45 posts categorized "Toddlerhood"

Friday Family Movie Night: Babies and Screens

October 21, 2011

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While it would be a stretch to say my kids' screentime is very limited, when my husband is away (in the military, he's currently serving the second of two one-year tours in Kuwait) the TV is usually off. The boys might watch a half-hour or hour on school days, and usually go on a Saturday morning Pokemon and Ben 10 jag if we're home. There's Friday night movie night -- which we'll skip on particularly exhausting weeks. Of course, I don't have a baby, but when Think Out Loud came on this Friday morning, discussing new AAP recommendations that parents with kids under two limit the TV to zero, I immediately thought back to my very different household when my boys were babies and toddlers; in a word, TV rich.

My husband grew up in a household where TV was on all the time, and his young adulthood, when he lived with his siblings, only reinforced this habit. It's hard to get the TV off in my house when he's around, and more so when the kids were younger and he had the (according to the AAP, highly mistaken) viewpoint that they wouldn't watch the TV if it wasn't meant for them. So, my boys grew up, likewise, to the sound of Law & Order and NCIS and other procedural dramas. I'm going to paraphrase the guest on TOL, University of Washington professor of medicine Dimitri Christakis: this is keeping us all from paying attention to our kids and interacting in the way babies need. "It holds your attention," he said, mentioning studies that show how hard it is for us to see anything else when the TV is on.

I had to laugh, a little, when another caller asked the question I was about to ask (as I washed dishes and listened to NPR instead of interacting with my own kids), is radio just as bad? How about NPR? Christakis kind of skirted that question, by emphasizing the difference between TV and music radio -- it's the visual part of TV that sucks us in.

What we get from this new recommendation is not much different in tone than the message in the SpongeBob study: when we're turning the TV on to get something done, it's not good for the kids. We should be interacting with them instead of setting them in front of the tube. Christakis said that he gets all the time, "but how am I supposed to make dinner if I don't turn on the TV?" His answer: parents for millennia have been making dinner without TV, and with current estimates on how much TV kids are actually watching -- it's four or five hours for many toddlers (a DAY, and I know there have been times when that has been the reality in my house, and it kills me to think of it) -- he asks, "how much of a break do parents need?" Kids this age are, after all, only awake for 10 or 12 hours a day.

On one hand, I agree with a friend on Facebook, who (and I know her son watches little TV, comparatively) took the radio program as opportunity to tell all the parents she knows that they're doing a great job and can just stop listening to the media criticism of the job they're doing (thank you!). On the other hand, I want to agree with Christakis. Really, I don't need that much of a break from my kids. And honestly -- they're fine without screens. They can occupy themselves for hours with sticks and a field of grass, or pinecones and fences to climb, or the room full of Hot Wheels and Thomas trains and dress-up clothes and stuffed animals. I get plenty of break (during which I can wash dishes, do laundry, and make dinner all I want. Yay!).

Continue reading "Friday Family Movie Night: Babies and Screens" »

Toddlers: throwing and dumping

September 19, 2011

"All done", he says, smile on [handsome] face and doing the hand flip back and forth.  The smile is a little mischievous.  Next thing you know, he is flipping his cup upside down, gleefully watching the milk stream to the floor.  "Uh-oh.  All wet!"

It happens rather often.  He likes to dump the cereal on the floor, flick tofu across the table, and watch liquid run down the legs of the table.  I could use cups with lids, but we tend to all use normal glasses when we sit down for meals, saving lidded cups for excursions.

Many times, I want to yell.  Few times, I do.  In the moments after the spill/dump/toss, I will take a deep breath.  This is a child.  Does he know not what he does?  Perhaps.  Is he testing my limits?  Indeed.  Will it exacerbate the situation and encourage repetition he elicits a furious response from me?  Probably.

But how the hell can I get him to stop dumping stuff on the floor?  Because I sure as hell am tired of mopping it all up (and as much as I give him the tools to "clean-up, clean-up, everybody do their share", it really isn't the best clean-up job.

The boy child THROWS everything: difference between girls & boys?

May 16, 2011

I have the very unique position of being the only co-foundress mama, of the four, who has offspring of varied gender.  All the other three co-foundress urbanMamas have three boys each.  Me: two girls and a little boy.

Our sweet little angel of a boy is fast approaching two, and his pitch is fast approaching 100mph.  He loves to chuck stuff and his hands are becoming heavy: topple his yogurt bowl when he's all done, throw a little racecar at you to signal he wants to play, give you a little love slap on the face when he's overcome with glee.

When the girls were little toddlers, they kind of just sat, fiddled with their fingers or small objects (not trying to haul a full garbage can clear across the room), drew on the paper (not on the cabinets or walls as I discovered our boy child doing yesterday), sitting in their chairs when done eating (not standing up the chair after done and preparing to launch/jump right out).  Our boy has more energy, heavier hands.

Do you have a toddler boy?  See similar qualities?  Do you have both boys & girls & have the opportunity to compare & contrast?  Is it a gender thing?  Finally: how do you use positive discipline, unconditional parenting or other calm techniques to say: "STOP THROWING!"?

Emotional Transition from Infancy to Toddlerhood

July 09, 2009

It's so cliched, but kids do grow up so quickly.  And how many times have we all heard mamas with grown children look fondly at our little infants as they remember that special stage in a child's life?  Betsy emailed us recently to see if any urbanMama's have any advice regarding the sadness she's experiencing as her youngest transitions from infancy to toddlerhood.  She writes:

I have a nearly-three-year-old daughter Kaia and a just-turned-one-year-old daughter Elliot.  When Elliot turned one this year, I felt and continue to feel a huge sadness that she is no longer an infant.  I also realized that Kaia is fast growing up and I can hardly remember her time as a baby anymore.  With both girls, I am experiencing these feelings of mourning (?) - Loss for a time in their lives that I can’t have back and I can’t seem to move past the feelings.  I see the amazing ways they are growing and becoming beautiful human beings and I celebrate each new thing they try and accomplish but these feelings of sadness are putting up stiff competition.  I am trying to allow myself room for my emotions – acknowledging and accepting them.  This is proving to be a very difficult time for me.  I wonder how other mom’s handle this emotional transition from infancy to toddler.

Taking the Battle out of Teeth Brushing

April 24, 2008

My two little girls toggle between being extremely independent  and wanting to be babied.  This is especially the case during teeth brushing time. Most days they  "must" do it themselves usually by sucking off the toothpaste (we use Tom's of Maine, for this reason) and chewing on the brush a bit.  Brushing is especially difficult for my 2 1/2 year old who truly believes that she does a fine job with her 5 quick strokes. We have talked about tooth bugs. We have talked about the practicality of taking care of our teeth. Sometimes this works but usually we let it go or they have some change of heart. I don't believe in coercing them into doing anything so creative ideas are always welcome for those few "must do" activities.

