Friday, December 30, 2011


I am not big on New Year's Resolutions. (In fact, did I post about this last year? Something related to fitness? Clearly that didn't pan out). I do like to reflect on the past year and think, generally, about what I would like to accomplish in the new year, but I'm not one for grand statements.

That being said, I am feeling a bit like an old lady lately. You too? I just sometimes feel in a rut with everything - what we eat, what our house looks like, what I wear, how I do my make-up. Nothing life-altering or super important in the grand scheme of things, but I do think it is those little details that add up to a happier day and happier year.

So ... I am going to challenge myself to get outside the box a bit. I am frugal, but would like to add more color and fun to my life. I find some inspiration in these blogs and maybe you will, too.

Ain't No Mom Jeans - perennial favorite, check them often
Kendi Everyday - daily outfits, love the way she uses color
The Daybook - I just started reading this and really like the way she uses color. I dislike how thin she is immediately after giving birth, but I'm getting over that
Scout - A Mom's Guide to Stylish Living - this is a local KC gal
The Hairpin - I just randomly came across this blog and I find it very entertaining. Good writing on lots of subjects. In particular, I really like the posts by Jane Marie Feltes under How to be a Girl. She is a producer of This American Life on public radio which is one of my most favorite things in the world. Back to the point, though, her make-up advice is good entertainment. Not the look I would generally sport, but encourages me to be more creative. I confess that I am strangely entertained by watching makeup tutorial videos. I think it is kind of escapism from my normal life - who gets to sit quietly, drink wine, and do their makeup for 30 minutes? Sounds like bliss sometimes.
Pinterest - you are doing this, right? You must. It is a bit of a time suck at first, but becomes less so over time. My Pinterest feed is messed up and I don't think I get all new pins, which has helped with my addiction. I get all kinds of inspiration here. I like it a lot to catalog visual inspiration (clips from other blogs and stuff), whereas I still really like Evernote to catalog any text item (like recipes - can search by word).

Any good resolutions on your list? Where do you find inspiration?

Wishing you a Happy (and Colorful!) New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What to do now?

I'm not quite sure how to discipline my child now without the threat / promise of Santa and Nicholas the Elf.

So far, I've used painted toenails as a bribe ("tailnose" as Ellen calls them) ... I'll paint your toenails, but only if you sit still for 30 minutes after to let them dry.

"Ok, Mama. "

Friday, December 23, 2011


We were at Erik's work holiday party the other night and heard a cute story. One of his coworkers has a 4-year-old daughter who got really nervous last year visiting Santa and could only think to ask for marshmallows. Ha! Marshmallows it is (was). Her parents and family commented all year on how charming and sweet and funny it was. So ... year 4 ... she geared up for her conversation with Santa. She sat down on his lap, got nervous again, and could only think to ask for marshmallows!

Her parents will get her a few other special things, but it got me thinking ... how much do you pay attention to what your child asks for from Santa? Ellen has asked for NOTHING. Well, let me correct myself ... today I pushed her (yes, December 23rd) about what she wanted to ask Santa for. She was watching Cat in the Hat and asked (shockingly!) for a Cat in the Hat water cup. Ruh roh. Lesson learned. I will keep my mouth shut next time.

Though ... Santa pulled through on the water cup. Hallalu-yer!

Santa didn't go too crazy this year, though I think I over compensate because birthday and Christmas come so close together that I feel the need to stock up on some gifts for the year, but I think she would be happy with virtually nothing. If Santa brought a stack of copy paper and some Sharpies she would be thrilled. I buy her things because it makes me happy, but does it make her happy? I'm not so sure.

Life won't always be this simple ... in fact, this may be the last year ... something for you mama's with younger kids to keep in mind.

Happiest of Holidays to you and yours!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

You still have time!

I know you've seen this all over the Internets, but just in case ... get yourself a personalized Santa message! It's really cute and Ellen loved it.

Click here to see Santa's message to Ellen

My favorite part is his praise of her hard work on brushing her teeth every night because, YES, we have worked hard on that.

Happy, Happy, Merry, Merry to you and yours!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In this season of sharing

Ellen graduated from Parents As Teachers this week. How is that possible? We talked about Kindergarten and everything, which is crazy town. Mind you, Ells has a late birthday, so she'll be almost 6 when she starts school, but still it's just right around the corner. (Literally, the school is right around the corner from our house and we talk about

Back to the topic at hand ... do you have a problem with sharing at your house? Ellen really does a pretty good job, for which I give full credit to daycare, but she does have her moments. Our P.A.T. educator gave us a good tip (especially for only children who don't have to share all day) ... have a chat with your little darling before a play date or big family gathering. Let them decide if there are 1 or 2 toys they don't want to share and put those away. Then, everything else is fair game.

We're hosting Christmas, so we might have to use this trick for a few of Santa's deliveries!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Best idea I've stolen this week

I still don't have our Christmas decorations up. Is it bad that I am dreading it? Yes, I think it is. I really do LOVE having a decorated house, and I love having the tree lit in the evenings when it is dark outside, I just don't like putting it all up. Or taking it down. This year, in particular, I am challenged with a new house and a new layout and no idea where to put things. Oh yeah, and no money for new stuff. Crafty holiday time at our house!

One idea I will be stealing, though, is to add a basket of all our holiday books by the tree for reading. We have tons of winter / Christmas / Santa books that I don't really know what to do with for the rest of the year. If you really had your act together, you could wrap each book and unwrap daily as an Advent activity. I don't have my act together (see above).

Also, while we're on the Advent topic, my sister-in-law sent us this awesome advent computer activity thingy. (My description is so appealing, right?) It is Jacquie Lawson's London Advent Calendar - you can see a demo on her website and it is some inexpensive fun. The animations are really charming and it doesn't really matter if you start it late!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My favorite girl

To my most favorite girl -

Happy Birthday! I celebrate this special day with you, though I hope I have celebrated at least one little part of the last 1, 095 days I've spent with you. You have turned my life upside down, yet most of the time I feel that this is always the way it was meant to be. You are my buddy, my shadow, my comedian in the backseat, the thorn in my side, and the best snuggler I know.

Our year has been full of challenges and I have counted on your sweet smile, your smush-face kisses, your questions, your diversion, to get me through many a day. Life was probably more simple at your last birthday, but I hope our lives will be even more full and rich at your next one.

You amaze us with your memory, your kindness, your inquisitiveness, and your incessant talking. You are the soundtrack to my life, in the most literal way. I spend more time with you than any other human on this planet and your sweet giggle and full body guffaw (as well as your whines and tantrums) punctuate my days.

I love to get in the car with you and wait for you to say, "Let's talk about ...." (policemen, firemen, ambulances, our day, school ....). I hope you will always tell us about your days and talk with us about what is important to you.

I love to watch your focus - drawing is the most favorite activity of late - and I love that I feel I really "know" you now. I know what you will like and dislike and I feel that I can support your interests and encourage you to thrive.

I love that you love school and are so sweet to your friends. This year seems to have come with more separation anxiety and it tears at my heart to see you sad and missing me or your Dad, yet I also secretly love how you drag out our morning good-byes with "one more kiss! one more hug!"

Though your behavior may turn on a dime, you can be so charming and you love to tell us, "Mommy. Daddy. I love you so, so much." We feel the exact same way.

I can't wait to see what the next year holds. We love you to pieces, are so proud of you, and couldn't be happier to celebrate this special day with you.

Love, love, love,


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Food for thought

I came across this post on A Cup of Jo - Motherhood Mondays: Who gets the best kisses?

It is pretty thought provoking. I have never been a very physically affectionate person ... caring? generous? willing to do anything for another person? I hope so. But, I'm not a very touchy-cuddly person.

That really all changed when Ellen was born, as I had this delicious, chunky, squeezy little girl that I spent most of every day with. How could you not kiss and hug over and over and over?

I hadn't really recognized the sense of feeling "touched-out", meaning that you have spent so much of your day in physical contact with another person, that you are just ready for a zone of "me and only me". I find the constant child wrangling to sometimes be exhausting ... punctuated by a kiss here or a hug there ... but mostly wrestling to put shoes on, or lifting in and out of a shopping cart, or buckling in and out of a carseat, or changing a diaper, or lifting on and off the potty, or, or or ...

I will try to be more mindful of all this .... you??

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Take note!

Do you have some system for keeping track of the perfectly darling and/or amusing things your child says on a daily basis?

