Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Paci Chronicles, Part 1

Back in March, when we took the kids to the dentist, Dr. Easy-On-The-Eyes told us that Miss M had to lose the paci. He told us that the deadline was when she turned two. I told Big J that he was more than welcome to get to work on Operation No More Paci at any time. Preferably while I was in Cali. In June. The week before Miss M turned two. He laughed at me. We are now 3 months post-deadline, and the kids went to the dentist again last month. And we got busted. By the dentist. Easy on the eyes, not so easy on the tender mommy heart. (BTW, I didn't choose him because he's easy on the eyes, that's just a pleasant bonus.) He was nice about it, but I felt guilty.

We never had to deal with paci issues with Mister J. When he was about eight weeks old, he quit taking the paci. That's another issue entirely. Equally as stressful but for different reasons. Mister J couldn't do anything but eat, sleep, cry, and poop when he gave up the paci. Guess which one of those he used to tell me he needed something? Being a freshly-minted mommy, I was still learning to decode cries. And he wouldn't take the paci. What's a mommy to do? But, I digress....

Recently, we decided to give Operation NMP a try. We started by simply pretending the paci was lost, and leaving Miss M tucked into bed while one of us went to "find" it. (Don't even start on me about the fact we were lying. To our baby. It hurt me more than it hurt her.) Sometimes she would fall asleep, sometimes she'd come looking for one of us to see if we found paci. Then we moved on to the pacis being "old and yuck" - the one we found behind the chest in the master bedroom defintely was! I even persuaded Miss M to toss that one in the trash. Then, Big J got hard core about it, and started telling Miss M that big girls don't use a paci and she had Kitty Cat (and other assorted loveys) to watch over her. It's been three days now, and no paci at nap or bedtime. Just Blanket, 4 loveys, and a minimum of 6 books. I have persevered, and not let her sweet little eyes sway me. Not even her sweet voice telling me, "I need my paci." She's even started asking for them by color. This is particularly noteworthy since she often pretends not to know her colors if I'm the one that's asking (she had me totally snowed for weeks and I worried that she might be colorblind or something!). If it's important enough to ask for by color, surely Mommy can be persuaded to join Miss M in the search for the long-lost, dirty paci - right? Nope.

I can't believe it is working - on her or on me. Knock wood. Now. Yes, you. NOW!

We have heard of all of the "Paci Fairy" and "Give them to the babies that need them" ploys. We just didn't feel that Miss M was developmentally ready to go along with them. But she understands when you can't find it. She understands if it's yucky. And so far, so good. So I'll keep sticking to the plan, thankful all the while that Big J's determination was the encouragement that I needed. 'Cause I'm a sucker when it comes to the kids. And they know it.

PS - Please vote in the poll! Upper left. Just for fun. More my fun than yours, I guess. Consider it practice for November. 39 days and counting!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wonderful Wednesday

Yes, I'm posting on Friday (well, almost Saturday now) and on purpose using Wednesday in the title. Because Wednesday was truly wonderful!

Preschool got off to a bit of a rough start this year, but in this last week, things are looking up. Every day has been a good day since our conference with the teacher. (Oh, yeah, it was conference-with-the-teacher rough [and that's a post for another day]. But, I think that day was the turning point - he knew he had to shape up if Mom and Dad were talking with Mrs E.) He had a terrific day this past Monday (the first day of class since the conference). Mrs. E was so proud of him, and made sure to praise his good behavior when she brought him to the Mommy-van in the pick up line. There was a little issue with sharing on Tuesday when a classmate tried to take a toy from him, but nothing he'd instigated - another small victory! On Wednesday, the best day of the week, Mrs. E took the time to tell me that there was another sharing issue during class, but that time Mister J held his temper and asked a teacher for help. Woohoo! Of course, we were both so proud of him, and he earned a special treat (a SpongeBob sticker) from Mrs. E for being so grown up in class. I have never seen him so proud of a sticker!