A mama writes:

How do you get your very young ones to brush their teeth? How old was your child when s/he starting brushing?

My 17 month old pinches her little lips closed at the mere suggestion. She seems interested when I brush my teeth, but will not even try to brush her own. I’ve tried every trick I can think of to make it fun, and even feigned disinterest (perhaps too late). Can you help? Does she need to be brushing now?


I have heard that when the first tooth pokes out, you can start some form of "brushing."  We regularly began once the girls ate foods. As far as "advice" for getting the deed done, I have heard that the taste of toothpaste can be extremely difficult for small ones. Perhaps a mild all natural brand like (Weleda or Tom's) or no toothpaste. I do feel making it a part of the daily routine is important even if they don't brush every time.  What has worked in your home?

Speech therapy for the delayed talker: 101

October 19, 2007

Truman_purplesmile As many of you know, my 29-month-old, Truman, is greatly delayed in speech. Through the MESD, we had him assessed for early intervention at 20 months, then again in August. Because children are assessed for all aspects of development holistically until age three, we didn't qualify for services according to our score cutoffs either time -- but the women we were working with decided to use "judgment" to qualify us anyway at the second appointment. Maybe it was my persistence? Very few parents (I get the impression) make their own referrals for assessment. Or maybe it's just because Truman is so ridiculously cute.

Either way, we're now getting speech therapy once a week. And because you have to be so delayed to qualify, I thought I'd share my homework with you, so those of you with very mildly delayed talkers could join in the services!

Truman clearly understands most words but had a lot of trouble saying consonants that appear at the end of words, and stringing syllables together. So "mama" is "ahhh," "daddy" is "a-dah," "airplane" is "aarrr," "water" is "ahh-raarr." Our therapist sat with us and we found one of Truman's current favorite books, Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever. We started out with him on the floor, as usual, but soon she decided to put him in a chair with the book on his lap, and put me in front of him.

Continue reading "Speech therapy for the delayed talker: 101" »

Depression in Children

August 13, 2007

Sara's concerned about her families history of depression and wonders if her toddler is exhibiting the signs.  Can it start that young?

I am a Portland mom looking for advice on preventing depression and anxiety in a child with a strong family history of mood disorders. My daughter is 2 and a half, and shows signs of anxiety, withdrawal, fearfulness, and perfectionism. Her behavior is not at all out of the range of "normal", in my opinion, and I know that 2.5-year-olds are not generally known as paragons of emotional stability anyway, but I am watching her with some concern because of her genetic risk. I would very much like to hear from other parents who have experience with this issue, and get suggestions on simple parenting tips that may be effective in reducing anxiety and depressive cognitive patterns in a kid. I know I can't make everything rosy for my girl, but I can't bear the thought of her having to struggle with the kind of self-loathing depressive spirals I've seen my husband suffer through. I believe that helping her develop healthy emotional habits now can't hurt, and might protect her from the sadder side of her inheritance. I would love any advice! Thanks!

Toddler Play Group in NE

July 31, 2007

Calling all mamas seeking to join a play group in NE.  Andrea is starting one.  She writes:

Hi!  My son is just over 2 (27 months) and I would like to find or start a play group for 2-3 year-olds in NE Portland.  I have a few friends with older kids who have started them, and I'd love for my son to have more time to play with kids his age and to get used to some time without me. 

This group would include 4+ families who would split the cost of a teacher (to be hired by the group).  The group is hosted at different people's houses based on their preference, but the teacher is consistent.  Each child comes 1 or more mornings per week, but we work out the schedule so each day the teacher has no more than 4 children (or for more than 4 children a parent helper could be present to help out).  The group structure is pretty flexible and should serve the parents and kids participating in it.  The group would provide play and socialization opportunities and some preschool readiness with reading, singing, crafts, music and anything else the kids enjoy. 

The number of people involved will determine the number of mornings the group will be offered and the cost to each family (but I think it usually works out to $5/hour for the hours your child attends the group).

If you're interested, please email me at palight_2000@yahoo.com.  We can get together to work out the details.

Immediate Preschool Openings Fall 2007

July 09, 2007

We have received numerous emails regarding searching for toddler and preschools openings this fall.  To help facilitate finding openings for those who have waited, or are desiring to switch programs last minute, we'd like to offer this post as a place to allow schools, centers, parents, etc. to let the urbanMamas community know of any opportunities.  Do you have any?  Please post in the comments.

Creative Minds Learning Center has openings for our Fall programs. We offer Toddler, Preschool and Kindergarten programs which feature the A Beka curriculum. Education is a natural part of a child's life and we believe in a structured program which facilitates their desire for learning. Our daily rhythm includes the Preschool and Kindergarten programs as well as cooking classes, music and dance, sign language, circle time, science and gardening as well as Reggio Emilia influenced art programs. Our programs include a graduation ceremony with State transcripts (since we are a private school for children ages 24 months- 6 years)and a diploma certificate. We hold parent/ teacher conferences and assesments, quarterly. 92% of children that have graduated our school are advanced readers and/ or math. To learn more about our beliefs and school, please check out our web site at: http://www.CREATIVEMINDSLEARNINGCENTER.com You may call us to schedule a meet and greet with your family at: (503) 252-0004 ext.1

Spanish Bilingual Playgroup

July 06, 2007

Diana is looking for or hoping to start a Spanish playgroup.  Do you know of one or are you interested?

Hi there, I hoping to find some Spanish bilingual families that would like to start a weekly playgroup.  I have 2 kiddos 3 and 1.5 and we are doing our best to raise them with both languages.  It would be wonderful if we could meet other families with children speaking Spanish as well.  We could start a group at each others houses where they can play and the parents could interact as well. Or we could even hire a bilingual nanny to come to the homes so the parents could get some quiet parent time.  We live in NE close in, and we'd love to meet neighborhood families, but any families who are interested with young kiddos would be welcome!  We'll figure something out!  Muchas Gracias!

What Website to use for Pictures??

July 03, 2007

All of must have byte upon byte of photos of our darlingest little bon-bons.  We have memorialized everything from the first bath to the day she lost her first tooth.  What to do with all of these pictures?  How to best share them with family and friends across lands and oceans?  Something like an urbanMamas flickr pool?  Sarah emails:

I have just under 15 bazillion pictures of my 1 1/2-year-old daughter trapped on my computer and on memory cards. I would like her to actually SEE some of these pictures one day but just can't seem to get myself down to the drug store, with toddler in tow, to scroll through all of them on a touch screen and print them out while someone taps their foot impatiently behind me. Plus, I've been disappointed with the quality at those do-it-yourself photo kiosks.

I am ready to enter the world of online photo uploading and processing but don't know where to start.  SnapfishShutterfly? I have no idea.  Are they all about the same? Are there some Web sites that have definite advantages or disadvantages?  Where have other mamas been particularly happy with photo quality, security concerns, and price? Or is there a local digital photo processing place that is even better? More organized mamas, please show me the way...