I'm really not that organized. But - I would like to be.

I sometimes note things on our family blog. And, I do keep a baby book for Ellen that I write in every now and then, but I always forget the best little quotes. Sometimes I'll text them to her Dad and I can retrieve them from my phone.

I recently started an "Ellen-isms" page in the little notebook I carry around in my purse for random notes ... it never fails that she blurts out something hilarious on our way to the grocery store.

Today I came across this free Quote Book download for organizing the funnies in a cute way at Kinderpendent (via Cool Mom Picks). A cute xmas gift for a new mom in your life, perhaps?

I think you could also make it something as simple as a perpetual calendar that you use to note kid-isms, or even a box of index cards you keep in your kitchen to collect the stories. I love reading the baby book my mom kept for me (thanks Mom! and, hooray for being the 1st child!) and these funny little things are so precious now that I have my own funny little thing living with me.

(And today - so timely! - a similar idea for a 2012 Best of My Days Notepad from Ashley at Under the Sycamore.)

In case you were wondering, the best of late ...
"It's not a secret. It's a tell thing."
"This fizzy water is pokey in my mouth."
"Are there any golfclubbers out today?" (such a better name than golfer)
"I don't have enough fingers. Just about 8. I want more. And purple ones."
"Can we work on a hug project today??"

Your Santa?

When Santa visited my childhood home, we had lots of unwrapped gifts, displayed perfectly. He was very generous!

When Santa visits our house now, he does pretty much the same thing.

What happens when Santa visits your house?

I saw this post on Design Mom and it made me start thinking about Christmas Morning. I feel like this Christmas with a 3-year-old will be the start of something memorable and a good age to add some traditions. If we ever have another child, it would be nice to have some established guidelines rather than the general gift-free-for-all approach that we have been using.

Does Santa follow some rules when he comes down your chimney?

Monday, November 14, 2011

File this one away

Have your kids really entered the baby doll phase? Ells plays with babies here and there, and talks about her babies a lot, but kind of treats her dolls/bunnies/bears/dogs all the same. She hasn't gotten into feeding / changing / napping babies yet, but I think the day is coming.

I saw this Corolle baby today on Cool Mom Picks. Pricey, but I LOVE the idea of using your own sweet baby clothes for dress up.

How does this compare to American Girl dolls? I'm honestly trying to avoid that place

Friday, November 11, 2011

Got yourself a boy?

They don't seem so much different than girls and, then again, they seem totally different.

Maybe you'll like this blog I just came across if you have the XY variety in your house ...

Frog and Snail Society

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Click! take a pic ...

(Diego anyone??)

Here is a good description of Intro to DSLR Cameras by Ashley at Under the Sycamore. As I've said before, I love her photography approach, especially when it comes to her young kids.

Maybe you can share with Santa for his list??

Monday, November 7, 2011

This is fun

You can download a free kids' album of music HERE: Original Friend by Lunch Money. They are a Grammy-nominated band and, I guess, sharing the fun!

I found them via Design Mom and she has a fun interview with Mo Willems today - love his books!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

In the bag

Serious business today.

I need advice.

What kind of purse are you carrying these days??

I am finding myself in this strange period of not needing a diaper bag, yet needing both of my hands (and sometimes a 3rd hand) for child wrangling. I used the backpack with great success, and still do for long outings (zoo and such), but I just don't need it to run to Target.

I was gifted a very nice purse that I have used everyday for 2 years, yet it fell victim to the house renovations and has a big splotch of paint on the side. (Which pretty much just explains my life these days). The problem, though, is that it just goes over my shoulder like a normal purse, but doesn't stay on said shoulder when I am lunging for a child, or carrying 2 grocery bags and a child, or wrestling with a child in the freezer aisle.

I am definitely a 'purse' girl .. not in the sense that I care about labels or price (I'm cheap), but I carry a lot of things that seem necessary to me and I just can't swing the big wallet approach.

I was thinking a messenger / cross-body style? Or something with an option for messenger style? I don't want it to be too sporty looking. And, I need some kind of compartments inside - a huge tote bag is just a bottomless pit to lose things for me.

Suggestions? Tips? Pointers?

I'm all ears.

Monday, October 31, 2011

It's a little late

Do you all have a Halloween candy policy? It occurred to me, at our 3rd trick-or-treating stop, that perhaps we should have discussed this in advance.

Last year Ells didn't really notice what happened to the candy ... she liked to sort it all out, and had a few bites, but didn't really notice when it went into the cabinet and never came back out.

This year? Never gonna work. She literally told her grandfather, "Don't even think about it!" when he playfully tried to take some of her candy. She has a definite mental inventory of every piece in her bag. (She grudgingly allowed me to take away the worst offender in the 'choking hazard' category and she told her grandfather that the green candies 'weren't vegetables.')

She generally responds well to lots of priming ... if we talk about things for a few days in advance she behaves well and/or complies. Pretty much. Can I spring a new Halloween candy rule at this point?

Our nephew trades his candy in for a toy of his choosing, which I think works really well for them. I don't think it will work well for us after the fact, but maybe next year.

I've read about kids who get to eat as much as they want for a day, then no more. I think that is just pretty disgusting for an almost-3-year-old.

A three day rule? Toss it all after that? Might work ... if I hide it, she will forget sooner or later.

Keep it all and dole it out tiny piece by piece? I usually only give her 1-2 Skittles or M&Ms at a time anyway. (She did ask me tonight if she could eat her Snickers in the spring-time. Sure! Why not?)

We also live in a great new neighborhood and she got the motherload of full-size candy bars. Hmmmm. My hips don't need those, either.

Tell me your approach to this ... please!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Big 3

Any advice on good gifts for the 3-year-old set? Miss Priss has both a birthday AND Christmas coming up and I'm very short on ideas for gifts.

She really doesn't NEED anything, but there has to be something to open and something for the Santa list. We are at capacity on books and the most popular books lately seem to come from the library anyway. She has a play kitchen that she loves, but there are already enough accessories for a small nation. The new playroom does not have any more floor space for a 'big' gift. I was thinking about a balance bike, but it seems cruel to gift that in December when it can't be used for months.

Further, it seems that most toys are baby toys, for ages 1-2, or for 4 and up. She plays with plenty of things that are choking hazards (hooray for great parenting!), so that's not the issue, but I'm just not sure she would be interested in some of the board games and such. What age does the dress-up obsession start? I was kind of thinking of stalking the post-Halloween sales for some dress-up goodies.

I'm at a loss ....

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Do as I say, not as I do

Do you all have your bookcases and dressers and such tethered to the wall? I must admit that we missed that step in our baby-proofing. Even if we had done it before, we are in a new house now and need to do it all over again.

I have commented to friends that I have had to do MORE baby proofing in the new house, which doesn't make sense, except that the house is bigger and the almost-3-year-old is sneakier and she gets into things and I can't hear or see her. Chewing on a big button because it's "gum"? Yep. Playing with big scissors? Yep. Pushing chairs over to bookshelves and reaching to get things? Yep.

In the new play room we have a tall bookcase that is VERY tippy. It makes me nervous every time I reach for something off the top shelf. Ellen always asks for help and we are always close by, but still ... something bad could happen in a second. Even worse, another child playing at our house might not be so cautious.

Read this link on The Creative Mama if you are up for it. I find that I do sad things at work and it is hard for me to read sad things in my free time, but none the less, it's a powerful reminder that accidents happen to the best families with the best of intentions. Locally, a little boy died not that many years ago in a similar accident. I even have the wall tethers packed away somewhere in the house ... no excuses.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stick a fork in me

I'm done.

Day 4 of no-nap over here. Not for me, of course, but for the 3-foot-tall terrorist that lives in our house. Nap for me? Ha!

Why did I need her to nap so badly today? Well, there are the 3 days of sleep deprivation, of course. Also, though, the plumber is here to auger our basement main drain because our basement has standing water and floating sewage.


Kill me now.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Get in the picture!

I've been working on a 2010 family photo book with My Publisher. (Yes, I'm a year behind. I'm over it). As I looked through hundreds and hundreds of pictures, I realize that I'm in only a very few. Thank goodness my sister is a good photographer, because I know she has some, but it makes me sad not to have pictures of myself interacting with Ellen, because she is the person I spend the most time with in the world!

I think I've posted a link similar to this before, but check out these tips:
Because You Were There, Too: Thirteen Tips for Family Self Portraits

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Worth repeating

Though I posted this on our family blog, I consider it a public service announcement.

