Friday, July 29, 2011

Activity #6 - Following the Leader

Q insisted on wearing "unnies" when she got home from school today and before her nap. Hope that is a good sign.

Today's activity doesn't often take up a full 30 minutes, mainly because MIP gets tired and Q gets the hiccups from laughing too hard.  It does, however, come with a song!

"Following the Leader" from Disney's Peter Pan (<--- click here)

Activity #6 - Following the Leader:  The idea behind this activity is more of an easy to do obstacle course, but a fairly easy one. I start, naturally, by telling Q to follow me and the I start crawling all over. We go under tables, around chairs, over (well, I go over, Q just scurries around) chairs, across floors into different rooms, take down couch cushions, crawl on them, roll over them ... it is usually at this point that the giggling has proven to much for Q and she begins to hiccup. We try to sing while we are crawling. Q only knows the "following the leader" line, but she sings it very well. By the end, we are both out of breath and resting on the couch cushion.

H has always been the funny parent, so this game - and others like it - are my attempt to show Q that mommy can be funny, too!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Potty Training Successes!

I have been slowly trying to potty train Q for a while. I think we bought her an elmo potty in April? Q has always come into the bathroom with me (oh joy), so that wasn't anything to add.  I would suggest she would sit on the potty fully-clothed and sometimes she would, sometimes she wouldn't.

I had decided back when we bought the potty that we would try anything serious until July and, well, here we are. First, I tried the no diaper method. Q had a few accidents and refused to sit on the potty for more than .2 seconds.  She has a bladder of steel and started holding it for up to 3 hours since she seemed dismayed by the accidents, but didn't want to sit on the potty.

About two weeks ago, Q was on her potty and tried to get off while asking for a "pillow." I said, "Do you want a pillow on your potty? Is it too hard?" She said yes, I folded a towel in a horse-shoe shape, and she sat ... and sat ... and sat. She was very happy. We would read and color and watch some tv. She would sit for 20 minutes at a time with nary a complaint nor wiggle. But no pee.

(Q puts her doll on her potty. We're all about comfort in this family.)

I bought her some undies over the weekend. Some thick gerber ones, vinyl covers, and some Minnie Mouse ones. She wore the Minnie undies for a few hours yesterday, but nothing.

Today, my parents - who were visiting for the past week - left and Q and I decided to be lazy.  I asked her if she wanted to wear underwear, she agreed, we put it on and I waited. I waited until she would give unhappy grunts and get fussy. I started to realize she was probably getting the urge to pee, but holding it in. Each time, I would sit her down and she went three times!

I covered her with stickers.

(It is cool to wear stickers on your back.)

Unfortunately, she refused to wear a diaper to nap. I put a vinyl cover on her. Let's hope for the best.

Oh, and don't worry, I know it isn't over, but we like to celebrate every step of the way. Makes the journey more enjoyable ;)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Activity #5 - Music Class with Stuffed Animals!

Sorry all, the week got away from me (I know you were all missing new posts dreadfully)! My parents are visiting and Q and I were taking them all over.  For those of you keeping track, Q also now likes pretending to be the "Three Men in a Tub" courtesy of a box that came in the mail with birthday presents that Q hasn't received yet.  As everyone knows, children love boxes and this one goes back and forth between serving as a boat or car.

Activity #5 - Music Class with Stuffed Animals!  Q was spotted reading to one of the babies in her class at school last week (she would even stop and turn the book to the baby and point at the pictures), so I decided that we should try and "teach" her toys the hand motions to some songs that, you know, involve hand motions. First, Q and I picked some toys with flexible arms.  In this case, Aunt C's old cabbage patch doll, an elmo, and a bunch of not so flexible toys to act as audience.  Q and I would "demonstrate" to the toys the motions for the songs and then I would pick one of the toys and Q and I would sing again, but this time I would move the toys arms. Sometimes I would make very silly mistakes and ask Q if the toy was doing it correctly. Sometimes she said, "I do," which means yes and I would say, "really?"  Usually, with this prompting, she would say, "no," but sometimes she would answer correctly the first time I asked and laugh and say, "no!"  Then, we would re-show the toy the correct movements. The toy would try again and get the movements right and Q and I would tell the toy "good job!" As you can guess, there was a LOT of prompting on my part. The songs chosen were: "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," "Wheels on the Bus," and "If You're Happy and You Know It." We finished with a round of "Ring Around the Rosie" performed by me and Q to thunderous applause by the toys. Lots of "whoas" - they were so impressed.  What can I say? We're just that good.

