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Yes, I put C in daycare today.  Which is somewhat shocking because I am a stay at home mom.  So let me explain.

1. C really needs to be exposed to other children.  We’ve done classes or play groups, but he usually wants to stick close to me rather than engage the other kids.  So really, C needs to be around other kids specifically when I’m not there.

2. C is very dependent on me.  Or maybe we’re co-dependent.  I don’t know and I’m not going to use this moment to analyze the Freudian nightmare I may have created.  Let’s just focus on the fact that my husband was largely absent for the first 20 months of C’s life.  So C had me.  And I had him.  And we were always together.  Maybe too much together, I don’t know.  The point is that now he does not like being away from me.  He rarely goes to anyone else and if he does it is for a short amount of time.  When he was sick, on and off these last two weeks (that is an entirely different post), he largely refused to leave my side, nay my arms.  So maybe we could both use a little away time.

3. My aunt runs the daycare I dropped him off at, so there was never a question of looking for a daycare, interviewing, etc.  She was like a second mother to me, so it was natural for C to go to her.

4. I sometimes need a break, a little alone time with my thoughts or thought, since I can’t think of anything else to do right now than write in my blog.  Literally, I’m sitting here trying to think of what to do next that might be fun and does not involve housework (although the house is clean and the laundry is done so I can’t really do that either).  I could write the Christmas thank you notes I’ve been putting off, but that’s not much fun.  I could clean out my closet, but again, that’s lacking the fun factor.

I think I’ll head outside.  I’ve done my hair and makeup, since I was actually alone in the bathroom for more than 5 minutes.  I think I’ll make the most of it and go somewhere in public.  Like the mall….Yeah! that’s it.  I’m heading to Fashion Island.  It’s outside, pretty, and public.  Woo hoo!

Here I go…right after I check my text messages from my aunt for the 14th time today.

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As all the mothers who read this blog will know, your belly is just never the same once your precious little one stretches it out.  And if you can’t relate because your belly is now the same as it was pre-pregnancy, I hate you.

So I’ll tell you about my belly.  It is not the same as it was before, although it is much improved in the last year.  I’m pretty sure, though, that my belly will never be flat again (unless of course I decided to dedicate hours every day to working out my core; that is just not going to happen).  I’m more than a little self-conscious about my stomach’s appearance, which would explain my heavy investment in Spanx.  My favorite is the higher power line, in case you were wondering.  (They make maternity Spanx, though I’m not sure why you would want to wear them.)

Anyways, I worry about my belly, I obsess a little about it, I do my best to conceal it, as most of us do.

All of my efforts are for naught though, given my son’s current obsession with bellies.  That’s right, C’s current obsessive phase is with the human body, particularly the belly.  This means that when it’s nap time or bed time, C usually lifts the hem of my shirt to reveal my non-flat, very white, heavily stretch-marked belly and gently pats it.  (Odd or affectionate? Hmmm…affectionate with me, odd when he starts trying to examine other people’s bellies, which has happened.)

The first few times this happened I was self-conscious.  My poor belly was exposed!  And it did not look its best.  So I would gently remove C’s hand, pull my shirt down over my tummy, and try not to think about my former two-pack in high-school.  Sigh…

Yet C is persistent.  For whatever reason, rubbing my mommy tummy made him happy.  If I tried to stop him, C just got upset.  He was insistent that he snuggle next to me and rub tiny strokes across my belly button!  Why this makes him so content, I don’t know, but it does.  Meanwhile, nothing about my white flabby belly sticking out of the bottom of my t-shirt looked attractive.  Nothing!  It didn’t matter though, it made him happy to do it, so I let him.

I was initially hoping this was a phase, some kind of momentary obsession to emerge and pass.  In his infancy, one of the only ways I could get C to calm down was to undress him down to just his diapers, strip myself down to just my intimates, and hold him, skin to skin.  There was something magical about that direct skin contact that soothed him.  It didn’t last long though, fading with time, as I was sure this would too.

But as days and weeks went by, C continued to love on my belly.

I knew that no matter how flabby, how white, how covered in stretch marks, C just loves my tummy.

Or I should say, he just loves me.

And there’s something more than a little liberating in that thought.

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As reported, my son has been driving me crazy and obviously needs some different kind of stimulation than what I have been providing.

I think the piles of books on the floor clearly make this point for me.

