Hey? So How’s Life?

I took a break for a bit here to focus on an endeavor that lots were asking for: a place dedicated to fitness, healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle in general. If you haven’t been there, take a gander at 10 Years and Counting: A Weight Loss Journey.

In the meantime, I’ll skip catching you up on all of life, it’s been, well, life with a toddler, add in a deployment. Lots to bitch about, but who needs to hear that? Along with the struggles there have been some bright points. Shall we call them, learning opportunities?

As of today, E and I have begun to SUCCESSFULLY potty train. You can read about the first attempt here. Not so successful. Four days ago she made the decision that diapers were not her thing anymore, she wanted big girl panties. A few accidents here and there, and by day three, all was well. Then…she got the tummy bug that’s been lurking around these parts. Let me just say, I didn’t think that much could be inside one 2 year old. I’ll leave it at that. Luckily, it was a quick one, 7 hours of restlessness and feeling pretty icky, and she was back to herself. The fact that that was 2AM and she wanted to play, not so awesome, but by 3:30 she agreed to try to go to sleep. And then woke up at 7:30, bright eyed and ready for the day. She got back into her big girl panties and carried on, which I was really happy about. I had enough laundry to take care of!

So far this deployment E and I have so far survived round 2 of potty training, and come out the other side with success, and a nasty tummy bug. We also made our first unaccompanied long distance road trip (10 hours) with no issues and no breakdowns, neither car nor mental, over the Holidays.

One of my biggest fears was her being sick like that and me being on my own. Not for the gross factor, though that was nasty, but more for me second guessing my judgement: Am I making the right choice? Should she go to the ER? Is she getting dehydrated? So getting through her being sick and pulling through with flying colors, without me losing my gourd, I’m giving myself a pat on the back for that one. And no, no trip to the hospital was made, she was peeing just fine (I may have forgotten to put a diaper on before she fell asleep, poor love woke up soaked) and, like I said, was ready to party at 2AM. Thank you Frozen for providing said party.

All in all, we have so far done pretty well this deployment. I may be taking some serious leniency with cheat days and wine is for weekends on a regular basis, but at this point I’m OK with that. I’ve gained a lot confidence in myself as, well, myself, and as a parent. I won’t be biting at the bit for the next deployment to come around after Jer gets home from this one, but I’ll be taking the perspective from the start of it that it’s a chance to see just what I’m capable of (please, God, don’t take that as a challenge).

Me and E, we've got this.

Me and E, we’ve got this.

It’s OK to Not Like Your Kid

For those of you who were waiting for someone else to say it first, you’re welcome. For those who think I’m evil, let’s be clear. You’ll always love them, they’re your child. For myself, at the moment I love spending my days with E. She’s hilarious. She tells “jokes”, she counts to three and yells “Go!” for everything she does, she plays independently and she’s generally a kind and playful child. That hasn’t always been the case.

If you had asked me three months ago how I felt about E, or, Dear God, when she was a newborn, how I felt about her, and I would have told you I love her dearly, but I can’t wait for the next chapter. I’m done with this one, I don’t like spending time with her. I imagine there will be many, many more times that I love her deeply, but can’t wait for the next phase to begin.

When people tell me they want time to slow down, that their children are growing up too fast, I know that they must be in a “like” stage. They like spending time with their child. Their child isn’t sucking their soul, or causing them to question what horrible thing they did in a past life. I also know that when I see this person again, maybe next week, maybe in a month or two, they’ll be feeling terribly guilty as they don’t really enjoy spending time with their kid. They’ll phrase it well: “He’s going through a stage”. “She’s in the middle of a leap.” (Thanks Wonder Weeks for this wonderful re-wording of reality). “He has allergies.”

Maybe saying “I really don’t like my kid at the moment” makes me sound heartless, or cruel. As far as I’m concerned, it makes me sound honest, and human. Do you like your husband or partner every day? Nope. But you still love them. And so it is with our children. We always love them. But some days, we don’t like them. For myself, admitting this has made me even more grateful and appreciative for the days when I love spending time with E. Because I know, at some point, I won’t like spending time with her. And on those days, as I’ve done before, I’ll look forward to the next chapter.