The Preschool Pressure - PDX Style

June 27, 2007

We've heard stories about the preschool frenzy in cities like New York where waitlists are eons-long and parents wake up at the crack of dawn to spend days in lines to sign kids up for preschools.  Here in Portland, is the story the same?  After the recent post on the Portland Preschool Scene, Tracy got to thinking:

The recent question about preschool has me thinking about a bigger issue, which is why the pressure to start kids in preschool at age 3 anyway?  I'm a mom who has arranged life to avoid group care settings for my little ones on purpose.  I've really struggled with whether or not to send my oldest (age 3) to preschool next fall and get all kinds of messages that I'm missing something if I don't.  He gets plenty of social opportunities through Parks and Rec classes, play groups, etc where I'm present to help him work things out and develop social skills.  He gets all kinds of exposure to letters, numbers, books, etc at home.  I have no doubt that at age 4 he'll go because I don't want kindergarten to be his first school experience.  But does it have to be so soon?  My solution has been to sign up at a cooperative so I'm part of the program, but I haven't fully committed to sending him yet.  I'd love to hear what others think and whether or not I'm the only one questioning this pressure.

Not only do we question the pressure, we also wonder whether all children will have access to the same resources, regardless of familial situation.  Kris recently emailed:

I am a mother of an 18 month old girl and have amerced myself in everything motherly including reading mommy blogs, having regular play dates scheduled, being a part of several moms groups, and basically just networking with other mommies like crazy.  On a regular basis I find myself upset and confused on the issue of single mothers unable to find quality daycare that they can afford. I myself am married and we do well financially, well, we make ends meet anyways. Daycare is hard enough for us to pay for and I know, because I have met some, that for single moms without a lot of support it gets close to impossible to afford good care. I know how hard it is to leave your child with another person and couldn't imagine having to leave them with someone that I didn't feel good about.  I am wondering if anyone knows how to get active on this issue. Are there single moms out there who have any ideas on how to make good care for their children an option?

Mamas, what say you?  What are your thoughts?  Is it a matter of the "haves" and the "have-nots"?  Do you feel like these differences are less pronounced here in Portland?

Juggling a Preschooler and a Nursing Babe

June 21, 2007

I remember when our second daughter was born, our older one was just over 3 years old. Just when I'd settle in to nurse baby Tati, I'd hear: "Mammmmaaa!" from the other room. "CAN YOU DRAW WITH ME?!?!?" I came to look forward to evening nurse sessions, after I had tucked in older Philly to bed. But, even then, it'd be: "Maammmmmaaaa!" she'd holler, waking baby Tati from her nam-nam slumber. "I GOTTA GO POTTY/NEED WATER/WANT A KISS!!!!" It's tough, juggling the two. How did you do? Sarah is feeling challenged:

I'm due to have my second child any day now, and I already have a 3 1/2 year old daughter. Does anyone have recommendations for a special activity or ways to occupy a preschooler while nursing a baby? When my daughter was nursing, it regularly lasted 30-45 minutes, and I want to be prepared in case this baby is a slow eater too. Any tips?

Mama of two; what to do?

April 24, 2007

When I had our second baby, I recall feeling stretched thin from both ends. It was like one child was pulling one arm (actually, she was nursing the heck outta me, so she was really pulling something else), and our other child (who was a 3-year old then) was pulling my other arm. Hard. It was a constant juggle, and it definitely took quite a bit of time to adjust to being a mama of two. Lydia asks for suggestions from the urbanMamas community:

I have a new baby, 5 weeks today. He has a big sister who just turned two. We're doing pretty well, thanks, all things considered, but I am dying to get out of the house more! Problem is, my daughter, being two, can be "uncooperative" when it's time to leave, or stay close by while I nurse, or whatever. Any ideas about what we could do? I need places where the big girl can be a little contained if I need to nurse or something. The one thing I can think of is the Portland Children's museum where there's an infant area with a gate, and nobody will mind if baby fusses a little while I shepherd everybody in there. Indoor play parks are also a possibility, I guess, except my daughter loves the trampoline most and I probably shouldn't spot with a baby on my chest. Advice from other experienced moms of two? Should I just stay home (please no!)?

More kid rock: The Sippy Cups

April 16, 2007

Portland's a hip-and-hoppin' place to hear kid's music! Another popular kiddie rock band is coming to town -- The Sippy Cups.

Calling kids of all ages… The Sippy Cups are coming - a high energy rock show for families whipping up imaginative original tunes and rock favorites into a whirlwind circus of humor, audience participation, and a magic party atmosphere!

Combining skilled musicianship, a love of classic rock and for children; this San Francisco group plays music under the motto “Milk, Music & Mischief.” Definitely not your average acoustic singer-songwriter type of kids music, great pains have been taken to make sure this music appeals to parents as much as their children. We’re pleased to present this magical blend of music & mirth making to Portland’s Aladdin Theater!

Showtime: Saturday, May 5, 1pm (doors open at noon)
Where: The Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Avenue
Tickets: $15 (all ages), available at Ticketmaster and the Aladdin Theater box office

Kid rock: The Grease Ball!

February 27, 2007

From Portland's own Belinda and Tova, hosts of Greasy Kid Stuff:

Greasy Kid Stuff, the hip, hit radio show for alternakids and their parents, presents the Grease Ball!

Captain Bogg & Salty, The Jellydots, A mini-squadron from The Sprockettes, DIY silkscreening from Orbitbug, designs by Jessica Wolk-Stanley. Make your own $2 Greasy Kid Stuff bandana! Plus flip books, thumatropes, and fun filmy stuff from Indiekid Films.

A $5 complete and yummy kid menu, and great food for adults too!

It's all happening Sunday, March 18, 2:30 p.m. at the Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell St. in Portland. Doors open at 2 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under (ages 2 and under free). Tickets are available in advance through Ticketmaster and may also be purchased (cash only) at the Wonder Ballroom box office (open Monday through Friday, noon–6 p.m.) and Café Wonder (Tuesday through Saturday plus show nights, 5 p.m.–close).

Ballgowns and tiaras optional!

Sturdy Lift the Flap Books

February 14, 2007

Infant-friendly, saliva-resistant, tear-free book.  Does such a thing exist?  Jennifer poses the following question:

My 10-month old loves books, especially pop-ups and lift-the-flap books. Problem is, she always chews or pulls off all the flaps. Does anyone know of any lift-the-flap board books that are sturdier for little hands?

Nice Cubes are In!

