Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Something beautiful I've read today

Oh give me patience when wee hands
Tug at me with their small demands.
And give me gentle and smiling eyes.
Keep my lips from hasty replies.

And let not weariness, confusion or noise
Obscure my vision of life's fleeting joys.
So when, in years to come my house is still
No bitter memories its rooms may fill.
author unknown

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On us lately

I am far behind with blogging.
So far that I didn't even mentioned our winter holidays here...

On St. Nicholas Ilaria prepared the shoes by herself.

She got a wood puzzle and Adrian got a drawing book, so he can teach Ilaria drawing ;-)
St. Nicholas, this kind old man was such in a hurry to reach all the children in one evening, that he forgot our main door opened and he forgot his bell at us.

Then, on Christmas morning

we've tried to induce to Ilaria the what-does-Santa-have-for-me emotions, but without success; she really wasn't expecting anything at all.

Santa was inspired and brought me a book I treasure and wished for a long time already (it wasn't available in Romanian until now) - "Jurnalul Annei Frank".
For Adrian - a pullover and an issue of "Farm and ranch living" (any help for taking Adrian outside the house is welcomed, so, thank you, Santa, for trying, even if I read from this magazine more than Adrian did ;-))

I think those two wise men (St. Nicholas and Santa Claus) have talked to each other before visiting us - for Ilaria Santa brought a magnetic drawing table, so Ilaria with her father could spend some good time together ;-)

Another highlight was my blog, printed on paper ( something that I hope it will become a Christmas tradition for us;-) )

And the most beautiful gift under our Christmas tree:

We sang Christmas carols (Ilaria's favorite: "Ce vedere minunată"). And this happy she was when we sang any other Christmas carol:

Since the last report, Ilaria ended the strange stage when she was violent with Maria and us. It suddenly disappeared, the same as it appeared. Thanks God for this! They love each other and Maria got more courage when Ilaria is around. In the past, she was more like this:
(Maria 3 months old here)
Now she is more like this

*Really loves books lately. Finally she doesn't rip them anymore and she asks us to read for her.
*She is afraid of anything that make a sound (neighbors, cats, dogs, flying doves,...). When she goes to sleep  she lays on the middle of the bed, "so no dog will reach" her there. (I remember myself doing something similar: "no arm, leg or head outside the blanket, or it will be cut".)
*She likes goodnight stories - every time the same one - Corduroy. Tried something else but didn't work.
*She watch movies, or, better to say, movie. She always asks for Heidi. I think she watched it 20 times already. We tried Pinocchio and Polyanna, but without much success until now.
*For months she had the same "dream": a big red car, with a dog as driver, heading toward a bathing place. On the right place, a beautiful lady. Few days ago Adrian suggested her a horse and, of course, since that day, she always "dreams" that horse :-)
*She helps us with chores.
*She is able to dress herself pretty good.
*The greatest help: when in the car and Maria is crying, then Ilaria starts the promises: "Don't cry, Maria! We will reach home soon. Then you will get your milk. Then you will sleep." She is simply adorable when she does this!!!
*Funny words she says now: "puchiu" = copilu' (child), "pâca" = cârpa (dishcloth), "tatida" = stafida (raisin).

Maria is an easy baby now.
*Yes! No more colic. She taught us what afternoon colic means. She was complaining after daily walk, everyday from about 14 o'clock until 22-23. So we tried Colief, Sab Simplex and Espumisan on her. The last 2 with the greatest success. Now she is on milk only. (When she suffered of colic I was so tired that I was pretty close to give her orange juice once and tea for breastfeeding mothers another time. And once, when she was probably just 1 month old, I even succeeded feeding her with milk formula that we were using for Ilaria back then (Töpfer3, with fruits, good after 10 months old)...)
*Usually she sleeps all night long.
*She rubs her eyes with her hands when she is sleepy.
*She loves to play
and many times she doesn't even need us for falling asleep anymore
Oh, how fast time goes by... 
*She likes to chat with us.
*She smiles when we talk to her
*For the moment, her eyes are green.
*She is about 7.5kg weight

