Toddler Mom

It's All About the Potty

I have been known to take the stance of "ignore it and maybe it will fix itself." For some reason, I feel like this has worked, but the two instances that come to mind where I applied this technique did not turn out as planned. Those would be when the dishwasher started retaining water with each cycle and when we potty trained.

Or rather, when we didn't potty train. I kept hoping some magical spell would occur overnight and poof our 3 year old would suddenly be diaper free. It didn't happen that way. In fact, it took our wonderful and kind preschool teacher giving a gentle nudge during parent teacher conferences to finally go cold turkey on the nappies.

As you well know we parents spend a lot of time dealing with poopy in one way or another.  Without being crass, I feel like we all share common memories of our children's poopy life. There's the one that squirts all the way across the room when they're infants. There's the one that blows out the leg of the diaper. This is how it goes. And it's so important that our kids are able to comfortably and effectively poop, especially when they're suddenly sitting on the potty themselves waiting for something to happen. Enter our wonderful friend, fiber.

We know we need to get enough fiber through a variety of healthy foods and supplements. Try explaining that to a 3 year old who only wants to eat foods that are white to beige in hue. One day it may be all you can do to serve up a popsicle and call it a fruit. We do the best we can. Right?

I do have two suggestions for kid-friendly healthy fiber: crispy kale chips and fiber gummies.

Crispy Kale Chips

  • Rinse a head of curly kale.
  • Remove the leaves from the stalk and tear them into bite-sized pieces.
  • Arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet and blot dry with paper towel or clean tea towel.
  • Douse with olive oil and mix to coat with your hands. (Moisturizing!)
  • Sprinkle liberally with kosher or sea salt.
  • Pop in a 350 degree oven for 15-25 minutes.
  • Stir around a bit, turn the oven off and leave in the oven for an additional 20-60 minutes (this extra time crisps it up even more, but keeps it from over cooking).

The ideal is crisp, deep jade green, extremely munchable chips. My daughter loves these… on some days. You know how it is. But, she's always ready for a gummy.

I'm happy to say we've successfully left the diapers behind us and have made friends with the potty. And we did get the dishwasher fixed, but it took a while.

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Looking Into the Lunchbox

Let me be perfectly clear on this one topic: I am not a lover of change. I get nervous, worried, twitchy, even when my rational mind knows everything will be okay. Case in point: making lunch for my preschooler. In the grand scheme of things, this is not a big deal. But now near the end of the school year looking back on the beginning of the school year, I will tell you this particular topic caused me considerable angst.

The daycare where Hazel happily played and grew from the tender age of 3 months to the big girl age of 3 years provided breakfast, lunch, and snacks -- amazing! When it came time for Hazel's switch over to preschool I had lots of concerns for her: about how she would handle the new teachers and classmates, new routines, and new settings. But she is a resilient and brave girl and she did just fine.

My main worry for myself, I admit to you now, was what in the world I would pack in her lunch box every day. I was baffled. As a full time working mom, I just barely have the time and energy to get family dinner together every night. Now I would have to add another meal prep after that? Was this humanly possible?

I'm thrilled to say it was. For me the absolute key to this process was to break lunch down into groups with options for each. At the start of the year I'd consult a written list and even jot down lunches in a notebook to make sure I was keeping things varied.

If your child's lunch box is looking cavernous or you just need some new options, here's how I do it:

Pick one from each category:

Main:

  • Leftovers from last night's dinner
  • Half a PB&J or other sandwich


Dairy (I sometimes double up here and forgo the main):

  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cheese stick


Fruit or veg:

  • Apple Slices
  • Edamame
  • 1/2 banana
  • Broccoli spears


Grain:


Drink:

As all moms know, providing healthy, wholesome, varied, and well-received food for our kids ranks way up there on the list of essential parenting. From the day we brought baby Hazel home from the hospital, I have been awed by how big a role nutrition plays in the whole parenting experience. It's in my top three along with keeping her safe and showing her love. I'm proud to have cracked the code on the lunch box mystery. I'm intimidated no longer.

Next stop? PreK, here we come!

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Jon & Kate Plus... Just Plain Sad

I was recently asked how I feel about the televised implosion of Jon & Kate Plus 8's marriage. And I'm curious to hear how my fellow bloggers, and all you readers out there feel about it, too.

Here's my honest, uninformed (but who could be truly informed in this instance?) opinion:

Back Story:
I did have my Jon & Kate viewing moment. I enjoyed that my Tivo picked up handfuls of episodes seemingly every day. I liked the view into a home much more challenging than my own, but one that appeared to be filled with love (and at times, frustration -- who can blame?). I felt a sense of hope seeing their family struggling to do the best they could -- just like me.

