Tag Archives: toddler

Jane’s First Day of School

1 Sep

Yesterday was Jane’s first day of school.

At 2 years, 7 months, my little baby went off to preschool.

I thought there would be tears on somebody’s part:  mine or hers.  Or possibly both.

But instead, it was one of the best days we’ve shared so far.

Jane was giddy with excitement and couldn’t wait to get dressed, put on her little backpack and bound down the front stairs to clamber into the car seat she usually refuses to even go near.  When we arrived at the school parking lot, she nearly pulled my arm out of the socket trying to get me to “Hurry up!

So many people have asked whether I am sad, but it’s quite the opposite.

I’m happy.  Happy that the day went off without a hitch.  Happy that my little Jane was so excited about her first day of school.  Happy that my plan of preparing her for this day by reading countless books about going to school and watching re-runs of “going to school”-type television episodes seems to have worked.  Happy that I chose to stay at home when I did.  Happy that the past two months after I quit have been purposefully spent creating an atmosphere of love and happiness and security in our little nest.  Happy that she’s ready to fly.

And off she goes . . .


Jane’s New Pet

30 Aug

We’ve had several fish over the past year:  goldfish, neon tetras, feeders. Somehow none of them have ever lasted more than a few days.

Now whenever Jane sees a fish, she says, “Mommy, is that fish going to die?“*

Lately, I’ve found myself promising to get her a rabbit, since I figure it’s easier to take care of than a cat or dog and cuter than a gerbil or hamster.

But in the meantime, Jane trapped a spider!

Charlotte has been with us for several days now and is still going strong.

Can’t say the same for her babies.

*Yes, we’re a family that has introduced the concept of death to our children since the get go.  And we don’t gloss over it.  As in, “Lie down while you’re eating and choke and die,” or “The car will hit you and you will die,” and on many unfortunate occasions, “The fish is dead.”

Miss Manners (Why It Feels Like I’m Dating My Daughter)

21 Apr

Right after Hubby and I had nicely settled into a routine of comfort and familiarity – which became even more relaxed after the first pregnancy – Jane had the idea of growing into a full-fledged human being with a keen awareness of her surroundings.

But Jane’s awakening, which started around 15 months, has been more taxing than I anticipated.  It’s as if I’ve been thrown back to those awkward dating days of always having to put your best foot forward that I was glad to get rid of after getting married.  (You know what I mean . . . sneaking out of bed early to put on your “no makeup” makeup!)

Now I have to put on my best face again.  This time, it’s for Jane’s benefit.

Being a role model to Jane means that I must exemplify at every moment how I think she should conduct herself.  I can’t very well expect her to be polite if I don’t say “please” and “thank you.”  And why would she monitor her choice of words or care about her appearance, if I give in to swearing in front of her and running around town in ratty sweat pants all the time.

Like the old dating days, now I have to:

  • Mind my manners at all times, including being graceful and poised at home and in public.
  • Curb all bodily noises.
  • Clean up my vocabulary.  (This means not only avoiding a potty mouth, but choosing a rich spectrum of words in our dialogues like “The colors you chose for your painting are very bright and remind me of the springtime colors from the garden” instead of a lazy, “Great!” or “Awesome!”).
  • Stop being so lazy.  (If she sees me keep house the way I’m naturally inclined to, she will grow up to be a terrifyingly slovenly pig).
  • Keep up my health and fitness.  (While she might not care whether I’m a size 2 or a 10, she will adopt the sluggish lifestyle I’ve perfected after three years of not exercising and eating for two if I’m not careful).
  • Maintain my highlights, manicure and wardrobe.  (Again, if she sees a slob, she’ll be a slob).
  • Be witty and cheerful every day, even if I’m actually feeling like a grump.
  • Think of new and interesting “dates” and activities on a daily basis.

Just looking at this list is exhausting, especially when there is no prospect of the familiar “comfort zone” in sight!  I suppose in the end, though, I’ll benefit from stepping it up, too.  And I’m sure Hubby won’t mind if I get out of these sweat pants.

