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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Behavior Plan

We've been having some struggles here at our house with listening.  And it's really hard for me to deal with having a child who doesn't listen.  As a teacher one of the things that I think is a relative strength for me is classroom management.  For the most part I've been pretty lucky with the students I've had, but you give me a group of 9 and 10 year olds and I feel like I do a pretty good job with behavior.  So the fact that I've been struggling with my own kid really is hard.  Now I know that kids are always better behaved for other people, but my child does need to listen to me, too!

Last summer I tried a sticker chart with Evelyn, but she really didn't understand the purpose and just wanted to pull the sticker back off as soon as she stuck it on.  Perhaps it was the wrong plan, but I let go of any plan for a while with that failure.  It wasn't until my friend The Control Freak posted an article about a behavior plan that it dawned on me that maybe it was time to try again.

I decided to employ a behavior jar to be filled with pompoms.  According to the plan, you picked a few key behaviors that needed to be changed and focused on those to be rewarded.  I decided we would have two jars, one for getting ready in the morning quickly and getting ready for bed without fussing, and the other just for general good listening since really that is our big problem.  As I said to a friend, we needed to fix the morning and evening because it just ruins both the start and end of our day!  And with the not listening in between our whole day just sucks!

From teaching I knew that the key to a good behavior plan is that the child needs to "buy in" and that requires a reward that is going to be meaningful.  Enter the Dum Dum.  Recently at the bank the teller offered a lollipop, and I said okay for the first time.  Evelyn was hooked.  Now I know that many people are not a fan of using food as a reward, and in general I am not either, but I knew it was going to work for my kid and that is what matters!

I gathered my materials and got to work...



Very quick and easy to put together!  And when Evelyn woke up from her nap I explained the Good Listener Jar and promptly started putting pompoms in.  We spent the rest of the afternoon adding pompoms for pretty much everything in order to get that jar filled fast because instant gratification is important when you're three!  

And, as with any good behavior plan, you have to be ready to make adjustments as needed.  I quickly got rid of the second jar for morning and bedtime because it is just as easy to include those times as good listening, and it helps get the jar filled up faster to only have one.  And if we're talking about filling up the jar fast, my kid quickly caught on to the fact that I had different sized pompoms and she always goes for the bigger ones when selecting what she's going to put in.  

It took about 2 days for her to get her first lollipop, and she's very close to her second.  I am getting a lot more, "Okay Mommy!" responses when she is asked to do something than I've ever known possible.  I've been able to back off a little on rewarding every little thing while still getting the desired result, which is exactly what a behavior plan is meant to do, and everyone is a little happier!  

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Christmas...after the fact!

One of the most traditional holiday customs is the picture on Santa's lap.  Kind of strange when you think about it, but just one of those things you are supposed to do!  Evelyn's first Christmas came ten days after she was born, and I could barely walk, let alone think about finding a Santa to take a picture with my newborn.  So Evelyn's first picture with Santa actually came with her second Christmas.

I don't remember many of the details, other than we waited forever because we got held up that morning despite my best effort to get out of the house first thing.  But the picture turned out amazing!  

I learned my lesson waiting in the ridiculous line and the following year I looked up the times, and we were determined to be there before Santa arrived.  Unfortunately the website didn't have the times listed accurately and were at the mall about two hours early.  No one was in line, so we hit the play area for a while.  We decided to go for a cup of coffee and bathroom break about 45 minutes before Santa arrived.  Still no one in line.  Fifteen minutes later there were suddenly at least 20 people in line ahead of us.  So not only did we wait for about two hours, I then stood in line for another hour to get this gem:



And after this Steve and I heard for a full year about how "Santa is nice.  But I don't want to sit on his lap! I cry!"  She was obviously traumatized.  In fact we were walking through the mall back in early November and I was surprised to see Santa was already there.  As we walked by and Evelyn realized he was there, she latched onto my leg and I had to carry her past.  I did manage to get her to wave, but there was NO WAY she was going to get anywhere near the man.

When December rolled around, it was time to think about visiting Santa.  If I'm being perfectly honest, the picture with Santa seems to be way more important to Steve.  He always seems to be the one to bring up making the visit, which made me think he wanted to be there for it.  As we started to prepare for an early Saturday morning up and out of the house just weeks before Christmas, it was obvious we were both dreading it.  We knew Evelyn wasn't going to participate willingly, we were sure we would be waiting in line no matter what we did, and it just wasn't going to be fun.  

