Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Taking a Blogging Leave of Absence

My witty, beautiful, fantastic readers:

I haven't blogged for a while. And I'll tell you why. I'm working on a new novel, and I've been dedicating  more time to it. Because I really only write when Norah's gone to bed, or sometimes on my lunch break, I have decided to take that precious little time and use it to focus on the novel. It's really important to me.

I apologize if you're bummed out about this. I'm bummed out, too, but a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do. I'll still blog a little, but it will be with much less frequency.

And I'll still be out there reading my favorite bloggers! Look for me laughing in your comments area. Unless you're not trying to be funny. Then look for me being appropriately concerned or thoughtful.

I'll leave you with a quote from Norah, and my favorite Friday Story Time.

"You're not people. You're just a mom." -- Norah

It's Story Time: Goldilocks and the Three Bears

"This porridge is too hot."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Enforcer

When you enforce consequences, you kind of get screwed, too. Case in point: Out to eat with Norah and Auntie Sarah. Stipulation: Norah must eat half of her meal if she wants to go to Cherry Berry (a frozen yogurt joint). Doesn't happen.

Consequence: Auntie and I were clearly the ones who wanted fro-yo, and got screwed, as we ate half of our dinners. But going there and eating it in front of her seemed usually cruel.

Also, after watching Despicable Me in the theater this afternoon, Norah had a complete and total meltdown in the restaurant attached to the theater. We were there with our friends and Norah's bff Minta. I took Norah out to the car, as she was causing a scene. Apparently she was sad the movie was over, and wanted to go to another one. Stipulation: Norah has to calm down before we go back in. Doesn't happen.

Consequence: Ryan gets to drink the beer I ordered as I sit in the car in the rain with Norah screaming, and me nearly in tears because I usually start crying when she's inconsolable. And I feel like a douche for being firm when she's crying. I did try to console, but she was hysterical, so I sat there and tried to ignore it. I don't know how to parent.

Another situation. We went to a birthday party. All was well. I even let Norah pick out the gift. MISTAKE. ATTENTION PARENTS: don't let your preschooler/toddler pick out gifts for birthday parties. Maybe this is a big duh, but no one told me. She picked out things she loved, and grew an instant attachment to the items. So when the party was over, she obviously wanted to bring rubber frog home with her, as it was her friend. She named it Seesaw.

I made her give it back to her little friend, and carried her wailing to the car. "I want my fwoggy! I want my Seesaw!" Meanwhile, my heart is breaking over a stupid fucking rubber frog that she clearly loves and I am making her leave it behind like Sophie's Choice, and this sweet little boy runs up to us with the frog, freely giving it back to Norah.

What do I do? I say "Oh, you are so sweet. But you keep your frog, Honey."

Consequence: Norah is now hysterical, and I am torn. I wanted her to learn about giving gifts, but now I'm certain I screwed up. I don't want her to thinking tantrums are the way you get your way, but she loved that dumbass frog. We drive the entire way back home in tears. I get her calmed down for about ten minutes, when Ryan returns from the party again, because I left my purse and he happily volunteered to go back as Norah wailed, and Norah thought he had gone back for her fwoggy. Tears for what seemed like an eternity.

I really have no idea what I'm doing.

The next morning, I got Norah ready, had her count out some money from her bank, and we hit Target to purchase Seesaw II. We thought at least we'd show her about money and goods exchanging hands, and that lesson would offset the fact that we're total pussies.

So, I know that setting consequences and enforcing them is a good thing. Right? But I don't know when I should be doing this. Is it for eating food? Having tantrums? Or is it just for violence and dangerous activities? Or for smart mouthing? Or all of the above? I don't know. I have no idea.

I guess it should be for things that are important to Ryan and I. Hitting and such is bad. Bad manners is not good. But the tantrums... I'm not sure. A communications professor once told our class "Feelings are facts." And while this is a corny thing to say, it's true. Should I allow this behavior? Let her let it out? Or should I be encouraging self-regulation? Or would that teach her to hide her feelings and push them down until they become ulcers or time bombs? I don't know!

I suppose no one said parenting is easy. And my friend, Kristi, said something like if it is easy, you're probably screwing it up pretty bad. I think I'll cling to that for a while.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Oh, Smurf It

Thursday, Ryan lost Papa Smurf. (Long story short: Papa and Smurfette were cake toppers on Norah's birthday cake back in January. We've played with them every waking minute since then.) They were at Bounce Depot (indoor place with inflatable castles and slides) while I was teaching an evening online class, and Papa fell out of Norah's coat pocket.

He whispered it gently to me as we were making dinner that night.

"I lost Papa Smurf," he said so quietly, I could barely hear him. His face looked as if he had been the cause of a 30-car pileup and fled the scene. Norah didn't know at this point... she was eating a Krabby Patty (cheeseburger) and watching Smurfs on TV. He was lucky... usually she likes the cake-topper Smurfs to watch it with her. "Look, Papa Smurf! You're on TV."