7 Mistakes in 7 Days

13 Apr

Lest you become a hapless fool such as I, here are seven mistakes I made in the past week that you should not repeat yourself.

  1. Don’t serve your family soft, yellow lo mein noodles when you know that fly maggots have been dropping from the ceiling overhead. Especially when your children have the tendency to fling their noodles around the room and onto the floor.
  2. Don’t think that blue painter’s tape on the ceiling fan will seal said maggots away. It bubbles and you will have to re-tape the vents and feel the warm, squishy bodies under your fingertips.
  3. Don’t ask a woman whether her third baby is in her belly. Even if you’re a woman yourself.  Or a mom.  Or have your own baby blubber.  Or think there’s no mistaking she is at least six months pregnant so it’s safe to ask because nobody’s belly sticks out from an otherwise slender body in that round fashion.
  4. Don’t teach your toddler words like “boobies” or “poo-poo” unless you want to hear them in inappropriate phrases at inappropriate times. Like when Jane sang, “Old MacDonald had some boobies!  E-I-E-I-O!” at the store or announced my bathroom habits to our guests.
  5. Same goes for allowing your child to drink alcohol and learn the libations’ proper names. Or else your toddler might yell for all the neighbors to hear after her soccer game, “I need a beer!” or answer you like this in front of company.
  6. Don’t feed your infant from your own mouth. For one, it’s gross if anyone catches you as momma bird regurgitating for your baby chick.  And two, your giant 30-pound baby might put you in a headlock with his chubby little hands and viciously bite your face and tongue in a horrifically violent attempt to peck around for more food.
  7. Don’t take the childcare you receive from your family for granted. When you’ve had eight hours of sleep in three days and have to watch a toddler and a crawling infant on your own while trying to work from home, your family will save your life.  If I didn’t say it before:  Thanks, Mom.  Thanks, Dad.  Thanks, Hubby.

Leave a comment and share your embarrassing mistakes from the past week so I don’t feel like such a nincompoop!

    A Weekend of Firsts: Transitioning to a Toddler Bed (and Eating Cheerios)

    14 Mar

    Daylight Savings Weekend was quite eventful at our household.

    Sam finally mastered the pincer grasp and can pick up and eat Cheerios on his own:

    Technically, these are Trader Joe's O's

    And Jane helped build – and actually slept in! – a toddler bed for the first time:

    I wasn’t quite sure how the whole transition from crib to toddler bed would go, but believe it or not, we survived with no major meltdowns on her part or ours!

    Here’s our crib-to-bed transition story:

    We started out about 3 months ago with the book, “Big Enough For a Bed,” starring our favorite furry friend, Elmo.  (We bought it along with “Too Big for Diapers,” in anticipation of potty training, which we haven’t really started in earnest yet).

    After about six weeks of reading the book almost every day and telling Jane she’s a big girl who needs a “big girl bed,” we started visiting Ikea (one of her favorite playgrounds), to let her try out the toddler beds.  I know, eww, germs – but it worked.  Two visits to the toddler bed section got her enthusiasm cranked up and she started thinking the whole thing was her own idea instead of ours.  Reverse psychology parenting at its finest.

    Last week, when we finally had enough of the nightly mid-night rescues for Sam, who was constantly getting stuck in the corners of the mini crib he grew out of four months ago, we took the plunge and bought the DaVinci Sleigh Toddler Bed in Honey Oak at Diapers.com, where I spend 90% of our disposable income.  (We considered the KidKraft Modern Todder Cot because of the shelf feature, but ended up opting for real wood instead of particle board).  Jane’s bed, for $99, no shipping, no tax and a thirty minute set up, turned out to be perfect!

    When the bed was built, Jane clambered up to bounce her heart out on the mattress.  Catching her on video squealing, “What a wonderful day!” and “I’m a big girl!” was priceless.

