Doh-dee-mime Success!

Well, this week’s storytime provided me plenty of reasons to chuckle.

Remember last week’s storytime?

This week was pretty much the polar opposite. The first thing I noticed when I arrived at the library with Hula Girl was a brand-spankin’-new poster, the size of the window in the door, stating:

Our Storytimes have Changed!

Bumblebees (0-15 months) Mondays at 10

Time for Tots (15 months – 3 years) Tuesdays at 10 and 10:30

Something Cutesy that I can’t Remember (3-5 years) Wednesdays at 10

Yes, they reprinted the poster, made it about 4 times as large, and stuck it right there on the front door of the children’s wing. Teehee.

The next thing that made me feel giddy was today’s handout. The theme listed at the very top was “Quiet” and the sign language showed the sign for quiet. Our books for the day were The Quiet Book and Shhhhh. I am pretty sure Miss Kirsten was planning to follow last week’s “Noise” theme with this week’s “Quiet” theme anyway, but it just made today’s theme seem so ironic.

There was one part of storytime that frustrated me- the loud discussion held by some moms prior to the start of storytime. They were talking about last week and how one mom’s children were the ones to blame for the pandemonium. I will admit, one mom did bring in 4 of those boys over 4, but that does not mean that the other moms then have the right to discuss her parenting style, children’s behavior, or rights without her present. I think I have not noticed much “mom gossip” because I have intentionally kept Hula Girl and myself mostly at home during her life (even though I am well aware that it exists everywhere- after all, these are the same ladies with whom we all went to high school and if gossip reigns there, why would it stop when we all grow up?). It just really bugged me that these ladies felt the need and the right to have that very demeaning conversation right then and there, including acting out scenes and pretentiously describing “What I would have done….” Sigh. Women, who should be kind and patient with one another, and who should be able to lean on each other for advice and ideas about raising these kiddos, are just plain cruel sometimes.

Anyway, on with the success part.

Hula Girl participated! She has always been a watcher and observer at storytime. Each week we sing “Twinkle, Twinkle” and do the hand motions. There is also a “Let’s get Ready for Storytime” song. I have tried to move her arms and hands along with the others for a while now, but she isn’t really interested. However, all this week, she’s been wanting to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle” at home and she’s been practicing the hand motions. We do it at every meal, and at least 10 other times throughout the day. Apparently all that practice boosted her confidence, because when it was time for “Twinkle, Twinkle”, she was ready. She had her little hands up and made the best little diamond she could possibly make. It looked like she was clenching her fists together, but she tried!

And when it was time to get the shakers, she walked over to Miss Kirsten but didn’t take a shaker. Evie asked her mom to come with her, and I suggested that she show Hula Girl what to do. She happily agreed, but then Hula Girl still wouldn’t reach in and take one. I had to go help her with that. I think next week, given the opportunity, she’ll know what to do. But when it was time to put the shakers away, I said, “Go put your shaker back in the box!” and she ran over there and put it in, then danced in the middle of the carpet until I asked her to come sit down. That’s my girl!

Of course, she chose her same spot, on the “U”.

After the official storytime was over, we were coloring (again-success! Hula Girl got to color as long as she wanted- she didn’t try to stick a crayon in her mouth!) and the moms were talking more than usual. Another mom and I were talking to Evie’s mom about her pregnancy (she’s due in June). The other mom has an almost-2-year-old boy. She is new to the storytime, but she was very friendly and outgoing. I finally got up the courage to talk a little more to her after we got out of the storytime room, and I asked her how she meets people and/or finds activities in the area, since we’re new and I’ve had very little success. She said she’s newer and has faced the same struggles, and that she’s thinking of just starting her own playgroup. YES! She’s also a member at the Y (we’re planning to become members soon, too), and she said there’s a lot going on there. Another YES!

We exchanged numbers and she just texted me asking if we want to join her and her son for a picnic at the playground after next week’s storytime (weather permitting)! I am very very excited, since this is our first real planned “playdate” since we’ve moved here. I sure hope the weather stays nice like it has been for a few weeks.

So, all in all, doh-dee-mime success. Wouldn’t you agree?

 

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Freedom! and Maternity Shopping Rant

Saturday was a very atypical day in my life. Jonathan took care of Hula Girl all day long and told me I could just go do whatever I wanted to do! Just to clarify- he is normally extremely involved with her on weekends, and he takes on the bulk of the “parenting” responsibilities when he’s home. But he actually told me to just go out and not worry about being home at any certain time or anything. He was even planning on putting her to bed all by himself if I wasn’t home in time!

I wondered at first what on earth I would do with myself for a whole day. So, I laid in bed thinking about what options I had available. I thought about driving out to a national forest and going hiking. I thought about going to have my hair cut. I thought about going to the YMCA and checking out the facility to decide whether or not we should join. In the end none of these won out.