January 04, 2007

It was less than a year ago that we caught wind of Nice Cubes developing recipes and testing for its new organic frozen baby foods. Nice Cubes have been at markets now for a little while, and urbanMama Dianna wanted to share her praise of Nice Cubes:

Hi there! I am a local Mom who lives in the Pearl but wasn't sure where to send this. But, I have been using the organic Nice Cubes from Whole Foods (and I think now at New Season's, too) for my 8 month old, and they are just terrific! They are frozen organic baby food. They come in non-plastic microwaveable portions, and my boy much prefers them to the organic jar food that we were using before. I just wanted to pass on the word!!

Has your toddler tried Nice Cubes? What's his or her verdict?

Piggy Platter - The Solution?

December 28, 2006

Piggy_1 As soon as my second son was old enough to sit in a booster at the dinner table, I was more than happy to pass on his high chair to my sister. Frankly, I’ve never been a fan of high chairs. It always seemed I spent more time cleaning the crumbs from the crevices than feeding my kids. In 0.25 seconds, the cheerios and crackers would end up pulverized to mere crumbs, of course congregating under the pad of the high chair. What I thought was being eaten up by my little goblin, always seemed to magically end up under his seat. The worst culprits mashed bananas, rice and couscous.  A friend mentioned that she even found herself using a toothpick to clean out the crevices.  Hearing that, I knew I made a good decision to do away with what some would find essential baby gear.

While switching to a booster solved some problems, it didn’t really address the problem of the mess. It seems though a local Portland mama came up with an ingenious solution – the Piggy Platter.  Lindy came up with the idea over a bowl of deliciously sticky oatmeal that her two-year-old son was spreading into every nook and cranny of their wood dining room table. How cool is that?  It’s also good to know that 10% of all profits are donated to Feed the Children.

I’m curious, how you combat the messiness of mealtimes? Do you take proactive steps to avoid foods that create the most mess?

Snowshoeing Away the Winter Blues

December 26, 2006

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The best Portland winter getaway is to head up to  the mountains. Even on a dreary winter day, the mountain can provide the much needed respite to get rid of the winter blahs.  We aren't much of a skiing family, but we do enjoy a nice tromp in the woods a la snow shoes.  Before kids, we really enjoyed the beauty and ruggedness of the North side of the mountain where the Tilly Jane and Cooper Spur trails allowed you to trek in the woods without barely encountering many other beings of the two-legged variety. Realistically, it's not the type of trail that would endear a nearly four-year old to the joys of snowshoeing.  After much debate, and to-ing and fro-ing about where to go on the mountain, we settled on our stand by - Trillium Lake.   Trillium Lake is much more on the child-friendly side with open meadows for the entire to family to make tracks in without fear of messing up the ski trails.

Even with the little ones, you can enjoy the winter outdoors.  Here are some tips to make sure everyone (especially those that are along for the ride) stays warm and the outing more pleasurable:

  • Dress children warmly using boots, hats and mittens.  I've found that winter boots that zip up in front are the easiest to get on.  We like Kamik.
  • Layer clothing.  For the little guys,put them in a pair of warm tights to prevent skin exposure when sitting in the pack.
  • Dress children in water repellent outer clothing.
  • Make sure clothing is dry and stays dry.  The second part may be hard to do so pack extra dry mittens, socks, and hat because inevitably the first pair will get wet.  Leave an extra change of clothing in the car.
  • Limit the length of exposure.
  • Bring a thermos of hot cocoa on your outing.  Miniature marshmallows add a nice touch and an extra treat.

Any tips from the mama community on favorite winter trails?  Any additional tips you can add to ensure a safe and fun outing?

Baby Loves Disco coming to Portland

December 13, 2006

I recently got this email due to my Parent Hacks gig, but it's ideal to share here:

once a month beginning in january, portland's legendary crystal ballroom will be transformed into a child proof disco as toddlers, pre-schoolers and parents looking for a break from the routine playground circuit let loose for some post nap-time, pre-dinner fun. make no mistake, this NOT the mickey mouse club, and barney is banned. baby loves disco is an afternoon dance party featuring real music spun and mixed by real DJs blending classic disco tunes from the 70s and 80s guaranteed to get those little booties moving and grooving. the fun spills out from all corners of the club: bubble machines, baskets of instruments, a chill-out room (with tents, books and puzzles), diaper changing stations, a full spread of healthy snacks provided by Wild Oats and dancing, LOTS of dancing (and yes, the bar will be open for mommy and daddy!).

at its core, baby loves disco is a community event that brings kids together with kids and parents and parents together with parents, guaranteed to be the best time you've had at a kids event.....

venue: crystal ballroom - 1332 w. burnside street. 503.225. 0047
tickets: $12 tickets per walking human. buy tickets online at www.ticketmaster.com
time: 2-5pm (feel free to come early or late - 1 hour of baby loves disco is a lot!)
dates: sundays, january 14, february 18th, march 11th.

for more info and to learn all about baby loves disco check out:
http://www.babylovesdisco.com

Affordable Child Photography

November 28, 2006

This post originally appeared 03.22.2006

A question from Molly:

Does anyone have any suggestions for photographing a two-year-old?  My mother will be in town for my daughter's second birthday, and she wants to get an "official" birthday photograph.  I'm not generally a huge fan of the posed studio shots, but if anyone has a recommendation for a studio, I might give it a try.  I prefer the idea of getting some great "natural" shot, but I'm not much of a photographer myself, and I know that hiring a professional photographer to capture your child frolicking about can cost an arm and a leg.  Any ideas or suggestions?

Did you know that one of our own is a superb photographer, specializing in family and child photos?  Last holiday season, Sarah offered her services for a Holiday Card Photo Shoot.  To see more examples of her work, see how she captures moments at our playdates or w[h]ine nights...  Heck, why not just check out all of cafemama's flickr photos!

We've also just received a email from Chris:

So...while I would love to go to Campbell Salgado for family photos, that's not in the budget right now. I would like to get some beautiful, unique portraits of my baby and preschooler, with a photographer who's not bound by convention or stuck in a corporate studio rut. Wise uMamas, whom do you recommend?

Sensory Integration Disorder: Support

November 01, 2006

Here's a question that arose from the original post Finding Preschools, Part 31 - Sensory Integration Disorder. Kirsten writes:

Does anyone know of any parent support groups for SID? Or a kindergarten option for a school which would be good for kids with SID? We are new to Portland, from Wisonsin, and are not very familiar with any elementary schools.

See the swifts before they head south

September 26, 2006

We went to see the Vaux's swifts twirl into the Chapman Elementary School chimney tonight. What a marvel! As you may already know, the swifts return each year to roost at Chapman on their way south for the winter. I had no idea that this is the largest known roost of migrating swifts in the world.

Wednesday night, 9/27, is the last night of the Audubon Society Swift Watch, so take advantage of the warm evening, bring a picnic and a blanket, and join the companionable crowd on the Chapman lawn. The swifts head in for the night at sunset, so get there by 7pm (NW 27th Avenue and Pettygrove). It's the best free show I've seen in a long time.