Each night at bedtime, I spend a few minutes with J talking about his day at school. He needs quite a while to process the day's events, so I've learned to ask just the most basic questions when I pick him up. During Mommy and J time (while Miss M naps), we do a craft, practice handwriting, or do homework if there is any. If he volunteers anything, I will try to engage him in a longer conversation, but usually we talk most at bedtime. Something along the lines of, "How was your day, J?" "It was good. I didn't spit. I didn't hit. I didn't push." and then I ask a few more specific questions about Circle Time, the Special Helper of the day, and snack time.

On Wednesday evening, after the usual questions, J looked into my eyes and said something I'll not forget. He said, "I'm so proud of myself." I can't even describe my feelings at that moment - but mostly elation! He knows the good choices, he knows it's sometimes hard to make them, and today he made the good choices! **cheers** Of course, you know what I said back to him (as I started to tear up) -

"Honey, I'm proud of you, too!"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Handwriting Practice

My son showed interest in writing his name about two years ago. Perhaps because the letters of his name are on the wall in his room, perhaps because in preschool the teachers write each student's name on all of their drawings and craft projects. In our house, when the kids show an interest, the parent pursues it - whatever it is. We have watched a Starbucks go up step by step - from the lot being filled and graded to paving the parking lot. We have discussed how GPS works, why people die, observed the effects of watering (or not watering) potted plants, and much, much more. So, when our son showed interest in writing, we started with the basics - his name. How difficult could that be?
Fast forward a few years to preschool - the 4-year-old class, to be exact. It's the year they start preparing children for "real" school - for kindergarten! And, it's the year they will be re-training my son to write using D'Nealian Manuscript, which looks like this. Not only that, I am retraining myself so that I can reinforce what he is learning. (I was taught the Zaner-Bloser or "standard block" style as I was growing up.)
It never occurred to me that there was more than to handwriting style than print or cursive. Lesson learned. Had I known, I would have researched the handwriting style used by our local school district before teaching my son to write his name. Also, I would have started out using an initial uppercase letter followed by lowercase letters. Not surprisingly, my son is resisting the move to mixed-case writing - and that's not to mention the move from ZB to D'Nealian. Plus, he thinks the lower case k looks like and upper case R, the lower case i looks like a lower case j (because of the little "tail"), etc. We have a lot of work to do! Thank goodness it's something the preschool teachers encounter all the time, so we have their help and encouragement through the process!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

First Purchase

Big J and I attended Financial Peace University at our church in the spring, and have been working to apply Dave's principles to our spending habits. Last week, we implemented Dave's program for kids, Financial Peace Jr., for Mister J's chores. He earned $3.50 in commission last week, and is set to earn about twice that amount for this week's chores. Based on the Spend/Save/Give percentages we set up for Mister J, he had $1.75 of spending money from last week's payday. This is the story of his first real purchase (and yes, I saved the receipt!).

Today, I invited Mister J to join me for a Costco run while Miss M was napping. As we were getting ready to go, he mentioned that he wanted to get a smoothie. I let him know that he would have to use his spending money, so we looked at the amount in his Spend envelope. We discussed how much a smoothie would cost and that he wouldn't have enough left for the games on Sunday (there's a gameroom in the restaurant where we usually share a meal with friends). He would have to make a choice. He chose the smoothie, so with money in his pocket we were off for a quick shopping trip.

As we were walking into the store, Mister J decided he wanted to walk with me while I shopped rather than ride in the cart with his smoothie, so he would buy the smoothie after we paid for our purchases. I have to admit, I was impressed by how much he'd thought this through. So, after we shopped and paid, we got in the line at the food court. When he got to the window, he ordered, paid, and giggled with excitement when his smoothie was ready. He was so proud! I have to admit, I was proud of him, too - he even said, "Thank you!" to the man that helped him today.

On they way home, we talked about putting his change back into his Spend envelope, and how it would not be enough for games on Sunday. He reminded me that he still had some money in his treasure box at home (the savings place prior to the envelope system), so he would have enough money to play games on Sunday, too! I'd forgotten that he had some money from our previous chore system, which turned out to be over $6.00! Later in the evening, we sat down together and split the money into the Spend/Save/Give envelopes, and Mister J picked out $1.00 from the Spend envelope for games. I'll have to check tomorrow to see if they take up a collection in Kids' Worship, otherwise I still need to find a place for Mister J to send his Give money. As for the Save envelope, he's saving up for another set of Kid K'Nex - and he's moving along towards that goal quite nicely!

