Tag Archives: preschooler

She Says… Wardrobe Malfunctions

Thanks for your comments on yesterday’s post about Owen mirroring his friend. I have never heard of “mirror neurons” and the psych major in me finds the idea very interesting (especially as it relates to building empathy/self-awareness… two things I can clearly see Owen working on developmentally).

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Case in point… here is a picture from last weekend where Owen WOULD NOT pick his face paint design until another friend did. At least he copied something cute!

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Last weekend was our first real taste of spring. Ahhhhh, spring. After the long, cold, snowy winter. It was glorious.

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WAS. We got a taste of the warm breeze and the sunshine and then it was rudely replaced by frost and 30 degree temps. Nevertheless, we basked in it.

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Along with the warm weather came warm weather clothes! Shorts. Tee shirts. Even sandals. Owen was IN HEAVEN. Remember in the fall when we had such a hard time with layers and wrinkles? Apparently the cure for that is called WARM WEATHER.

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Or so I thought.

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Dude was all aflutter over getting to wear his shorts and sandals. He walked on air and acted like an angel for 2 days. And then it got cold again, and now even the thought of talking about clothes sends him into a rage-y tantrum, like I’ve never seen before.

Perhaps he’s not cut out for New England livin’.

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Let me just say that Owen has been completely dressing himself for about a year. We don’t tell him what he can and can’t wear… we just make sure that his clothes are weather-appropriate since he spends a lot of time outside. If he wants to wear a frog costume to the grocery store, he totally can. We never talk about matching and love to see what he picks. He usually jumps right out of bed, gets himself dressed right down to the socks, and we go downstairs to start our day with no problems.

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This week, however, every morning, getting Owen to get himself dressed has been a nightmare. All of a sudden, if we say he has to wear pants because it’s freezing outside, he will only wear ONE pair of fleece sweatpants. No others. And there’s only ONE acceptable long-sleeved shirt in his drawer (and he HAS to wear a long-sleeved shirt because his friend wears long-sleeved shirts, duh). ONE. I’m such a mean mom that I won’t let him wear shorts in 30 degree weather, and Benjamin and I decided to put our proverbial foot down about wearing dirty clothes, so every day except for the ONE DAY when both the shirt and pants happened to be clean, we have had an all-out, lay-on-the-floor-and-cry, scream-at-the-top-of-his-lungs tantrum on our hands.

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We’ve tried hugging it out, and helping him along. We’ve tried no tolerance, “we’re walking out the door even if you don’t have a shirt on at all”. We’ve tried negotiating and trying to get to the bottom of the new rules (what is this REALLY about?) and listening and explaining why we have to wash clothes. We’ve tried going shopping and finding new, acceptable clothes that Owen picks out himself (which worked really well, actually, except that all of the clothes that were available are summer clothes, except for one pair of pants, so he can’t wear most of what we bought until the darn sun comes out again). We’ve thought about picking the clothes out the night before, but that just shifts the tantrum to night time and then, knowing Owen, he would stress and be anxious all night and not even sleep.

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The good news is that, as soon as we get out the door, the tantrum, no matter how crazy, is totally forgotten. He even apologizes “for fussin'” and promises that it won’t happen again, totally unprompted. It’s like he can’t control it himself, even when he tries.

Whew, being 3 is hard, yo.

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On some days I think he just wants something to fuss about to see if he can. On other days I really, truly think that he feels emotionally connected to these clothes and cannot fathom wearing anything else. I get it, but I also can’t let him go to school in shorts when it’s freezing out (remember what happened when he refused to wear gloves and we went sledding anyway?).

The silver lining on this particular struggle is that the warm weather is on its way. And soon we will not even have to talk about fleece pants at all. And he can wear his shorts and sandals every. single. day.

Hallelujah.

Does your kid have favorite clothes? Do you let them wear the same ones day after day? What are your clothes “rules”?

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She Says… Hugging it Out

While we’re on the subject of my 3 year old being, well, “particular”, I’m going to let you in on the tug-of-war I’ve been having inside my head for the last few weeks.

Pulling In vs. Pushing Away

Owen is in the midst of a particularly difficult period. The mitten-based tantrums are one part, but he’s also been struggling to express his frustration in other situations. At school this shows up in uncharacteristically aggressive reactions to friends taking a toy from him, or teary meltdowns over things that didn’t use to bother him at all, like any answer to the question, “What are you makin’ for dinner?”. Being around him is a bit like walking a minefield. You never know when you’re going to step on a bomb.