My first stop was the main branch of the library. I have never been to the large main branch before- I take Hula Girl to the local branch. The local branch isn’t small, and it has enough to offer for a toddler and her mommy, so it’s never occurred to me that we should visit the main branch. Well, now I have other ideas! The main branch of the library here is huge (compared to most libraries I’ve seen- not big-city libraries like ones in New York or whatnot). It is definitely larger than the library on my university campus. Well, maybe not anymore- I haven’t seen the new additions they started as I was leaving.

Anyway, the point is that the library was worth my time! I found five books and then just sat down in the “Hispanic” section (lol, it was deserted and there were comfy chairs!) and I read for an hour and a half! That is so unlike me these days. But it was nice and I was glad to have the chance to try it out. I think when Hula Girl and Gelato go to school, I will spend a good portion of some days reading.

After the library, I decided to head over to Hobby Lobby, the dollar store, and Target to try to find some things to use in Hula Girl’s exploratory play stations. I got some practice baseballs (“whiffle balls” as our PE teacher called them in elementary school), tissue paper, Color Wonder paper and markers, and heart-shaped table scatters (basically, foam pieces that you’d toss on top of a table at a Valentine party). I also tried to find water beads, but I think I’m going to have to order them online. Unless someone knows where to buy them…???

Then I decided that I’d really like to buy a new maternity outfit that I could wear just to the store or out for a walk in the neighborhood. I have quite a few things from when I was teaching, but they’re all dressier than my normal everyday style (which currently consists of yoga pants, sweat pants, t-shirts, and tennis shoes). I feel like I dress like a slob most days, which is fine since we rarely actually go anywhere, but I’d like to have the option to look decent (and somewhat in style). Also, since I was pregnant last time, styles have definitely changed. Last time around, boot-cut jeans were perfectly acceptable. Now, skinny is it… most of the time. Last time, longer tops were the thing. This year’s styles have women showing off their belts again.

So I looked around Target for a while before deciding that I will eventually need some tank tops, but it’s really only January and I don’t really need to spend $25 on a t-shirt when I have similar ones I can still wear right now. (My stomach is growing, but all my tops still fit okay.) Also, the selection at Target was dismal. Most of it was just maternity tanks, yoga pants, and cardigans that have no buttons or zippers. And, it’s tough shopping for maternity jeans when all the store has to offer are sizes that are literally 4x too big (or bigger). I mean, seriously (and I remember this being an issue last time, too, so it’s not a Target exclusive), some women are smaller than a size 8 when they get pregnant. And they stay smaller than a size 8 all throughout their pregnancy. Just FYI.

After the disappointing Target experience, I decided to try Kohl’s. They usually have good sales and sometimes have cute things. Their maternity section was 1000 times worse than Target’s! Apparently all pregnant women work and have to have work apparel. I get that some, in fact, do. But not all! I don’t need any more maternity dress slacks. I don’t need any more polyester maternity blouses. All I wanted was a nice pair of jeans and some good-fitting tops that are cute but not plain. I don’t want to wear plain t-shirts. I want to be somewhat cute while lugging a big ol’ belly and a toddler around!

It was not in the cards. Now, I know that there are plenty of other stores, and I shouldn’t get discouraged just because I checked out two stores and they didn’t have the exact thing I’m looking for. But, if you’re female, you know the feeling that set in. Discouragement, disappointment, frustration, give-up-now-or-cry-soon-tion. So I went to lunch.

I ate Chipotle tacos and enjoyed them immensely. Being pregnant allows you to enjoy large helpings of delicious healthful foods without worrying about counting those calories or spending extra time on the treadmill later. 🙂

After lunch I sat and read until 4:30. Three solid hours of sitting and reading. What?! Yep, it was nice.

Then I went home and took a shower while Jonathan cooked dinner and still took care of Hula Girl. I helped put her to bed, then went to bed myself and read myself to sleep while Jonathan did laundry. All in all, a pretty good day.

I do wish I had done more. I enjoy reading, but I feel like I missed out on a great opportunity to see a movie or get a haircut, which I could use. But alas, another day will come.

How was your weekend?

Exploratory Play Session 1- Success!

This afternoon while Hula Girl ate her snack, I put a large mixing bowl of water on a towel in the kitchen. I put a spatula, whisk, spaghetti server thing, spork, basting brush, measuring spoons, and some rubbermaid containers on the towel with the bowl. I was singing a silly little tune to myself while I worked, and Hula Girl watched with interest but didn’t comment.

After she got done with her snack, she took off to go toward the living room, but then turned and went into the kitchen. Then she looked at what I’d laid out, and took a step forward. She then asked me to come sit down. So I sat on the carpet near the kitchen floor, just far enough away that I wouldn’t be tempted to intervene in her play.

She gingerly grabbed the basting brush and dipped it into the water and then put it in the small container so it could drip in there. After that moment, all her careful behavior went away, and she went wild. I thought it was amazing because I did not say anything except things like, “I see that you have the yellow measuring spoon. Wow, the water can pour from the small container into the big bowl,” and things of that nature (Rachel or Katie, I hope you read this).