I made a serious error in judgement this week. I took Ells to get some new colors and she picked the Crayola Twistables Slick Stix.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT buy these for your child. Or husband. Or self. I even knew better - I had tried to purchase them before at the Crayola store and the sales gal talked me out of it. That really sums it all up right there. They are like coloring with lipstick that stains permanently and doesn't dry. Awesome - right?

Well, I tried to talk Ellen out of it at the store and just couldn't without a scene. I let her color with permanent markers (I know - crazytown), so I thought this couldn't be worse. She has never colored on anything that she wasn't supposed to and I always supervise. Well ... the royal purple color stick slowly catapulted itself off the table and, in slow motion, I screamed NOOOOOOOO! as it hit the carpet.

I think you can guess what happened. And, it was totally my fault. After a whole lot of Googling (news flash: the Crayola "stain tips" don't really cut it), I thought I would try the good ol' Magic Eraser first. It totally worked!!

Mr. Clean, I think I love you.

Friday, October 7, 2011


I haven't heard anything about this documentary, but it sounds intriguing ...

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (click this to watch the trailer - worth the 2 minutes. Seriously.)

I guess it has won lots of awards - seems like a great story of sticking with your dreams.

(This culture today courtesy of The Observer's Very Short List. It is a daily email, if you want to sign up, of something fresh/new/undiscovered on the internets. I have found a few jems through them, things I doubt I would have stumbled upon otherwise. Doesn't everyone need MORE things to look at online??)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oh, I get it

We had a rough week last week with Ells.

Fever for 4 days, no school all week, 3 days with grandparents (thank you!!) ... all this adds up to a girl that was whiny with a capital WHINE. Mostly just with me, of course, but it was/is maddening none the less.

My 'behavior modification' skills were seriously lacking ....

So, Monday begins - new week, new attitude?

At the end of the day, my mom asked me how the day went? It was surprisingly smooth - nothing special or different, but home all day. I did my thing and Ells did her thing, but we talked and spent time together and didn't run any errands or have to race anywhere (for the first time in 3 months)...

Oh - best behavior in 10+ days? I get it, thanks.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Poll: Big-kid bed

Ok ... input, please!

What age did you move your kid to their big kid bed?

How many times did they fall out?

Bed rails or no?

And, for reals, did they stop sleeping forever after you moved them???

Monday, September 19, 2011

Randomness ...

Milestone: today marks the first day that my darling little girl climbed out of her crib for the first time. THUNK! She is okay, and I knew this day was coming ... she has been testing her climbing skills in there for weeks. "I just wanted to swing, mama ..."

Reading: (do any of you read for fun anymore? I hate to tell people that I haven't read a book for pleasure since my last vacation, almost 1 year ago. Barf.) I heard about this book today on our local NPR show - Uncle Dan's Report Card: From Toddlers to Teenagers, Helping Our Children Build Strength of Character with Healthy Habits and Values Every Day (a mouthful!). I think the basic idea is that the authors have written some parenting books and do some local parenting activities in KC, then came across an uncle's report card from 1914 and were fascinated by the emphasis the school district put on the partnership between the school and family on all sorts of manners/habits/behaviors (brushing teeth, saying please and thank you, being respectful ...). They are piloting some of these activities in local schools - sounded interesting.

Skills: I read the Sesame Ellis photography blog. Rachel Devine is the photographer and she has 3 beautiful children. Plus, they live in Australia and once I saw her on House Hunters International - love that show! Today she released Click! an eBook on How To Take Gorgeous Photos of Kids. I haven't seen it yet, but think I'll get it for $19.99 - far cheaper than any photography class!

What sort of random things are you up to today? I also bought shampoo (2 big bottles to 1 big bottle of conditioner - i think I'm finally outsmarting the system), recovered a chair and organized my freezer. Do I win?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rules of Dinner

Again, courtesy of our friends at Dinner: A Love Story - Rules of Dinner.

We aren't great with following any rules of dinner, but I like to read about how other families make it (successfully) happen. We do have family dinner most every night now, though, which was a slow but nice transition. Miss Ellen has her moments of being adventurous and trying (and liking!) new things, but certainly also turns her nose up at the "go-to" items. Grrrrr.

I look forward to the days of talking about the "highs and lows" ... the things that come out of that girl's mouth are already entertaining. Boy howdy, what the future must hold ...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Desperation, thy name is tired Mommy

I think I've alluded to the fact that our daughter has become a grade-A terrible sleeper. If I'm being objective, which is really hard, I think it was a cumulative effect of moving + busy parents + lapsing into bad habits + being 2 1/2 years old.

Nonetheless, we have slowly found ourselves in a situation where she naps maybe once or twice a week on the days she is home, stalls stalls stalls and goes to bed late, and continues to get up early. I used to be shocked when she DIDN'T nap, and now it was the exact opposite. I thought she was really going to give up her nap and I was preparing myself for a future of "quiet time".

I talked with our Parents as Teachers educator and she confirmed my feelings that Ellen really wasn't getting enough sleep. I think kids her age need like 11-13 hours of sleep total per day, and a few days a week she was getting maybe 9. Kids get sleep deprived very fast - within probably 2 days - and we were seeing the results of that. Boy howdy.

We have been pretty lucky with the tantrum situation - lots of sass and back talk and pouting - but generally we can redirect without much issue. Last week, the terrible sleep situation resulted in a crazy child at bedtime that appeared almost possessed - shaking with anger, hitting, throwing things - it was awful. And sad. I think she felt out of control and we felt out of control without knowing how to fix it.

So, back to the books for Mama. I pulled out our Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child book looking for ANY solution. I really wasn't even focused on naps, but needed to get her bedtime situation fixed. Thank you, page 325, and your Sleep Rules!

You can read the basics on Sleep Rules and Silent Return here.

This is actually very similar to the plan we used for potty training, though there is a consequence for not following the rules. Ellen responded SO well to the potty training rewards that I had high hopes (to say the least).

Prep: I made a trip to Michaels for poster board and reward trinkets / stickers. I didn't want to reward with food and totally lucked out by hitting the super clearance section of summer goodies and school goodies. I got enough rewards to fill a big box for less than $20 (art projects, chalk, bubbles, stickers, school supplies, notebooks ...). I also got some Disney princess stickers which have been a HUGE hit. We don't do much princess talk at our house, but I think they do at school and Ellen has been chatting about her princess friends. (In fact, she yelled about wanting Ariel for a long time during the tantrum from hell).

I happily talked up a group art project when Ellen saw me come home with bags of goodies. She helped me draw the 'Ellen's Sleep Rules' poster and decorated it herself. We talked through the rules and the prizes and consequences. (Follow the rules = sticker on poster, prize from box. Don't follow the rules = no sticker, no prize, no TV/iPad.)

Night #1: Bed prep as usual (books, jammies, brush teeth, into bed). I was tempted to add all these steps to the poster, but refrained. We picked a place for the poster in her room so she can see it and we talked about which princess sticker she would like to put on the poster in the morning. She repeated the rules for us and was in bed at 7:30pm, quiet by 7:35pm. This was a no-nap day, but still was the earliest she has been in bed and been quiet in FOREVER. She didn't wake at all during the night, and woke up at 6:38am, after the cow was dancing. Hallelujah!!

Nap #1: I was hopeful, yet doubtful, about how this would work for naps. We followed the exact same steps - in bed for nap about 1:45pm, up to go potty, lots of chatting in her bed, then eventually quiet at 2:45pm. I did have to go up a few times and to help her to potty, but never talked to her. I woke her at 4:30pm because I didn't want her to sleep too late, poured on the praise, and rewarded her.

She was generally a delightful child all afternoon, which is frankly a change from our recent experiences. So nice!

Night #2: I knew she wouldn't be tired for our ideal bedtime of 7:30-8:00, but she was in bed by a little after 8:00 and probably quiet by 8:35pm. Again, a huge improvement.

As an aside, this is part of the problem. When she naps, she tends to fall asleep around 2ish and would sleep until 430 or so. This clearly is too late to then be tired enough for bedtime. The solution is either to have her nap earlier, which is really a challenge, or to skip nap and do an earlier bedtime. I honestly think we are heading in that direction sooner rather than later - quiet time instead of nap, but it might make for a much more pleasant evening.

Nap #2: So-so. She did nap, but it probably took her an hour of talking before she fell asleep. I can't remember if she woke on her own or if we woke her, but she did sleep and was rewarded.

