Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sibling Rivalry: Shark-like Behavior, During Shark Week or Not, is Unacceptable!

The day has come . . . I've started to get my first dose of sibling rivalry with my kids. To be honest, I'm surprised it took so long. They are now three and just shy of two, and I can only imagine that it will get worse as they get older. They have always played well together. They respect each other's space, but are quick to give each other hugs too. They have impressed me with the way they share. Very recently, their sisterly bond has taken a turn. A love/hate, BFF/worst enemy turn that often has me grinding my teeth.

Shark Week 2013, The Quirky Kids ~
It started last week. It was a rainy morning and I was trying my best to keep my girls entertained indoors. I brought out two pop up tents, a tunnel and 200 mini balls. I thought for sure this would keep my kids entertained for a while since it's not something I bring out all that often. Even though they are good cleaner uppers, this is definitely a once in a while, rainy day activity. After about 50 balls into the clean up process, it becomes torturous for all of us. Within minutes of me dumping out that huge bag of balls, both kids decided they weren't fun anymore. Instead, they opted to put American Girl Doll tights on their heads and chase each other around with spatulas. They renamed themselves "The Amazing Baking Buddies" and were content and full of giggles. It was loud, but not nearly as loud as it got when I left the room.

As I was putting laundry away the giggles I heard coming from the room turned to yells, then screams, then cries. As I rushed back into the room I saw the two of them wrestling on the floor over a pair of fuchsia doll tights. I'm not sure who took whose tights, but what I did see was my youngest lean over and bite my oldest daughters arm . . . hard. I broke up the fight, and firmly told my youngest that biting is not okay. I comforted my oldest, washed the bite and applied ice. She calmed down quickly, and liked the fact that her younger sister was jealous of the special treatment she was getting. I'm not sure what was so special about ice cubes, but she liked them so much that I heard her encouraging her sister to
Sibling Rivalry, Bite Me Charlotte ~
bite her again later that afternoon as I was in the other room. "Do it Charlotte, bite my arm. You'll get in trouble, and I'll get ice. Hahaha." I rushed back to the room, and thankfully I heard Charlotte telling Lanie "NO BITING". Maybe it was just a one time deal that happened to coincide with the upcoming Shark Week. Whatever the case, Jaws like behavior is one thing that I have a hard time tolerating. Shark Week or not, biting is unacceptable!

My youngest has been working hard to outshine her sister with the potty training. While they are both well on their way, Charlotte shows a much greater interest. Not only will she tell us that she has to go, but she'll climb, and jump childproof gates to get to the adult size potty in the bathroom. Apparently the little potty (that is always accessible in the room they are playing in) is for babies, and so are childproof gates. The climbing . . . Dear God . . . the climbing . . . IS the biggest teeth grinder of them all. I did let the gate climbing slide since she actually used the potty. Plus, that incident was not nearly as bad as finding her sitting in the middle of the kitchen counter, playing with a box of tissues all during the 27.2 seconds that it took me to run a bag of trash down to my garage.

On top of the fighting, biting, and climbing, the Awkward Mom Moment, award of the week, goes to Lanie. During our trip to the local wholesale store, we were in the check out lane, when she decided to strike up a conversation with the woman behind us. It went as follows:

Lanie: "Lovely day. Actually, it's a great day. We're buying Popsicles. What are you buying?"
Woman: speechless and turning bright red
Lanie: "Are you being shy? It's okay. I was shy once too."
Woman: now dripping sweat

I don't blame this woman one bit for not answering the question. I'd be speechless and sweaty too if a three year old interrogated me about the jumbo sized, variety pack of condoms that I was buying.

I looked away in shock. OMG shock. This stuff never happens when people have simple things like snack packs in their shopping carts.

Shark Week 2013 starts August 4th!

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Friday, July 26, 2013

The Key to Getting Top Notch Behavior from the Kids

The Quirky Mom ~
Did the title fool you? Do you really think I hold the key to opening up all the secrets that result in good behavior? Ha! On the slim chance that I did fool you with my rants, think again . . . but if you know somebody who has all the secrets, send them my way.

