Monday, January 31, 2011

Freedom! (Park)

This weekend we had some freedom from cold weather. I love those random spring-like days in January. There is hope for spring.

We went to Freedom Park twice this weekend and let Killian run around, watch the ducks, etc. On Sunday, we had a picnic. I made a salad with the meat from rack of lamb, strawberries, cucumbers, and Greek yogurt on the side. So delicious. I didn't know lamb and strawberries go so well together.

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I never knew where Freedom Park got its name. After seeing this plaque at the park (I have a soft spot for immigrants), I looked it up when I got home. It was built just after WWII "to promote a better future and to serve as a memorial to those who served in the war." The land was acquired and built with private funds. Neat!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Enjoy the Silence

Ever since Killian joined the "Toddler Room" at school 5 months ago, he has gotten on a consistent nap schedule: 12ish to 2ish every day.

On the weekends, we plan around nap time. A typical Saturday morning, we paddle about the house for a little bit, then Mike takes Killian to Discovery Place when they open at 10, while I exercise at home. (I can never exercise with Killian at home because he insists on climbing all over me or standing in between my legs while I try to do squats or whatever.) An hour and a half later, I've had a good work-out, showered, tidied up the house, and am ready to eat. I pick up the boys in the van and we head to lunch.

Mike and I take turns chasing Killian around the restaurant (he still somehow still has energy after running around Discovery Place for over an hour), and then consistently, on the drive home, he falls asleep, and then sleeps for 2-3 hours in his room.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

I am acutely aware that this silence is fleeting. In a couple weeks, I won't be asking myself, "Hmmm...what should I do at home for the next 2-3 hours while Killian's napping?"

I am cherishing every bit of weekend nap times and quality one-on-one time spent with Killian these days. The other night, Mike wasn't home, and my energy level was low. I realized the perfect activity to do with him was to take a bath. I get to sit down and he is confined to a small area. We stayed in there for an hour. And I enjoyed every minute of it.

Written during a cherished Saturday nap time. 



Depeche Mode - Enjoy The Silence
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pregnancy Laugh/Cry Moment of the Day:

Vomiting uncontrollably into the kitchen sink while your toddler thinks its funny and imitates you a few feet behind you and your husband can't help but laugh at your child heckling you.

I think I have enough material to make this a reoccurring series over the last few remaining weeks of my pregnancy! *smiling*

Parenting Principles & Positive Discipline

Blogger Rational Jenn, had a great post the other day about parenting principles. I couldn't agree more with her sentiment and have been having similar thoughts lately. (I left a comment on that post and will expand on it here.)


Mike and I have discussed how grateful we are to have the principles of positive discipline in our lives. I feel very fortunate that I live in a time where there are so many resources available to me - resources parents didn't have a generation ago. The internet has helped me find excellent books and communities to discuss parenting philosophies. 


However, despite the popularity of the topic of parenting these days, there seems to be an abundance of "tips, tools, and tricks" and "how to" guides out there, but unfortunately not much on basic principles. (Just flip through any parenting magazine.) A lot of the material is good, but without underlying principles, doesn't unite the ideas together. Parents are left trying to piecemeal various different ideas into how they parent.


Positive Discipline, as described by Jane Nelsen and others, verbalizes most of my parenting principles.  Like I said, I am extremely grateful to have this philosophy in life. How daunting it would be to try to handle situation by situation without any guiding principles.


I have been influenced by different parenting "philosophies," such as Attachment Parenting (AP) and RIE, which focus on how to raise and nurture young children (babies and toddlers). Sometimes the two philosophies recommend opposite approaches to the same topic. Although I've found them both helpful, I take them with a grain of salt. For the most part the decisions I've made about how to care for and nuture my little one have come naturally. For example, deciding to co-sleep with Killian during his infancy came naturally. It's what worked best for Killian and I. Many of the topics AP and RIE address, I don't believe are intrinsically good or bad. They have differing opinions on certain matters (co-sleeping, crying it out, pacifier use, etc), but these are not parenting principles. These are different styles or techniques that depending on the individual parent and child, work better for some than others. 


I see people using so much energy and emotion defending their decisions in these matters (how long they breastfeed, working vs stay-at-home, etc), but I don't find these matters to be as significant as your basic parenting principles. How long you breastfeed might affect how often your baby gets sick, but won't have a lasting impact on his psyche. 


Also, taking care of a baby might be instinctual, but what about dealing with the challenging situations teenagers throw at parents? Not so much. As kids get older, the need for basic principles becomes more and more important. 


