About

Father’s Day

As late as it is, I wanted to take the time to say it. Happy Father’s Day to all the father’s out there that do their best each and every day to take care of their children.

These little people look up to you so much!


We are lucky to have such a great father in this house. My husband is calm, patient, funny, hardworking, and so good with the little ones.

Whenever I get frazzled, he is quick to offer advice that makes me feel silly for never having realized.

I complained once about not being able to sweep the kitchen because the boys kept taking my broom and dust pan to sweep the ceiling, or refrigerator, or carpet. He just said, “what’s the hurry?”. And he’s right, there wasn’t any hurry. 

He’s always thoughtful and puts his family first. And we love him. 

Happy Father’s Day!

Parenting

Potty Training Nightmare

Hello. I’m sorry to be such a Debbie Downer but I need a friend today. I feel so very frustrated, and I’ve been crying for the last 30 minutes. I also spent some of that time yelling at my 3-year-old in a public bathroom, car, and bedroom.

I just don’t understand why he refuses to do his business in a toilet like all the rest of the children and people we know.

He is 3 years and 2 months old, and I have been “Potty Training” him since he was able to sit up, at about 5 months old. I would put him on the potty when he woke up and before a bath, and he did great. We saved so many diapers. We would read on the potty and I sometimes would have to force him to get off after long periods of sitting on the potty.

When he was about 22 months old, he wore underwear for 2 weeks straight and would even wake up at night to go to the bathroom.

Then, baby brother came along and everything just got worse and worse until now he is wearing a diaper constantly and seemingly choosing to go pee and poop in the darn diapers.

I tried being patient, and not forcing him. I tried stickers. I tried making him go naked, but he pooped on the floor twice and the dog ate it. I feel like I’ve tried a lot of different methods. I tried talking to him and I still explain several times a day that taking care of yourself is important and that keeping your underwear clean and dry prevents being smelly and getting rashes.

Yesterday, I gave him the same speech standing right next to the toilet after nap time. He was definitely doing the potty dance, and I encouraged him to go potty. Instead, he pees in his underwear and shorts (he had promised earlier to keep them clean and dry otherwise he would have been wearing a diaper) and all over the bathroom floor. Then he says “I want to play on my kindle!”.

Umm, no. If the kindle wasn’t so expensive I would hit it with a baseball bat or throw it in the trash. Instead, I put it in the closet and told him that computers are for people who take care of themselves and their bodies. His baby brother doesn’t get to watch shows or play games on the kindle because he hasn’t demonstrated that he can handle that responsibility, and neither has the 3-year-old. He was very upset by this.

Respectful parents will tell you to imagine your child is an important foreign diplomat, but if that important foreign diplomat deliberately went pee-oee on my floor when I KNOW that HE KNOWS better, I would most certainly react the same way. Respect goes both ways, and when my child refuses to listen to me or doesn’t care about what I want, then it makes it hard to treat him like a person that does.

And I know that rewarding going potty with time on the kindle is maybe not the best parenting decision either but giving the dog treats worked in a few days and she’s only had one accident in 4 years. It’s hard to argue with results.

We went to a toy story for story time and painting today. He was playing with their train table while we were waiting for it to start. I was very much looking forward to seeing my friend who I hadn’t seen in a few weeks, and I was excited for the 15 month old to do some painting around other children. I explained this all to the three-year old, and I explained that I had failed to bring a diaper and baby wipes and how we would have to go home to clean up if he went to the bathroom in his diaper. I said he was acting like he needed to poop and we should try to go to the bathroom.

He refused and not 5 minutes later he had a little poop in his pants. I take him to the bathroom and sit him on the potty trying to salvage the situation, but he REFUSES. TO. FINISH. POOPING. And this is when I get infuriated. So I say everything again, about taking care of yourself, and wanting to see my friend. Only I say it louder and while crying. And I beg and plead and do everything you’re not supposed to do including telling him to stop acting like a baby.

Then I feel super bad because I know what I am saying is wrong and not helpful and that gets me in a cycle of feeling like a failure. I cry all the way home and when I clean him up, and when I put his brother down for a nap and when I tell him to stay in the room because mommy needs time to cry and think about what I’ve done. And then I go cry on my bed a little bit more.

I want to run away, or hide. I have a huge fear that my child will never be potty trained. I have a huge fear that I am a bad mother, that this one sign of failure is just covering up many smaller failures. I have a huge fear that I am not good enough for them.

Thanks for “listening”. I know I’m just being emotional and it will all be okay.

 

Parenting

Learning All The Time – Part Two – Unconditional Parenting

​I am still gathering my thoughts after reading this insightful book by John Holt about how young children can and will learn by themselves. (Learn more about the book here.)

