Entries Tagged as 'raise ’em right'

a letter to my daughter on her fifth birthday

07.06.17

A letter to my daughter on her fifth birthday @ohbotherblog

Holdy, oh Holdy. You are five years old today. The most stylish, silliest, songful five year old I know. “Precocious” doesn’t even come close to describing you.

You are graduating from Pre-K this week. This year has been such a fundamental year for your growth and development and you’re really thriving at school.

 

Graduation photo day. This kid will be a pre-k graduate in a month! #whatholdywore

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Your teachers at York Day Nursery are Miss Sarah, Miss Kristy, Miss Evelyn and Mr. Cody. You love your friends and there’s not a day we walk into you classroom that at least one kid doesn’t yell your name and come running for a hug. We rocked the “100 Book Challenge” this year, reading more than 400 books. 

You’ll be starting Kindergarten at York Academy in the fall, after spending your summer at the YMCA’s Camp Spirit. You were so excited to get accepted into York Academy that you wore a uniform to Pre-K the rest of the week after the lottery.

 

#whatholdywore Someone wanted to get a jumpstart on wearing a uniform next year to @yorkacademycharter

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I’m hoping that excitement continues into the fall and that the uniform doesn’t cramp your unique sense of personal style too much.

 

My daughter has become an Olsen Twin. #whatholdywore

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Kid, you’re pretty much a style icon. Your outfits of the day are always outrageous but you rock them with pride. I even bought the URL www.whatholdywore.com to go with your #whatholdywore hashtag. As soon as you’re old enough to start using the internet, let’s figure out how to make you an Instagram star so I can retire.

You asked me the other day if I want you to be a “superstar” when you grow up. You may not realize it now, but you already are.

 

Our own backyard concert. #whatholdywore

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You’d rather sing than talk. I’m thinking some vocal lessons may be in your future.

You love to make art and your favorite thing to draw (and wear) is rainbows.

 

Invisible Strings #whatholdymade

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Rainbows everywhere.

 

#whatholdywore Super Rainbow and… Frankenstein? (Photo credit: Nanny)

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#whatholdywore

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You insist I paint your fingernails “a rainbow,” using a different color for each nail. We just started experimenting with fun hair colors.

 

Pinkhairdontcare #whatholdywore

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Hair dye, nail polish, kindergarten. You are growing up so fast.

This was a challenging year for us. Last summer, you were officially diagnosed as having ADHD and ODD and we’ve spent this year, along with your teachers, finding ways to support you as you learn and grow. We all love you and want to make sure you have all the tools possible to help you develop into the amazing human we know you’re going to be.

 

Drinking for a cause at the @dreamwrightstheatre fundraiser at @holyhoundtaproom #weefees

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This year we also had a new addition to our family: our 130-lb puppy, Brutus. Oh man, you guys are so cute together. As in most aspects of your life, you’re fearless around him and quickly showed him who’s boss.

 

#danesofinstagram

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When you’re sent home sick from school but you have a big-ass dog to lie on top of you. #danesofinstagram

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Your best friend continues to be your brother.

 

Valentines #whatholdywore #mrgatsby #ohbotherblog 🍯

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You guys share a bed at night because you “keep him safe.” You guys also fight like cats and dogs and drive me crazy on a nightly basis. But every morning, you hug him goodbye at school and blow him kisses through his classroom window. You’re sweet like that.

You asked for a “pink sparkly” desk for your birthday and of course I obliged.

Today you are responding to everyone who wishes you a Happy Birthday by saying, “and Happy Unbirthday to you.” You’re also giving everyone high 5’s because you’re five. Nanny is going to come to school and take you out to lunch today–will you choose McDonald’s or pancakes?

Tonight, we’re going to make bath fizzies at Sunrise Soap Company with your brother and cousins, followed by Rainbow PB&J’s and Rainbow Cake (which you and your brother “helped” make) at the Pretzel Shop.

You’re going to have an amazing summer, Buddy, and an amazing first year of Kindergarten. I’m so proud, thrilled and honored to watch you grow. Your joy is infectious and you’re so fun to be around, even when you’re making me nuts. Reach for the rainbows, Kid. We love you. Happy Birthday.

