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Posts Tagged ‘toddlers’

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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I enjoy cooking.  I honestly do.  Granted, none of the dishes I make are particularly complex, but I enjoy the time I spend making the meal and I think my concoctions usually turn out pretty darn tasty.

Usually Little C agrees.  But for whatever reason, he does not like stew.

I don’t get it! It’s one of my favorite things to make (and eat).  Who doesn’t like a slowly simmered pot of tender beef, delicious carrots, tasty potatoes, savory onions and mushrooms?  No one, that’s who!  Yet, no matter how delicious I make it, even when I up the ante by adding bacon, he just refuses to eat it.

It makes me crazy!  It’s so simple to make, I just can’t give it up.  I love cooking it in my slow-cooker.  It literally takes me only 15 minutes to set-up and voila! dinner!

But I am not about to force-feed my son, so I need to change it up.  Does anyone have any kid-approved slow-cooker meals they would like to share with me? Or you know what? ANY kid-approved recipe would be great.  Seriously, it’s getting dire around here.

Here are my requirements: no seafood.

That’s it.

Help please.

If I eat chicken nuggets or peanut butter and jelly for dinner one more time, I will scream.  Or if I actually cook and lovingly make just one more meal my son won’t eat, I might just set my kitchen on fire and be done with it.

Please, save my kitchen.  Send me a recipe.

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The Eyes Have It

(This may be my most vain post to date; just warning you.)

My son has the most beautiful eyes.  They are incredibly big, blue, and sparkling.  To make them even more alluring, C has the longest lashes of any child I have ever seen.

I am not alone in thinking this.  Every where we go, people lavish C with compliments.  “What big blue eyes!” “Why pretty eyes!” My chest swells with pride, a little.

Until things turn awkward.

How could things turn awkward when everyone is complimenting my son? Why would this be a bad thing?

It’s not a bad thing, at all.  It’s just at some point, whomever is complimenting my son will eventually look me in the eyes as I thank them.  It’s then that things get awkward.

Most people do a double take, or maybe a head tilt, like they’re not quite sure what they’re seeing.  Often their faces take on a look similar to my dogs when I ask them if they know where something is.  Whaaaaat?

Or if they don’t get awkward, I do.

(Here’s where I get vain.)

You see, my son has my eyes.  He has my exact eyes.  It’s as if God made a carbon copy of my eyes and plopped them in my son.  Everything is the same from the length of the eyelashes to the flecks of gold around the pupil.  It’s only one of two traits he has of mine, otherwise he is all his daddy.

Connor's baptism (10 months)

(This is not my favorite picture of me, but it definitely illustrates the eye situation.)

The fact that they’re exactly the same makes them more dramatic in my son, since his head is quite a bit smaller than mine.

Still it’s odd when someone says “What beautiful blue eyes” to my son and then looks up at me and sees the same pair of eyes.

People can’t really compliment strange adults on their eyes, though.  That would be even more awkward and inappropriate.  Those kind of compliments are meant for moonlit walks on the beach or to be whispered over wine glasses.  You don’t tell strangers how lovely you think their eyes are in the middle of the pharmacy aisle in Target.

No, instead, you smile awkwardly and walk away, decidedly avoiding eye contact.  Awesome.

Well, at least I know people like our eyes, even if my life is more bizarre because of it.

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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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or what I like to call “just an average Saturday”.

Like oh, so many things, the day started off relatively well.  (We’re still waiting for that final molar to push through, so C is pretty grumpy, as well as covered in drool.)

Every so often I get inspired to do things with my son.  Today, I thought, would be filled with fun activities as we zipped from place to place, running errands, shopping, enjoying the cool SoCal weather. I could see it all! We would be so happy!

And we were, for about an hour (out of four).

We started out with the Tent Sale at Borders.  $3.99 books! Too good to pass up.  Plus I had a 25% off coupon (for my whole order), so I splurged on a few other non-sale items while we were there.  We got a few children’s books, a couple puzzles, some YA novels.  All in all, a good haul.

C enjoyed playing with the toys in the kids section.  Well, he did at least until a little girl came up to join him and C was suddenly possessive of the toys.  Every time she moved something, C would try to move it back.  If she moved to get a better angle, C moved to get a better angle.

I tried to explain he didn’t understand how to share since he’s only 16 months old, but the girl looked confused and annoyed.

Things started going downhill fast when a group of kids, all under 5, joined C and his arch-enemy at the toys.  C suddenly had several children to contend with, instead of just the one.  He decided to stake out a certain territory since trying to guard against all the toys being touched was futile.  If another child moved into C’s space, he saw this as an attack and moved to take back whatever toy they had touched or moved.

I kept saying “share, C, share” and telling him “no!” whenever he grabbed a toy or pushed a child out of the way.  But with each syllable that passed my lips, C’s frustration level ratcheted up another level.  He would look at me like “it is so unfair! these kids are touching the toys and I was here first!”

When finally, he started stamping his little feet after I stopped him from pushing a little girl out of the way, it was time to go.

We checked out, got a free bouncy ball (which delighted C) and made our way to the car.

After loading us all up, I decided to push my luck a little bit and check out the “Block Party” the mall was throwing.  Retailers were giving away prizes with purchase or offering coupons.  Several stores had refreshments or crafts and demonstrations. Pinkberry was giving away frozen yogurt! We headed over to where the main festivities were.

C was excited about his cocunut yogurt topped with kiwi.  Yum!  We walked around a little.  Checked everything out.  C kept up a steady stream of conversation the whole time.

And then I decided to check out one of the sales.  Once inside the store, C’s mood began to deteriorate.  If we stopped the stroller, he began throwing his pelvis out against the safety belt, trying to break loose.  If I handed him a toy, he reached out to take it and then flipped it onto the floor.  If I asked a salesperson a question, C began whining.  We left quickly.

I wondered if maybe his grumpiness was due to hunger.  We then headed over to a little bakery that was celebrating its anniversary.

“Oh,” I thought, “I’ll be an indulgent mommy today! I’ll get us each a cupcake in case he doesn’t like one of the flavors.  I’ll even get a chocolate chip cookie for later!  I’m so nice.”

Well, C hated the bakery.  He hated the cupcakes.  He literally spat them out.  The cookie he crushed in his hands and then smeared on his face, clothes, stroller.  He drank his juice and then threw it on the ground.

The only thing he liked from the bakery was the balloon they gave him for being such a naughty…I mean, darling boy.

He entertained passer-bys with high pitched squealing accompanied by waving the balloon around wildly.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there.  Tomorrow I’ll entertain you with the completion of this story which includes a meltdown, a blow-out, and some public urination.

I know you just can’t wait!

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