I had to stop myself from talking when she first tried to pour water from one container to the next and I could see that she was definitely going to miss. Sure enough, water splashed all over the towel and she said, “Oopie. Wawa pill.” (Oopsies, the water spilled.) She looked at me and I said, “Yes, the water spilled.” I didn’t say anything about being more careful or assure her it was okay or anything. I just made her same observation back to her. She immediately turned away from me and kept playing. Wow.

She played for 23 minutes before she started straying away. At that point, she was pretty wet (and our house is cold), and it was almost time to go upstairs for her milk and independent playtime. So, I had her help me clean up by handing me the utensils. Then she watched me use the towel to wipe up the stray water from the floor.

My very favorite thing about this whole entire experience was how happy she was. She would take a break from the water to run a lap around the staircase. Then, she’d take a break to gallop like a horse. And then she’d tell me, “Happy, happy, happy!” She was just so excited to be doing this whole thing by herself, with no direction from me. She got to pour and splash and whisk and drip, all to her liking. What fun for her!

I can’t wait to think of some more fun stations to place around the house. The water one is somewhat labor-intensive and cleaning up a lot of water with a little towel can cause dampness in the sock area, but I think we can come up with a lot of dry activities, as well. I’m thinking of doing a lot of sensory activities, like putting a bunch of tissue paper in a paper bag and letting her do with it what she will. Or filling a basket with socks, sprinkling a few “surprise” items in, like blocks or cups, then letting her dig in. I’m going to make a list tonight and go shopping for supplies tomorrow. I’m going to hit the dollar store, since they have a lot of random awesome things for cheap! If you can think of any great ideas, let me know! I would really appreciate any input!

 

Some Much-Needed Perspective on Play

Today’s post was going to be a fully-detailed account of this morning’s trip to the bookstore, where Hula Girl ate about half of her Grammy’s scone and met a friend. It was a really fun trip! I hope to include the details in another post soon.

However, after reflecting over the last few posts, I realized that there was something awry. It seems no matter what I do, how silly I get, how exciting the activity may seem, Hula Girl is just not interested in doing any kind of formal activities with me. The more I thought about it, the more it bugged me, until yesterday afternoon when she woke an hour early from her nap, and I broke down in a big ol’ pity party (complete with loud, ugly waterworks) because I just couldn’t face the thought of keeping her engaged for an extra hour before independent playtime.

I just couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. All the activities I’ve been trying to do with her have been age-appropriate and geared toward learning! They’re similar to things she does on her own, so they should be at least mildly entertaining for her! But instead of having fun and playing, she’s been saying, “No, Mommy,” while I have been cajoling and fretting over the fact that she just doesn’t like playing with me!

So of course, I did the only thing a normal person in my situation would do- I texted Jonathan this message: “Another freaking short nap. 2 hours. So tired of this. Also want to shut off the monitor and go to hawaii alone for fifteen years. Sick of being called mommy.”

My next step was to message my mother-in-law, and complain about yet another short nap while also whining about Hula Girl’s propensity for putting art supplies (crayons, paints, chalk, etc.) in her mouth every.single.time we try to do a project, so that we never get through the project because I always just cut the project off as soon as she puts them in her mouth. And yes, I remind her ahead of time, and yes, I ask her if it’s okay to do it, and yes, she always answers, “No mou, Mommy,” (No mouth, Mommy), so I know she knows not to do it. We then decided that we’ll just have to put away all art supplies for a while. Then Momma C said something to the effect of, “Maybe it won’t even bother her because art isn’t really the way she needs to express herself right now anyway.” BAM, it hit me. Momma C was totally right on- Hula Girl isn’t doing these things to spite me- she’s acting her age, and I am way off on my expectations of her.

After that enlightening conversation, I posed the question to my Babywise Moms Google Group. My topic header: “What to do with your toddler when she doesn’t want to do anything?”

I explained the situation and how frustrated I was getting since I was spending all this time and energy planning out “fun” learning activities for Hula Girl all day long and she just wasn’t interested in doing anything with me. I explained that it made me feel like I wasn’t doing anything right, or that maybe something was wrong with Hula Girl and I just wasn’t seeing it. I really even started questioning whether or not she was developmentally on target and whether I should give our state’s early intervention program a call.

So many wise moms chimed in. And, wow, they astounded me with their responses. Here’s the gist:

  • Hula Girl is at an independent stage.
  • Hula Girl needs to learn how to play on her own anyway.
  • At this age she will learn more just by doing exploratory kinds of play.
  • There is nothing wrong with having her tag along with me as I do things around the house or outside.
  • She’ll get interested in more structured “learning activities” as she gets more interested in playing with others- namely me. It’s something she’ll grow into.
  • Lots of other moms felt the same frustration at this age but now that their kids are older, realize that they were working too hard and stressing over nothing.
  • Free play is all she really needs.
  • It would be fun to set up a few “stations” around the house where she can go to do exploratory play on her own, and where she can ask me to join when she wants me to.
  • Most importantly: she’s a smart cookie and will continue to learn and develop quickly even without me hovering and directing every experience she has. Just let her be!