Night #3: She went to be really late, about 9:00pm, because we had dinner with friends, but she went right down and slept all night. She did wake up about 6:15am hollering, so I went in and told her she needed to be quiet until her cow was dancing. She didn't go back to sleep, but did get quiet until about 6:32am and then I went to get her and she got her rewards.

Nap #3: Best nap yet! She was probably kind of tired from a shorter night of sleep than usual, so she was in bed at about 1:30pm and asleep by 1:50pm. She slept almost 2 hours and was a pretty happy camper the rest of the day!

Night #4: Didn't go down as well as the previous nights. Along with the rest of the changes, I took all the crap out of her bed crib (probably 17 things) and make her choose only 2 items (dolls / loveys) and she gets a blanket for covers. We had to exchange some of the items back and forth, then she had to potty, but she was asleep within about 30 minutes of getting in bed.

All in all, I'm totally happy with how this has worked. I made a lot of changes all at once, which my behavioral analyst friend would not agree with, but I NEEDED things to get better. Whadda you know? They did. :)

In the book, Mark Weissbluth talks a bit about the difference between rewards and bribes, as well as the role of consequences. You can read it for yourself, but basically he says it is fine and it works. Also, that your love and kisses are not enough to change the behavior of a strong-willed toddler, so you may need back-up.

His idea is basically that your child will eventually become so proud of themselves that the rewards will kind of phase themselves out. This is exactly what happened with potty training for us, so I'm hopeful this will be the same. I have made a point to talk about how proud of Ellen I am to her, as well as our family and friends, and she gets a big smile on her face.

Awwww, still love that girl. :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Eating with your kids

I came across two nice articles today on eating with your kids - might inspire you, or might make you feel better about how dinner takes place at your house.

Up, down, up, down. Mama - I lay down on my chair to eat. I not hungry anymore. I don't eat cooked tomatoes. Wassat? I don't like it. I want milk AND orange juice AND water. I want milk with no lid. I want a big fork. I dropped my fork. I want to sit in the middle ...

sound familiar?

From Dash and Bella - Reality

From Dinner: A Love Story - It's Not You. It's Them.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In this back-to-school season

Another article to make you cry, via a friend on facebook.

Beverly Beckham: I was the sun, the kids were my planet

Though I have a terrible memory, I distinctly remember a wedding we attended when I was pregnant with Ellen. We had recently learned we were having a girl and my husband's darling cousin was getting married ... watching my husband's uncle walk his daughter down the aisle just about did us in.

His uncle's toast at the reception has stuck with me ... something that their OB told them the day their daughter was born ... a mother and father's job is to raise a child to leave them. Give them all the skills and tools they will need for life, so they can go out on their own. Yes, they'll be back now and then, but if you are really good at your job, they won't need you anymore. Not for the big stuff, anyway. Sniff, sniff.

Could this be true?
Yes, it could.

I think about it often. Am I giving Ellen the tools she needs to be successful and independent and happy and generous and kind and, and, and, and ...

It's a lot, isn't it??

The second part of his toast, which I think is just as important, is that it is also your job to maintain your relationship with your spouse. For someday, you will find your house empty of children and you will be left only with each other. You better like each other! :)

So, date night tonight and child-rearing tomorrow. Care to join me?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Free! Parenting Classes!

What, you don't need them?

I do.

From our friends at Rookie Moms -

Webinar classes next Tuesday, August 30th, at 2pm and 9pm eastern time.

I'll see if I can tie my child up because she won't be napping or sleeping and maybe I can attend. (See? I need them.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Get it together

I really can't get my shit together these days, so sorry about that.

I did come across these two articles / blog posts and thought they were well written and/or thought provoking. Maybe you will think so, too?

I found this first one via Dash and Bella, which is a great food/cooking blog with kiddos. This gal seriously does crazy amazing things with her kids. This article is about pot smoking and Disney World, which are generally two things I know nothing about, though I laughed out loud several times at the (lengthy) article late last night, which does not come easy at the end of a long day. I really like the author's style of writing.
You Blow my Mind. Hey Mickey!

The second post is more typical Mom-fare from our friends at Rookie Moms. It was a link to an old post about Victory Babies. I had never heard the term, but it was interesting to read - and the comments, too. From time to time I read about moms who feel like they were "cheated" when their first birth didn't go exactly as planned and they have a nagging to desire to make it right the next time. My first delivery was pretty much the exact opposite of what I envisioned, and scary to boot, but ended in a wonderful miracle and I have zero-zilch-nada regrets about the whole thing. And, truthfully, I would sign up to do it again tomorrow.

Do you have a secret or not-so-secret desire for a victory baby?

We do have some things lurking in toddler land at our house, such as poor sleeping, thinking about dropping the nap?, transitioning to big girl bed and big girl room, moving up to the Balloons room at school, general nose-turning-up-at-vegetables - you know - all the fun stuff!

Someday I'll fill you in on all the details.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Thought provoking

I came across an interesting article today about how we talk to girls.

A Cup of Jo is a blog that I don't read frequently, but other blogs I read link to her content all the time. She had this nice post Motherhood Mondays: How to talk to little girls. She references an article by Lisa Bloom in The Huffington Post by the same title.

I guess I find that I am always squealing over little girls' hair and clothes and shoes because they are so stinkin' cute (!), but I sure would rather engage their brains.

Note to self: try harder.

You, too?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Uncomfortable topic?

So, here's one for you ... anyone got any great tips on talking to a toddler about death?

Ellen had a nice man who volunteered in her classroom at school and read books several days a week for over a year. I never met him, but she always talked about him fondly. Unbeknownst to me, he had retired from his job when he found out he had cancer and decided to spend whatever time he had left doing things he enjoyed. It is just about the nicest, and saddest, story. I didn't know he was sick and he died recently.

Here is the sticky part for me ... Ellen didn't know he was sick, either. His family wanted to involve the children in his memorial service and asked for us to attend, which was very nice, yet also very uncomfortable for me. I felt I needed to have some conversation with Ellen about what happened before going, but I also felt that we shouldn't not go just because it made me uncomfortable.

We aren't really a religious family and I feel like I don't have a good framework for discussing death in terms she might understand. She also currently has a total obsession with doctors and doctors offices and the things that happen there. I don't want her to be fearful of getting sick and not getting better.

Turns out we couldn't go to the service for another reason, but I still think I need to address this.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011


We are not on vacation. In fact, it's like we are doing the exact opposite of vacation.

Nonetheless, maybe you are on vacation? (If so, have a drink for me, but don't send a postcard. We're moving. And I'd be jealous.)

I came across this and it seemed like a good tip to file away for the future. Our first roadtrip with a toddler could be summed up with the word "disaster". Next time (if there is a next time?) maybe something like this would work ...

Tips for Road Trip with Kids by 320*Sycamore

Thursday, July 14, 2011

For your list

I found this list of great children's picture books over at Design Mom. We have read a lot of them, but certainly not all.

I'm going to print the list and add it to our library bag ... I find that I'm always wanting to seek out good books, but I never have a list, so I resort to choosing by covers. Sometimes this works, sometimes not (i.e. the book we brought home about dying dogs).

Then, I am also usually chasing Ellen through the chapter book section as she pulls books off the shelf and says, "I big now, Momma. I read this book. I big. I big like you."

Here ya' go - happy library-check-outing!
Design Mom's Top 50 Picture Books

Monday, July 4, 2011

This will tug at your heart a little

We have a sweetie sweet sweet new little niece who is the tiniest human being I've ever held. We had a great family get-together and it was fun and shocking to see this tiny new being amongst the now huge-appearing cousins. Where has the time gone?

I find that mothering (and fathering, I spose, though I won't speak for them) is such a balance of hurry-up-let's-get-going and stop-right-there-and-let-me-burn-this-on-my-brain-forever.

Not to get all granola on you, but this guest post by Tara Thayer at Soule Mama says it much better than I can ...

Soulful Mothering

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Some follow-up

I've been meaning to post about one of our favorite baby gear items that has made a re-appearance in our house. The Boppy!

I expressed my Boppy love previously - it was the perfect nursing accessory for us. Then after Ells was weaned, it made its way to the linen closet, never to be heard from again. Ellen pulled it out a few months ago - she had seen her baby cousin use it and wanted to get it out for her to play with. Then she asked to put it in her crib. Then I realized it is the perfect pillow!

