Archive for the 'parenting' Category

On Potty Training

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

See that pony? It might have been the secret to our success. Or not.

Sabrina potty trained herself at age 2. We tried once and failed. Then we tried again a couple of months later and she has had less than a handful of accidents since that day. (Not counting night time – that is a whole other ball of wax.)  Tessa? Heh. She hasn’t been easy in any way, shape, or form. Potty training is not the exception.

Tessa will be 4 this month. We have tried countless times to start the potty training process. And each time I have cried “UNCLE!” She has had zero interest. We tried just about everything. We set the timers. We rewarded with M&Ms. We put her in panties. We let her sit in wet diapers/pullups/panties. We let her go naked. We rewarded her sister for going hoping it would egg her on. Nothing. She would go in the potty once or twice and then nothing. One time, after sitting her on the potty for 5 minutes, she promptly came out and squatted and peed on my fireplace hearth.  Finally, in a fit of irritation one day, I threatened if she didn’t start going potty I was going to make her go poop in the yard with the dog. She got fairly upset about that and started going potty. Huh. Then after some success and then a stomach flu that derailed us, we were back to nothing. So I made her go outside without pants (we have a 6 ft fence – and I had to follow through with my threat) and she proceeded to poop in the yard. She was quite proud of herself. Backfired. I told Steve I was done. I hate potty training. 2 years of trying to get this kid to go potty had broken me. I didn’t care anymore – she could go to college in Depends for all I cared.

Steve then told Tessa that we didn’t care anymore. She could go potty or not. She could wear diapers or pull ups or panties – whatever she wanted. She could go in the potty or her pull up – completely her choice. She had to change herself (she is able to do that) but we would help wipe if there was a mess. Otherwise, she was on her. And you want to know what happened the next morning? The little shit put on panties and started going potty. At the same time, I also offered the bribe of a new My Little Pony each day that she spent completely dry. I put them up high where she could see them. So it was either the choice or the ponies. Or both.  She earned 5 ponies in 6 days.  We are not accident free by any means but she is doing great. It has been 3 weeks and most days than not she is completely successful. Tessa does everything in her own time on her own terms. We are in so much trouble.

I’m not a teacher

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

I’m 39 years old. Oh, I didn’t mention my birthday around these parts this year, did I? Yeah. Last month. 9/11. I get lots of birthday love on facebook so I tend not to mention it here so much anymore. But husband bought me an ereader – yay! I promptly bought the Hunger Games trilogy and stayed up way too late reading for weeks.

Anywhooo, I’m *cough*39*cough* years old. I’ve had 20 years of formal education. And yet I had to google twice to help Sabrina complete kindergarten homework. I’ve also had to send in 3 or 4 photos in the past month. What if I didn’t have a printer? Or a camera? The assumptions irritate me a bit.  We’ve received some information about what the class is learning but no information about HOW kids are learning/being taught. I learned to read (subtract…mumble mumble mumble, carry the 2) a lot of years ago. Things have changed in education. A lot. (See above – googling. Twice. For kindergarten homework. And see also the fact that google exists. And the internet. And home computers. And electricity.) A list of “sight” words that Sabrina is expected to learn by the end of the  year was sent home. We didn’t do sight words – my understanding is that they are supposed to memorize/recognize the words rather than learn to read them. I don’t have any idea how to teach sight words. I don’t even really understand the concept of why we do that rather than teach them to read the words. And they seem to be using phonics heavily (I thought phonics were out? Not that I have an opinion) to learn some reading/sounding out words. Also, there seems to be an assumption that the kids know how to write all of their letters because the little bit of homework has required writing out answers. Are they expecting me to teach her the letters she doesn’t know yet or are they working on that at school? If they (they being the school or the kindergarten teachers) could send home a page or two of explanation so that we (we being the parents) know HOW they are doing things, it would be immensely helpful. I feel like every time I say something to Sabrina she tells me I am contradicting what her teacher tells her. I might be – I DON’T KNOW.

So that is my gripe. I don’t want to cause the teachers extra work but if you want the parents to be partners in this endeavor, please don’t assume knowledge on our part that may not exist.