I felt so relieved when I read all these messages and pieces of advice. I have, in fact, told myself these things numerous times, but there is still that little part in me that wants Hula Girl to be the very best she can be. And for me, that included a lot of direct instruction and academic learning. I did well with that. But she is at an age where it’s not necessary, and maybe it won’t even be her style as she grows! Who knows!?

So now I have a few new goals set for myself and for Hula Girl:

  1. Get chores done while Hula Girl is awake and with me. Let her join in if she wants (she loves loves loves to sweep) but also let her choose to just play if she wants (this morning she spent 15 minutes sitting in a laundry basket putting on different necklaces and taking them off again while I sorted and started some loads in the washer).
  2. Set up 2 activity centers each day where Hula Girl can go to do exploratory play on her own or with help. I found a great blog for some ideas on what to do: Play At Home Mom. I also got a few good ideas from my mom friends, Kristen and Wendy, such as hanging a few balloons from a light fixture and letting Hula Girl do with them what she will, or putting a basin of water on a towel in the kitchen along with some kitchen funnels and tools to scoop and explore the water.
  3. Spend more time letting Hula Girl know what adult life is really like. For example, not all outings have to be kid-centered. She can go with me to the bank, the grocery store, or the coffee shop. They might not be the most exciting places on earth, but it’s important to know that not all outings include the playground, other kids, or entertainment.
  4. Only focus on short bursts of structured activity throughout the day, like reading books during milk/meal times, or directly teaching letters and numbers as they’re appropriate to her exploratory play. Let the rest of the day be more relaxed and include a lot of music, spur-of-the-moment ideas, and laughter. Basically, just go with it.

Last night as we were going to sleep, I was talking with Jonathan and reminding him that about 6 months ago, Hula Girl wasn’t even saying any words except “Dada.” And about 6 months before that, she wasn’t even walking or feeding herself.  And about 6 months before that, she wasn’t even born. If she has accomplished so much in 18 short months, just imagine what she’ll have accomplished in 6 more. That’s a third of her entire life. It’s crazy to reminisce. And yes, Jonathan cried. 🙂

Lastly, I just wanted to take some space to say thank you again to Amy, Lyndsay, Martine, Kate, Wendy, Britney, Kristen, Arlee, and Chelsey for all your kind words and sound advice. Also, to Momma C for helping me figure out the Great Art Crisis of 2012 (among many other things).

A Day in the Life

Today was a stay-at-home day. OHMYGOSH I can’t wait for Hula Girl to get a little bit older, because she’s right at the cusp of being able to do and understand so much more. We seem to have plateaued when it comes to her ability to grasp new concepts, and I am bored bored bored with our same old routines and activities. Plus the winter weather (meaning sunny but cold) makes it really difficult to get outside- I am just not motivated to bundle up at all. That’s all me.

So, here’s what we did:

  1. Got up, got dressed
  2. Made and ate breakfast
  3. Brushed teeth
  4. Planted some cat grass seeds (so Riley can STOP destroying my houseplants)
  5. Worked on a special art project
  6. Danced like doofuses to toddler music on Pandora (actually, I was the only doofus. Hula Girl wouldn’t dance. Party pooper.)
  7. Went outside
  8. Came inside for independent playtime
  9. Cleaned the downstairs areas of our house (picked up toys- we just did a major deep cleaning this weekend, so it was just toddler stuff everywhere)
  10. Ate lunch (avocado, toast, and yogurt)
  11. Brushed teeth
  12. Played for about 5 minutes
  13. Put Hula Girl down for nap

See, it sounds like we did some pretty cool stuff, right? Planting seeds?! Absolutely, that was the most fun we had all day. Hula Girl got to use the spray to help clean the pot (it’s been sitting outside since May). Then she got to help me moisten the potting soil in a bowl. Then she smelled the potting soil and felt it and squished it and cried because her hands were dirty. Next she got to sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil and push them down into the dirt. She kept wanting to add more seeds. I fear we might have a VERY thick crop of cat grass soon. Then we cut open a seed to see what it looked like inside. I have to admit, I was much more interested in that than Hula Girl was- she just wanted to wash her hands again. Then she got to water the seeds- and wow, she’s a good watering can wielder. Last but not least, she got to do the very grown-up job of helping me carry the pot to the dark bathroom corner (it says to germinate the seeds in the dark, but move them to the light when they start to sprout). This was a very fun project for us.

But it all went downhill from there. I took out her easel and fingerpaints so she could work on an art project. She did it for less than 30 seconds and then decided she was done. When I took her back and tried to help her do more, she put her fingerpaintey hand on my jeans (accidentally, but still). So I washed her up, turned the easel around, and got out the chalk for the chalkboard. She put the chalk in her mouth, so that was done. Sigh.