I'm a firm believer that all children are different. What tricks work for some, may not work well for others. My kids are like night and day. They are such polar opposites of each other that I've pretty much gone down the whole list of parenting techniques and approaches when it comes to encouraging good behavior. Let's be honest, kids can be just a tad bit bipolar. You never really know what (or who) you're going to get, and when you're going to get it.

We all know the basics - well rested, well fed . . . blah blah blah, usually goes in your favor, but it's never a guarantee. I can tell you this much, my kids are always in bed at a reasonable hour. They are always encouraged to take naps, or "rest". They are also offered nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day. It's not my fault if they choose to sing really loud during quiet time, or eat one cheerio and chalk it up as breakfast. I try my best to get them to rest and eat, but I also refuse to force feed vegetables in their faces. The airplane approach only goes so far these days. As far as nap goes . . . sometimes it just doesn't go, and I accept that. (As long as I have five minutes to take a shower.) Plus, no naps just result in an earlier bedtime . . . for all of us. (You better believe my patience has usually been thrown out the window by 4 pm on no nap days.) I've become a master at keeping my composure though . . . most of the time.

Never Fully Dressed without a Smile
This is my attitude: (and some people may look at it as a bad attitude, but it works for me.) I expect the worst, but hope for the best . . . for everything. Example: You're throwing a birthday party for your kid during my kids "rest time"? Sure! We'll be there! Even though it may result in what could be the most massive meltdown, EVER. This is what I expect, however, I am usually surprised and pleased by the outcome. Usually my kids are having too much fun to show signs of being tired, and they'll save the meltdown for me at home later. I'm okay with that. I go into whatever it is we're doing with a positive attitude for my kids sake and everyone else, although there is often a little voice in the back of my head that says "This is going to be a total sh!t show." You know what Little Orphan Annie says though - "You're never fully dressed without a smile!" Good advice - Smiling goes a long way. So does talking to your kids.

Over the past week we had one visit to the pediatrician for a 3 year check up, and two first time visits to the dentist. A lead test for my big kid,  and a stranger sticking their hands in both of my kids mouths. Now keep in mind I'm totally thinking "sh!t show", but I hyped up these visits with a Little Orphan Annie smile, and told my kids how great it is to go to the doctor and dentist for check-ups. I didn't overkill the talks, but answered any and all questions they had with a big KOOL-AID smile. My oldest had lots of questions and comments about going to these appointments, and my youngest listened in on everything. This resulted in lots of big, cheesy smiles and excitement from me. I mean everybody loves to start off their Monday morning bright and early with a trip to the dentist or doctor, right? Well, my kids certainly do. 

Quirky Dental Appointment ~
On appointment day my oldest woke up with just as much excitement as she had on her birthday. She was tickled pink about her trip to the doctor. Both the doctor and nurse could not stop laughing because she could barely contain her excitement. During her lead test the nurse advised her that she may want to look away instead of looking at the needle in her arm. She responded with "Thank you, Nurse! This is just so great! I love lead tests! Now I can go to college!" I'm not really sure where the whole college comment came from, but it gave us all a good laugh. We had a similar outcome during our visit to the dentist. Both girls
The Quirky Kids at the Dentist ~
were thrilled to be up and out of the house at 7:30 am to start our day off with a new adventure. Lanie, my oldest, did spectacular and got a super report on the great brushing she does. I was nervous about Charlotte and was told that they may not be able to get a full cleaning/exam. They encourage kids to go at her age more for the experience and to prepare them for this when they are a little older. She blew us all away with her stellar behavior. She sat still, let them examine and clean her teeth with no trouble at all! The dentist said Charlotte put her teenage patients to shame! I was amazed by their role model behavior.

