Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ice machines, toddlers and a sense of humor

Every towel we own is currently in the washing machine.  No kidding!  Today Lincoln explored the automatic ice and water dispenser on the refrigerator.  Many thoughts come to my head simultaneously: holy crap he's that tall, when did he get that coordinated, where did he find a cup, why is there a small lake in my kitchen?  Then the Montessori teacher in me jumps to the forefront and we have a lesson on how to properly use the ice and water dispensers creating only small rivulets instead of lakes.  This goes over very well.  

We establish a low shelf for cups that he can use to get ice (he's cutting two molars and is crazy for ice at the moment...who can blame him?)  We talk about and practice holding the cup just so, pressing hard, waiting for the last pieces of ice and drops of water to come out BEFORE moving the cup.  It is stupendous!

Back I go to work on the computer and "lake in the kitchen the sequel" makes an appearance. 

M: What happened Little Man?
L: Ice on da floor.
M: Yes, I see that.  Help Mommy clean it up please?
L: I eat it like a puppy.
M: We'll let's skip that part since the floor is anything but immaculate and just get clean ice instead.  

He's game and we mop up spill two together.  I'm back at work, he's hard at play.  Off he dashes to get a snack (we've already got an independent/self serve snack shelf with heathy snack foods that he can choose throughout the day...this works well for us both.  He feels very independent and I don't have to serve food all day long.  It is just MUCH cleaner that the beverage department.)  "Lake in the kitchen part trois" is no where near as fun for Mommy and I say, "OK, since this is a little more difficult than we thought it would be, let's go back to you asking Mommy to help you get ice and water for a while.   Yes?"  And I press the button to lock the machine.  the button that he can not reach.
L:  Yes.  Can you help me?  Can you help me now? I want ice.  Just ice pleeeze.

I happily oblige, after the joint effort at clean up and we're off to the races again.  (Are you getting it why I have no dry towels?)  Then it happens.  My brilliant child runs out of ice, Mommy is in the bathroom, or on the phone, or doing who knows what and the part about Mommy helping with ice and water is lost in the moment of his exceptional idea.  The step stool!  That's right, with the step stool he can reach the button, unlock the machine and "Lake in the kitchen part 4" is born.  I don't realize this right away.  I learn it from this statement, "Oh, oh, Mommy, Mommy.  I make a big mess, Mommy.  I make a big mess in da kitchen.  I funny."  We'll at least we can agree on the big mess part.

The upsides, he's getting much better at cleaning up messes and that part of the kitchen floor is spotless...for now.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Toto, I don't think we're in Manhattan any more...

In the East Village when you walk into a restaurant with a child they scowl at you through very expensive and chic glasses and say, "We don't have high chairs."  Staring you down waiting for you to cower in defeat and run binki in your teeth for the stack of delivery menus in your apartment.  I mean the audacity of having children in the coolest city in North America.  (No offense to all of the other cool cities out there, but the Big Apple is THE Big Apple, just not the most kid friendly apple out there.)  

We have the opposite experience in Texas.  We open the door to restaurants here and the host or hostess bends down with a big smile and a southern twang, "Aren't you darlin'!  You want some crayons, Honey?"  Ah, Texas.  

The other sure sign that we are in Texas is that the pick up/drop off spots can be a little unconventional.  After a trip to Nana's house, I picked Lincoln up at a half way point so that it would be easy on us both.  Check it out.  Now they can add, toddler exchange to their list of services, which currently include: live bait, fire wood and hunting classes.  Good times!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hotels, Sleep Skills and Mommy Time

We're on the road and Mama Melly is "working with da cars."  I'm beyond grateful for a job that I love, but the travel is at times tough for Lincoln.  At least the first night.  He is definitely a Manhattan born boy, who like the city, never sleeps.  OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but almost every spec of home routine goes out the window with each new hotel stay.  We have to find our new routine at each place.  

To help with this process I bring lots of familiar things to establish our environment: toys, a favorite pillow, blanket, etc.  He helps me choose which shelf or space will be for his trains, which will be for books and I put his clothes away.  We go over where his things are and we talk about putting things back in the same place so that they are ready for next time.  He's a pro at this.  It's the sleeping that is still a challenge.

He can climb, hoist and pull himself out of just about any enclosed bed (we don't say crib, "those for babies Mommy, I big").  We also, however, are not co-sleeping any more, because he sleeps so much better independently.  He just has a bear of a time putting himself to sleep.  Oh I've read about a million books about developing sleep skills and honed in on The No Cry Sleep Solution For Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers, thanks to a hot tip from one of my nieces.  Well after less than two weeks it worked and he was an sound and independent sleeper!  Miraculous!  

And then Mommy went out of town for work for a few days, and then Lincoln and Mommy went out of town for work for a few more days, AND THEN a trip to Nana and Papa's house, and then and then and get the picture.  Co-sleeping, interrupted sleep for airport runs and missing Mommy all equals crumby sleep patterns which equals high levels of cortisol for the little man.  That's the nasty stress hormone that makes Mommies and Daddies overweight and makes toddlers go from angels to hellions in about two seconds flat.  So at this hotel he has a choice at nap and bed time, lay still on the pallet on the floor by the bed or sleep in the "closed bed" (a crib provided by the hotel, they really are amazing about that).  It is going quite well.  Some sleep has happened in the crib and some on the pallet, but each night he has had 11 hours of sleep.  Again, miraculous!

