Monday, November 29, 2010

Serving size

I've been meaning to post this for awhile now - something I found pretty interesting from our last Parents As Teachers meeting ....

A serving is a level tablespoon for each year of your child's age.

Isn't this less than what you thought? So, for my 2-year-old, just 2 Tbs or 1/8 cup is a serving of whatever she is having.

Here are the guidelines for daily servings:
3 servings protein
4 servings bread / cereal
4 servings fruit / vegetable / both
4 servings milk /dairy

So, if your child subsisted on pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce with an occasional green bean, for the last 4 days like mine did - don't feel so bad!

Friday, November 19, 2010


One of my favorite things I heard this year on NPR was about the power of email. My behavior analyst friend could describe it better, but remember your high school or college psychology class and the discussion about the power of intermittent reinforcement? Email is just that very thing ... the 7th, or 83rd, or 1,217th time you check your email you get that really great email from an old friend, while the rest of it is mostly crap. You keep coming back, though, hoping for that really great one again. (Same thing with blogs, I suppose, which explains why I choose to rot my brain with the internets rather than on Real Housewives of Big Cities).

So, it seems that someone else had the same idea about parenting. Exactly! I was with a group of high school girlfriends the other night and 2/3rds of us were lamenting the challenges of parenthood. One of the child-less among us was appalled and asked why we did such a thing? While it is a fair question I ask myself from time to time, I explained that when you laugh harder with your child than you have in weeks, even in the midst of a day full of battles, it just keeps you coming back for more.

See what you think ...

Slate's article: Parents Are Junkies (If parenthood sucks, why do we love it? Because we are addicted).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Shhh ... don't tell Girly I'm telling you this ...

It has finally happened. She has become a reasonable napper and is getting up at a reasonable time. (Cue hallelujah chorus here).

Everyone kept telling me that after she started walking and expending more energy, she would become a better napper. This just wasn't true for her and I have my suspicion that girls (of the calmer variety) just don't get that busy until closer to their 2nd birthday. Within the last month, I have started to be able to count on a 1 1/2 hour nap at a minimum, closer to 2 hours on average, and 2 1/2 hours on a great day. It is heavenly.

The week or so prior to daylight savings, she had started to sleep until 6:00am every morning, with most mornings at 6:15-6:30am, and even an occasional 7 or 7:15am!! Daylight savings threw us (and everyone else) for a loop for just a few mornings, and even 5:40am was bearable because I knew it would have been 4:40am not that long ago.

I don't know that I can take any credit for this (though, I still swear the sleeping/dancing cow clock helped), but I'm so so SO happy that her inner clock has lined up a little better with the rest of our household.

Here's to hoping that it happens at your house, too ....

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Strong willed" is saying it nicely

Oh yeah, another tidbit from that blocks class I mentioned.

Girly was a nightmare.

Not a nightmare of the Freddy Krueger variety, but certainly a nightmare on her spectrum of "sweetest/nicest to oh-my-god-who-are-you-and-what-have-you-done-with-my-kid."

I picked her up from school, came prepared with snacks, and thought she would really enjoy something different. There were about 20 kids between 8 months and 3 years and she was, by far, the most disruptive in the room. Granted, a room full of 20 small tykes and lots of blocks will already be disrupted, but she didn't do anything to help the situation. All of the teachers and parents were understanding of course, but I was caught off-guard by her behavior and challenged to respond appropriately in the moment. We got our first "wow, she is busy" comment, and not really in a nice way. We left 25 minutes into the 90 minute class.

What happened to my sweet girl who sat quietly and observed? Oh yeah, TWO happened.

I know this is par for the course (it is, right?), but I will say that it isn't much fun.

It also taught me an important lesson ... this event was for Girly and I thought she would have fun. She didn't and made that abundantly clear to me. I need to be flexible enough to change plans when the situation isn't working for us. From a Love and Logic perspective, I also feel that if I can learn to respond - calmly - in the moment, and validate Girly's feelings, she will eventually act out less. And, in those situations where we can't be flexible, she will eventually be more willing to comply because she knows that I listen to what she is telling me.

I think that's how it might work, anyway - but what do I know? Wishful thinking, I tell you ...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I'm sold

Are you reading Ain't No Mom Jeans? I've posted about them before, but just in case ... you really should head over there now.

It's not that I care so much about what I look like - my style (style? do I have a style?) is simple, affordable and comfortable. I am far from the trendiest person on the block. I wear mostly plain colored clothes and few patterns (as my good friend says, curly hair is kind of enough pattern on its own!). Finally, at age 32, I am getting better at realizing that I should never buy turtlenecks or crewneck shirts. The issue I have is that the post-pregnancy body is harder to dress, at least for me. Do you have that squishy stuff around your waist that looks bad under fitted shirts? Blech.

