Sunday, March 25, 2012

April mini-goal, sewing, and coffee deprivation

Yeah, so this is a bit late again. I'm very tired, I went out with some friends last night after I was planning to stay home and work on some projects (I got a babysitter, that's probably obvious, but just to be clean ...) I got home quite late, then woke up quite early, so ugh. At my age, I think I would have learned. Tonight I have a bunch of chores including folding laundry and cleaning up a poopy bathtub (thank you very much Tadpole), so this will be short and sweet, I hope.

I got a sewing machine! Now I am having trouble getting started on projects. I am immobilized by the possibilities. I want to make napkins and a few pillowcases first, I think, plus some felt projects for the kids, a rag quilt, and an art quilt (that will probably be down the road a little ways ...). I'll try to remember to post pictures if/when I get around to those projects.

For the month of February I tried to give up coffee, and it was a major fail. I ended up giving it up for Lent and so far I'm doing it. It has been really hard, I'm sorry to say. I crave a delicious blended mocha drink very often. I guess that can be my mini-goal for March.

For April, I want to get back to my good brushing and flossing habits. My last dentist appointment was disappointing, although I expected it. No cavities, but things were not looking good. My bathroom is at the far end of the house, and so once I am up and ready for the day, I tend not to go back and brush my teeth after breakfast. So I put an extra toothbrush and toothpaste for myself in the kids' bathroom, which is right off the kitchen, and I will try to do my morning brushing there, which is good because they will see me and learn good habits yada yada yada. In addition to brushing twice a day, I will floss every evening. I often start skipping it, thinking one night won't make a difference, but then days go by and I don't do it. And it's so fast, there's no reason. The hard part for me will just be remembering and making a habit of morning brushing in the kids' bathroom - I started yesterday, but then I already forgot today (although, to be fair, we went out for brunch with friends instead of eating breakfast at home, so we didn't have our usual morning routine). So wish me luck!

Hope all's well, I've got to get to cleaning that tub, so I won't be reading or commenting on blogs tonight!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tantrum Town, USA

Well, as I believe I've mentioned, we're having some serious behavior issues around here, and I am at a total loss as to how to solve them. Tonight, Turtle refused to sit in his high chair, as he has been doing on occasion lately. He wanted to sit on my lap. I am not ok with that, because I don't want to spend the next year (or more) holding a toddler/preschooler on my lap at every single meal. I've tried the following, and nothing has worked:

1. Giving him a choice between sitting in his high chair or several other things, such as removing the tray and pushing the chair to the table, using it as a booster seat, or letting him sit in a grown-up chair.

2. Telling him he will not be eating dinner if he doesn't sit in his high chair (or eventually, one of his other choices). Then I either ignore him when he screams, or I try to empathize per some of the websites I've read, which .... have you ever tried to empathize in a calm voice with a screaming, tantruming toddler? Yeah. If it works for you, great! It does not work for me and Turtle. He can't even hear me over his screaming.

3. Tonight, we didn't watch our usual Italian cartoons after dinner. I guess this could count as "punishment", but in my mind, it is because there is a usual sequence of things, and cartoons come right after dinner. If we don't eat dinner, then logically we don't get cartoons. Logically. Haha.

So Turtle went to bed without dinner. I offered dinner many times, in many ways except for him sitting on my lap, and none of it was acceptable to him. In the end, he didn't want to seem to eat at all. He calmed down after about 20 minutes of crying, and played for a little bit, then the tantrums started again because I remembered that I had their sleep sacks in the dryer and ran to go turn it on so they'd be dry before bedtime. That resulted in a major meltdown, which lasted through changing into pajamas, putting on sleep sacks, brushing teeth, and saying goodnight. More than an hour of screaming tonight.

The worst part is that Tadpole seems to finally be noticing that Turtle is getting a lot of attention, and she is starting to be upset about it, too. She notices that Turtle says "Mama mama mama" all day long and eventually I pay attention. She notices that Turtle screams and cries a lot and I have to eventually soothe him, calm him, give attention to the situation. I'm sure she hasn't really figured it out quite yet, but she's definitely noticing. It's unfair. All the parenting things I'm reading don't seem to take into account that a lot of the techniques involve not only a lot of patience but a lot of TIME. It's hard to sit and soothe a toddler and wait calmly for a tantrum to end when there's ANOTHER toddler who rightly wants some attention, too. Especially when these tantrums are happening multiple times per day. I'm really frustrated and a bit lost right now, and not sure how to handle things.

My husband's cousin is visiting for a few months from Italy to help me, but I'm starting to wonder if the tantrum and fairness situation is actually worse. I mean, don't get me wrong! She's a TON of help, she cleans, helps cook, helps with baby care, watches the kids when I want to go run or have a dentist appointment, etc. It's also fabulous to have someone to talk to rather than spending day after day with no adult conversation. But, I'm sensing that Turtle has figured out that now that there is a 1-to-1 ratio, he wants to make sure that the adult he gets is always me, and that Tadpole gets my cousin-in-law, who he likes, of course, but sees as the second choice. It's different when Papi is around because we're both number 1, and sometimes Papi is even more in demand than I am. But there is definitely a difference between Mama and Cousin, and Mama wins every time. And so usually Tadpole loses. We're going to try very hard to change that (we've discussed it), but these battles are taking a lot out of me.

So anyway. I am still really struggling to handle the difficult behavior, both in and of itself, and in how it affects my relationship with two same-age children at the same time. It's really rough, and I am realizing it's probably going to go on for at least the next couple years, so it's time to nip it in the bud and make some changes around here. This is all so much harder than I thought it would be back when I was the expert and didn't have kids.

In other news, tomorrow I'll talk about my mini-goal for the month of April, how Lent without coffee is going, and my brand-spanking-new sewing machine.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I can't believe it has been a month since I've posted. I've started multiple posts, but can't finish them. Turtle is on a napping strike, and has been for quite a while now. In addition, he's just having a lot of strong-willed behavioral issues. I'm not calling them problems, but they are definitely challenges for me, and I've been spending what free time I have, aside from cleaning and cooking and the usual stuff, in researching child development and discipline and parenting and trying to figure out where I stand. And I think I sort of know where I stand now, and so I'm trying to figure out how to translate that into how I should act.

Basically, I'm all for "Positive Parenting", which involves mutual respect, setting firm limits and enforcing them without actual punishment, and recognizing that acting out is normal and trying to handle it without losing my cool. It hasn't been going that well. It's a work in progress, and I've found that the longer I go without a break, the harder it is to find, as my friend said, the "presence of mind". I got a bit of a break today, because I left at dinnertime for a parenting class, and tomorrow I get to go to the dentist and out to lunch with my old work friends, so I'm super excited.

My husband's cousin is here, visiting from Italy for a few months, which has been great, and I've been using any extra time I can eke out while she's on toddler-duty to clean. I've been catching up, and it feels nice. In addition to exploring parenting styles, I've also been looking at preschools, making (and constantly changing) career plans, finally getting some stuff up on the walls of our house, starting a bilingual play group, starting to make a list of sewing projects I want to do since I'm going to buy a machine on Friday (I hope!), baking bread (yay! one of my great joys!), doing a lot of from-scratch cooking again, and just about everything except exercising, which I still need to find a way to squeeze in. But since I'm catching up, I hope that will get on my to-do list really soon. I need it!

We've also been doing a bit of skiing, which I admit has been nice, but I'm so out of shape that cross country has been a bit sad. Soon, soon.

Lots more I could say, but I should try to get to bed before midnight one of these days. So ciao a tutti!