Tag Archives: parenting

“I Don’t Want It”

We recently bought Lily a new bike. It’s one of those fantastic princess numbers with a carriage and streamers in the front. She lucked out and got the bike for no reason at all. We discovered Rose was big enough for Lily’s old bike, which triggered our “should-be-a-birthday-present-but-we-need-it-now” purchase of Lily’s new princess bike so both girls could ride bikes at the same time.

Lily’s old bike is a pink number with ladybugs on it. I bought it at a garage sale and the previous owner had pasted Hello Kitty stickers all over it. It’s a perfectly cute bike, but it truly doesn’t compete with Lily’s new princess bike. Lily’s new bike is especially appealing for Rose, the little girl who is so obsessed with Cinderella that for most of the past 18 months she wouldn’t wear any color but blue. Rose was pretty jealous when we bought home Lily’s new bike. She’s ridden it a few times. Actually, she’s ridden it more than Lily has because Lily is scared of the oh-so-tall height of the new bike. We’re working on it.

I felt bad about Rose not getting her own new bike, but hand-me-downs are an important life lesson. If there’s something perfectly good available for you, you need to use it. Just because your sister gets a new bike doesn’t mean that you also get a new bike. Still, I felt a little guilty that this other bike was so appealing to her. I promised to jazz up her old bike, but then I discovered that this bike existed.
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Damn you, Disney. Are you trying to kill me? You just want us to go flat broke, is that it?

When we saw this number, we decided Rose MUST have it. We were worried it was limited edition and ordered it right away. We figured we could give it to her for her birthday, but we didn’t want to wait that long. Her birthday is not until October and my husband and I are SO excited about this bike that we want to give it to her now.

So, we came up with a plan. Rose still uses a portable potty seat in public. It’s driving me crazy, but she refuses to go potty without it. I am still carrying a freaking potty seat bag wherever we go. It’s extremely inconvenient. Any attempt to get her to go potty without it is met with hysteria. She has a real phobia about using the toilet without the potty seat because she once tried to go without it on her own and fell in. No matter how much I promise her that I won’t let her fall in if I’m there to help her, she is still terrified.

I’ve been trying to bribe her with various Cinderella items for months now, but now we have the ultimate bribe. If she stops using the potty seat in public, she gets the Cinderella bike.

We showed her a picture of the Cinderella bike and told her the plan. At first she was very excited, but when it came down to it she was still too scared to use the potty without the seat.

Now she walks around with a printed picture of the bike and shows it to everyone she sees. She goes on and on about how cool the bike is. She asks people if they want the bike. The fact that she loves and wants this bike is undeniable. It was made for her little Cinderella soul.

But here’s what she says “See this bike? Isn’t it beautiful? Look at how it has Cinderella all over it? Do you want this bike? I don’t want this bike because I like my potty seat to keep me safe.”

Come on, Rose! I really really want to give you this bike! It’s sitting at Walmart for Site to Store pick-up RIGHT NOW. Use the potty without a potty seat so we ALL can enjoy it.

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But We Have a Baby!

It’s amazing what a difference five years and two more kids make.

Five years ago my husband briefly considered going to his fifteen year college reunion, but we decided not to because Lily was a baby.

“We can’t possibly fly with a baby! It would be too hard!”

“What would we do with the baby while we were at events!”

“What would we do about the time difference!”

“We can’t take a baby! It would be way too much work!”

So we skipped the fifteen year reunion on account of Lily.

Flash forward five years to my husband’s 20 year college reunion. TWENTY YEAR college reunion.

It’s five years later and we again have a baby. Violet is now 3 months older than Lily was for when the fifteen year reunion is scheduled, but we essentially have the same situation PLUS two more kids. We decided to leave Lily and Rose with my parents and travel across the country to my husband’s reunion with “just the baby”.

“We’ll only have one baby with us! What a vacation!”

“We’ll just take the baby with us to all the events. What else are we supposed to do? People will deal.”

“Meh, time zones. She’ll just sleep in the stroller.”