I guess some toddlers like pillows and some don't, but she really loves her Boppy pillow. And, what's not to love? It's kind of like a baby version of those body pillows. Washable cover. Done. She was riding it around as a horse last night, too - the fun never ends.

Also, switching gears, some Dentist follow-up. I posted a few months ago about our prep for the first visit. I just wanted to say that it was wildly successful! Ellen was a great patient, so compliant, and not a peep or a tear. She even talked to the dentist about germs and sugar and plaque, for heaven's sake! We watched the Bucky the Beaver DVD no fewer than 37 times and it was sad to return it to the library. Almost 2 months later she is STILL talking about the dentist and she likes to pretend play dentist quite a bit. She still fights us on brushing at bedtime, but I'll take it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I'm probably late to the game on this, but just came across this nice article for Father's Day.

A Father's Day Wish: Dads, Wake the Hell Up!

For me, it was just a good reminder how lucky I am to have a spouse that fully participates in our daughter's life. I am also super lucky to have come from a household with a Dad that fully participated in my life. It's pretty easy to take those things for granted and some reminding is helpful every now and then.

I hope you can count yourself in the lucky category, too.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A jellybean?

Ellen asks for a jellybean ....

What for? I say

"For the manners"

What manners?

"Please and thank you"

Well, it's a start, I guess.

I saved this article from Parents magazine this Spring on "25 Manners Every Kid Needs by Age 9" - I think I have some work to do.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cute clothes!

I'm on a spending hiatus, but recently discovered that I love Olive Juice Kids clothes (much to the chagrin of my checkbook). I bought some on Gilt during a sale a month or so ago and the quality is great and the styles are so classic.

Gilt is having another sale today!
If you aren't a member, you can use my link:

Happy shopping!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ugh, slacking

Well, let's just really call it a summer hiatus.

All of a sudden I feel like I can't get anything accomplished? You, too? It doesn't help that my list of things to accomplish keeps getting longer, but I do love me some task-scratch-offing.

Here is one thing on the list: a Mom-friendly swimsuit

Got a good source for me?

I do have a cute one piece from J. Crew that I got before our Hawaii trip (almost 2 years ago - whaaa), but it really isn't toddler-chasing, swim-lesson-appropriate.

I think I need a 2 piece, as to avoid shimmying out of a wet one piece if I have to pee whilst wrangling a slippery child. The top piece, though, needs to be long enough to cover up the "mom" part.

I keep trying to get to Land's End to try on their suits (nothing says Mom like Land's End). I love the J Crew suits, but not sure that my budget can justify that.

Help a momma out!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Girls and boys

A few quick "Girl" and "Boy" things for your Friday ...

I realized we have about enough dresses for Ellen to wear a different one each day this summer! She hasn't worn many dresses in the past, mostly because they got in her way when she was a crawler and a new walker, and then it wasn't dress season. Now, though, she is obsessed with things that "tirl" (twirl). She gets up, goes potty, then puts on undies and a skirt or dress each day. Today she had to feel the fabric of each one to see if it passed muster (so help me God).

Here's my tip #1 though: I bought quite a few dresses last summer on sale for this summer. I just bought 2T because I thought they would be plenty big, and now I think she'll be out of them by mid-summer. She is a shorty with short arms, but dresses are perfect for her and the size is more forgiving - next time I'll remember to size up.

Tip #2 (or really, need a tip #2) - I've realized that big girl dresses don't come with bloomers, which annoys me so much. For an active little girl, I hate to have her undies showing when she is playing. It is surprisingly hard to find bloomers for bigger girls that might actually match the dress she is wearing. I swear I had read about some boy-short type product for little girls called something like "I see London, I see Francies", but I can't find it with the Googling. Gah. Any suggestions?

And, because I don't know anything about boys, I don't have any good tips, but I do have a good party suggestion. Well, a good suggestion for someone who isn't crazy OCD like me. Yet again, it's from Ashley at Under the Sycamore - Mad Run birthday party. It's a huge, muddy obstacle course for boys! Send me some pictures of you hosting this party and cleaning up afterwards!

Also, courtesy of Ashley at Under the Sycamore, some fun summer ideas for kids:
Meg's Craft Thursday Projects
Martha's 60 days of Summer for kids
Wondertime's 12 activities for kids
Digital Reflections 100 free activities to do with kids this summer

And, on a related note, it's summer already? When did that happen?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Technical difficulties

A crashed laptop with a destroyed hard drive does not a good blogger make.

I had actually backed-up most of everything, save for the last 2 months. There were still tears when I thought about the pictures and videos that might have been lost. I still don't know if I have everything, but it could have been SO MUCH WORSE.

Please, friends. Don't do that to yourselves. If you are like me and ALL of your precious pictures and videos of your child live on your computer, you just cannot risk something happening to it.

I'll get back to some mom stuff soon, but for now my parting advice to you ...

Go right now and backup everything on your computer. Use an external hard drive AND an online subscription service (I use Backblaze) AND burn favorite photos and movies to a DVD AND put important work files on a thumb drive (and I'm going to experiment with Dropbox).

You know, just in case.

Also, and this is a bummer one, be sure to back-up your browser bookmarks or favorites in a file on your desktop. All of those carefully selected blogs and websites that I've accumulated over the last 4 years? Yep, gonesville.

True, this is minor trauma. I've had friends, though, who have had their laptop AND external hard drive stolen, or our incredibly sad neighbors in Joplin who just lost everything in an instant - you just don't know what might happen tomorrow.

Protecting your memories can make a sad situation just a little bit better.

Do it.

I hope you never have to thank me, because I hope it never happens to you.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Survivor: Child Island

I can't take credit for the title - I read it somewhere (maybe in the comments of this link?) - but I chuckled and thought it sounded just about right for many a day.

I wrote down some Mom advice at a baby shower the other day and my #1 tip was that you get to start over each day! If you feel like you were an a-hole one day, or if your kid ate 3 bags of graham crackers for a meal, or if they went to bed with dirty feet, no worries. You get to try again!

In full disclosure, I'm not this laid back all the time, but I am getting better. There is something about having a living, breathing, talking toddler around ALL the time that makes me feel reassured that I haven't already screwed things up too badly.

Here is where I got the idea - go read Survivor Mom at Motherhood Uncensored. Make yourself feel better today. Then go have wine.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Stay in your seat!

Another transition around here ... not a huge one, but still a change to our days.

We had still been using our Inglesina Fast Table Chair that I loved SO much for the majority of Ellen's meals. It was fast, simple, and best of all - it CONFINED her.

We have been having more family dinners - probably 3-4 times a week - and it has been challenging (at best) to have her stay in her seat to eat dinner. She has a little booster and we all sit at our dining room table. Initially, she would stay in her seat pretty well to eat, but then asked to get down to play. We have pretty much instilled the "stay at the table until everyone is finished eating" rule, but the "stay in your seat" part isn't working out so well. She asks to sit with me or Dad, which is a habit I don't like, but she also eats a better dinner if she is sitting with one of us. What to do?

So, we had a few parties and the high chair came down. I really wanted to put it back up, but she is certainly old enough to learn to sit in her chair and eat a meal. She does it at daycare with a table full of kids, so I know she can do it at home.

All of her meals are now served at her little table and chair set in the kitchen. She is not good at sitting still and eating her meal, and there are lots of ups and downs, but I think I am seeing some (slow) positive improvement.

Yet another one of those things that is challenging as a parent, yet good for your kid. Theme #1,467 of parenting, I suppose ...

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Maybe I'm the last person to figure this one out ...

Ells eats lots of tacos - seems that everything is more appealing when rolled up in a tortilla. She does, however, tend to have a meltdown when the contents fall out the bottom.

Finally last week, after lots of taco tears, I folded up the bottom like a burrito and secured it all with a toothpick.

Disaster averted.

It's the little things, right?

Monday, May 9, 2011

A trip to the Dentist can be lots of fun ...

I feel like the puppet master today.

Miss Ellen is scheduled for her first trip to the dentist on Friday. I feel like we might be late for this, which makes me nervous. If you know anything about me, it is that I am a rule-follower. I haven't had anyone firmly state that we need to get to the dentist (I think the AAP says 1 year, several friends have said 2 years or 3 years), but I still feel like I am going to get a slap on the wrist by the dental police.

(As an aside, I have a new theory on personality: I think you can tell a lot about a person by the type of toothpaste they choose in the dental office. Me? Always mint, every time, since early childhood. Pretty much tells the story, right?)