So…in order to maintain my sanity I’ve been doing some brainstorming, followed by research.  For several days I’ve been wracking my brain about what activities my boys likes best.  Frankly, I’ve been obsessing about every toy he’s ever played with for more than 5 minutes, every activity he’s ever willingly engaged in, every tiny hint he might be interested in something that stimulates his little mind.

And here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. The “rollercoaster” table.

good times

C played with a table/activity center similar to this at the bookstore, the doctor’s office, and, most recently, the children’s library.  It was this last incident (and yes, I said incident on purpose) that really hammered home for me how much C loves these darn things.

**Let me recount for you what happened: We went to the library in the hopes of seeing a puppet show, which later scared the crap out of C, but we had some time to kill before that happened.  I thought hanging out in the children’s department might be a good idea.  C could flip through the board books, maybe play with the other kids.  Instead, he saw the rollercoaster activity table and made a bee-line for it.  He spent about half an hour pushing the beads up and down the wires, apparently never tiring of the repetitive motions.  When I had to tear him away for the puppet show, he quite literally freaked out! Screaming at the top of his lungs, C threw himself around in my arms as I tried to leave the children’s department in a dignified manner.

My dignity may have remained in tact had we not returned there after fleeing the evil puppet show.  But brilliantly thinking that the rollercoaster would definitely cheer my son up, I failed to take into consideration how difficult it would be to pry him away from it a second time.  And unfortunately, I wasn’t able to wait until C tired of the table since he delivered a very large stinky diaper that need immediate attention.  I was forced to pull him away from the table and yet again, was subjected to piercing screams and full tantrum mode.  I think my dignity is still there on the floor of the children’s department, right next to the puddle of my hopes that C would spend many happy afternoons there.  Alas…**

Needless to say, it was pretty clear to me that C would love to have a table of his own.  So I got one.

No it’s not his birthday and Christmas is still months away.  Let’s just call it a birthday gift to myself.

2. The play kitchen.

A solution to cabinet emptying? we'll see.

My thoughts on this are that C really (I means REALLY) seems to enjoy emptying shelves and cabinets, so maybe he would like to do this in his own pretend kitchen (rather than in Mommy’s real one).

I’m thinking of getting this as C’s early Christmas present.  If this year is anything like last year, he’ll enjoy the paper and boxes more than the gifts.  Truthfully, he probably won’t even know it’s a special day other than the fact that there are a lot of boxes wrapped in paper he’s allowed to rip and shred to his heart’s delight.  So if he gets his play kitchen a little early, no one will know but us.  And I can trust you with this, right?

3. The workbench.

To focus the banging on to hammers and nails

C seems to have a lot of frustration and aggression due to his inability to communicate and control his own environment (or at least that’s what the books say).  Unfortunately this means C has been throwing things and banging his little hands on whatever he’s near.  My thinking here is that maybe he can take some of his frustration out with the little toy hammer and the little toy “nails”.  If not, the whole thing only cost me about $10 and he has plenty of cousins who, I’m pretty sure, would be glad to take it off his hands.

We’ll see if these news toys help to take the edge off C’s terribleness (some time at the park and at the baby gym should help too).

The rollercoaster table arrived today and I don’t know who was more excited, me or C.  But I know this for certain, my boy happily played with it for about 20 minutes without a hint of frustration and I saw some of my happy baby boy peeking out from behind his “terrible” toddler faces.

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Let me begin by saying that in my attempts to do some quick research to support my personal info on the “terrible twos” that apparently the established medical community doesn’t like this term and considers this abhorrent toddler behavior to be…normal.

Little C has fully entered into his terrible twos at just 18 months.  Our average day now includes such behavior as pulling all the books from a particular shelve, throwing toys at the dogs, and perfecting the charming “screaming while running” tantrum.

Now I’m all for C exploring his universe and learning about things like gravity and force, but not at the expense of my sanity and the dogs’ well-being.  As to the running tantrum, it’s all I can do not to fall down laughing (C gets really mad and literally starts running as fast as he can until he can’t go any farther and then turns around and runs the other direction at full speed.  All the while he is screaming and crying.  It would be sad were it not for the fact that his little wobbly run is adorable and the behavior is just so bizarre.).