I'm so proud of my little man, and I was thrilled to see how proud he was of his purchase! By the way, he drank every last drop! If you are wondering how much work it takes to earn enough spending money for a smoothie, Mister J's chores are worth 25 cents or 50 cents. He also has fines for specific misbehaviors that are 10 cents or 25 cents. Spending money is only 50% of what he earns, so he has to make at least $3.10 to pay for a smoothie. I'll be excited to see what he decides to do when his savings (40%) starts to add up and he gets close to reaching his goal. Will he spend it on the "goal" item? Will he decide he wants something else? Will he decide he wants something even bigger and just keep saving? Tune in for details - in about another month!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ear Infections are No Fun At All

Ouch. Owwwww. Someone please hit me in the head with a baseball bat. Knock me out so I can wake up on the other side of this pain.

That was me, at 12:10am. All the way until about 2am, when I finally fell asleep. My ear felt like someone had plunged an icepick deep inside. Graphic, I know - but honest. And it all came on starting Sunday morning. By 2pm, I was in bed - for the rest of the day. I was taking something every four hours, on the dot, for the pain. And at midnight - the worst pain I can remember in over 10 years. Including recovery from 2 c-sections. Not kidding. Today is Monday, and thanks to some antibiotics I'm already feeling some better.

Thankfully, I could call and make an appointment with my doctor, be seen mid-morning, have my suspicions (ear and sinus infections) confirmed, and be dosing up by noon. Thankfully, I'm not an infant without even a small vocabulary - with no means other than crying to let my adults know that something is wrong. Something. Is. WRONG.......

I now understand why kids can be so cranky when in pain. Why they stay up half the night whining. I spent half the night pressing in on my forehead to keep it from exploding. 36 hours before that, I just had a little bit of a scratchy throat. This thing came on fast. Around 1:30am, I was considering driving myself to urgent care, and debating in the midst of my phantom-icepick-induced-pain if anyone there would care if I was in my pajamas. Now, just after 8pm, I am hoping that my kids have managed to avoid the monster bug that started it all.

Years from now, when my kids look back on my cyber-musings, I want them to know that now, finally, unfortunately, I understand the pain of ear infections.

Coolest Party Idea

Took the boy to a really cool party on Saturday. If you live in the Southeast, you know that Saturday wasn't cool - but the party idea was. So cool, in fact, that I may use it myself come Mister J's fifth.

We were invited to a fire truck birthday party. And I don't just mean plastic fire hats and fire truck decorations. I mean there was a fire truck at the party. It's a public service where we live - who knew? Obviously, my neighbor, who was awesome enough to tell me how she worked it out. I learned that you can even have your party at the fire station if your groups is small enough and the kids are old enough to sit still for the video (or if gas prices go so high that the local FD has to cut costs, which means public services like this go first. Thanks, guys, for caring about how you spend my tax dollars!).

Here's Mister J checking out the driver's seat! He also checked out every other seat, too. Six in all. There's a laptop-type computer at the front passenger's seat. It's for getting info on calls, directions, and also for playing solitaire (the fireman told me so!). Even with all of the great techno-gadgets on this firetruck (which was about 2 years old), there was still something that reminded me of my first car. Something that Mister J had never encountered before. Manual (crank) windows. You remember those, don't you? Don't you???

Mister J had a lot of fun checking out the firetruck and watching the fireman put on all of his gear (in the heat! Bless him! He didn't model it for too long.). He remembered much more about firetrucks and fire gear from previous "Community Helpers" days at preschool than I thought he would. And, he even took a short break from the excitement to sit still (and smile!) for another cute photo without complaining!

(I know you must be wondering about Miss M. She was invited, too, but this party infringed upon naptime, and we had another party immediately after this one. So, she stayed home with Daddy while Mommy and Mister J went to the park to party with the neighbor's youngest.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fiber - it really works!

The theme of the week seems to be poop. Just ask my friend H over at Beyond the Belly.

