Entries Tagged as 'creative parenting'

calling in the professionals


Tips for Parenting a Preschooler @ohbotherblog

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.

Parenting a toddler: ignoring irrelevant behavior @ohbotherblog

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.

Tips for effective Time Outs with a toddler @ohbotherblog

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.

Immediately after the workshop, I also Amazoned (yes, I shop on Amazon so much I use it in verb form) a new Time Out timer: the Amco Digital Color Alert Kitchen Timer/Clock.

Amco Digital Alert Color Time Out Timer @ohbotherblog

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?

Parenting a toddler @ohbotherblog


birthday clock photo, year 3


In keeping with my (stolen) tradition, I snapped Holdy’s birthday clock photo at 7:23pm on her birthday.

Take a photo of your child every year at their birth time on their birthday! @ohbotherblog

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:

2nd birthday clock photo @ohbotherbotherblog

Her first birthday clock photo didn’t go so hot.

Birthday tradition: clock photo showing birth time @ohbotherblog Birthday Tradition: First Clock Photo at Birth Time @ohbotherblog

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.)

GB's first birthday clock photo @ohbotherblog GB's first birthday clock photo @ohbotherblog GB's first birthday clock photo @ohbotherblog

Sorry, I’m going to have to embarrass you at school every year, Buddy! All in the name of tradition.

still not letting it go: we went to a “Frozen” tea party


In my never-ending quest to assuage my working mom guilt and spend some fun time with Holden, I bought us tickets to attend a “Frozen”-themed tea party by a local company called The Enchanted Teapot. If you’ll recall from our “Frozen” On Ice almost-misadventure, my attempts don’t always go according to plan.  Remember this?

Holden's first trip to Disney on Ice @ohbotherblog

This time, however, not only did Holden actually wear the Anna dress, she let me do her hair in braided pigtails AND she wore a flower wreath on her head.

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

(Notice that sweet cowlick? A straight part is never going to be in this girl’s future.)

She did have a brief freak-out once the dress was on, but I soon realized it was because she also wanted to wear her “bug” wings.

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

(We had just gotten through a weekend of watching “Peter Pan Live” on repeat so she had a slight Tinkerbell obsession.)

Oh, and I went ahead and got dressed up too.


A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

Why, yes, that is a fake-braid headband. I’m straight up bald in the front from having GB so my braid situation was not working out.

The dress is one I actually owned from a funny fancy-dress party in grad school. It’s literally 12 sizes too big and I had to pin myself into it.

I think we looked pretty cute, though–ridiculous dress and all.

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

The tea party was adorable, with precious little “Frozen”-themed treats.

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

Holden was very well behaved (at the start), and was so excited.

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

She colored “Frozen” pictures.

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

She met Anna.

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

And Elsa. She was so starstruck.

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

They sang songs.

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

Holden, of course, had to steal the show. She even threw in a few forward rolls and twirls for good measure.

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

They read stories.

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

Notice Holden butted her way right on up to the front. At one point she even stood up, blocking the other kids’ view. Luckily, the rest of them were older and gracious to her being young and self-centered. There’s no real (quiet) way to push through a crowd to get your loud, stubborn two-year-old to sit down in this situation. I tried.

She even helped herself to Elsa’s throne.

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

She really was good for 95% of the event. She did have a meltdown toward the end when we had to wait in line for the official photo with the princesses. She may or may not have thrown herself on the floor and screamed, but I had already paid the $15 for the photos, so we were getting them, dammit. Her crocodile tears stopped as soon as she approached Anna and Elsa.

And then she hugged and tried to kiss them. They were both very sweet about turning their head for a cheek kiss, even though Holden was clearly going for the mouth.

Overall, we had a (surprisingly?) great time. Even if I was one of the only adults who dressed up.

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

I mean, look how happy she was:

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

I’ll make sure to show her these photos when she’s 15 and tells me she hates me on a regular basis.