Man, five years and two additional kids sure makes flying with one little baby seem like a piece of cake. I mean, it’s still a ton of work to travel with a baby, but at least we aren’t traveling with three kids! It’s weird to think about how hard one little baby was when we had Lily, but everything is harder with your first kid even if they are well-behaved and charming. You just don’t know what you’re doing yet, which makes it overwhelming. I’m glad that babies don’t seem hard anymore, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not still stumbling along trying to figure out 5 year olds.

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“It’s Perfect for Her”– the Conundrum

Yesterday I was walking through Meijer when suddenly I saw something that was “perfect” for Rose.

I mean, how could I walk away from a hooded Cinderella towel considering how gigantic her Cinderella love is? We need new towels anyway and this towel just had “Rose” written all over it.

The trouble I had when I saw it was what to do about Lily. Do I have to get her a towel too? And which towel? There were other characters, but no other princesses. This towel was so obviously perfect for Rose’s Cinderella passion, but there is no such obsession in Lily’s life. In fact, Lily has no favorite anything. If you ask her what princess she likes the best, she will answer “all of them”. If you ask her her favorite color, she says “rainbow”. Who is her best friend at school? “Everyone.” It’s a wonderful personality trait of hers that she doesn’t play favorites, but it also makes it really hard sometimes. There is no perfect anything for Lily (aside from an $80 Lego kit she’s been eyeing).

When I see a blue dress or Cinderella anything, I want to buy it for Rose. There is nothing parallel to that that ever makes me discover a toy or outfit and think “OMG, Lily must have this.” when I had absolutely no plans to buy a treat that day. And I don’t know what to do with that.

It’s not fair for me to constantly come home with blue/Cinderella stuff for Rose, but never come home with stuff for Lily because nothing practically jumped off the shelf yelling “LILY MUST HAVE ME!” I mean, I understand that both kids don’t always have to get presents at once. Sometimes you find something for one kid but not the other and the kids have to get used to that. That’s part of life that they need to understand, but the way things are going Rose would get constant presents while Lily got nothing.

When I found the Cinderella towel, I just didn’t know what to do. An occasional treat for just one kid is to be expected, but every time the kids take a bath Lily would be reminded of any jealousy she might have feel over this towel. We could say “it’s just a towel”, but look at that thing! It’s awesome! I thought about coming home with one of the cheaper Lego kits as a token prize of my finding something perfect for Rose, but that seemed unfair. If my sister had a hooded towel that awesome, I’d probably want one too even if I usually preferred another type of toy.

I ended up coming home with nothing for Lily and explaining that she could have something of equal or lesser value if she wanted. I explained there were other characters she could choose from OR other toys. She immediately said she wanted the exact same towel as Rose. Phew!

Now that works for this time, but what will happen next time? Will I ever see something in a store and think “LILY!” right away? It just seems so unfair that all these perfect things exist for Rose, and Lily gets “treats” to make up for it. I wish I could find a way to fix this.

I hope that someday there is something “perfect” for Lily. Until then, I guess I’ll just do my best to keep the random gifts fair?

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No Pants

Rose has decided that she hates wearing pants and doesn’t want to do it anymore even though it’s winter. This is baffling to me as I wear pants EVERY SINGLE DAY and prefer pants to dresses. Maybe when she gains a sense of modesty, she will realize how cumbersome dresses can be at times. You can’t sit “criss cross applesauce” when you are wearing a dress. You also can’t climb around on a jungle gym without flashing somebody. So, now Rose wants to wear ONLY blue dresses with no pants or tights under them. We’ve been fighting about this most mornings. It has been way too cold not to wear pants. It’s been so cold that I feel uncomfortable with making her suffer the natural consequences of her not wearing pants. I don’t want the kid to get frostbite!

I didn’t know how to get through to her that pants were necessary whether she liked them or not. But then I gave her a lecture about it that has apparently had a very big impact.

I hate socks. I hate them a lot. My feet feel like they are suffocating in them. I can’t wait to take them off at night. I HATE THEM. But I wear socks every day, most of the day in winter because my feet get cold without them.

I explained this to Rose and she was shocked. She was further shocked when I told her some of the other things I hate, but I do them anyway.