My little one has a problem with (**whispering**) constipation. (She'll be so embarrassed one day when she reads this.) A few days ago, I got this great tip about Fiber One yogurt. Since we were at the store today for a few other things, I dropped a couple of 6-packs (of yogurt....) into the cart. Since Miss M had not eaten breakfast this morning, she was starved after our excursion and begged for the yogurt when we got home (this was after she bit the bagels through the bag...). It was snack time anyway, so I sat both of the kids down to try our latest grocery-store find. They loved it - and Miss M asked for another. Being the loving mother that I am, and apparently not considering the consequences, I handed her a second cup of yogurt. Did I mention that it's Fiber One yogurt? Yes, I think I did. Did I read the label, which indicates that it has 20% of the daily value of fiber per serving? Per ADULT serving? Ummm, don't think so. Let's just say that it certainly works (even better than blueberries!), and we thankfully avoided any poop-related messes (unlike my friend H), but from now on, we'll be limiting the Fiber One yogurt to one serving a day.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More Homework

It seems that having homework is the norm for 4-year-old preschool, but I'm not complaining. I know that it is preparation for Mister J (and the 'rents) for when he beings "real" school. Plus, it keeps us very involved in what he's doing in class each day. The call from the teacher telling us he'd been breaking the rules again today (ugh!) kinda helps, too....
Today's homework was preparation for Show and Tell tomorrow. Mister J brought home a paper bag that he'd decorated with the letter of the week (A) and some airplanes. The letters and pictures were stamped on with the color of the week (red), which he is also asked to wear to class tomorrow. Back to the bag - we are to put something in it that begins with the letter A. We got out Mister J's dictionary (the Richard Scarry Dictionary that we have been working our way through this summer) and looked at the A words. Mister J chose acorns. We have no acorns in our yard, so - craft time! We got out Mommy's scrapbook tools and supplies, and made some 2-dimensional paper acorns. While looking in some magazines for ideas, we also came across apples, so we had to make some of those, too. It took an hour, but it was an hour of uninterrupted Mommy and Jonah time (hooray - Miss M took a nap today!). He loves using Mommy's "tools" and I was glad we got some counting and addition practice in, as well. (How many apples and acorns do you have? Sixteen! Eight acorns, four red apples, and four green apples.) That still doesn't solve the rule-breaking issue, but perhaps today's visit to the Director's office made an impression. I guess we will know for sure in the next day or so - stay tuned for updates.

Monday, September 8, 2008

My First Meme

I'm just learning about memes (sounds like "dreams"), myself, so I thought I'd give one a try. I found this one over on The Queen B's blog, and since it's about how blogging has affected me, I thought it was a good one to start with. By the way, you can read what The Queen B had to say by going here.

Here are the rules:

1. Write about 5 specific ways blogging has affected you, either positively or negatively.
2. link back to the person who tagged you
3. link back to this parent post
4. tag a few friends or five, or none at all
5. post these rules— or just have fun breaking them

Here goes:
1) Communication - Blogging has given me a way to share news with our family and friends that don't live nearby.
2) Mommy guilt - Blogging has freed me from some of the guilt I feel that my kids' scrapbooks aren't up-to-date - I can turn some of these posts into scrapbook pages, and the journaling is already done!
3) Time Management - I am spending more time online now that I used to, both posting and reading others' blogs. However, I think it's definitely worth the time (see communication - and know that I'm a big fan of writing notes and letters, which I definitely did not have time for).
4) Learning new ideas - Some of my online time is now spent "blog-surfing" - linking to other folks' blogs from friends' blogs, then linking on to the next one and the next one. That's how I found some really informative ones, though - like Parent Hacks and Lunch Nugget - and other ones that I read more for entertainment value.
5) Creative/Emotional Outlet - OK, so my posts aren't always creative, and maybe not even funny, but this blog is an outlet for me - a way to share what I'm thinking, how I'm feeling, and to "talk" with someone who's older than me. It's a way to share my accomplishments, my kids' milestones, and other things happy and sad.

I'm not tagging anyone - so I'm breaking rule number 5. Why? Well, I only have a few readers, and of those few with blogs, they are busy moms, so I'm not going to add to their Mommy guilt (but I'd be delighted if they gave this meme a try!).