    But then the panic set in:   how were we going to get her to actually sleep in the bed?  Instead of being able to contain her in her cage crib from which there was no escape, now she would be free to roam about as she pleased.  What if we could never get her to stay in the bed?!

    “Luckily,” I was at work when the first naptime came around.  (Yes, another working weekend).  Incredibly, Hubby officially earned the title, “King of Naptime,” for somehow – I’m still not sure how – getting her down for a 1.5 hour nap.

    Despite his success, I knew that come bedtime it would be my turn for the real reckoning.  What I didn’t know was that I was in for a very pleasant surprise.

    For some reason, even though bedtime has been a bit of a struggle these days, being in the open bed instead of the walled in crib didn’t make a difference.  We went through the normal “I don’t want to go to bed” routine a few times, but it was nothing out of the ordinary.  And finally, she just gave in and stayed put until the next morning.  A Daylight Savings Miracle!

    I have my own thoughts about why this is so, which I’ll post about soon, but I do think that allowing Jane to choose to go to bed on her own while still setting firm bedtime limits got us to this point today.  For now, I’m just glad that Sam is finally getting a good night’s rest in Jane’s old full-size crib and that we’ve conquered the toddler bed hurdle.  One down, two (saying bye-bye to the bottle and potty-training) to go.

    Bump up my post on Mom Blog Network

    Taking America’s Fear of Fat Too Far

    28 Feb

    Sam had his 9-month checkup this week.  Once again, he is in the 99th percentile for weight for babies his age.  Great, right?  A nice, healthy, bouncing baby boy with pudgy limbs and dimpled cheeks.  Don’t all moms want their babies to put on weight?  A chubby baby is the sign of a healthy baby.

    Not according to our pediatrician.  The first thing the doctor said when she entered the exam room, was “Oh, he’s a big boy.  Let me tell you about a class the hospital offers for parents regarding nutrition.”

    A nutrition class?  You can’t be serious.”  I thought to myself.  This child is the picture of nutrition.  At the same weight his sister was at her 2-year old checkup, the doctor can’t really be recommending that I attend a nutrition class.

    Then it dawned on me.  She said my baby is too fat.

    “I don’t know if you want to go, but I’ll just note the dates and times for you here on this flyer.  They talk about things like ‘feeding cues,’ . . . .”

    And?  ‘Feeding cues’ and . . . ?” was my inner monologue.  Oh my goodness, she is subtly (or not so subtly) suggesting that I need help in determining how, what and how much to feed my second child.  You have got to be kidding me.

    I didn’t respond to any of this and focused on keeping my wriggling son on the examining table.  The pediatrician mentioned something about children in the 99th percentile growing up to be obese or something of that nature – I wasn’t really listening.

    On the drive back home, I tried to make sense of what just transpired.  The only thing I can make of it is that the pediatrician was simply following hospital protocol:  for every child in the 99th percentile, a doctor must recommend the nutrition class.  What with the growing rate of childhood obesity, of course there would be programs in place to prevent kids from going down that path, and a routine doctor’s visit would be one way to educate parents and keep tabs on a child’s weight just like any other part of the child’s general health.

    A recent Wayne State University study of 8,000 American infants born in 2001 revealed that America’s “obesity epidemic” has reached the diaper set:

    • 31.9 percent of the 9-month-olds were obese or at risk for obesity

    • 34.3 percent of the 2-year-olds were obese or at risk for obesity

    • 17 percent of the infants were obese at 9 months, rising to 20 percent at 2 years

    • 44 percent of the infants who were obese at 9 months remained obese at 2 years

    But come on:  a 9-month old in the 99th percentile as a potentially obese person in the future or a too fat baby now?!  Sam is a happy, chubby Gerber baby.  Nothing more, nothing less.  The baby that all moms who know the struggle of trying to get their children to put on weight (including me with Jane) wish they had.  America’s fear of fat trickling down to babies is just plain silly.

