Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Father-Daughter Conversations

Upon Slipshod's return home from work at night, when he walks into the kitchen and the girls see him:


Slipshod: Da da da da da da da.

The Bug: (giggles) Mama!

Slipshod: (laughs) No, Dada! Da da da da da.


Slipshod: Close. DA da da da da. DAda.


Slipshod: DADA.

The Bug: YAYA!

Slipshod: DADA.

Sweet Pea: DADA!

Slipshod (grinning and tousling Sweet Pea's hair): That's right, one of my girls can say my name!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Blog Vacation!

Flodigarry Hotel, Isle of Skye. We HIGHLY recommend it. Great rooms, gorgeous views, fabulous food (yes, even though it is in Scotland).
The hotel as viewed from the shore line.
A view out from the front of the hotel.
Down by the water's edge.

Slipshod and I visited Ireland/UK in October, 2001 and this was one of our favorite places. We stayed two nights on the Isle of Skye, at the Flodigarry Hotel. We also visited Portree and found a neat batik shop.

Still Alive

Really. Just barely.

The Bug and I have lost A LOT of sleep lately, so I am barely dragging myself through the day. I've been trying to post some pictures from Picasa in the mean time, but something's screwy with the Picasa-to-Blogger connection and the pictures aren't actually coming through the way they used to.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Real Pisser

Welcome back to the microcosm of our house. Here's something I just KNOW you'll want to hear ALL about.

Lest you should think that Sweet Pea's potty usage has remained wonderful since the day she suddenly started using it... let me fill you in.

The first month was fabulous. There was only one accident, right in the middle, and that was minor. Then she started wanting to take naps in her room rather than the master bed, and she started not making it to the potty. Why? Because she can't open the door to her room. The doorknob is all tight and messed up. I've always got the monitor on so I know what's going on in there and when she needs me, but she doesn't always let me know right away. I finally came up with the idea of putting her kid potty in that room in case she needed a potty right away, but by that time she was fine with sleeping in the master bed for naptime again. In the master bedroom she can hop off the bed and go straight into the bathroom, so there are no problems in there.

I also of course instituted a policy of "you must use the potty before your nap," which helped for a bit.

However - at the beginning we had been giving her incentives - small toys, etc. for periods of time without accidents. I told her while this was happening that when she got really good at using the potty we wouldn't give her things anymore, we would just expect her to do it. She didn't really seem to understand why, but she seemed okay with the idea. The incentives petered out and then disappeared.

Now, however... she has started having accidents all the time. All over the place. Never in bed, thank goodness, but... sometimes on the carpet, sometimes in the kitchen/dining room/family room (it's all one long room). Mostly on the linoleum in the little bathroom downstairs. So, yes, she usually does make it to the bathroom, but not the potty. I am constantly having to take sopping pee-filled underwear and sometimes pants and socks as well upstairs to the washer. There are days when she NEVER makes it to the toilet on time, and it's a day of soggy underwear, wiping up the kid, and mopping the floor.

I imagine that I wouldn't be so upset about all of this if she hadn't done so very well at the beginning and then slipped back to this. I would also be less upset if I knew that she was having accidents. But I know better. Nowadays she has confessed to me on several occasions, in these words, "I just don't want to stop playing." We have explained to her that that's not acceptable. Often we make her sit on the potty when it's been hours since the last time she went. She used to say, "I don't have to go," "my bladder's not full yet, " or "I don't want to go right now." But if her bladder was full, it would empty on those visits. And often she would cry and say, "I didn't want to go pee pee!" We were, of course, thankful that she didn't know how to hold it.

But now... she can hold it when we make her sit there. Even if she really has to go. She will sit there when told, often arguing or just telling me that her bladder isn't full. I will explain to her that if she feels like something needs to come out, she needs to let it out - that going potty keeps her healthy, etc. She won't go, she'll get off the potty and pull up her underwear, wash her hands and go back to playing, and then - yep, five minutes later - all over the floor. Or whereever.

Last Friday I had already been having a difficult day with her, so while I cooked dinner I let her play computer games on Noggin.com to keep her out of my hair. I had asked her if she needed to go potty and she had said "no." I had asked her repeatedly and she had always said "no." During dinner preparations I had to take The Bug upstairs for a diaper change. Sweet Pea came up while I was finishing up with the diaper change, and wanted to go back downstairs with me. Then I noticed that she wasn't wearing any underwear. I asked about it and she said,

"they're downstairs."

Me: "Did you have to go potty?"

SP: "yeah."

Me: "Are your underwear dry?"

SP: "no."

Me: "Where did you go? Did you go on the potty?"

SP: "No, I went on your chair."

At this point in time I was at the bottom of the stairs, rounding the corner into the dining room, so I surveyed all the chairs at the table. They were dry.