Night Terrors

September 20, 2006

So the last couple of nights have been rough at our house. We are awakened by the sound of our son's shrieking voice, screaming. He's still asleep although he calls for us and then pushes us away and then calls for us again, all with his eyes closed. And then he quiets down immediately and snores. And then he starts thrashing and screaming again. We're told that these are the dreaded night terrors, and that they are typical of two year olds. Greaaaat. (Why is it that most "typical" behaviors are always hard on the parents?). The episodes, I am told, typically last anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour, and we're told it's best not to wake him up but rather just let him ride it out. This is a difficult thing for me and my husband to do; we want to pick him up and hold him and tell him it's going to be ok. The one bonus is that halfway through his night terror episode, he gets the urge to hug me super duper tightly in a huge long hug, which I just love. But of course then he goes back to screaming.

Has anyone else experienced night terrors with their kids? If so, I'm just curious what, if anything, you did and how long they lasted (a week? a month?).

Seeking Childcare for a 2-yr old, NE/SE/NW

July 08, 2006

uMamas, we came across another request via the We Are Family thread.  Jocelyn is looking for suggestions for her 2-year old:

I have a 25 month old. I am a working mama and I work in Wilsonville. When I returned to work after maternity leave, I wanted my son near to work so I could nurse him. The benefits of having him close-by outweighed the negatives (long commute for a small baby/toddler). But now, there is no reason for him to be out here, when we live in NE. I am looking for childcare in NE/SE/NW to bridge the gap between now and the time he is potty trained and 3 years old. Help. Is there any hidden gem out there. Everywhere I look, the wait list is long, for example Growing seeds and Providence on NE 47th ave. I looked at Alameda Montesorri and decided against it for now. What else is available out there. HELP!! The commute is getting worse and worse as my little angel learns to assert his wants and dislikes. He does not like being in the car that long!!

A tale of international travel with toddler in tow

July 07, 2006

Ethanairport_smFor anyone out there holding back from traveling overseas because of kids, I say GO! Go today! Book your tickets because the experience is well worth it. My husband, 25-month-old son and I just returned from a trip overseas. We are all alive to tell the tales, and the tales aren't nearly as bad as they could have been or as I was told they might be.

We started out with a quick three and a half hour flight to Dallas. No problem there. Our son was lovely and charming. Then we had a three-hour layover that turned into a six-hour layover which included boarding our plane, hanging out for about half an hour in our seats, and then deplaning and waiting for a new plane because ours had some sort of leak. Greaaaat. Our angel turned into Tantrum Boy while we were waiting but at least we were in the airport where we could move around and annoy different people instead of the same ones continuously. A lovely woman came over and gave him the happy meal toy that her daughter did not want. It was a car! Hooray for kind strangers. We finally boarded the plane and continued on our 10-hour flight to Zurich. For nine and a half hours, our little Boo was the perfect traveler, never leaving his seat, playing happily or sleeping. Then as we started to land, he decided he had had it. He screamed for about 15 minutes. I am sure our fellow passengers only remember the last 15 minutes and not the first nine and a half peaceful hours of the flight.

He took to the time change with no problem at all, sleeping and napping at what would be his normal times back home. He loved taking the trains from place to place, the lake, the kids who ran around him speaking different languages. He was a great little explorer and it was amazing to watch him experience new things in new places. He even started repeating some of the words back in Swiss German. We didn't go on as many long day trips to other countries or other parts of Switzerland as we would have had it been just my husband and I traveling, but we got to do so many other cool things we wouldn't have done without him being there with us.

Our flight back home was longer - 11 hours for the first leg of the trip, 4 hours for the last leg - and he was once again an angel for the entire first leg of the trip (11 hours!! We got lots of "I had no idea there was a baby there!" and "What a good traveler your son is!"). But then on the shorter 4 hour flight home, he had a tired little cry right as we started to walk off the plane. I must have looked like I was going to cry because a nice gentleman stopped and commented how great he was on the flight from Zurich since he had been seated near us on that flight. I am very thankful for kind fellow travelers.

What worked for us: getting our son his own seat, waiting to board until the last group is called, LOTS of new toys separated by type in large ziplock bags, books (the slim preschool-age reading books are perfect: light enough to pack a dozen of them), stickers, stickers, stickers (we got the slim books that had 500+ each in them), lots of DVDs and a DVD player that has a four-hour battery and not the short two-hour battery, lucking out by having a six-year-old girl sit behind him on the Dallas-to-Zurich flight who made him laugh and played peek-a-boo, lots of snacks (thank you, fruit leather!), water (they only came by twice on the long flights - wassup with that?), having the flight attendants refill his milk cup, pillows, our Combi Savvy Soho stroller (so easy to fold up and carry and to open) and just going with the flow while we were there and not forcing an itinerary when it didn't seem like something he would be up for. 

He was a lot easier to fly with as a baby on a quick flight to NYC, but we are glad that we took him on this adventure at this age. I love that he talks about some of the places we went, and things or people we saw. For us, the long 20-hour days of traveling were totally worth it. So take your toddlers overseas - I hope you all have a wonderful experience as we did!

Help with Troublesome Tot Traits

May 09, 2006

Betsy is looking for insight from the urbanMamas:

Of course my 21-month old son is an absolute ANGEL most of the time (really, he's a good kid). But we're having two problems I thought I'd see if I could get some input on. 1) Diaper changes are a nightmare of kicking and tantrumy screaming. This is a problem as I am pregnant and don't want random blows to my belly. I'd do stand-up changes but his BMs are often still, er, not conducive to a good cleanup unless he's lying down. Distractor toys, songs, books only work some of the time. Any other suggestions? What's the 'logical consequence' of not cooperating with a diaper change?

2) Naptime has !poof! disappeared. He literally went from taking a three-hour nap one day to entering a phase - two weeks and counting - when he will not nap anymore. Our best nap so far in that time has been 1 hour. He has a pretty good routine - comes home from daycare at 12:30 and right up to bed, but it's not doing the trick anymore. He often can spend up to an hour or more hanging out in his crib *not* napping (but not crying), and sometimes he'll fall asleep eventually, and sometimes he'll start crying and make it clear that it's hopeless. By the time we give up, the afternoon is gone. Should I move naptime back, or give in and start skipping it and move bedtime up? (I should add that when he doesn't nap, the last two hours of the waking day are loooong with tantrums and rubbed eyes, etc., so I think he NEEDS them, he just won't take them).

Crystal Springs Rhodie Garden at its best now

April 30, 2006

We just spent and idyllic few hours at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. You know, the one you always mean to go to but never do? It's lovely for toddlers on up (babies, too, but getting a stroller around there can be a bit of a pain). Little waterfalls with stepping stones, ducks and geese to feed (they have food at the front entrance -- no bread allowed), a big grassy area for a picnic, and everything is in bloom right now. It's a little bit of paradise.