 

Princess Climbing Rock #whatholdywore

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the c-word and the invisible string

28.04.17

Someone we love very much was recently diagnosed with cancer. And as tough as it has been to grapple with the news and emotions myself, realizing that I had to tell the kids was some next-level worry. The five days between receiving the diagnosis and telling them was terrible; I felt like I was lying to them (and not just the normal lying like, “you ate all the candy already” or “I don’t know what happened to those leggings with the permanently brown knees.”)

I googled “how to talk to kids about cancer” and found some helpful sites, like this one from cancercare.org. There are tips like:

  • Prepare what you want to say.
  • Set the tone. 
  • Consider your child’s age.
  • Ask professionals for guidance.

But none of them gave me the actual words to say. How do you tell a 3-year-old and almost-5-year-old that someone they love so much has a very scary disease that could possibly kill them?

I did some Amazon research and found some well-reviewed books to add to my arsenal, which all proved to be pretty age-appropriate books to start the conversation about illness, grief, death and loved ones.

Books to help children understand death @ohbotherblog

I informed the Director of their Early Learning Center and their teachers, to help build a support team for the kids in advance. I informed Holdy’s therapist.

I called Olivia’s House, an absolutely wonderful grief and loss center in our city, and made an appointment to talk with a grief specialist. She armed me with a kit from PBS Kids called “When Families Grieve,” some wonderful coloring books about feelings, confirmation that I had selected the appropriate books, and most importantly, the confidence that I am doing the right thing, a reminder to take care of myself and her open door and phone line.

With the biggest pits in our stomachs, we prepped ourselves for a very serious conversation, not knowing what to expect. What we found was:

  • An interrupting poop break
  • A mid-hug fart
  • A question regarding The Incredible Hulk

The levity was brought almost immediately and the conversation became much easier. I reminded myself that these are 3 and 4-year-olds. I tried to be as open and honest as I could.

Because I couldn’t find any actual words in my search, here is some of what I said, in case it’s of help to anyone who finds themselves in this same terrible situation:

  • ____ is very sick, and it’s not sick like a cough or cold like you had. It’s a sickness called cancer.
  • They have bad stuff inside their body that stops their body from working like it should (prompting the Hulk question).
  • I don’t know if they’re going to die. I hope not. They have very smart doctors who are working to help them the best they can.
  • I am sad. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be mad. It’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling.
  • Cancer is not contagious. You can still touch them and hug them and kiss them and they’ll want you to do all those things.
  • If you have any questions, I am here to answer them.
  • I will be honest with you and tell you the truth the best I can.
  • Your teachers know and they will also be here to support you.

After telling them, I took the kids to visit our loved one, so that they could see that they’re still here with us, that they can still hug and kiss them, and that it’s okay to ask them questions, even questions about their death. The grief counselor from Olivia’s House told us it’s okay to have these conversations, and that it’s actually freeing for our sick loved one to be able to talk about it. What can be more freeing than a 4-year-old asking you if you’re going to die?

Later, we read The Invisible String, which really resonated with Holdy. It teaches kids that we all have invisible strings coming from our hearts that connect us with our loved ones. And nothing: not time, distance, anger, or death can break that string.

Holdy took to the book so much that when she had to work on a school art project later that night, she wanted to represent the Invisible Strings.

The Invisible String, an interpretation by Holdy @ohbotherblog

She drew the strings between the dinosaurs’ hearts and also to the dead dinosaur up in the sky. I sent the book along to school with her the next day to provide a frame of reference for her teachers.

The next morning, Holdy asked if she could take her string to school with her. She wanted to wear a shirt that she thought looked like strings coming from her heart. 

She presented her art project to her teachers and friends and she told them all about the Invisible Strings.

The kids continue to have questions and will continue to have questions. I continue and will continue to answer them as openly and honestly as I possibly can. I still can’t tell them if our loved one is going to die.

We don’t know what the coming days, weeks and months are going to bring. But we do know that we’re stronger together. And that we’ll always have our strings.