Me: "what chair?"j

SP: "Your computer chair."

Yeah. My computer chair. My stuffing-filled, plush, computer chair on wheels. She ruined it. In order to give her the benefit of the doubt, I asked her if she had peed on my chair on purpose. Her answer was, "yes" but then I reasoned that maybe she didn't know what "on purpose" meant, and asked her if she had known that she had to pee and done it on the chair anyway. I asked in as many different and simple ways as I could think of, to make sure of what I was hearing. Every answer she gave told me that she had been fully aware that she had to pee, but she simply did not want to stop playing computer games to go to the bathroom and use the toilet.

I explained to her how that is NOT an accident, told her she had ruined my chair, and put her on time out.

She peed on the floor in her time-out spot (which is, thankfully, tiled - it's the entryway to our house, since there's nothing there for her to play with). She said that she still needed to go, that she hadn't finished. But why, then, had she come upstairs? I had assumed she was finished, because instead of going to the potty after peeing on my chair, she had come upstairs and chatted with me for a while.

I am really at the end of my rope here. There have been a few days when she has asked to wear diapers again so she won't have to stop playing to go to the bathroom. Of course I have told her "no" and we're not going to go back, but I am really ready to make her live in the back yard until she can take this seriously. I don't care if she pees in the yard, but I am really really really REALLY sick of her using the house as a toilet (although, thank goodness, she does not have poop accidents).

Every time I flip out at her about peeing somewhere other than the toilet I figure I'm probably reacting in exactly the wrong way. What long-term damage am I doing here? Slipshod has an even shorter temper with her than I have (surprising given how laid back he is, though if she didn't push him away all the time he might have an easier time of giving her the benefit of the doubt) so we're not really getting anywhere.

Every time she has an accident outside of the bathroom, playing somewhere, we take away whatever she was playing with (so, no computer games for now - that's a bigger blow to her than taking away regular toys). But now we're talking about getting her a potty watch - basically a little timer she can wear on her wrist. That might sound fun, but I have shown it to her and she doesn't like the idea of having to wear it - so instead of getting it as an incentive, we're getting it as a punishment. ha ha!

Slipshod's mom says that you have to figure out whether your child responds to incentive or punishment. We are having trouble figuring that out because she is ALWAYS being given things - by Slipshod's mom for the most part, nearly every couple weeks. But I am pretty sure that at this point we've got to just go with punishment.

Any ideas would be appreciated if you've been through this and found something that worked.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Is it Just Me...

Or do all parents, while trying to burp their babies, end up burping themselves?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

You're on the Spot

Hey, turns out this is the tail end of "Delurking Week" - so if you've been reading along but not commenting, out yourself! Just say "hi" so I know I'm not alone; please? I feel very alone on the blog this week. :o)

Tickled Pink

Guess what - Sweet Pea is READING! She and I are both SO excited.

We started teaching her letters as soon as she could speak. We've been going over the sounds letters make for probably longer than a year. We started with her blocks - Slipshod and I would playfully quiz her on what letters she saw on the blocks we held up while we stacked them, etc. Ever since we bought the ABC box from our friend Lynda, Sweet Pea has been even more into letters, learning what the lower case looks like of each, and looking at and saying the names of the pictures each book shows of words that start with each letter. There was a period of time last year when she would sit and go through the entire box at once, reading every letter and picture to anyone who would listen: Me, my sister who was visiting from out of state, her favorite fishie squirt toy, you name it. We have also made use (and continue to) of a lot of the wonderful games on Noggin's website, especially the Maisy block game, which teaches the sounds that letters make. Sweet Pea and I used to play that a lot when we lived in San Jose.

And I've been reading to Sweet Pea just about every day (often for half a day because she used to want to read each book over and over and over ad nauseum) since she was younger than The Bug is now. She loves to be read to (who doesn't?), likes to write words when I tell her how to spell them, and for a few months has been telling me that she wants to learn how to read. I hadn't yet looked into any sort of teaching guide for reading, but I mentioned the situation to my sister who is a teacher, and she got SO excited and sent us the first set of Bob Books to borrow.

They arrived with the girls' Christmas presents from my sister but due to the hubub of the holidays, Sweet Pea and I didn't sit down with the books until yesterday evening. She was very interested in learning the sounds that the first book used, and in learning how to sound out words, though I was having a difficult time explaining to her what I meant when I said, "sound it out - good - now do that faster." She was like "how do I sound it out faster?"

Sleeping on it seems to have made everything sink in a little more, though, so that today when she asked to read the Bob Books after breakfast, she was quicker at sounding out. She was also interested for longer, and managed to read the first two little books herself by sounding out the words!

