Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Discipline with a Smile-y

Mari’s “two-year-old-ness” has recently hit an all-time new level. Not only has she been belligerant, disobedient, and defiant, she has really become hysterically dramatic (and not the funny definition of hysterical, the out-of-control definition) - throwing things, spitting, flipping furniture. We have tried time-INs…they don’t work because she has learned to use her head to smack you in the face. Time-OUTs are no longer working because, by the time I can actually get her into time-out and sitting and doing the time-out right, we are both physically and emotionally spent and neither of us can remember what prompted the time-out in the first place. Praising the good and ignoring the bad works somewhat but she tends to turn on the bad when we are in public and I can’t just walk off without her….let’s face it, we draw enough attention to ourselves without screaming and kicking. Reward charts will not work because she needs something tangible and immediate.

So it was time to think big…If you have a problem and don’t know what to do, just think THINK BIG! (oops, sorry…Pinky Dinky Doo!) I needed to come up some kind of punishment that could also be a reward and it had to be immediate and completely Mommy-controlled.


Mari lives and breathes TV. She loves it! She watches way too much but as a single mom, it’s sometimes the ONLY way I can even get a shower or potty. But now the TV has become a point of contention. She sits and watches it, toys untouched, unresponsive to my voice, totally consumed. She demands certain shows and even certain episodes. And she is not pleasant about it.

So TV is now my bargaining chip. I now have 5 smiley faces hanging directly above the TV. Anytime Mari has a breech of behavior, one of those smiley faces is replaced by a frownie face and the TV turns off. The TV remains off until all frownie faces have been changed back to smileys. Frownie faces can be given immediately for an infringement that is known rule or after some warning that she refuses to heed. Smiley faces are given for good listening, helping with chores, playing well with her toys, and (when we are stretching for any good moments) just heading to the potty without arguing.

It’s working. The first 2-3 days were really tough. She would get a frownie face for something and then pitch such a fit (throwing things at the wall, spitting, tipping furniture) that she would earn more than one frownie at a time. We went 3 days with no TV because…well, let’s just say it was a bad week! And that was hard on me as well…I was quite used to being able to cook supper or work on the laundry, etc. while she sat on the couch glued to the set. One of those first nights, she actually laid her pillow in the middle of the kitchen floor and laid there watching me work around her.

Finally, it started clicking. She was begging to earn happy faces. The mere mention of a frownie face would send her into instant obedience. As soon as she would earn her last smiley face she would jump up and down and tell me what she wanted to watch.

While her behavior has improved 180 degrees, I’ve noticed other changes in her. She no longer begs to watch TV when it’s off. She will play with her toys while it’s on and I can sneak over and turn it off without her noticing. She has suddenly become interested in watching new things. She has keyed into the emotions associated with the faces. “I’m so happy I got a smiley face.” “I’m sad cause of my frownie face.” She has become very quick to say she is sorry when she knows she has done something wrong. She is asking permission to do things that she needs help with… “Mommy, may you please help me wash my hands.” (That one earned a smiley face, hug, and a gummy!) The frownie face threat is even working when we are out of the house. On the way home from school one day, she asked about watching something, and I said that I thought she still had a frownie face up…she got really quiet and sad but then smiled and said, “I help Mommy and get a smiley face.” She did not want to go to bed one night, so I told her that she needed to go to bed or get a frownie and not be able to watch TV in the morning…she pouted and started getting her “angry eyebrows” but then smiled and headed to bed lickety-split.

So things are better, much better. I was honestly dreading the weekend because we had had such a horrible week. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy and pleasant this weekend was. Mari did not earn a frownie face until around supper time on Sunday night (climbing on the kitchen counter into the sink)…I was actually going to let her get by with it if she got down immediately and apologized but she grabbed a sippy cup and threw it across the room. She pitched a fit when the TV went off and the frownie face was hung. But then she dried her tears and sat on the floor to help me fold clothes, peeking over her shoulder occasionally to glare at the frownie face. She was able to earn back her smiley face by helping with the laundry but, while she was excited about the smiley face, she did not ask to watch anything!

So my next step will be to limit the TV time. I’m going to give us another week with just having the “all smileys=TV time”. The rule will still apply that any frownie face will mean NO TV but she will have to cash in her smileys….one smiley per episode. And the smileys are going to get a little harder to earn…as she understands that good listening and obedience are expected, I will start asking her to really earn her smileys (things like cleaning up her toys, helping me do chores, etc…things she can already do!). And my last step, to try to get the emphasis off the TV, will be for her to cash in smileys for something else.

So, hopefully we will continue to have good behavior and smiles all around!

The faces...

All smileys....TV is on

Uh-oh, 2 frownies...TV is off

Wait....all smileys and the TV is off??

Mari is playing with her toys???

Wait....did the episode finish and Mari not notice?

She's playing with her toys??

Helping to fold laundry in order to earn a smiley

(I did not ask her to do this!)

This is what a hysterical fit looks like before she escalates to aggression.

This is what Mari looks like when we are having a good day!!