*May 19, 2017 Update: It’s been a whirlwind few weeks with some exploratory surgeries and tests and meetings with doctors at both WellSpan and at Johns Hopkins, but overall we’re feeling much more positive now than when I first wrote this post. It seems that the cancer is definitely treatable and the Cancer Team feels comfortable they can “get it all” with some aggressive treatment. So we have a rough summer ahead, but we all have a lot of great support and we’re hoping to hear the words “Cancer Free” come fall.

 

potty-training GB

19.03.17

It was time.

 

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Time to pottytrain GB. The kid will be three next week. We had waited long enough.

One of the most frequent questions you hear when it comes to potty training (besides, “why the hell isn’t there a magical way to just make this happen?”) is, “how do you know when they’re ready?”

In our case, I’ve been making GB change his own Pull-Up after he’s peed himself for about a month. So, yeah, if the kid is changing their own diaper, it’s probably time for potty training.

 

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With Holdy, I did the Potty Training Bootcamp Weekend method, as made popular by The Moes Family and Growing a Jeweled Rose.

Because the kids are with their Dad every weekend, this was going to take some planning, but as it turns out, the kids were going to be with me this weekend so we decided to go for it.

Here’s how it works, in a nutshell:

  • Give the kid a lot to drink.
  • Set a timer for every 15-20 minutes.
  • Take ’em to the potty.
  • Reward them when they go (Avengers stickers here).

I like to have the kids wear just underpants so that they can experience the feeling of wet pants… and hopefully want to avoid it.

Absolutely clutch this time around was that both Philip and my parents helped by keeping Holden out of the house all day (and overnight) so I could focus on GB.

 

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GB and I currently have a love-hate relationship (as I’ll share in my upcoming birthday letter to him), so I wasn’t sure how this weekend would go. In all honesty, it’s been great. We’ve been getting along–with the exception of one fight yesterday at naptime–he hasn’t been resisting the potty and he only had three accidents on Saturday morning… and none thereafter (yet).

He was even dry during his nap, during which he refused to wear a Pull-Up. He also refused to sleep on top of a bedwetting mat thingy… until I agreed to draw Spider-Man on it. For the record, he did wear a Pull-Up to bed but he was also dry overnight.

Potty-training GB @ohbotherblog

One of my biggest questions about potty training is how they magically switch from being taken to the potty every 20 minutes to knowing when they have to go themselves, but somehow it just happens. 

Today he was preparing to take a walk with Philip and Brutus and I said he had to go potty first. He said, “I already did mom! Just now! By myself!” And he had. No idea how that happens.

potty-training gb @ohbotherblog

Of course, he hasn’t pooped at all yet. Like at all, at all. We’ll see how that goes.

making emergency kits for refugees

11.02.17

Assembling Emergency School Kits for Refugees @ohbotherblog

Since January 20, 2017, I have personally been trying to make small, positive efforts when I feel appalled about current events.

On January 27, I started a monthly gift to Planned Parenthood because I believe we all should have access to comprehensive and affordable healthcare. On January 29, I started a monthly gift to the ACLU because I believe that the rights and liberties of all people matter. This week, I purchased some Spanish-language early-learner novels to donate to our local public school district in response to the appointment of the current Secretary of Education. 

I’ve also been working on a project with some friends since the January 28 announcement of a certain “travel ban.” Feeling helpless, I googled ways that I could help refugees in my own small way and I found IOCC, International Orthodox Christian Charities.

IOCC offers emergency relief and development programs to those in need worldwide, without discrimination. An average of 92 cents on every dollar donated goes directly to assisting the people IOCC serves, in areas like Syria, Lebanon, Jerusalem, Haiti, the United States and more.

One of IOCC’s initiatives is the Donation of Emergency Kits. Emergency kits are small packages of essential supplies assembled in the United States and shipped to people in need around the world.

Types of Kits

  1. Health / Hygiene Kits – Curb the spread of disease by donating basic hygiene items.
  2. School Kits – Give a child the tools needed to succeed at school.
  3. Clean-up Buckets – Help people clean up after a natural disaster.

