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Monday, 20 January 2014 07:00

Do We Believe in Magic?

Tonight we had some friends over for supper - something we've been doing a lot lately, since we have a big open space to do it now! We had a great time, and although our friends kids were considerably older than Clara, they all played really well together and we were really impressed. It's good to see examples of Clara being a well-behaved 'big kid' in certain contexts. Poor Audrey still had to stay near the adults while the older kids went downstairs - because the older kids are still too young to have a gate up blocking the stairs, but Audrey can't be downstairs without a gate up.  Looking forward to next year, when she can do stairs, for her sake! 

Last Week, I wrote about our behavior issues with Clara. She's 3. I have a friend who uses the term 'threenager' and I have to agree - the amount of attitude she has is shocking.  Like I mentioned earlier, she does have her really good times - times when she's really well behaved, and plays well with other kids, and is polite and calm and even sometimes patient.  Usually her nights are not so good, though, especially lately.

Wednesday of last week, we started using the methods outlined in 1-2-3 Magic, by Thomas W. Phelan.  If you know me by now, I'm a big fan of using books and the internet as resources for anything, including raising kids.  Some people say you should just do what feels 'right' or 'natural', but what feels 'natural' to me is not guaranteed to be right - because I'm not perfect. I also like learning about alternate methods of parenting, whether I agree or not, just so I can be sure I know why I would choose something different.  In this particular case, I felt so completely lost and useless as a parent and - knowing that my own choices were not working - I was willing to try anything that was different from what we were already doing. 

So far, I'm about 80 pages into the book 1-2-3 Magic, and the basic 'rules' of this method involve two simple principles that the author feels many parents need. The first is to separate emotions from parenting.  Phelan discusses how reacting emotionally to a child's misbehavior can begin with negotiating, pleading, and arguing and then lead up to yelling and hitting (spanking).  Typically, I'm not opposed to spanking although when spanking comes from an emotional parent response, I absolutely agree that this is very wrong.  To refuse to get emotional is tricky, but Phelan argues that it is necessary because often your emotional response is exactly what the child is looking for, and to respond in that way only ultimately makes them feel powerful. 

The second rule is 'no talking', in the context of when your child is looking for an argument or when you are tempted to give a grand explanation of their misbehaviour. Phelan says that because young children can't be reasoned with - and are inherently selfish - it only complicates things when we try to 'make them understand why' we want their behaviour to stop.  I might have wanted to disagree with this one - I want to believe that my daughter has the potential to understand, if only I give her the chance - but I had to admit that my personal experience says otherwise.  Whether or not she understands or not, as a toddler, she is too selfish to care. She wants what she wants and it doesn't matter how many 'good reasons' I have otherwise.  Not to say it hasn't worked occasionally to get her to stop doing something, but as a general rule she doesn't react at all to 'good reasons' - in fact, they often aggravate her further.  Also, I have seen parents spend hours discussing with their child the wrongs of their behaviour, outlining the problem from many different angles, only to have the child leave their presence and immediately repeat the bad behaviour.  And, at this point, I appreciated an approach that was immediate and simple. 

So, to stop bad behaviour, we say 'That's 1' and then give Clara 5 seconds.  Then, if the behaviour hasn't stopped, we say 'That's 2' and give her an additional 5 seconds. At this point, she is out of chances and at '3' she is given an immediate time out. We will sit her in her room (during the day) or in the bathroom (at night) for 3 minutes, saying nothing the whole time, and then letting her out calmly with no discussion at the end of the time period. 

I used to disagree with an in-room time out, because it made sense to me that you wouldn't want your child to view their bedroom as a 'punishment area', but as I said earlier, clearly our parenting tactics from before weren't working so I was willing to suspend that particular issue on the basis that maybe I was wrong about that - at least for Clara. I guess we'll see how that goes. 

We had one really great night, and then a couple of nights where Clara received a few time-outs over the span of about an hour and then fell asleep. Then, we had another good night where she fell asleep quickly, and tonight again was pretty awful. She had 4 or 5 time-outs and during the last two she screamed bloody murder all the way through. We changed the location of her time outs after the first few, though, so there was a bit of inconsistency, so I'm not ready to give up yet. I want to give this at least a few weeks before making any decision about its effectiveness. Wish us luck.

Audrey gets a bit stressed when she hears Clara tantruming nearby, but there's not much we can do about that. Poor girl. 