Lincoln's list of cool hotel stuff:
  • elevators:  "I press da button by self.  It high.  I do it."
  • elevators again:  Bending WAY down practically touching his nose to the metal on the floor and peeking down into the elevator shaft between the floor and the door, "It deep Mommy.  It very very deep."
  • automatic doors: "It opens.  It opens.  It closed."
Mommy's list:
  • Maid service, YES!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A two car with a Prius

So my talkative little cutie, Yes he's still a cutie even though he is having a few too many TWO moments at the moment, chimed in as we were heading out to run errands.  
Lincoln: "In the RAV?"
Mama Melly: "No, Babe. We're taking the Prius today, because we have to drive farther and it is better on gas than the RAV."  (Sorry no offense to any other RAV owners out there.  We LOVE ours, but you can't say no to 43 - 50 MPG...I mean come on.)
Lincoln: "By RAV.  No RAV.  Hi Pwius.  We're in da Pwius."
Mama Melly: "Yes, we are.  It's a hybrid, remember?  It uses gas and electricity to make it go.  Mommy likes to drive a hybrid, because hybrid's are a way to think about the future and hopefully help the planet."
Lincoln: "Mommy is a Car Guy."

This is a huge complement by the way.

Mama Melly: "Yes, I am.  Thank you."

The complete lesson on hybrid technology and alternative fuel will wait for another day when a longer attention span is available.  His and mine ;)  He probably already knows them inside and out though, since I was about 8 months pregnant when I was teaching a hybrid class to dealership personnel at my "nonMom" job.  I was pretty huge and all belly.  5'2" top to bottom and straight across the middle.  The attendees were a bit afraid to sit in the front row and as one of them so quaintly put it, "Are you sure he's not going to just drive right out of there?"  I was just grateful that the "Lincoln Tunnel" jokes were only happening among friends.  TMI.  Life on the road in the car biz has been a spectacular way to provide for my family, raise a boy who wants to know how everything works and feed my need for that as well.  I trust that in the present state of the auto industry affairs my post will continue to grow.  It may be rough for a bit, but I plan to get through it and keep learning and teaching about the importance of future technologies to ourselves, our planet and our kids.

Off the soap box and headed for bed.  Sweet dreams.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The terrific two's...RIGHT!

Well we've had a tough night.  Mommy had the brilliant idea that we could all watch a movie together as a family and then head to bed.  A great idea, in theory, but way too much stimulation for a little guy who really should have had some more quiet or peaceful play time before going to bed.  

So about 15 minutes into WALL.E, I called it off.

After a pretty resounding, "Noooooooooo.   Want to stay awake."  I calmly explained that "Mommy had a bad idea and it didn't work out so well.  Let's go ahead and slow down.  Mommy will help you get settled in for sleep.  You can do it."  Much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  We try MANY techniques.  All with Mommy doing a pretty darn good job of keeping it cool and being a shining example of "making peaceful choices."  Then WHAM...he clocked me in the face.  Yep, my son, the one that I adore, that I have just been SO unbelievably patient with, hauled off and hit me.  I was furious.  "That's it.  Mommy has been very loving and you just hit me.  I am so sad and angry with your choice.  It is time for sleep and you will need to figure out how to do it on your own."  This would be the second brilliant idea of the night.  

Let's here it for partner intervention.  T. stepped in to see if a change of parental scene would help.  Nope.  Now it was an even bigger response...kicking, hitting, a full fledged two year-old exhaustion inspired control seeking temper tantrum.  UGULY!  It was kind of like an earthquake, if you've ever experienced one, really rough and earth shattering, but relatively quick.  After being held by Daddy and then passed over to Mommy, all the while hearing that his choices were making Mommy and Daddy very sad, that we loved him very much, but would not let him hurt us or himself.  We got some puppy dog eyes and a few slobbery declarations of "sorry Mommy, sorry Mommy" accompanied by the ASL sign for sorry that he used when he was pre-verbal. 

You instantly wonder, what the hell went so wrong?  I know the movie idea was a bad one, but all of the rest of his bed time routine was in place and the movie idea only happened for about 15 minutes before I saw the eminent disaster and called it off.  Is there something wrong?  Is it because he's two?  A boy? Exhausted?  Do they all act like this?  Or is it just my son?  

Shortly there after he was sound asleep, but woke up throughout the night and then was a grouchy bear upon awakening.  Oh joy.  Where did this little tyrant come from?  Oh yeah, me!  Back to the books and the blogs for insight.  There are many ideas and resources and I feel armed with techniques.  A trip to the playground though settles my fears of total child rearing failure as I observe that, for the most part, they are all little cave people.  They march around ignoring each other, pushing boundaries of physical space or flat out bonking each other on the head and claiming ownership of the coveted new Lego piece while all (or most) of the mommies and daddies do their best to intervene.  Watching these little precious people all puffed up trying to make sense of everything in their world and trying even harder to be big was touching.  No wonder he had a total meltdown.  

The solution for today:  lots of reading together, some extra snuggle time, NO MOVIES and plenty of rest.  Oh yes, and toddler gates for his room so that if he wakes up in the night he isn't roaming the cave looking for his next thing to conquer.  I'll let you know how it goes.