The Hardest Part of Being a Stay at Home Mom

The hardest part of being a stay at home mom isn’t the lack of mom friends, the diapers, the awkward play dates or the serious lack of adult conversation. It’s not the chores or the desperate attempts to cling onto whatever career you once had. It’s feeling like, and sometimes knowing, that you’ve seriously screwed up this mom gig multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times a day. Because it all comes down to you.

As a stay at home mom, I’m the one who forgets that they’ve been in their diaper for four hours straight, resulting in the start of a nice diaper rash.

I’ve put her back in pee stained pants, in public, because I forgot to pack an extra pair.

I’m the one who prays with my little girl every night, and curses in front of her at least once a day. OK, let’s be honest, multiple times.

I can’t blame anyone but myself for my daughter’s love of Mickey Mouse Club House, and her desperate attempts to get the TV on. It’s the only show she’ll watch from start to finish, and I totally take advantage of that. So I can do laundry and clean.

If my daughter is taken care of by a grumpy, not in the mood for the job caregiver, that person is me.

If her lunch isn’t so well rounded, read peanut butter and Goldfish crackers, that is absolutely due to my lack of ability to negotiate one more thing.

I have no one but myself to look at if she hasn’t done any art activities.

Same for sensory and early science.

Her socialization? Also entirely dependent on me.

As is her amount of physical activity. Yet somehow that playground a mile down the street often seems a world away.

The days when she’s in a bad mood? Most of the time I can trace that back to me being in a pissy mood and passing on that negativity.

I’ve worked as a preschool teacher and a nanny. I am well aware of what is expected of professional caregivers of children. And the truth is, if I was working for someone else’s family, I would have been fired long ago for my mishaps and misgivings. And somedays that is a hard truth to gripe with.

What I do offer, even on my worst day, is my love for E as her mom. I’m banking that that is enough to make up for the lack of professionalism as a caregiver that I bring to the table daily as a stay at home mom. Like really banking on it. Because like I said, I screw this gig up on a regular basis.

I’m going to go ahead and hope I’m not alone on this one.

 

 

 

Yup, It’s Just Another Day, and I’m Good With That.

We didn’t go to a museum today, we didn’t have a play date, or go to a story hour. We didn’t make an art project, or do a special sensory activity. We have nothing Pinterest worthy to show for ourselves today. We didn’t even go outside (to be fair, it’s pouring rain). We spent the day hanging out inside, playing, dancing, watching some TV (gasp!) and just living out another day.

And it’s been lovely.

Not because it’s oh so relaxing, I mean I’m still spending it with a toddler, but it’s nice to take a day to slow down and have an opportunity to sit back and really look at how awesome my kid is. When you’re rushing out the door to get somewhere and your little one is bound and determined to finish their puzzle, their mastery of basic shapes may not seem so exciting. On a daily basis you might “know” what your kids can do, but knowing and appreciating are two different things.

And so, after a quiet day at home, here is the latest awesomeness of E:

E can count from 1 to 10. It may be the cutest thing I’ve ever heard. 

She can count three objects in a row (pointing and saying “1, 2, 3″)

She has a serious love/obsession with flipping off of laps. 

She has mastered a majority of her puzzles. 

She loves to read. She now “reads” her favorite books. 

She has a strong love of Mickey Mouse Club House. I’m not proud of that one. 

She loves to dance. 

She has a really great sense of humor. She even cracks herself up. 

She’s a little cuddle bug, and gives some of the best hugs. 

She has some serious leadership skills. These occasionally land her in Time Out, but they’ll become very useful later in her life. At least that’s what I’m telling myself today. 

E checking out the rain, just to make sure we really, really couldn't play on the slide.

E checking out the rain, just to make sure we really, really couldn’t play on the slide.

E made a chair out of her blocks, which all four of her baby dolls took turns sitting in followed by herself. She thought this was JUST hysterical. And really, it was kind of amusing.

E made a chair out of her blocks, which all four of her baby dolls took turns sitting in followed by herself. She thought this was JUST hysterical. And really, it was kind of amusing. Notice the Minnie Mouse socks?? Ya. Not proud. 