Another thing we have been doing, because the girls share a room, is separating the girls after 20-30 minutes of excitement. For most of the past week we have had to move Audrey into a playpen in our bedroom until Clara fell asleep, and then we moved Audrey back. We were worried about this, because Audrey is a light sleeper, but so far it's worked pretty well. Once or twice Audrey woke during the move back to her bed, but Clara slept through her jabbering until Audrey finally fell asleep also.  

I'm still reading, because I know 1-2-3 Magic contains a chapter on bedtime, but this is where we're at so far. 

Published in Blog

It's not every day that Cinderella walks through our front door, but here she is, stopping by to pick up the soother for Snow White's baby... I should maybe back up a little...

Months ago, when we had lessened Clara's soother usage to only while she was in bed - and when we wanted her to sleep in the car - we informed her that when she turned 3 years old, she would no longer get to have her soother at all.  This was in the far distant future, and since she no longer had her soother in her mouth when she was out in public or even most of the time at home, we didn't think it really mattered to let her keep it under her pillow for awhile longer.

Now, typically, I'm a fan of getting rid of 'baby habits' (things that you don't want your kids doing when they start school like being in diapers, drinking from a bottle, using a soother, etc.) as soon as possible because the longer a child has these habits, the more difficult they can be to 'wean' from.  I also typically have the mentality that 'if you have to do it eventually - you might as well get it over with'.  So, I would not probably have allowed Clara to use a soother up until her 3rd Birthday if she hadn't become a big sister at under 2 years old, which meant she was moved to a toddler bed at about 19 months and was toilet trained at 22 months. Since so much changed for her in such a small time, and she was so dependent on her 'gummy', I allowed her the small indulgence of keeping it for awhile longer.

Shortly after the agreement to remove the soother at 3 years was made, she experienced a few things that made us a bit lazy about the whole thing. She became quite sick at one point, and since she was almost always nearly sleeping - we let her keep her 'gummy' while she was sick. Then, it became a means of comfort for her if anything in our life was amiss - such as a huge renovation - and over summer we went on a couple of trips with at least nap-length drives and so she seemed to be using her soother more and more. As she had it more and more, she began to try to keep it in her mouth more and more - even when we had no 'good' excuse for her to have it.  For a week, I tried to stay strong about the 'only in bed' rule, but Clara's determination won over when she decided to then spend every waking moment in bed. I suddenly had a toddler who would spend more than half of her day in bed - lacking energy or joy - because she didn't want to be without her gummy.  Since I had already made the promise to take it away when she was 3, I didn't feel like it would be fair to take it away sooner. 

So, I gave up. I let her have it all the time. Her 3rd Birthday was only a couple of months away, and I decided it would be easier to end her dependence cold turkey. 

As her Birthday neared, we continued to remind her of this promise.  She knew the story, and when we asked what would happen when she turned 3 she would recite "I won't get my gummy ANY MORE!".  But this statement didn't bother her at all until a few days ago, when we began counting sleeps. She started to avoid the subject, and when we were down to two days, she started seeming visibly stressed.  I knew we couldn't back down, so I tried to think of ways to make the transition somehow easier for her.

I recalled hearing about something that Disney would do in a circumstance like this - where you could write a letter to your favourite princess, and she would write a letter back.  I heard about this being used somehow in the context of a child 'growing out of' something, but I couldn't quite figure out what the letter would accomplish. Would it be simply congratulatory? Would it be a deal made between princess and child? Also, I was skeptical that it would work - a letter in the mail? How real could that seem to a 3 year old?

Anyway, her birthday snuck up on me anyway and in the end I wouldn't have had time to contact Disney.

This brings me to the morning of December 10 (the day before her birthday) when I decided to tell her this story to go along with the gummy-taking event. I wanted to give her some reason to WANT to go along with it:

       Clara, when you are 3, you can finally be a REAL princess. But princesses can't have gummy's, so you can't have your gummy any more.

She seemed happy enough with this story, and then I overheard her repeating it. "When I'm 3, I'm not going to have my gummy any more - and a REAL PRINCESS is going to come!!"

I quickly jumped in to explain that a princess wasn't going to come, but that she would BE a real princess - but as I was explaining this, I realized that I could probably make a real princess come after all...

A nearby business in our city, called Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo that hosts birthday parties - complete with Disney princesses - or you can hire a princess to come to your home if you are having an at-home birthday.  When Clara was watching her afternoon quiet-time TV, I called them up and asked for what may have been an unorthodox favour - would they be willing to send a princess (Cinderella) to our house to talk to Clara in person and to take away her soother? I was extremely flexible on the time, so we were able to work out some time in the afternoon. 