Free on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, $3 per person (12 and up) every other day. To get there from 39th Avenue southbound, turn right on Gladstone, left on 28th, and then drive till you see Reed College on your left. The garden is on the right.

There will be a big event there on Mother's Day, so if you want to avoid the crowds, try next weekend or midweek (it's open till dusk, so an after-school jaunt is totally reasonable).

I'm a Big Kid Now

April 17, 2006

Saying goodbye to the crib is indeed a rite of passage. Chari asks:

How do you choose the first bed for a toddler? We're starting to transition Miles from his crib to a bed. Has anyone done any research and/or heard about what kinds of mattresses are good or bad for toddlers? We are thinking we'll put him in a bed by the summer or fall. Just starting to do some shopping. What I've found is HUGE prices differences, and a range from super firm to plush and soft mattresses. What's best for a first bed for a little one?

Preschool Wanted - NE, Part-Time, Five Day Program

April 09, 2006

Ahh, the beloved topic of preschools!  We've started a long thread of posts but even with all the discussion you'd think it would be easy to find the right fit, and it seems like every family has a different need and it doesn't always fit the mold.  Rebecca is looking for a preschool near the NE Alberta, does anyone have any advice?  Read on:

I'm moving to Portland on or around May 1 from Berkeley, CA (and share Erica's love of the Berkeley Parents Network). I have 2 boys, the oldest of whom just turned 3. He is currently in a family-run daycare. Since the arrival of his younger brother, I haven't wanted to shake up his world any more than it already was by starting him in preschool. Now, though, I'd like to get him into a preschool, and I'm totally clueless about how to start. I would ideally like to find a 5-day program for him (albeit short days). Does anyone have any recommendations or know of any openings? We will be living around 9th and Alberta.

Sticking to me

March 09, 2006

I love my son. More than the moon, chocolate, great wine, etc, yada yada. That said, I do enjoy having some space from him from time to time. Just a little space. Even two feet of space. Is that so much to ask? Apparently, these days, it is.

He was a bit of a clingy child and then slowly found his independence, but for the past week he's suddenly clinging to me like crazy. If he's in the living room and I stand up to go to the kitchen just a few feet away, he starts protesting. If I'm in the kitchen cooking and he's two steps away from me, he starts saying "up, up!" wanting me to pick him up and hold him. If something spills and I get up to get some paper towels, he freaks out almost immediately, even when the paper towels are just a step away. What's going on? Is this normal 21-month-old behavior? He's past the separation anxiety phase, right?

This kid gets plenty of attention from everyone, so it's not like he's lacking being held, cuddled, played with or read to. I've tried everything from having him do fingerpaints at his table so he can see me while I cook, letting him know exactly what I am doing ("I'm going to get up and wash my hands now") so he's not surprised, giving him a task at the train table so I can refill his water cup. Some of this works for a minute but then it's back to "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!!!! Up! Up!" The worst part? He doesn't do this with his papa. Nope. Just his mama. He spends way more time with me than with his dad so I thought he would have been this way more with him than with me.

I really love spending hours on end with my son but I'd like to know that eventually I will be able to go back to getting a glass of water without him protesting my temporary "absence." Any thoughts, advice, commiserating stories?

Retail Therapy - Where Do You Shop?

March 04, 2006

Do you have a favorite kids, non-big box, clothing store?  Shari asks:

I'd love to know where the other uMamas shop for kids' clothes. Any favorite stores? I tend to buy clothes for my kids at the Gap because it's easy, they sell both boys' and girls' clothes in one place, it's not as expensive as the high-end boutiques (though admittedly more expensive than places like Target). But I don't really love what I find there and am not terribly impressed with the quality. Where do the Urbanmamas go to find fun, funky, interesting and (hopefully) well-made clothes--both for boys and girls? Any favorite little boutiques, resale shops, clothing chains, etc.?

Throwing Birthdays - Piece of Cake?

February 28, 2006

Back in the childless days, I loved throwing parties.  They were painless in the sense that once the liquor started flowing, you didn't have to sweat the details.  Fast forward a few years and now that I have children, I spend time a great amount of time deliberating a plan of attack.  It seems like there's so much pressure tied to throwing a child's birthday party.  Who should we invite?  Where should we have it?  Gifts, or no gifts?

For Carter's 1st birthday, he had it back in Minneapolis.  It was a bit of reunion of sorts with friends and family so we had a ton of guests, and had to tote back a ton of gifts.  I loved seeing old friends and my family, but I wasn't too fond of all of the gifts.  For me, celebrations aren't about gifts.  For Carter's 2nd birthday, I thought long and hard whether to host it at our house or somewhere else.  I also posted this on urbanMamas to see if it would generate any ideas.  In the end, we held it at home, and invited the urbanMamas and some neighbor friends.  We decided on a "no gift" policy since with a February birthday, Carter was still swimming in gifts from the holidays.  Every year, I get a better sense of how I like to handle birthdays, and keeping it simple is always key.  Here are two fuss free ideas that we used for Carter's birthday this year:

Cupcake birthday cake.  This year, my husband came up with a brilliant idea of making a cake out of ice cream cone cupcakes.  When it came time for cutting the cake, it was so easy!  After Carter blew out the candles, I handed each child an ice cream cone.  No messing with plates, silverware, and anxious kids.  He didn't keep it simple by also making apple cupcakes and a carrot cake for the adults.

Icecreamcones_3

Book exchange in lieu of gifts.  We attended a couple of parties last year that had book exchanges rather than gifts and loved the idea.  Each child was instructed to bring a book to Carter's party, and when before they said their "good byes" I made sure they chose a book before leaving.  We did not provide clear instructions, but somehow it worked out fine.  However, to alleviate confusion, you should provide guests with explicit details such as "bring a new, unwrapped book that is appropriate for kids age 2 yrs old and older" or "bring a wrapped book from your child's collection that he / she would like to pass on to a friend ages 2 yrs old and older".

What are your ideas for a fuss free party?  I've got another birthday to throw this summer so I'd love to hear any simple successes!

TV and multiple children

February 23, 2006

When Mia, my first daughter, was born, we didn't let her watch tv or videos until she was around 2 years old. Then, we started with age appropriate videos such as Teletubbies. She watched about 1 hour to 2 hours a day: hour in the morning so mommy could get her shower, and another hour at night so mommy could fix dinner. As she got older, we graduated to Blue's Clues, Disney Movies, and Dora the Explorer.

The problem is, our second daughter is not getting age appropriate tv. She got to watch videos from a very young age (can't even remember from when) and they weren't all age appropriate. Now she's 20 months old and loves Dora. I wonder sometimes what I am doing to her. It doesn't seem fair that she didn't get the same consideration as Mia.