Next, I tried and tried to get her interested in listening to/playing music. We got out her instruments and everything. I handed her a shaker and danced along with “If you’re Happy and you Know It” and “Old MacDonald” and attempted to move her little hands along with the music. She stared at me and said, “No, Mommy.” Ooookay, I decided to just do it without her, and let her see how much fun I was having. She walked away. Finally, when “Over the Rainbow” came on, she came back and asked me to carry her. So I danced with her until she said, “No dannee Mommy,” (no dancing, Mommy) and asked to be put down. Fine. I put her down and lifted my hands up and danced like a fool. Still couldn’t convince her.

So then I tried to get her into “Baby Beluga” since we have a Baby Beluga book and I thought she’d like seeing the pictures and hearing the song simultaneously. “No ooga, Mommy.” (No beluga, Mommy.)

“Out ide.”

“You want to go outside?”

“Yeah, Mommy. Out ide.”

“Let’s put on your coat, hat, and shoes.”

“Otayyyyy, Mommy. Oat, at, ooey.”

So when we got outside, do you want to know what she wanted to do? She wanted to dig in the garden, and to bury the vegetables and scraps for the compost heap. I told her, “No, that’s Daddy’s job. Wait until he can help you on the weekend.” She didn’t want to wait. But I am not about to grab a shovel and do it without him. First of all, gross. Second of all, that’s his job! Third of all, gross.

So we went for a long walk down the utility easement behind the house. And Hula Girl insisted on being carried for about 3/4 of the way. I asked her if she was tired and if her legs were hurting. No to both- just wanted me to carry her. Oh, my poor achin’ back. (But I have to admit I love every single second of holding her close and being able to kiss her just about whenever I want, since when she’s down, she never lets me get close enough to smooch those smoothie little cheeks.)

During independent playtime, she was just plain adorable. She was laughing and chatting to her toys like she was having the best time ever. I wonder what appeal her toys have that I don’t have- I mean, I’m fun, right? “No Mommy.” Boo. She’s already turning into an adolescent, I think.

 

On a totally different note, I’ve been meaning to write down a lot of things that Hula Girl says, because I don’t want to forget what they are or how she says them. I’m going to just keep a list at the end of some posts so I can remember them as they come up (also so I don’t have to spend 30 minutes trying to think of them now). So, here are some of the common and supercute things she says (along with translations):

  • “Bee-boo, Mommy” (Thank you, Mommy)
  • “Dee dee you?” (Carry you?)
  • “I’m get you!” (I’m going to get you!)
  • “Eenie muh” (Reading books)
  • “Wee-wee mee-mee!” (Fingerpainting!)
  • “Yah-dee!” (Riley!)

Macaroni Meltdown!

(Did you like the alliteration? Ha.)

There have been very few times in Hula Girl’s life after 6 months when I have wondered if she actually ate enough. This morning was one of those times. If you have low blood sugar and have gone a while without a meal before, you can definitely relate to our experience.

See, she’s been sick for what feels like a decade, but has really only been about 2 weeks. Her most recent symptom has been vomiting after every single meal and sometimes in the middle of sleeping, both naps and night. I’ve been doing a lot of laundry. Anyway, because of all this vomiting, we’ve been keeping her diet pretty limited, basically down to rice, toast, avocado, and crackers. She actually won’t really eat anything else. She also only drinks water. I tried giving her Pedialyte, but after her initial cupful, she was done with it. It tastes too sweet for her, I think. (Side note: how proud am I as a mom when my kid won’t drink juice or Pedialyte because it’s too sweet for her liking?!)

This morning’s breakfast, therefore, was not preceded by her normal 8 oz of milk (obviously, since milk + upset tummy= GUSH of nastiness). I am getting so bored of trying to get her to eat toast, waffles, and oatmeal, especially when she just really won’t eat anything. So I spread some strawberry jelly on a rice cake and handed her that. She actually liked it, and ate about 3/4 of the rice cake before declaring herself “ah dah” (all done). I asked her if she was still hungry, and she said no. So, down she got and off we went to brush teeth and read some books.

After her food had an appropriate amount of time to settle, we left the house to go shopping. We needed cat grass seeds (Riley is destroying our houseplants- grr!), soil to plant them in, new washcloths to wipe Hula Girl’s hands after meals (the old ones get stinky pretty quickly), and some new books for Hula Girl’s library. We went to Walmart and walked around a bit, picking and choosing what items we needed. When we got to the car, I realized that I had forgotten to pick up some macaroni and cheese, which is one meal she just won’t turn down.

Since she seems to be on the mend, I feel like she can handle a few noodles and some cheese- nothing that will make her have (even more) diarrhea. So we decided to head back into the store and get some macaroni. I let her walk this time and it took us about 10 minutes to get from the door to the correct aisle. When we got there, I showed her 3 types of macaroni that she could choose from (all organic, all real cheese), and of course she chose the one made with rice noodles. Fine with me- rice will also keep her from having loose stools. Then, she proudly carried her “mah-mah-no-nee” to the register, handed it to the cashier, and said, “mah-mah-no-nee” several times. I am positive she was quite excited. She asked me to “opee” the macaroni, but I told her we had to keep it closed until we got home.