If you want a more entertaining take on the subject, check out this blog post from barefootfoodie.

Jumping ahead

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Sabrina. She wants so badly to be big. She talks longingly about being a big kid and a grown up.  When she is with children her own age, I don’t see it so much. But the moment she is around older kids, it is very apparent how much she wants to be like them. That turns into her wanting their approval which makes me very uncomfortable. Because what I want, besides for her to stay my little girl forever and ever, is for her to be confident in who she is.  I want her to be a leader not a follower. But the second she is around an older kid, she immediately submits and starts to act like an excited puppy willing to follow her around and lick her face.

I am fortunate that the older kids she has spent time with thus far have been kind and patient. They haven’t seen her eager-to-please attitude as an opportunity to be mean or hurtful. But if she continues, she will find that type of kid sooner or later. I fear the mean girl who will break her heart and dent her big smile. We call Sabrina our ray of sunshine because she just radiates happiness when she isn’t giving me attitude. I don’t want to world to take even a tiny particle of that away from her.


One day last week, the girls were playing outside in the back yard.  I was just about to go out when I overheard Sabrina talking with the girl next door, M.  M is in the 3rd grade and part of a very solid and nice family.  They were standing on the top platforms of their respective playsets and chatting over the fence.  Sabrina is enamored with M. She wants so badly to be friends with M and would happily do just about anything M asked of her.

I was just about to step out when I heard M say “Why don’t you jump off your playset?” This made my heart stop because Sabrina’s top fort is 8+ feet off the ground. It took everything in me to stop myself from running out screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I decided to stop and see how Sabrina handled it. I was within yelling distance if she was stupid enough to consider it and with her in school who knows how many similar situations she has to face daily.  Sabrina basically ignored M’s request and went on chattering.  (Full disclosure: Sabrina knew I was standing there listening. M did not.) A few minutes later, M repeated the suggestion.  Sabrina told her “No. It is too high and I’m too little to do that.” I breathed a sigh of relief. Her need to please is deep but not so deep as to cause her to be a complete moron.  M dropped that subject then asked Sabrina to play Truth or Dare. Again, it took everything in me to not intervene.  But really, how racy can truth or dare get with a kindergartener?  Sabrina quickly proved to have no understanding of that point of the game and M grew bored with that.

Sabrina tried to invite herself over to M’s house (I’m working on social conventions/manners like not inviting herself places but it is slow going). M was very sweet in telling her maybe another time.  M is always kind and never seems annoyed by Sabrina stalking her (seriously, M can’t be in her backyard without Sabrina yelling for her over the fence).  But listening to the interaction really drove home a few things.  First, Sabrina is growing up and there is nothing I can do to stop it.  Second, I am going to try my hardest to teach her social norms but some mean girl somewhere is going to find something to use against her and break her heart. Third, it is going to be hard not to read her diary.  Fourth, she is going to try to date seniors when she is a freshman. GAH!

The photos have nothing to do with the post. They just make me smile. One rainy afternoon, the girls made up a game involving light up wands and a football.  It made little sense to me as a spectator but they had a grand time.

A love affair

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

I love office supplies. When my mom finds a great brand of pen, she emails me to tell me about it. I’m the dork in the office who uses funky colored paper clips bought at her own expense instead of the standard boring silver ones provided. When I quit working, I was still using a paper and pen calendar because I loved my pretty red leather Franklin Covey organizer too much to give it up for an electronic gadget.  (Although my mom now uses a pretty system, also paper based, that I covet because it is so pretty.) My desk was always stocked with a large pencil cup (always a large OU mug – gotta represent for my alma mater), well out of the reach of “borrowing” fingers, jammed full of fun pens and pencils in every shade.  I only signed things in black ink when it was absolutely required. I kept a smaller cup filled with stolen hotel and drug rep pens for other people to use. There were always a variety of note pads in easy reach – some had cute shapes, some cute sayings, and some had pretty designs but they all made me smile.