So, Ryan was simultaneously in the running for Worst Dad Ever and Best Husband Ever, as I, and I alone, am assigned to do the voices for these Smurfs all the damn time and I sometimes want to chuck them both out into traffic.

But she loves them so much.

Anyway, the next day Ryan went to Bounce Depot after work and reclaimed Papa Smurf. Yippee.

Then on Friday night, my sister came to entertain Norah while Ryan and I did our taxes. She took her out for frozen yogurt and shopping, which was good because children should not be exposed to the language and violent outbursts that take place when Ryan and I are actually faced with our finances.

They came home and what did Norah have? Smurf WORLD. She pealed the Toys R Us bag off of the huge box and said, "Mommy, you're going to freak out!"

She thought freak out = good. No.

"Thanks, Auntie Sarah," I said, with my middle finger nonchalantly scratching my eye.

"She picked it out!" she grinned.

Smurf World is a giant Smurf head that unfolds to a landscape that includes a mushroom house, playground equipment, a waterfall, and a skyscraper, which makes no fucking sense at all. It also came with Gargamel (I'm not even going to Google this shit to make sure it's spelled properly) and Azreal. The cake-topper Smurfs are the perfect size.

Of course, the pictures on the box showed even more Smurfs.

And then the next day, probably still reeling with quilt over losing Papa briefly, Ryan frickin' went and bought a little set of more damn Smurfs-- the ones that fit in the little house and merry-go-round.

And I have heard "Mommy, can you do the Smurfs?" thirty thousand times since last night, making the total since January nine billion.

Oh, and for Easter? My parents got her a stuffed Papa Smurf and a classic Smurf lunch pail, which is exactly like the one I had as a child. That I actually had a soft spot for, but clearly my family is out to get me.

But now it's time for bed, and I will relish my Smurf-free time until 6:30 comes and I hear through the monitor "La la la la la la la, Smurf along with me!" Sigh. That is just too smurfin' early for that.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Another Fat Update

Well, I'm down 12.5 pounds. I don't really feel different or see any difference, other than some of my jeans are annoyingly loose. I know, I should be grateful they're loose instead of tight, but I'm not ready to buy a new size, so the in-between stage is a little irritating.

I'm still not doing great with drinking water, so I need to ramp that up. I'm doing much better with exercise, now that the weather is fairly decent. Now I just need to ignore the Easter candy lying about.

New motivation:

We went to the zoo, and did a potty break. Norah was in the stall with me, and as I shimmied my jeans down, she said, "Mommy, you have big buns!" Ugh. Yes I do. Hopefully not for long.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bike Day and Subsequent Events

It was Bike Day last Friday at Norah's school. Thankfully, her teacher called me before we'd left the house to remind me. I guess it's no secret that I'm an idiot.

Princess Cycle
Anyway, it's March in Minnesota, and while we had a very, very mild winter, the weather was still a little iffy at times. One day it was beautiful-- 70 degrees and sunny. The next day, cold and drizzly. We hadn't broken out the outdoor toys. So into the shed we went, and Norah chose her princess bike.

We got to school, and she saw the other little bikes lined up, and wanted to ride down to them. She couldn't even get her knees past the handle bars. Too small.


No prob. I told her I'd get her tricycle. We'd gotten it from our good friends when their sons had outgrown it. It was navy blue and white, and was a little rusty. But it works. I ran home and got it. When I got back, Norah was playing with her little pals, and I surveyed the bikes. They were big kid bikes with training wheels. Yikes. And fancy ones. Lightening McQueen grinned out from a couple of them. I looked down at Norah's trike.

I made my way back to the car, and considered hitting Target. Don't be stupid, I told myself. They're too little to make fun of each other for that stuff... right? I made myself go home to work, as I was now about 10 minutes late. Which is really damn sad when you work from home.

I called my mom later. I told her about Bike Day, and how I was worried because Norah doesn't really "get" pedaling yet. Had we missed the boat? Rob and Tamara's kids practically pedaled out of the womb. Her BFF Samantha was tooling around their basement last time we went over for a visit. Ruh-roh.

My mom advised we start working on pedaling and steering with the trike. Once she started to understand and do better, we should get a big kid bike. She reminded me that one of Norah's strengths is athleticism. She's not dunking or doing triple lutzes yet, but she runs, jumps, somersaults, dances, and moves constantly. We weren't nurturing one of her strengths.

She was right. I threw up my hands and resigned myself to the fact that our college savings account would now be designated to future therapy. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. But I was disappointed in myself, because I usually try to make Norah do what I value-- art, music, reading. She likes that, too, but I need to nurture her in her other strengths. Which blows, because I'm frickin' lazy, and I hate running and shit.

