Monday, January 17, 2011

Dear Monkey:

I think I need to clarify something...

When I told you that Candy Land was my "favorite" game, I didn't mean out of all the things I could be doing in the whole wide world.

What I actually meant is that I find it more tolerable than Chutes and Ladders, a game that currently aggravates me to no end. I'm not sure if it's just the poorly-designed Toy Story version, where the little characters clutter up the board, making it almost impossible to count spaces, or the fact that you do not yet recognize your numbers beyond ten, making the idea of having you move your own piece back and forth a 100-space board a bit challenging for a child of your mere 3 1/2 years, but when I basically end up playing the game by myself, a tiny bit of the fun trickles out of the experience. So yes, Candy Land, where you can actually make your own moves, and correctly, is much more fun. That does not mean, however, than when faced with you being home sick today, I had quite the reaction you were hoping for when you eagerly told me: "That means we can play your favorite game!!"

Although I have to say, it is somewhat sweet that you already had it all set up for me, and also amusing that, after playing with Daddy yesterday, you have now incorporated things like "We have to cut the deck" and "You're on my tail!" into our game play... Bring it on!

Dear Disney Channel:

There's something about your target audience I think you're overlooking...

Their need for routine.

Why else would I need to explain 15 minutes explaining why Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was not on today at it's usual time? Apparently my 3 1/2 year old knows your schedule better than you do. Which is impressive, considering just as we figure out the latest schedule, you decide to change it.

And while I'm at it, while I understand that a large percentage of the under-5 crowd consists of early risers, my child is miraculously not one of them. Which means I would appreciate it if Playhouse Disney wouldn't end less than an hour after my child gets up, leaving us with nothing but Phineas & Ferb (which is hysterical, but my child is not yet sophisticated enough to appreciate the humor) and the various non-cartoon shows which I can not yet tell apart but are clearly geared more towards the Tween set. Which, I might at, should be AT SCHOOL.

Seriously, a consistent schedule for the preschool set - look into it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bribery FAIL

Bribery is such a useful tool with toddlers...

Although I'm not particularly fond of the negative implications of the word "bribery" - I prefer to consider our discussions "negotiations." As in, "If you take three more bites of chicken and two more bites of corn, you can have dessert." Or, as is so much more often the case these days, "If you keep you big boy pants clean and dry ALL day, I will give you a present."

Yes, the potty training war drags on, and I have a tough opponent, one who continues to insist, for reasons I just can't understand, in running behind or crawling under the nearest piece of furniture to poop in his pants rather than the potty. One who has become resistant to my ever-increasing attempts at bribery.

Take yesterday. Driving home from preschool, Monkey expressed dismay at the fact that his Fireman Sam DVD case, which he had brought to school for Show & Share day, was now empty. I told him that surely it was somewhere in his classroom, and we'd look for it in the morning:

Monkey: (Sadly) But I wanted to watch Fireman Sam tonight after dinner...
Me: I'm sorry, but we can't get your DVD back until tomorrow. Unlesss.... Now that I think about it, I think I have ANOTHER Fireman Sam video at home, and if you poop on the potty tonight, you can have it!
Monkey: Hmmm..... I think I'll just watch Curious George instead.

So much for what I thought was some great leverage and a prime opportunity - the kid simply refuses to be bribed on this subject. And without bribery, I am simply at a loss. I need to re-group, re-strategize ... the battle wages on.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Things I Wish I Didn't Have to Google...

* Toddler Constipation

* Toddler Hiding to Poop

* Smoke Alarm Chirping

On the plus side, what would we do without the Internet??

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Potty Purgutory

I was so naive...

I had no idea that potty training was going to be such a loooooooooooong process!

I mean, I get that it wasn't going to happen instantaneously (well, unless I was extremely lucky, which would have been OK too). I realized it was going to involve time, accidents, and patience, and I promised myself I would do my best possible job of faking the patience part.

But man, it seems like this has been going on FOREVER. And the thing that kills me is that Monkey basically GETS IT. He just chooses not to do it. There's nothing like asking your kid "why didn't you tell me you had to go?" only to hear him say "because I wanted to go in my pants." Even though he will immediately complain that his pants are dirty and he wants you to change him.

At least we finally got over the "ewwww" hump. Once I resorted to putting Monkey in Big Boy Pants, he realized that going #2 was not conducive to continuing to play, walk around, etc., so now if he goes in his pants, he walks arouund like some kind of animal, trying to avoid continued contact with the offending deposit. But he still hasn't made the connection that he can just avoid this whole unpleasant scenario by just taking one minute out of his busy schedule to sit on the potty!