When I was in school, the best day was the first day of school (okay, that is a lie…the last day was the best day but the first day was a close second). I picked out all of my school supplies with care.  I loved organizing my new supplies whether they be a big new box of crayons, pencils, scissors, and glue in the prettiest pencil box I could find or a few years later my super cool purple trapper keeper in my red Jordache messenger style book bag. I just made me happy to see all of those pretty supplies which seemed to hold so much potential at the beginning of each year.

I tell you all of that to tell you this: my daughter’s kindergarten class is likely using the Communist Manifesto starring Dick and Jane for a reading primer.  I was given this extensive and very specific (colors and brands and sizes) list of items I was required to purchase for her.  I was rather taken aback – would they really use 5 boxes of crayons (Crayola, 24 ct) and 9 glue sticks (Elmers, .77 ozs) and 24 pencils (Ticonderoga, sharpened) over the course of the year? After spending over $100 when I added in a lunch box and back pack, I had the required items.  Then I learned that she wouldn’t even get to use the items I purchased.  Everything goes into a community basket in the classroom.  The only items she can claim ownership of are her backpack and lunch box.

While my little bleeding social worker heart is happy that if a family is unable to afford all of the items on the list that child will never feel inferior because we all bought more than was needed and pooled it all together, my office supply loving self is sad that Sabrina doesn’t know the fun of lining up her new supplies and looking at them daily in anticipation of the beginning of the new year.  The list seemed excessive and the lack of ownership seems to encourage a lack of love and respect for the supplies.  I guess she will have to console herself with the new box of 64 crayons (sharpener included) I bought myself her to use here at home.

First day

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

I had a bit of a melt down last night. I put the girls to bed and started packing their backpacks for school.  I started to cry and could not stop. I called STeve, mid-sob.  I couldn’t even answer him about what was wrong at first until I managed to snuffle out “MAH BAYBEES!” He had the typical man response “Yeah. How did they both grow up so quickly?” (Sounding bored.) That made me cry harder because he wasn’t taking it seriously enough in my head. On top of the “I’ll blink and they will be moving out” thoughts in my head, I was also having a pity party because I was having to do this alone.  I wanted my partner here to listen to me sob and whine and cry.  It was quite the waterworks show. But I managed to either dehydrate myself to the point of not being able to cry anymore or get it all out because this morning I was okay.

I walked Sabrina into her classroom.  Her best friend from pre-school is in her class so she barely said goodbye to me.  Then, I took Tessa to her class.  She was excited and in full on “I do it myself” mode. She had toys in each hand before I walked out.  I might have gotten a little teary eyed when I returned to my empty car but it passed pretty easily.  I had breakfast with some other mommas, came home for a little more than an hour, then returned to pick Sabrina up (it was a half day).

I took her out to lunch, just the 2 of us which she thought was fabulous.  Then we picked up a few new books for the girls because if I have to read 1 more Dora or Max & Ruby book I might go around the bend.  Then we picked up Tessa.

Sabrina reported that she had a great day and can’t wait to go back for her first full day on Thursday (they stagger start this week and then next week go full time).  Tessa’s teachers reported that she did great.  She had fun and talked a lot.  She didn’t nap (which made for a lovely afternoon – she fell asleep in my lap for a little bit and then resumed her grump reign of terror) because she was missing me a little but otherwise had a great day.  She also can’t to go back.  I’m so thankful they both had great first days.  And I’m ready for a little more time to myself.

Kindergarten Eve

Monday, August 15th, 2011

I know all moms do this but wow it is hard. Letting my oldest baby go off into the world. All day. Every day. Letting other people teach her and help her form opinions about things. Allowing her to possibly be targeted by mean girls. She is excited, as she should be. And I am excited for her (and nervous). But there is this little voice in my head screaming “NO!” This is the beginning and the end.  The end of me being the center of her world.  The end of constant carefree days. The end of our little family making plans when it wants to rather than around a school calendar. The end of me being the smartest person she knows. It is the beginning of at least 13 years of education. The beginning of her looking forward to snow days and teacher in service days so that she can sleep in.  The beginning of her figuring out what she is good at. The beginning of her finding her passion in life.  The beginning of making friends and memories. The beginning of becoming her own person so that she can eventually leave us.