I have pictures of us doing this activity, but, of course, haven't uploaded yet. Will try to get them up some time today or tomorrow.

To hold you over, here are some pictures from a less-than-sanctioned activity.  Namely, Q took my camera.

(It is the clarity of the carpet that gets me in this one. Pure genius.) 

(Sun flare? Or my yellow fuzzy sock at just the right angle/distance/exposure.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Activity #4 - Mash-up: Nursery Rhymes and LARPS

First, I just wanted to let you all know that I added some tabs directly under the header and above the posts. There is a tab called Activities, which will provide the names of the activities as clicky links that take you right to the post in which you are interested.  Another new tab is Making Mom Friends and contains some of the advice I have received about how to make friends post-momhood.  The final new post is a bit of a joke and will contain Reviews or, in reality, less than flattering comments I have received from friends about this blog ;)

But enough about this blog, we all know why you are here. In honor of all the mash-ups on the show "Glee" (mash-up most likely to bring me back to 1992? Stop in the Name of Love / Free Your Mind), I decided to take nursery rhymes to the next level. That's right, LARPing or Live Action Role Playing (I have a lot of older brothers, ok? This seems normal to me).  (Okay, I thought of this activity, but then I realized how I could make it sound trendy and, yet, also really nerdy.)

Activity: Live Action Nursery Rhymes!  A few months ago, I read an article (which I now can't find) on the importance of nursery rhymes for children and how the average number of words our toddlers have has decreased drastically since the 1940s and some doctors attribute this drop to the shift away from nursery rhymes. It occurred to me that Q owned NO actual book of nursery rhymes, so I bought one.

(I love Richard Scarry)

She knew some of the rhymes that are also songs (Baa Baa Black Sheep is a favorite), but that was about it.  When you read the rhymes, you realize how rich the vocabulary is.  Q loves them.  I decided to not only read the nursery rhymes, but have her act some of them out.  We chose "Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick," "Three Little Kittens," "Baa Baa Black Sheep" (of course), "Georgie Porgie," "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary," and "Little Miss Muffet."  For actual acting out, "Jack" and "Little Miss Muffet" were the most fun.  We didn't have a candle, so I put down a flashlight.  Q is still hopping/skipping rather than 2 feet off the floor jumping, but she loves any excuse to try (and also liked saying, "Mama turn!" a lot). For "Little Miss Muffet" we took turns making "Itsy Bitsy Spider" fingers at each other and tickling.   Q is getting pretty good at faux-crying and enjoyed making her dolls cry after "Georgie" kissed them.  "Three Little Kittens" was going really well, until Q decided she wanted pie like the kittens, even though she has never had any.  We didn't have any in the house, so we took a little break from playing until Q had moved on.

All in all, a fun morning activity.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I Need to Get Out More (with Friends)

I am a very social person. It's actually one of my traits that H really likes. He knows that in any social circumstance I can strike up a conversation with anyone and save him from having to talk.  Or rather, almost any circumstance.

I'm lonely.  A few months ago, we moved from a city where I knew a lot of people to a place where we had some family, but that was it.  But even before we moved, I found it hard to make time for the friends I already had.  For a long time, this lack of a social life was Q related.  She was and is a "momma's girl" and wanted to be attached to me (literally, I had her in a carrier any time we went out and to this day she loves being in the carrier when we are traveling) and this fact made socialization difficult.  I mean, sure, you can try to go out at night and meet up with people with your little one suctioned to you (again, many times literally as Q was also a massive comfort nurser and I learned early on how to do that on the go just so we could get out of the house), but it usually makes for an early night, especially if the meeting up place is at least an hour away by public transport.

Eventually, though, Q and H reached a detente and she allowed him to care for her at night (before that, she was strictly mine from 4pm on) and I, tentatively, dipped my toe back into the real world BUT then came the larger and much harder to deal with problem: my work.

You see, as a student mom, any time you are not taking care of your child (and even sometimes when you are) is supposed to be dedicated to work.  Work (in my case, researching and writing my dissertation) is supposed to be a full-time job on top of the full-time job of caring for your child.  Now, it would be nice in a way to blow off work a little, but I have been extremely fortunate and have received funding for this past year and this upcoming year.  This means that someone, or many someones, did not receive funding and that I darn better earn that which I have.

