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But lately, not only has he been pointing at everything and repeating the names for them, he’s been saying full sentences–I swear!
Of course I have no video evidence because the kid lives to prove me wrong, but the other day he was whining in his highchair while I was cleaning up from breakfast and I asked, “what’s wrong?” He replied with, “get me OUT!” Clear. As. Day.
The other day, he picked up a hat, walked it over and said, “Here’s your hat.” The adults in the room always look at each other like, “did we just hear that?” And then GB goes back to cooing and making indeterminate sounds.
In addition to sentences, he’s been saying some pretty complicated words for a 17-month-old. Last night while taking a bath, he pointed up and said, “shower.” He’s said “Holdy” before too.
Truthfully, things in the behavior/discipline department have improved since the last class. Whether it’s Holden responding better to my cues or me just ignoring her craziness, overall things are looking up. Now the issues seem to be how to handle two little toddlers at very different stages of their toddlerdom at the same time. But that would be a semester-long class all to itself.
This month’s workshop was called “Power Struggles,” a topic I’d say I’m somewhat familiar with. We started by talking about the struggles we’re all currently facing and I tried very hard not to dominate the conversation, as I have a ton of great material. We were asked to identify our physical triggers that we feel before we get into an argument with our kids (muscles tensing, gritting your teeth, breathing heavily, etc.) and then we talked about ways to stop ourselves from getting worked up: namely, Square Breathing.
Square Breathing: Take a deep breath in for 4 counts, hold it for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts and hold for 4 counts. Apparently the counting requires your concentration and requires you to focus on your breath, rather than the incorrigible little monster standing before you.
Not getting worked up is important: once again the moral of this class was Do. Not. Let. Them. Win.
For me, though, the best way to avoid getting worked up is to avoid the situation in the first place, so luckily, we talked about that too.
One of my biggest takeaways from this workshop was this: “No” is a complete sentence. Don’t allow them to talk back. Don’t continue the argument. This is something I struggle with.
I also noticed that I tend to phrase things as a question when I talk to Holden: “Are you going to come eat dinner?” “Why don’t we go to the potty?” “Can you stop hitting your brother with that wooden train track?” I guess I was trying to make her feel like she has a choice in the matter, but really I just open myself up for arguments and pain.
So really, in the end, we’re all just struggling to be The Boss.
But in order to be The Boss, you actually have to act more like that “Like A Boss” meme. Don’t let those little jerks cherubs ruffle your feathers. Keep cool and stand your ground.
Recently, I attended a workshop series called “Parenting the Preschooler,” which is offered by Family Child Resources and Family First Health, two great organizations in my city. It’s no secret that I’m having some challenges raising a spirited little girl, so I’ll take all the help I can get.
While nothing in the class was particularly mind-blowing or new information, our instructor was very informative and knowledgeable and I found it extremely helpful and refreshing to be surrounded by parents and caregivers who were experiencing my same frustrations.
Our instructor led us like she was prepping us for battle. There was a lot of talk of not giving in, not letting them see you cry and not letting them break you. It’s us vs. the toddler… and let’s be real: a lot of times it feels that way.
The big takeaway for me was the importance of completely ignoring irrelevant behavior, as in ignoring your kid when they’re acting like a brat.
Our instructor emphasized the point of not giving in to the whining and the tantrum. If you break after an hour, your kid knows that they just have to whine for an hour next time and then they’ve got you.
She warned us that the behavior will most likely get worse before it gets better. Again, don’t give in. And then, when the behavior finally stops, immediately praise your kid for working through their tantrum. This will teach them that tantrums don’t get your attention and encourage them to try a different approach to communicating.
I had an opportunity to test out this approach immediately on the car ride home with Holden. And… it worked. It took 25 minutes, but she stopped. I’ve probably used this technique at least once every other day since taking this class, and it really does get easier and the tantrums are shorter and less severe. Sometimes it’s easier said than done to completely zone out and ignore your kid who’s going full Exorcist in front of you, but I’ve really been happy with the result.