Clara knew nothing of this plan until the next morning when I told her that Cinderella would be coming to take the soother for another baby somewhere who needs it. Clara was animatedly playing with her small plastic princess figurines, and she suddenly seemed very stressed about this situation. 

"No! Cinderella can't take the gummy! Snow White needs it!"

So I asked Clara if Snow White had had a baby, and when Clara nodded, I explained that Cinderella was going to come and get the soother for Snow White's baby. We continued to play with the figurines, and I suspect she didn't actually think Cinderella was going to come...

But she did! At 12:30pm, Cinderella walked through the door.  Clara reacted with a bit of awe, confusion and excitement.  She ran from Cinderella to Brian and back a few times over, exclaiming randomly that 'That's Cinderella!!'.  

Cinderella gave Clara a gift that the mice had made for her...

Her very own Cinderella ball gown! (That we had purchased at Target a few days earlier, and I had set it in the closet and told the woman at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo where 'Cinderella' could find it)

Cinderella then told Clara that she could stay for a little while, and so Clara got out her Disney story book and immediately had Cinderella read Cinderella to Cinderella.  As she read, Clara would point to the pages at the cartoon Cinderella and say 'That's ME!!! And You!!! We're BOTH Cinderellas!!!'

I informed Clara that she could take Cinderella downstairs to play with all of her toys, but I don't think she was a little bit afraid that if she dared move that Cinderella might disappear.  She said 'No! I want to stay right here!'  I felt bad for the older Cinderella, since 'right here' was basically at the front door where she walked in, but no one complained.

After reading Cinderella at least once, and I also heard Alice and Wonderland being read, the Cinderella's began to play in other spaces of our (new) main room. They played with the princess figurines on the living room floor, and then the 'real' Cinderella painted Clara's nails. I think Clara was in heaven. 

Of course I made them pose...

And they each had one of Clara's birthday cupcakes. Cinderella stayed longer than I paid her for, taking time from school to be with Clara. I am so unbelievably grateful that this worked out, and for this teenage girl who took time out of her day to spend time with a 3-year-old. I can't imagine how magical it must have seemed to Clara to see her hero in person, and be able to spend one-on-one playtime with her! 

It was a fairy tale dream come true! 

I was going to post about how her first gummy-free day had gone, but I'm already at 1500 words and I'm sure we don't have any idea how Clara's first few gummy-free days will be, and after a few days I'm sure I will have more to tell. So, for another post... 

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 10 September 2013 22:21

When Toddlers Stop Napping

Just as Audrey is growing into a semi-regular routine when it comes to naptime, Clara is growing out of hers. I'm having a hard time with this... 

Clara's pattern was confusing at first, and I'm still not going to say with absolute certainty that all of her issues are sleep or nap related, but here is basically what has been happening:

About a month or two ago, I started noticing periods of time where Clara was excessively lethargic - more than I thought a 2-year-old should be.  But not all the time, just certain times of day.  She would also be considerably fussy and difficult but not with enough regularity that I could really pinpoint one specific cause. 

Without being extreme with our diet at home, I started paying attention to - and trying to limit - the amount of sugar and processed foods we all ate. This is a little bit difficult to do with a toddler who's favourite foods are bread and breakfast cereal, but we try. 

I had recently learned about how gluten sensitivity can affect energy levels, and I personally deal with a slight bit of anemia on a regular basis, so I tried to pay attention to these things as well. Nothing so far has really had a big enough - and consistent enough - effect on her behaviour, although I'll admit my research methods are lacking. 

Then we went a few days without giving Clara the opportunity to have an afternoon nap...

Suddenly, she was falling asleep at bedtime instead of staying up for 2 hours jabbering to herself and keeping Audrey awake. (Go figure) She also seemed to have more energy, not less - although this could also be because these days of naplessness were caused by full days of excitement where there just wasn't time for naps! 

Lately, I also discovered that the 'morning cartoon' concept is a really bad one for Clara. For a few mornings in a row, I was feeling quite exhausted and so instead of getting up and making Clara and myself breakfast, I pulled her into bed with me and put some cartoons on my laptop for her to watch in my room. Then, I fell back asleep while she watched cartoons for an hour.  I liked getting a bit of extra sleep, and I certainly wouldn't complain about the cuddle time with my least-cuddly daughter, but it affected both of us negatively.  It usually takes me about 6 hours to really 'wake up' each day (I wish I were joking), and in getting up at 9 instead of 7, I was delaying my 'wake up' time to past 3pm.

(By 'wake up', I mean beyond walking and talking and coffee-making. It typically takes me until early afternoon to be able to move quickly enough to actually get some house cleaning, etc. done between baby & toddler demands - that's when the coffee 'kicks in', methinks.)