I hate cooking, but I feed our entire family three meals a day because I have to. I hate cleaning, but I clean (not as much as I should) because if I don’t our entire house would fill up with garbage, dirt and grease. I gave her a detailed of a description of what could happen if I didn’t clean, and she was really floored by it. “There could be toys and garbage to the ceiling! We wouldn’t be able to walk!”

I hate driving, but I drive Rose everywhere while my husband is at work because there is no public transportation where we live.

All of these things made a very big impact on Rose. There were a couple more days of not as heavy fighting after I gave her this lecture, but now every time she gets dressed, and sometimes randomly during the day, she turns to me and says “Mommy, you hate wearing socks, but you HAVE TO wear them or your feet will get cold! I hate pants, but I have to wear them!”

That’s right.

I know I’m a freak for hating socks, but damn I hate them. They are itchy. I can’t sleep in them. If I wear socks to bed, I wake up in the middle of the night and my tongue feels furry. I know it doesn’t make any sense, but there it is. I wear sandals as much as I can when it’s warm outside. Maybe this is the way Rose feels when she’s wearing pants? How can you hate pants though? She’s wearing leggings and sweatpants. What’s to hate?

Other random weird things I hate:
*Mint flavored desserts (breath mints and toothpaste are ok)
*Citrus-flavored desserts especially lime bars. Lime is meant to complement Mexican food, not to be in a super gross dessert.
*Baked goods that have shared a room with something mint flavored. These things have a flavor contamination and are ruined for me.
*All sports except for 1990s Chicago basketball (which irritates my husband who hates Michael Jordan)
*Most bars and all frat parties
*The type of action movie with a scene where thousands of characters run at each other with weapons while screaming

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Bibs = Worthless

Bibs are stupid. They don’t work and I don’t use them.

“But don’t they keep your kids’ clothes clean?” you ask.

The answer is no. They don’t. Ever. Whenever a baby starts eating solid purees at my house, food flies everywhere. It drips past the bib to the pants. It drips UNDER the bib to the neck of the outfit. The baby gets food on her hand and smears it all over the unprotected parts of her clothes, face and hair. Regardless of the bib, if a 7 month old is eating with clothes on you are probably about to put her in a new outfit.

We have an added mess bonus this time around. Violet is a hardcore thumbsucker. She’s my first (and last) thumbsucker. For the most part I love it because she self-soothes easily and puts herself to sleep in her crib without ANY sleep training effort on my part whatsoever, but when it comes to eating thumbsucking makes it that much more work. The kid wants to suck her thumb while she’s eating, which means if she’s wearing clothes she gets food all over her hands and sleeves. It’s hard to get food in her mouth because her thumb is always in there!

A bib would not protect Violet’s clothes from the thumbsucking, the lap dripping, the under chin dripping etc. I gave up on bibs when Lily was a baby. That’s how long I’ve been anti-bib. What does a bib do? Nothing. It just adds to your laundry.

At our house, when you are a baby eating purees (and I’m not interested in hearing more about baby-led weaning here, thanks), one of two things happens: Either you eat naked and then I wipe you off with a wipe or you eat in clothes I immediately take off of you.

I used to ONLY do the eating naked thing so I could completely avoid stains. Naked feeding is AWESOME for stain avoidance. Sometime between Lily and Rose’s baby food adventures, I started using OxyClean and we rarely have stains even after the most disastrous of messes. If I took before and after pictures around here, I could seriously star in an OxyClean commercial. That stuff rocks.

Between OxyClean and I being lovers and Violet being our for-sure final child unless something really improbable happens, I often let Violet eat in clothes AND without a bib. I really don’t care as much if her clothes get stained since there will never be another baby of mine who needs to wear them. The benefit to feeding a clothed baby is that there is less baby to wash when the feeding is over. The clothes protect the kid from the food and then you just wash the clothes.

Seriously, you’d be amazed at the food and pink bubblegum antibiotic stains OxyClean removes.

However, insider tip: nothing removes baby vitamin drops no matter how soon you wash something. NOTHING. Baby vitamin drops are evil bitches that should only be given while the baby is in the bathtub. HATE.