Tomorrow we’ll be rushing about to enjoy our last full day on the Cape, with hopefully some nice outside time, and Friday we’ll be traveling for a busy wedding weekend. But today, we’re taking it low and slow. And I’m good with that.

 

 

 

5 Fall Inspired (and real life friendly) Art Projects and Exploration Activities for Young Kids

My inner pre-school teacher comes out with full force in the Fall, so with the cool air this past weekend here in the Northeast, I couldn’t help myself. E had just turned 1 last Fall, and so doesn’t have a clear notion as to why we’d be making leaf prints, painting with acorns and getting excited over Jack O Lanterns. Since we’re not in VA with my vast library of a former preschool teacher, we headed to the local library to find books about Fall and Halloween and went from there!

Having run a preschool classroom of at least 8, but typically 12, and washing up each and every little love after an art project, I can guarantee you that these are real-life friendly art activities that you can actually do with your little ones. No artistic ability on your part is required.

5-Fall-Inspired-Art-Projects-For-Kids

 

1. Make Your Own Jack O’ Lantern: You’ll need a paper plate, orange paint, black construction paper to cut out the parts of a Jack O’ Lantern (eyes, nose, mouth) and brown paper for the stem. Have a model Jack O’ Lantern for them to look at (a picture from a book, or one you made). First have them paint the plate, then using the paint like glue, have them place the parts where they think they go. This is an interesting look at their perception of what they see, and is fun to do year after year to see how they’re perceptions and abilities change.

2. Leaf Collage: Is there anything more fun in the Fall for little ones than playing with and jumping into piles of leaves? Make it a game and have them collect their “favorites” from the pile. Crunch them, fold them, inspect them all over, and if there are still leaves on the trees help them compare the two, the ones on the trees and the ones they’ve collected.

After you’ve got your bunch of leaves, help them make a glue design on a large piece of paper and let them place the leaves as they see fit. We took our leaf collage and attached the Jack O’ Lantern for a kind of Fall nighttime 3D picture.

3. Play Dough Leaf Prints: I love play dough. It is so versatile and fun, and pretty much suitable for any theme, project or lesson! Make some homemade play dough in a Fall colors, and add some Fall scents like all spice and vanilla for an extra sensory experience. Take some leaves (some will inevitably fall of the leaf collage, this is a good one to “save” those with) and press them into the Fall play dough. Talk about the shape of the leaves, the veins of the leaves that appear in the play dough, and how the really crunchy ones react when you press them into the dough.

4. A Seasonal Tree: This is fun for Spring, Winter and Fall! Here’s the one we made in the Spring. Go ahead and duplicate the project, but instead of making leaf prints with a crayon, paint the leaves with orange, red and yellow and use them like stamps. Talk about what will happen to the trees in the Winter, and the new leaves that we’ll see in the Spring. If you made the Spring one (and still have it, what can I say I’m an art project hoarder!) inspect the two trees and talk about their differences.

5. Acorn and Pine Cone Painting: This is a fun way to explore how objects roll with gravity. Take a piece of paper, and either leave it as is, or cut it into a shape (like an acorn or a pinecone) and place it at the bottom of a large but moveable container (kids will be picking it up and moving it side to side). Add some paint, along with some acorns and pinecones, and have them experiment with what happens when they tilt the container all around. Do the acorns and pinecones move? How far? What happens to the paint? Do they make different patterns in the paint? Add in seeds and pine needles if you want to make it into a collage of sorts!

Enjoy!

 

It’s Not Potty Training, It’s Potty Exposure

Potty Exposure

Pretty sweet outfit huh? Mickey underwear, a zebra sweatshirt, some sporty orange sandals and a baby doll. E’s got style, what can I say. 

I’m pretty sure that those people who say they potty trained their child in three days waited until they were going regularly by themselves and then just sealed the deal. Which is fine, but it made the rest of us think it was possible to start from square one and get there in three days.

