Watching other people's kids
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
There is something funny about other people's kids. Their poop is about 10 times stinkier and at least twice as green as my own kids'. Their cries are screechy and painful. So why do I do it? A lot of daycare providers I know give one honest answer—to stay home with their own kids. This was my answer a year ago.

But there is more to it now. When I first started this, Charlie and his new buddy had just turned 2. In the first week, they learned all their colors, then immediately started counting to ten. The next week or so, they seemed to spontaneously learn their shapes. Over the next few months we learned manners and they started to respect me a little. I loved watching them learn and enjoyed watching Charlie interact with different kids.

I've found that they have as much to offer Charlie as vice versa. They teach him crazy antics, help develop his verbal skills, teach him to share and play nice. They say funny things. They are aloof for months on end and then suddenly, start to hug me. They squeal at stupid things and giggle when they see food, trucks, poop, or bugs. They are eager to learn about everything and appreciate even my lamest attempts to teach them. They laugh at me when I dance and imitate me when we do Itsy Bitsy Spider.

And, finally, not only do I not have to talk about TPS Reports, but I find myself saying things like:
Stop licking the table
Don't lick his finger
The baby is not a couch
Don't eat that booger
Don't sit on her face
You cannot own the color blue. You can share your favorite color.
Are you licking the floor again?
No, we do not eat cat food here.
And so on.

Plus, they give me a lot to write about. So I'm in this for awhile.


I need love
I'm trying not to use my kids to fulfill my own personal needs, but I can't help it. My 6 month-old wants little to nothing to do with me. Aren't babies supposed to be cuddly, or was it just my firstborn who set up this expectation in me? And if I'd had my second one first, would I be shocked at how “needy” my first was?
Little Will woke up multiple times last night, as he has been doing lately. And his cries sound so pitiful. So being the nurturing mother and person that I am, I pick him up to cuddle him. And what does he do? He jams his sharp little elbow into my chest to push himself as far away from me as possible, while looking around the dark room to see what he can explore.
I'm being selfish. I want to cuddle with him. I feel like a desperate girlfriend. Love me, please. Just one little cuddle, admiring look, comforted nuzzle, sweet smile? Just one?
When I try to breastfeed him, his reaction is, “get that big thing out of my face right now.” Unless he is really starving, in which case he will eat quickly, finish, then sit up as quickly as possible, to explore.
This morning when he made it clear that he did not want to be comforted, I tried not to feel hurt, telling myself that everyone is different, even babies. He is his own little man with his own set of needs (like the need to be left alone, to not be held back, and to see the world).
Still, I felt unfulfilled. So when he was back asleep, I went into Charlie's big bed and cuddled up next to him. He opened his eyes, smiled at me, and curled up in a ball into my tummy, all warm and soft. And I felt satisfied at last.


Potty Training.
I give up.

On Charlie's 3rd Birthday, I was gloating that he was so potty trained. He kept his big boy Thomas pants dry all day, peed without having to think about it, went without having to be reminded, even put his own pants back on. The only time he ever had an accident was every third or fourth day when he had to poop.

I felt this was no big deal. However, part of mastering the first part of potty training was his feeling of pride in the dry pants; he then fully understood that poop could not ever go in there, either. But at the same time, he had this intense fear of pooping on the potty. His solution? No pooping.

We would have long, drawn out discussions about this.
Me: Charlie, you have to poop.
Him: No, poop stay in my tummy.
Me: No, it will hurt if you do that. You need to poop in the potty, or you can even ask for a pull-up. Here.
Him: Nooooo.... I go poop in the potty when I am big. Big like you.

Let me back up by saying that for the last three months, we have alternated between bouts of extreme constipation, and watery poopiness from the prune juice I sneak into his food. The watery poopiness which results in Thomas pants getting defiled, me quietly cursing at the cleanup, him feeling even more ashamed and vowing to never poop again, me sick of the smell of bleach.

Let me clarify that I did not purposefully shame him. I talked to him about how normal poop is. I read him books like, "Everyone Poops." I let him watch me poop. I pretend-sit with him on the pot while we pretend to push out poop together, me cheering him on. When he goes in his pants, I say things like, "That's Ok, we'll make it next time." When he looks stressed that he needs to poop, I tell him, "That's OK. Do what you need to do."
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
But now that he has crossed the line and understands what does and does not belong in his pants, there is no turning back.

So I moved him permanently into pull-ups. Then he can poop in them, not withhold, and I don't have to scrub poop out of cotton. The problem? He re-learned the convenience of peeing in his pants. Lo and behold, he is no longer potty trained.

So I've decided that I officially give up. Let him revert back to his two's. At this rate and with his expert fine motor skills, I will teach him how to change his own diapers. Yes, that's it. He can go in his pants all he wants, and then change himself when he is through.

Anyone have any other ideas, let me know.


Toddler Birthday Parties
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
For those of you who don't yet have toddlers, let me help you keep your friends with my Top Eight List for a Successful Toddler Party. No, not successful for your toddler, because they won't care if you celebrate their Birthday by throwing sticks in a pond or killing ants with toy golf clubs -- but successful in the eyes of your friends, coworkers, neighbors, and anyone else you claim to care about.