I bought enough materials to make 12 School Kits for about $100, including the canvas bags. I wanted to make it an activity I could do with my kids, so I showed Holdy this video before we got started to help frame the conversation:

Assembling and Sending Emergency Kits:

  1. Choose which type of kit (or kits) you wish to assemble and only include items specified on each list.
  2. Download the IOCC Emergency Kits Return Shipping Label to fill out an include one on the outside of each box.
  3. You can plan on $2-$3 per kit to cover the cost of shipping to the warehouse. Mail all kits to one of the below addresses.
USPS Shipments FedEx or UPS Shipments
IOCC/Church World Service
Brethren Service Center Annex
601 Main Street
PO Box 188
New Windsor, MD 21776
IOCC/Church World Service
Brethren Service Center Annex
601 Main Street
New Windsor, MD 21776

With the help of my friends, Kevan, Emily, Sara, Andy, Sarah and Jennifer, I delivered 32 School Kits and 14 Hygiene Kits to IOCC this morning.

I’ll continue to take action when and how I can. If you find yourself feeling angry and helpless, I encourage you to do the same.

growing up holdy

07.10.16

I’ve debated writing a post like this for a long time. I’m not sure if I was embarrassed, or if I didn’t want to overshare something my daughter might be upset about later, or if I just didn’t want to get into it. So I didn’t write it.

But as the months have gone by and I’ve talked about it more, and people have come to me with questions and help for their own kids, I’ve decided it’s time for this post. Because it is nothing to be ashamed about, because I think Holdy would always choose to help others, and because I kind of just need to get it out now.

Most of you know Holdy from my posts, from her funny faces in my Instagram photos and her fashionista hashtag, #whatholdywore. You know that she is fun and vivacious and silly and creative and strong and brave. She lives life out loud.

 

Someone’s starting Pre-K at York Day Nursery today! #weefees #ohbotherblog

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But last winter, I started to realize that the size of Holdy’s emotions and reactions to negative situations seemed to be more extreme than other kids. She was frequently and easily frustrated. She would throw a tantrum on a dime: huge, Exorcist-style tantrums that could last for 45 minutes. I noticed that, as a tantrum was starting, she would rub her feet together–almost as if the emotion was fighting to get out of her. One time at school, she had kicked her shoes off during a tantrum and rubbed her feet together so vigorously that she blistered and bled. The physical aspect of her emotional reactions really scared me.

Parenting a toddler @ohbotherblog

There was also the defiance, which was off the charts–even for a threenager. Extreme excitability and impulsivity. Bedtime was a nightmare. We were getting some negative reports from school–reports that Holdy was bullying other kids, specifically picking out the meeker kids that she felt she could control.

I felt like I was always walking on eggshells, not sure which Holdy I was going to get. Everything came down to picking my battles–was this “lesson” worth the 45 minutes of horror that would ensue? I hate to say this, but I dreaded picking her up from school. I could feel my blood pressure rise every time I pulled into the parking lot. I felt like a failure.

People tried to reassure me, “she’s just three;” “all preschoolers are like that.” But I knew there was something more. So I made an appointment with her pediatrician and I started scheduling sit-downs with her teachers. And together we worked out a plan.

Holdy and I started attending family counseling in March. These sessions mainly consist of me airing my grievances while Holdy plays with the counselor’s toys. We work on behavior goals and tactics for me to try positive parenting and keep Holdy on track. Honestly, it’s more like parental counseling for me and I’m fine with that. I also took a Positive Parenting Workshop in the spring offered by Holden’s school.

growing up holdy @ohbotherblog

In July, I took Holdy to see Dr. Susan Mayes, a pediatric psychologist at Penn State Hershey, for an evaluation. In advance of her appointment, I, her dad, our counselor and her teachers filled out extensive questionnaires about Holdy’s behaviors. The appointment consisted of 45 minutes of alone time with Holdy and the doctor, while Holden played games that were actually various tests. Afterward, they brought me in for the recap and diagnosis.

And so I got the official word on what I had pretty much known all along: Holdy has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder combined type (ADHD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), often associated with ADHD.

