and playfully fell into the pillows.  I quietly let her know she would have to lay down or go back to her own bed.  Her under two-year old mind understood her choices and she lay her head on my pillow, then on my arm, then on my stomach, then on her daddy – tossing and turning for over an hour until she finally fell back into much needed slumber.

The second morning was the same as the first, with one hilarious outtake which made it all worth bringing Parker to bed.  Somewhere between 5AM and 6:30AM my husband and I lay facing each other with Parker between us.  I watched her roll from my arms to position herself leaning against her daddy with her back side parallel with his stomach.  Almost immediately when she gets herself to this position she begins passing gas, the kind of toot which gets drawn out into a row of highly audible puffs.  And when she is done with this manuever she just as quickly rolled out of the position.  It was as if she had plotted this prank on her daddy, and the hilarity of the situation is it is exactly the kind of prank her daddy would think is funny.  Sleep deprived and slightly delirious the laughter erupted from me despite knowing I shouldn’t encourage my baby intentionally farting on people.  It made me chuckle the whole ride back to Kansas City Sunday afternoon and still now thinking about it I can’t help to giggle.

So tired from her early morning play, we had to wake up Parker to get to a late breakfast date.

If My Dogs Attended School, They’d Be In Special Ed.

I love our dogs, they are a part of our family.  And they are oh so special.  Macy is a mid-sized terrier, loyal, agile, anxious and stubborn x10.  Harper is nearly 90 pounds and although he just turned 3 he seems all puppy, also extremely loyal.  This week’s walk in the park is a prime example of the nut bag behavior I deal with for these lovable clowns.

In lue of getting a work out in at home, pilates with a toddler on the hip is impossible, I figured an escape to nature would serve the same purpose and be fun for all.  I loaded up baby and pups for a ride to our favorite dog park – Shawnee Mission Park.  The parking lot was rather empty on this Tuesday morning, which worked out fine for me I was able to open the back and let the dogs run straight to the gate without leashes.

The dog park area is large in comparison to other parks we have gone to, there is a long wide path down the middle flanked with grassy areas on either side and wooded areas beyond that.  Although there are paths down towards the wooded areas, we have always seemed to stay in the middle as it is the quickest way to the water.  My dogs love to be social with other dogs, although they lack social etiquette and don’t quite get it when other dogs are annoyed with their jovial nosiness.  My husband and I haven’t dedicated adequate time to training our dogs, although, we are pretty proud of them coming when we call (eventually).  On our last trip to the dog park another dog accidentally knocked Parker to the ground, the shock made her cry and our dogs immediately retreated from their playful fun to lay down in front of their baby to protect her.

The dogs and Parker were so happy to be out free to run, Parker calling out to her dogs and laughing when they would coming running back towards her.  She alternated between running after them and breaking to be carried.  Needless to say the toddler toddling was not moving fast enough for the dogs.  There were not many other park goers when we first arrived, the dogs greeted fellow pedestrians and pets who passed then happily continued down the path.  Long down the path reaches a wooded area and the trail forks, both sides leading circling to a beach area.  The dogs had been racing forward and back to us until we neared the fork, at this point Macy couldn’t contain her excitement and ran straight out of view towards the water.

Slightly annoyed at her irregular disappearance, I figured no need to worry we would catch up to her.  The beach time was the real purpose of going all the way to Shawnee Mission Park anyway, bringing the dogs out in the heat I knew they would need some time to cool off.  Harper stayed near us, whether to look after the baby or because he is a baby himself – he stayed close.  We took our time and descended the hill down the path I thought was the shortest towards the water.  My memory served me wrong, though the twists and turns eventually got us in sight of the beach to which my daughter exclaimed “Wa wa!”  And finally I was back in sight of my little white terrier sprinting along the shore after a boxer.  A couple more turns and we were at the beach with no sign of Macy.  I called and whistled, no Macy, no boxer and no people.

I knew my anxious mutt probably followed the other park goer and his pooch back up the opposite path when she realized she would be abandoned alone on the beach.  I pleaded with Harper, as if he could suddenly exhibit Lassie’s intelligence, “Go get Macy.”  to no response…  Lugging extra 30lbs on my hip, and a good for nothing beast at my side we began to climb the opposite path, where Macy had apparently gone to join another family.  By the time I reached the spot back where the fork rejoins at the top my cell phone was ringing and I knew someone was calling from the tag on my dog.

A girl with a rottweiler had Macy leashed and was waiting for me up the path, when she realized Macy didn’t belong to the people she was following she stopped to help.  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to the stranger who interviened.  She even said Macy was looking around nervously, of course I knew this was between the mindless bounding over the other dogs…  Want to play with me, where’s my mom, I’m so excited, I’m so scared.  

With our group finally reunited we headed back to the water and Macy dove right in.

Parker was dressed in a swimsuit, I assumed it would be wet and messy on the beach even though I didn’t intend on us actually getting deep in the water.  Therefore, I came without a swim suit and felt comfortable in light summer clothes until Harper made me think I might actually have to dive in for him.

Shawnee Mission Park

Despite being half golden retriever sometimes I wonder if he really has any of that blood in him, he doesn’t retrieve and he is scared to swim.  Harper will run along the water and take advantage of the splashes to cool is black furry body, he doesn’t generally go deep enough to even let the water touch his chest.  On this morning he stood in the water facing the shore when some seaweed must have brushed up against his leg.  Panic set in for my giant and he scooted his body back further into the water.  At this point fear increased more because not only was he feeling something on his leg, now he was getting into deeper water.  I called sympathetic and encouraging calls for him to come to me.  I knew if he continued his backward motion I would have to forego my plan of not getting wet in order to save him.  Yet, back further he went until the water was over his back and he appeared petrified putting his head underwater as if to bite at the lake creature pulling him out.

Just before I could leap forward and make the 10 soaked steps it would have taken to reach him, Macy swam out in front of me and snapped Harper to attention.  It was as if in a split second she taught him how to doggy paddle and he could finally make a forward motion in the water again.  She lead him to the shore and as soon as he could reach he practically leapt over her to get to dry ground again.  Macy suddenly made up for her earlier run off and became the Lassie for the day to save Harper from drowning.  Yea, like I said – they are “special” dogs.

Harper refereed a game of Tug-A-War and stayed close to the shore after his terrifying ordeal.