    For one, a baby’s first year of growth has nothing to do with his rate of growth later on in life.  It’s all about his rate of growth in the womb and his ability to absorb nutrients as he did during gestation.  That’s why you see many babies who grow in especially large leaps and bounds the first year slow down in their growth pattern in the second and subsequent years as they adjust to their body’s natural growth rate.

    And two, a baby’s height and weight percentiles have nothing to do with his ultimate height and weight.  Take me and my brother, for example.  We were both in the 99th percentile during the first year and I am 7 inches short of ever becoming a runway model and my brother is on the shorter side for American men.  Neither of us is obese or even fat (well, okay, after Sam and Jane I am carrying some excess insulation) and my brother is ridiculously fit.  Our story is nothing out of the ordinary.

    I do appreciate that children nowadays often are not afforded adequate time to play and exercise and that modern, busy lives also have us eating too many junk and prepared foods, but telling a second time mom who has a giggly, Michelin-tired 9-month old that her baby is fat and that she might need some parenting nutrition classes is ridiculous.

    Anyway, how fat could my kids grow up to be in the Silicon Valley, which whole-heartedly embraces the skeleton-skinny chic that dominates today’s fashion and social norms.  And with two professional parents who are able to provide their children access to healthy foods, it’s clear that the doctor was not paying attention to her audience before doling out this irrelevant prescription.

    I’ll let the pediatrician slide this time, but another dose of bad advice and we may have to fire her.

    Where is all the Special Agent Oso Merchandise?

    19 Feb

    It is next to near impossible to find any Special Agent Oso merchandise in stores or even online.  When I planned my toddler’s Special Agent Oso themed birthday party, I couldn’t find a darn thing to decorate with or give her as a present.

    While I was okay with going to the Disney website’s Celebrations Center to print out Digi-Medals, character cutouts and other decorations, as a working mom, I could have used a little help with pre-made Oso products.  (Out of love for my daughter and a little bit of guilt for having a completely store-bought birthday party last year, it was a personal goal to keep this birthday homemade.  But staying up until 1:30 in the morning two nights in a row making two dozen paper Whirlybirds, pinwheels and Paw Pilot-Wolfie-Dotty banners was slightly more than I bargained for!).

    The “Disney” brand name is practically synonymous with the term “character merchandise,” so why no Oso-love?

    The Special Agent Oso plush toy sells on Amazon for almost $200 – no thanks.  And the online Disney Store is perpetually sold out.  The best I have been able to find in a store is the Learning Curve 3-pack figure set at Target, which sold for $8.27 around Christmas.

    At that time, Target also offered a few different Special Agent Training Vehicles (Twirly Whirlybird; R.R. Rapide) for $19.99.  I thought I would go back and purchase them at a later visit.  Mistake.  They’re gone!

    Turns out that Oso merchandise is almost exclusively sold online and in small quantities — I’ve done the legwork and here’s where you can get your toddler his/her fix at the lowest price:

    • Toys ‘R Us – $9.99 for the Learning Curve 3-figure set (Special Agents Wolfie, Dotty and Oso); $14.99 for the Training Pack (Cold Fingers; Moon Rover) and Mission Pack (Submarines are Forever); $19.99 for Vehicles (Wolfie’s Motor Boat; Oso’s Go-Go-Go Racecar)
    • Walmart – $19.99 for Twirly WhirlyBird; $29.97 for R.R. Rapide Command Center

    So the moral of this story is buy whatever you can get your hands on!  The limited merch is flying off shelves and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be much more offered in the future.

    And Disney, if you’re listening, at least throw us a DVD since Special Agent Oso is only on once a day (and at 6:30 a.m. no less).  Three hours of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes back-to-back is plenty . . . we’d like to see more of our favorite “unique stuffed bear.”

    (If you have had luck finding Oso merchandise, please take this poll to help others!)