So, save your money:
*DON’T buy bibs (though I hear they are nice for major spit-up babies. I wouldn’t know.).
*DO buy OxyClean
*Embrace naked baby feedings.
*Give baby vitamin drops at bathtime.

To be fair, I did see a designer baby bib at a boutique recently that included sleeves. I was intrigued, but then I discovered that each bib cost $30. ha ha ha $30 bib. So no. No bibs. Ever.

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When Good Plans Go Bad

Our city has a beautiful garden park that my kids love more than the playground. If I were a kid and I had the choice between a playground and a garden park, I would choose the playground every time, but when I asked Lily what she wanted to do on her birthday last week, she immediately yelled “GARDEN PARK!” And who can argue with going to a place filled with flowers on a kids’ fifth birthday? It certainly aids in the whole “Here’s a picture of you on your fifth birthday!” department.

Here’s how I thought the garden park would go: The kids would play in the sandbox. We’d go for a walk and I would take a lot of gorgeous, frameable pictures of them. Everyone would have a great time. We’d leave and go for ice cream. This was my plan. I did everything I could to stick to this plan.

Rose had other ideas.

It started out so lovely, but this trip was about to go wrong.

Right before we went to the park, I asked her to go to the potty. She “tried”, but didn’t go. Five minutes after we got to the park, she had to go. The restroom was inconveniently on the other side of the park and across a giant parking lot. We hurried over there. The door was horrendous and heavy, especially with our giant stroller, which was carrying all of our gear. I was wearing the baby. Anyway, I put on her potty seat and… nothing. Really? Fine.

We left and walked half a block away when she said she had to go. Repeat the previous paragraph. She still didn’t go. We left walked half a block and she started CRYING that she had to go.

Just as I was shooting this picture, Rose started wailing about the bathroom. She obviously does not want Lily to have pretty birthday pictures.


OMG. I know she’s newly potty trained and I should be patient and I’m TRYING, but I was pissed at this point. We only had about 45 minutes to spend at the park if we were going to make it to ice cream and we were about to waste 30 minutes of it. This was not a pleasant birthday trip. Lily started crying “I’m so tired of going to the bathroom!”

ME TOO.

Woof Woof was tired of visiting the bathroom too.


The third time she finally went, but our trip to the park was ruined. We had to leave right after that. I promised Lily we could redo her birthday garden park trip the next free day we had.

Violet drove us home. She was tired of going to the bathroom too.


Two days later we returned to the park with the same intentions: climbing, sandbox, pictures, walking. It was going to be beautiful.

Um yeah. I should have known better.

The exact same thing happened. Twice in one week. SERIOUSLY? Only this time, she kept saying she wanted to go home to go potty.

Which. No. NO.

I’m sure the park employees, who were talking in the adjoining warehouse both times we were at the park and I could HEAR them so I’m sure they could hear me, thought I was evil. I angrily said things like “NO. We are not going home. NO. I said NO. We aren’t going home. You are going potty here. We go to the potty where we are. NO. GO POTTY. This is your last trip to the bathroom while we are here so it’s now or you can hold it or you can have an accident. Those are your choices. NO. You can not sit in the stroller if you have to go potty and you haven’t peed yet! NO! Just go to the potty!” Um, yeah, the park employees could hear this from me twice in three days. They probably think I’m the worst mom ever.

It was awful. Even though I really wanted to go home, Lily still wanted her park trip. Lily was crying too saying “I just want to go to the park! I’m so tired of going to the potty!”

ME TOO.

And they were supposed to be having fun.

After the second bathroom trip, we walked around the park while Rose burst into tears randomly. She had not used the potty and I was sure she would have an accident at any minute.

It was supposed to be a cheerful fun trip, but it was 90% awful. The last 15 minutes, Rose was finally happy (Lily was happy most of the time we weren’t in the bathroom.).

Totally smug about being the "good sister" two (actually THREE, but that's another story) trips in a row.


Not only did Rose not pee at the park, she didn’t pee for THREE HOURS after we got home. So why we were traipsing back and forth to the potty and ruining our park trip, I’ll never know. I do know that if you REALLY want to have a fun special day with your three kids, one of the three will make sure it doesn’t happen. You would think the troublemaker would be the needy, fussy, hungry baby, but nine times out of ten it’s someone who can talk.