Clara was similarly affected, and even worse. I suspected TV was at least partly to blame, so I tried a day with no TV in the morning. She was a completely different person - she whined for about 30 seconds about her lack of 'Dora' time, and then became distracted by her toys and happily played for most of the morning. 

Sigh. And so - there you have it - all of Mommy's 'quiet time' opportunities are gone. No morning TV watching, and no more naps. 

And to cement the theory, today Clara napped. It kind of happened accidentally - she spent some time lounging on the couch downstairs (not watching TV, because we had a fight - but that's another story...). And tonight, it took her a full two hours to settle down after going to bed, which was really miserable since it also kept Audrey from sleeping. 

I'm still not entirely sure how to keep Clara occupied and not let her get bored enough to fall asleep (like this afternoon) without being by her side all day long - I want her to learn to play independantly, and I also need some time to get things done during the day.  My thought right now is to have a 'quiet time' where Clara is allowed to watch TV downstairs between about 1 and 2:30pm when Audrey is napping, and then have both girls get up and play afterward. This worked for a couple of days, and starting tomorrow I want to try again. 

Wish me luck! How I want that nap back... 

Published in Blog
Thursday, 18 April 2013 08:05

How Do You Discipline a Toddler?

I certainly don't have this parenting thing figured out.

If I had to prioritize my goals for my kids, the most important thing I hope they leave my house with is the ability to do things for themselves. Please don't get me wrong, I hope they love themselves and know how loved they are by others, I hope they get along with other people, are kind hearted and confident, have a great sense of humour and do well in school, etc., etc., etc.

More than anything, however, my parenting goals - at this point in time - stem from the root goal that by the time they turn about 18, Brian and I could die suddenly and they would be absolutely capable of continuing on without us. Meaning that at about 18, they no longer need to live in our house, eat our food, or take our money. Again, don't misinterpret me here - I would love to be able to help them out, but if helping them out means that I am somehow holding them back from learning how to be independent, then allowing them to live in our house, eat our food, or take our money is no longer helpful. 

In my story, both of my birth parents were no longer available to help me out with life by the time I was 28 years old. Many people are left with no parents much younger than I was - there are no guarantees. I was blessed to have a 'step' mother who I have always referred to as Mom, and is as much of a parent to me as anyone ever has been, but again - not everyone has this. So, for me, self-sufficiency is key.

What does this have to do with disciplining toddlers? 

Basically, I'm explaining my overall parenting worldview so that you know where I'm coming from. 

My parenting worldview is also that parenting involves baby steps to bringing our children into adulthood. I don't really understand parenting methods that do one thing, and then suddenly switch over to allowing something else. Not to criticize 'attachment' methods - because obviously we all do what makes the most sense to us - but it doesn't make any sense to me to ensure an infant's sole dependence on its mother, only to expect that child to be independent and self-sufficient later on. I know it works sometimes - I've seen it work - but it doesn't make any sense to me. I can't see how a child who desperately NEEDS his/her mother constantly until the age of four will suddenly be able to leave their mother confidently without some kind of difficult transition in the meantime. So, I try to always look ahead to what my long-term goal is for my child and try to make baby steps toward that goal now.

For example - I would like my daughters to be disciplined and able to follow directions and listen to authority figures when they are school-aged. A logical step toward this would be to teach my daughter to listen to ME and follow MY directions. 

What terrifies me about where we are right now is that my daughter is doing just about everything that I hope she doesn't do when she is older.

She ignores me when I ask her questions or give her directions. This stresses me out, because I witnessed a friend yell 'Stop!' to her child one day as he was running around on a sidewalk near a parking lot. He was nearing the edge of the walkway and for safety reasons she didn't want him to go any further. He stopped instantly and came back to her. It was like magic. I tried that on Clara one day and let's just say that if there had been a car coming, it would not have been pretty. 

She talks back frequently, trying to control what everyone around her does. For example, when Brian and I are talking (pretty much every time) she will angrily yell 'Don't Talk!'. Our obviously ineffective way of handling this is to calmy say 'No, Clara, that's not nice. Mommy and Daddy like to talk'. Like she cares.

If I tell her not to touch something, or to leave something alone, she will convulsively and spastically touch and slap the very thing I just asked her to leave alone. 

When she is trying to do something 'By self' and she struggles for about six seconds, it becomes a panic of epic proportions when she can't do it immediately. She will yell 'You do it!' at us, as she throws the toy/shoe/piece of clothing across the floor. Besides laughing at her melodrama, I have no idea what to do with that.