When we got in the car, she started saying, “Eat, eat.” Uh-oh. Two stores to go, and she is oogling her box of goodness while declaring herself hungry. And I don’t have a snack for her.

She made it through the bookstore and the pet store without too much hassle, but made sure to inform everyone we saw that she has “mah-mah-no-nee inee da” (macaroni in the car). One-track mind.

By the time we got home, we were 15 minutes late for her independent playtime. I took her upstairs to her room, set out her toys and gave her a half of a graham cracker to hold her over (I never give her food away from the table, but today it seemed absolutely necessary). As soon as I left, a high-pitched, wailing voice followed me down the stairs and to the stove, where I hurriedly got some water boiling for the noodles. And for the next ten minutes, all I heard was, “MAH-MAH-NO-NEE! MAH-MAH-NO-NEE! MAH-MAH-NO-NEEEEEEEEE!” Then she got quiet, and I could hear her crunching her cracker. 30 seconds later, “Mo cah-cuh! MO CAH-CUH! MAH-MAH-NO-NEE!”

So I took pity on her and didn’t make her stay in her room for the next 20 minutes, and I brought her downstairs to watch me finish her macaroni. 10 minutes later, we were seated at the table. 10 minutes after that, there was no more macaroni left in the pot and she was telling me “ah dah.” I asked her if she enjoyed her macaroni, and she answered with her deep, happy, “Yee-aaaa-hahah!”

Lesson learned: NEVER shop for macaroni, kid in tow. Also, bring a snack. Doy.

Doh-dee-mime Fail

Every morning when Hula Girl wakes up, the first thing she asks me, is “Doh-dee-mime?” She loves storytime at the library so very much, and it only happens once a week, on Tuesdays. So every morning, I say, “Yes, I know you love storytime! We’ll go on Tuesday!” Of course I know that she doesn’t actually understand the concept of Tuesday. But I tell her every day anyway!

Today, being a Tuesday, was different. She woke up, asked, “Doh-dee-mime?” and I was able to smile at her and reply, “Yes, we’re going to storytime today! It’s Tuesday!” What a thrilling answer! She smiled and told me that she was excited to see the kids.

Storytime starts at 10, but if you’re one of the cool toddlers, you show up with your Mommy at 9:45, because all the cool toddlers like to hang out and gawk at each other for fifteen minutes. (Another alleged reason for arriving at 9:45 is so that the Mommies can milk an extra 15 minutes out of a fun activity that breaks up a rather long and repetitive week. Not that this reason is accurate or necessary…) Since the library is 10 minutes away, that means we don’t leave the house until 9:35. And 2 hours is a long time to fill when Hula Girl is 19 months old and can’t wait to get to storytime.

Here’s a little breakdown of the pre-storytime timeline from this morning***:

  • 7:30 wake Hula Girl, get her dressed
  • 7:42 come downstairs, start breakfast
  • 7:53 strap Hula Girl into high chair, eat breakfast
  • 8:01 done with breakfast, try to cajole Hula Girl into eating more
  • 8:03 brush teeth
  • 8:06 go to living room and pull out new lacing beads
  • 8:07 find new activity- train- as lacing beads are just not interesting
  • 8:08 find new new activity- finger painting- since train is  boring
  • 8:22 stop fingerpainting since Hula Girl put paint in her mouth and that means we have to stop (immediate logical consequence!)
  • 8:32 go upstairs to put away Hula Girl’s laundry in her room
  • 8:45 come back downstairs and try to grab Hula Girl’s attention with books- unsuccessfully- so just end up reading baby books aloud while Hula Girl wanders around playing with toys
  • 8:54 Hula Girl asks me to play with her- I do- as soon as I get there, she leaves
  • 8:55 decide Hula Girl didn’t eat enough for breakfast and strap her into her high chair for a midmorning snack of blueberries and yogurt
  • 9:02 unbuckle Hula Girl from her high chair since she wasn’t hungry at all
  • 9:03 actually capture Hula Girl’s attention with some books
  • 9:20 start getting ready to leave for the library
  • 9:34 strap Hula Girl in to the carseat and leave

***Now, let’s remember that Hula Girl is still recovering from her illnesses, and so this morning’s timeline is not quite accurate for most days. I can usually find an activity or two to hold her attention for longer than 2 minutes at a time. However, she was in a funky funky mood today, and it was wonderful to realize that we could finally start getting ready to leave the house at 9:20.

We arrived at storytime just a bit before it began (due to some unforeseen parking lot traffic) and we were shocked by the number of toddlers who were there. Normally there are about 8 or 9 children there, all under the age of three. Not today, my friends. Today, there were 16 children, most of whom were boys, over the age of four. What their parents were thinking, bringing them to “Toddler Storytime,” is beyond me. Hula Girl was in heaven. She loves kids. But not only that. She adores boys. She had the time of her life walking up to each and every child there and saying hi this morning. 