So. I don't know if I've really documented our battles related to The Brushing Of The Teeth, but it is generally the most unpleasant task of our day. I have tried every trick I can think of, with only short-lived success. Ells does generally respond well to authority figures, so I am hoping our friendly Dentist will give me a little boost in this department.

I took the same approach to our first dentist visit as I did for her first haircut - videos! There are quite a few Sesame Street dentist videos on YouTube. (And, seriously, look at this one on The Girl and her Llama at the dentist! My memory is crap and I TOTALLY remember this - what IS this all about?)

So, anyway, we made a trip to the library this morning for books about the dentist, but came away with a DVD ("A trip to the dentist can be lots of fun!"). Ells asked to watch it before nap and she was thoroughly enthralled by the puppet, Bucky the Beaver, and his visit to Dr. Rob.

I caught her singing the song before nap (... a trip to the dentist can be lots of fun ...).

She asked to brush her teeth before nap.

She woke up and said, "Mom. I HAVE to go the dentist!"

See? Like I said ... puppet master.

(And, at the risk of sounding like I know what I'm doing, I'll be sure to report back on our actual experience in the special chair!)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Potty Party! The poop ... literally

We had three very successful days of peepee on the potty, but not so much with the poop. I knew it would be a challenge and many kids are #2 trained quite awhile after #1, but I was not looking forward to figuring this out.

In preparation, we had been talking lots about pooping in the potty for days in advance. We read the 'Everyone Poops' book over and over and over. We flushed the poop from her diaper in the toilet so she could see it. Didn't think I would talk so much about poop in my entire life.

Day one of potty party and she had a poop accident, which was pretty much to be expected. She didn't like it and was upset and wanted to get it fixed pronto. We still flushed the poop and explained that we would try again and she needed to let us know next time. I know you don't care about all the pooping habits of my child, but she isn't the kind of kid that gives much warning. I think she pooped again in her diaper at naptime and bedtime, which was fine, and I was happy she went because I didn't want to get into some nasty withholding-constipation nightmare.

The next day, I caught her mid-poop and had the portable potty right next to me in the family room and I just sat her down and tried to get her to finish. I was trying to be happy and relaxed and we read books and sang songs, but she couldn't relax. She kept trying to stand up to poop, poor thing. I don't blame her - when you do it that way for almost 2 years, must be hard to switch! (One tip is to try to catch your kiddo before they poop and just sit them on the potty, clothed and with diaper, so they can get used to pooping while sitting). I think she pooped again in her diaper for the rest of the weekend, when she was in bed, so we sent her off to school on Tuesday without any poop success over the weekend.

Same story all week, poop in diapers with maybe one accident at school. She did really great with peeing on the potty all week at home and school. She was home again Friday with me and I was really hoping we could make some progress. I'll provide more details than you want, but only because it might help. (Truthfully, I'm sure all of this is more detail than you want!) We were relaxing and reading books before nap and she still had her undies on (change to diaper just before bed) and she tooted ('Scuze me!). I asked if she needed to poop and she didn't protest very vigorously, so I sat her down on the potty in "her" bathroom. I don't know what possessed me, but I told her I would stand outside the (open) door and give her some privacy. I guess it did the trick because IT WORKED!

I laid on the praise like you wouldn't believe, she was proud of herself, and we called Daddy at work to share the good news. (You could sense the thrill in his voice. Ha!)

The next day, we tried again before nap in the same way and she did it again! Hip, hip, hooray!

So, by Sunday we were at our 3rd day in a row of no accidents at all, peeing and pooping on the potty. I asked her before lunch if she needed to poop and she said yes. Get thee to a potty, child! She now asks for "pi-vacy" - which is hilariously cute - and is quite proud of her success. On Sunday night, she was monkeying around in bed and when Daddy went to tell her to go to sleep she said she needed to poop, and lo and behold, she did! I thought this was quite the milestone, and I'm crossing my fingers the success continues.

So, in long-winded summary, we are 8 days into wearing undies as I write this. I think it is going great! I still do lots of prompting, probably more than necessary, and am working on finding the right balance of getting her to go when needed without setting up power struggles. We do a lot of - "time to go potty!" and she asks for 2 more minutes playing, so we set the kitchen timer and she goes in 2 minutes. She responds well to this because she feels in control of the situation, which I am mostly fine with, unless we need to get out of the house.

I'm still pretty gun-shy with the running errands and such. We haven't had any car accidents (yet) ... will let you know how that works out for us.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Potty Party! The day of ...

Have you been perched on the edge of your chair awaiting the rest of the details? Right. Didn't think so.

Nevertheless ...

We had our supplies:
- installed potty seat in all bathrooms
- portable potty in the room with us (just in case)
- small rewards (stickers / band aids) for dry undies
- bigger rewards for potty success (toys / food / small candy)
- lots of undies
- beverages and salty snacks
- activities to keep busy!

We had been talking up big girl undies for several days and were committed to undies from that point forward whenever she was awake. I explained that diapers were for sleeping and I know that it will be awhile before she is dry overnight - her diapers are still soaked in the morning, and almost always wet after nap.

(And, to be fair, this was our experience. Our girl had been successfully using the potty at daycare for almost 2 weeks, so this wasn't a huge new experience to her. We probably had an easier time of things than some others ...)

We started our day, bright and early, with both Mom and Dad on deck - no sleeping in this time! I took her diaper off, put her undies on and we went downstairs for breakfast. No PJs or clothes to get in the way, which was her choice.

We started breakfast, but I set a kitchen timer for 10 minutes and explained that we would try to go peepee on the potty when the bell went off. We tried mid-breakfast, with no success, but she got a reward for dry undies. We tried again in 10 minutes and again in 10 minutes and I can't remember when she first had success, but she continued to get rewards for dry undies and then we spaced the timer out to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, I was pushing beverages and whatever she wanted to eat to help her have success.

We continued this way ALL day - timer every 15 minutes, she had to try when it went off, and we had quite a few successes with only 1 accident when she was playing and didn't tell us she needed to go. It is hard to know how long to have your child sit on the potty to "try" - Ellen won't sit there for any length of time if she doesn't feel she has to go. No use forcing her and enduring the battle.

This is an exhausting undertaking because you are constantly "on" - trying to catch them in the act. I try not to let Ells watch much TV regularly, but there are days she watches more than I would like. I didn't want her to watch much, if any, TV at the potty party because she can zone out. We played lots of Play-doh and read books and colored and played on the new iPad (hooray!) which is another good reward.

She got a diaper for nap, and slept well after an attention-packed morning. I am just choosing to continue using diapers rather than Pull Ups, mostly because they are less expensive and we have tons. I just made the distinction that diapers are only for sleeping. Also, Ellen is still in a crib. My bestie (the behavior analyst) commented that she didn't know of any kids who potty trained while still in a crib!?! Ellen hasn't shown ANY signs of getting out of her crib, so I'm leaving her there. Since she is wearing diapers in bed it isn't a big deal, and when she transitions to a big bed she will probably be closer to wearing undies at nap/bed and we can deal with that then.

After nap, she went straight from crib to potty and then right back in undies. We continued our routine for the afternoon with lots of success. She maybe told us once or twice all day that she needed to go, which I thought was really good.

We had a family dinner and ended it with chocolate cake with sprinkles and we congratulated her TONS on having such a great day of pottying! It helped that both sets of grandparents stopped by, too, to get in on the high fives.

On Sunday, we continued with a similar routine, but a little more relaxed and no pushing of fluids. We used the timer some in the morning, then just switched to asking her about every 15-20 minutes if she needed to go. We had an accident or two when she said she didn't need to go, but I think it is a learning experience to wet your pants and see that you don't like it! Of course, no reprimanding for accidents - just better luck next time! She still got rewards for potty success, but she also had to (attempt) wipe, flush and wash her hands to get a reward. She got a reward for dry undies if she asked, but she mostly forgot about it.

After three full days at home, I felt very good about her overall success with peeing on the potty. She was telling us more when she needed to go, though still requires quite a bit of prompting a week+ later. I have also found that sometimes she won't take the time to try to go unless I "threaten" her. Not a mean threat, of course, but if I know she hasn't peed in an hour or more and she wants to color with chalk or play Play doh, I'll tell her we can't do it until she peepees. Miracle of miracles, she almost always does! I won't claim that this is good parenting, but she is so anxious to play that she often won't sit long enough on the potty to give it a fair shot. And, I always try my hardest to get her to pee before we leave the house, and then we find the bathroom and try again when we get to our destination. We haven't attempted a Target run or grocery run yet, but the plan will be the same. Guess I better find all those bathrooms!