*Spends a lot of his free time (or better to be said, of his sleep time) by contributing to Kamikaze magazine, as a volunteer. As an appreciation of his efforts, he has been included in staff members team. We are proud of you, Adrian!
*He gave up a football championship which ruined many of our week-ends in the past. Doub... triple proud of you, Adrian ;-)

I have tried again, but I didn't succeed in convincing Adrian to give up all football games. So, as on Fridays I wasn't thinking positive thoughts on him because of the football games she was attending, we've decided that I will also take from now on few free hours, just for me, on Wednesdays. And you know what? I can't wait for Wednesdays!! Until now I enjoyed a massage session and 3 shopping sessions with friends.
*Another resolution I try to follow: no more Internet while girls are awake and no more Internet after 10PM. So, as Adrian says: "Goodbye, Internet!"
Since we have big snow (07th January) we had a lot of fun outdoor. We spent some time outside, always with both girls.

Have a happy Wednesday!

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Under pressure

"It all seemed to have been arranged—Seton sensed this when he opened the door of his house that evening and walked down the hall into the living room. (...) "Hello," he said loudly and cheerfully. Sobbing and moaning rent the air. In the middle of the small living room stood an ironing board. One of his shirts was draped over it, and his wife, Jessica, wiped away a tear as she ironed. Near the piano stood Jocelin, the baby. Jocelin was howling. Sitting in a chair near her little sister was Millicent, his oldest daughter, sobbing and holding in her hands the pieces of a broken doll. Phyllis, the middle child, was on her hands and knees, prying the stuffing out of an armchair with a beer-can opener. Clouds of smoke from what smelled like a burning leg of lamb drifted out of the open kitchen door into the living room. He could not believe that they had passed the day in such disorder. It must all have been planned, arranged—including the conflagration in the oven—for the moment of his homecoming. He even thought he saw a look of inner tranquility on his wife's harassed face as she glanced around the room and admired the effectiveness of the scene. (...)"
by Cheever John - "The music teacher"

Ha!!! How I LOVE this paragraph! It's one of the many realistic scenes I've read about from the book that's currently on Adrian's bookshelf and that made me hope I'll read it someday too. This guy knows so well what he is talking about! And this book (the Stories of John Cheever) became a must read for me.

But not about genius writers I want to write in this post.
But about parenting. About how not-funny-at-all it can become sometimes. How frustrating it can be. What a struggle it sometimes is. What a burst of nerves. What a parade of tantrums...

There are books, magazines, TV-shows, courses, even remedies ;-) that promise us so much and so many. They promise us that we can become perfect parents if we only wish hard for it.
My opinion (unfortunately) still remains that theory is far away from practice. At least, in our case, when PMS is knocking on my door, when planets are not properly aligned, when the devil is around!? or when we are too tired and not much energy is left, all the theory I know that I should apply is gone, far away from my brain and then I... screw up. And the only reason I see here is because I also have my limits.

I had some tough days lately. Days with scenes like these:
* Ilaria ripped one sheet from the book I was reading. After few minutes she was "totally" absorbed in a new wood blocks game (I tried the "something new and interesting" strategy on that day), when Maria woke up crying. Ilaria was so "absorbed" with her new game that, faster then me, she reached Maria and tried to solve the problem in her own way - by slapping her sister. I took Ilaria in the kitchen so she can help me with... pouring some milk on the floor. Frustrated, she went directly to a pile of folded laundry not put in the drawer yet and she messed it up.
* I was driving to and from the park with Maria desperately crying non-stop. We had to short our outdoor time as Ilaria wetted her clothes. When back home, our parking place was taken (in a crowded city where parking places are way too less)
* I was preparing the meal so I had to stir in the pot while rocking the crying baby and while Ilaria had a tantrum on what exactly youtube movie she HAD to watch on exactly that moment
* I've just put Maria to sleep in the crib when Ilaria entered the room speaking loudly. As explanations were not enough for her, I closed Maria's room's door with me inside and Ilaria outside. After few seconds Ilaria's clothes were wet... (since that day, at least one of the rooms' door is locked - Maria's while she is sleeping and Ilaria is awake and/or Ilaria's when she is punished)
* and so on...