"Frozen" Tea Party @ohbotherblog

escape artist: holdy’s crawling out of the crib


When your toddler escapes the crib @ohbotherblog

So it finally happened: Holden has crawled out of her crib. I opened the door to my bedroom this morning and there she was, standing in the hallway. There had been no thud; no crying. Just Holdy and her bedhead, ready to shake up the status quo I had been enjoying for so long.

I’ve been dreading this day since I first took notice of Holden’s athletic prowess as a 7-month-old. I was hoping we’d be able to skip this stage and I’d be able to just transition her to the toddler bed when we were both ready… but it looks like that’s not going to happen.

Here’s my dilemma: My plan was to keep Gatsby in a bassinet in my room for the first three months, which would bring us about to Holdy’s second birthday. At that point, I was going to transition Holdy across the hall to her big girl room and toddler bed (which has a twin-size mattress, but is low to the ground and has side rails). The room is already quasi-set up and Holdy likes to play in the room, but she hasn’t napped or slept there yet.

Today, after the escape, I wanted to see if Holdy would nap in her big girl room. She said she wanted to and seemed excited about it, but when the time actually came, she wanted to go back to the nursery for her nap.

So what do I do?

I did put a baby gate up at her nursery door now so she can’t just go traipsing about the house. The nursery is baby-proofed and I have a video monitor in there.

Should I move the toddler bed over to the nursery for a few months to make the transition one step at a time? Go for it all at once? This may be a good time to remind you that I have a 3-week-old and am already not getting much sleep myself, haha. Don’t even get me started on the fact that she’s ready to potty train and I’m not…

Argh, toddlers, amirite?

snow daze


Here in Central PA, we’ve had three snowstorms in one week, which has meant essentially three snowed-in days for me and Holden… which has meant: pajamas-all-day-long, Toy Story on repeat in the background, cookie baking, flash-card-272-pickup, inappropriate pop videos on YouTube, the same books over and over, torturing the dog, climbing up and down the stairs, snow boot fashion shows, learning to color with crayons, frequent “it’s only 4:30?!” moments, etc. While I’ve been enjoying the time with her, I find myself really relishing nap time and a newly refreshed respect for stay at home moms. This is tough stuff!

Here’s a look at some of our cabin fever days.

Holden's First Sled Ride @ohbotherblog

Touching the Elf on the Shelf @ohbotherblog

(yup, she touched him).


Watching Toy Story... again @ohbotherblog

(yup, it’s Toy Story… again).

Flash cards are serious business @ohbotherblog

Doctor Sally @ohbotherblog

happy birthday, sal


Happy Birthday, Sally @ohbotherblog

Today is Sally’s 8th birthday. In honor of Sal’s special day, I wanted to recreate this amazing birthday photo we took last year:

Photo Fail: Dog's birthday party @ohbotherblog

I’ll give you two guesses how it turned out… So instead of one fantastic photo, here are nine terrible ones:

Photo fail: Dog's birthday party @ohbotherblog

In show business, they say never work with children or animals. When will I learn?

beginning to learn (holy crap!)


Holden has gotten really into reading lately. And by “reading,” I mean bringing me a book, sitting on my lap and humoring me for two pages as I read and ask her to point things out to me. “Holden, where’s the dog?” “Holden, where’s red?” 60% of the time she gets it right every time.

As she’s beginning to recognize things like body parts (though she usually just points to her ear) and some animals, I’m realizing that this kid is actually learning stuff. And, holy crap, I should probably start… teaching her things.

A friend of mine homeschools her young children and I asked her for some resources for preschool curricula. One she sent me is a free resource called Tot School.

Tot School - Early Learning Through Play @ohbotherblog

It’s described as “focused time with your tot, exposing early learning skills through fun play.” There’s an E-book and tons of blog posts, free printables and even a weekly gathering place where moms come together to share ideas and updates on how certain lessons worked, etc.

I have to admit, it seemed totally overwhelming when I first checked it out, but Carisa, the mom behind Tot School, posted this Minute-by-Minute walk through of what Tot School actually looks like in her house (including toddler meltdowns and TV breaks), which made me feel much better. Carisa also reminds you that this is supposed to be fun.