I cannot fully express my excitement about this. Really. My mom says that she taught all of us to read before we went to school but I don't remember knowing how before then, because I distinctly remember being horrified that I didn't know how to spell 3-letter words as early as some of the other kids. Though I guess I could have known how to read without paying enough attention to learn how to spell. They are different skills... hm.

ANYWAY - being the youngest in my family (thereby never seeing anyone younger than me learn to read) and never having taught anyone to read before, I had no idea you could teach a 3 1/2-year-old with instant success. I am STOKED. As with all things I am sure that Sweet Pea's interest in reading will wax and wane, but this is a very exciting start and with each page she tells me that she really wants to learn how to read, and that she's excited to be learning. I can clearly see how thrilled she is each time she figures out a word and then reads a 2, 3, or 4-word sentence after having sounded out each of the words in turn.

Of course, this means we're headed toward the days when Slipshod and I can't spell to each other without her knowing what we're talking about - and our very basic sign language is already useless for that too, since we learned it for HER, in order to help her be able to communicate with us before she could speak - but oh well, maybe by the time she can understand everything we're spelling we'll have better skills at signing when she's not looking, or we'll get walkie talkies implanted in our brains... ha ha ha! Okay, we'll just have to suck it up and deal, and learn how to talk when she's not around if there's something she shouldn't hear.

But anyway... isn't this the coolest? The reading cut into The Bug's naptime (though if she had stayed asleep the first time she would have been fine, dammit) and I still haven't had a shower today - but it was all totally worth it to help Sweet Pea take these first steps toward a new exciting learning discovery!

** Note: After sharing this new excitement with my sister she pointed out that the Bob Books are VERY simple, so it's no great wonder that Sweet Pea was able to get through the first two books so easily. It's true, the books ARE very simple, specifically designed for ease of learning as you might expect. Each has only 5 or 6 pages and each page has anywhere from 1 to 4 words on it. No word is longer than 3 letters. Sweet Pea is not reading encylopedias yet. I'm just completely excited that she can sound these words out so easily, and although these books are super simple, this is a BIG first step for her! My sister's comment sort of made me feel like I shouldn't be so excited, but you know what, I am. I am. This is huge. **

Monday, January 08, 2007

We Could Make BILLIONS

Do you remember that commercial with the big red "Easy" button?

With that in mind, picture this:

You need to go to the grocery store but your child hasn't napped and you don't want to deal with a throw-down fit in the frozen aisle.


You're ready to go to the post office but your child refuses to go potty/get dressed/let you wipe her face, etc. etc...


You've been butting heads all day with your limit-testing three-year-old and you long to just get the hell out of the house and go for a walk to cool down


[Insert your own 10 billion possible scenarios here.]

You yearn for a way to just GO, while your child somehow stays safe. You need to do your thing but if you just leave your child at home alone, that is of course negligence and they'd probably get hurt, you'd get arrested, etc. Not to mention the emotional damage it would do to just walk out and leave a small child alone.

But then you remember: "Oh, that's right." You reach out your hand and ever so simply push the big "Instant Babysitter" button.

Your problems are solved.

POOF, she/he appears: Someone you trust to keep your child safe. Someone your child knows and trusts and likes to be with. Someone who knows what who needs to eat and when, and not just that - they also know where the food, bowls, and spoons are. They know where the nearest park is, where the kids' shoes are, and how to cajole said kids into putting the shoes on. They may even have tricks to get the kids to nap when they don't want to.

But that's not all. Oh, no, the fabulousness doesn't end there. You see, this "Instant Babysitter" button is not limited to home. There is also one on the dashboard of your car. That means that the next time you arrive at the store, post office, etc., and one or more children are asleep in the back of the car, you hit the button and >poof,< there is someone in the car to sit with them while they sleep, freeing you to go inside and do whatever it is you need to do, without you having to wake them up or carry them, sleeping, while you accomplish your errand.

When I need this miracle in the car I often picture the inflatable autopilot from the "Airplane" movies. ha ha ha!

But back to business: I am not above mass cloning of grandmothers to achieve the perfect solution for this service. Now - any ideas on how, given the costs involved in research and development, we could make the "Instant Babysitter" button/service affordable for the average family?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Down the Rabbit Hole

Yep, that's where we've been... the holidays took over so completely that I feel as if I've been on a big long vacation from blogger - not that I wanted to leave...

Anyway, I'm back. Hope I can find time to blog more often and also read others' blogs every day again like I used to!

We had a good time with family and now I've been cleaning house, trying to get the thank you notes written and the new stuff put away. Thankfully the girls received more clothes than toys, so they've got cute things to wear (some of them matching sister outfits - so cute!) AND just enough new things to play with to keep them entertained.