Okay, back to the move. So we moved and now I need to make new friends (I text, call, email, facebook, and skype with my old friends, but that doesn't work for trying to sip a glass of wine at a local eatery), but making new friends is like dating.  You need to find someone with common interests, you need to make plans with them, you need to keep up on the communications, you need to not let gaps in hanging out or talking get to long ...  I don't have time for dating.  I have immense guilt that I MUST take care of my child and that I MUST live up to my fellowships.  Q will be going to school 5 mornings a week this fall, which should help with getting in more work, but I feel guilty about that, too.

I don't think I'm unique in this situation, though. Probably, most moms - at least very social ones - would say the same whether they work at home, stay at home, work outside the home, go to school, it is difficult to maintain or make friends ... How do we do it? How do we make new friends in new places without making people think we've dropped the ball, because we've become distracted by potty-training and finishing an article and everything else?

Alright, enough about me.  Another activity with Q will be up on Wednesday!

Friday, July 15, 2011

I Purposely Ignore My Instincts AND Activity #3 Clean Up!

H was out of town for the past two days, so evenings were a little more of a struggle for me. Q asked where Dada was, but seemed satisfied with the answer, "He'll be back Thursday night." Thank goodness.  Even though I said this wasn't a sleep training blog, she is doing much better with not needing us to come into the room at night when she wakes up.  Q has always been a startler/sudden waker-upper in the middle of naps/sleeps (she inherited my need for sleep and H's startle to sleep reflex. Awesome), so she always cries - usually briefly - when waking up, unless it is the morning/end of the nap and she is well-rested. Anyhoo, I have found that when she cries and calls out for us that I can respond without getting out of bed, "It's okay Q, I'm right outside, you are alright, I'm outside your room" (which is technically true, since our bedroom is across the hall and I can see into her room) and she will lie back down and go to sleep. Score!

Moving on, I have never been a big purse/bag fan and really like cargo pockets for carrying items, like wallets and phones. Having to bring a diaper bag everywhere always feels like it is weighing me down like the proverbial millstone.  This means that when we run errands, if they are supposed to be very short, I try not to bring the bag. Brilliant, I know. I like to create even more drama by giving Q something that can be messy, like a fruit squeeze pack.  Q has a knack for getting this all over herself only when I don't have wipes.  When heading out to grocery shop the other day, I decided to leave the bag and handed Q a fruit squeeze pack. I thought, "Just bring the wipes," but I couldn't do it and, of course, as soon as we pulled into the parking lot, Q said, "Bubby wet."  Bubby is her pink rabbit lovey and he was wet, because Q had squirted her squeeze pack all over her lap and Bubby.  Without wipes, I did the only thing I could. I used Bubby to wipe off Q and her seat as best I could.  I would like to thank Bubby for his sacrifice and hope he is enjoying his bath in the washing machine.

(You're a good man, Pink Bubby.)

Q, however, was fine with me using Bubby, because she likes to be clean. I use her desire to be clean and to emulate Mommy and Daddy cleaning to get some housework done with her and demonstrate how to properly clean.

Cleaning (Anytime!):  Q helps me with housework every few weeks and she likes it!  For example, Q helps me clean our bathrooms.  I use real cleaning wipes and she uses a baby wipe or slightly damp burp cloth ("Wet!! Peas wet!). She wipes along the outside of the tub and the sink cabinets, while I take care of the nitty gritty (I never spray or use harsh chemicals, while she is there, though).  She has even been known to wipe down her training potty (not that she has ever used it).  Q also knows how to put items away downstairs as long as I am specific with what she is expected to do.  This also helps children with learning multiple step commands (ie "Put the puzzle pieces in the box and, then, put the box on the puzzle shelf.") I repeat commands to remind Q and if she forgets in the middle of the action or becomes distracted, I just remind her.  She also likes to help me look for items to vacuum up and will use a baby wipe to wipe down her play kitchen while I wipe down our real kitchen.  This activity can easily be 1+ hrs and I let Q take a break if she becomes more interested in a toy or book, while it is happening. I have also been known to become distracted while cleaning ;)

If you don't know the clean-up song, by the way, I suggest you learn it. Here's a great youtube video with the link. Q knows it, but just repeats, "kee up, kee up" over and over again.

I may try a more serious post on Monday about the loneliness of motherhood compounded by working at home and moving. Let me know your thoughts on any of the above!