There is a section where he explains that children that are praised or punished a lot will lose their inherent motivation to learn and discover, and develop a fear of failure.

I don’t want that for my children. My goal with homeschooling has always been to teach them a love of learning. According to John Holt, I don’t even have to do that, all I have to do is not destroy the desire that they already have.

What children want and need from us is thoughtful attention. They want us to notice them and pay some kind of attention to what they do, to take them seriously, to trust and respect them as human beings. They want courtesy and politeness, but they don’t need much praise. (John Holt – Learning All the Time)

I think my toddler has been trying to tell me this for a while. He is always asking me, “what am I doing, mommy?” or some variation thereof. Perhaps I need to be more proactive about acknowledging him, even when distracted by his baby brother.

The not praising practice will be a difficult habit to break for me. I was raised in a reward\praise system, and perhaps did not receive enough of it because I was always striving for more.

My two older brothers had the opposite, where they were satisfied with the occasional praise… Good job passing that English class! Where as I felt barely acknowledged for (almost) getting straight As.

You could say the system worked for me. I received a masters degree in accounting. I worked as a CPA until I became a stay at mom. I am married and have a beautiful family. One of my older brothers still delivers pizza, while the other is slightly better off. But there I go comparing, and how can you truly compare happiness?

But I don’t want my kids to experience either of these extremes, I want them to be motivated because they WANT to learn about something, or WANT to be good at something.

So instead of always saying “good job” or “that’s not right” I just need to acknowledge what they are doing and not jump in the middle of it. I need to learn to let them be themselves, not who I want them to be.

It’s going to be a challenge to change the way we do things at home, but I’m going to start small and work my way up to it.

A common style of conversation at our house goes as follows:

Mr. 3: What am I doing mommy?

Me: I don’t know sweetheart, what ARE you doing?

Mr. 3: I’m building a garage on wheels!

Me: Ooh, that’s great.

Mr. 3: I built a garage on wheels!

Me: Good Job!

My goal for this week is to end the conversation differently. Not to praise, but to acknowledge and get him to talk more about it.

Mr. 3: I built a garage on wheels!

Me: I see, you are parking all the cars inside the garage!

I know there are a few good books about unconditional parenting, so I should probably check out some of them to get a better understanding of how to put this into practice. Feel free to leave me a suggestion if you have a favorite book. I am also interested in finding out how you convinced your significant others to implement the same parental practices. Consistency is important, after all.

Also, I would like to thank my husband for taking care of me this weekend while I was sick. I don’t know how you managed to do the dishes, fix the laundry doors, install the rain barrel, mow the lawn, pull weeds, take care of the kids and take care of me. You are amazing. 

By the way, the book Learning All the Time by John Holt is only $2.99 on Amazon. (Affiliate link, but who wouldn’t?)

Parenting

Learning All the Time – Part 1

I just finished reading Learning All the Time by John Holt. If you are interested in a quick book review click here. Otherwise stay tuned because I have SO much I want to talk about because of this book.

The purpose of this book is to illustrate that children are capable of learning reading, writing, and counting by themselves. It offers some advice on how to encourage them, and what mistakes should be avoided.

One thing John Holt feels strongly about is that you shouldn’t correct most of your children’s’ mistakes. They will often times learn from their own mistakes and just by watching and seeing/hearing other people do things correctly.

Continue reading “Learning All the Time – Part 1”

Daily Lessons

Traveling with Young Children

My kids are no strangers to airplanes. They don’t do too well in the car for long periods of time, but they are great at flying. Here are some tricks we’ve learned along the way!

Young babies are very simple. You hold them on your lap and encourage them to sleep. If they are awake on take off or landing, you want to be sure to feed them to help with the air pressure change. Hold them and bounce them in your arms while standing in the aisles if they get restless.

Once your child is 2 years old you will be required to purchase them a seat on the airplane. I strongly recommend you bring their airplane approved car seat. It should have a sticker somewhere on it that says it is FAA approved.

The car seat will keep your toddler from escaping and even provide a more comfortable place to sleep. Most toddlers are used to falling asleep in the car, so the airplane should not be much different.

Next, be sure to bring some distracting and satisfying games and snacks.

Activities
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  1. Play Dough – I use Rachelle’s recipe at TinkerLab and just put a small amount in a baggie. My 3 year old loves playing with his diggers and the play dough and this keeps him very buys at home. Play dough is sticky though, so be sure to bring parchment paper to protect whichever surface you are playing on.
  2. Crayons and coloring/activity book. Great for all ages.
  3. Stickers/Tape – This can keep both my 1 year old and 3 year old busy for a long period of time. You can stick them on the back of some coloring sheets.
  4. Small but well loved books that you do not mind re-reading several times.