I was a bit taken aback to learn that Holden was also diagnosed with dysgraphia, which is a difficulty with handwriting and letter recognition. According to the tests she took, Holdy’s IQ is in the “gifted” range and she did very well with puzzles, reasoning and vocabulary… but her performance on writing skills and letter recognition were very low, which led to the diagnosis.

I had just assumed she had terrible handwriting because she was four, but once I learned about the disorder, things came together. Holden doesn’t write her name in a straight line–sometimes she writes it like a box. Some of her letters are written backwards. Dysgraphia is a graphomoter disorder that will require a lot of remediation and accommodations.

So there it was. Out in the open and down on paper. Verified.

image

I felt… relieved. Relieved that this wasn’t all in my head. Relieved that I wasn’t just a terrible parent who doesn’t know how to control my kid. Relieved that there was help on the way.

But I also felt sad. Sad knowing that this is something Holden can’t control and doesn’t understand. Sad that this is something she will struggle with her whole life. Sad to learn that kids with ADHD and ODD frequently deal with frustration, low morale, and poor self esteem because they’re constantly being scolded.

So again, we worked out a plan. We’ve started wraparound services and Holden has a therapist who works with her at school a few hours a week, helping to redirect her when she sees Holden being triggered. Soon we will also have a therapist come to our home a couple of hours a week in the evening.

The teachers and leadership at Holdy’s school, York Day Nursery, have been amazing through this entire process. They truly care about Holdy and want to help her succeed. We’ve been working together to make accommodations for Holdy during her school day, including:

  • a behavior plan and reward system to promote attention and compliance,
  • cues, redirection, repetition, and rehearsal,
  • frequent and specific feedback,
  • limited distractors,
  • breaking tasks into small, manageable segments,
  • preferential seating near the teacher and between peers who are attentive,
  • subtle signal system between Holden and her teacher to be used when Holden is off task,
  • hands-on activities that allow for active involvement,
  • computer learning activities (because children with ADHD are generally attentive to and successful with
  • computer educational programs),
  • frequent communication between parents and teachers.

When Holden starts kindergarten, she’ll require an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, to help her be a successful student. If we decided to try medication, we’ll be able to do that once she turns five.

#whatholdywore @ohbotherblog

For my part, I’ve been trying very hard to work on my patience, to try to praise the good more than I’m pointing out the bad, to keep her on task, to not put her in situations where she’s set up to fail. It’s not always easy. 

Last week, as we were hurriedly driving away from a family dinner out that ended early (and badly), Holdy was writhing in her carseat, trying very hard to use her coping skills and deep breathing to ward off a tantrum. She told us, “I want to be good, but it’s so hard.”

So, we’re figuring it out. No day is the same. I often regret the way I react or handle our interactions. I still often feel like I’m failing her. 

Sometimes when I’m feeling bad about the situation, I return to Dr. Mayes’ assessment, which included the line:

Holden enjoys a warm and affectionate relationship with her mother (who accompanied her to today’s appointment) and was happy to be re-united with her after testing. Holden’s mother interacts with Holden in a very loving and therapeutic manner and uses excellent behavioral strategies and accommodations.

 

Me and my +1. @susquehannastyle #BestofYork

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I also remind myself of the assessment summary:

SUMMARY: Holden is a very likable 4-year- old with superior verbal and nonverbal intelligence who has ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, and dysgraphia (difficulty with handwriting).

She’s going to have some challenges in her life, but it’s my job to help her get through them so that she can let her goofball self shine.

 

Born to be wild #weefees #yorkfair

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the mean jar

10.10.15

the "mean" jar for toddler behavior redirection @ohbotherblog

I’m probably jinxing myself terribly right now, but I just have to give a shout out to Holden’s much-improved behavior in the past few weeks.

I started to write a post this week about Holden’s improved behavior as of late, but–expectedly–as soon as I wrote it, her good behavior crapped the bed. Le sigh.

But yeah, up until Thursday night, Holden had been almost like a new kid–polite, helpful, sharing with her brother, eating her dinner, etc.

Part of the improvement could no doubt be attributed to the new preschool she started a month or so ago. I’ve also been a bit more diligent about explaining behavior expectations to her before we go to a new place or embark on a new activity.