We also talked about effective Time Outs, which should be reserved for serious rule breaking like hitting, throwing things or breaking a family value you’ve deemed important.
Another mother in the class mentioned that she had trouble getting her daughter to stay in Time Out, a problem I have been experiencing with Holden. Her solution was, rather than make her daughter sit facing the wall, she let her daughter sit with her back against the wall during Time Outs. That way her curious, busy little girl could still see what was going on around her.
The clock slowly (soothingly) flashes yellow during Time Out, then flashes faster red during the last minute and beeps when time is up. If you set the timer for more than 10 minutes, it flashes green. At this point, the recommended Time Out length is one minute for every year of age, so three for Holden.
I think the flashing yellow light mesmerizes her, which helps to calm her down. The red light is an indicator that she’s almost finished with her punishment. So far, this timer has been an amazing tool in my discipline arsenal. As a bonus, she’s much more calm when she comes out of Time Out than in the past.
Ain’t no shame in my game: I’m super glad that I went to this workshop and am already planning to attend next month’s workshop: “The Power Struggle.” Sound familiar?
That (cheap) process worked super easily for me, so I replicated the formula when it came to the thank you’s this time around.
I had to adjust the poem a bit to be appropriate for a third birthday party, but I thought the results were pretty cute:
The literary masterpiece went like this:
Thank you from Holdy!
The party is over; I’m officially three!
Thank you for sharing my birthday with me.
Pancakes are my favorite; I hope you liked them too. My birthday was so fun, because I spent it with you.
Thank you for my gifts, my wishes and more. See you next year, when I turn four!
The “pancakes” line could easily be swapped out with “cake” (or whatever random food item your child exclusively eats and you choose to plan a party theme around). And yes, I realize the “and more” was a stretch, but I was experiencing some writer’s block on other words to rhyme with “four.”
I did let Holdy “customize” the envelopes for a more personal touch.
Oh, and here’s the original poem from the first birthday, if you want to cheat like I did:
The party is over. I’m officially ONE! Thank you for coming; I hope you had fun! Sending big kisses, from me to you. See you next year, when I turn TWO!
While it’s probably the most stressful minute of my year to try to capture that shot, I’m going to try to do it every birthday. (And yes, I realize that the date format is in European style in that shot. Oh well.)
Here are previous years’ clock photos:
Her first birthday clock photo didn’t go so hot.
Getting GB’s clock photo will prove a bit more difficult, as he was born at 2:31pm (despite his birth certificate saying 2:41pm–trust me, I remember. Oh, I remember.)
Sorry, I’m going to have to embarrass you at school every year, Buddy! All in the name of tradition.
So for her third birthday this year, I decided to go with what we know and have a breakfast pancake party… a Princess Pancake Party.
We took over the mezzanine level of our Central Market House downtown. The Market is closed on Sundays, but Mezzogiorno at the Market is open and happens to make bangin’ pancakes.
I decorated the mezzanine with Dollar Tree finds, in pink of course. And yes, those are frappuccino bottles doubling as vases. I saved a case of them after seeing a cute Pin for a milk and cookies party theme. No, I never had a milk and cookies party. Yes, this is the first time I’m using them in two years.
I gave the kids a table of their own and filled it with activities to (hopefully) keep them entertained while waiting for pancakes.
Coloring books, crayons and glitter pens to decorate their individual princess hats (again, all Dollar Tree).
Breakfast snacks consisted of a breakfast pastry platter, fruit tray, coffee, mini bottles of chocolate milk and orange juice… and mimosa fixings for the grownups (especially for me).
The birthday girl was so excited to see all her family and friends gathered to celebrate her.
It was a perfect #whatholdywore opportunity to capture her party ensemble.
Holdy and her friends had fun coloring and decorating their hats.
And the moment we were all waiting for: Birthday Pancakes!
After we all ate pancakes and Holden opened her gifts, the party was over, lasting about an hour and a half in total–my kind of kids’ party!