So… I think I might give it a try. The challenge, of course, is finding the time as a working mom whose partner is out of town during the week. I’m sure if I gave my parents some “lessons” to do with her during the day, they would.

What kind of things did you do to encourage early learning with your little one? Am I being a weirdo and trying this too soon?

a birthday tradition: the clock photo


One of my best friends has a birthday tradition with her mom of which I have always been envious. Every year on her birthday, she has a photo taken of herself, holding a clock, at the exact time she was born: 12:09 pm. She’s done this every year, without fail, for {mumble mumble} years.

Take a picture of your child every year on their birthday, holding a clock, at the time they were born. @ohbotherblog

I love this! Seriously, isn’t this the coolest idea? And even more impressive: her mom came up with this idea {mumble mumble} years ago, before Pinterest was even a thing.

Granted, this would be infinitely more difficult to do if your kid is born in the middle of the night. Kelly’s mom would come to her at school, and now at work, to take the picture each year. Kelly’s brother, on the other hand, was born on a summer morning and couldn’t keep up with the tradition past the sleeping-in-to-11-am-teenage years.

Holden was born at 7:23 pm so we’re good. And we’ll totally be doing this next Friday on her first birthday (ack!). I can’t wait to make this our birthday tradition.

messages for baby


We’re just over a week until Holden’s first birthday and I’m in full-on nostalgia mode. Lately I’ve been thinking about where I was this time last year, preparing for our new arrival.

One of the things I’m so glad we did to prepare was to have our friends and family write messages for the baby before she arrived. This became a shower activity, with everyone penning their note and having their photo taken with it:

Have baby shower attendees write messages for the baby before he/she arrives @ohbotherblog

I took all of the photos and put them into a Shutterfly book to give to Holden when she’s older, but I have fun going back to check the messages every now and then. I also put some of the pictures in a super cute video that I’ll share in a bit.

Here are the grandparents’ messages:

Grandparents write messages to the baby before he/she arrives @ohbotherblog

Isn’t my dad hilarious? Ha. ha.

We closed the book (and video) with our message to our little one:

Parents write a message to the baby before he/she is born @ohbotherblog

what’s in the baby book?


Holden’s first birthday is two weeks away (tomorrow!), so it’s been my goal to get her baby book into shape. At this point, it’s become more of a baby box, with her baby book inside it.

Baby Keepsake Box @ohbotherblog

I ordered a Carter’s Keepsake Chest from Amazon. It has a top compartment that fits her (pretty thick) baby book, with two drawers below for various ephemera. So what do we have in this bad boy? In addition to the standard height/weight/visitors/price of a gallon of milk/first tooth/first words/etc. information, here are some extras that are in our baby book:

Tape envelopes, flap-out, in your baby book to store extra photos, sonograms, etc. @ohbotherblog

I had tons of photos and various sonograms that I wanted to include, so I taped envelopes in the book, flap-out, for more storage.

I love that pic of me-as-a-baby next to Holden. Our noses were pretty different, but I got so sick of everyone immediately saying she looked like my husband!

Include the front page of the newspaper from the day your baby was born in the baby book @ohbotherblog

I included the front page of our local newspaper from the day she was born (folded up in another taped-in envelope)

Pressed flower in baby book @ohbotherblog

My mom had a tiny pink rose waiting for Holden when we got home from the hospital. I pressed it and included it in the book.

In the drawers of the baby box, I included various mementos:

Keepsakes in the baby box @ohbotherblog

Cards, photos, the “First Trip” button from our trip to Disney World, the card that came with the flowers her dad sent her for Valentine’s Day, etc.

My favorite memento in the baby box?

Print out the Facebook announcement for the baby book to remember all the well-wishes (and as a reminder of the times) @ohbotherblog

I printed out the announcement I made on Facebook after Holden was born. I think it’s a cool way to capture all the well-wishes, and can serve as a reminder of our times for the future. I’m assuming one day I’ll have to answer when Holden asks, “What was Facebook?”

Did you get your baby’s book finished? Did you include anything fun that I’m missing?

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