8. Don't schedule the party during the average child's naptime. Seems obvious, right? It's not. 86.5% of the toddler parties I have attended involved the Birthday child having a major meltdown, followed by the following parental explanation: "It's his naptime. You'll have to forgive him." Um, you mean I will have to forgive you, the nitwit who scheduled it now. So if you want your party to last two hours, then don't let any part of that block of time occur between 11:30 and 3:00. Which leads me to...

7. No toddler party should ever, ever, under any circumstances, last more than 2 hours tops. Why? Because no one cares as much as you do about the presents your child received, about how cute they look when they play together, about watching them eat cake. Really. People who have kids would much rather spend their valuable weekend time doing adult activities. If you and the grandparents want to have an extended party, fine, but let the rest of the guests go home after a reasonable amount of toddler craziness.

6. In order to maintain Rule #7, do not plan on opening presents 1 hour and 50 minutes after the party start time, followed by cake time. Why? Because no guest wants to appear rude by not watching your kid open presents, so you are essentially forcing them to hang out with kids for more than 2 hours, and no guest who is also a parent wants to leave before cake time, because their kid has been nagging them for cake the entire time. Give kids 1 hour to play, 15 minutes for presents, 15 minutes for cake, and then those who truly cannot bear to leave can choose to stay another half-hour. Sound fair?

5. Don't talk to your child in a high-pitched voice about how you "super love them," especially if your child is over the age of 3 months. On second thought, you should never "super" love anybody, as the word "love," in and of itself already conveys the strongest form of affection.

4. Don't send kids home with party favors that involve pictures of your child. The goal of a party favor is to give toddlers -- who have just watched another child open and keep forty-five gifts -- something to make them happy, such as a whistle, Dum Dums, maybe even a plastic ring. But no three-year-old is going to be delighted to receive an Olan Mills photo of their buddy standing against a blue marble backdrop. So mail those pictures to those you "super" love and give everyone else the fun stuff - which is what party favors are meant for.

3. If your child has a meltdown during present-opening time, don't force them to open their presents anyway, thus causing that uncomfortable feeling in the room. Just kindly explain to your guests that Jr. will have to open the gifts later and that you appreciate their bringing a gift. Or you could just open the gifts for Jr. while he goes into the other room to nap.

And the lesson I learned for myself, the hard way:
2. Do not spend more than $50 total on your child's party. Why? Because they do not care. Because it makes them start to expect this in the future. Because it is money wasted. Because absolutely no one in the universe is impressed except for you, not even your Birthday child. Which brings me to #1...

1. Think of what is truly the funnest thing for your child, and do that for him. I recently learned that my son's favorite part of our vacation was looking at trees and bushes in his nana's backyard. It involved no picture taking, no getting dressed up, no decoration, and no preparation whatsoever. His Birthday party was quite the opposite and left a huge dent in my wallet. So I guess in a nutshell: think like your child and define "fun" in the most simple way.


Still not resurrected

Scratch my earlier post about finding the perfect magazine that speaks to my generation. After I finished, um, reading it, I realized that I am not, in fact, part of their target audience. And since my main need as a magazine reader is to feel a part of some "in" crowd (sad, I know), this flaw is a fatal one.

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2

'Nuff said.


A little part of me has officially died.

I was waiting at my chiropractor's office and I picked up an issue of Real Simple. You know, the magazine offering emotional well-being, organizational tips, and crafty solutions to problems you didn't know you had to women of, um, my age. I was ashamed and embarrassed to admit to myself that the Table of Contents was fascinating. When the doctor called for me, I was disappointed to have to leave it behind.

Have you ever been reading something and had this feeling of, “I must continue. The finish line is near?” Anyone? I felt that way last month reading Jane, my former favorite magazine. And since I subscribe to it, I felt that it would only be fair to finish it. Sure, it is somewhat edgy and the writing is good, but I had the distinct feeling that it was not written for me. Let's explore some of the latest topics.

Plan for your hangover
Wild girl Eva Longoria stripped down and way sexier
Q&A Zach Braff
Take our new poll... Is it cheating?
How classy girls have naughty sex*
* might explore that one later

My mom and I were talking awhile back about our chronological ages. She is in her seventies and insists that in her mind, she still feels fifteen. She thinks and feels exactly like she did at that age. And I totally understand, because I do too.

But for the first time, since, I don't know – since I was in college, I feel distinctly different. As a youngin' I couldn't wait to be in my early 20's. Once arrived, I was happy. In my late 20's, I looked back and smiled at how cool I was. But now I am at a new point (I'm thirty-one, OK? Thirty-one!!!)-- and I'm not looking back anymore. I'm not sure I'm really looking ahead, either, but something is different. Let's explore some recent topics in Real Simple to further illustrate my point.