So what are my basic parenting principles?  Here goes, some phrasing in my own words, some quoted directly from positive discipline resources. These are basic enough you can extrapolate from them to deal with everyday situations.
  • Teach and model mutual respect.. Show respect for the child. Do not talk down to a child. Show respect for yourself. Do not become a sacrificial lamb for your child. (This ties also ties into the last bullet point on independence.)
  • Keep it positive! Focus on celebrating success instead of focusing on mistakes. Learn from mistakes. Do not belittle. "Get rid of the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first you have to make them feel worse. Do you feel like doing better when you feel humiliated?" Always start with love. The message of love and respect should always be conveyed first.
  • Use non-punitive disciplineEmphasize natural consequences instead of using rewards and punishments. Focus on solutions to issues.
  • Assume positive intent. (Love that phrase! Sometimes you need a reminder that kids aren't misbehaving just to drive you crazy. Same goes for adults.)
  • Empower your children to make good choices themselves. Get them there with help and encouragement - not threats, bribes, scare tactics, etc. Good behavior is not the goal; self-discipline is the goal.
  • There is a quote, "Never do for a child what he can do for himself."  Enable your child to be independent
This is all I can come up with at the moment. Of course, I only have a toddler, so I have not yet even begun the journey that will truly test these principles. I am by no means an experienced parent, but I was a child, adolescent, and teenager and can certainly pull from my experience there! 

Don't Stop Get It Get It

My eight-month-pregnant booty was shaking last night. Girl Talk rocked. The crowd had so much energy. A few women came up to me during the show to talk to me about my belly bump.

Here's a bunch of noise and flashing lights from the show. You can hear the Pixies and Jay-Z.



Grandma Maggie and Killian had a great night too. High-five Grandma Maggie!

Wordless Wednesday: Discovery Place with Oma

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Getting Ready

7 more weeks.

There is baby gear in our house now. We got some things out of my parents' attic this weekend and Tim and Faye brought over some of Killian and Henry's old things. (At three-months old, Henry already has "old things.")  I am starting to wash and sort clothes, blankets, etc.

Killian was having fun reminiscing:

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I showed him these compare and contrast shots and he loved it! He started laughing. He loves looking at old pictures and videos of himself :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

19 Months: Letter to Killian

Killian,

The past month has been so much fun!

Right after your 18-month birthday, you started repeating many two-syllable words, like "Papou." You really enjoy hearing new and interesting words and do your best to repeat them (pumpernickel, date day, scope creep, roughhousing).

Your sense of humor continues to amaze me. You understand the concept of tricking people. When you are in the bath, you like to stand up and put your head on the towel on my knee. I say, "Oh, would you like to get out now?" You then sit down quickly in the tub and start laughing. I say, "You tricked me!" and you laugh even more.

You also love to scare people. You will put your finger to your nose to be quiet and then we will tiptoe up to someone (Dad usually) and then you say, "Boo!"

You get us all the time. In fact, one of your new words this month is "Gotcha!"

You had a great Christmas with your family this year and enjoyed a few snow days! Yesterday you got to go out in the snow with your buddy Ashton.

You love animals and people comment on how sweet and gentle you are with them. You love visiting the little mouse in Julie's room, and taking it out of the cage and petting it with one finger.

Your favorite book this month has been The Potty Book. We must have read this to you 100 times now. You then became interested in using the potty yourself. I was so happy for you when you used the potty the first time. You were so happy and proud of yourself!

You are a very active little boy and continue to keep your dad and I on our toes! Here's a video of you roughhousing with your dad.



Love,
Mom

Monday, January 10, 2011

Toddlerese

I came across this book a few months ago and read that the book advocates talking to your toddler "like a caveman" to ellicit co-operation and quell temper tantrums, because toddlers are basically primitive little men themselves.  I immediately wrote it off, thinking, wow, the author was just banking on the wild success of his first book and could publish any garbage now that would sell. My initial reaction was that talking to your child "like a caveman" was the opposite of my philosophy - treating your child with dignity and respect!

But something made me check the book out from the library anyhow and skim through it and I'm glad I did.

The book seemed to be describing a dumbed-down version of positive discipline. I don't believe it ever used the words "positive discipline" unfortunately, but I realized the basic principles were the same. It argued that talking to your child "like a caveman," i.e, with emotion and using basic words he can understand, is how you validate your toddler's feelings. (Validating your child's feelings is a tool of positive discipline.)

Where the book was helpful to me was pointing out that a toddler-age child won't necessarily grasp what you would say to an older child when you are "validating their feelings."

Example: I take the broom away from Killian when he is at my parents' house. I say: I'm sorry, sweetie, I know you like playing with the broom, but I'm afraid you're going to knock something over or hit someone in the face.

Basically for a one year old, that was: TOO LONG DIDN'T HEAR.

Instead, it might be more helpful to just exclaim, "Killian wants the broom! I know. But we have to play with something else now."