He didn’t used to be like this. It feels like it’s not really “him”, but I can’t get him to snap out of it.

There are a lot of potential reasons why this behavior might be flaring up right now.

1. He’s 3 1/2. I remember reading somewhere that the “half-years” are often far more challenging than the time surrounding actual birthdays due to developmental leaps and struggles. I remember a chart of a spiral of child development that showed common behaviors for each year/half-year and the year behaviors were often “mastered” and the half-years were “developing”. And, on top of that, there’s the omnipresent dichotomy between being a baby and being a big kid — needing your parents while simultaneously wanting to do everything for yourself. Which is stressful for a kid. So there’s that. And to be honest, maybe I could just stop there. Because 3 1/2 is hard, no matter how you slice it.

2. Emmett. I know he’s been around for 5 1/2 months, but now he’s getting bigger, and cuter, and he’s beginning to do things that Owen does too (like eat food), which might make him seem more like a “threat” to Owen. I almost hesitate to add him to this list because Owen has never, not once, showed any frustration or anger or ill will towards him. He is the sweetest, kindest, gentlest big brother. Even more than I ever thought possible. His bad attitude has never been directed at Emmett. Still, I understand that realizing he is not the center of attention in our family all the time is a long and arduous process for Owen.

3. Increasing/high expectations. Owen recently night potty-training himself. His night pull-up had been dry for 5+ months, but I wasn’t going to pull the plug on the pull-ups just yet, as I’ve read that kids (boys especially) aren’t generally physically ready for night training until 5 or even later. I didn’t want to stress him out. As with the rest of our potty training journey, though, Owen was insistent, and once he decided he wanted to be dry all night, he was. So once we finished up the pull-ups we had in our house, we supported his decision to sleep in underwear. Boom. Done. In the mornings when his magic clock turns green, Owen LOVES getting up by himself, going pee, getting dressed for the day and coming in to our room. It’s glorious, and the best part is that he is so proud of himself. The kid can write letters and wipe his own nose and put his dishes in the sink and work the CD player on his own. He is so capable and eager that we just keep teaching and he just keeps learning. Accepting responsibility. Asking for it. But then sometimes he wants to go backwards. And NOT do all of those things. And it’s confusing for us, and sometimes we push him. “You’ve done it before”, “You know how”, “You’re a big boy”.

4. Illness. Acting out on the outside when he’s feeling bad on the inside has always been a common thread for Owen. It’s generally in retrospect that I can identify that an ear infection was to blame for his whiny tantrum or a brewing virus was behind a hitting rampage. Right before Christmas Owen had a nasty respiratory bug that coincided with the stomach bug. Then he seemed to get better. Then a few days later his fever resurfaced. He complained of stomach pains and a headache. I told myself I would take him to the doctor in the morning, but in the morning his temp was normal and he said he felt fine again. Then over the weekend his temp spiked again, all the way up to 102 even after a dose of Ibuprofen. Doc said if it was still high the next morning to come in. Next morning it was back to normal and he said he felt better. Since then no fever, but he’s still acting under the weather and complaining of his stomach. I know illness can’t account for bad behavior for months upon months, but it’s possible that there’s something going on health-wise that I just haven’t identified yet.

And then of course there’s always the theory that bad behavior is a cry for attention. For love. And that’s probably also the case.

Given that it has felt like these behaviors were getting worse recently, Benjamin and I scheduled a meeting with his teacher and the psychologist on staff at his school. She routinely visits the classrooms and knows the kids and I wanted to get her opinion (reassurance?) on if his behavior was normal or if she thought there was something bigger going on. The bottom line is that both his teacher and the psychologist feel that his behavior is well within the range of normal (which we were relieved to hear). He’s 3. It’s hard being 3.

They both offered solutions for dealing with his behavior, many that I had heard before and that we already use on a daily basis (offer choices, give him power when possible, praise good behavior and don’t give attention to bad behavior, help him verbalize his feelings, etc.). The psychologist also talked a bit about hugging it out, or pulling him in rather than pushing him away when he’s acting out.