    **UPDATE 4-17-11  Special Alert!  Special Alert!  The Special Agent Plush Toy is available on Amazon for $26.99 plus $4.49 shipping.  Order soon because there are a limited supply!  I just did 🙂

    **UPDATE 4-23-11 Special Alert!  Special Alert!  The  plush toy is available for $16.50, plus $4.95 for shipping and handling, at the Disney Store. Disney also is offering a 2 for $28 deal now!

    The Simplest Homemade Wrapping Paper

    16 Feb

    Completely enamored by Chloe’s new fragrance, Love, Chloe, I bought my own Valentine’s present this year.  (Well, Hubby also got me something).  But buying your own gift doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be presented beautifully.  I didn’t have any wrapping paper handy, so I enlisted Jane’s help.  This is by the far the easiest wrapping paper we’ve made and it took just a few minutes.


    • construction paper*
    • tape (clear or double-sided is best)
    • crayons or markers

    Step 1:  Arrange the gift in the center of the construction paper.  We chose red for Valentine’s Day, but any color works.  Keep in mind that the darker the color, the less crayon will show up.

    Step 2: Fold one edge of the paper over the gift.  Then, do the same thing from the other side.  To keep the paper taut, tape down the first side to the gift before pulling over the second side.

    Step 3: Fold in the two edges as you would normally do with regular wrapping paper, using tape to secure the construction paper.

    Step 4: Give your toddler crayons or markers and free reign to decorate as s/he sees fit.

    And voila!  The simplest homemade wrapping paper.

    *In fact, you don’t even need construction paper — any paper bag (like a brown grocery bag or retail store shopping bag) can be your wrapping paper canvas by turning it inside out.

    Valentine’s Day Picture Frames

    14 Feb

    Today, Jane and I made these easy Valentine’s Day picture frames for Hubby.

    First, Jane painted the two $1 wooden frames with regular poster paint.

    Originally, I had planned to use pink and red enamel gloss, but Jane had other ideas.

    Then, we let the paint dry.

    Next, while waiting for the paint to dry, I cut out photos of Jane and Sam into heart shapes to insert into the picture frames.

    Finally, we attached wooden cutouts to the frames with permanent double-sided tape to add the finishing decorative touches.

    Super-easy project for Jane, and Hubby loved them!

    Special Agent Oso Themed Birthday

    13 Feb

    For Jane’s first birthday last year we had a Hello Kitty themed party, with a cute fondant cake from Sugar Butter Flour.  This year, Jane wanted an “Oso birthday party!”  Here’s how we did it.

    The Invitations

    We mailed out these homemade invitations – download your free printable!

    The Cake

    Although my own mother made all of our birthday cakes when we were kids – in addition to all of our elaborate Halloween costumes every year – I rang up the bakery again this year to see if I could get a 3-D cake like this or cupcakes like this made for Jane’s party.  Turns out that this would cost more than both my arms and legs combined, plus a few of my vital organs as well.

    So, with great determination, I set out to make a Special Agent Oso birthday cake on my own.

    Special Agent Oso up close and personal

    First, I bought the Wilton Stand-Up Cuddly Bear Pan Set at Michael’s.  This cake pan requires 2 firm ready-made cake mixes, like pound cake.  I chose one pound cake mix and one yellow cake mix.

    Second, I made my first e-Bay purchase:  an edible image of Special Agent Oso with the text, “Happy Birthday Jane” from Cakes for Cures.  The image stores for up to a year and is very simple to peel off and apply to your cake.

    Two days before the party, I pre-made the frosting using my favorite buttercream frosting recipe.  I mixed the colors using the Wilton 12 Icing Colors Set, which includes Aqua – the perfect color for Oso’s ears, eyes and paw prints.

    Since I wouldn’t be using the frosting right away, I mixed the colors right into tupperware containers so I could pull them straight out of the fridge, re-whip, and use them immediately.  (You can re-whip with a fork instead of the mixer because the quantities are relatively small).  I mixed a generous amount of Yellow, equal amounts of Aqua and Black, a small amount of No-Taste Red and saved a small portion of uncolored frosting.