I'm thinking it may be time to throw my secret  "Negative Nancy" approach out the window. Not everything is always going to be a sh!t show. My kids have proven that to me. Actually, they have shown me what the true definition of amazing is. Just ask my oldest . . . She always rants and raves over how "amazing" she and her sister are. You'd trip over their amazingness if you weren't looking. Truth is, they are pretty amazing. Especially during their visits to doctor and dentist offices. We'll just save the flip outs for the grocery store. After all, nobody is perfect, and I'm okay with that too.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

The Unexpected Visitor on a Scorching Hot Day

Scorching Hot Day ~
It's been hot here. Scorching hot. The type of hot that gives you few options for keeping your kids entertained. Indoors is always an option, but not always fun. You can only remind my kids not to put Barbie doll shoes in the toilet, not to eat play-doh, or to keep paint on the paper and not in each others hair so many times before you sound like a broken record. I save that stuff for rainy days. I'm more of an outdoors person. My kids are too. Unfortunately, it's been too hot for walks, playgrounds and picnics in the field. The typical stay at home mom strolls around the air conditioned mall get old too. Especially when they always include a visit to the second floor play place. Those visits, more often than not, result in tantrums when it's time to leave. The thought of wrestling my kids into their car seats in the 95+ degree weather . . . forget it . . . I don't even want to think about that. It's just too hot. We've been using the blow up pool and water table, all day, everyday, for I don't know how many days in a row. This does not get old. This $7 pool from Job Lots has been my savior. What can I say . . . we're living large. I set up my back deck every morning at 7:30 am with all their water toys for the day, and we are golden. They love it, and I do too.

Quirky Woodchuck ~
This morning was different. I went out bright and early to set up shop, and much to my surprise, I was not alone. I heard some rustling in the leaves over by our woodpile about 15 feet away. I stopped what I was doing to get a closer look. Suddenly, a face peeked out of the bottom of the pile. It appeared to be a monstrous woodchuck, or a groundhog, or maybe a beaver of some sort. (Please excuse my inability to specify the exact species that hissed at me as I stood there, frightened, with my hose. I grew up in more of a city atmosphere. This stuff didn't exist in my backyard growing up.) As this plump, porcupine type creature is continuing to hiss at me, I'm thinking "Oh no, you are not going to ruin our pool day." I took a step forward with my hose in hand causing it to charge towards me. It was at that point that I thought I heard more of them. My first thought was this damn thing gave birth to a litter of baby porcuwoodchuckians in my woodpile. I ran inside. I had to keep my composure in front of my kids and calmly explain that there was a change of plans. We were not going to have a pool day, instead we were just going to stay cool inside with the AC and some fun arts and crafts or whatever.

My kids spent the day engaging in various forms of dramatic play. They pretty much kept each other entertained, while I spent a good amount of time staring out the window at the woodpile waiting for this beast to show its face again. 

As the kids played, one of the conversations I overheard was as follows:
Lanie - "Let's play a game called you be Daddy and I'll be Mommy. This means you have to be the griller, cause you're Daddy. I have to be Mommy. This means I eat all the steak. This is just pretend though. I could never eat as much steak as Mommy. She's all steak, and some bones too."
Charlotte - "Okay. Yeah, steak and bones."

I can only imagine the rep I'm going to get when this kid starts preschool. Although, maybe it won't be so bad. I did witness that unidentified creature run off. I even went over to the woodpile and banged on it with one of my kid's toys. The coast was clear . . . the pool was open for the afternoon! Mom saves the day! If approaching a creature free woodpile with a plastic golf club counts . . .

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Vacationing with Kids

n. A period of time devoted to pleasure, rest, or relaxation, especially one with pay granted to an employee.

Stay at Home Mom's Definition of Vacation:
Disregard all of the above . . . except for the pleasure part. Spending ten full days away with your family can surely have some pleasurable moments. It can also have some far less than pleasurable moments as well.

The Quirky Trip to Story Land ~
We spent the last week and a half vacationing in Bridgton, Maine. My in-laws own a cozy cottage on a quiet pond there. (I'm sure it was quiet before we arrived.) They were kind enough to open their doors to our entire extended family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and a big black lab. We decided to change our initial plan of making the car ride up on the 4th, and instead left on the night of the 3rd when my husband arrived home from work. The kids will sleep in the car, right? Wrong. The kids were wired on excitement, and fell asleep in the last 15 minutes of the three hour drive, at 10:45 pm. We can just move them to their beds when we get there. No big deal, right? Wrong. My now overtired children, who both at times can have difficulties with transitions, were woken up despite our ever so gentle attempts at removing them from their car seats. So now you mix overtired, with a new atmosphere, and BOOM . . . Just like that chaos kicks in.