You're looking at the two most likely suspects of our next failed fun trip. They look sweet and innocent, but trust me, it will be one of them and not the baby.

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Parenting Slip

The other day I was explaining to Lily what I used to do for a living. Her father and I met getting our MAs in journalism at Indiana University. I used to write, edit and design for a newspaper in Northeast Indiana. I no longer write for a newspaper because newspapers are dying and don’t pay enough for me to afford putting the kids in daycare. Plus I wanted to stay home with my babies.

We don’t get a newspaper here because, ironically, I don’t really like receiving one now that I can get all my news off the internet. Yes, I am helping to destroy my own livelihood. It occurred to me that maybe Lily didn’t even know what a newspaper was because we don’t get one.

“Do you know what a newspaper is?” I asked her.

“No. What is it?”

She didn’t know! You’d think a former journalist would have made sure her almost 5 year old knew what a newspaper was.

I explained that a newspaper was a paper that was delivered to your house and it was full of stories about what was happening around the world. I said it was kind of like what Mommy and Daddy read on the computer (though we rarely share what it says) or watch on the tv when she comes down for breakfast in the morning.

“Oh.”

I don’t think my explanation got through to her. I need to bring home a paper, but even then I’m not sure she’d understand.

I guess at this point I should just tell her that Mommy went to school to learn how to write things that other people read, which I suppose still holds true even with my modest readership here.

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Name Change

Two weeks ago, Lily made an announcement that has complicated my whole world.

“I don’t want to be Lily anymore. I want to be Lilianna.”

Actually, Lily is her middle name, but what she said involved her nickname and her real first name and was pretty much the situation above. She wants us to call her her full real first name instead of her nickname. The change converts what we call her from two syllables to four.

We asked her why she wanted to do this. “Lilianna is the most beautiful name in the whole world and it’s my real name. You should call me that. I don’t want to be Lily anymore!”

We couldn’t argue with that. We chose her real first name because it was beautiful, but we ALSO chose it (and actually found it) because we were determined to have a child with her nickname whether that child was a girl or a boy (her real nickname is unisex).

I’ve been calling Lily by her nickname since before she was born. Making the switch from her nickname to her full name is brutal, but she is determined to change it. She corrects EVERYONE every time they say her nickname. And I have to respect that. If she wants to be called by the name I gave her and not her nickname, that’s her choice.

Really, I can relate to her choice. Once upon a time I was a first grader with a very common nickname. I hated another girl with my very same nickname and last initial. I had to write my entire last name on every piece of homework because of our identical nicknames and last initials, so I decided to go by my more unusual real first name so I could write less AND not be confused with that girl I hated. I don’t remember people struggling with this, but I do know that my grandfather called me by my nickname until the day he died nearly 20 years later. A few of my cousins also still call me by my nickname.

I never understood why they couldn’t make the transition to my full name until now. I am having a horrible time getting myself to say Lilianna instead of Lily. It is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I don’t even think of her as Lilianna. In my head, she is Lily. It’s impossible to automatically call her what she wants. If I do remember to say it, it usually ends up coming out “Lily…anna”.

My husband has transitioned to the full name better than I have and keeps scolding me for messing up. I think Rose even is having an easier time with this than I am. In fact, today when I called her Rose, she told me to call her by her first, middle AND last name. Um, no. I will comply with attempting to call one child by her real first name, but there’s no way I’m going to call Rose by her entire legal name! Can you imagine? I mean, it is the same number of syllables, I’ll give her that, but no.

I hope I’m able to get to the stage where Lily isn’t correcting me because I really do respect her choice. We gave her that first name so she could use it if she wanted to– especially professionally. It’s probably going to be a long time before “Lilianna” comes to me automatically, but I THOUGHT it would be a long time before she’d want to be called that! I thought I had until at least middle school!

I’m really going to miss that nickname.

And for the record, she will continue being Lily on here since Lilianna is only a hypothetical example and NOT her middle name anyway.