Besides praying every morning that God would help me to be the Mom that she needs me to be, I'm a bit at a loss about how to handle her. There's no doubt that I would like her to be able to manage these behaviors - for her sake, as well as for my sanity - I just have very little clue how to do this. 

Is her behavior just normal for her age, and as long as I'm patient it will go away with time, or does the fact that she already does these things mean that I have dropped the ball somewhere? 

I have a nice little fantasy about the kind of children I want my girls to be... unfortunately it doesn't include the kind of parent I need to be to make that happen... 

Published in Blog
Thursday, 11 April 2013 12:47

Take My Dress Away?

Clara's latest movie obsession is Cinderella. I had found a small Polly-Pocket-like Cinderella doll lying around my house - I think someone had left it behind at some point - and when I gave it to her, she carried it around with her everywhere for days. Then, because I seem to be unable to stop myself from compulsively buying movies (439 was our latest DVD/BluRay count, I believe...), I bought her 'Cinderella' on BluRay.

So now, this is her favourite movie to watch - luckily for us she occasionally still enjoys some of her old favourites like The Lion King and now Nanny McPhee - and her favourite scene is the one shown in the image above.

Cinderella has just discovered the beautiful dress that the animals have surprised her with so that she can go to the ball after all. She excitedly runs downstairs to join her step-mother and step-sisters, and they jealously tear her dress apart, leaving her alone and despairing while they continue to the ball. 

I have no idea how Clara processes what happens in this scene, but I find it disturbing that she seems to love it so much.  She has a number of dress-up dresses that she loves to wear around the house, and will even create necklaces out of random ribbons and long purses so that she can be a 'princess' like Cinderella. Then she will come up to whoever is around and ask 'You take mine dress away?' or 'You take mine necklace away?'. 

My response to this is, 'No, we don't take dresses or necklaces away, because that is a very mean thing to do' or something like that. I find the idea that she is obsessed with imagining someone ripping her clothes apart completely disturbing. 

As a child, I was exposed to many inappropriate things and was victimized in a number of ways, which makes it impossible for me to see this from an innocent perspective. I honestly wish I could just laugh it off, but it really bothers me. Should I be concerned about this? Is my daughter wanting to be a bully in this scenario and does she enjoy what the mean sisters do, or does it mean absolutely nothing? 

In the meantime, I will continue to turn down her requests to 'take her dress away' or to 'take her necklace away' and tell her that this is a very mean thing to do... and try not to let it bother me so much.

Published in Blog
Thursday, 14 February 2013 08:12

Children in Restaurants

Random food for thought - especially in light of it being Valentine's Day... I've over heard a few conversations about this recently, and even come across some articles on discounts given for well behaved children in restaurants, so I thought I'd pose the question...

What do you think of younger children, and toddlers - who may be unable to behave appropriately - dining in restaurants? Particularly higher end restaurants, where people around them may be out on dates or business meetings, etc. 

This week is Valentine's Day, as well as my Birthday.  Earlier in the week, we were trying to make a plan to have supper with my family sometime this week - for my Birthday, and because all of my Birthday/Valentine's Day plans with Brian are being pushed into the long weekend, the fact that today is actually Valentine's Day didn't really cross my mind.  Thursday night was the first evening that worked for all of us to get together, so we were about to make a reservation for supper. 

As Brian and I were discussing how Clara might behave for a late supper out (I teach piano until 6:30, so we wouldn't get there until at least 7), we realized that it was Valentine's Day, and that the restaurant would probably be filled with people hoping to have a quiet romantic evening - and that it might not be the kindest thing to bring our toddler daughter, who may be unable to behave at that time of day. So, we changed our plans and will have supper with my family on another evening.

This, to me, is just common courtesy. If I don't think my child can necessarily behave in a certain situation, I should not bring my child into that situation if it will probably ruin a nice experience for other people. 

However, I know that not everyone would make this particular call, and sometimes there are children in restaurants who are causing all sorts of disturbances to other customers.

There are also parents and families who go to great lengths to teach their children how to behave properly in restaurants, and children who are naturally gifted at sitting quietly...

Years ago, Brian and I went out on a date of some kind at a relatively high-end restaurant in our city and ended up at a table next to a family with a young daughter and a baby.  The girl was probably about 3 - maybe 4 - years old. Despite the longish wait for their food, the little girl sat beautifully and if we hadn't specifically looked over at their family, we would never have known that there was a young child at the table at all. 