It feels uncomfortable to say out loud, but that’s not my knee jerk reaction when my kid is acting like a wild animal. My usual response to that behavior is “I can’t hear you when you talk like that” or “I don’t want to listen to you cry. If you need to cry, go do it in the other room” or “Come back and talk to me when you’ve pulled yourself together”. It’s not necessarily pushing him away, but it’s a general avoidance of his emotional outbursts. To be honest, it’s treating him like an adult who has the capability to pull themselves together without help. Which a 3 year old doesn’t necessarily have. And, while we’re being honest… it’s not really helping. While shutting down and closing the door to him might feel like the right thing to do to me (“I’m teaching him a lesson!”), it might not be what he needs to get through it.

The psychologist made a very strong case for the fact that, during these outbursts, Owen probably wants them to stop as much as I do. He wants to pull himself together. He wants to stop crying. He’s not manipulating me; he’s sad. And he needs help. And when she said it like that… well, then I just felt like a jerk.

So we’ve been trying this tactic recently. Instead of walking away from his tantrum, I take a deep breath and hug him. I just hug. Eventually I talk softly and try to put words to what he’s feeling, but it starts with a hug. (Benjamin is way better at this than I am, but I’m working on it). It’s not all rainbows and unicorns — sometimes Owen REALLY doesn’t want to be hugged. Sometimes it backfires. Sometimes, even when it helps, I feel like I’ve giving attention to bad behavior and it will turn him into a spoiled brat.

So I’m still figuring things out, like when and how to use this. And I’m still learning how to reconcile bringing him in vs. pushing him away. And to make it my instinct rather than something that’s difficult for me to do. But it certainly feels nice to have something in my parenting toolbox other than ignoring my kid until he can get his emotions under control.

She Says… Movie Magic

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This weekend was a milestone for my little 3 year old.

His very first movie.

I’m a super stickler (read: mean mom) about tv/screen time, so he usually only gets his tv in 15 or 30 minute chunks. He’s also the type of kid who cannot handle “exceptions” in his schedule. By that I mean that if I just up and said, “Surprise! We’re watching a movie today!” he wouldn’t just enjoy it… he would beg and plead and cry and fuss every day for the next month about “Why one day we watched a movie?”. And that, to me, is just not worth it.

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But as I’ve mentioned, we’ve been having some serious behavior issues lately. Though they are not all gone, he seems to be doing better overall. Most days. As an added incentive to finish up his sticker chart (which includes stickers for listening to his teachers and using gentle hands at school, and also, more recently, staying in his bed all night long and not waking us up), we decided to let him earn the opportunity to watch a movie. On the big tv in the newly renovated basement. Complete WITH POPCORN.

Sold.

Owen finished up his sticker chart and I quickly started Googling what movies are appropriate for the 3 year old set. As usual, my lovely community of Twitter followers had more info for me than any Google site. And, coincidentally, we happened to run into his preschool teacher in the movie aisle of Target and she helped me pick some age-appropriate options as well.

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My qualifications:

  • Not scary. Weird things seem to be making him anxious recently and given that I’ve sheltered him from most tv shows (he only watches Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Little Einsteins, Sid the Science Kid and Curious George), I could totally see him finding a lot of characters in a lot of movies quite scary. Thanks to my Twitter peeps, though, I realized that this is totally subjective (one kid may be totally freaked by Ursula in The Little Mermaid, but someone else might be way more sad/scared by the theme of Nemo being separated from his parents). Still, it had to be SUPER TAME in terms of character and content.
  • Not show him bad examples of behavior in terms of ‘tudes or backtalk. Believe me, we have enough of this as it is. It’s one of the main reasons I have kept him away from mainstream tv and movies so long. Owen has a particularly hilarious (and annoying) ability to imitate characters and people. I don’t need him imitating characters that use bad behavior or nasty words.
  • Be a real movie (not chopped up into small segments like tv), but not too long. I wanted it to feel special without making me feel like we spent the whole day in front of our tv.
  • Enjoyable for me to watch too. I chose the tv shows that I allow him to watch very carefully with similar qualifications, and I must say, I enjoy watching those shows with him. I wouldn’t let him watch a show I didn’t want to watch too (at this age/stage at least).

And so, after much hemming and hawing and giving him a choice between The Lady & the Tramp, Cars and A Bug’s Life, he chose Cars. “I have those guys on my Pull-ups!”. I cringed a little, as it was our first foray into falling in love with commercialized characters. But then I told myself to stop being so scrooge-y and just enjoy this milestone and the joy radiating from my kid’s face.

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He loved it. And so did Benjamin and I.

