Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Relationship Chicken

Adam's traveling this week, which means my meal plan sort of takes a nosedive. Normally, I like to plan out each night, make sure we spread out chicken, beef, pork, fish, pasta, whatever. I make sure that our busy evenings are crock pot days and I plan my grocery shopping accordingly.

When Adam's not around, that sort of fizzles. Reagan is still in her "I don't eat dinner" phase, and it isn't quite worth it to make a full meal for one four year old and me - especially when Adam won't be around to eat leftovers for lunch.

So today, before I went out for my weekly babysitter time, I asked Madison what she wanted tonight, figuring that if we didn't have it, I could easily run into Stop and Shop. She requested "dinosaur nuggets" and mashed potato, and that's easy enough. Done.

While at Stop and Shop I ran into a guy who I couldn't help but stalk a little. Because he was clutching a list and calling (I assume) his wife while in every aisle.

Not exaggerating.

Hi Honey, just looking at the list. What kind of oranges should I get?

Hey, me again. Oven roasted turkey or smoked turkey?

Do you want regular cheddar or extra sharp?

Chicken thighs or breasts? Small pack or big pack? Purdue or store brand?

I am not exaggerating at all. In the small time I followed him from produce toward the deli and back along the meat and dairy, he called her six times. Six. And this was clearly the beginning of his trip.

I almost tapped him on the shoulder before I veered off to frozen food and suggested that he just keep her on the line. I mean, all this redialing was wasting valuable question time.

First I was pretty annoyed by him. I mean, seriously, are you really that helpless? Is this your first time handling food ever? Can you really not make it through a shopping list without needing validation for every item?

Then I was kind of annoyed by this phantom wife (or girlfriend, or mother, or fiancee, or whoever it was). I mean, seriously, are you that controlling? Would you really throw a fit if he came home with the sharp cheddar instead of the extra sharp cheddar? The roasted turkey instead of the smoked turkey? Why is this guy so terrified of making a decision?

And then...

I had a thought. They're playing relationship chicken.



Her: If you really want to help me out, you could do the shopping.

Him: Ok, but you'll need to give me a list.

And then he went to the store and these thoughts happened ....

Him: Ugh, this shopping is so freaking annoying. I hate grocery shopping. Hey....maybe if I call her and act totally clueless I'll annoy her enough where she won't ask me to do this again.

Her: OH. MY. GOD. STOP EFFING CALLING ME. You are a smart man, I know you can handle this. I don't care if you call me seventy-five times I am NOT letting you get out of this. 

Him: WHY IS SHE STILL BEING NICE??? Why isn't she telling me to just forget it? 

Her: STILL NOT GIVING IN! CALL AWAY BUDDY. AND YOU'RE PUTTING THEM ALL AWAY TOO.

Him: I'm totally not using the coupons.

Her: If he doesn't use the damn coupons I'm sending him back. Even though I forget all the time too.

Relationship chicken.

Who will cave first? Who admits defeat?

And most importantly...

Who gets to do the shopping next time?


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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Clean Up, Clean Up with Step2!

I am partnering with Step2 on this post as part of their Toy Tester program. I received the product in exchange for my review and honest opinion. 

Clean up.

The bane of my existence.

We've got a pretty good routine going on with the downstairs toys. I've got things categorized and organized, and typically the girls can do a clean sweep, with help of course, in about twenty minutes or so.

But now the issue is Madison's room.

Madison's room is the biggest room in the house. Seriously. Her bedroom is the "bonus room" above the garage, and has the most square footage. Of course, it's balanced by the sloped ceiling, small closet, and finicky climate control, but for a little girl who loves to play, it's a dream come true.

The issue with Madison's room is that it's serving purposes other than "sleeping quarters". It's another playroom for both girls. It's the school room. It's a room that the girls get to play in without me, and it has access to crayons and markers and paper and other things I usually monitor access to. This can be tricky.

I'm thrilled that Madison loves to read.

I'm less thrilled that all her books come out of their organized shelves and end up on a pile on the reading rug.

I love that quiet time means that Madison will stay quietly in her room for an hour or more.