As soon as we were called into the story room, Hula Girl walked in, said, “Bee-boo,” (thank you) to Miss Kirsten, who was holding the door, and sat down on her favorite spot- the letter U. The alphabet rug is really a genius invention. All the kids get their favorite letters. For the older kids, who can spell their names, it’s exciting to sit on “their” letter. For kids like Hula Girl, who only know a handful of letters by sight, it’s exciting to recognize the same (albeit obscure) letter each and every time and sit on it. The only issue arises when kids share the first letter of their name. Madison and Megan had a fight about who gets to sit on “M” the other week until Megan’s mom said Megan might sit on “N” because it’s the last letter in her name. About halfway through storytime, however, Madison decided she  should be on “N” since her name ends in “N”. Nice try, Mom!

Anyway, as soon as we sat down by “U” the kids came streaming in. Miss Kirsten, who runs the storytime each week, looked a bit surprised at the sheer number of bouncy little chubby faces and did her best not to freak out. Unfortunately, each week’s books and themes are chosen pre-storytime and Miss Kirsten has a schedule sheet that lists song lyrics and that day’s sign language for parents. Usually this is good. However, today, Miss Kirsten was in Trouble, with a capital T.

This week’s theme: Noise.

This week’s books: Shout! Shout it Out! and The Loud Book!

This week’s demographics: 5 girls under 2, 3 girls between 2 and 6, and 11 boys ages 2-6.

See, Trouble.

Hula Girl was pretty much terrified of the boys during the first book. At this time, the boys decided to have a contest to see who could “Shout it out!” the loudest. I am pretty sure the little boy sitting right next to us won. Hula Girl chose to move onto my lap. The little girl behind us, who is almost three and has not worn anything but her princess dress since Santa gave it to her on Christmas, informed her mommy that “the other kids are being very noisy.” Her mommy and I exchanged looks and contemplated leaving and starting our own storytime with the theme of “quiet” at Starbucks.

After the shouting match, the boys lost all interest, and Miss Kirsten lost all control. Hula Girl did her best to follow along, but she is so quiet and young compared to the other children, that she was almost overlooked when Miss Kirsten was handing out the shakers. My poor little girl was standing in the middle of the rug all alone, holding her hand out to receive a shaker, and Miss Kirsten didn’t even notice. I had to politely ask for one. Then the first thing Hula Girl did was put the shaker in her mouth. DOH! If that weren’t enough, Hula Girl almost didn’t get to put her shaker back in the box since Miss Kirsten was too preoccupied with keeping the big boys from trampling a little 10-month-old girl. She politely stood there holding out her shaker and waiting for the box to pass her by. When that didn’t happen, she put out her lip and hung her head, but kept her hand out in front of her. Finally, the little princess girl, Evie, took Hula Girl’s hand and walked her over to where Miss Kirsten had placed the shaker box on the floor. I decided right then and there that Evie’s mom and I MUST start our own storytime. Hula Girl should hang out with kids like Evie more often!

The craft activity today was absolutely ridiculous, too. It was two full-sized, front and back worksheets, containing counting, matching, and writing practice. Um, hello, your advertisement says, “Toddler Storytime for Kids ages 18 months-3 years.” Really? These kids should not be learning how to write in cursive yet. And their parents shouldn’t be hovering over their shoulders  and encouraging them to draw straight lines from the “M” to the monkey. As if. I told Hula Girl to just color. Unfortunately, she put the crayon in her mouth, and that was the end of craft time for us. (Immediate, logical consequence!)

All in all, storytime was much worse than it normally is. Hula Girl did not talk about it much on the way home. She usually repeats everything that happens, telling me, “Did, boy, dee, muh, nin non, dah dah,” (kids, boys, girls, books, sing songs, color). Today, all she said was, “Out! Out! Boy out!” (Shout! Shout! Boy shout!) and then she started talking about her car toys.

I’m still not sure whether she realized today was not as fun as it usually is. She didn’t necessarily want to leave, but she never puts up a fight about that anyway. I just hope it didn’t ruin her excitement about storytime in the future. Have your kids ever had a major disappointment about an event, but then recovered at another time afterward? I’m hoping this is salvageable.

Sick, Sick, Sick! and 19 Months

Well, we’re sick again. AGAIN! Can you believe it! It’s like all I ever write about is sickness in our house. Ugh.

This time around has definitely been the worst we’ve experienced so far. Hula Girl came down with ear infections a couple weeks ago, so we put her on antibiotics. That seemed to help her for a while, but then Jonathan got sick with a cold, and lo and behold, I caught it from him. This is the worst cold I have ever had. I have been coughing all night for the past week now, which means I’ve gotten maybe 4-5 hours of rest each night. And on top of that, Hula Girl has now started vomiting after almost every meal, so I’ve been cleaning and doing laundry like a madwoman!