Since this was all so new to him, he couldn’t stop talking. Like, COULDN’T STOP. He asked questions about every car and truck and line of dialogue. He commented on the action and the motives behind each action and asked about the subtle jokes that are intended for adults. He didn’t miss a thing.

Perhaps our next lesson is how to watch a movie WITHOUT TALKING.

What was your kid’s first movie? What about their favorite one now? I have a feeling we’re going to have another movie afternoon as soon as he can fill up another sticker chart…

She Says… Fire Alarm Fear

I have written before about how fire alarms are Owen’s biggest fear. For a kid who seems to have NO fear leaping off of climbing structures taller than my head or starting up a conversation with a complete stranger, it still baffles me that he completely flips over something as commonplace as a fire alarm. But hey. It’s loud. I get it. And I know the bone-shaking fear from hearing my own house alarm go off unexpectedly.

So in the middle of the night on Saturday, I knew exactly whose room I had to run to first when I heard our fire alarms blare.

I was out of bed and standing in the hallway before I even woke up fully. With my hand on Owen’s door, I waited for him to call for me before I busted in, while simultaneously trying to make sense of the alarms (I didn’t smell smoke or see fire and feverishly debated the likelihood of false alarm vs. real emergency).

A few seconds later Benjamin stood in our bedroom doorway. He had just gotten back from a trip at midnight that night and I hadn’t even seen him yet (despite the fact that we were sleeping next to each other when the alarm went off). I jumped out of bed without even remembering he was right beside me. In his grogginess he assumed it was our house alarm system going off, and said, “Can you run down and turn it off?”.

There were 2 things wrong with this statement:
1. I knew that it was the fire alarm and I couldn’t just turn it off. But when he asked me this, he completely confused me and I began to doubt myself. Also, I learned my lesson the last time our house alarm DID go off that I shouldn’t just run down and turn it off — what if there was an intruder in the house?!
2. I was frozen outside of Owen’s room. I literally couldn’t move my body to do anything other than gather my babies amidst the crazy loud beeping.

So I just stood there. Staring at him. With my mouth open, trying to figure out how to respond to him. Owen’s cry for me (a scream of sheer terror, as he realized his biggest fear was happening) snapped me out of it, and I completely ignored Benjamin’s question, ran into Owen’s room and scooped him up. He covered his ears and yelled, “GET ME OUT OF HERE. STOP THE BEEPING.”

I clutched him and ran down the stairs. As soon as I did, I realized the sound was much quieter. It was our upstairs alarms going off. They are all wired into the house but apparently they don’t all go off at the same time. Who knew. I opened the front door of the house and held Owen outside, assuming that Benjamin was, I don’t know, handling everything else? I couldn’t bring myself to put Owen down but I wanted to grab Emmett as well, and didn’t feel comfortable leaving Owen on our front porch alone. So I ran back upstairs still carrying Owen to Emmett’s room. As soon as I opened his door (he was totally fine, by the way, barely phased by the noise) I realized what had happened.

It was his humidifier. It had to be. It was the only thing that was different about that night as opposed to other nights. And the very same humidifier had set off the fire alarm in Owen’s room one time, a long LONG time ago (when he was tiny enough that the alarm didn’t even wake him). I told Benjamin what it was and he quickly ripped the fire alarm in Emmett’s room out of the ceiling.

Phew.

Silence.

Emmett cooed happily as he realized I was going to feed him since I was awake and he normally wakes around then anyway. Babies are easy. Owen shuffled back to bed rubbing his eyes and asking adorable and yet painfully sad questions like, “Is the alarm ever going to stop beeping?” and “The alarm only goes off when there is a fire… is there a fire? Are we going to get burned?”. And, finally, “Can I sleep in your bed?”.

Almost as soon as both boys were settled back in their beds, Owen cried out again. He SWORE up and down that he could still hear the beeping in his sleep. I rubbed his back and asked him if he could hear it right now. “Yes. It won’t stop”. The poor kid was so traumatized he could still hear the ringing and it was keeping him awake.

After two more night visits to his room to reassure him, he finally fell asleep. The last thing he said to me? “Can I tell all my friends at school about this tomorrow?”.

I love that kid.

And while I’m so relieved it wasn’t a real fire, I’m super annoyed that I can’t seem to use a humidifier in my kids’ bedrooms (Emmett’s room is TINY so maybe I just have to turn down the setting, but I’m not willing to test that theory by possibly making the alarm go off again). Has anyone else had this happen? Even in Owen’s room, which is much larger, I can only put it on half power.

