Tuesday, May 3, 2011

On Discipline

I struggle daily with discipline and deciding what is appropriate discipline for a 2.5 year old. It is undoubtedly the hardest part of my parenting tenure. My personal parenting philosophy is "follow your instincts". It worked really well in infancy and early toddlerhood. It's almost laughable now that Gretchen is older.

I was totally and utterly unprepared for the sudden and drastic move from baby to toddler. All of a sudden my baby became a real, bona fide person with likes and even more dislikes. She really likes wearing pajamas, and godspeed to you if you happen to pick the polka dot underwear on the day she wants birdies. She yells, she kicks, she bites, she thrashes and she stomps. It would be really funny to watch except, you know, she's mine.

My first instinct when situations like this arise, so roughly 20 times a day, is to scoop her up, love her, hug her and squeeze her 'till her miserable little guts squirt out her nose. If you read any parenting book, even the hippie dippy ones that I buy, you know that is like, the exact opposite of what you're supposed to do. Not rewarding negative behavior seems easy enough but in practice...wow. Even the most positive, gentle approaches to discipline are out of my comfort zone. At the same time I know I won't be doing her any favors by allowing her to act like a violent heathen.

So, I flounder and I grasp at straws and I try really hard to balance how badly I want to respect and validate her with how much I don't want her to hit everyone. I haven't figured out that magical center point yet but when I do, I'll be sure to let you know.
Friday, March 25, 2011

Birds' nest

We've been spending a lot of time talking about the shift from winter to spring and all the things that are going to change over the next couple of months. Gretchen has really glommed onto the idea of birds' nests and baby birds so when this popped up on my RSS feed I knew it would be a hit. This project was easy but it was pretty messy; even I was covered in glue. It was good for a messy activity where we could talk about colors, textures (how the yarn felt before the glue, how the glue felt, how the two felt together), animals, and where she could really use her motor skills.

(idk why it looks like she has a black eye, but she doesn't!)

So, basically all you do is cut up strings of different lengths, lay them out and let your little one dump a bunch of white school glue on them. Squish the glue around so that all the yarn is pretty well saturated. To make the nest, just layer the yarn onto an upside-down container of some sort. We used a little ikea bowl.

I found that I did have to encourage her to pick up individual strings rather than just piling the whole clump of yarn on top of the bowl. I also had to help adjust the yarn just a little bit, because she pretty much wanted to just pile it all up on one side. I don't normally give her any direction one way or another beyond telling her what the project is and how to make it, but I wanted her to have an actual bird's nest at the end.

It did take a really long time to dry. Gretchen also wasn't too crazy about sticky fingers as the glue dried. I think you could modify this project for pipe cleaners pretty easily.

Although I've done similar activities in a class I taught years ago, this idea came from The Imagination Tree.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bubble bubble toil and trouble

Children are drawn to water. I am drawn to letting my child play with water. It's a win-win situation as far as I'm concerned. This activity is quick, easy, and a lot of fun. Set your bowl down on a towel to make clean-up even easier.

To make a similar bubble bowl, fill a large bowl or pot with water and a generous squirt of dish soap or bubble bath. Give your child a straw, and let her go to town blowing bubbles in the water. As she blows, the soap will foam and bubble up. Gretchen finds this completely delightful, and whatever makes her happy makes me happy. If you have a little bit of extra time and don't mind a little bit of extra mess, you can add a bit of tempera paint (powdered works best, I think) to the water and soap. Have your child blow into the straw, and then gently press a sheet of paper on top of your bubble cloud for colored bubble prints.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day, and One Wee Voice is asking others to help celebrate by recognizing the importance of the women in our own lives.

No one has shaped me quite like my mother. That isn't always a good thing; I grew up swearing up and down that I wouldn't inherit her particular...tendencies, but they are in me just the same. Every time I bitch because my husband cleans the wrong way, or I internally cringe at some other transgression, I think of you. When people wear shoes in the house, I think of you. When I sit down to a breakfast of popcorn, I think of you. We haven't always gotten along, and our personalities are still more different than alike, but our relationship now is stronger than ever before. I appreciate that you were able to grow along with me.