Lalaloopsy bike
Later that night, my sister called. We were at Target for a couple essentials (and $100 worth of stupid shit we can't resist because Target is the Devil), and she decided to meet us. She had decided to buy Norah a bike. Weird coincidence. I told her about Bike Day, and our plans to practice with the trike. She dismissed that (and said she normally would have just brought one over without consulting at all, so she was actually being good, which I suppose is true) and later that evening, Norah had a new bike. Aunt Sarah spoils her a tad.

She's happy, we're practicing, which is a whole other story, and we get to be creeped out by the dead button eyes of Lalaloopsys. Norah likes creepy. Shrug. We're nurturing that.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Reviews: Games for Ages 3+

I decided to do some reviews on games designed for children 3+ because I'm an expert. That is, I'm an expert if you're exactly like me, and your child is exactly like my 3-year-old daughter. So, if that's the case, you're in for a treat.


Grade: B

Premise: You should really know what this game is, but if you don't for some reason, here's how it works. You place a bunch of cards face down. The cards have symbols on them, and there are two of every one. You flip two over at a time and try to make a match. There may be more to it than that, but you get the gist.

Pros: I guess finding matching symbols probably does something positive to your brain. It's simple enough, so a 3 year old can get it. You can vary degrees of challenge, like keeping the cards face up when they're first starting.

Cons: It gets a little long. If your kid gets bored with a game, Memory will turn into Twister mixed with throwing stars. The cards are the stars.

Candy Land

Grade: C

Premise: There's a path to some candy castle or something (I don't really know, because I've never actually landed on the end, nor have I paid attention to it), and each stone of the path is a different color. Game pieces move by picking a card and moving to the color indicated on said card. Or, there are also cards with different candy treats on them, which allow you to jump to different spaces. And there's some area that's sticky, and you get stuck until something else happens. I don't know.

Pros: If your child gets the ice cream bar card, or whatever candy treat is closest to the candy castle, and then gets double blues and double oranges the next two turns, this game is pretty kickass. It will last about 5 minutes, and I'd give it an A. Also, with the grade A scenario, your child's goal must be to reach the candy castle. That doesn't always happen.

Cons: It's too much of a crap shoot. Sure, it could go well. Or, your child wants the gumdrop card, and you draw it, and they kick your gingerbread game piece across the room and throw themselves on the floor in tears. Or they get stuck in the sticky stuff, or they're almost at the end and then draw the popsicle card (or whatever) and have to go all the way back, or the game takes too long, or the damn cat steals a gingerbread piece, or whatever. There's no telling, hence the grade of C. Could go either way.

Chutes and Ladders

Grade: C

Premise: It's a lot like Candy Land, but instead of the candy castle, there's some other kind of goal destination that I can't remember. I think there are dice, and the game pieces move accordingly, sometimes landing on a plain square, sometimes you have the opportunity to ascend a ladder, sometimes you're screwed and have to go down a chute. Oh, and there are little morality plays within the game. Bring an apple to your teacher? Ladder. Animal sacrifice? Chute.

Pros: Same deal. You get the big ladder, big rolls, you're gold.

Cons: Same. You get close to the end, you hit the big chute, the game board ends up in the toilet. Or, your child thinks the big chute is the greatest part of the game. Crap shoot.

Don't Break the Ice

Grade: F

Premise: Each kid gets a hammer, and taps out blocks of ice until a bear falls through to its doom. That kid loses.

Pros: Kids like hammers and smashing.

Cons: It takes five hundred years to set the damn thing up. You have to cram each little block of ice in the frame, and the kid can't help, even though they're begging you to, because they don't have the strength or coordination to squeeze the blocks into the edges. You barely do. And instead of you sitting back with a cocktail while you let them figure it out, you shove their little hands out of the way, because you're invested now; it's taken an hour for you to find all the damn pieces and fit them in. Then you flip the thing over, ever-so-gently slide the stupid plastic bear into its slot, it inevitable falls through and you have to flip it over again and replace cubes, and then put the bear in, and then in one second flat, the kid destroys the ice, sending the bear to the depths of icy cold, and laughs hysterically, because they don't care what the goal is, as long as they can have the yellow hammer. Then the hammer is used on the cat. Then they want to play again.


Grade: A-

Premise: It's bingo. But instead of tiny balls in a cage, there's a spinner. You have to get three in a row, and then scream bingo.

Pros: The cards are small, so the games are short for short attention spans. Spinning the spinner is fun. Screaming bingo is fun.

Cons: The only con is the markers are small and look like cat treats.

Lucky Ducks

Grade: B+

Premise: Little ducks swim around a pond. There are symbols on their butts. Pick ducks, try to find three matching symbols, and you win.

Pros: It's simple, quick, and kids like ducks.

Cons: It's so frickin' loud. So loud. When I hear that game turn on, tears fill my eyes and I need to resist the urge to smash the game with the Don't Break the Ice hammers. Stop quacking, you little fuckers.

Stay tuned for Strategies for Playing Games with Toddlers.