So I tried this technique with Killian the next time he became frustrated with one of us, and to my amazement, it worked immediately! 

Here's an example:

During bath time, Killian loves playing with the water as it comes out of the faucet. But eventually we run out of hot water and I have to turn it off, so that cold water isn't pouring into his bath.

Instead of diving into a sympathetic but lengthy description of why I had to turn the water off in the bathtub with my normal tone of voice, I said dramatically, "Killian's mad! Killian wants more water!" He stopped fussing and looked at me pleased like he was saying "Yes, you get it! Thank you!"

He still pointed to the faucet, "Eh?"

I kept going, with dramatic hand gestures too, "I want more hot water too! I wish we had UNLIMITED hot water! But the water got COLD! BRRRRRRR! So I have to turn off the COLD water! I don't want Killian to get COLD!"

This technique works even when he doesn't get what he wants. Just the fact that we verbalize his emotion and his desire really seems to settle him. I then work on distracting him with something else after I have verbalized his emotion.

The other little technique I taught him, that is maybe an off-shoot of this, is to exclaim "Mooooooommmm!" or "Daaaaaaaaaaaaad!" when we do something that annoys him. It's a way for him to verbalize his emotion and it's fun and brings a smile to his face. This is used for lesser offenses that don't cause him to get fussy, but he doesn't really enjoy, like getting his nose wiped. It's his way of saying, "You're annoying me, but I'm making light of the situation!" I love it.

He also has learned to exclaim "Daaaaaaaaaad!" when Dad is being silly! I love it because it's his way of saying, "I know that's silly behavior!"

I'm going to have to try to get a video of him saying "Daaaaaaaad!" and then I'll update this post :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Is it March Yet?

Belly shot!

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10 more weeks to go! Now that Christmas is over, it's time to start focusing on getting ready for this baby's arrival. We have to get some items out of my parents' attic and shop for some items, like a double-stroller. We are in no way physically ready for this baby yet (no clothes, bottles, diapers in the house), but I am so not stressed about it. This time around I feel like all a baby really needs is a warm body to hold him and pair of boobies - and I've already got those!

I'm feeling much more relaxed (understatement!) about bringing a new baby home now. With Killian there was an underlying worry that I wouldn't know how to take care of a baby! I remember an earth-shattering moment for me just minutes after I came home from the hospital with Killian. Family was visiting and my mom was holding him. He began to fuss. My mom shrugged and made a face that said, "I don't know... He's not my baby...Here you go, Mom!" and handed him over to me. Until that point, my experience with babies had been when they start crying - hand them to my mom! Now my baby-expert mom was shrugging and handing a crying baby to me! My world had just turned upside down!

It didn't take long to gain my confidence in taking care of Killian. Of course, he made it very easy to do, being so well-natured and happy. I'm not expecting this baby to be the same as Killian though, and I'm expecting a new set of challenges and a learning curve as we get to know all of this little guy's likes and dislikes. I cannot wait :)

Speaking of differences between the two, this little guy, moves around WAY more than Killian. With Killian, I remember thinking, "Oh, look, there's a kick!" "He's stretching!"  He had distinct and purposeful movements.  This guy sometimes takes me aback. You'll catch me jumping in surprise as I wonder, "What the heck is he doing in there?" I had heard women talk about feeling their babies "doing somersaults" and I really didn't know what they were talking about. Now I do.

The question "WHAT DOES IT MEAN?" plagues Mike and I as we watch my stomach take new forms daily as this baby rolls around. Does the fact that this baby is more active in utero signify anything about his personality? I'm not buying the statement that second-time moms are just more "in-tune" and "notice" their baby's movements more the second time around. This guy wakes me up at night with his gymnastics.

I can't wait to meet this guy! What is he going to be like?!?!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

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2010 will be remembered as the year we moved from the suburbs to the city. As Mike and I walked around Uptown on New Years Eve, I remembered the previous New Years Eve we had just decided to move to Uptown but did not yet know where we were going to live. A few weeks later, we had sold or given away about 80% of our possessions (including a car), a new family had moved into our house, and we moved into a one-bedroom condo in the center of the city. As soon as we made the move, our quality of life improved dramatically. With Killian's school next door, we could spend much more time together as a family in the mornings and evenings. We don't have to set an alarm, strap him into the carseat, or worry about traffic. Hours needed each week to maintain our house and yard were replaced with trips across the street to the park, or to Discovery Place, or just spending quality time at home. 

2010 will also be remembered as the year Mike started his own business and as a result created a better work/life balance for himself and the family, and the year we decided to expand our family and prepared for little Walker #2. Aspects of our lives have changed dramatically this past year, but it feels very natural at the same time, and we can't imagine it any other way.

We are looking forward to all 2011 will bring!