For this trip we are bringing Peek-A-Who which is an all time favorite with my 1 year old. We are also bringing Calling All Cars a lego story about a bank robbery. My toddler has been enjoying this series for the last few weeks. Most of the books are hard to read for me because the text can be a little annoying, but this one was pretty good.

Snacks

The best snacks are ones that aren’t devoured in five seconds. You want this to take a while…

Did you know you can bring food through security? You are not allowed liquids but solid food is allowed! 

I like to bring:

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  1. Small or cut up pieces of fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, pear, apple. You don’t want to choose things that can get too mushy and sticky such as banana and some peaches. (Not pictured because I want them to be as fresh as possible; I promise I will offer my kids fruit! )
  2. Chex mix. I use Chex cereal and pour in planters mixed nuts – low sodium. Sometimes I add broken pretzel sticks if we have them at home.
  3. Cheerios (plain) for young babies or young toddlers.
  4. Raisins are sticky but my kids love them.
  5. Other easy non perishable snacks such as yogurt melts, fruit chews, granola bars.

Just Remember:

You know your children best, and these are just suggestions to get you thinking. You can even ask them to help pack and choose a few of their favorite small toys (that they might not be broken up about if they get lost)… my kids love doing this.

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I hope you have a great trip!

 

Health, Science

Getting out of the House… Yes, please!

I think most mom’s have so much going on that they really and truly wish they could stay home. I have the opposite problem, a pre-schooler that does not want to leave the house.

It’s probably a combination of many factors such as the weather, hormones, not doing many fun things outside of the house and who knows what else, but I have been feeling rather blue lately. 

I like the idea of respectful parenting and treating my kids as people, but they don’t always respect me. So I tried explaining that mommy needed to get out of the house and get some exercise and sunshine, and received only “but I want to stay HOME and play with TRAINS!” no matter that I said please, and explained that we need to consider other people’s thoughts and feelings as well. 

 At any rate, in my slightly depressed state, I was left with two choices:

1. Open a bottle of wine and drown my sorrows, possibly endangering my children, or

2. Let my 3 year old throw a brief tantrum, and then strap him in the stroller and be on my way.

I chose option two, and the one year old was happy to accompany me. The dog was so excited that she nearly knocked us all down the stairs. 

We walked to the library (about a mile and a half) and by then I could tell I was feeling much better. We found some really great books and got some good exercise.

 There was another little boy that was trying to teach Mr. 3 how to use the library computer, and it was so interesting to just hang back and watch them interact. I was really disappointed when his mom got off her phone and told him to leave Mr.3 alone. I tried to explain that it was good for them, but English was not something we had in common.

The closest I got to “thank you for making me leave the house, you are so beautiful and smart, mommy” was him repeatedly saying ” I really LOVE this book! ”

I was feeling better, but I was not excited about staying home today. When I woke up,the sun was shining and it was already getting warm. It was NOT an indoor kind of day. I tried the same approach of reasoning but met with the same resistance. So I became boss instead of mom and I told that boy to get his butt downstairs and put on shoes!


We had such an amazing time at the zoo! Both boys were in and out of the stroller. We played on the jungle gym (little one dug in the mulch) saw a beautiful peacock splay his feathers. This frightened the three year old, but the one year old had no fear. Tigers, owls, bears, and the funny and graceful river otters!

We practiced our signs for the animals, and Mr. 1 learned a new sign for “swim”. We talked about the animals enjoying the weather. We saw a baby (joey) wallaby drinking milk from his mommy, and a pregnant giraffe. There was a zebra rolling in the grass near some sleeping hippos. We pet the goats and sheep in the farm petting zoo. 

After all is done, I can feel the sunshine in my heart. There was so much smiling and running and laughing (and learning) today, how could I not feel better?

And the bonus? Two tired kiddos! 

About

Traveling for work… ick

I don’t know exactly how to describe the way I am feeling. I don’t know if I’m tired, sad that the sun has gone away again, PMS, perhaps even that 3rd child we’ve been trying for… but I feel … I feel bad.

My husband has been out of town for work this week, and he comes back tonight. Yay! I thought I was doing really well but today it’s catching up to me.

I was going to make a post earlier this week about how a can-do attitude can change everything, but now I think it takes more than that!

It’s so lonely being away from family and not having anyone to help out. I know it was only 4 days, and the kids are happy and healthy, but it’s been hard!

I have the utmost respect for those people who’s significant others travel a lot and I am very grateful that mine does not. Although maybe it gets easier with practice? 