The Quirky Kids on Vacation ~
While my oldest is like a rock star who can seem to function on very little sleep, she was in her glory and ready to party. A crowd, a dog, bring it. My youngest, however, went into an immediate state of panic. A crowd, a "cow" I mean dog . . . *ear piercing screams*. She really just needed her crib, and unfortunately that was at home. And no, I did not bring her pack and play/portable crib. She jumps out of it. A queen sized bed is a much safer option for her. Our tremendous efforts at trying to get her to sleep, and not scream, in an unfamiliar place were unsuccessful. Not only the first night, but the second night too. That's where the "rest" and "relaxation" gets thrown out the window in my definition of vacation.

After two days, and a total of six hours of sleep, I started to question if there was something more than just the change of environment that was troubling her. I had noticed she had been pulling a bit at her ears. Vacation wouldn't be vacation without a trip to the ER. Her ears were fine, her throat was fine . . . diagnosis - a rash. Treatment - Benadryl. The ER doctor said, "If anything the Benadryl wont hurt her, it will knock her out. I'm not telling you this from a physicians point of view, I'm telling you this from a father of six daughters point of view. You guys look like you could use a break. Good luck." Allrighty then, next stop - the local drug store.

When we finally got back, my father in law suggested that my husband and I go out to dinner . . . take a kid free break. As tired as we were, that's just what we did. I had two full hours of freedom, a lobster roll and two White Russians. One word . . .  fan-friggen-tastic! Although part of me felt guilty for leaving, I was glad to come home to good reports. Things turned around from that point on. We enjoyed the company of our family and the great weather. My girls were like fish enjoying the beachfront. They would spend all day in the sand and water, and I loved watching them smile.


The Quirky Kids at Story Land ~
Unlike us, our extended family didn't have the following week off. We were sad to see them go. We were also sad to see the sun go. Four straight days of rain. Let me tell you, entertaining two small children indoors in a place that is not yours, for that amount of time, is NO cup of tea. This is a time that I really wish my kids would watch TV. Seriously, I thought kids begged to watch TV?! Not mine. Instead they hunt down remotes to electric fireplaces and figure out how to turn them on, or remove doors from their hinges. (Don't worry Nanny and Grandpi. We have become masters at fixing things.) We have also accepted the fact that over time having two "busy" girls like ours, will most likely result in spending a small fortune in hardware stores.

The Quirky Kids Swimming ~
The next few days I watched the weather like a hawk. I was looking for a short, four hour, rain-free window that we could take a trip to Glenn, New Hampshire. Someone was on my side, cause we got it. We ventured off to Story Land. A tad bit pricey, kids theme park about an hour away. Let me tell you, that was the best $110 spent all week. It's no Disney World, but just like anything you pay to play. It even beat out my lobster roll and cocktails. It rained most of the trip over and immediately started down pouring just as we left, but the sun shined the entire time we were there. It was pretty gloomy the rest of our vacation. We didn't let it stop us from having fun though. We caught fish, frogs and swam in the rain. My oldest would randomly yell out "HAPPY"! My youngest who had a rough start, ended the week by taking several jumps off the dock and into the water. She's my dare devil who constantly keeps me on my toes. This is the girl who loves water, but would barely put her toes in it the beginning of the week. Baby steps I guess. All and all a great time. Vacation from vacation is good too. I'm glad to be home and not have to wrestle my kids to bed. I'm also glad to walk away with some good memories. Until next time, Maine!

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Dog Days of Summer: Us versus Them

Temperatures rising - Us versus Them ~
With summer in full swing and the temperatures rising, my husband and I have been trying our best to keep our cool. It's not always easy, but we manage. Let's just say, it's been a full four days of button pushing and testing limits.