The Bug is on the move! Her sleep has continued to deteriorate to a point of being worse-than-newborn, though last night was a lot better. Her second tooth came in the other day so I'm hoping we'll get a rest now until the next tooth or two come in. She really enjoys jumping in her exersaucer and doorway bouncer (just put that up yesterday and she had a hoot while I was in the shower) and sitting and playing on the floor. She is really really good at rolling from back to tummy, but still has not mastered tummy to back - doesn't even try. HOWEVER - once she rolls from back to tummy, she wants to actually move. She is actually starting to get her knees under her already! I have nightmares about having an 8-month-old climber. While I don't think she's actually going to be on that fast of a track, I am figuring she will probably be crawling and walking earlier than Sweet Pea. We'll see... In the mean time I am talking with Sweet Pea every day about what is and isn't safe for The Bug, and trying to make her more conscious of what she leaves on the floor. The biggest potential problem I forsee is paper; she's pretty good at keeping her crayons and colored pencils up on my desk.

Now that the hubub of the holidays is over and I've got the place almost back to normal, I've hooked the baby seat back to the table and now The Bug is joining us for breakfast and dinner. She still thinks that eating solids is kind of weird, but she is cheerful about it and she is getting more food into her mouth these days. She spits it out as soon as it gets in, but it's a start... Also, yesterday she suddenly got an understanding of her sippy cup and now enjoys sucking water out of it... so she can then spit the water out. ha ha! She can't actually hold the cup in a useful way yet, but Sweet Pea is happy to help give The Bug drinks between spoonsful of food.

Sweet Pea has been showing signs for quite a while of wanting more of my attention. I do what I can, but obviously the baby needs me physically more than Sweet Pea. Sweet Pea doesn't blame any of this on the baby and still adores her sister, but she is also suffering a bit and her frustration is coming out in a couple of different ways: 1) demanding that I sleep with her at naptime and refusing to nap if I'm not there (FYI I have only ever napped with her every so often - mostly while pregnant), and refusing to do as we say. When we get tired of her refusal and start using stern voices she gets sad and asks us to "please talk nicely." Then we remind her that we started out talking nicely, and tell her that if she had listened to us and done what we asked the first time or three, we wouldn't get so upset! Gah.

Her sleep is interesting. She sleeps very well, but I find myself at a crossroads with her naps. I can either let her continue to sleep 10 hours per night and then fight about the nap every day, or I can let her sleep 12 hours at night and say goodbye to the nap. I have kept up the first thing because I don't want to give up her nap. But a couple days ago she slept 12 1/2 hours after having a no-nap day, and the day after all the sleep she was SO sweet and wonderful and helpful and listened so well. Her not napping also allowed us more time together without the baby, which I'm sure she appreciated. I don't know... still haven't decided what to do about this. I almost think that giving up the nap would be best, but I'm not sure, and am afraid to go down that road for fear that our wonderful day the other day was just a fluke. ha ha! I guess we could try it out for a few days in a row and see how that goes, and make a decision from there.

I am attempting to become good at crock pottery, i.e. actually having the ingredients and using morningtime to get dinner ready, because I hate reaching 4:30 and starting to wonder what's for dinner. However - I am finding that for the most part crock pot recipes just taste overdone to me. Also, it's difficult to find a lot of good recipes in one cookbook. I've got the Vegetarian Slow Cooker cookbook, and it's got a couple of good ones for sure; I guess we just need to try more. We tried two pot pie recipes in there and they didn't taste anything like we expected. The Southwestern one with corn bread topping had zero spices in it save salt and pepper, which was weird, and the cornbread topping was very dry and mealy - not like corn bread for real. We've decided to see if we can perfect this recipe by adding the spices we think should be in it, and trying to cook actual cornbread on top of it.

Sweet Pea and I finally got the kitchen totally under control the other day and now I'm washing everything as soon as we're done eating, so I won't have to do a ton of dishes after the girls are asleep. It's been nice to be able to do a little something that I want to do at night these days! There is still a lot that needs to be done, but now I feel as if I've got the house under control enough to do a fun thing here and there as well.

I have started going to bed a little earlier since The Bug started trying to kill me by not letting me sleep. A couple nights while one or the other of the girls was sick and I wasn't feeling too hot either, I stayed in bed with them when I got them to sleep. Felt a lot better the mornings after those two nights.

Our New Years Eve was a lot of fun. For the 7th year in a row we went to the party of some local friends - this is the first year we've been so close! This year the house was crawling with babies and kids. The food was fantastic. It was potluck but our hostess made a bunch of super fantastic vegan dishes too. And for the first time ever, the table wasn't mostly covered with cakes! ha ha!

Well, I should get back to the girls; The Bug has been playing and filling her diaper so she will probably need to nurse and nap now.