To make matters worse, I’m getting a tantrum nearly every time I tell him “no”.  Not fun.  If C isn’t allowed to do one of the three things he always wants to do (dig in the dirt, watch Sesame Street on the computer, or pull things off shelves/out of cabinets)  I am the immediate recipient of ear-piercing screams and foot stomping.

It makes me so glad that I decided to devote my life to raising him.

The few somewhat legitimate websites about the terrible twos really emphasized how important it was to remember that the toddler is not being willfully rebellious or defiant, but is frustrated with the lack of control over their own life and their inability to communicate.

So I try to remind myself the my son isn’t purposefully trying to drive me insane, take a few deep breaths, and chase after him.

Until he outgrows this stage (in what? two to three years?) I’m going to try to redirect some of his energies into something more productive.

As of today, I’ve ordered a “rollercoaster” table (you know the tables with long wires twisted into shapes and curves, loaded with beads?) and I’m looking into some MyGym classes.

Any other ideas? I’m all ears!  I’m looking for classes, outdoor activities and entertaining toys if anyone out there has some suggestions.

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My prodigal husband has returned, thus my absence from blogging.

For the first time since before my son was born, I have spent five consecutive nights just hanging out with my husband.  We talk, watch shows we like or catch up on movies we missed, and generally just wallow in our happy little family, who is usually in the bed with us.

It’s been an adjustment making room in my routines to include him.

Suddenly, it’s not entirely polite to blog while watching tv and eating popsicles in bed while he lays on the his side, trying to ask me questions.  And those piles of dishes that I always leave until the morning? Strangely, they’re in the way!  What?!?

On the upside I’m no longer the only one who has to get up at 5am to let the dogs out.  There is someone else in the house who can answer the phone while I’m up to my elbows in baby’s bath water.  It’s nice to have my burden lessened.

And the big upside/downside to having my hubby home again is that Little C is so excited to see his dad, any time he comes in the room (even if we just saw him two minutes ago), C simply cannot contain himself.  This makes bed time something more of a challenge than it already is.

C and I had fallen into a comfortable pattern: we take the bottle to the big bed and I set up a row of pillows on the empty husband side, while C lays there drinking his bottle, falling asleep to my soothing back strokes.  C no longer wants to be cuddled to sleep, and demands his own space.

Now, that side of the bed is occupied!   If his dad happens to be in the bed, C would like to roll around, being silly, flopping first on daddy, then on mommy, then on Penny at the foot of the bed.  C finds this hilarious, while the rest of us silently bite back our frustration.

The solution: daddy stays away while I put C to bed by myself, in the big bed and then transfer him to the crib.

Ok, I know that’s not an actual solution, at least not in the long-term.

We’re thinking, it might be time for C to have a big boy bed of his own.  He’ll have plenty of space.  It’ll be easier for us to put him to bed since we’ll actually be on the same level (and since C hates the crib with a fiery passion).  We’ll install a bed rail, of course.  And though C is only turning 18 months, he is literally the size of a 2-3 year old, so the crib is getting tighter and a child’s bed is legitimately his size.

As with all plans like this, I’m somewhat nervous, because it seems like it would be such a good idea.  Whenever I have these “great ideas to make my life easier” moments, they really don’t go according to plan.

We’ll let you know how it goes.  Maybe I’ll get lucky.

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While C was sick, he was extremely unhappy.  So much so, that C upgraded his normal fussy tantrum to the ULTIMATE tantrum.

It was crazy, over-the-top toddler behavior.  It was so bizarre that I had to completely focus my face so as not to laugh.

Let me paint a picture for you:

C would get worked up because, well, he felt terrible.  But he was so sick and tired and frustrated that his fussiness just kept escalating into tantrums that got worse and worse.

He would begin by whining.  Then he would move on to crying.  Then C would graduate to wailing, complete with big open mouthed howls and giant crocodile tears running down his cheeks.  He would toss his head back and forth, shaking it furiously as if to deny some fact I was forcing him to accept.  NO! NO! He seemed to be saying.  I won’t accept evolution! I am a creationist! You are making me so upset by forcing this “science” on me!  (Or at least that’s how I re-imagined his reaction to make sense of it since his denials and tantrums made not logical sense, much like creationism.)

I (or some other loved one) would attempt to soothe him.  I would pick C up, rub his back, gently hushing him as I rocked him to and fro. It was a true example of mothering patience and comfort.