The days leading up to my now three year old's birthday were magical. It was like a switch had flipped. The occasional dose of "terrible twos" appeared to be out of her system. We were seeing a new light. My youngest was following her big sisters

Birthday Girl ~
lead, and role model behavior. Quite frankly, my husband and I were in disbelief over how smoothly the days were going. It was nice . . . while it lasted. The good behavior and not so good behavior definitely seems to come in waves. We have learned to take the good with the bad and the bad with the ugly, but at the end of the day we know it's all worth it. We always end the day with a smile. (Even if it's due to the simple fact that it's bed time.)

The past few days have been tiring. My oldest no longer takes naps. Actually, she hasn't for a long time. She still needs them, otherwise from 4 PM on we enter "the witching hours". Up until recently I could usually bank on one four hour power nap a week, which seemed to do the trick. (For all of us). While she would play catch up with rest, it would usually give me a break to catch up on things around the house. Now, instead of sleeping, or resting, she sings songs. Really loud songs about butterflies, stars, or shoes. Though they are very creative and cute, they will often wake up her sister. Let me tell you . . . that's not cute.

Playing Pirates - Us versus Them ~ TheQuirkyConfessions.comThere's a saying "never wake a sleeping baby", and even though Charlotte is not a baby anymore, she still falls into that category. NEVER wake a sleeping Charlotte, ever. EVER, ever, or you will pay. We paid twice over the past couple of days. I won't get into all of the details, but I will say this. . . While some kids display overtired behaviors with grouchiness and temper tantrums, my kids turn into a whole new level of crazy. Like wild animal crazy. By the end of the week we ended up with a broken kitchen cabinet, and two shredded throw pillows. I'm not even exactly sure how this happened. Maybe during the game of "Let's Be Pirates" when they were chasing each other around with plastic forks while yelling "Arghhh, Matey!" For the record, I don't typically let my kids play with plastic forks. They must have found and hid them during the family party we had for Lanie's birthday.  The second that I reprimanded them for this, my oldest yelled out "Aye Aye Captain", and immediately gathered the forks and put them on the counter.  I wasn't aware that I ran such a tight ship.

My youngest throws her food. ALL. THE. TIME. It's awful. Mealtimes are not fun, they're stressful. She has got the arm, and aim of a professional baseball player. She landed a piece of steak tip in my ice water the other night. I didn't even realize until much later when my husband pointed it out. Which leads me to my final vent. . . Feelings.

I talk to my kids a lot about how their actions can cause reactions. Good or bad.

Example: Charlotte, when you throw steak tips in my water, or scrambled eggs on the floor it makes me feel angry and sad.

The Turkey - Us versus Them ~
I just had to have a talk with Lanie about people's feelings while we were at the grocery store. We had to make a trip to the restroom. She had finished up and was washing her hands. Suddenly she yelled out "Is that a turkey?" It was not a turkey. It was a woman entering the restroom wearing a big poofy, dress. It was black, with white spots and some red mixed in. She also had big dangly feather earrings. As the woman made her way into the stall I nervously said to Lanie "Oh, you want to get turkey today? Okay" I was trying to gear the conversation in a different direction, even though I clearly knew that was not what she meant. She replied, "No, I don't like turkey. Is that a turkey that just went into the potty? Hey are you a turkey?" Now, I don't blame her for making the turkey comparison. Actually, I agreed 100%. This woman did look like a turkey, although I didn't let Lanie know that. It was my first official OMG, I am so embarrassed by what my kid just said, get me out of here right now, moment. I quietly said no, and scooped her up and out of the bathroom. We spent the rest of the shopping trip talking about being careful about what you say out loud. I said that the colors of her dress did look like a turkey, but she was a person who has feelings, and calling people turkeys is not nice. I asked her if she would like it if someone called her a turkey. She replied with "Yes. No, actually I want to be a Zebra." Kids will be kids, and I'm unsure if she got my whole point. That being said, she'll learn eventually. Just like Charlotte will learn not to throw her food. They just may need a few thousand reminders along the way.

Needless to say, it's been one of those weeks where I have felt my blood pressure rising on more than one occasion. My husband sensed this and could also relate. Yesterday he sent me out for some kid-free retail therapy. I got new shoes. Shoes kind of do make tough times better. He left for work this morning after giving us all a kiss goodbye, and quietly wishing me "Good Luck." He gets it. In the end, we win. All of us.

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