But, thinking of mothers who successfully handle much more than I do (I love, love, love this blog) and living sweet moments like this one:help me keep going and make me want to become a better mother and a stronger person.

Here is a really good post on the same theme. She is so saying it!

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How we did it - potty training

Last Friday, 27th of January, it was an historical day for us. After almost 3 weeks of hard frustration, on that day I've spent few hours of my life by singing: "Bravo, bravo, Ilaria a făcut / Bravo, bravo, pişu în zăpadă." ("Bravo, bravo, Ilaria did it / Bravo, bravo, she did pee on the snow."). And Ilaria danced happily on my composition:

We still have some little accidents every now and then, but I declare myself happy with the results and I consider Ilaria potty trained for her wakefulness hours. And she is 2 years and 2.5 months old.

Here is how we reached our goal.
We started at about 10 months of old, by setting Ilaria on the toilet adapter for kids, after every meal, hoping that we would catch something. The toilet adapter choice is more convenient than the potty, as the child simply cannot run from it. Ilaria read lots and lots of books and magazines there. And she learned fast the reason why she was going there and then, soon after she was able to speak, she was requesting herself for the "big business". So, as simple as that, that was the easy part of it.

The real problem in our case was with the pee. At 2 years and 1 month old exactly, Ilaria and the potty met for serious. And she immediately fell in love with it. I think she spent 1/2 of her wakefulness time on that day by sitting there and trying to impress us by producing something, no matter how little.
Children are so clever! They learn so fast. But us, the grown-ups mess up sometimes. So we did back then. We were training her for indoor and then, when outdoor and she was requesting the potty, we were telling her: "It's OK to let it go. You have a diaper on." We didn't even realize it back then, but it proved to be a BIG MISTAKE! Sometimes we spent more time outdoor than indoor, so, pretty soon, the potty's magic disappeared and she forgot the lesson. So, we postponed our potty training for pee plans, thinking "she's still too young for it"...

3 weeks ago, after reading Sarah's testimony, we decided to give it another try.
I've heard before that potty training could be one of the most (if not the most) frustrating challenge of parenting, as not much control is in our hands, but in child's. And I can relate: it really was frustrating for me. I had some hard times, as I was home alone with the girls over the day and one of them is just a baby.

We adopted the recompense method. We started with chocolate, but Ilaria was deserving so much of it, that it soon became harmful for her little body. So we changed to raisins.
We stayed glued to our home for 3 days in a row. Then we decided it was enough and we restarted our daily walks. And I'm sure I washed daily 1 load of laundry for the passed 3 weeks.
But our efforts were recompensed last Friday, when Ilaria decided that -8 Celsius degrees was the perfect weather condition for letting it go on the snow and for coming back home with her clothes dry!

I am so proud of this girl!
And her friends are amazed too on her progress:
Here she is showing them some evidences, while asking them: "Vezi?" ("Do you see?")

And because I plan to print my blog on paper, and to refer to it in the future, for Maria, I list here Sarah's full post on potty training. It was of great help for us.
Once again, many thanks for the share, Sarah!

My Thoughts and Tips on Potty Training

First, I have to tell you what I am offering up to you by answering this question. I have ONE more child to potty train and I have a great easy no-pain system that has worked for me with the first four. But you know, now that I'm going to say, "this has always worked for me", I have forever jinxed myself and #5 will test my entire theory.

SO here is my gift to you all:

Between 2 years 3 months and 2 years 6 months, I potty train. It is some sort of magic age for learning and by that time, I've had enough of buying diapers and changing really gross poopies. They are old enough!!! Why does anyone wait longer? We were all potty trained much earlier! If you are waiting for your child (and most especially boys!) to want to get out of diapers, you might wait forever. Yes, it takes time and some schedule changes but just get it over with!