Since the Storm:
Since the allegations, rift, and countless magazine covers (which I read. I admit that. It's true. Now you know), I've felt sort of queasy about it all. I assume they're in real pain and I'm sorry to see their pain amplified by photogs and spin.

At this point, I just can't fault them for the choices they've made for their family.

I have one child. There are countless experts and books and opinions out there to tell me how to raise my girl. We still have to make countless choices that are (hopefully) right for our family. It is so hard and so important to be a parent -- and to amplify that times eight? I can't say I wouldn't jump at the opportunity to secure my family's financial stability in exchange for a couple of cameras. Is it bad for the kids? Probably. But... growing up destitute and with those strains would not have been a good situation either.

And sure they signed up for it, but I doubt they foresaw the (perhaps inevitable) media storm approaching way off in the distance. I guess I see it as a "walk a mile in their shoes" kind of thing.

Here's what I'm wondering though. Why has Kate been on the cover of every major gossip magazine for the past month or so? (the ones I read, yes, we already covered that). Why do we take such twisted pleasure in chastising this woman who might not be especially friendly or gracious, but neither is the guy who just bumped me with his umbrella. I guess what I'm saying is there are worse things than what they've done, but you wouldn't know that right now.

Who knew I felt so passionately?

What do you think?

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Our Menagerie Weekend

This past weekend we traveled to the alpaca farm in upstate NY that's owned and operated by a close family friend. It's a special place -- in fact, we held our wedding there. I remember H experiencing her first instance of sitting on grass there. She was 10 months old. Sometimes the differences of growing up in the city are thrown into sharp relief.

This past weekend H would have spent every waking second outside if she could have. She had great fun traveling between the alpaca barn and the pond briming with frogs. She made strides toward being more comfortable with dogs -- Cubby the Pomeranian is smaller than our cat, what's not to love? She also saw: deer, cows, horses, a snake, geese and baby geese (so fluffy), and a bunny.

I am a city kid. I grew up in NYC, attended public schools, and ride the subway every day. I appreciate not needing to own a car and being able to order in food from a dozen different countries any time of the day or night. And I adore Central Park and Prospect Park for the taste of nature they offer. But sometimes it doesn't seem like it's enough. I was struck when conducting video interviews with scientists at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City that several of the scientists found their passion by getting down in the dirt and observing and exploring nature as kids. Of course everything's a trade off. Country kids don't have the same access to diversity and culture that H has. How do you balance your life choices with what your kids miss out on? It's clear to me we need to go back to the alpaca farm soon.

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"A Yogurt Is a Mean Man"

...or so H informed me this morning, thereby confirming they've been reading and discussing fairy tales at daycare. Yogurt = Ogre. Pretty cute, I think. I've never been especially adept at picking up languages. Forget high school French, I can't imagine trying to learn English with the weight of being understood depending on it. No wonder she gets cranky sometimes. But you know what else she told me this morning? "I want to snuggle with you, Mommy." Gets me every time. Everyone said it would be so, but the honor and pleasure of being H's mommy is really the best thing that's ever happened to me.

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there. We're a lucky lot.

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Up, Up, and Away

We flew to California recently, and yes, now we are all home in one piece.

Before we left I felt ridiculously nervous. I imagined H freaking out on the plane. She'd wail pathetically and twist and turn in her seat. The people around us would tisk softly under their breath, shake their heads, and cast "bad parent" looks in our direction. We'd try toy after toy, book after book, and nothing would work. Then we'd have to circle SFO for three hours because of fog and, well, we'd vow never to leave the house again.

Guess what? She did great. She was awesome, tremendous, a real trooper. Whoever invented back-of-the-seat personal TVs has my sincere gratitude. We didn't even haul out the big backpack full of chotchkies. Two items we purchased for the trip really paid off: a bag designed to fit the car seat so we could confidently check it through, and the CARES harness for H to use on takeoff and landing – fabulous.

But it's never that simple, right? How could it be? This happy little story just has to have a twist, right? It took us a week to realize. I still cannot believe we did this. But we did. (Wait for it…) We left the car seat in the cab coming back from the airport. Yep. More than a week later, that cab is not coming back (damn them). If it weren't so ridiculous, so patently absurd, I'd feel worse. Happily the seat was a hand-me-down and our old model still works for another 5+ pounds. But truly! Who does that? Well, apparently we do!

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Date Night

There are so many different ways to parent. And it's so high stakes and personal that it's easy to have "right" and "wrong" take the place of different choices. Breastfeeding vs. formula, nanny vs. daycare, working mom vs. stay at home, oh the list does go on and it's surprisingly easy to feel judged by the choices you make. Also on this list is when parents feel comfortable leaving their baby with others. The range of experiences is as populated as the number of families out there.