5 years just wasn’t enough.

Horsing around

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Steve was out of town on a business trip for a few days.  The girls are always bummed out when daddy is gone because he is the fun parent (well and because they love him and stuff).  Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t just the Fun! Dad!  He disciplines and enforces rules as much as I do.  But he is the one who rough houses (I tend to get an elbow to the lip or nose early on so my rough housing attempts usually end in me bleeding).  He is the one who plays silly games.  He is the one that at 5pm has the patience to hear the song that Sabrina has been singing for 8 hours.  He is the one who allows the occasional rule infraction because he doesn’t then have to listen to an argumentative 4 year old throw a fit when the rule is put back in place.  (E.G. One time allowing Sabrina to hang on the back of the cart instead of sitting in the basket turns into 9 months of “But daddy let me!  I don’t want to sit in the basket!”)  So I am often left feeling like the mean, boring mom blob.

I decided to take the opportunity of being single mom last week to try to be more Fun! Mom!

The first night, I told Sabrina she could sleep with me in my bed.  She didn’t go to sleep until 1 am and every time I moved, she pet me and talked to me in soothing voice.  While sweet, it wasn’t conducive to sleep.  When I rolled over at 5:30am, she was again awake and announced it was morning and time to get up.  After more petting of my arm, I finally growled (I’m not a morning person) that she wasn’t to touch me or speak to me again until the alarm went off at 7.  Of course when 7 rolled around, she was fast asleep and crabby that I had to wake her up for school.  We can call that Fun! Mom! experiment a big old FAIL.

One night, I offered the girls anything they wanted for dinner.  First Sabrina picked Red Robin (she is a sucker for balloons) but I had to veto because it is too far away.  Her second choice was bananas.  I should have let her stick with that but I pestered her for a more fun choice.  Pizza was the final idea.  She spent an hour pestering me if it was time to get pizza.  When we finally got it, I spent 45 minutes haranguing her to eat the pizza while she whined that she didn’t want it.  Fun! Mom! dinner experiment = FAIL.

When I picked her up from school on Thursday, I thought I would take the girls to a fun frozen yogurt shop.  You get to pick your yogurt flavors and choose from a couple dozen toppings.  How could that go wrong?  Yogurt was fun. We even had fun walking back to the car and playing little games.  But somewhere between getting in the car and arriving home, things went horribly wrong.  The sugar crash left me with cranky, disagreeable children who wanted nothing more than to whine and pick fights with each other.  They ended up in bed 45 minutes early.  Fun! Mom! ruining dinner experiment = FAIL.

On Friday, my moms club took the kids on a tour of a local stable.  They kids got to pet the horses, feed them carrots, watch them canter and trot and gallop, and groom them.

I really thought this would land me in the books as the Best! Mom! Ever!  I spent much of my grade school years plotting and scheming ways to get my parents to buy me a horse.  (Apparently, divorced parent guilt will score you a canopy bed and pierced ears but the line is drawn at a horse.)  But to be honest, the interest in the horses was mild and the barn cat proved to be much more awesome.

The horsey tire swing also seemed to rate pretty high.

When I prompted Sabrina to tell a friend about their day, she couldn’t remember anything remarkable.  I asked if she saw any animals and she mentioned the cat first and had to be prompted about the horses.  Fun! Mom! horsing around experiment = a wash.  Guess Daddy doesn’t have to worry about his most fun parent status being in jeopardy.

Sanity from Nick Jr

Monday, October 18th, 2010

I have to call foul right now.  Once, many moons ago, I took you all to task for not telling me what a holy mess biter/teething biscuits made.  Now I want to know why you were all holding out on me about the difference between Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.  We just had our TV service installed at the new house.  I needed the kids out from under my feet for 30 minutes so I turned it on and started searching through 600 channels for PBS.  In the late afternoon, PBS is the only channel I normally let the girls watch if we turn the TV on at all.  Disney is full of tween dramedies at that time.  Nick is all SpongeBob all the time.  PBS has some good programing (the Electric Company got a serious revamp – it was no where near that cool when I was a kid).  But somewhere between channel 543 and channel 8 (where PBS apparently resides), I stumbled upon Nick Jr.  It was showing things that used to appear in the morning on Nick but have since vanished.  No one told me that that Wonder Pets and Backyardigans and everyone else except Dora was hiding over on this little channel of toddler nirvana.  It was only very recently that I came to understand that they were 2 distinct and different channels but I didn’t realize that at least for the purposes of keeping my children occupied that Nick Jr was so vastly superior.  Help a momma out next time!