She Says… Camping

Sleeping under the stars with your little one sounds dreamy, right?

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To me, camping in general sounds really, really awesome… in theory. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like camping (though it’s been years since I did it). But it always seems to go a bit smoother in my head than it does in real life. Which is why I was pretty pumped when Benjamin decided that he wanted to take Owen camping without me. A boys’ night, he said. Glorious, I thought.

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For a kid, especially an adventurous one like Owen, camping is a dream come true. Late bedtime? Check. Eating marshmallows by a fire? Check (well, almost… see below). Running around outside all afternoon, then sleeping tucked in close to your dad all night long and getting to see the sun rise in the morning? Checkity, check, check.

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So last weekend Benjamin, Owen, one of Owen’s friends from school and his dad decided to brave the wilderness for a night of father/son camping. They picked a nearby campground, checked the weather report and headed out after naptime on Saturday.

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They made a manly meal of mac n’ cheese and hot dogs. I sneakily also packed a tupperware of veggies, just in case anyone was still hungry. The fire wouldn’t start as planned (read: neither of the dads got their boy scout badge in making a fire!), but the kids didn’t really know what s’mores were supposed to be like (read: roasted), so they were super happy with marshmallows straight out of the bag with a chocolate bar on the side. It’s the simple things in life, no?

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Not too long after his normal bedtime, Owen was ready for bed. He tucked into his sleeping bag in his tent and fell fast asleep. The dads stayed up drinking by the fire (that eventually got started). I’m not sure that was the best plan, though, as the boys were up with the sun in the morning. Or before the sun, in Owen’s case.

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When I woke up on Sunday morning I opened my window to see a gray, drizzly morning. It had been raining most of the night. I was SHOCKED that I didn’t see Benjamin and Owen at home already. Rain would have sent me straight home, I think. But no, they stuck it out until morning. It added to the adventure, I’m sure.

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The boys loved their first camping excursion! The dads? Maybe not quite as much. But no matter how you slice it, it was a rite of passage for all four of them.

She Says… Wedding Bells

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As I mentioned, my little sister got married last weekend. She was the last of my three siblings and the only family member to get married since we all started having kids. We were all thrilled to be part of her wedding weekend celebrations, especially Owen. It’s pretty exciting to welcome a new uncle to the family (and to get to wear a bowtie!).

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Seeing Owen all dressed up with his cousins just about burst my heart into a million little pieces. They were SO PRECIOUS.

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The wedding was during the day, partially so the kids could be part of it. While it was a LOT more work (for the parents) to have them there, it made the day so incredibly special. My sister is a brave woman to bring on all that chaos!

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It’s probably also the only time I can imagine gettin’ down with my babies on the dance floor, since I’m not one to schlep them to night time events when they should be sleeping. So we relished every minute of it.

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Well, every minute until Owen skipping his nap (twice) caught up with him and he literally started crying hysterically and couldn’t stop. Then we went home. It was over an hour early and while I was sad to miss the rest of the dancing and the sparkler send-off, I knew what was best for my kid(s) and wouldn’t have been able to enjoy myself knowing that they just needed to get home. Yeah. That, and my feet were hurting. It’s been a long time since these toes were in heels!

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The rest of the weekend was spent soaking up time and making memories with my family. Oh how I love this bunch — it never feels like we get enough time with them since we live far away.

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Emmett was the quintessential baby doll and everyone (aunts and uncles and grandparents included) fought over who got to hold him.

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Skipped nap meltdowns aside, it was one for the memory books. Little boys in bowties = perfection.

Congratulations to Aunt Ginger and the new Uncle Seth!

 

She Says… A Weekend of Firsts

  • Emmett had his first babysitter
  • Benjamin and I had our first post-baby date
  • Owen had his first weekend away without us (sniff, sniff!)

On Friday morning we said goodbye to Owen when we dropped him off at school knowing we weren’t going to see him again until Monday. Owen was bubbling over with excitement, telling his classmates and teachers and anyone who would listen that GRAMMY was going to pick him up from school and they were going to have an adventure. It was like summer camp, only better. (And only for a weekend… which is the most time away this Mama could handle right now!).