Last night I tried the “Wet Sock Treatment” to try to help myself sleep better. It’s supposed to increase circulation to the feet, decrease congestion in the head, chest, and throat, and help the “treatee” sleep better all night. Here’s what to do:

  1. Soak your feet in warm water for 5-10 minutes beforehand.
  2. Wet some cotton socks with cold water and wring so they’re not dripping.
  3. Cover the cotton socks with dry wool socks.
  4. Go to bed.

In the morning your feet should be warm and dry, and your socks should be dry as well. I had heard of this before, but never tried it until last night- and it was crazy! My sinuses were no longer hurting this morning and my feet were warm and cozy and dry. My only complaint is that it did nothing to soothe or abate my cough, so we had to deal with that until I finally fell asleep around 11. But then I did sleep, and sleep well, until 6:45. So I think I’ll call my first experience with it a success. You’re supposed to do it 1-3 nights in a row. I will definitely be trying it out again tonight.

Now, on to the fun part of life! Hula Girl is 19.5 months old, and I am loving, loving, loving this age. I was a bit worried that it would be a difficult time, as I have heard that 18-21 months is a really difficult testing period. However, I think Hula Girl’s advanced language skills have really benefited us and we’ve been able to weather this period with little frustration.

My most exciting moments are when Hula Girl comes up with different ways of showing that she really is in control of her language. Last night, for example, she said her first real sentence. I say her first real sentence because it’s the first sentence she’s said that hasn’t been just her mimicking us. She watched Jonathan putting batteries in a new toy and was quite excited to play with it. She finally reached up her little hand (he was taking forever) and she calmly said, “Me do.” This was super exciting to me for a couple of reasons. First of all, she’s never referred to herself as “me” before. (She has said “I” when she has been sad, as in “I throw up,” or “I cry.”) Second, she’s never said the word “do” before. She’s heard us plenty of times, asking her if she wants to do something, like, “Do you want to do it?” She always answers yes! But last night, she took the initiative, and I was so proud.

She’s also demonstrated several times that she has learned the concept of one-to-one correspondence. This is a mathematical concept that is crucial for any person. When I was teaching, this was the very first thing any student needed to understand in order to succeed in math. Basically, it means that Hula Girl can match a number to an object or group of objects. For example, when she counts, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5,” she is  using rote memorization to list off a bunch of words. But when she has a stack of 5 blocks and counts, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5,” while moving one block at a time, she is showing that she has one-to-one correspondence. Basically, two blocks is two blocks is two blocks- two blocks will never be four blocks. And yes, she has demonstrated one-to-one correspondence with up to 6 items at a time. Smartie!

My favorite part of the day, as it is for most parents, is bedtime. Our bedtime routine includes Jonathan giving Hula Girl a bath while I prepare her room (turning on sound machine, filling humidifier, closing curtains, etc.), then Jonathan lotions and dresses her for the night while I read to her and then we talk about her day. I read a short poem or song from an awesome gift we received from Hula Girl’s Uncle Jeremy and Aunt Elinor for Christmas. It’s an old collection (from the 1800s) of Christian poetry and hymns, one for every day of the year. And even better- it has Hula Girl’s name in the title. So I read her poem or hymn while they listen, and then Hula Girl starts asking, “Bout day? Bout day?” because she loves to talk about her day. I stand next to her and stroke her hair and we go through the day’s events together. We talk about what we had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We remember any special events that occurred that day. The very last part is when Jonathan asks her what she liked best about the day. She used to just look at him blankly, because it really is a difficult question for a 19-month-old to answer.  But the past few nights, she’s had something to say. One day she liked the kids at storytime. Another day she liked the visit from Grammy and Great Grandma. And yesterday, when we were all sick at home, her favorite thing about the day was “Eenie muh, Daddy.” (Reading books with Daddy.) Precious.

I can pretty much understand every little thing she says these days, even though her words are definitely not clear to outsiders. I find it so interesting that I can tell what she means just by small inflections or hand gestures that accompany her words. She is not one to waste words. She does not babble all day long. She talks all day long, but always with a purpose. She is constantly narrating her environment and trying to make me understand what she means. My very favorite thing is when I’ve worked hard to figure out what she’s trying to say, and I get it right. Then she smiles and laughs and says, “Yee-eeeaaa-ha ha ha ha!” in her really deep happy voice. Love it. 

She is no longer plagued with a huge sense of stranger anxiety. When we go out to the store or the library, she will actually approach anyone she can see and tell everyone, “Hi!” Many people aren’t sure what to do with it, and they just grin and move on without saying hi back. This frustrates her, since I’ve always taught her that “it’s nice to say hi.” She has even followed some grown men around Walmart just to tell them hi until they greet her in return. Funny thing is, when they DO say hi, she often runs back and hides behind me. Silly girl.

There are so many more things to say about Hula Girl at this age. I will be adding more posts soon since everything is getting back to normal around here. I can’t wait to get back to writing more frequently! I have missed this!

 

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