But about two weeks ago, we also started using these behavior jars. These were a tip given to me by another parent in the “Raising a Toddler” workshops I took this summer. Basically you have two jars–one for “good” behavior and one for “bad” behavior–and you place beads/tokens/etc. in each jar accordingly as needed.

For me, I realized that I needed to do a better job of praising positive behavior, rather than always pointing the negative behavior, so these jars have provided an opportunity to do that. To be honest though, “a bead in the mean jar” is proving to be a pretty effective threat as well.

Living with a threenager continues to be a struggle, but it seems like we’re figuring it out bit by bit. Let’s call it “two steps forward, one step back.”

“power struggles”

28.07.15

This past week, I attended another great parenting workshop offered by Family Child Resources and Family First Health, two wonderful community-oriented organizations in my city. Last month, I took a class called “Parenting the Preschooler” and found it to be really helpful so I signed up again.

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: a tip for parents of toddlers @ohbotherblog

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.

The Toddler Power Struggle Cycle @ohbotherblog

Our teacher demonstrated for us two hands pushing against each other. When one side stops pushing, the other side “falls”/loses. This hearkens back to the lesson from the first class: keep your cool and ignore the bratty behavior. Don’t fight with them and they lose the power to push back.

Power struggles with your toddler @ohbotherblog

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.

Toddler Power Struggles: Turn Your Word into Gold @ohbotherblog

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.

Goals of Misbehavior: Power @ohbotherblog

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.

 Parenting Like a Boss @ohbotherblog

Easier said than done, right?

cheater thank you cards (again)

23.06.15

Birthday Pancakes for a picky toddler @ohbotherblog

If you’ll recall, Holdy’s third birthday party was a few weeks ago. She received a lot of generous gifts from family and friends, so it’s time to say, “thank you.” 

If you’ll also recall, I’m kind of lazy  overwhelmed by life busy and usually looking for the easiest way to pull things off.

After Holden’s first birthday, I said, “thank you” with what I call “cheater thank you cards.” I googled “birthday thank you poem” and then found a first birthday thank you poem in an old Babycenter forum that I tweaked. This is what I ended up with:

Easy (cheater) thank you cards for first birthday. Birthday Thank You Poem. @ohbotherblog

I cheated even more for the thank you’s for GB’s first birthday. I used my Pampers Rewards Points toward 25 free Shutterfly 4×8 photo cards, uploaded a photo from his birthday party and reused the same poem.

Easy cheater thank-you cards for a baby's first birthday @ohbotherblog

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:

Easy cheater thank-you cards for a kid's third birthday @ohbotherblog

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.

Let your toddler color and place stickers on a thank you card for a personal touch @ohbotherblog

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!

to my daughter on her third birthday

06.06.15

Holden,

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).

 

Big day for #weefees (and mom)! #ohbotherblog

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

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. bad behavior notes from daycare @ohbotherblog 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.

 

  #brute #weefees #terribletwos #onlyslightexaggeration   A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

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. I let my toddler dress herself. #whatholdywore @ohbotherblog

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:

 

#whatholdyate #reversepsychology #weefees #ohbotherblog

A video posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

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.

Pancake Birthday Party for a Picky Toddler @ohbotherblog

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.

 

Packed house and only one server at this #rwyork establishment. And she’s mean to boot. #weefees A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

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:

 

spettacolo serale da #weefees #latergram #ohbotherblog A video posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

 

I sure hope this kid isn’t banking on a career as a singer/songwriter. #weefees

A video posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

You’ve started making some amazingly silly faces, with this one being my favorite:

 

Farm Show Carousel #latergram #ohbotherblog A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

You usually bust that one out when you’re being scolded and it’s really hard for me not to laugh.

We’ve identified this as your “lying face”:

 

I’ve identified this as her “lying” face. #ohbotherblog #weefees

A video posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

(That’s you promising not to hit anymore. Liar.)

You are whip-smart. You are sassy.

 

Werk it. #whatholdywore #ootd #ohbotherblog A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

And you are oh-so destructive.