So then yesterday I get this newsletter that summarizes research for parents. In it is an article about tv watching in young kids. It reports that :

"Television viewing before age three was associated with poorer reading recognition and reading comprehension (and lower scores in short-term memory) at age six. Television viewing from ages three to five was associated with better reading comprehension at age six."

So now I feel even more conflicted. Any others wrestle with this problem? I really value that tv time for emailing, getting dinner ready, taking showers, etc. Does anyone else have good advice about how to limit the younger child's tv?

Summer Programs in Portland

February 22, 2006

Hi!  I ran across your web site as I was searching for summer programs.  My family is planning on spending a month in Portland as part of our search for a new home.  Our current home is Cleveland, Ohio.  Can you ask your Mamas about summer programs for 3 year olds.  We will be staying in the Milwaukie area.  I hope I can join you for an event this summer.  Your groups sounds fun!
Thanks,

It Takes a Village - Including Papas

February 21, 2006

Dear urbanMamas,

For most of us, in this crazy world of child rearing, we have help.  We have the help of our partners or spouse, and for some, that means the father of our children.  I joke often with my urbanMama confidants about the fact that our spouses are sometimes oblivious to the amount of activity and on-line exchange that we do.  When we first met, our spouses chided about passing along the word about potlucks and get-togethers via urbanMamas (a.k.a. femme.net).  It was natural that as we got to know each other better, we pushed for daddy / papa playdates - solo or with the kids in tow.  Even though our urbanFamilies have grown closer, our spouses still remain detached and disinterested in our blogging ventures. 

Despite urbanMamas being touted as a forum for mamas, I'm certain it is not only mamas that read the blog.  We've also recently received some interest from an urbanPapa that would like to contribute to the blog, not to change the tone of the site, but to provided added perspective.  What do you think urbanMamas?  Should there be a resident urbanPapa contributor?  Do you think it would infringe on the community we've built, or will it provide a different view and struggles of parenting?  We'd like to hear from both urbanMamas and urbanPapas.

Sincerely,

Hau

A Visit to the Dentist

February 20, 2006

My son, the fussy eater, likes to eat nothing more than fruit in all forms - fresh, dried, dehydrated, juiced.  We brush, floss, and use fluoride regularly.  But now that he's three, it really is time to take him to the dentist to make sure that all of the fruit and sugar consumption has not taken an adverse toll on the health of his teeth and gums.  How old was your child when you took her/him to the dentist?  Did you take your child to a pediatric dentist, or your own?  Any recommendations for a good pediatric dentist?

POLITICS OF PARENTING

February 16, 2006

Now that my son is definitely a toddler and no longer a baby, I am learning about the fine politics of parenting. Nobody tells you about this oh-so-delicate part of being a parent when you are pregnant; you're too busy reading Fit Pregnancy and enamored with the little bean in your belly. When they are babies, you're so in love with this human being you've created and too busy trying to keep them alive. Then all of a sudden they are toddlers and BAM! What the...? Who IS this creature and how is he so unbelievably lovely and fun and yet crazy and uncontrollable at the same time? Now he is actually playing and not just parallel playing. Now you not only have to deal with your own kid, but the actions and words of the kids they now play with--and their parents.

I posted about my own parenting style on my From Maternity to Madness blog, but now everytime we go anywhere, I have to deal with the parenting styles of others, much like Monica did recently at Washington Park. This is along the same vein, because I'm not quite sure what to do, whether it's my kid or another. Ethan used to be fine with kids taking toys away from his hands in public play spaces, but now he gets mad and puts a death grip on the toys he's playing with. Sometimes he throws something when another kid has either taken away a toy he was playing with or pushes him out of the way to play in the space he was playing in. When it's obviously his fault, I will intervene. When it's another kid, sometimes the other parent intervenes and makes the kid apologize, talks about sharing, etc. Sometimes there is no other parent in sight.

How do you handle situations when another kid is biting, kicking, pushing, hoarding or taking toys away from your kid in a public play space? Do you say anything to the kid? Do you wait a bit to see if the parent will come and talk with his/her child? Sometimes it's the parent who (unbelievably to me) takes your kid off one toy to place his/her own kid on it. What do you do then?

I'm new to the whole politics of parenting thing, and I know that our kids are all still learning about how to deal with their wants and needs and how to react appropriately, which makes flare ups inevitable. Any advice on how to handle situations when it's your child acting up or another kid being the bully? What is appropriate playground behavior and what is not? What is appropriate parent reaction, and what is not?

Some say patience is a virtue.

January 05, 2006

OK.  I need some help and a teensy bit of affirmation here.  The past couple of weeks have been fun and rambunctious, with all the festivities and all.  As Philly said to someone last Monday, "I stayed up til twelve the other night."  As an understandable result, sleeping routines and general temperments are challenged.  Extremely challenged.

Every night from 7pm until 6am, I have to lie down with one or the other.  I am scratching backs, giving warm milk, nam-namming, negotiating, hushing, singing, or telling stories.  Once one girl's eyes are just about to close, the other will call out for me.  Raph will try to run to the rescue, and he'll be denied access.  "No!  I want Mommy!"  The almost-sleeping girl will wake up and cry.  The other one will cry, too, waiting for me.

There are other pressures: not sharing, pulling hair, refusing to walk, refusing to bathe, wanting to stay up, throwing cheerios, asking me three consecutive times when I'm doing something else, wailing "Mommy!" as if everything was an emergency.  I am starting to crack.

Yesterday, when Philly was whining about not wanting to take her lunch bag out of the car.  I told her, "I won't pack you a lunch tomorrow if you don't bring it into the kitchen."  When I say things like that, I try to keep my tone noncholant and matter-of-fact.  She started to wail: "Mommmmmyyyy!!!!" The whining continued.  It hurt my ears.  I yelled at her: "PHILLY!"  I followed with some general long grunting, moaning, and some low-level growling.  I needed to let out some steam verbally: "AAAAAAAAARRRRRHHHHHHHH!"  Philly stopped.  She said, "Mommy, you're scaring me."  Being as calm-voiced as I could, I said very, very sternly, "PHILLY.  Bring. your. lunch. bag. into. the. kitchen."  I honestly can't remember if she brought it in or if I did.

Then, last night, Tati had her usual early morning wake-up.  She cried for me, I ran to her, I nursed her.  At some point, I tell her, "No more nam-nam."  She cried so hard!!!  "Mommy PLEASE!"  Her eyes looked at me so big and I felt like I was committing child abuse, but - still - I said, "NO MORE NAM-NAM."  We do this dance for a long while, all the while with her pleading, "Mommy!!!!  Just a li'l bit!  Nam-nam!  PLEASE!"  I think I did the same grunting growl last night.  I was so fed up!!!  I am so fed up.  This morning, Tati said to Raph, "Daddy, is Mama angry?"  Raph tried to explain how we need to sleep like big girls, no more nam-nam, go to bed with no crying.