For this I was rewarded with kicks to the stomach and thighs, accompanied by piercing shrieks in my ears, as C violently threw himself around, trying to break free from the prison of my arms; though minutes before he had begged to be held, rushing at me with open, upraised, pleading arms.

In response to his violence, I would put C back on the ground, to which C’s immediate response was to amp up the screaming.  C would stamp his feet, usually making himself turn in a small circle.  So mad!!  He would then turn and run the opposite direction from me, finding some boxes or pile of blankets to hide behind, throwing himself on the ground, crying and crying and crying.  He would sit there and furiously kick his little legs up and down on the carpet, screaming in frustration (It was extremely difficult not to laugh at this since it was just so ridiculous!).  Finally, C would look up, see me, and get up and run away from me again, repeating the whole thing all over again.

When C had sufficiently bruised his heels from kicking at the ground or was simply tired of being alone in his box forts, he would seek me out, arms upraised, face wet and red from crying.

If I was lucky, C would simply rub his snotty, tear-stained face into my shirt, snuggle into my shoulder, sigh and eventually sleep.  If I was not so lucky, well, then….let’s just not think about that again.

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After tasty treats failed to break my son out of his funk, I knew that the rest of my errands were doomed, because what kid doesn’t like cupcakes?  I knew there was something wrong, but what?

C had been tooting away all day, even laughing about it sometimes.  Every time I checked his little diaper though, he was clean.  So I figured maybe his tummy hurt.

He seemed ok when we were moving, so I took a chance and headed into the mall.  Risky, I know.

I needed to make a quick stop at the MAC counter, as I was crushing the remnants of my powder with the end of my brush for use.  My hopes for a quick transaction were thwarted, as the girls at the counter were busy with what turned out to be friends and then took their sweet time getting my order and ringing me up.  During this time, C is maniacally clutching at his balloon and screeching.

Other customers are giving me dirty looks with every high pitch shriek.  They seemed confused as to whether my son is angry or overly excited about his balloon.  I honestly couldn’t tell the difference at that point.  So I returned their disapproving stares with snarky half-smiles. That’s right, I can be rude if I want to be.  It can happen!

I knew was that I needed to get C moving again.  As long as we were moving, we were fine.  I shot the sales girl a few dirty looks until she finally handed over my product.  One more unnecessary question from her and I would have joined in my son’s shrieking.

As soon as we got away from the makeup section and into the main part of the mall, little C seemed fine again.  Sure he was squirming, but he’d been squirmy all day.  Besides if I stopped the stroller he might explode.  It was like I was in a really slow version of Speed, except with a stroller instead of a bus full of strangers.  Unfortunately no Keanu Reeves showed up to rescue me.

I just wanted to make one more stop.  Just one! I never get to the mall so I was desperate to make it to all the stores I needed to get to.

And I really need some new jeans.  Since losing the baby-plus weight my jeans have had that saggy butt thing going on, so I needed to size down (yay!) for nicer occasions than hanging out with my son at the park. If I could just get to the Gap, which as having a buy one get one for $20 sale, my day would be complete!

Oh…if only….

As we entered the store I began shopping as quickly as possible, throwing jeans and sale items over my shoulder with reckless abandon.  I was just going to buy them and deal with fitting later but an oh-so-helpful sales person suggested I try on the jeans before I buy them.  Fine!! I’ll try them on!

I followed her to the dressing room and start stripping.  As soon as my saggy bottom jeans were off C started wailing.  Tears streamed down his face.  He was fighting the stroller safety belt with all his might!

I let him loose, thinking maybe that would help.  I hand him my cellphone so he can use the toddler friendly apps I bought for him.  Nothing staunched the flow of tears.  In fact, things got worse.

C was now screaming.  I managed to get back into my clothes and pick him up.  His entire bottom was sagging with the fullest diaper we’ve had in a long time.  In fact, some has seeped into his pants.  Well, at least I now knew what all the fuss was about!!

I silently cursed C’s inability to communicate and speed walked from the mall with C in my arms, the stroller trailing along behind me.

On the way to the car I’m thinking how I foolishly left the diaper bag in the car, assuming that whatever happened I would be able to get back to the car and change him there as quickly as I could in the mall.  I obviously failed to account for blowouts.