Oh, and I’ve been trying to find theme-appropriate t-shirts for myself to wear to each party. I found this tee at 5 Below (flower crown is my own!):
I’m thinking this may be our last birthday party for a bit. Although this party was relatively easy to pull off, I’d like to focus on fun activities/experiences, rather than a party, for the next few birthdays. Remind me I said this next year!
Holden, Holden, Holden. Where do I begin? In this past year you have blossomed into quite the spirited, creative, silly, fiercely independent little girl. No two days are ever the same with you and absolutely no days are boring.
You started attending daycare (“school”) three days a week this year because we thought a little structure and socialization would be good for you (and for our sanity).
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You enjoy school and have made some good friends, like Rylee, Daphne and Liam. You’ve learned your ABC’s and count 1-2-6-7-8-9-10-11-12 (we’ll work on that). You like to do art and take part in creative play. Lately, however, you have been getting notes about having trouble following rules, having meltdowns and hitting your friends. I’ll be honest: your behavior has become a bit of a struggle for us recently, but we’re working through it. Most issues arise because you are THE most stubborn and independent person I know. You want to do everything yourself. I’ve seen you throw a 30-minute tantrum because I flushed the poop down the toilet before you could. That tantrum actually ended up with you in Urgent Care, in a story I will share over and over again in your teenage years to embarrass you.
We try to work your independence to our advantage, and enlist your help around the house. You’ve been picking out all your own clothes this year, which has led to the Instagram hashtag #whatholdywore, because oh boy, there have been some doozies worth sharing.
Your latest trend has been wearing pants over shorts. I can’t wait to use these photos for future embarrassment opportunities. I’m willing to admit I’ve resorted to reverse psychology to get you to do what I want sometimes:
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Child, you do not eat. For the longest time, all you would eat was pancakes. And sometimes sushi. It has gotten to the point that your birthday party is actually a pancake party because that is your lone dietary staple.
You have a very active imagination and you’ve really started to embrace creative play as of late. Most of your scenarios involve a dinosaur or someone needing help and calling for their mommy (which makes me feel good). You also like to play “Miss Amanda” (your former daycare teacher) and boss your stuffed animals around.
One time I heard you/ “Miss Amanda” say, “Fine, if you’re not going to listen to me, I’m just going to leave.” I figured, if I were teaching toddlers, I’d probably say the same thing. Speaking of the darndest things you say, other sayings that have cracked me up:
“I can’t BELIEVE this right now.” (complete with hands on head)
“What’s that face about?”
“Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” (your standard goodbye greeting, regardless of time of day)
You also always follow up telling me you love me with, “but I might get mad at you sometimes.” (Thanks, kid). You like to make up your own song lyrics:
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But you are also a sweetheart. You are a very protective and attentive big sister to GB. You stuff his Nuk in his mouth when he’s upset (when you aren’t sneaking a suck or two on it yourself), and you literally smother him with hugs. And you always offer him an inferior toy before you just snatch one away from him. He follows you everywhere and you’re remarkably tolerant of it (except for when you’re in the bathroom).
You always ask for “a kiss and a hug” when someone leaves. You give out a ton of compliments: “I like your hair.” “I like your toenails.” You ask me to “hold you” when I tuck you in at night. You tell me I’m your best friend (I’ve also heard you say that to your Duke and to GB, but I’ll let that slide).
You like to read books, sometimes making up your own stories to go with the pictures. Sometimes you “read” to me, and by “read to me,” I mean you point at the picture and say, “Tell me what’s this. Now tell me what’s this.”
You like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Doc McStuffins, Yo Gabba Gabba and Daniel Tiger.
You started gymnastics this year at Skyline. You expertly perform headstands and forward rolls and sit like a butterfly.
I reread last year’s letter to see what changes we’ve made since your last birthday. Back then I acknowledged that you had entered your Terrible Two’s early, that you were an overly aggressive hugger with an impressive vocabulary, who loved her dog and her brother. It’s funny to see how your personality has been solidified from such a young age.
I’m happy to share that you’re developing into a very special, smart, creative, funny, unique sweet little girl. I’ve heard you described as “someone who lives life out loud,” and I think that’s pretty accurate.