We have glimpses of success... The first time he pooped on the potty, I threw a freaking party. I danced, I sang, I cheered, I showered him with M&Ms! Monkey probably thought I was a maniac, but deep down I know he was proud and appreciated the theatrics. But apparently it was a one-hit wonder kind of thing - it took weeks (or was it months? I've seriously lost track of time!) before we could get a repeat performance. And still, today, if he's going to have an accident, odds are it's gonna be a poopy one. Because that's SO much more fun to clean out of Big Boy Pants. Sigh...

Last week was a low point. We had a string of accidents, and it seemed like we were going nowhere but backwards. But then, on Sunday, we went on a short road trip, and as we got out of the car at our somewhat remote, outdoor destination, I discovered that I hadn't restocked the diaper bag. That's right - we had NO diapers, NO pull-ups, and NO extra clothes. Although, for what it's worth, we DID have a big baggie to put dirty clothes in. Guess Monkey would just have to go naked when the inevitable accident occurred...

But, miracle of miracles, we made it through the entire day without an accident! Monkey successfully used a port-a-potty (although not without totally grossing me out by touching WAY too many things while inside) and a restaurant bathroom until Mommy could get to a Walgreens and buy some Pull-Ups. We were covered by naptime, which took place in the car on the ride home, but ironically, even once adequately protected, Monkey stayed dry!

As we neared home, Monkey started calling out that he had to go potty. We were five minutes from our own, clean bathroom, so I asked him if he could hold it, and he said yes. So why exactly was I surprised when I turned around a moment later to see him with his hand between his legs, "holding it"? I forget how literal toddlers can be!

So yes, we made it through a challenging day, and then we made it through yesterday as well. Yesterday, however, was one of those days that Monkey didn't end up pooping, and those are generally more successful. But, much to my surprise, he jumped up not once, but THREE different times from playing with his race cars and bolted for the bathroom, telling me that he had to go. Two of these were actually false alarms - I think the poor guy was actually constipated. But the idea of him taking the initiative to go? That's a definite milestone for us. Oh please, please, let us finally be over the last hurdle... I like to get my money's worth out of my purchases, but I REALLY wouldn't mind having to find someone to donate these last few diapers and Pull-Ups to!

Friday, August 6, 2010

In a perfect world... rental agencies would provide CURRENT, CLEAN, UNDAMAGED car seats INSTALLED AND/OR INSPECTED BY A CERTIFIED SAFETY INSPECTOR.

But I guess that's a lot to ask. Really, though, should it be?

Parent are constantly urged to have their car seats checked out by a certified inspector, given the shockingly high percentage of car seats that have been found to be incorrectly installed. Yet, when traveling, we are expected to either: (i) haul our own, bulky, awkward car seat with us through the airport, then re-install it at our destination, without any assurance as to whether we've done it properly; or, even worse, (ii) rent a seat from our car rental agency, who may or not install it for us (but probably won't), may or may not provide a manual helping us to install it, and, in the worst case, may provide us with a car seat that is malfunctioning in some regard.

I learned this lesson the hard way this past weekend. Trying to travel "light" for a quick trip to Atlanta for a family event, we opted to leave the car seat in our car and rent one from Hertz. Which, I should note, wasn't exactly cheap. Upon arriving in the roughly 100-degree heat, hubby and I had to take turns trying to entertain Monkey while the other worked up an immediate and unpleasant sweat trying to get the car seat installed and secured. That, as it turns out, was the easy part.

Our return flight was canceled, forcing us to fly to another city, about two hours away from home, and rent ANOTHER car to complete our trip. Setting aside the fact that the airline wouldn't cover the rental (in lieu of a hotel), we arrived, again sweating like there's no tomorrow, only to get to our car and find no car seat. So we tracked down someone, and about five minutes later, an employee drove by and uncermoniously dumped a car seat in front of our rental. Upon trying to install it, however, I quickly discovered that it was completely missing the lower LATCH hooks. Now, I know that you can also install car seats using the lap belt, but the thing is, I have always used the LATCH system, as it is fairly simple, I'm familiar with it, and I figure there's probably a reason that LATCH is mandatory in all new cars. So, in my mind, a seat without LATCH hooks is defective. Upon again tracking down an employee (I suspect they were all hiding out in the AC somewhere), we explained the problem. Another 5-10 minutes trying to entertain Monkey, who, I have to say, was really being a champ through all of this ordeal, and a new seat was delivered. This one had a LATCH hook... well, one of them. The other one apparently was chewed off by an angry toddler (probably his way of venting about customer service), given the appearance of the threads where the hook was supposed to be. Again, I demonstrated to the employee the flaw in this particular car seat, at which point I was advised that he'd look, but he wasn't sure if they had any more car seats!