All the while, C held on to with a bit of terror as I exited the mall at a dangerous pace.  As I approached the doors to exit the mall, I realized I’m at the one mall in America that doesn’t have automatic doors.  Instead, the fancy Manhattan Beach shopping village (or whatever the heck they call it),  has huge, heavy glass doors.  I attempted to back out the door, using my ass as leverage while trying to avoid smashing C into the glass behind me.  I violently swing the stroller through the open door and give a sigh a relief.  No sooner had the air left my lips than the dang door swung back into place with such force that it caught my sandal on one of its straps, pulling it from my foot.

I gave a tiny jump, hoping no one sees me almost eat it with a baby in my arms.  I wanted to curse and stamp and start throwing things at the glass! I think I managed a very loud “SSSSSHHHHOOT!” before grabbing my sandal and shoving what I could back on my foot.

I hobbled to the car as quickly as possible.  By the time I reached our aisle, the left half of my foot, where the sandal tore across, feels like it’s on fire.  I snatched the sandal from my foot and decided to risk bare-footing it the rest of the way.

Upon reaching the car I left the stroller, which has what I hope is cookie remnants and not poopy on the seat, behind the car and throw open the doors.

I began pulling things out of the diaper bag with reckless abandon.  Things are literally flying in the backseat of my car.  (On a side note, I couldn’t change him in the nice spacious trunk because it is full of boxes I needed out of the way for staging.) I throw the changing pad down on the seat, which really isn’t all that much space since the car seat is in the middle of the back seat.

Slowly, armed with wipes, I peeled C’s pants off of him and start wiping.  Where to put the dirty pants? The parking lot asphalt looks like a good place to keep it.

While I’m trying to find a place to keep the dirty pants, C has stood up on the seat and is now talking to the head-rest.  He started pulling things out of the diaper bag beside him, littering the area around his feet.  I didn’t want to keep him in this stinky diaper any longer, so I just ignored the mess and got back to changing him.

I pulled the diaper off of him and it was truly horrendous.  I wipe and I wipe and I wipe.  I felt like I was getting no where.  So I wipe and I wipe and I wipe.  I get poopy hand.  Awesome.

As I freak out over the poop on my hand, the diaper I’d been keeping over my son’s front slips out of my fingers.  My little man took this opportunity to pee all over the seat.  He even moved it about, making sure to thoroughly coat the whole area, including all the hats and socks he’d pulled out of the diaper bag earlier.  Then, looking down at the mess he’d made, C pulled the binkie out of his mouth and dropped it directly on top of the soaking pile.

I slapped the diaper on him so fast I would have made a pit crew proud.  I started cleaning the seat.  Wiping and wiping and wiping.  My hysteria level was rising.

I threw some extra shorts on him, tossed C in the car seat, and addressed the atomic fallout that is my back seat.

Unfortunately, I had no disposable diaper bags with me, so frantically, thinking outside the box, I grabbed my bag from an earlier purchase, dumping everything into a mixing bowl I happened to have in my back seat.  Just as my beautiful, new, really-good-deal sweater hits the bowl I remembered.  I remembered that I had used that bowl as a water bowl for Dodger just the day before.  Well DAMN-IT!

It was too late then, so I just went ahead, dropping the dirty clothes, the loaded diaper and wipes, the pee-pee coated clothing all into the bag.

Having rectified the situation as much as I could, I hobble to the stroller, thankful that no one stole my purse while I was  preoccupied.  I tossed the stroller into the car, take a few deep breaths, and hit the road.

C enjoyed the ride home, babbling to me about who knows what, but entertaining himself with his stories, while I slowly simmered in my frustration.

Searching for my own entertainment, I turned on some music and was greeted by some random Incubus song that was 5 minutes of crickets.

Maybe it was a good thing, who knows.  It did force me to focus on the freaking crickets rather than on my hands that still smelled of poopy or the fact that my new sweater was being covered in dog slobber.

I’d like to tell you that by the time we got home I was relaxed and could laugh at the whole thing.  But that would be a lie.

Instead I called my husband at work and yelled at him about my disaster at the mall, ending with a dramatic “DAYS LIKE TODAY ARE THE REASON WE ARE MOVING, SO I NEVER HAVE TO HAVE A DAY ALONE LIKE THIS AGAIN!!!!”

I was very dramatic.

C may not remember that day since he is only 16 months od, but I will remember it forever.   And maybe, now, you will too.

You’re welcome.

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