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Here's a quick video snippet of my kids watching the intro to a new Disney Channel show called Imagination Movers. Apparently, it's called Imagination Movers for good reason! Mister J and Miss M kept this up for the whole show! I didn't get the best part of her dancing, but you get the idea.

This is definitely going to be an alternative to outdoor activity on days when Mother Nature isn't cooperating with my kids' need to get expend some energy - fun for them, and educational, too. Another plus - it has real people in it - not just animation!

(Hooray for me - my first video post!)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Another First Day of Preschool

This isn't my first time dropping my kids off at preschool. In fact, today was J's fourth "first day" and M's second. Still, with four first days already under my belt, today was a little emotional for me. As excited as I have been for preschool to resume, it's another milestone - a reminder that my kids are that much older, that much bigger, and that much closer to being smarter than me.

I have to brag - my kids did great at drop-off today! M was a little hesitant at first - okay, so she ran away from the classroom while I hung up her backpack. But once she realized she'd dropped her kitty cat and came back for it, one of the teachers was at the door with a big smile, inviting her in. That's all it took - in she went, then found a puzzle to play with, and I was off to check on big brother. J had already walked up to his classroom, and he knew I'd be there shortly to check on him and say goodbye. When I peeked in, he'd already found his seat and was writing his name on his coloring page. He looked a little sad and his shoulders were sagging, but he perked up when he saw me, and after that got to work on coloring the letter A and pictures of "a" things. I guess he was back to normal pretty quickly, as he got in trouble on the first day of class. Just normal boy stuff - and I've been assured by the teacher that it's normal, first-two-weeks-of-school behavior. But I'm still allowed to fret a little bit. It's my job.

OK - now to the good part - more pictures!

Miss M was ready to go - her backpack was filled up, and was heavy, but she insisted upon wearing it. It's just a stage - we are going through it for the second time. Thankfully, it won't be that full every day - we had to take her special snacks to school with us this morning, so they were packed inside. Maggie was very upset on the way home that there wasn't a sippy cup in her bag - they took their own cups to the toddler class last year, so that's what she's used to. However, she's a big girl now and they use real cups in the two-year-old classes!

Mr. J was also anxious to load into the mommy-van and get to school! He was so good while I was snapping a few photos this morning - even doing his best to not squint in the morning sun. I tried the "keep your eyes closed until I say three" trick - he listened on the first try, and it worked! I think what I should really do is find a better spot for pictures. He's usually very squirmy when it comes to pictures, but this morning was a breeze. I guess he's passed the "squirmy" title on to Miss M.

This is my little man doing his homework. Yep, you read that right, homework on the first day. This evening, we worked on his "All About Me" booklet that he'll be sharing in class next week. I learned some new things about Jonah - his favorite color is now green (a change from yellow - but he still wants his bedroom walls to be yellow), his favorite book is Bible verses (then why have we been reading the Richard Scarry Dictionary at bedtime all summer long?!?), and he is afraid of monsters that come in his room (I always thought it was the auto-flush toilets in public restrooms - he hates those). I enjoyed helping him work on the booklet - from tracing his hand for the cover to writing out his answers and letting him copy them into the booklet. I was very impressed by his determination to write in all of the answers himself - even the long ones! I was also very proud of him for drawing the family portrait, when I can tell that he's not as confident about his artistic skills. However, we do know that he can be quite creative when he wants to be (see this post for an example).

I have one more cute story to share - this is how I knew Miss M had a wonderful first day. Last year, she was clingy at drop-off, and would often cry when I would come to pick her up - that, "Hey, you left me here! But I'm just now realizing it, now that you are here to pick me up, so I'm going to cry even though that was three hours ago" cry. Today, she was so busy playing with a shape sorter that she didn't even notice I was at the door. When she finally did see me, she shouted, "Mommy! My mommy! That's my mommy!" And when I picked her up, she wasn't clingy - she told me that she had painted, showed me the picture she colored, and then gave her teacher a goodbye kiss. I was so proud of her - and yes, a little emotional, too.