Tell can you not just want to squeeze that and hang on for life??
Keep on smile-ing!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Mari and I took our first all-by-ourselves vacation last week. It was SO much fun. Mari had lots of "firsts" along the way and I got to sit back and revel in her squeals and giggles.

We drove to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg and spent the afternoon at the Sesame Street Forest of Fun. There was hardly anyone there and we could literally walk on to any ride we wanted that she wouldn't freak out on. The characters were out and walking around, playing games with the kids, posing for pix... Mari loved being close to the characters as long as she didn't have to touch them; she blew them kisses, talked to them, yelled "hey" at them, and even high-fived a couple. She told Grover about her fish named Super Grover and he immediately struck a "Super Grover Pose" for her. Wish I had caught that face on camera. She splashed in the waterpark that doubles as a castle for shows and danced to the music and basically was in pure Sesame Street heaven.

After that, we drove on to Virginia Beach, arriving just in time for sunset. I waited until we got up to our room and could look out from the balcony to show Mari the ocean. I didn't have my camera ready, so the pix of her seeing the beach for the first time were delayed by a few seconds as I ran back in the room to get my camera....I really did not expect the reaction she gave me. I've NEVER seen her that excited about something. I'll never forget that face and that squeal of pure delight!

We quickly scarfed some fast food (our first meal of the day because someone was too excited to eat until then) and then hit the beach just to get our feet wet. Then back to the room for bed, she didn't settle down until almost 10pm and was back up by 4am. She woke up feverish and croupy but she was feeling well enough to jump up and down in the bed and beg to go to the beach. I kept her quiet until 6:30, we hit the breakfast bar, then got ready for the beach. Not too many people on the beach at 7:30 in the morning. We spent the morning on the beach, did some shopping, ate lunch and then headed back to the beach. She got a lot braver as the day went on and I had to put the camera away to keep her from being swept out to sea. She loved being knocked down by the waves and really gave the people around us some good laughing moments. We finally got some supper, slowed down on the beachfront playground and then back to the room.

Mari started getting croupy and feverish before bed, so I gave her some motrin and tucked her in while I worked on packing. I had just finished up and was going to sit down and eat a candy apple when Mari made a funny noise. I looked over to see her shivering but by the time I got to her to tuck her in more, she was having a seizure. I won't go into the whole story of my freakout...except to say that I totally freaked out. By the time I even figured out where my phone was to call 911 (forgot about the hotel phone 5 inches away!), she had stopped. After some major freaking out and a couple phone calls. I decided to pack Mari up and come home. We had planned to leave first thing in the morning anyway and I knew there was no way I would sleep all night, so I thought it was better to just leave. I didn't want to risk her getting sicker, I figured that even if we had to stop at a strange hospital along the way, I'd like to be as close to home as possible. So we drove home in the dark, 80 mph, reading directions by a flashlight, me grabbing Mari's foot every few minutes to make sure she would react enough to pull it away. (Super smart and safe, huh?) We made it home a little after 1am. We both slept the rest of the night. A trip to the pediatrician on Sunday resulted in a shot of steroids for her croup and an conjecture by the pediatrician that she probably had the febrile seizure because her threshold was so low due to pure exhaustion, etc.

And I never got to eat my candy apple, I left it in the fridge in the hotel. So sad! But I was so glad to be home. Vacation was awesome, I'd never trade those great moments for anything, but I'm not sure I'll be up to travelling alone again for a very long time.

Enjoy the video. We had a blast. Even if the ending was a little premature.....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Story by Mari

Mommy said I could write on her blog. She said that I should tell you what's happenin' with me lately. She put lotsa pictures so I could remember.

I love my Mickey Mouse, he's the bestest kitty-cat in the whole world.
Mommy took me outside at bedtime one night and told me to run in the rain. I thought she was crazy. Like boom-boom crazy. Boom-Boom ain't it great to be crazy!
Then she told me to dance in the rain. BOOM-BOOM CRAZY!! But it was FUN!

Then, Abigail came over one night and we rode bikes. I got in trouble cause I rode down the big hill after Mommy told me not to. She was mean and made me go in the house, so I screamed really loudly so all the neighbors knew how mean she was. But Mommy didn't care and just left me sitting in the middle of the floor screaming, so I stopped and went back to playing with Abigail.

Doesn't Abigail's hair look silly in this picture?

Then.......Abigail's Birthday PARTY!!!!! She turned 1 year old! Me and her and Madi all played together at the birthday party. She got lots of cool toys that I helped teach her to play with.
Isn't she a big girl now?
She wanted somebody to give her a hug...but she was too messy. Ewww....yucky!
Then, we gots to go the fishy place. Mommy called it a fish hatchery but I didn't see nothing hatch. We fed lotsa fishies. Big uns and wittle uns.
Unca Todd helped us with the fishy food.
This is Unca Chad and Madi! And that's Auntie Diana and Abigail! Abigail didn't feed the fishies but she watched.
Auntie Lesa came too!
I'm playing peek-a-boo over Unca Todd's shoulder. Mommy wanted to get my picture on the rock but I was being stubborn (whatever that means).
Eat, Fishies, Eat!
Me and Madi were grumpy here. But we didn't tell Mommy why, we just wanted to look grumpy, that's all.
We had a picnic too! I had to have a little of everything but I only ate my Doritos. Oh, and some potato chips. And Mommy was mean and made me eat my applesauce before I could eat more potato chips but I kept sneaking my hand in the bag.
Then we went to the park and rode the choo-choo train. I didn't really like the tunnels, they were dark.
We went down the big slide. Me and Madi are such big girls now, we don't need ANY help!!
I still need help to swing, though. Check out my cool bandaid - it's BIG BIRD!!
We had a race!
Then the next day, we went to the pool. It was freezing cold. Brrrr.......
But who cares? We had fun and then we had cheese crackers!