I'm less in love with the fact that she pulls every single stuffed animal off the couch.

I'm so proud that she has such a thirst for writing these days.

I'm less proud when that writing gets dry erase marker on her sheets.

She's four. She's learning. But a big lesson she had to learn was that the base for your drawing or note should not be your carpet or sheets. After spending some time with a scrub brush, she learned. But she still likes to draw and write and be comfortable while she does it.

This is where the Step2 2-in-1 Toy Box came in handy. Because beyond just being a vessel for toys, it's a place to draw.

We got to try the pink one. But there are several styles to choose from!


Madison can use it as an easel. The storage boxes on top are the perfect place to keep her crayons.



Or, and this is what we loved, she can take the lid off and take it to wherever she is inspired to write. She can sprawl on her floor (which she far prefers to sitting at her table) and not have to endure the lecture and scrubbing that comes from getting marker on her rug. She can bring it to her bed and write notes to her friends and family while keeping her sheets clean.



And in addition to being a great place to create, there is ample storage underneath. Madison and I brainstormed the best thing to store there, and we came up with her stuffed toy collection. They fit with room to spare, and it makes clean up easy.



Madison and I made a video to share where we showed how easy it is to use the box for art and clean up. She had a fabulous time making this video with me. She asked if she can do more "commercials" for my computer and if she can dance in any of them.

Yeah, I think I have a budding performer.

But that's a story for another day.


 Thanks Step2. I have a very enthusiastic assistant for any more testing you need!
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Two Peas in Two Pods

Two little girls. Same parents, same house, same nurture, same nature.

Totally different kids.

I was marveling over that today. They are both awesome kids, obviously. They both have things that drive me absolutely crazy, naturally. They tussle over the same toys and love when they get to wear the same outfit, but most of the time, they are different as night and day.  Things Madison was doing at this age Reagan has no interest in, but Reagan is doing other things that Madison didn't even realize existed at this age.

Seriously, it's like I have to parent in two totally different ways, because what works on one doesn't work on the other. Let's look at the facts.

Food

Madison is a creature of habit. She wants her meals at the proper time, a mid-morning snack and a snack after rest time. She'll eat almost anything. She loves to cook. Dessert follows dinner and she gets upset when it isn't offered. She will eat pretty much anything if she knows she's getting dessert.

I don't know how Reagan survives, because I'm pretty sure she doesn't eat. Actually, that's not true. She does eat breakfast (most of the time), she'll drink smoothies and she will eat pretty much anything dairy or carb filled. She does not eat dinner. I am not exaggerating. It does not matter what I am serving - she does not eat dinner. In my attempt to bribe her to the table she gets crackers on her plate and she won't eat them if they are part of dinner. I don't get it. A promise of dessert means absolutely nothing. I have no idea how to deal with this because none of my Madison tricks work. (By the way, her pediatrician is pretty unconcerned because she's growing steadily and healthy. He says she's two. I hate that diagnosis).

Behavior

Bribery and threats work pretty well to keep Madison in line. When we were teaching her how to clean up her own toys we used mini m&ms. Do a job, get a candy. Done. Now she gets a sticker on a chart for doing her daily chores. A sticker. And she's loving it. It matters to her. When she wants something "big" (and by big, I mean something like an upgrade to an app on the iPad) I can usually ask her to earn it by doing a "big" job, and she'll do it. Rewards work.

And the threat of time out keeps her behavior in line. If she starts up the defiant attitude, I start counting to five. She knows that if I get to five, she sits. She'll pout through one and two, but 90% of the time, when I get to three, she's falling in line. She might still be pouting, but she'll obey. And if she does go to time out, she comes out absolutely repentant. Apologies and hugs and immediate improvement.