I even got to go to the bathroom by myself for the first time in a year.


I have photos but my camera and computer aren’t in the same house at the moment.  Tomorrow, they will both live happily together.  The movers arrive at 8:30 in the morning.  We have a good bit of our stuff already at the new house – the kitchen is fully functional and we should be in decent shape once the furniture gets there.  I will be so freaking glad when I can call this move finished.  And they will have to pry my lifeless, cold, dead body from that house far in the future because I never want to move again.

I broke the cardinal rule

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

No, not that one.  And eww, not the one either – get your mind out of the gutter.

My dad always said the cardinal rule of a trial lawyer is never ask a question that you don’t already know the answer to.  Toddlers aren’t that different from a hostile witness on the stand.  You need to know the answer to any question you ask – because you’ve carefully pre-screened the limited options you are presenting as viable answers to the asked question.  (Objection!  Counsel is leading her witness.  Overruled.  All is fair in love and parenting.) (Me? Carry my metaphor too far? Never!  Now hush before I hold you in contempt.)

I broke the rule.  I asked a toddler an open ended question.  I asked Sabrina “What color do you want to paint your new room?”  Rookie mistake.  I know better.  I should have picked out 3 or 4 paint swatches and said “Which color would you like for your new room?”

Now she points out different colors everywhere we go and says “Maybe we can paint my room that color, Mommy!”  She tends to focus on the green family but has also thrown in pink, purple, orange, blue, and red depending on her mood.  Now I have to undo what I did and find some paint colors that don’t make my eyes bleed and offer her a few choices.  Let’s hope she quickly forgets this world of free will I let her glimpse.

*BTW that photo is of a cool painted light bulb that the site claims will make your room look like that when lit.  Might be a neat night light.  Click the photo to go to the site.

First Day of Preschool

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Sabrina was up shortly after 6 am.  She was very excited to start her first day of school.  She came downstairs fully dressed in an outfit she chose for herself.  We snuggled in my bed and talked about the coming day.  We packed her lunch and readied her school bag.  A quick breakfast and off we went.

Sabrina bravely walked into her class and greeted her new teacher.  We settled her bag into her cubby and her lunch into the lunch bag spot.  After a quick kiss and goodbye, Tessa and I left her.  She was momentarily startled to realize that we were really going to just leave her there but quickly recovered her excitement.

Why yes, I did cry after I left Sabrina at her preschool.  But I did make it to the privacy of my car first.

I felt that having a minor emotional meltdown in the lobby might put the final shine on my plaque declaring me “that mom“.  I was disappointed with how they handled orientation and some other administrative issues.  I shared that disappointment via a long email to the school yesterday.  Then my husband chimed in.  So yeah, I have to regain some ground before they realize that I am really not “that mom“.  I don’t hover.  I don’t smother.  I don’t think my children are perfect angels.  I don’t expect her (or me) to be coddled or babied.  I just expect a certain level of competence and professionalism.  I figured they might want me to express it to them rather than the community at large.

Anywhooo, back to my emotional meltdown.  I was shiny-eyed as I left but no tears.  I got into the car and started crying the moment I put it into gear.  Tessa was calling in a bewildered tone “Ni-ni, Ni-ni” from the back seat.  I cried as I drove to Target. And I cried as I started wandering through the store – much to the chagrin of the 19 year old stock boy who asked if I was finding everything okay.  Then suddenly, I realized I had been browsing for 10 minutes and hadn’t once had to say “Keep your hands to yourselves”.  I smiled to myself.  Huh…a momma could get used to this shopping with only 1 child thing.

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