I was very tired after all that but Mommy was tired-er. She says we need a vacation. We are going to Sesame Street (Busch Gardens) and then the beach soon. I've never been to the beach but I watched Blues Clues and I know that I get to make a sand castle. And there's lots of water that Mommy says is yucky to drink. And there's a pool there too. Hmmmm....wonder if I can drink that water???

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lessons I have learned from Instant Immersion Parenthood

  1. Babies in the bathtub are slippery. Really slippery. Very very slippery. I know you are slapping your forehead saying “Duh!” But most parents have a little experience under their belt before they learn this. I learned the hard way less than 4 hours after becoming a parent.
  2. The first “Mommy, I hate you, you scared me, what the heck are you doing, are you seriously cut out for this job?” melt-down is the hardest. See Rule #1
  3. Always apply baby oil/lotion to the feet and legs last, otherwise you will have trouble lifting the butt to slide the diaper under. See #1 about slippery babies.
  4. Legs are much more flexible than arms…put the arms in the sleeper first, then the legs.
  5. Remember the most important thing in the emergency diaper bag you leave in the car is not the diapers nor the wipes nor the emergency ration of formula. It is the extra Mommy t-shirt. If you don’t have one in your car right now, go put one there. You are just asking to get peed on, pooped on, vomited on.
  6. Peace and quiet do NOT play well together.
  7. Buy batteries in bulk. All sizes. You do NOT want that favorite toy dying at an inconvenient time.
  8. It is impossible to get a spaghetti-covered onesie off without getting sauce in the curls. Take the onesie off before eating.
  9. Sometimes lessons DO have to be learned. Kids don’t understand HOT until they really know what HOT means.
  10. Never leave a curling iron on even if it has an automatic shutoff and you are 100% sure your kid can’t reach it. See rule #9.
  11. Never let your kid go running down the driveway barefoot on a hot summer’s day. Again see rule #9.
  12. Never wear a white t-shirt while sitting next to a 2-yr-old eating licking Doritos.
  13. Never tell your child that they can watch a TV program before bed…that will be the night that it’s an hour and half special episode.
  14. Teach your child early to listen to your music. Never let it be known that there is such a thing as “kid’s music.” Otherwise you will be head-banging banging your head listening to music in the car.
  15. No matter what age your child is, someone will tell you that the next age is worst. You will then hang your head in despair and resolve to be happy with your current situation cause it’s really about to get ugly.
  16. Never tell your child about a birthday party until an hour before it’s time to go. Your life will be miserable until that party…why listen to 3 weeks of “I wanna burtday cake” when you could’ve just saved yourself by waiting?
  17. Kid’s toys come with way too much packaging. I’m sure toy manufacturers think they are doing parents a favor by allowing us to see and touch and hear all the pieces and parts before buying…but what a nightmare. First the child wants to try it out in the store but then the tantrum follows when you put it back on the shelf. If you purchase one as a gift, there is NO way to nicely wrap it because it is an odd shape and, even after being wrapped, will still randomly play tunes and talk in the middle of the night. And if your child receives one as a gift, prepare for the meltdown that comes because it’s going to take you 45 minutes, a pair of wire cutters, a box cutter, scissors, and 3 trash bags to get the stupid toy out of the package. Can we just go back to the days of the cardboard box with the picture on the front?
  18. The most tedious, monotonous games will be your child’s favorite. And how can they not sit still for 5 minutes any other time but they can play CandyLand Castle for an hour at a time?
  19. How do they know what day it is? Why do we get up at 5:45 every Saturday and Sunday but I have to drag you out of bed on school mornings?
  20. Putting your child in the ugliest, most worn out sweatpants and holey t-shirt will ensure that your child has perfect table manners and is immaculate during art time. Put them in anything else and it’s a free for all.
  21. Bedtime CAN be interrupted for things like learning to dance in the rain at twilight.
  22. Always check the underwear for poop before pulling them down while potty training. What a big mess!
  23. Some items of clothing are not worth washing/saving. See Rule #22.
  24. “NO!” can have so many different reactions.
    *If you are at home, NO will be ignored.
    *If you are in front of someone that you want to impress with your ability to be the one in control (like your pediatrician or your child’s teacher), then NO will become an opportunity for your little one to laugh in your face.
    *If you are in a public place (like Wal-Mart), NO will be followed by screaming, shrieking, tantrum-throwing, running away, all-out hysteria.
  25. There is NOTHING sweeter in the world than your child hugging you and saying “I wuv you Momma.” Nothing. Absolutely Nothing!