(Bonus pic of Q driving one of the carts at the supermarket. Please note the adventure hat.)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Disclaimer, Update, and an Excellent Video from The Mompetition

Disclaimer:  The homemade binoculars are about as crafty as you are going to see this blog, so if you are hoping for projects for which they is massive prep the night before once our babes are in bed ... well, this is not it. I'm all about projects that require no or little prep OR prep with which a toddler can help ... which isn't much. There are lots of crafty blogs out there, though, if that's your thing ;)

Update: Q wanted to cook tonight! I thought, "Great, I will get to implement my awesomely shiny plan for faux-shopping, cooking, and feeding!!" Yeah, Q didn't like how I was sorting and, then, she just wanted to run over the food with her grocery cart. She did, however, like cooking with her pots and pans. We never even got to trying to feed her toys. Win some, lose some I guess. There's always tomorrow.

Excellent Video from the Mompetition about the rabbit hole that is posting about problems with your kids (but really anything) on facebook and all the "helpful" advice. (Air quotes!) Just click on the link:
The Mompetition: Dislike: "Does the world really need to know our thoughts at all times?"

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Activity #2 Bird Watching!

Positives: I have been waking up Q by 7:45am. She only watched one show on Monday and two on Tuesday (no school).  We have done puzzles with each other and read books and sung songs.  We hung out at the library Tuesday morning with some new friends and attended both the toddler and infant classes (one of said new friends is under 6 months old). Q is loving it all.

Negatives: You can bring a toddler to water, but you can't make her drink. I have suggested grocery shopping/cooking/feeding toys since Monday afternoon (the morning got away from us) and Q has refused.  I feel better, though, that I have this activity in my back pocket for when she does want to play with her kitchen. Unfortunately, I have not been exercising in the morning, but I have been waking up before Q to start getting ready and exercised during nap on Tuesday.

Alright, here is our adventure from Tuesday night!  We went grocery shopping after Q's nap, then had dinner, and went Bird Watching!

6:00pm – Bird Watching!  I believe costumes and wardrobe choices help everything. For this, Q and I wore our adventure/explorer hates (floppy brimmed tan hats, but any hat will do).  I don't know about you, but we have lots of empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls. We took the toilet paper roll, cut in in half, and taped the two pieces together to make binoculars. 

(Very professionally done binoculars.)

Q and I took turns looking through them to find birds. We, then, took a walk around the block and looked for birds of any sort and discussed their colors as well as what they are doing (sitting/flying/eating/singing).  We tried to count them (but Q refuses to say "one," and always starts with "two." If you ask her how many of anything there are, she always says, "two" - unless it is her lovies. She knows she has three of those.)  Of course, we also discussed cars/people/plants/other animals.  H's grandfather and father (Q's PawPaw G) were and are avid birdwatchers, so I also like to think this activity will help keep the family tradition going.

(Q tests the binoculars on our patio. I tried to take a shot from above to better see the binoculars, but Q was on the move.)

Great fun and many giggles were had by all. Q is getting pretty good at remembering that planes are not "buhds" (birds).

Monday, July 11, 2011

Activity #1 - Pretend Grocery Shopping/Cooking/Feeding Toys

Alright, first things first, Q and I need to get up earlier. I am going to try and get up by 6:45am tomorrow, so that I can exercise and shower/get dressed before I wake Q at 7:45am.

If I manage to get us up this early, it will give us (after getting dressed and having some breakfast) some time to play before we leave for school at 8:55am. Q's lunch is already made (yea leftovers!). Without further ado, therefore, is our morning 30+ minute activity for tomorrow:

Approx. Start time 8:15am:
Pretend grocery shopping and cooking! 

Q has a toy shopping cart, plastic food and a toy kitchen with pots and pans, but all you really need for this are a shopping bag (can be an oversized purse), food from your own kitchen or cut out pictures of food/store items, and your own pots and pans. I have also given Q an old purse of mine and wallet with some expired bonus cards in them that she pretends are credit/debit cards. First, we'll set up the "store" by sorting her plastic food (veggies and fruits in one area, dairy in another, etc.)  Then, we will discuss the food we are pretending to buy and what we will cook with them.  

(Accessories make everything better.)