“I might get mad at you sometimes,” but that’s just because I’m still trying to figure out how to raise such an independent little woman.
You’re three going on 13, the toughest challenge I’ve ever faced… and the most rewarding. I love you very much, Punk. Happy Third Birthday.
With my cousin’s wedding coming up in just a few weeks, I wanted to share some adorable photos of her rustic bridal shower. Her super creative bridesmaids decorated perfectly to accentuate her wedding theme.
A gorgeous centerpiece, complete with tree stump base and Mason jar vase.
A beautiful tree stump cupcake stand.
The bride and groom love hosting Game Nights so all guests signed Jenga Blocks with messages for the couple.
Both the wedding and shower invites used the Mason Jar theme.
The shower invite also let guests know that home renovation gifts would be appreciated as the newlyweds work on their new home.
I hopped aboard the Mason Jar theme with my gift, filling a jar with a Home Depot gift card and some pink mini tools for the bride.
Can’t wait to see all the fun rustic details at the wedding!
We took a trip to the Hands-on House Children’s Museum in Lancaster, PA recently. I had taken Holden to the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia when she was about 18 months old and we had a lot of fun, so I was psyched to find a kids’ play museum so close to home.
I was told in advance that there would be age-appropriate activities that could scale for a one-year-old and an almost-three-year-old, so we gave it a shot.
The Hands-on House boasts several indoor interactive exhibits. First is “My Backyard,” which resembles a woodland wonderland.
The Fun Farm.
The Corner Grocery Store.
Mostly Make-Believe, the dress-up section, complete with pirate ship!
Marty’s Machine Shop, filled with all sorts of whozeewhats and thingamajigs.
And the fantastic Play Garden.
It’s easy to see how Hands-on House is great for all age levels, even little crawlers like GB. We were able to find activities to entertain both of them in each exhibit. He was a bit skeptical at first:
But soon he was climbing and exploring away in My Backyard.
We had a ton of fun over in The Farm area. Holden especially loved picking corn.
So cool — the ears were velcroed to the wall!
She kept stealing corn from the grocer’s basket to feed to the pig.
We were cracking up at the egg-laying chicken activity, no pun intended. Every now and then an egg would come shooting out, surprising both of us.
Both kids hopped up in the driver’s seat of the tractor. Getting them to take turns was no small miracle.
We stopped in between The Farm and The Grocery Store to deliver some mail and blast some germs.
Here’s a great example of the scaled activities. Each exhibit has a mailbox located outside so you could actually read the address and deliver mail all throughout Hands-on House. Or, you can just move packages from the incoming bin to the outgoing bin like my kids did.
Over in the Grocery Store, Holden went shopping for shellfish and produce.
GB opted for the canned food aisle.
Holden played at the check-out counter:
while GB opted to shoplift.
Leggo my Eggo, indeed.
Holden’s favorite exhibit was, of course, the Make-Believe Room.
My little narcissists loved the stage and the mirrors.
We then headed over to the Machine Shop, making Holden clock in before we started.
There were lots of fun things to do with widgets and obstacles, kind of like a large-scale game of “Mouse Trap.” I think my kiddos were a bit too young to fully enjoy this section, though GB did get to slobber up a wiffle ball or two.
From the Machine Shop, we headed outside to the Play Garden, which is a) beautiful and b) chock full of age-appropriate climbing structures.
GB enjoyed eating mulch, as per usual.
There was a super fun sandbox. I was interested to see how GB would respond, having not been in sand since last year’s beach trip.
Luckily, he loved it.
My favorite part was when Holden came whipping down the slide so fast, she missed her feet.
I know, I know: that’s terrible, but I laughed so hard.
Overall, we had a great experience at the Hands-on House. The nature of the exhibits make it a great place to visit again and again… and it’s priced affordably enough to do so!
Daily admission is $9.50 for adults and $9.50 for children over age 2. An annual family membership for just $99/year gets you free admission, discounted guest passes, member mornings and reduced birthday party rates.
Memorial Day through Labor Day
M, T, W, Th: 10am-5pm