I plan ahead when I'm going to start. Make it an easy week, and don't do it right before a vacation or a new baby or any major change. Wait till things are calm and regular. My plan is the second week of June.

Get out potties or potty seats or whatever you want to use. Doesn't matter. Set one in your upstairs and downstairs bathrooms and just let them get used to it. You are introducing it, totally casual.

Go shopping for new undies...I use the thicker trainer kind at first.

NO PULL UPS! Pull ups are the invention of a bunch of diaper executives to extend their profits as long as they can. If I put a diaper on YOU, and then a Pull-up, could you tell the difference? Then how do you expect your child to? They need a change...the sensory aspects that trigger their brain to make them realize...oh boy, here it comes, I don't have a diaper on anymore, I've got to GO! They don't have time to ponder, 'diaper or Pull up'? They also have to feel icky. Feel very wet, or very poopy.

So you are ready to begin. Have diapers for night, but hide them. No more diapers is the die hard rule. NO MORE DIAPERS.

Once that diapers are off and those big boy or girl pants are on, that's it.  Don't put one on when you go somewhere, take it off at home, back and forth.  How would you like all that confusion?  It's impossible to learn that way.

Keep the child as naked as possible...just undies, or very light easy to pull up or down shorts. Naked even. They have to see for themselves what happens and why it happens and what it feels like and they have to LEARN what to do after all those things.

Don't go to Target. Don't get a babysitter. Don't do anything for that week or maybe 2 weeks if it is taking long. If you have to go somewhere, pack an extra change of clothes, or wait till your husband gets home.

You will change maybe 4 undies, maybe 15 undies those first days. (Abbey took 2 days, Andrew took 2 weeks.)  Be prepared for major laundry and don't stress out about it.  I know I will be doing a load a day during that time.

NEVER EVER GET MAD!  Do you really think they are having accidents on purpose to make you mad? Of course not. (If they are, you've got more problems than potty training.) Have patience...if you do anything, have patience. Bite your tongue, keep your face frozen, don't show frustration. If they go in their undies, say, "Oh icky wet, now we have to change." Maybe have them sit on the potty right after and explain that they need to put their pee and poop in the potty.

Think from their perspective all that they have to learn. They have to recognize and tie their body and brain feelings all together and then take action. This is all new and they have to make that connection.  Don't expect it to be all done in one day or two days.  It's a process.

Ask them tons if they have to go. Have them sit off and on all day. If they go, freak out with joy! Sometimes stickers, charts, rewards work. I think I did those with the first two. Whatever works.

So after they get it during the day, you will find that they naturally get it at night too! It will take a couple more weeks than the daytime, that's why I put a diaper on at night. When they wake up with a dry diaper, you know you are done! BUT, be very very careful of the fluid intake in the evening. You might want to work on that habit right away. A little glass before bed, some sips if they are thirsty. You will know if they've had too much!

Some kids like to go in the big potty...that is the easiest. There are little cushiony rims that make the opening smaller and less scarier. I used those (although everyone else hated having to move it!) with Andrew and he did great. Some others, including boys, used the training potties. I taught all my boys with the "tuck in" method, not the stand up method...it's just too hard at this age...eventually when they are tall enough, they will get it.

If you need more help, I think I developed my method after reading Dr. Sears's Baby Book. Click here for a synapsis of what he suggests. It's an excellent article...the weekend method is what I based my training on.

Most important points:
1. Gear up!  Set aside a week or two for potty training week.  Go all out.  All or nothing is so much more consistent for the child.  Don't confuse them with haphazard training or it will be a pain for months and months.

2. Do not get frustrated.  Think developmentally what they need to learn!  The sensations, the muscles it takes to "hold" it, the co-ordination it takes to pull up and down clothes, the sense of time management...on and on.  Put yourself in their place.  Be patient.

3. Have a plan and know what it takes.  Lots of laundry, a big dose of patience every day, constant reminders, your presence.

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