Friday, December 7, 2012

I'm exhausted

Our sleep saga with Turtle has not reached a conclusion, unfortunately. The sitting-outside-the-door solution only worked for so long, and now he's gone back to being clingy and needy and so on and so forth. I'm currently sitting in his room, where I've been for the last HOUR. The only good news is that he's finally stopped talking and fussing, so I'm hoping he's on his way to a nice sleep. The nice thing about this late falling-asleep-time is that he sleeps pretty late in the morning. Unfortunately, Tadpole goes to bed right on time like a little sweetheart, and gets up right on time as well.  No rest for the weary.

A couple nights ago, when Turtle was protesting and I was still attempting to sit outside his room, I finally got frustrated and angry and let him cry.  For over an hour.  He SCREAMED.  I started really freaking out that he might be scared, and when he started shouting "Mamma, help me, help me" I couldn't take it any more.  I ended up lying with him on the futon until he fell asleep.  He then woke up at least three more times during the night, and the husband ended up sleeping on the futon (I guess he moved Turtle to his crib at some point).

Two nights ago he said he was afraid of "the truck outside", but I couldn't get him to elaborate.  The next morning I asked him about the truck, and he said it was gone, and he's never mentioned it again since.  Last night, he cried once during the night (the husband got up), coughed for at least 20 minutes between 4 and 5am, and when the heat came on at 5, it slammed his door shut (I usually leave a towel on the floor to prop the door open to prevent that from happening, but hubby forgot to replace it) and woke me up thoroughly (not Turtle, though, thank heaven).  Can I say I am tired?

I am at a total loss, and we're leaving for Italy in 10 days, so I don't think it's worth trying to work things out at this point.  We'll just hope things go better in Italy, and for the transition back home again in 2013.  I can't believe I only have two more preschool days until we leave - how will I get anything done?!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Play houses and barn!

So I am too excited not to post these now, even though they're not quite done!  I don't think I'll have a good photography chance after I finish them because they'll shortly be going as gifts to my kids and one of their friends and they'll be well-loved (I hope) and no longer in pristine condition.  I found this blog here, which led me to the tutorial here.  If you are interested in doing this, check out the flickr site with all the uploaded photos of people's projects.  So now I present the projects I've been laboring over for weeks and weeks.

This one is a gift for my good friend's daughter, who just turned 2:

Here is a view from the end, with the shutter detailing:

Those tabs you see are velcro, and when you undo them, you can open up the house to play inside:

I got her a little L.alalo.opsy doll with a sleeping bag to play in the house.  I've actually never heard of these before, but I thought they were much cuter than the traditional or di.sney princess dolls.

This is the barn I made for my kids.  It still needs some work, but from this view it's essentially finished:

From this view, it's not finished.  I glued on that beehive, but I need to sew on the little bee buttons that came with it:

Inside, there is a vegetable garden, a fence, and a pond, plus some animals.  I also ordered a few mini wooden tractors from etsy, but they haven't arrived yet:

And this house is for my kids, too.  It's definitely not done yet.  The front needs a little something more.  And i need to finish the fence.

The back is mostly done.  I would like to string a laundry line with mini-clothespins between the trees, but that won't happen for a while yet.  I also have ladybug and flower beads to add to all sides:

 And the inside.  Still needs work as well.  I made that little wooden bed with a mattress, blanket, and pillow.  I've also found some neat furniture online (including this), but haven't decided on anything yet.  My husband thinks I should have a little bathtub, but I'm not totally sure how to do that yet. I would totally take suggestions for what to put in the house as well as outside on the grass.

I did make a few changes to the pattern, obviously.  The original pattern called for sewing up two sides of the house and using a button with elastic to secure the other two sides.  I wanted to be able to completely flatten the house for easy portability (i.e. the ability to pack it in a suitcase), so I left it all open.  However, this led the problem that it was too floppy to stand up just using a button and elastics, so I ended up using velcro tabs.  I also made the barn with a three-part roof instead of a two-part roof.

So there you go - Christmas gifts 2012!

What Christmas gifts are you giving this year?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Well, the preschool dilemma has been solved, at least for the next 6 months.  Whew.  I went to visit the last school I was considering, a Montessori school really close to our house (less than five minutes in the car, and  probably less than 10 minutes by bike, although it involves a rather steep overpass).  It is not perfect, but then I don't think I will find a school that is.  The big plus is that they're willing to hold spaces for us until March, so I left my paperwork and deposit check today.