 

Sunday evening art project (followed by bath night). #ohbotherblog #weefees

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

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). 

 

Easy like Sunday evening. #ohbotherblog A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

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.

 

  Get right outta town with this. #weefees #ohbotherblog   A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

You are pretty much potty trained at this point, after a very trying potty training boot camp weekend in the fall. We still have our accidents and you do wear Pull-Ups to bed, but I’m very proud of you for being such a big girl.

Potty Training Weekend with a 2.5 year old @ohbotherblog

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.

I want my children to be independent headstrong people. Just not while I'm raising them @ohbotherblog

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.

Potty Training Weekend with a 2.5 year old @ohbotherblog

potty training weekend

16.11.14

I’m gonna be honest: the odds were against us this Potty Training Weekend. I woke up Saturday with absolutely no voice whatsoever. GB woke up with pinkeye. But Holden woke up ready for “no more diapers!” and to take on this potty training weekend I had been hyping up for days. So that’s all that really mattered. We soldiered through because this was the only weekend in the foreseeable future that we could dedicate solely to this purpose.

Potty Training Weekend with a 2.5 year old @ohbotherblog

So these are the two blog posts I studied in anticipation of this weekend:

Day One was a long, pantsless day, broken up into 15-minute segments of potty going. I set the timer on my phone and we visited the potty religiously every 15 minutes (ish). Sometimes she peed. Sometimes she just sat. But then we’d wipe, flush, wash hands, and–if she went–get a stamp (“tattoo”) and a sticker.

Potty Training Weekend with a 2.5 year old @ohbotherblog

Per the blog posts I studied, you’re supposed to ply the kid with lots of fluids and salty snacks to make them pee more. Holden doesn’t eat or drink anything unless it’s on her own terms, so that really didn’t happen. Though I will say she had an above-average day in chocolate milk consumption. 

About mid-morning, she came downstairs and said the words every potty-training parent dreads: “I pooped.” We rushed to the potty, took off the panties (carefully so as to collect the… “droppings”… and then drop ’em in the toilet), and sat her butt down. As I talked to rasped at her about having that gotta-poop feeling and coming to tell mommy… she pooped again. In the toilet.

This kid pooped all day long. I seriously wasn’t prepared for it–it’s like she saved up all week for this one day. Luckily most of it was in the toilet and not in her panties.

I did put her in Pull-Ups for her nap–judge me all you want, I’m not dealing with that mess yet. In the afternoon/evening, the every-15-minute potty visits were wearing on both of us. But we persevered and survived the first day. She was in Pull-Ups again for the overnight too.

I should mention that, despite having pinkeye and a fever, GB was a real trooper and chilled the whole day, just along for the ride.

I should also mention that it’s already not easy to communicate a point to a 2-year-old. When you have no voice, it’s damn near impossible. 

I woke up Day Two with more of a voice but feeling absolutely sick as a dog. GB woke up fever-free and with somewhat brighter eyes. Holden woke up eager to start Day Two. And again, that’s all that mattered.

Our morning went along swimmingly, again in 15-minute increments. I even tried to sneak in a quick shower while Holden played quietly in her room.

And of course, that’s when the accident happened.

And of course, it was a #2 accident.

But–brightside–it was the only accident all day! So we went from six accidents on Day One to one accident on Day Two. The rest of the day went along incident-free. Holden actually seemed excited when the timer went off every 15 minutes for her bathroom trip.

Potty Training Weekend with a 2.5 year old @ohbotherblog

I’m back to work tomorrow and Holden’s back to school. They already take Holden’s class to the potty every half an hour at her Daycare so tomorrow she’ll just be doing it in panties instead of diapers (don’t worry–I’m packing lots of extras!).

So obviously it is not ideal to potty train a child when you are sick and have no voice. Or when your other kid is sick. Or when it’s 40 degrees outside. But whatever. This was the weekend we had to do it so we sucked it up and powered through. It honestly wasn’t as bad as I was envisioning.

Potty Training Weekend with a 2.5 year old @ohbotherblog

So now my question is: when does she start telling me she has to go? When does that start to click? 

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