For us, H started daycare at the tender age of 3 months. It was tremendously hard until (months later) I came to believe from experience that she was just fine in that environment. She's still at the same place (now on the "big kid side") and we've had nothing but positive experiences with it. On the other end of the spectrum, we've yet to employ a babysitter save my parents (who live close and are flexible and wonderful). And even with my parents nearby -- full disclosure here -- we've gone out alone together far fewer than 10 times in the two-and-a-half years we've been parents. That's not a lot. And, in several of those instances we scurried home quickly, set adrift by the separation. To me, it makes sense -- our work schedules keep us apart for so much of the week, we like to hang out together when we can. But grown-up alone time also makes sense, especially with the hope of maintaining a relationship that isn't purely based on being parents together (though goodness knows, she's still our main topic of conversation).

Last night we had a date night -- and it was fun. At first it seemed too complicated and crazy (I went from Manhattan to Brooklyn to pick her up and drop her at home with my parents, then back to Manhattan to meet up with David), but in the end we enjoyed dinner and a show and it felt, well, civilized. Maybe there's something to this whole date night thing. We're toying with the idea of making it monthly. That just seems decadent, but why not? Maybe it would be good for us and fun, too. I guess learning to be a good parent is just the same as learning to be a good and fulfilled person. It's a work in progress forever.

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Mouth Matters

Which came first, the molars or the big girl bed? Last night, round about 10pm, when our little dumpling still had not dropped off to sleep (as evidenced by her "hanging out" at the gate to her room) we started to wonder if something was up. She's drooling a lot, her head feels kind of hot, maybe she's getting some molars.


Well, one flashlight and several looks inside the mouth revealed not one, not two, but three, three big, chunky molars pushing and stretching their way through her tender baby gums. Poor little peach! Good grief! It's not bothering her too terribly much, but it can't be comfortable. How long does this last? Molars aren't baby teeth, too, are they? And when, oh when, will we all get the sleep we need? Zzzzzzzzzz.

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Baby baby baby

Just found out, via Facebook no less, that a good friend with a toddler younger than H is expecting her second. Super exciting. Also produces a pang of "I want that" if I'm to be completely honest. While I know, really know, that we're not ready to welcome another life into our family, I also really hope we will be ready (or, you know, as ready as we can be. You're never actually ready, of course. Never have enough money, a big enough place, enough extra energy, etc.) at some point. And I hope when that point comes, that I'll be ready and able physically. It certainly wouldn't be the worst thing if H was an only child, far from it, but... at that's not what I'm hoping for.

In other baby news, H has taken to balling up her "snuggle blanket" and tenderly holding the "little, tiny baby" that is within. It's just adorable. It's also the evolution of our popular "little, tiny baby" game wherein David or I pick up H, cradle her on her side (her feet extend way out. She is a tall girl.) and say something along the lines of "oh, little tiny baby. What a little tiny baby this is. She doesn't know how to do big girl things. She just sleeps and eats. She's so little and tiny." She loves it and requests it often. As our friend Philip remarked, "she's two and she's already nostalgic." I think it's also one of the few ways this active powerhouse of a toddler can take a rest, get a little cuddle, and feel secure and safe as she pauses for a moment. That's my theory anyway. What do you think?

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Time Flies.. and Soup Follows

My goodness... I certainly didn't intend to let so much time pass between blog posts. But here we are and hopefully that's what matters. Somehow time keeps moving and I keep running to catch up. Yesterday H marched around the apartment shouting, "President Obama, President Obama" -- very cute.

This morning David, my husband, and I were talking about how neither of us appreciates the term "terrible twos." It's so negative, so all encompassing.And H is so not terrible, in fact she's really wonderful and we keep sight of that as she violently throws nearly everything she can get her hands on. 

She clears tables, she empties bins full of Legos. The other day? She threw a bowl full of chicken noodle soup. Yeah. I think that bears repeating with bold for emphasis: She threw a bowl full of chicken noodle soup.

So, while we both cringe at the "terrible twos" moniker, it's not a totally alien concept where it came from. Our punishment system consists of "time outs" usually in the high chair. Throwing food is the major offender (though pulling poor our cat George's poor tail is also on the list). Am I crazy to think she has the self-possession to choose not to throw food? I really think she does. Of course, the time outs have become such a topic of conversation ("no time outs," "want a time out", etc.) that it's possible they've become an encourager rather than a deterrent. What do you think? How do you deal with this particular challenge? I would truly love to hear!

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