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 3floz.com 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 AnnualCreditReport.com 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!

Friday, March 11, 2011

(not?) A bunch of hooey

I mentioned that I attended a discipline class a week or so ago, based on the books of Dr. Becky Bailey and her Conscious Discipline workshops.

I was really looking for a time-out solution, as ours was hardly doing the trick. I had been working with a modified version of the Love and Logic Uh-Oh song, but hadn't been very consistent. We had a time-out corner, but I had to stand there with Ellen to try (try being the operative word) to keep her there for even 30 seconds. The Love and Logic guys say that standing in the corner (or going to your room, or whatever ...) should be punishment enough and you don't need to demand an apology or explain what your child did - they are smart enough to figure it out on their own. For older kids I agree with a lot of this, but the translation to toddlers is much more challenging. And, in the end, it never seemed to solve our issues.

So, fast forward to "The Safe Place". I'll admit that when I heard this in class I thought it sounded ridiculous, like a bunch of granola-flowerchild-parenting. Here is my brief explanation of what they taught us - I'm sure the books go into much more detail. The idea is that "Time Out" is replaced by "Safe Place". Kids between the ages of 15 months and 4 years are primarily in an "emotional state" and their primary concern is, Am I Loved? They are very egocentric at this age (yep, that sounds about right). So, by sending your child away for time out, you are contributing to the problem because they just want to be with you.

The Safe Place can be a favorite chair, or an item (doll / lovey), or even a parent. It can be in the room you are in, or close to it, just so the child isn't isolated. If Sally takes a toy from Suzie and hits her, then you can take Sally to the Safe Place, sit with her and help her talk through her emotions. "I can see that you were frustrated when Suzie took your toy, so you hit her. Let's sit in this safe place until you feel better." And when the child calms down, you can practice what you would change next time. A hug and a kiss, then back to playing. Eventually, the idea is that the child would just go to their Safe Place when they are feeling out of control and would re-join the group when they are feeling better.

Hooey, right?

So, the day after class, I found Ellen in the midst of some kind of meltdown. I just grabbed her, sat with her in a chair, and hugged her tight in a bear hug (to keep her from hitting me and biting me - where is my safe place?). I talked her through whatever the issue was, she calmed down, we hugged it out and she was fine - issue resolved. I was pretty impressed, actually. I used it several more times and felt it was a pretty successful technique.


I am pretty much the Safe Place at this point. If I am the object of her anger (which, let's face it, is often the case), she really doesn't want to be confined in a bear hug in a chair. We've got some kinks to work out, but I think it is always helpful to add some more tools to your discipline tool belt.

And, it has been pretty cute to hear Ellen say, "I upset. I have tears on my face. Hug?"

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tick, tick, tick, tick ...

I hope this doesn't make me sound like a drill Sargent, but I have added a kitchen timer to our bedtime routine. It just started last week - and we are still working on the process - but I think I am seeing positive improvements. (Wishful thinking? Maybe).

Here is my rationale:
1. Ellen doesn't understand the concept of time. If I say, "You're wasting time messing around when you could be reading books!" she doesn't care/know any better.

2. I would rather the timer be the bad guy than me. (Carrie - does this even make behavioral sense? I really don't know).

My plan was to set the timer as soon as we got upstairs to get ready for bed. I set it for 20 minutes, which should be plenty of time to change a diaper, put on PJs, brush teeth and read books. When the bell goes off, we stop what we are doing, turn out the lights and get in bed.

We shopped for the timer together - Ellen picked it out - and then we decorated it at home with stickers that she picked out. We had a lot of conversation about how we were going to use the timer at bedtime and practiced listening to it.

The 1st night? As you can imagine, NOT a pretty scene. Ells messed around, despite lots of reminders about the timer, and threw a big fat fit when the bell went off. I expected it, though she actually did settle pretty quickly.

The 2nd night was quite a bit better, per Dad's report. We had a previous rule of 2 books before bed, but now we can read as many as we can fit in before the bell. She only likes to read to herself now, so she read about 7 books and was quite pleased with herself. :)

The 3rd night was again not great, which I'll chalk up to a stomach bug. (I promise I'm not a terrible parent - despite 2 episodes of vomit, she had been very cheerful all evening).

She got night #4 off because grandmother was over!

By Sunday night, the bell went off, we finished our "Curious George Goes to the Library" story, and she was off to bed with minimal resistance.

I really do enjoy our bedtime routine, but I enjoy the reading and laughs and cuddles, and not the endless protests. I think this is helping ... we'll see if it stands the test of time.

(Time - get it? Ha. Such a comic!)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lovin' the lovey

This is a cute idea with lots of applications ...

I found it via Lilly's Notebook - Hippopota - via the New York Times:

And here is the Hippopota website if you want to order a custom photo ... starting at $500. I think this is ripe for a DIY, no?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Take a seat

Well, we're getting closer to potty time around here.

I'm totally not pushing it and - truth be told - I'm really not ready, even if Little Miss is (she isn't). Diapers are convenient. We can run errands without a care in the world. I like it.

I took a potty training class several months ago and have heard lots about the signs of readiness. I think Ells is starting to show some of them, but certainly isn't there yet. I'm aiming for summer when we will have fewer clothes to deal with! That being said, Ellen does get to sit on the potty when she asks, and often before bed or bath. We had two successes this week - pure coincidence I'm sure - but seems like we are on the potty train, for better or worse.

We have very little real estate in our bathrooms and I've heard people say that dealing with the little potty chair can be kind of gross. We have several friends who have used these 2-in-1 toilet seats, so I went ahead and invested this week.

This is the Bemis NextStep Toilet Seat that I found at Home Depot for about $30. The kid seat has a magnet, so it usually sticks to the lid unless you specifically pull it down. Seems to work well so far, and so nice not to navigate around the little bitty potty!

Any other tips while we're at it?