So, this brings me to my new style secret - wear a belt. Around your waist. Lots of the time. I had seen this accessory all over the place, and was slow to adopt it, and then Ain't No Mom Jeans cemented it for me.

A fitted shirt with a long boyfriend sweater looks kind of shlumpy on me. But - add a skinny belt around the sweater? Defines the waist just enough, while said sweater still hides the squishy stuff.

A peasant shirt with jeans? Thanks, but having a friends' father ask when the baby was due - months before I got pregnant - was one time too many for me. The belt preserves the best aspect of the flowy shirt (camouflage!) while still showing that you have a waist.

I am really liking the skinny belts from J. Crew this fall - they have great colors and metallics and you can usually find some on sale. I am terrible about accessorizing with jewelry, so a silver belt does double duty for me. I wish I could say that Target had belts that were just as cute, but it sadly isn't true.

Give it a shot - your waist will thank you!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A-ha moment!

Our Parents as Teachers educator came for our 22-month visit and she gave us a flier on an upcoming class about block-building. She mentioned that Americans focus primarily on reading and music skills in early childhood, while many Asians focus primarily on math and science skills in early childhood. I had never heard anyone phrase it this way, but it was a total light bulb moment for me!

Think about it ... what activities are aimed at young children? Music classes and reading time at the library. We have gajillions of books and Girly loves reading them, which I obviously encourage. She loves playing with musical instruments and listening to music. I think these are important skills, but I wish I could say that I put an equal emphasis on math and science skills, but I don't and I bet you don't either.

Playing with blocks is a good way to build understanding of math and science concepts - they say it helps develop numeracy (the understanding of numbers in everyday life), just like literacy is the understanding of letters and words. You probably already use a lot of math and science words in your normal play with your kiddo, but I've never focused on them.

Math words: long, tall, narrow, order, top, square, less, more, curve, add, count, outside, triangle, lines, patterns, big, little, rectangle ...

Science words: rough, smooth, smallest, heavy, whole, bigger, after, first, next, balance, light, weight, gravity, system ....

Don't underestimate your child's ability to learn these concepts!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pseudo slacker

Last week for Girly's Halloween party at school, I signed up to bring tablecloths. Then, I felt bad and agreed to bring cheese and crackers, too. Sure, it was participation, but I have unreasonable Martha-goals for myself and feel guilty when I don't make something from scratch.

So, in a moment of inspiration, I realized that I had tiny "fall" cookie cutters in my drawer for lord knows what reason. I think I got them at Michael's in the $1 bin several years ago and they have never been used, other than thrown around the kitchen by Girly. I just cut the slices of cheese into fun pumpkin, bat and moon shapes and slapped it on a paper plate. It was fun, kid-friendly, and looked like I made an effort. In other words, score, score, SCORE.

I think I had the popular bento-style lunches in the back of my brain somewhere. Have you seen those? Another Lunch is a great blog with totally cute ideas. I would love to make and receive a lunch like that - but - let's be honest. Who the hell has time? If that was part of the daily program at our house, it would look more like me running around at 6:55am, trying to make coffee and peel a banana, and searching for the freaking bunny toothpicks.

So, again, in other words - not going to happen.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Remove the offender

We spent most of our weekend locked in a battle of wills over picking up.

Girly has reached the age where she is certainly capable of picking up her toys. She used to do it with pleasure, but as 2 approaches, she uses it as a stall tactic or to annoy her mother. She spent a lot of time in the time-out corner, then finally asked to spend time there. She willfully pushed her toys or magnets or noodles into a pile, as if she was going to pick them up, then kicked them all over the place. Exasperating, FOR SURE, and did not bring out the best in me.

I am trying to work hard on curtailing the whining - by ignoring her - but there are only so many things I can ignore and only so many threats I can issue. (I try very hard to 'threaten' with only the things I am willing to follow-through on. So, "if you ever want to eat again you better pick up!" is not a very good threat.)

I finally realized the problem - I need to remove the offending item. There are certain items in our house that are guaranteed triggers of bad behavior (like alcohol for alcoholics and drugs for crackheads - she is addicted to mess). She used to love to pour noodles from bowl to bowl - now they are shrapnel in our kitchen. She loved to play with magnets on the refrigerator - I saved all the sports schedules that came in the mail - and now she yields them as swords. Little General Custer and I had our Last Stand over the linoleum floor many a time this weekend.

No more.

You won't pick up your noodles after countless time-outs and threats? Fine. I'll sweep them up and throw them away.

You won't pick up your magnets without collapsing to the floor in melodramatic fashion? Fine. I'll throw them away.

It won't work for everything ... the Love and Logic folks say not to threaten to throw away toys unless you are really willing to throw them away forever ... but it will help limit the battles, I think.

Or, if I'm really honest with myself, the battle will just move to another item. Items.

Sigh ...