Next, Q and I will head over (all of 3 feet) to her kitchen set and pretend to bake/cook them. While the food is “cooking,” we can read a book or play with blocks, but we will remember to go back and check (you know, make sure nothing is "burning")! I will probably – with Q’s help – set the timer on the microwave for 5 minutes. Then, we will pretend to eat the food and feed some to her toys.

(Photo of Q baking and about to feed my old baby doll. H's studly legs are in the backround.)

Obviously, I doubt any of these activities will go as smoothly as written, but I'm hopeful!! When dealing with a toddler, every step in a process is insanely fun to them, because they don't know the difference between work and play. I am planning on capitalizing on that. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Goals! And A Typical School Day Schedule (3 days a week)

In advance, I apologize for the seeming constant use of the word "usually" and promise that it will be used less soon!


My goals are to do at least 1-2 multi-part and longish (approximately 30 minutes or more) activities with Q in or around our neighborhood every day. We do go to the park about 1-2 mornings a week or the local pool (yet again 1-2 mornings a week), but these are usually 1-2 (wow, I really like those numbers) hours long and, thus, do not fill a day. Every other week I hope to do a BIG activity with Q, such as trip somewhere, even if it is just a ride on the local metro train, which Q loves because it is a choo-choo!

Basically, I am trying to maximize our time at home. On non-school days, she will have more independent time scheduled than school days during which I will set out a few small activities (coloring/blocks/pretend cooking) that she can do by herself.


You'll note that Q watches a tv show about 2-3 times a day. By the end of the day, I am usually just biding my time until H (aka my husband) comes home.

8:15am – MiP (me) wakes up. Shoot! Already late. Showers.
8:45am – Wakes up Q (yup, I often have to wake her up), dress her, run downtairs with her, make breakfast, make her lunch. Sometimes let Q watch a show while I run around like a madwoman.
9:35am – Head out the door to drop Q off at school, which started at 9am.

** work break **

1:00pm – Pick up Q, snack squeeze packs in the car on the way home.
1:10pm – Let Q run around like a crazy girl for 20 mins and then bring her up for naptime.

** work/housekeeping while Q sleeps. Her usual afternoon nap is from 1:30-4:30pm, but just because it is usual doesn’t mean it always happens **

4:30pm – Q wakes up. Bring her downstairs, give her a snack and her coloring books/crayons, while starting dinner. This time is pretty much free play.
5:00pm – Dinner! Usually let Q watch a tv show.
5:30pm – Read with Q for about 10-15 mins.
5:45pm – Sing silly songs and practice jumping or something similar for about ten mins.
5:55pm – Let Q watch another show.
6:20pm – Play with blocks/pretend kitchen/puzzles/play catch in rotation until H (husband) comes home unless I’m too tired/zones in which case at some point this becomes free play.

6:45pm – H comes home!
7:15pm – Bath and bedtime prep!
8:00pm – In her glider with me to begin the falling asleep process. Usually in her crib (still awake) by 8:15pm. We are in the process of her falling asleep without one of us in close proximity (I’m currently sitting in the hallway where she can see me), but this isn’t a sleep training blog, so we’ll let this be the close of Q’s day.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hope all the money I just spent on Amazon helps.

Hello anyone out there on the internet who has stumbled upon this blog. I am an (early) 30-something grad student trying to dissertate and raise my almost two year old, Q. I was very good at the "let-me-hold-you-and-feed-you-and-otherwise-act-as-a-place-to-feel-secure" when she was a baby, but now that Q is walking and talking and wanting to, you know, do things, I'm lagging. I should be able to do this. I baby-sat growing up and taught two years of preschool, but it is much, much different when the child is yours and always there. Q does goes to school a few days a week for a few hours and it is during this time that I get my work done (hahahahahahahahaha), but when she is home and it is just us I am relying more and more on the tv, so today I decided to make a change.

I just ordered some more puzzles and books from Amazon. We have play-doh and a play kitchen and train set and blocks and chalk boards here.  Starting Monday (what? so what if today is Saturday. My husband is home and helping with the entertaining. Also, weekends are also my time to get my work done. Insert more laughter.) ANYWAY, starting Monday I will be implementing a schedule for both Q and I in the hopes of getting more out of our time together. Q is a lovely and sweet little girl and I enjoy spending time with her, but I am just not good with coming up with activities on the fly.

Wish us luck!! I'll post our normal school day schedule tomorrow and our goals.  Monday will be my first attempt at implementing my goals and I'll put the specifics up here. I'm hoping to update 2-3 times a week.