Bribery and threats do not work on Reagan. At all. She does not seem to grasp the concept of a reward - big or small. Her lovey is a now battered baby Anna doll. A few months ago, I noticed baby Elsa in the store, so I snatched it up and put it away for future gifting. We decided that it would be the "big girl" present for potty training. Reagan wants Elsa, but when we tell her that Elsa is for when she uses the potty, she loses interest. Completely. Candy bribes do not encourage her to clean. And sticker charts are downright laughable. If she doesn't want to do something, no amount of praise, sugar, or sticker is going to motivate her. The only way she'll do it is if she wants to. Right now, at just over 2 1/2, she has absolutely zero interest in potty training, and with no interest in charts or rewards or even pleasing those around her, I'm going to have to rethink my game plan.

And time out? She'll sit there, but it has zero impact on her behavior. If she's actually sorry (like if she's hurt someone) she'll apologize, but no amount of time out will make it happen if she's not. She does not leave the mat repentant and cuddly. She leaves the mat ready to go back to exactly what she was doing before she landed there in the first place. I'm getting creative trying to figure out how to deal with this.

Activity

Madison will try anything and everything, and most of the time, fall in love with whatever she tried. I mentioned earlier that we ended up not able to do art group this fall because of her hard core dance schedule. Today, the group was able to meet in the morning and we went. All day long she's been talking about how seeing her friends and doing art was the best part of her day.

Then she attended her hour long tap dance, came home, and tapped around the kitchen for another half hour because dance is her favorite thing.

She loves art. She loves dance. She loves gymnastics. She loves cooking.

When we do her school stuff, she wants to do more reading because reading is her favorite. Then math is her favorite. Then writing is her favorite.

It's gotten to the point where I'm hesitant to introduce any additional activities because I'm terrified she'll love them and want to add them to her bursting schedule.

Reagan is just as willing to try anything...on her own terms. Today, she painted longer than any of the other kids in art group, but back when we were regulars, she was a participant about half the time. She loves to dance, but dance class was a disaster. She's a climber and a tumbler with crazy strength, a daring spirit and amazing aptitude, but gymnastics class was basically a giant tantrum. Where Madison is a "teach me" kid, Reagan wants to experiment with the world on her own. She is not remotely interested in participating in a class - even a toddler exploratory one.

Sleep

Now, before you think I'm complaining, both girls go to bed fairly early and sleep through the night. And although Reagan was a little trickier than Madison, she was never a "problem" sleeper.

Madison likes to be cuddled. As an infant, she loved being nursed or rocked to sleep. Now, she likes you to read to her in her bed, then cuddle, then her music on, her door cracked and her lights dimmed, but on. She falls asleep quickly, and most of the time will stay in her bed after waking up in the morning until someone acknowledges her. She gave up her nap, but she'll hang out in her room for about an hour in the afternoons, playing quietly in her bed. Her worst sleep trait now is that when she's overtired, she will get super clingy and cry through the steps of getting in bed, moaning that she doesn't want to be alone. Then she'll usually fall asleep while you read. And once she's asleep, not much will wake her until she's ready to be up.

Reagan is also fairly easy to put to bed, but she's a little more detached. She'll climb in without complaint, and also likes to be read to, but she likes when you sit next to her bed and really only likes a quick kiss and hug. Even as an infant, she didn't like to be rocked or nursed or cuddled to sleep. Put her down and let her do it when she's ready. She's much clingier during the day than she is at bedtime. She rarely falls asleep quickly, but will chill out in the dark for hours after her bedtime, no matter what time bedtime is. However, once morning (and morning can begin pretty much any time after 5:00 am) she is up and will find someone to play with. There's no gradual wake up process. The day begins once the sun is up (or even when it's not quite up yet). We've tried all kinds of tricks to keep her in her room until a "reasonable" hour, but remember, she's not motivated by much.

Everything I thought I knew from Madison has to be dealt with or approached completely differently in Reagan. Is that better? Worse? Both? Neither?

Honestly, I think Reagan is the way she is to keep me on my toes. She's there to remind me that parenting one child does not make you an expert in anything. Heck, parenting two doesn't either. It's a constant learning process, full of experimentation.

Speaking of comparing my two kids, about a year ago one of my old posts about the difference in their sleep habits was selected for a humor anthology about sleepy moms, and anthology number THREE for this mom (not that I'm counting!) was published this week!

So if nothing else, this kids give me great material to write about.

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