All in all though, the kids have been great. Thanks to the sunny weather we spent a significant amount of time on the patio playing sandbox, or restaurant. We did some art, we read some stories. We played with trains and trucks. We walked the dog 3 times and saw a nearby construction site. 


Still, I told my husband for Mother’s Day I want to stay in bed all day!

(By the way, those Play dough creatures and tape collage projects are all inspired by Rachelle Doorley at Tinkerlab. )

About

This job is hard.

I asked my husband last night if he ever felt overwhelmed, as if he felt in over his head. He said, sure, sometimes. I clarified, did he feel this way about the kids, did he ever not know what to do with them? And he said “no, never”.

That must be nice, because I feel overwhelmed and unsure several times a week.

Last night, shortly after bedtime, Mr. 1 makes an unusual cry and I go in to investigate. His foot is caught in between the crib and the wall and in the dark it looked completely backwards. I immediately try to get it out and without light it feels stuck and I freak out that his leg is broken or his ligament is torn and that’s when he starts crying for real. I feel like I’m the one that broke his leg so I yell for my husband and he comes running but by then the foot is out and the baby is fine. It all took about 30 seconds and I was the only one crying after that. 

My toddler watched the whole thing from his bed (they share a room) and said “what’s wrong?”. 

If I had taken the time to turn on a light and look at the foot or consider that the baby noises were of discomfort, not screaming pain, I would have realized there was no reason to worry.  

There are other signs that make me feel like I am not cut out for this job. We were brushing teeth last Thursday, the night I put them to bed myself because my husband plays basketball, and Mr. 3 was goofing around and not listening and I may have said something along the lines of “put your teeth together, doofus!”… 

It’s shameful, calling my three year old names, isn’t it? 

My husband tells me he thinks I’m doing a wonderful job… but there is no way to really tell, is there? 


I have to remind myself that these kids are happy and healthy. That is all that matters in the end. 

Do you ever feel like you don’t know what you’re doing? 

Daily Lessons, Language

Baby Sign Language

Last night at dinner, Mr. 1 wanted a third helping of rice. My husband says to him, “Can you say please?”. Mr. 1 responds by emphatically rubbing his hand on his chest, the sign for “please”.

I almost cried for joy because I did not know he knew that word; he has never used it for me.

What  I do know is that I would recommend baby sign language to any family. My 3 year old still uses it daily, and I enjoy learning the words, too. Some of them are really awesome. My favorite words are helicopter, rocket ship, and dinosaur.

Continue reading “Baby Sign Language”

Daily Lessons

What is the rush?

A guide to cleaning with toddlers.

My husband saw me struggling once to sweep the kitchen floor while Mr. 3 was trying to “help”. He said something that meant “Relax, what is the rush?”

Well today I thought about it, and I concluded that there was not any need to race through cleaning the house. Any cleaning we get done while he is awake is something I don’t have to worry about during nap time. Even if it takes 3 times as long, we don’t have anything else to be doing today and letting him help keeps him happy. Also, he is learning to clean the house. 

We started with the toilet in my bathroom. We have the stick cleaner with the pad on the end, and he scrubbed the inside of the bowl and the toilet seat. Any spills at this point will get mopped up or wiped with the rag I use to remove the cleaner from the seat.

Toddler tip: Give them Q-tips and a trash can and let them clean out the disgusting tracks on the shower doors. This kept Mr. 3 busy the whole time I scrubbed the bath tub and sink. 


Next, we cleaned the glass. Windows and kitchen table. I sprayed and he rubbed and I told him where he missed the spots. He asked me to help so I had my own rag and pretty much went over it all again.

Then we put some laundry in the machine, which he loves to do and has been doing by himself for a while now. He even knows to put in 2 pods and turn it on. Which is more than I remember to do sometimes.   (last week I did one load without detergent and forgot to turn on a second load.) 

We let the roomba run downstairs and proceeded to sweep and mop.


Today he only swept for a little bit before passing it to me. Some days he really gets into it and tries to sweep the carpet or ceiling.

I had to do this spot twice because he also wanted to help with the dustpan and ended up scattering the dirt everywhere again. 

It’s precisely those accidents that would normally frustrate me, but I’m taking the advice and remembering we’ve already accomplished a lot today, and he’s got to practice before he gets good. 

Then he hides on the couch while I vacuum the stairs. This has been on the to do list for a few months.

I’m not some amazing housewife that cleans this well every week. We have a dog and a cat so we vacuum the the living room weekly, and I try to clean toilets and floors every other week. Today was a day for the record books, though. I even remembered to wipe down the handrail which had odd orange handprints and apparently a whole layer of mysterious grime. 

How do you let your kids help you clean?