    I also made the fondant cutouts two days in advance.  First I colored three pre-made fondant balls with the Wilton Icing Colors in Aqua, Yellow and pink (using No-Taste Red).   I rolled out the pink ball and used a fondant cutter to make 20 little number “2”s for the sides of the white sheet cake base.  Then I rolled out the yellow and shaped it into the base of the paw print image.  Last, I rolled and flattened smaller balls of the aqua and placed them onto the yellow base for the Oso paw print.

    *Tip:  use a little bit of water to adhere the fondant pieces together.  Be careful not to use too much water or the fondant pieces will slide off of each other and the colors will bleed.  Finally, I created a few free form “2”s in green and aqua to use as accents.

    A day before the party, I bought a white sheet cake from Costco which would serve as the base for the 3-D cake bear and feature the edible image and other decorative elements.

    The evening before the party, I baked and decorated the 3-D bear.  The baking part was a little tricky because you need to pour the cake batter into an upright cake pan, but I enlisted the help of Grandpa to do this.  After letting the cake cool for two hours and with Jane’s figurine as my guide, I decorated Special Agent Oso free hand with the largest closed star decorating tip I had.

    *Tip:  The larger the tip, the more time you’ll save because it will cover more surface area with each star.   And, the star tip is great if you’re short for time because you can easily disguise your mistakes and less than perfect handiwork is less noticeable.

    After Special Agent Oso was finished, I covered him with plastic wrap and set him aside for the big day.

    On the day of the party, I anchored Special Agent Oso to the sheet cake, piping extra frosting around his base to blend him into the cake and secure him well.  I placed the edible image on the remaining surface area of the sheet cake and used the fondant “2”s and multi-colored candy accents to finish the design.

    Here’s the final result:

    Special Agent Oso Birthday Cake

    The Decorations

    I love balloons, so any opportunity to go overboard, I take it.  Since Oso’s colors are turquoise and yellow, I ordered about 3 dozen balloons in yellow, blue and turquoise and hung them in two bunched columns.  We also had a giant mylar “2” balloon to mark the occasion.  We followed the same color scheme for the streamers and spread a blue plastic table cloth over our kitchen table for a little punch of color.

    As a nod to Special Agent Dotty – the one female special agent – I hung these homemade Martha Stewart pom poms in bright pink and orange tissue from our ceiling.  (I’d love to take credit for putting these together, but actually got them from a friend who had put them together for her party).

    Since there are no Special Agent Oso party supplies commercially available, I made do with the printable decorations from the Disney website’s Celebration Center, like this pinwheel.

    One great idea is to cutout the different characters and paste them on to foam flowers in the Oso colors.  Here’s an example of one taped to our wall above the “Happy Birthday” banner:

    I also made Digi-Medals for each of the children by cutting out the printable medals from the Disney website, writing each child’s name in permanent marker on the medals, laminating them, punching a hole in the top, and then attaching the medals to the neon-colored nametag necklaces I found at Diddam’s.

    For the finishing touch, I decorated with lime green and yellow flowers in monochromatic bunches.

    The Food

    I knew I didn’t want to be in the kitchen cooking the entire time the 30 guests were here, so we came up with a simple, finger food menu that would be easy for the kids to eat and quick to prepare:

    • 3 dozen bagels (1/2 mini bagels) + assorted cream cheeses from Posh Bagel
    • frozen mini-quiches
    • cheese slices (cheddar, havarti, swiss, american)
    • crudites and ranch dip (try Costco‘s readymade vegetable platter with organic dip)
    • watermelon (sliced into “smiles” with the rinds on, rather than cubed)
    • coffee (Peet’s has great to-go containers and provides the stir stix, creamer, sugar, paper cups and lids)
    • apple juice and water

    The bagels and coffee were the most popular; and next to the cake, the kids loved the watermelon slices the best.

    Watermelon smiles

    The Entertainment

    The Jumpolene Uncle B gave us was the hit of the party!

    All in all, a great day.

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