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They had a BLAST. Grammy and Grampy hiked and played and rode every ride at Storyland about a million times. They fed him and bathed him and listened to his nonstop chatter. They endured countless rounds of Zingo. They saw his sweet little face every morning and tucked him into bed at night. Owen worked his grandson magic on them and got away with not eating very many veggies and going to bed a little late (that’s what grandparents are for, right?), but overall it sounds like he was pretty close to perfect.

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Apparently he didn’t miss us one bit (he was too busy having a great time!), but Benjamin and I missed him a lot. The house was eerily quiet and it felt particularly strange to go to bed at night with the door to his bedroom open. But don’t get me wrong… we weren’t sitting around moping. In fact, even though we still had Emmett at home it felt like we were on a little vacay ourselves. A staycation, if you will.

Parents with one child, please don’t take this the wrong way, but HOLY MOLY HAVING ONE CHILD IS SO EASY compared to having 2. Especially a quiet, non-mobile one who sleeps a lot.

Benjamin’s goal for the weekend: To not do any dishes.
My goal for the weekend: To not cook any meals.

On Friday night we had our regular babysitter come over to hang with Emmett for a few hours so Benjamin and I could have our first post-baby date night. We made reservations at one of our favorite restaurants. I got my hair cut that day and even buttoned some pre-pregnancy pants in honor of the occasion. That was enough excitement for me, but Benjamin made the night even better when he surprised me with a beautiful necklace at dinner! Surprise push presents are THE BEST. (Those who hate on “push presents” must have never been gifted surprise jewelry after the birth of their own children). I am a lucky lady.

Saturday morning we snuggled on the couch drinking our coffees (while they were still hot!) and watched an entire episode of “Orange is the New Black” uninterrupted. I can’t even tell you how long it’s been since we watched tv during the day. Oh wait. Yes I can. It was probably July 23, 2010, the day before Owen was born. After running some errands we decided to get lunch while we were out. On a whim. I also can’t tell you how long it’s been since we did something on a whim (and at “naptime”).

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Sunday Benjamin did his 2nd triathlon (so proud of him!) and Emmett and I spectated. After recovering at home for the afternoon (and cleaning out the basement… yes, we are crazy people who spend our staycation cleaning our house…) we went out for an early dinner. Emmett dutifully snoozed away in his carseat for the entire meal. Bliss.

It was a rejuvenating weekend to say the least. I adore my preschooler, but I relished the peace and quiet for a couple days. And I could not wait to see his cute little face when Grammy dropped him off today. Perhaps most importantly I realized just how mature and capable and flexible Owen is. Hearing him chat on the phone and tell us about his day and knowing that he’s fully capable of telling Grammy and Grampy what he wants/needs is kind of mind-blowing (as was only having to pack 3 pullups instead of tons of diapers and wipes and extra clothes).

Sniff, sniff… when did my little baby grow up and become a full-blown KID?

 

She Says… Old Shoes, New Shoes

Owen and his little buddies at school have this rhyme they sing at circle time. “Old shoes, new shoes, ____ is wearing ____ shoes!”. They go around and name each kid and describe their shoes. It’s quite cute. And you would think, after all of this singing about old shoes and new shoes, that when the time came to retire Owen’s old shoes in lieu of new shoes that he would be ready and willing.

You would be wrong.

Owen and I went shoe shopping on Labor Day and it was a total bust. Now, first of all, I will take full responsibility for planning our shoe shopping date on the worst possible day at the worst possible time. I had both boys to take care of singlehandedly and it was about a million degrees out, so I opted to take them to the air conditioned mall rather than a boiling hot playground. Unfortunately, being that it was a holiday Monday and very few things were open and NO ONE wanted to be outside, everyone and their brother (and son and daughter) were at the mall. Apparently with the exact same plan that I had: Play at the playplace and burn off some energy, then hit up Stride Rite before coming home for lunch and a nap.

So, for starters, the playplace was a MADHOUSE. I’ve never seen so many screaming, running, barefoot children in one small, rubber-covered space. Ew. Still, Owen loves running around there, so I gritted my teeth, covered my sleeping baby’s stroller with a blanket in hopes of protecting him from the chaos, and pretended to enjoy myself. After letting Owen run like crazy for 40 minutes or so, I lured him out, got his shoes on and we headed for Stride Rite.

I was pretty proud of myself for surviving the first half of our errand without a meltdown and naively thought that the shoe-buying part would be the easy part.

Wrong again.