So cheers to you, Mom! Thanks for expecting my best, for making sure I never quit, for teaching me to bake and for making me the best stain remover I know. Most of all, thank you for making me a better mother, wife and person. I couldn't have done it without you. I love you.

Happy International Women's Day!

This post is a contribution to One Wee Voice's International Women's Day Celebration.

Hurry up, Spring!

Slowly but surely, spring is coming.

June isn't too sure about the idea.

But I don't think it is a moment too soon.

Here's to longer days, warmer sun, and more faces like this!
Sunday, March 6, 2011

Beep beep!

The idea for today's post comes from Little Family Fun one of my new favorite blogs. Linda's ideas are fantastic and accessible for even the most novice project planners.

Gretchen tapes our floor.

Cars are big fun around here. One of Gretchen's favorite things to do is "tape the floor", where we use strips of masking tape to lay out roads, parks and buildings. Taping the floor is fun and all, but it wastes a lot of tape and it is a pain to pull the tape up off the carpet when we are done. This weekend I decided to find something as flexible but a lot less sticky. Road cards!

Making your own road is easy and inexpensive. You'll need:
12 3x5 inch index cards
2 pieces of black construction paper
3 pieces of yellow construction paper
double sided tape or a glue stick
a white crayon

Using a ruler, mark a series of 3x5 inch rectangles on the yellow construction paper - I think I got 4 per page, but I can't remember. Cut the rectangles out and glue or tape them to your index cards. Cut 24 2x3 rectangles from the black construction paper and position them on the index cards. Use the white crayon to mark the lines on each card. If your kids are rough like mine are, and you want this project to last a while, you may want to laminate the cards with contact paper.

Each card is a laminated 3x5 index card.

These cards are cute but my obsessive side is really bothered because they're not exactly even. I won't even tell you how many times I started this project over again because it wasn't just so...but it was more than twice. In retrospect printing an image would have been easier on my brain and easier to laminate. With that in mind I made a little template in Picnik.

Let me know if you'd like the file, and feel free to use the image for your own projects.

These cards new in our rotation but I would venture to say that Gretchen will like them as much or more than floor tape for two reasons: she can play with them at the table and away from her baby sister's drooly mouth, and they can be arranged endlessly in one sitting (unlike floor tape - once floor tape is down, I'm not peeling it back up).

I love s Linda's idea of making this into a game into a counting game with dice! Even very young children can place the cards, roll the dice and count how far they should move with a little bit of adult help.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Oh lawdy

I've handled a lot of difficulties during my tenure as a parent. Nothing, not the reflux, the milk protein sensitivities, picky eating, regular teething, RSV, or even the spiteful couch peeing (another story for another day, my friends) has been as bad as the two-year-molars.

Oh my god.

Just thinking about the last month and a half makes me want to cry. It's been a non-stop blur of screaming, hitting, pushing, kicking, crying and whining. Oh my lord, the whining. The ear-piercing whining. It's the last thing I hear at night, the first thing I hear in the morning and most nights it's the thing I hear as Gretchen comes crawling into bed with us. My ears hurt, and I am exhausted. I am sick of being upbeat and cheery. I can only imagine how she feels.

I had a glimmer of hope this week; the bottom molars are almost all the way through and my smart, funny, happy, thoughtful girl was back. Or so I thought. Tonight she complained of a sore throat. I asked her to show me where it hurt, and she pointed to her upper jaw. Fantastic.

I hope I make it through round two with some of my sanity intact but it doesn't seem likely. If you find me alone, ears covered, rocking back and forth and mumbling incoherently, you'll know why.


So tell me: what are your favorite remedies for teething pain? Hyland's Teething Tablets never did much for us, and giving her Popsicle all day long seems a little ill advised and ibuprofen isn't making a dent. What do you do for your kids when they are similarly insufferable?

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