My opinion? I think that restaurants should have and stick to the policies that say 'Disruptive persons will be asked to leave'. End of story. No age particulars, because although children are more likely to act out because they may not yet understand the social norms, it is not ALWAYS children who misbehave in public.  Families should expect that if they or their child is disruptive in a restaurant, the restaurant is within their rights to ask them to leave - without causing offense. 

I think it's great when children know what is expected of them in 'fancier' restuarants, and hope to teach our children how to behave in them. In the meantime, we will attempt to teach them at more family-friendly restaurants, at family-friendly times.  I hope also that I will understand if we have a bad day and an attempt at someplace nicer ends in us being asked to leave.

Those are my two cents. What are yours? Do you think kids should be allowed in fancy restaurants, or not? Does it ruin an evening for you if the family sitting next to you on a 'night out' has a bunch of rambunctious toddlers? 

Published in Blog
Monday, 11 February 2013 11:04

Beginning the Room-Sharing Process

Our house technically has 3 upstairs bedrooms. One is the Master bedroom, the other two were initially smaller bedrooms, but the way our house is situated on the lot means the back bedroom is closest to the garage - so a previous owner chopped a big hole in the wall and put in patio doors so that there was closer access to a backyard deck as well as to the garage.

So, our 3rd bedroom is actually our entrance room now, which really is great because if it weren't, we would have to walk all the way around the house and yard to get to our garage.

Unfortunately, it leaves us with only one small (7 by 10 foot) bedroom for the girls, which they will have to share until we either move out of this house, or until one (or both) of them is brave enough to move into one of our downstairs bedrooms which are a long walk away from our bedroom upstairs. 

ANYWAY...

Here's the back story:

When Clara was about 6 months old, we moved her from the bassinet in our bedroom to her crib in the other room. By 6 months, this was WAAAY too late for us for a couple of reasons. 1, she was starting to hit the top of the bassinet with her head every time she kicked her feet. 2, As time went on, I became more and more terrified of something happening to her if I moved her across the hall - I was really becoming consumed by terror, and was often unable to sleep at night because of the ridiculous thoughts that constantly haunted me. When we finally moved her into the crib, I slept soundly for the first night in weeks, and I realized that I had been neglecting to 'cut a cord' that needed to be cut (for me) - she was ready and old enough to be distanced a little bit more from me, and I needed to let that happen. 

Audrey's story has been different than Clara's in a lot of ways. Most importantly, Audrey is not yet sleeping through the night where Clara was at about 6 weeks. This meant that Clara was happily sleeping all night long in the bassinet and all we had to change was the location, and the transition was really easy and fast.

This was my plan:

I had hoped to have Audrey sleeping through the night, and in her bassinet, before we tried to move her into Clara's room, but it was starting to look as though this might not happen on its own before Audrey is too big for the bassinet. 

What was happening, I think, was that I had become too lazy to put Audrey back in her bassinet after her first feeding every night because I was only partly awake when I picked her up - I don't have to get up to reach her in the bassinet. Then, she would sleep in our bed and 'snack' all night long. We used the Baby Wise method with Clara, and if what they say is true (it all worked well for Clara), then Audrey will be less likely to sleep through the night if she isn't getting 'full' feedings and becomes used to 'snacking' at night. This makes sense to me, and the only reason I haven't tried harder to fix this situation is truly laziness on my part - because I really appreciated how everything went with Clara.  I won't lie, I also like the cuddle time with Audrey - Clara wasn't really a fan of cuddling... 

So I hoped that if I had to actually get up to feed Audrey, maybe I wouldn't be too asleep to put her back in her crib and after awhile her eating would regulate and maybe she would even start sleeping through the night sooner.  Since this wasn't happening with her sleeping in our room, I figured we might as well move her straight to her crib and start getting both girls used to the new sleeping arrangment.

We started on Friday night.

Friday evening started with a couple hours of back-and-forth between the girls: Audrey would fuss and wake Clara, then Clara would fuss or talk or yell and wake Audrey, etc. Finally we brought Audrey downstairs with us where we were watching the movie 'Hugo' to wait for Clara to fall asleep properly, and fed Audrey for the last time around 10:30.  Then she slept in her crib until about 2, and at that point I just brought her into bed with us and fell asleep.

Saturday night was really good -  both girls fell asleep shortly after 8pm and Audrey slept until midnight when she woke up hungry. After feeding her, I put her back into her crib and she slept again until about 3:30.  Then I fell asleep feeding her and she was in our bed for the rest of the night.

Last night wasn't so great again - the girls took turns keeping each other up until we brough Audrey downstairs to give Clara some peace. Then we put Audrey in the crib at about 11, but when she started fussing shortly after midnight, she ended up in our bed for the rest of the night.