I proposed a different plan.  As long as it was okay with Steve not being there, I would take Vivian to meet Santa one morning when Evelyn was at school.  Hopefully during the week the lines would be minimal and there would be no drama if Evelyn wasn't there.  Steve agreed, so one Monday morning I got Vivian all dressed in the same dress her sister wore, and we headed to the mall.  

I got there about 20 minutes before Santa, and there was no one in line!  I had been in this position before, though, so I lingered near Santa's "house".  Just before 10:00 I noticed a few people in line so I entered the queue.  I was third.  Not too shabby.  We took the picture, and were back in the car by 10:17.  It was the best Santa experience ever.


Same outfit down to the shoes (minus the headband...I was so sure that Evelyn wore the headband!).  The camera person kept trying to get Vivian to look and smile, but I told her to go with the looking at Santa pose knowing it would look even more like Evelyn's picture.  And did you notice the "I love you" sign from Santa?  At first I thought it was just a fluke, but then I started seeing all these posts of other people who had the same sign in their pictures, too.  Santa really is the best!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Happy 3rd Birthday Evelyn!

My baby turned three the other day.  It's absolutely unbelievable to me that it has been three years since my spunky little girl was born.  Each day I am amazed by the person she is becoming.


I distinctly remember that when she turned one I thought there was going to be this magical change.  As if turning one were like flipping a switch between being a baby and being a little person.  Things would be easier.  She would understand what I was trying to tell her.  We would start to do things together, not just me doing things for her.  Well naturally I was very mistaken for quite a while.  Obviously her development continued to be gradual.  I kind of had the same notion of what it meant to turn two, and once again there was no instant change.

As we approached three I didn't have the same expectation.  I knew there would be no sudden change.  But a few weeks ago I did start to notice some changes in Evelyn.  All of a sudden she has been able to do things for herself.  She can put on her coat by herself.  She can play independently for ten minutes.  She pretends, and in a way that is totally adorable.  She is a brand new little person.  And her memory...oh my gosh.  She remembers everything.  And that little girl knows exactly what she wants.

But I think the very best part is how aware she is about everything that is going on.  She knows that Christmas is coming up.  She knows what her birthday means.  It was her special day.  Her favorite people were all together in one place and it was ALL. ABOUT. HER!  And I think my very favorite part was the look on her face when everyone was standing around, singing happy birthday to her, and watching her blow out her candles.  The look on her face was just absolutely priceless.  The pictures don't do it justice...

Thursday, December 10, 2015

My Christmas List

It's that time of year when people start asking what you want for Christmas.  So, for anyone looking to get me (or probably any other mom) a gift, here is my Christmas list.  In no particular order...

1. I would love to go an hour without having to ask "What did you do to your sister?"

2. It would be incredible to be able to be completely alone in the bathroom for the entire time I am getting ready.  From brushing my teeth to drying my hair, I want to be completely alone.  And bonus if I have the luxury to take my time.

3. I want to clean the kitchen (I'm not even asking someone else to do it for me!) and have it still be clean when I turn around.  Where do the dishes come from???  No matter what I do, there is another dish lurking somewhere, just waiting for the right moment to show its dirty, ugly face.

4. I would like to do something seasonal as a family.  And I don't want to have to wait in line, worry about tickets ahead of time, fight for parking, etc.  Just get up and go.  And it would be great if I could get a family picture at this outing.  One where we look put together, without TRYING to look put together.  "Oh look...we just happened to all be wearing seasonal colors at the same time!!"

5. And after this wonderful, quality, family time, I would love an hour alone.  With a cup of HOT coffee.  That I didn't have to reheat.

So that's it.  Just 5 little things that would make me super happy for Christmas.



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Bad Mom

Started this a few weeks ago, but let's just pretend it was this week.  I need to preface this post by saying I am not looking to be consoled.  I don't want to hear that I'm doing fine.  Because to be honest, that will probably make me feel worse about how I acted.  

On Monday I was not a good mom.  Not that I consider myself a great mom on any given day, but most days I would call myself at least a good mom.  Monday was not one of those days.