Ultimately, the third time was the charm, we got a bare-bones, but functional, car seat, and were on our way, 2000% more exhausted and frustrated, but with Monkey safe enough to complete our trip.

Upon arriving home, I wanted to immediately provide Hertz with some constructive "feedback," but for some reason I held back... Was it unreasonble of me to expect that the LATCH system be in place on the seats, when I could in fact have installed the seat using the car's lap belt? Did I, as a parent, have some unknown "duty" to be fully proficient in ALL manner of car seat installations, in any car, with any seat, with or without instructions, and was it somehow my fault that I couldn't make do with the seats they offered me? Upon reflection, I think not. And, after some brief Goggling, I found many similar vents, including car rental agencies that promise to install seats, but don't follow through, some that install seats, but perhaps not properly, and a host of other complaints, most of which have led parents to the conclusion that the best choice is either to drive your own car or haul your own seat. I find this very sad. I understand that things like quality car seats come at a cost, an that safety training and inspections can come at a cost, but itsn't it worth it to protect our children??

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

{Crickets Chirping}

Once again, I have sorely neglected this blog. If anyone is out there actually checking for updates, I apologize. If I'm just talking to myself, well, then I guess I apologize to myself. :-)

I've been reading a lot of new blogs lately focused on healthy lifestyles and the like, and have toyed with the idea of doing the same, if for no other reason than to force myself to eat better. In theory, I won't get pizza and breadsticks for lunch if I have to post about it, right? But then I think, "what if I start a whole blog about food and then fail miserably?" Hmmm...

Where am I now? Well, Monkey has started day care on a full-time basis, in anticipation of his transition to preschool next month. Now excuse me while I take a moment to freak out over the fact that my baby is about to turn 3....

Wow. I really don't know where three years have gone! Monkey has turned into such a smart, funny little guy. He still has a temper, and is mischievous beyond what I expected at this age, but I just LOVE talking to him and hearing the funny, wise, or silly things that alternatively come out of his mouth. Just last night he tried to convince me that we need to paint his room yellow. When I pointed out that it already IS yellow, he pointed out the flaw - apparently he wants it to be WIGGLES yellow, as in the color of Greg's (or Sam's, depending on what DVD you watch) shirt. This pale yellow nonsense just isn't cutting it for him. He also chastized me last night when I tried to put him back to bed after a middle-of-the-night tornado warning, reminding me that "YOU got me up, Mommy." So observant, these kids...

Anyway, job-wise, Monkey's transition to full-time mirrors an effort to put in more hours on my part as well. In the first week, however, I'm finding that my best intentions are being frustrated by more compelling home projects, namely, trying to get rid of all of Monkey's old stuff that I tried, but failed, to sell in last weekend's big neighborhood garage sale, and painting the master bedroom, in anticipation of finally, after five years of begging, getting a new furniture set. You know, one where the pieces actually match? So, yeah, the real work has, if anything, suffered MORE than usual this week. Oops. It would have helped, however, if Once Upon a Child had given me the courtesy of a personal phone call to let me know they were moving their store, saving me a needless 40-minute round trip this morning, that will have to be repeated tomorrow now that I have successfully tracked them down.

Health-wise, it seems like every Monday is supposed to mark the start of a healthier lifestyle, both in terms of eating and exercise. I find that a work-at-home setup, while great in theory, leads to more snacking out of boredom and less exercising than one might think. And I confess that my willpower is weak, leaving me susceptible to many "it's too hot to exercise today - maybe I'll just start fresh tomorrow" moments. And man has it been hot!

I have taken some positive steps. I've started buying more organic fruits and vegetables, and try to keep the house stocked with a decent assortment of them so that I have good foods to choose from. I have tried to eliminate the "bad" snacks from the house, but confess that they still find their way in from time to time, only to disappear far too quickly for the wrong reasons. I'm not much of a "plan the week's menu" in advance kind of girl - I'm not sure why that is. As a result, I'm often a victim of what there is to eat in the house, and it's hard to both keep a variety, and keep from having food go to waste. Still working on that balance. It would be easier, of course, if Monkey and his Daddy liked the same foods that I did, but all too often I find myself preparing 2-3 separate meals, struggling to get them all to the table at the same time. One of my goals is to find more common meals that we can share, and wean Monkey off of his "peanut butter quesidilla" (i.e., PB on a flour tortilla) and "fishie crackers (i.e., Goldfish) addiction. Do you have any healthy meals that your toddlers really love? I really need to work on expanding his horizons, food-wise!

In the spirit of honesty, but not BRUTAL honesty, I'll confess that today has not been a good day so far, diet-wise, so I will refrain from posting about what I've eaten, with the goal of having something to be proud to share tomorrow! And on that note, I'm off to try to get some work done before the day gets away from me!