It seems that everyone who had just been playing at the playplace had also made a mad dash to Stride Rite to pick out new shoes for the upcoming school year. The tiny store was so crowded I could barely step in, let alone maneuver my stroller in there (holding my now-awake-and-getting-cranky baby). I sidestepped our way in to at least see if we could measure Owen’s feet and realized after about 10 minutes that it was going to be a LONG time until we were helped. In that time, Owen had picked up and fallen in love with no fewer than 4 Spiderman shoes. Spiderman was not exactly on my “to buy” list (for style mainly, but can we talk about how expensive those shoes are too?!).

I reached my boiling point (literally and figuratively) and grabbed Owen and the stroller in one fell swoop and bailed completely on shoe shopping. That’s when I knew what I would do. I would go to my usual no-fail shopping spot. Amazon. Or Target. Or the consignment store down the street.

After a quick search based on what I had learned at the shoe store (I think Owen is a size 8, and he thinks all sneakers are “too tight” because he’s not used to wearing them), I found these adorable kicks.

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Teeny tiny Saucony sneaks for a fraction of the Stride Rite price. Score.

They arrived last night, and this morning while I woke Emmett up I heard Benjamin attempting to get Owen to put them on. Oh, the whining. You would have thought Benjamin was trying to get him to wear a shirt made of thorns.

Does every child hate new shoes? I can’t even tell if they fit properly because he doesn’t want to put them on. Veteran Mamas, what is the secret? Will he just get over it? (My gut says yes, because lately he’s been whining about all kinds of things that he actually likes, and he gets over it pretty quickly). Any tips for making the shoe switcheroo? His sandals are going to get very chilly when the fall weather actually comes.

And, while we’re at it, where do you get your kids’ shoes? Do you let them pick out their shoes themselves even if you hate the ones they pick?

She Says… A Sore Loser

First things first, thank you so much to all who commented, tweeted and emailed me happy thoughts for my surgery yesterday. It went very smoothly. The doctors and nurses were all wonderful. Prior to the surgery I was joking with the anesthesiologist about putting me under before I even went in the operating room so I could just get this over with. Apparently she did, because once we got in there (so I thought), I felt people touching my legs and I said, “I can still feel that” (you know, trying to be helpful) and they smiled at me and said, “That’s good! We’re done!”. So the actual procedure was easy. I felt exhausted and crampy all day yesterday, and today my whole body feels achy like I have the flu, but I’m expecting to feel much better very soon.

Onto happier topics. Like my kid being THE WORST at losing. Losing anything, really, but as we’ve recently entered the wide world of board games, we’re learning the “how to lose” lesson over and over and over again. Apparently he needs a LOT of practice with this life skill.

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Let’s back up. For Owen’s 3rd birthday he got a game called Zingo. If you have a 3-4 year old and haven’t played this, you are missing out. It is SO FUN and occupies Owen for 30+ minutes. Maybe it’s the fact that Owen is a little police officer for rules, and he likes knowing what is and isn’t allowed in the game. Or maybe it’s the fact that he gets 30+ minutes of undivided attention since we’re so engaged when we play it. Or maybe it’s just that it’s new and he got it for his birthday. Whatever it is, it’s kind of magic. I can even play it while nursing Emmett.

The first time Owen and I played, I won. To be honest I didn’t even think about letting Owen win, because I know what an important skill it is to be a good loser. That said, I was not prepared for his melodramatic response.

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First, he screamed at the top of his lungs. A piercing, high-pitched squeal. Then he stood up and threw his Zingo board and all of the little pieces all over the living room. Then he shouted, “I’m NEVER playing this game again. NEVERRRRR!”. His fists were clenched and tears streamed down his cheeks. He sobbed body-heaving sobs.

I did my best to stifle the laughter I felt bubbling up. This was clearly very serious to him and I was trying to honor his emotions, but, seriously? I’d never seen an outburst like this before. How did he even really know what “winning” meant? Once he had let off some steam we had a discussion about what to do when someone wins (say, “Congratulations!”) and how he might win the next one. We also made a new house rule that the winner has to clean up the game.

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That was weeks ago, and since then he has gotten much better. But still, Benjamin and I cringe when one of us wins, waiting to see what Owen’s reaction will be. Sometimes it’s incredibly mature and calm (“Congratulations! Let’s play again.”) and other times it’s flat out Charlie Sheen-esque. Benjamin is much more apt to let Owen win to avoid the drama, but I am a mean mom and force him to practice, practice, practice his losing skillz.

We’re working on it.