Also, after three full days at home, no poop success. More on that later ... I know you can't wait.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Potty Party! The Prep ...

We dove head-first into the potty training and have come out on the other side, relatively unscathed. I'll note here what we did for the future - perhaps it will be useful to you, too.

I think I might have mentioned that I attended a potty training class put on by my local Parents as Teachers group almost a year ago. It was way too early to be thinking about it, but I thought we might approach potty training before the next class rolled around. I would recommend something similar if you have access - it helps to recognize the signs of readiness and begin to formulate a plan of attack.

Just about 6 weeks ago I thought we weren't close to potty training, then our daycare teacher indicated that Ells was probably ready - she was successfully using the potty at school, was dry for a few hours at a time and was asking to go on occasion. Okay then. We waited until after our vacation, then went for it! It was earlier than I had planned / hoped, but I didn't want to miss our window of opportunity and 2 1/2 years is really the average age for potty training, which we are close to.

(To be fair, we had been talking a lot about the potty, trying before bath or bed or if Ellen asked, and working on her taking off her own pants or shorts. We read potty books here and there, not with an agenda, but just for general awareness.)

Most of my plan of attack was formulated by my bestie (the behavior analyst) and my other bestie (who writes down what the behavior analyst says). Bestie #2 potty trained her son earlier this spring, so I just did what she did!

Most of this is centered on the Potty Party / Potty Training In A Day idea. For a child who is ready, you can probably be reasonably potty trained within one day. Sound too good to be true? It isn't!

We started by talking about the upcoming "potty party" as soon as we got home from vacay. "In 1 week, no more diapers when you are awake! Are you excited for your potty party? You can wear undies!!" Blah, blah, blah ...

We shopped for big girl undies at Target - together. You must let them pick them out! And, we got tons - I bet about 35 pairs. Totally overkill, but you want to be sure to have PLENTY on hand for accidents the first weekend, and then if you need to send some to daycare or wherever. And word to the wise, the Circo brand undies are, shall we say, pretty form fitting. It seems like the underwear sizing for little girls is maybe different than clothes? I am so bad at that kind of thing. We ended up with size 4, because it was the smallest on the shelf, and it's fine for all the other brands.

I casually asked Ellen what surprise she might want at the end of her potty party and she asked for a chocolate cake with sprinkles. Easy. Done. (I think there may be some suggestion to actually take your child out of the house to a restaurant or some such as a surprise, but we elected not to.)

At our weekly grocery run, I had her point out treats she might like for her potty party. We never have juice boxes or chocolate milk in the house, but I planned to be a full-on beverage pimp, so wanted to have something enticing to her. I did a solo grocery run the Friday before our potty party and picked up a cart full of "junk": chocolate milk boxes, regular milk boxes, 2 kinds of juice boxes, jelly beans, M&Ms, salty snacks of all types, cereal bars, fruit snacks, fruit leathers, and a chocolate cake mix with sprinkles!

I also picked up a lot of treats / rewards / incentives. Each family will figure out the best way to do this - some use food and some don't. I elected to go kind of middle ground ... I'm not opposed to food as a reward, but I wanted her to have more to choose from so that she might not always pick candy. Our girl likes stickers, but not enough that I felt that stickers would really be rewarding to her. She does LOVE band aids, though, so I got several kinds of character band aids and cut up some stickers to all go in a box as her reward for each time she had dry undies.

When she successfully used the potty she got to pick from a box of bigger rewards: cereal bars, fruit snacks, fruit leathers, toys from the $1 aisle at Target, pieces of sidewalk chalk, small tubs of Play-doh, coloring books. Basically I just picked up some toys that I knew she already liked and that came in enough pieces that I could divide them up for rewards. I also happened upon an Elmo potty training coloring book that had a sticker chart. We read through the book the night before the potty party and she got to color in it the day of. The sticker chart worked for about 5 rounds of dry undies, and then she was over it.

I know this is really long ... I'll add the details of our day in another post. And then we'll get to the pooping - excitement!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Safety First

Have I titled another blog post this way? I think that pretty much means I am NOT in the running for mom of the year.

Just a heads up for you on a few safety scares of late ... don't want to find you shaking your head and pacing in the rain like I was.

#1 - "Travel Safety"
Our recent trip was super excellent, though left some parenting skills to be desired. On our first full day there, I put Ells down late for her nap in a pack n' play in a strange place - never a recipe for good napping. She seemed to be quiet, though the monitor wasn't working, so about 40 minutes into her "nap" I wandered to the bottom of the stairs to hear her yelling, "Mommy! Poopy!" Uhhhh ... at our house that means, "come change me!", but I wasn't sure what that meant elsewhere. Sure enough - I walk into the dark room to find her naked bum holding her diaper out over the edge of the pack n' play. Mind you, this is really only the second occasion that she has taken her diaper off in bed. I panic, then thank god that said poop is still entirely contained in the diaper and she hasn't peed in the meantime. I turn on all the lights, get her out of bed, and put her about 10 feet from me in the same room while I clean things up. Moments later I hear her spitting, and I round to the corner of the bed to find her spitting out Advil (!). She had managed to unzip our suitcase, get out my husband's dop kit, upzip it, find the (loose) Advil and started eating it. In like 2 minutes. Of course it looked just like candy, and thankfully didn't taste like it. GAH!

My point is ... medicine is clearly baby-proofed at our own house, though I didn't really think twice about throwing (relatively) loose medicine into my travel bag. Consider yourself warned.

#2 - "Have a spare"
Miss Ellen is a petite thing (well, to be fair, in height more than girth), but she does keep growing and is now tall enough to reach door handles and open doors. Our house is older, with some sticky doors and knobs, but she can mostly get into and out of wherever she wants. Soooo ... I was standing on the front porch Friday saying good-bye to a friend and Ells kept shutting the front door, and I kept opening it back up. Our front door generally is pretty sticky, so she couldn't shut it all the way. However. She did apparently learn to turn the little lock in the doorknob and slammed the door hard enough that I was locked out. In the (light) rain. With no spare key. The back door, which we usually use, was still locked because we hadn't yet been out for the day. I also learned that Ellen isn't super quick with the charades, but I did finally get back in. Lesson learned -get yourself a spare key to keep outside if you don't already! Soon enough your kid will be locking you out on purpose ...

Friday, April 22, 2011

I love me some Tina Fey

Sorry for the radio silence ... this potty training business is exhausting, on top of vaca-recovery and just general life-ness. I haven't paid this must intensive attention to my daughter since our first days home from the hospital and I think we are both tired of each other. :)

That being said, thanks to my friend Julie for giving me a laugh today via my friend (I wish!) Tina Fey. I know you've heard about her new book, Bossypants. I hope I can find some time to read it, and actually, maybe I can now that I am the owner of an iPad! Yessssss.

Back to the topic at hand .... Tina Fey's "The Mother's Prayer for Its Daughter":

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her

When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Have baby, will travel: take 4

We successfully completed our 3rd airplane trip with Miss E, including her first purchased plane ticket. Booo. It is quite painful to pay hundreds of dollars for your toddler to have a seat on a plane, but I must say that it would have been a pretty miserable trip if Ellen was sitting on one of our laps (or more likely playing lap roulette) the entire trip.

I polled my friends via the Facebook about travel tips with toddlers and it was so interesting to see their answers! People were very evenly split about buckling your child in their car seat vs. checking the car seat for your destination. I was torn, but in the end we elected to check the car seat. Our theory was that we would check it on departure and, if the trip was a nightmare, we could buckle her in on the trip home.

She did great! We talked a lot in advance about wearing your seatbelt the whole trip, and there wasn't even a peep about getting out of her seat. In the end, I think you just have to judge how your child would likely behave. Ells is pretty content with food and DVDVs (yes, that is what she calls them), and I was willing to bet she would be content with an endless supply of fun new treats and Curious George movies for a mere 90 minutes without any plane changes. Turns out, I bet correctly. :)

Our rental car situation was SO much more pleasant with our own car seat vs. our previous attempt with their "vintage" car seat. We didn't even use a car seat bag - Southwest wrapped it up in a plastic sack for us - and things came out just fine.