It is a big load off my shoulders!  They don't do 2-day spots (which seems weird), so we are signed up for 3 days per week, which is a bit of a change, but one that I think I'm ready for.  I am starting to get ready to move on with my life and consider a new career, and I will need that extra day, so I think it is a blessing.  I also think, or hope, that the kids will adjust better if they go more often.  And 3 days at this school is cheaper than 2 days at our current school, so yay!

As I said, it's Montessori, which is a plus.  They have two big classrooms with mixed ages in both, which I also think is good because I think it's more natural for kids to be in a mixed-age setting to a certain degree.  It has a great play yard, and a pet snake and rabbits.  It's right across the street from a gym, where they do some extracurricular activities, such as swim lessons in the summer.  I have to pack lunches, but I'm ok with that - it's better than eating the junk they get at their current school.  So that's settled, and I'm relieved.


I am almost done with several projects/gifts, and I'm excited about them.  I will hopefully finish them and be able to post some photos on Thursday or Friday.  We are celebrating Christmas on Sunday with my family, so I'm trying to get the gifts done by then.  My mom got the kids the IKEA toy kitchen, which I put together today.  I really hope they like it.  I think I might make them little potholders someday, too, and I'd like to somehow make a fridge to go with it at some point in the future.  Also, I don't like the white color (the natural wood part is ok), so I'm plotting to someday paint it (possibly when the kids are older and get bored of it).


Toddler discipline is a tricky subject, and one which I suspect is a source of marital problems.  We have a lot of disagreeing around here.  Our main problems with the kids are fighting over toys, wanting something we don't want them to have (i.e. cookies, keep watching TV when we say enough, etc.), not wanting to do something they need to do (wash hands, brush teeth, go to bed), bedtime/sleeping struggles (which I've written about a LOT lately), and mealtimes.  The simple way to deal with all of these things, of course, is to set rules and then stick to them.

It's not as simple as it sounds, though.

For one thing, how do you know which rules are appropriate?  And since toddlers develop mentally and physically on a daily basis, what they are capable of and how much they understand is constantly changing, so the rules can't be too rigid or pretty soon they won't make sense.  And if you have rules about everything, you will constantly be in a power struggle with your kids and that is really no fun for anyone.

And then, what do you do when the rules are broken?  Punish?  Natural consequences?  Explain other consequences and then follow through (i.e. time out, loss of privileges, etc.)?  What happens when one parent doesn't always follow through?  What if the kid is sick?  What if you weren't watching and you don't know what happened?  What if the kid doesn't seem to understand the consequences (i.e. doesn't understand that he doesn't get dessert because he doesn't understand or remember what he did wrong)?  What if he is throwing a tantrum?  Ignore it?  Put the child in his room?  Try to comfort him?

I'm really struggling here, although through a bit of trial and error, I'm coming up with solutions.  I'm having a hard time setting some rules, but I think I've worked out some discipline solutions for the obvious stuff.  I've read about helping children work through their own solutions to problems, and while mine are too young to really do it, when a fight breaks out, I try to offer suggestions and work with them to fix it.  I think the best thing for saying no TV or no cookies or whatever is to just calmly keep repeating the rule, once you've decided what the rule is, and offer other possibilities if the kid is open to them.  So I'll say "I told you that would be the last video for today, but we can build with blocks or play with play dough now".  Does it always work?  Definitely not.  Sometimes I ask the kid to repeat the rule, like "Do you remember what we agreed before we started that video?"  Also doesn't always work, but sometimes it does.

And for when these things don't work, I ignore the tantrum for a bit, depending on how things are going.  If Turtle (my typical tantrum kid) is open to listening to me talk, I keep repeating myself over and over, saying what the rule was, and what his other options are, and telling him I'm sorry that he's mad but that's the rule.  When he's being receptive, it's nice.  He still needs to calm down and get over it, but mentally I can see he's there.  Other times, not so much, and if he pushes me away, I tell him I'll be ready to talk or play when he's calmed down, and then I check back every few minutes, and at some point, he's ready to cuddle and eventually to do something else.

It's not easy.  We haven't figured out the bedtime or mealtime battles, not by a long shot.  It's always harder to get the kids to do something they don't want to do (like eat or go to bed) versus stopping them from doing something they want to do (stealing a toy, throwing things).  Some days I have a lot of patience, and it goes really well.  Other days, I just don't know how I will get through 5 more minutes.  Those days are hard.  Really hard.  I sometimes wonder how people with more than 2 kids do it.  Really, how?

But it's really good, it really is.  I don't always remember it, but it is.  Life is sweet, so sweet, and I am so lucky to have these two complicated, loving creatures in it.