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Fights

This is the most common type of fight I’ve been breaking up lately. It starts with a “NO ROSE! NO!” and is quickly followed by something like this:

Lily: MOMMY! Rose is playing birthday party with the Toy Story friends and I don’t want to play birthday party! I just want to play Toy Story!

Lily: MOMMY! Rose took out the Potato Heads and I don’t want to play Potato Heads! I want to play Little People!

Lily: MOMMY! Rose is playing princess tower but I want to play daytime/nighttime!

Lily: MOMMY! Rose won’t play Hungry, Hungry Hippos with me! She’s playing with the piano instead. Make her play Hungry, Hungry Hippos with me.

Sorry, Lily. I know it’s hard to believe, but Rose is her own person with her own wants and needs. Sometimes she might want to play something other than what you want in your play dictatorship.

I repeatedly tell Lily her choices:
1) Play without Rose
2) Play the thing Rose is playing
3) Try to combine the two “games” (mostly role playing, so really the possibilities are limitless)

These choices often induce tears, which I will not indulge. You do not get to order your little sister around. Rose can play whatever she wants, just like Lily has always been able to play whatever she wants.

How dare Rose have her own agendas, opinions and creative ideas, right?

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Prime Directive

Sometimes being the only parent around puts you in a questionable position. If you notice kids misbehaving, when is it your job to intervene?

My husband and I were the only parents at the park sandbox this weekend when four little girls got into a fight. Three little girls were playing with an empty water bottle when a fourth walked up and started yelling that she wanted her water bottle back. The three little girls insisted that she should let them play with the water bottle because the fourth girl wasn’t playing with it when they found it. The fourth girl kept yelling that it was her empty water bottle and her property and she wanted it back, so they should give it back to her. Everyone was very upset and it seemed like things MIGHT get physical.

The fourth little girl was a mean bully in the way she talked to the other girls, but I agreed with her that if she did indeed own the water bottle, it should be returned to her when she wanted it back regardless of who was playing with it. Even though the water bottle was technically trash or recycling, in this case it was being used as a toy. If you find a toy at the park and it isn’t yours, you need to give it back to its owner when the owner comes back, no matter how ridiculous it may seem.

I never stepped up and neither did my husband. During the fight, I asked my husband if we should do something. He said we should let it go unless the fight became physical. It never did. The bully somehow got “her” (not sure if it WAS really hers) water bottle back. One of the little girls went off to cry. Then the bully felt bad and offered her some of her Oreos. It was weird. And kind of creepy.

This same bully had come up to my husband before the sandbox incident and asked if they could be friends. Then she used his cell phone to call her mom. She was about 8 years old and asking my 41-year-old husband to be friends. Really? If her mother had been around, I may have told her this because can you imagine the trouble she could get into asking strange men to be friends? Not good.

But her mother wasn’t there. This girl was just at the park bullying other kids and then trying to win back their friendship with Oreos.

The whole thing was creepy.

Anyway, afterward my husband and I had a debate about when you should intervene when other people’s children misbehave. I thought we should have stepped in to break up the fight, but I felt awkward about the whole thing. I would have given the bully back her water bottle and told the other (way nicer even though they were wrong) girls to go play with something else and STAY AWAY from the crazy kid.

My husband thinks that with other kids we should use the “Prime Directive” from “Star Trek”– we do not intervene with “aliens”. They are in their own worlds and we are in ours. We leave them to their own devices unless they might be physically harmed OR they bother OUR kids. In “Star Trek”, even the threat of physical harm theoretically wouldn’t result in an intervention, but like Captain Picard sometimes did, we’d feel the need to stop someone from getting hurt. Plus, you know, this is real life and we aren’t bound to Star Fleet’s rules and regulations.

I don’t know. I think kids should work things out, but I also think the grown up in the room should intervene to stop bullying. Then again, what authority figures are we at the park?

What would you do in that situation? Is it “Prime Directive”-worthy? When do you intervene when you see kids that aren’t yours yelling at other kids?

It’s a fine line. Sometimes I wish I was still a kid so I WASN’T the responsible party in a public place full of strangers.

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