Since Owen took to this board game like a Kardashian to fake eyelashes, we decided to pick up another one a few days ago. And this one eliminated the need for battening down the hatches when someone other than Owen won. Count Your Chickens is a cooperative game, so everyone works together and wins or loses as a team. A little hokey? Yes. Avoiding teaching how to win/lost nicely? Absolutely. But does it give us an equal amount of focused playing time without the tantrum at the end? Hell yeah. So it’s a new family fave.

Unfortunately all of this “winning” and “losing” talk has extended beyond the board games. Now at the dinner table Owen will ask me, “Mommy, why are you eating so quickly? I want to win!”, despite my insistence that the point of dinner is not to “win”. Sigh. Perhaps that’s a lesson for another day. On the upside, we have a new tactic for getting him upstairs for teeth brushing in the evening. All Benjamin has to do is dash out of the room and say, “I’m going to beat you up the stairs! I’m gonna win!”.

Win or lose, I’m excited to have moved into the next phase of toys and playtime with Owen, that of rules and games.

She Says… Foot Fetish

My 3 year old is a chronic rule-enforcer.

When he sees people on bikes, scooters or motorcycles without helmets on, he screams bloody murder while pointing at them as if they were a witch amidst the Salem witch trials. This has made for some very awkward moments when the rider (or, even more awkwardly, the underage rider’s parent) is within earshot. Owen will not rest until he knows WHY that person is not wearing a helmet, and he gets to me to say, “That’s not a safe choice”. Once in a while he even likes to shout, “THAT’S NOT A SAFE CHOICE!” at them, just for good measure.

While I’m glad he knows the rules, and generally follows them himself, we’re having a bit of trouble learning the parameters for EXCEPTIONS to the rule. Or, perhaps more importantly, the fact that we are not in charge of what other people do. And that it’s not polite to talk about other people, especially when they can hear you.

Baby steps.

Similarly, we have a rule that we always take off our shoes right when we walk in the house. If JUST FOR A MINUTE I need to run into the house with shoes on (bringing in groceries, say, or carrying Emmett in the carseat), he will point and remind me, “You have to take your shoes off. You might get dirt inside.” Lord help any guests that enter our house without taking off their shoes first, as they will get an earful from my little dictator.

You might think this stems from me being a stickler about these rules. But honestly, the things that Owen seems to hone in on are not even things I harp on regularly. I think he just likes bossing people around and being “right”. Hmm. NO IDEA where he gets that from.

The shoe discussion, though, extends beyond our house and has become Owen’s favorite topic of conversation. When kids at the playground have no shoes on, Owen cannot help but ask a million questions (always to me, and always within their earshot). Why do they have no shoes and socks on? Where are their shoes? Did their Mommies say it was ok to wear no shoes? Do the woodchips hurt their feet? Inevitably, the conversation turns to, “Can I take MY shoes and socks off?”. Probably at some point I said no to this question, and Owen is still trying to rationalize why I said no when their parents said yes. Nowadays I just say, “Yes. Knock yourself out. Take your shoes off. Run around.”

In the beginning I thought this was about the rules. But now I’m thinking it’s more about the feet.

Owen has a thing for feet.

  • He notices when I change the shade of my toenail polish even slightly.
  • He notices everyone’s toes. He encourages everyone them to take their shoes off (no matter where we are) so he can see if their toenails are painted.
  • He loves to have his own toenails painted and he shows EVERYONE, even if it requires taking off his shoes in the most inconvenient of places.
  • He jokes about stinky feet whenever shoes are taken off.
  • He can identify whose shoes are whose from a whole class of people. He must watch them come in and notice their shoes.
  • He begs Benjamin and I to tell him which shoes we are going to wear on a given day (flip flops or sneakers or “the red ones” or whatever) and whines and moans when we’re not all wearing the same type of shoe.
  • He notices the shoes that characters on tv and in books wear. He ALWAYS asks why barefoot characters are not wearing shoes.
  • If he sees bare feet pointed like a dancer, he’ll often mention, “Ooh! I love her feet!”.
  • He is OBSESSED with Emmett’s tiny feet. I mean, who isn’t?

Recently we were at a park where there were three huge statues of goddesses. Like most goddesses, they were not wearing shoes.

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Guess who noticed?

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Not only did he notice, but he sat down and started caressing the feet. Couldn’t stop talking about them.

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I think someone has a foot fetish.

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