The worst part of this guise? It will often seem like it does actually only take a few days. Three days, some M&Ms, and E was staying dry and clean all day. And then E seemed to say “Oh, I get it. This is where YOU put your wee wee and poo poo. Lovely. I’ll keep mine in my diaper for now, but thanks for the candy!” After despairing over this to a few friends with older kids, turns out I’m not alone. This is a very common occurrence.

And back we went, back to diaper changes, only now we were changing more expensive diapers in the form of Pull-Ups. Oh, Pull-Ups. Another fun part of learning to use the potty that barring you are a saint you will very likely end up with.

We started with real underwear, that’s what she was “potty trained” in “in three days”.Then life happened. We had lots of family around, and going potty was far from E’s mind. This resulted in her wetting her pants and getting really, really upset. Now maybe I should have pulled out my Tough as Nails Mom act, but I couldn’t. My poor love was so upset, so I decided that rather than go back to diapers, which seemed like a huge step in the wrong direction, we’d do underwear inside a Pull-Up.

Apparently it wasn’t the wetness that bothered her, since she had no problem staying in wet and soiled underwear inside a Pull-Up. Awesome. Once again, not wanting to take a step backwards (though by this point we’d taken about 50 steps back already) I kept her in Pull-Ups. And here we stay…

This morning it seemed as though we’d finally hit a turning point! She asked to go potty, and…she went! Both 1 and 2! Insert fireworks here! Stickers were given out, even a Fig Newman cookie! And then…downhill from there.

And with all of this in mind I propose that we call it what it is: Potty Exposure, not Potty Training.

See we can’t “train” our children. They are little autonomous beings who exert control over their lives in any way they can. We can try to lure them into deciding that going in the toilet is a grand idea, but at the end of the day, it has to be their decision. And we as parents have to have faith that our sweet loves will someday, before they turn 18, decide on their own that toilets are awesome and diapers suck. Though I will continue to offer stickers that she will inevitably stick on the wall to make her own little glorious mural, and may even throw in some M&Ms. I’m an optimist and a dreamer.

Es Star Mural

I found this in a corner. I call it E’s Potty Sticker Starry Sky. There are more below, but this does the whole thing justice I think.

So who’s with me? #pottyexposure

 

Life is Not a Hallmark Card, and Neither is My List of 10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know

E on the Flats

1. There is One Thing in This Life That is Guaranteed: You will have a big butt. It’s your genetics. Own it, tone it, love it.

2. Nothing Makes a Woman More Beautiful Than Her Confidence in Herself: Not her size, her makeup, her skin tone, or the cost of her outfit and accessories. It’s her confidence in herself.

3. Confidence is Made, Not Given: Take risks, live outside of your comfort zone, and do what is right, not what is easy. This, and this alone will make you a confident woman.

4. Be Unoffendable: People will hate you. They will scorn you and mock you. And when they do, you’ll know you’re onto something. Keep it up. Don’t give them the fight they want, move on in peace with faith in yourself and the vision you have for your life.

5. Food Will Never Fill an Emotional Void. Only Healing Will: If you’re hurting emotionally, don’t be too proud to seek the help you need. Food, and drink alike, will never fill that void. They’ll only make it worse.

6. Your Clothing Size Does Not Determine Your Worth: Maybe you won’t be a size two. Maybe you will. Whatever size you are, OWN IT. See #2.

7. Follow Your Arrow and Do What You Love: Don’t allow preconceived notions of “the right path” to keep you from where you know you belong. I have complete faith that you will succeed in whatever you choose to do. As should you.

8. Your Family is Your Backbone: Your aunts, uncles, cousins, hell even distant cousins, these people will inevitably have a large impact on and in your life. They will be there when things go bad, which they will. This is life. Build these relationships, now and always.

9. Life Will be Hard: And it will. You will grieve and you will be heartbroken. But you will always persevere. Know that and thrive.

10. I Love You, Always: And Forever. And Always Will. It doesn’t matter what you do, what size you wear, what you eat, what career you choose (or don’t choose) or who you marry (or don’t marry). I love you and I will always have faith in you.

You come from a long line of strong women. You, like them, will persevere no matter what life brings. You will succeed and you will overcome obstacles you never imagined you could along the way. I have faith in you.