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Thursday
Jun232016

Mo's behavior chart

Some time ago, I wrote about how tough three has been for us and Mo. She was also having trouble at daycare and we were getting daily reports of her not listening well. I think maybe it was some kind of delayed reaction to Drum's appearance in her life, and she was seeking some attention. So on top of focusing on giving her positive attention whenever possible, I decided to implement a behavior chart. 

So far it has worked wonderfully, and I wanted to share!

I did a little Pinteresting and ended up creating a system that rewards her for good behavior and acknowledges bad behavior while giving her the chance to correct it. 

Mo behavior chart

Let me first say that the words are pretty pointless. I replicated something on Pinterest, but as soon as we started using it, we realized the flaw in the words. For instance, say she's up on blue, doing great, and she has a problem. We give her a warning and move her to the light orange "warning" status. Then does she have to do four good things to get back up to blue? We couldn't figure out the logistics of it, and we wanted to be consistent form the beginning so we just ignore the words and move her up and down one spot at a time. Good behavior = move up one. Poor behavior = move down one.

We start every day on yellow, and if she is on blue at bedtime, she gets to put three craft pompons in a jar. Once the jar is full, she gets a special prize. We've been through one round of jar-filling, and there were only a couple nights she went to bed without pompons.

Mo really responds to this system. When she is not listening well or making poor choices, I say something like "Do you want to move down to green?" and she immediately changes her behavior. If she doesn't, I move her down and she works hard to move back up. When she does something good, like listening the first time or making a good choice about behavior, I thank her and tell her she can move up a color. Now she'll even say, "Mommy, I was good! Can I be on blue?" And she'll frequently check the chart to see what color she's on. She's thrilled every night when she gets to pick three pompons to put in the jar.

Over the last couple weeks, as she was making progress, we asked her what she'd like her special prize to be when the jar was full. She chose a jump rope, and every time she added pompons, she smiled big and said she was so close to getting her jump rope. Last Friday she filled the jar for the first time, and the next day I took her to the store to pick out a jump rope and some candy (bonus prize!).

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We emptied the jar and started over, and she's still responding just as well to this type of motivation. She has been getting great reports from daycare and has been so much more pleasant at home. I'm really proud of her! It may not work for every child because they're all wired differently, but if this might work for your child, give it a try.

Tuesday
Jun142016

My best parenting advice

I sat down to write something about how exhausting it is to have two kids and a demanding full-time job and how there's no time to do anything, but frankly, I'm exhausted and there's no time for writing deep thoughts.

But that made me think about how we overwhelmed mothers need to support each other, and so here is my advice to mothers (and fathers) everywhere. It's something I say over and over to myself and other parents:

You gotta do what you gotta do to survive.

It's different for everyone, and you have to do what works for you and your family. For your mental, emotional, and physical health. I consciously avoid the phrase "I'm such a bad mom" because there are some truly bad moms out there - moms who do terrible things to their children - and I'm not one of them. I'm a good mom and so are you, and we're doing a good job. Some days, some moments even, we're just trying to survive and that's OK. Do what you gotta do.

My other, super practical advice? No snaps on newborns.

Or at least as few as possible. Pass on any sleepers with snaps and go straight for the zippers because those little buggers pee and poop a lot and they're super wiggly, and you need easy access for diaper changes. Zippers are where it's at.

What's your best (practical or philosophical) advice for other parents? 

Sunday
Jun052016

Monthly Drum Photo - Seven

At seven months, my boy is absolutely amazing. He is happy, alert, playful, fun, totally chill, easy going. I want to hold on to this stage forever. I want to put it in my pocket even as he grows and changes, and pull it out now and then. 

7 months

Drum, who goes by Bro at home about 85% of the time now, has become a strong sitter. I don't leave him sitting alone without a boppy because he does have a tendency to topple, and not very gracefully. Somehow he falls face first and one of these days he's going to smash his nose just right! He very recently started pushing up a bit when he's on his belly, but he still can't roll from tummy to back. And he only rolls back to tummy going left. 

7 month outtake

Drum shark hat

We introduced solids this month. The day he turned 6 months, we celebrated with some mashed bananas. He was a little unsure about the eating process at first, but quickly caught on. So far there isn't anything he hasn't liked. He's also had carrots, green beans, black beans, peas, avocado, watermelon, and a little taste of ice cream. He can also hold his own bottle, which was news to me. I never give him a bottle because I have boobs, but the other night he was still hungry after I had nothing left to offer, so I made him a small bottle. He grabbed it and put it to his mouth and blew me away. It makes sense he would be able to - he has really good dexterity - but suddenly he seemed really old to me. He tried his sister's sippy cup recently, too, but only played with it. He didn't figure out how to get any water from it.