Allow me to set the scene:

We had a great day Saturday.  We went to visit my brother who lives near Reading, got some lunch, went to a corn maze.  Evelyn was a little out of sorts because she was a bit uncomfortable not having pooped since Thursday morning (for those of you who have been around this blog for a while, haven't you missed the posts about poop???).  By Sunday, though, things were pretty rough at the Lane house.  Both girls had had really bad sleep nights between the lack of poop and teeth.

When Sunday evening rolled around, poor Evelyn was a hot little mess.  It was just painful to watch her hunch over.  We had given her prune juice, lots of fruit, and anything we could find with a lot of fiber.  We had dinner at my parents' and it was a sight to see because we were all doing everything we could to try to get her to poop.  We were making up these ridiculous dances trying to get her to push things down.  And finally before bed she pooped twice.

Monday morning she pooped again...and I mean pooped!  Things were good.  She seemed to be back to normal.  Apparently she wasn't done though, because she went three more times at school.  And this mom of the year forgot the extra diapers on the counter.  Ugh.  When I picked her up I grabbed the few out of the diaper bag and left them in case I forgot again.

When we got home we had lunch and I put both girls down for a nap and hopped in the shower.  When I got up, Evelyn had decided to crawl into the crib and play with her sister.  Back to their respected beds, and things got quiet for 20 minutes.  Vivian started fussing and the next thing I knew Evelyn was slamming open her door and running in to see her sister.  Naps were not going to happen.
 
The problem is that if a nap doesn't happen, Evelyn is a hot mess.  I kept trying to get her interested in things to do, but she was just being a pill.  Let's make an octopus (I had been on Pinterest the night before...)!  Got out the paint...that lasted 3 minutes.  Let's find letters on the magnet board!  NO!  Let's pretend to be animals!  Hop like a kangaroo!  NO!  Let's read a book!  Princesses!  NO!  WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?!?!?!?!  I was so mad at myself that we have been implementing a "TV Turnoff" right now because the watching has just been getting a little out of hand.  All I wanted was to put in a movie and be done with it.  

And with every game I tried to get her interested in that she just brushed aside I got more mad that she wouldn't just take a nap because obviously she needed one.  I was exhausted, she was exhausted, Vivian was exhausted, but no one was napping.  And then she was whining and yelling, so I started whining and yelling.  I was doing everything that I know I shouldn't do.

And I was watching the clock because at about 4:00 my in-laws were due to arrive.  Mommom and Poppop would fix this.  And that was almost equally frustrating because the minute they walked in the door, she would be a different child.  And she was.

She was a lovely child for Mommom, and then was even relatively normal when we went to get dinner.  And I just fumed on the inside because of the little pain in the butt she had been for me all afternoon and for the bad mom I had been in trying to deal with it.

Then she pooped again.  And I reached into the diaper bag...for the diapers that weren't there anymore.  UUUUUUGGGHHH.  It was at that moment that I washed my hands of the day.

And you know, for every day that is a mom fail, there is a mom win because the next morning Evelyn woke up and wanted to finish the octopus I had tried to get her to make with me, and we did.  And it was adorable.  And then she ripped it apart before I could take a picture.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Crying it Out

Last weekend was my sister's wedding.  And I heard from quite a few people how much they love reading about our adventures.  This I know was a really nice way of saying, start writing again you slacker!  Okay, I am sure no one thought slacker.  But it's kind of how I feel seeing as I just looked and my last post was in JULY!

A lot has happened since July.  One of the biggest, and worst, things that has happened is that my baby went from a sleeps through the night baby to a doesn't ever sleep baby.  And the only thing worse than a baby that doesn't sleep, is a baby who USED to sleep.  Maybe it was a growth spurt, maybe it was switching to sleeping in the crib, but whatever the cause, we don't sleep anymore.

At Vivian's 6 month appointment, which was exactly a month ago, the doctor basically said there was no reason for her to still be waking up every 3 hours and it was time to get tough.  We went through a "cry it out" phase with Evelyn, so I wasn't opposed to the idea.  I had been planning it myself, just hadn't really put it into effect.

So I made a plan.  That weekend we would implement cry it out.  Steve and Evelyn were both going to be away (maintaining their sleep was one of the main reasons I ran every time I heard a cry).  It was just Vivian and me.  Mommy and baby.  It was on.

I caved.  There is just something about hearing a baby cry in the middle of the night that is just impossible to ignore.