Do You Really Need That Beauty Product?
The Truth About Sizing—How to Find Clothes That Fit
Organizing Your Digital Photos
101 Extraordinary Uses for Everyday Things

And look how pretty:

I've decided to subscribe already.
I Love TV
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I used to think TV was the worst thing you could do to someone, especially a kid. But then I heard Charlie walking around the house saying, approximately 500 times one day, the following phrase: "A-roar Boralus," and then "Auroree Boree-alus," and then, "Aurora Borealis," prompting me to say, "Charlie, what is that thing you are saying?" He told me, "Aurora Borealis, just like on Little Einsteins." Ok, I thought, he learned a phrase. Then, one afternoon, as we were snoozing on the couch together, I awakened to him pushing the buttons on my shirt and saying, "Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco!" I asked him where he learned that, and he said Dora. Then there was today. He said to me, "Look! The leaves fall off tree. Turned orange and green and brown, and, and... orange. Then wind blow, it breaks, and fall down." Finding the perfect opportunity to teach him a little something, I told him, Yes! That's called fall, and then it will be winter, and then... and he interrupted me, "Yes, and then it is Springtime. Just like on Little Einsteins."

I was stunned. While I pride myself on being a pretty good teacher to the little ones, I certainly have not taught them about seasons, uttered a word in Spanish, nor do I really know what an Aurora Borealis is, exactly.

I remember, as a kid, watching the Road Runner run through the desert and off the edge of cliffs and past exploding things that said ACME, and it all being very mindless and intoxicating. While I've always been a bit of a TV addict, I also hate myself for it and decided long ago that we would have a strict TV policy. Hubby and I even discussed, numerous times, the prospect of having no TV in our house. We were all for doing it, just as soon as our shows' seasons ended and assuming that no new shows were on for the following year.

We still have our TV.

TV has changed. While I continue to try to limit my time in front of it (I am certainly not learning about Aurora Boreali, or any such things), and I don't want my kids watching too much, especially when it means they are not doing something else more creative, I don't hate is as passionately as I once did.

Anyway. This post was in no way sponsored by Disney or Nick, Jr. I just wanted to share my shift in thinking.


Hey, remember me?
I feel like a rejected schoolgirl whose boyfriend's buddy just handed me a note saying that he was breaking up with me. It's Will. He doesn't seem to remember that I was his first love.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I can barely get his eye contact anymore. I have to practically beg him to eat, unless it is food from a jar. When I hold him, he is taking his chubby little hand and using it as leverage -- leverage to push me away, to get into the real world of carpet, electrical cords, things that tip over, and small children.

This could very well be the fault of those small children. The daycare kids, that is. They are so mature. They do things like walk, run, hop, make farting noises, fart, scream, blow raspberries with total efficiency, grab toys, wrestle each other, and have extremely fascinating tantrums.

His eyes are like saucers while he watches all of this and takes mental notes. How could a loving cuddle, a soft boob, and protective arms possibly compete?

Maybe this wouldn't be so hard for me to deal with if Charlie hadn't been such a lover at this age. Sure, he wanted to crawl and get into things, but I was truly the light of his life. I received constant gummy smiles and coos. He cried anytime I put him down. Screamed, actually. Not only did he hate his crib, but he hated to sleep anywhere that wasn't in my arms. And although I complained about his lack of independence, how I wish I could revisit those days with my second son.

So here is my love note to Will.

Dear Will,
Remember me?
Remember resting your heavy head on my shoulder, grabbing a strand of my hair, and sighing as you fell off to sleep? Remember nursing in the rocking chair? Remember thinking that I actually had a good voice as I sang "Twinkle Twinkle?" Remember life before you could see those fascinating little brats (your brother included), and the only thing you could focus on were my beautiful brown eyes, perfectly straight teeth, and loving smile? Would you like to revisit those days? Like, how about right now?
I'll be waiting for you in 5 minutes on the couch with a blankie. You can stop on by. Or not. I don't really care. I'll sing you a song if you want, or let you bite down on my pinky finger, or whatever. But if you take too long, like more than 10 minutes, I might get busy with something else. So you better come, or I might not be available later.
Yes I will.
Love forever,


I'm all for public breastfeeding, but...
Today I discovered fine lines around my eye area, so I took the kids to the mall to buy some overpriced eye cream with the hope of erasing a few months. Will got hungry, so we went into the Family Restroom. Ever since his vision developed enough to be 20/20, he has been the easily distractable breastfeeder. As in, suck twice, then pull away to look at Charlie, suck once more, look at fascinating wallpaper, suck three times (just enough to make my milk start squirting), then stop to watch a fly fly by.

Which brings me to my new favorite "hey, over here!" technique. It's called the Lift and Squirt. Step one: lift breast so that it is at the exact location of baby's mouth, wherever that may be. Step two: squeeze breast so as to squirt into, or near, or in the general vicinity of baby's mouth. This generally causes the "oh yea, that's what I was doing" thought for baby, which causes feeding to resume.

Just as I am using the L&S technique, a man and his son barge into the Family Restroom.

The horror. The quick look away. The come on, Jr., let's come back later comment. The embarassment on my part. Cuz I am all for public breastfeeding, but now I remember why I used to be modest. It's easy to forget that the rest of the world isn't around lactating women and our ways all the time.