Drum eating first time

He's become a great sleeper. He takes 2-3 naps a day, and sleeps about 10 hours at night, always on his tummy. He's become pretty noisy. No real babbling yet, but he sceeches and yells and giggles. He loves to suck on his bottom lip. He's wearing 12 month clothes. His hair is such a light blond that he looks bald. He sits in a high chair and loves his jumperoo. We put his activity mat away because that is so two months ago. And, in monumental milestones, we sold the exercise ball in a garage sale yesterday. I sat on that ball for seemingly endless hours during maternity leave and beyond because it was the only way he would sleep. I hated that ball. We don't need it anymore, and it felt so good to get rid of it.

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Life is a bit overwhelming right now. I started a new job that has thrown our home life into a bit of a tizzy, and in general having two parents with full-time jobs and two young kids is hard. But it's also a wonderful time. I know I'll look back on this craziness fondly.

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Edited to add:

 

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Drum is still outpacing Mo in height and weight - she was smaller than him at every stage so far. But, as I said on Instagram, she had more hair and teeth than he does! Still no teeth for Bro.

Tuesday
May032016

Monthly Drum Photo - Six

Here's dearest Drum at six months:

6 months

6 months Mo and Drum

(Mo on left, Drum on the right. She was 3 pounds and 2.75 inches smaller.)

I was just reading about Mo at this age, and she apparently had this huge developmental leap right before the six month mark. Like, mere days before. She started rolling a lot more efficiently, sitting up more, and pushing her chest off the ground. Drum can roll wonderfully from his back to his left side to his belly, but that's about it. He can't get onto his back and though he can roll to his right side, he can't get all the way over. He did figure out how to sit recently - like one day BAM! he could sit. He is not pushing up though. But I do a developmental assessment every couple months, and he's doing great overall and especially well in other areas like problem solving and fine motor skills.

Drum sitting instagram

Sorry to compare you to your sister so much Drum! But apparently Mo also had two teeth at this age while Drum has no signs of any. He also has less hair! But he is quite a bit large.

?X?X?X?X? SIZE ?X?X?X?X?

Drum is wearing 12 month sleepers, and it has been fun comparing him to Mo when she wore the same ones. She was standing, crawling, walking. He is mostly laying. 

Mo Drum comparison pajamas instagram

Sleep is still OK. He naps in his crib and usually goes down with only a little effort. Sometimes he has to fuss awhile before dozing off. At night, he is also in his crib and nearly always goes down with no effort. He likes to look at things so we put a balloon near his crib for awhile, then his light up star (which was booted from his car seat for something more interactive). We also put a couple non-suffocating toys in there for him to tinker with, or give him a small board book to hold. But he still wakes up at least once a night, usually around 1:30. One night he slept 11 hours and it was like angels singing from heaven. I can't wait until he does that regularly.

Drum in swing

Other than variations of Drum and Brother, my most common name for him is Nugget Bugget Boo Boo (or Nugget Boo Boo, Nuggest, Boo Boo, Buggy Boo, Boo...). 

instagram

 On his six month birthday, we let him try some mashed bananas. He has been really interested in watching us eat, trying to grab for our food and watching intently as we take bites. Plus he has been eating a lot lately! My appetite has been out of control because he is nursing so much, and I am pumping so much to keep up with his daycare bottles. Obviously he's growing like crazy and I think food will be a nice chaser for his milk! He didn't exactly gobble up the bananas, but he didn't hate them either. We've been too busy and chaotic to try again in the last few days, but I can't wait to see what he thinks about all the other yummy things we're going to feed him!

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Monday
Apr182016

Three just might break me!

Remember when I wrote this around Mo's third birthday? Back when she was still mostly sweet and innocent and well-behaved? 

What happened to my sweet baby girl?!

Three stole her away, that's what. Three is HARD! Everyone talks about the Terrible Twos, but I think that's a misnomer. I think they mean the Therrible Threes. And it's not just me. The other day I posted this on Instagram:

Mo and mom instagram

All the moms of three year olds came out to commiserate, and I've never felt so validated in my craziness. Mo is still wonderful and full of life and light, but she is also full of mischief. She ignores us or laughs in our face when we ask her to do something or try to discipline her. It's like she enjoys getting in trouble. At my nephew's birthday last weekend, I busted her picking sprinkles off the cake. As I reached to pull her away, she made a desperate grab and came away with a handful of frosting. Then told me, "Mommy you're so funny" when I tried to discipline her.

Another time she spilled cheerios everywhere, and I asked her clean them up. She refused. I told her we couldn't go to the park as planned until she did. She said she had no interest in the park, even though she spent the morning begging to go. I dread bedtime every night because she fights it, runs away, laughs when we ask her to cooperate. What used to be a pretty simple process is now exhausting. She's also getting into trouble at daycare where she used to be an angel. They ask if I have suggestions since she doesn't respond to consequences, and I'm like, "You're asking ME? I have no idea what I'm doing here!"

Fortunately, she is still sweet as ever to her baby brother. I know that won't last forever, but I'll take it while it lasts. I've been told that three is the worst of it, at least until pre-adolescence. So hopefully we'll all survive this year and then have a short reprieve until Drum reaches three...

Anybody else struggling with a "threenager"?