Steve got home, I got amped up to try it again.  20 minutes of crying it out.  Screaming...not just whining.  There was a problem.  The problem was a growth spurt.  When I finally went in there she ate like she had never eaten before.  And again 3 hours later.  And this went on for a few nights.  When I was finally sure that the growth spurt was over, I geared up for crying it out take two.  A night or so into round two...Vivian came down with her first cold.  I couldn't very well let her cry it out when she was already completely congested, so there we were up again every three house.  About two weeks into the "cry it out" fight, and Mommy was losing big time.

Cold cleared up.  Round three was going to be a Mommy win.  It had to be.  But suddenly instead of up every 3-4 hours, we had a night that we were barely getting 2-3.  I was beside myself.  Then I reached into her mouth the next morning (which happened to be wedding day) to pull out something she stuck in there and felt...a tooth!  I mean, come on!  Growth spurt, cold, now teeth???  This kid was using every trick in the book!

She cut two teeth that weekend, and I was thinking that was it.  It was time for a breakthrough with the sleeping.  And I was right.  She slept for 5-6 hours for the next two nights.  The only problem was that apparently she pulled her big sister into her little game, and Evelyn was up every 3-4 hours for the next few nights.

At this point, it's been a month and there is no real progress.  Last night I geared back up again for a round of crying it out.  2:00 rolled around and she started crying, then screaming.  What could she possibly need?  What could she throw at us that she hasn't pulled yet??  Poop.  A nice two am poop.  The kind that requires a complete jammie change.  And for some reason there were no wipes in her room.  The extra packs are all in Evelyn's room (why...WHY???).  

And that brings us to today.  I have no strength.  One of these days Mommy has to get a win in, right??

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Cow, take 2

As some of you may remember, when it comes to breastfeeding I compared myself to a cow when I was breastfeeding Evelyn.  It should come as no surprise that as far as feeding Vivian, I'm still cow-like.  It's a little sick actually because it has come to the point where when I send my family an adorable video of Vivian being all cute and smiley, the response I get from my sister and mother is this:

 
I'm not nearly as crazy about pumping this time, especially considering Vivian will not be going to daycare anytime soon.  No need to make sure we have a huge stockpile of milk.  I've just been pumping once in the morning, mostly because when Vivian was first born she struggled so much with how quickly the milk came out.  Pumping in the morning helped slow down the milk flow and allowed her to feed at a pace that was more comfortable for her.  It also helped make feeding a little less stressful for me because the gagging and choking was just really scary.  Pumping is still a pain in the butt, though.  I still feel like something of a mad scientist as I combine milk from various days to make full bottles for freezing.  I also think I may have gone just a little crazy a while back when I decided to start documenting different milestones and events on the milk bags: 

 
 
Because Vivian struggled with feeding a little due to getting so much milk, I was kind of nervous to introduce her to the bottle.  I figured she would like the bottle more because the flow of milk was a little slower and she could control it more.  But the desire to be able to get out of the house without the baby outweighed the fear of her preferring the bottle, and at a month old we decided to give it a shot.  As it turned out, my fears couldn't have been farther from reality.  She absolutely refused the bottle.  When we gave Evelyn her first bottle she took it like a champ, and I guess we were expecting the same thing.  What we got were huge baby meltdowns from a baby that is generally the most laid back, easy going little thing.  The only person she seemed to care to take a bottle from was me, which defeated the purpose of the bottle to begin with.  Awesome. 

I became convinced for quite a while that I would now have a freezer full of milk that she would never use.  The milk would just sit there for ever and I would never be able to leave the house without my child.  My infant has been to four bridal showers with me already in her short life because I couldn't leave her at home.  That's more than I had been to by the time I was 25.  Even though I was never going to be able to use the milk I had been working so hard to pump, I still dreaded the thought of losing it when we lost power during a crazy thunderstorm.  I packed that stuff up in cooler bags and drove myself over to my parents' house at 10:00 at night to make use of their generator.  (Also, the quickest way to get the power back was to take the milk somewhere it would be safe I figured.)

Luckily, after a few weeks of some serious work, Vivian is finally taking a bottle.  We have about a week's worth of milk stored in the freezer, which is about all our freezer can hold.  I can leave the house finally without worrying that my baby is starving, and I've been able to make trips to the gym, grocery store, and doctor's appointments without baby. Oh, and Steve and I have been able to get out a few times, too...