My other tips are pretty minimal, but include packing a disposable plate/napkin/utensils if you will be traveling at mealtime. I packed a dinner of a fruit cup, PB&J sandwich, Horizon milk box (doesn't have to be refrigerated) and cheese stick. Everything fit in the standard approved quart bag and they didn't give me any hassle that the liquids weren't all 3oz. or less. We brought 2 suitcases for all 3 of us, plus 2 backpacks as carry-ons and it worked perfectly.

The best part of our trip, of course, was the destination. Watching our girl play with my best girlfriends' kiddos was just priceless. Tiring? Ummm, YES. New playmates apparently equals very poor sleep. None the less, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Another sale! Art!

I love the idea of having an oversized picture of your kid in your house, like really a huge quirky one.

These images are from Lilly's Notebook, via Lulu DK for Lonny.

I ordered a large canvas on sale from One Kings Lane a few months ago and I'm still trying to decide on which picture to use.

They are on sale again today from Chic Canvas, sale through 4/8/11 at 8am PDT.

If you don't have a OKL account, here is a referral link - they have lots of great sales!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Let's check it out

Get it?
Check out?

Yep, we've finally made it to the library. I'm totally a slacker, as my mom is a former librarian and is still on the library board, but we just hadn't made it there. I feel like I checked out the infant story time and it didn't work with our schedule, and then I guess I just forgot about it.

Fast forward and story time is now on my day off, so we have been a few times and Ells is really getting into it. She loves to wander the aisles and pick out books to bring home, and these books are SO much more popular than the ones we already own. Of course.

I let her help me scan the books and get the receipt. We only had minimal trauma the first time we had to bring the books back, but now I think she gets the concept of "borrowing."

She did, however, rip a page out of one of the borrowed books. She has only done this about 3 times ever, so of course it had to be in a book we didn't own. Now we do own it, though, so if your child wants to rip a page out of a library book, make sure it is one you like!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sunscreen Sale!

On this cold day, with flurries threatening, let's think about sunscreen!

I just got an email with a Deal of the Day that I thought was worth passing along (after I took advantage myself, obviously).

DailyCandy has some good daily deals they offer, though honestly I find that my inbox gets too clogged up with these types of things.

Today the deal is 25% off your purchase at 3floz. com, which is a website with a variety of beauty products that come in 3oz size or smaller for traveling. Or, if you just want to try a product, this is a good way! (Enter: DAILYCANDY25 at checkout)

So, you may not need beauty products, but they do offer my very most favorite sunscreen - SuperGoop! These products are pricey, but I love, love, love their sunscreen swipes and I also ordered the new SPF spray this year (so good for Ellen's scalp).

SuperGoop always offers free shipping over $40, but also offers free shipping over $50. So, with the discount, it is totally the way to go!

Happy shopping ... and here's to some sunshine in our near future!

Friday, March 25, 2011

For posterity

Ashley Ann's Under the Sycamore blog is one of my daily reads. I have about 4 must-read blogs each day (other than friends), and hers is one of them. I'm not exactly sure why - her crafty style really isn't my style, but I like her writing and I think her pictures are really great.

She had a good post last week about Getting in the Shot - putting yourself in pictures with your kids. I am totally guilty of not doing this, and it makes me sad. I have very few pictures of Ellen and me together, and they are mostly at holidays or birthdays - not the everyday stuff we do together.

I have been trying to make an effort - this is a picture of our "popcorn picnic" (snacks on cold/snowy days are miraculously more fun if they are served sitting on the floor on a blanket!). It isn't in focus (need more practice), but I'm happy to have the memory ...

In a mere 11 years ...

I know I've posted things before about the challenges of raising girls. Since I don't have a boy, I really can't comment on that, but it sure seems to me that there are special challenges we face raising girls. Maybe not now so much, but it's the future that scares the bejeezus out of me. The Huz says it all the time, too ... he sees little teenage girls shopping, or playing grab-ass with the young Bieber-ish kid, and he just shakes his head and mumbles.

I've also posted things from Clover Lane before. She is the mother of 5 kids (4 boys) and I like a lot of what she says about common sense parenting. Her post this week: What About Our Girls? Childhood Cut Short really made sense to me.

I agree that you can't raise your child in a bubble, but I also think it is true that the parents in your community influence how you parent your child, whether you like it (or admit it) or not. You can make the rules for your child, but if your child's 10 friends follow another rule, you might have a battle on your hands. Fight one battle? Sure. Fight 100? That will wear you down.

Up until now, Ellen's friends have been the children of our friends. Obviously, we like their parents and they probably have a similar parenting philosophy to us, but this means we have been choosing Ellen's friends. I think we are starting to get to the stage of playing with friends from school that SHE chooses. This is fun to see, but I suppose it also means the start of that parenting-play date dance. One of our friends said something a few months ago that rang true - when your child starts kindergarten, the other classroom parents will become part of your social circle for the next 13ish years, whether you like it or not.

Choose wisely. :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Take a seat

Did you read about the new American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for car seat safety?

You can read an article here: AAP's New Car Seat Guidelines Change Rear Facing & Booster Rules

We kept Ellen rear-facing in her convertible car seat until about 19 months, and would have gone longer if it wasn't for the pukey-puke fest that we had been enduring. She is short, with short legs, so we didn't have any trouble with her complaining about being cramped.

I found the new high-backed booster seat recommendation especially interesting ... I don't think Ellen will be 4 feet 9 inches tall until she is driving!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Penny Pinching

This isn't kid-related, so much, but maybe a good reminder to do some spring cleaning of your budget and finances.

I think we do a pretty good job of managing our finances, but we haven't done an in-depth budget and review credit reports since before Ellen was born and we were in that diapers-and-daycare-cost-how-much? phase. It was part of the nesting then, I guess, and now just part of some spring cleaning.

You can visit to get a free copy of your credit report (1 per year from each of 3 companies). You have to purchase your credit score if you need it, but at least you would know if there were any potential issues on your credit history.

Erik also used to be pretty dedicated to entering all of our banking and credit card information into Microsoft Money, but really, who has time for that anymore? I just signed up at Mint and it seems like a pretty neat thing. You enter all of your banking / credit card / loan / mortgage / investment accounts and it sucks in all the information and has some budgeting formulas it uses. I haven't played around with it much, but you might find you like it. It's as secure as any other online banking service.

Finally, I am manually going back through the last year of our credit card and bank statements to classify our purchases into categories. Tedious? Totally. But, I want to have as accurate a picture of our spending as I can. You smart financial people probably already know that you can get a year-end summary on your credit card website (we put almost everything on our credit card and pay it off each cycle), where they either classify it by store or category - very helpful.

So, that's the spring cleaning we have going on around here. The next (overwhelming) task is the yard - who is coming to help?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dare I say it?

Just as an update, I think I may actually be onto something with the cow clock and timer system we have going on at bedtime.

I first mentioned our KID'Sleep Alarm Clock back in September. I feel like it has been successful over the last 6 months, but the concept of staying quietly in bed until the "cow is dancing" is really sinking in. I would say that most mornings of the week, Ells wakes up before 6:30am (dance time!), but she stays relatively quiet until she sees the cow dancing. Then she promptly yells out, "Mom! Dad! Come get me! Cow dancing! I go downstairs!" and we're off for the day. I have been sneaking in before I go to bed to put a stack of books in her crib to keep her occupied, but she only gets her loveys and stuffed animals at bedtime.

I was a bit concerned about daylight savings, and this was really the big test. She got in bed about 8:00pm, so 9:00pm new time. I was afraid she would wake up, see her cow at 6:30am, and be awake for the day, when it was really 5:30am old time. I moved the alarm to 7:30am, and she didn't yell out until 7:34am. So, while this was still her "usual" wake time, I felt like it proved she was paying attention to the dancing cow and we didn't have any hitch with daylight savings. I'll take it!

As for the timer, I'm still pleased with our progress. The 20 minute window seems to be working and, while she might protest when the bell goes off, there is no longer a protracted tantrum and she (pretty readily) turns out the lights. We rock and sing in the chair for a bit, then into bed. I've noticed she is trying to draw out the scratch my back / covers / lovey routine once she gets in bed, but she is easier to quiet once her room is dark.

Prior to the timer, we had gotten into a bad habit of going back up to her room several times a night when she called out for any number of "necessary" things before she fell asleep. As a bonus, most of that has gone away since starting the timer. I'm not really sure the two events are related, but again, I'll take it!