I had taken the opportunity to clean the bassinet bedding with Audrey moving to the crib, and it's still kind of disassembled. I was hoping it would motivate me to keep up with moving Audrey into the crib, but it might actually mean she's spending more time in our bed.  Possibly a backwards move???

Has anyone else had to move an infant into a toddler's bedroom for nights? What age did you do it, and how did it work? Any advice?

Published in Blog
Friday, 08 February 2013 09:40

Sisters and Pictures and Updates

Tuesday morning started like any other Tuesday morning - Clara refused to get dressed.  Most days I don't worry too much about it, unless she will be going out or we will be having company.  Tuesdays, however, are a 'going out' day for Clara - I teach piano in the evenings, and Brian's parents routinely take her to their house for supper and the evening on Tuesdays each week.

Toddler psychology lesson (for me and my toddler, anyway) - ignore her request to not get dressed and make a big deal out of dressing her sister. :)

I had purchased a couple of matching t-shirts for the girls over the weekend, and I pulled one of these out to dress Audrey in.  Then, I made a big deal out of it and how adorable it was and blah, blah... suddenly Clara had jumped off her bed - pushed it toward her dresser (because standing on her bed is the only way she can see into her t-shirt drawer) and peered into her t-shirt drawer saying "I want that one!".  I knew she was pointing to the matching shirt, and I felt pretty smug about having co-erced her into getting dressed.  It was also an excuse to have the girls dressed alike. :)

I posted a few days ago about the dSLR camera that Brian had borrowed from work, and on Tuesday - my last day with it - I took a few more photos of the girls.

Clara was trying to get Audrey to hold the play fork.

Clara has this constant need to hug her sister - it's adorable, but I'm always nervous for Audrey's neck!

Tuesday was also our first full day of having the 'gummy' (soother) under her pillow while she was awake.  Except for one little melt-down when she cried for about 6 seconds about not being able to have it, she has been really good about not having it.  I just need to remind her occasionally, and she will either place it on her bed herself, or if she was going to get it, she will happily continue playing without it. She did tell me today, however, that we needed to buy new ones - so I think she might be under the impression that keeping her gummy under her pillow is just temporary until we get some back-up gummies. 

I had grand intentions to bake cookies, and get started on a kind of 'home-school' curriculum for Clara - just a basic one for toddlers that I found online. It mostly involves learning letters and numbers and singing little kiddy songs.  I wanted some sort of structure to our play times together and something I could plan for - but when I got up in the morning all of that suddenly seemed like too much work.  

Published in Blog
Thursday, 03 January 2013 21:25

My Wild Child

This is my wild child, who obviously dislikes having her hair brushed. Obviously we (at least occasionally) oblige. 

For the most part, Clara is actually a mostly well-behaved child. She sits fairly well in church for at least 20 minutes or so, as long as we have a few quiet toys for her, or a colouring book.  She takes decent care of her toys, and doesn't rip books.  She has been instructed that stickers only go on paper and skin (who hasn't wanted the occasional sticker on their nose or forehead?) and rarely do I find them anywhere else - even after she has had unsupervised access to stickers. We have had a couple colouring-on-the-wall incidents, but she hadn't been told before the first time, and it was at least three months between the two incidents, so she could have forgotten... 

Lately, we have had an issue with bedtime. 

She goes to bed quite well, and we have a predictable routine for her.  We always warn her ahead of time that it will be bedtime in 'N' minutes, or at the end of a particular play period.  We have her change into jammies, brush her teeth, read a story, go potty, say goodnight to Audrey (who is hopefully napping peacefully in her bassinette at this time), prayer time, kisses goodnight and then lights out.  This is always the same, and she goes through these motions knowingly and with little struggle.

After the door closes is when it begins.

She tantrums.

She yells out "I have to pee!" and "I have to poop!" and "I don't want to nap!" all in the same breath. 

And cries, and cries, and cries...

We have NEVER gone soft on this point.  She has NEVER been allowed to get up after she has gone to bed, except to go straight to the potty and back, and even that we don't allow easily if we are quite sure she is just claiming to have to pee to get out of bed.  She has never had more storytime, or a nice happy chat time with Mommy or Daddy - we have remained no-nonsense at bedtime, and yet she persists. 

Why does she do this? Is this a phase she will eventually get through? It's been weeks already, and has only gotten worse. Should we simply continue as we have, and eventually the consistency will win over and she will stop tantruming? 

Has anyone else experienced this?