Today, I feel like a bad, bad mama.  For losing my patience and taking it out on them.  I know I need to give myself a time out.  I know that this, too, shall pass.  Children will be sleeping like saints soon, for 12 hours straight through the night.  Like the old days.  But, what I really want to know, is how can I best say to them, "I'm sorry for losing my temper" but also try to explain myself?

Obsessive

December 07, 2005

Today I took a walk with the baby and my 4-year-old, Max.  He spotted a piece of broken blue plastic on the sidewalk.  "Look, Mama, a treasure!"  He scooped up the glorified garbage and examined every side of it.

I love his appreciation of small, overlooked objects.  It reminds me of a Pippi Longstocking chapter in which she and her friends become thing-finders and dredge up all sorts of beautiful random objects during their wanderings.

And then Max dropped the piece of blue plastic.  He spent the next 5 blocks crying over his paradise lost, until I found a broken butterfly barette and a bread tag by the Vernon Elementary playground. 

Where does this kind of obsessiveness come from?  In my attempts to have him find the beauty in everyday things, have I made him a little insane?  It would be nice to blame someone else, like my Nana who crammed random items in old cigar boxes and refused to throw any of it away.  Or my sister who kept every note and postcard anyone wrote her.  And my husband who, as I write, is rummaging through one of his many dream notebooks, quoting dreams from years gone by. 

But I have to face facts.  After all, wasn't I the one who consoled him by extolling the beauty of discarded hair accessories?

Explosive, Fussy, Spirited, Or is it me??

November 25, 2005

I remember the first time my son "lost it."  It was in the car ride on the way home from a friends after Thanksgiving dinner.  Fast forward three years and here we are at Thanksgiving dinner again.  This time, the tantrums began early in the evening and continued until we packed everything up to leave.    Yes, most kids have tantrums and 3 year-olds are famous for them.  But, it just feels as though Jackson has more tantrum moments than calm moments.  I find myself tiptoeing around him at times, hoping that we'll make it through Trader Joe's, pre-school pickup, a playdate, a trip to the bank without a complete meltdown.  It is exhausting.

Back when he was an infant, I had Sears' The Fussy Baby Book.  I think I found some of it helpful.  At least I knew that I wasn't the only one with a babe that needed to be held ALL the time and was a terrible napper.  But, maybe it was the new first baby syndrome and I didn't try putting him down enough. 

Furing toddlerhood, I moved onto the Mary Sheedy Kurcinka book, Raising Your Spirited Child.  Having a 'spirited' child seemed like a good match for Jackson.  It seems like a positive angle on something that I'm sometimes not so positive about.  But, I didn't find enough in the book that  I could take and use in my interactions with Jackson. 

Here we are at three and next to me is the most recent attempt at understanding my son's temperment, The Explosive Child by Ross W. Greene, Ph.D.   The subtitle is, A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children.  Hmmm...that seems like a match.  A friend recommended the book and went out and bought it for me; we spent Thanksgiving together.  I'm game for trying something else.  I feel like I need some sort of road map for dealing with the non-stop explosions that occur over the just about anything and everything. 

This morning I opted out of heading downtown with my husband and son to check out the parade because I just needed a break.  It made me sad that I did not want to spend time with my family.  I know that's normal; but, I wish that it wasn't because of the fact that I just didn't think I could deal with another meltdown over the way the ice cream sandwich was divided, or the grape was being offered, or the way the sock was on his foot, or the fact that my hair was wet, or because the play glasses were not staying on, or the way I played the mama deer, or because he couldn't fold the clothes the way he wanted to, or the way the mittens fit on his hands.. 

Do other mamas feel this way at times?  What have you found that helps in these situations where tempers are flaring?  Any recommended reads?  Is it sensory overload, cognitive inflexibility; or, do I just need to ride out the 3's and hope for better times come 4? 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

November 04, 2005

From the moment they pop out it seems like there are changes.  They grow constantly, into and out of all the cute clothes they owned before they even needed them.  They start tuning into their senses and gaining command of their own little bodies.  Before long they're running around (because apparently walking would take too long) and making their wishes known in a vocabulary that seems to have appeared overnight.

They just keep growing up!  And just as soon as you figure you've got a handle on things... BAM something changes.  They stop sleeping at night (Teeth?  Gas?  Nightmares?).  They wake up whining and don't stop until they've gone to bed at night.  I sometimes wonder if my son will ever talk normally again!  But then I take a step back and assess where we are.  He's smack dab in the middle of learning to go potty (well he knows how he just isn't quite ready for letting go of the diapers).  He's been spending more and more days in the preschool room at his daycare (the official transition is at the end of the month).  On top of all of that, he has now started staying with Granny one day a week since they've moved to town.  And to make things even more confounding we're considering moving him out of the crib and into a toddler bed (no, we haven't found another use for the crib... we just figure he's growing up).  So his whole world is upside-down it seems.  No WONDER he spends all day whining!

But then again, when is the world right side up for a toddler?  I think that even once these things pass, there will be new things that are boggling his little mind.  If you think about it, this is how they develop.  The little challenges that come along will be constant, and they'll vary in severity, but they'll keep coming no matter how hard we work to make things "normal."  It can be just as frustrating for mommy, though, and I have to remember to keep that perspective.  Seeing the world through his little eyes helps me understand why he acts the way he does, and how I might be able to get him through the tough times.  But sometimes, it's good to have tough times.  It can't always be rosy, this life, and at some point we have to come to terms with that.

Recommended ages

January 29, 2005

I am a horrible mama. I buy my child toys that are outside of his age range. I know, I know... I should have my mama license taken away. The thing is... all of the cool toys are 3+. In fact it seems like ALL of the toys are 3+! I know that's not the case, but when I am eyeing a toy for my little guy it really seems that way. For the record... he's 20 months old. Very few of his toys are actually 3+ and the ones that are can only be played with while me or daddy are with him. That makes it OK, right? Some toys are obviously beyond his age, like the fridge magnets (even though they are oversized and do not fit through a paper towel tube, which is another one of his toys). Those had to be taken away again because he derives great joy from swiping them all off the fridge at once, sending them all crashing to the floor. If anyone's seen my kitchen, then they know what the problem with this is (imagine a kitchen the size of a postage stamp). The other thing I'm guilty of is turning things that aren't otherwise toys into toys. Typically this means tupperware, measuring cups, collanders, wooden spoons... that type of thing. I can't be the only mama who does this. Is that a bad idea simply because these things don't even come with an age range on them? In the end I figure that although the chances for disaster are potentially raised by offering my child toys they are not recommended to use, this increase in danger is mitigated by active and engaged parental involvement. Does that count?

Picky Eaters

Ok. Seriously. How am I going to get my 4 year old to eat well and nutritiously? She's so picky and can live off peanut butter sandwiches and milk. She doesn't eat fresh fruit or vegetables. She loves 100% fruit leathers, though!