Published in Blog
Saturday, 08 December 2012 20:02

Our Quotable Clara

In the last few months, Clara has gone from stringing a few words together to no sentence being too long for her.  She now says just about anything, and for the most part can communicate anything she needs to.  She still frustrates us with 'I want that' - What, Clara, WHAT??? - but other than a few things like that she actually has a pretty incredible vocabulary for a little girl who isn't yet two.  I think. But she's my daughter so I might just think she's awesome because I'm supposed to :)

In the process of potty training, we began to give her a chocolate chip every time she successfully peed in the potty.  One day she looked up at us and said "I have TWO chocolates???" (Note that in almost every Clara sentence, there is a dirty slide that ends in an inhumanly high-pitched note - I will capitalize the words that she does this to).  We just thought that this was so adorable, so that day she got 'TWO chocolates!'.  The next day it happened again, and from that day forward her chocolate intake doubled.  A few weeks ago, I made some Christmas chocolates out of white and red chocolate candy wafers (making pink chocolates), so I started giving her small pieces of this instead of her chocolate chips. I know - way to make peeing even more exciting...   Last night - she got out of bed - twice - saying she had to pee.  We almost always indulge this, because we really don't want to deal with the effects of being wrong if we call her bluff.  She's usually bluffing... Anyway, the first time she gets out of bed chattering... it sounded like this:

"I have to pee!... Don't pee your PANTS.... Don't pee your PANTIES.... I get a CHOCOLATE... I get TWO chocolates!!... I want a pink one"  I didn't say a word through this entire little conversation, but I was just about peeing myself laughing by the end of it.  Her statement about wanting a pink one was said with a deathly serious face.

Lately Clara has been watching a LOT of TV - Mary Poppins, to be precise. This is a picture of the 'dance floor' I built in the hallway, and this is Clara dancing back and forth on it singing along to some Mary Poppins song or another.  Probably 'Step in Time.  We repeatedly hear her singing 'Chim-chimeny' which actually sounds like 'Doo-doo-me!' when Clara says it, or 'Stay Awake' which Clara actually knows more of the words to than I do...

Randomly she'll also up and say 'Snap! The job's a game!' or 'Spit spot!' - both quotes from Mary Poppins.

Lately Clara is very concerned about comparing what she is doing to what everyone else is doing.  If she is eating, she wants everyone else to be eating too.  We will have a conversation that sounds a little bit like this:

Clara: "I EATING!"       

Mommy or Daddy: "Yes, you are eating."

Clara: "Mommy (or Daddy) eating TOO?"

Mommy or Daddy: "Yes, Mommy is eating too..."

Clara: "Everybody eating!" (which sounds more like 'elly-body eating!' when she says it).

Clara has also gotten very possessive about 'her' things, and very concerned with which things are hers, and which belong to other people.  She will pick up random objects she knows belong to us and present them to us throughout the day as if we always have to have every item that belongs to us on our person at all times. "Thank you, Clara, I don't need a breast pad right now..."

She will say 'That's MINE' very sternly about everything that is hers, and everything she thinks is hers.  She has also decided lately to be very possessive about people.  She will say 'That's MY Daddy' or 'That's MY Mommy' or 'That's MY Audrey'.  She's not trying to keep anyone else away from these people, she just makes these statements.

This picture was taken when she elected to have a nap in the middle of the day, but she only ever wants to nap if it's her idea.  Most of the time she says 'I don't want to nap!' And she says each of these five little words very clearly - I don't want to nap! The adorable thing about this, is that she will wake up after a nap, or in the morning saying 'I don't want to nap' or 'I don't like a nap' as if she doesn't realize she has already slept...

She will sigh exasperatedly and say 'Oh, Audrey' whenever Audrey cries.

She will exclaim that 'Audrey's CRYING!' when Audrey cries - except when Clara says it, it sounds like 'Audrey's DYING!', which is pretty funny... I usually respond with 'she thinks she is!'

When she has choices (or thinks she has choices) about anything, she will declare 'I don't like that one!' about any choice that isn't her favourite at that moment. It sounds a bit more like 'I don't wike dat bun!'

She will get pretty stressed if she has accidents and her panties get wet, but she has to announce the state of her panties and pants regardless. "Panties are WET! Pants are OK!" This is if she has a small drop of pee on her panties but her pants are still dry.

This is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to journal my kids' childhoods - the crazy things they say.  I'm looking forward to sharing these things with them (because I wouldn't have remembered them otherwise, I know that!) when they are older, and comparing the things each girl says.  So far maybe Clara says things that 'all kids say', but I wouldn't know because I only know her. 

What crazy things do your kids say?

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