We Made it to Week FOUR!

Week 3 (June 3 – June 10)

Esitmated Due Date: February 11th, 2013

Symptoms: Cramps, a very tender upper top half (okay, fine, I’ll say it…breasts), headaches, being super, unbearably hungry (but losing weight, which is nice, I guess), and the moodiness is still here (the hubs is already cowering in fear of preggers Kirsten). It’s very much like what I remember from being pregnant with E., though I think there is more general discomfort this time around. Lots of crampy twinges all over that I don’t seem to remember from before.

Body Changes: About the same as last week, bloaty and booby.

Cravings: My love for salty things continues. I definitely find myself hankering for comfort foods where as the idea of sweets doesn’t do it for me quite as much (though, again, I won’t turn down chocolate…ever).

High Point: Getting to meet with the midwives of in Bridgton. While the hubs and I have pretty much decided it isn’t in the cards for those lovely ladies to deliver baby #2 (darn insurance), they do offer FREE prenatal care and super inexpensive doulas (only $50!!!). We’ll definitely be seeing more of The Birth House for those reasons!

Low Point: This. Still kind of mad about it, too, but I think, assuming I can get into their practice, All About Women in Portland will be a good option for us. They deliver at Mercy Hospital and seem to have a pretty good view on c-sections and VBACs.

Paranoid Moment: Worrying that every little uncomfortable twinge is a sign of something horrible. I had myself convinced for about two days that I must have an ectopic pregnancy, but then I realized two things: one, it would probably be too early to know, and two, I think if I were dealing with an ectopic pregnancy I would know I was dealing with an ectopic pregnancy, not just worry about it.

What I did to prepare this week: I called and made appointments with a couple of places and am still waiting to hear back from another (All About Women). I also had, as I mentioned that appointment at The Birth House. While I’ll probably only keep one or two of the appointments I made (the others sort of seem pointless now that I know people’s policies of VBACs), it was a good experience to get in touch with all the places I did, because I have a better scope on what’s available out there for me in terms of maternity care (and what I need to start fighting for if I ever become some sort of lobbyist for women’s health organizations).

I also bought five books: The Pregnancy Book, by Dr. Sears (I have The Baby Book, which I love, and I wanted an alternative to “What to Expect”, which I hated); Birthing from Within (yep, bought a crunch/granola pregnancy book); The Breastfeeding Book, also by Dr. Sears (I never had a book on this topic when I had E. and I didn’t have as much success breastfeeding as I wanted, so I hope with will help); What’s Inside Mommy’s Tummy (a book for E.; she has lots of questions and I think a good book about what’s happening will be helpful); and A Baby on the Way, another one by Dr. Sears (Are you sensing a pattern yet? And yes, another book for E.)

What’s going on “in there”: Your Pregnancy Week-by-Week explains: “Fetal development is still in the very early stages, but great changes are taking place! The blastocyst is embedded more deeply into the linning of your uterus, and the amniotic sac, which will fill with amniotic fluid, is starting to form.
“The placenta is forming; it plays an important role in the hormone production and transport of oxygen and nutrients. Networks that contain maternal blood are becoming established. Development of the baby’s nervous system (brain and other structures, such as the spinal cord) begins.
“Germ layers are developing. They develop into specialized parts of your baby’s body, such as organs. The three germ layers are the ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm.
“The ectoderm becomes the nervous system (including the brain), the skin and the hair. The endoderm develops into the lining of the intestinal tract, the liver, pancreas and thyroid. The mesoderm becomes the skeleton, connective tissues, blood system, urogenital system and most of the muscles.”

I’m slowly starting to make the transition to all natural, mostly homemade cleaners (in addition to moving out other unnecessary toxins that my family is exposed to on a regular basis). While I love my super basic vinegar and water mixes and scouring my sinks and tub with Borax and baking soda (it’s so freaking cheap!!), one of the major things that I worry about is bacteria. I mean, I have a four year old, for pity’s sake – there is bacteria floating around everywhere! While I do have a bottle of Seventh Generation anti-bacterial surface cleaner (which is supposed to be safer than other brands), I was hoping to find something I could easily make myself and is cheaper than nearly $4 a bottle.

Here was the solution:

The school/clinic in our area had posted this short little “recipe” on their and I couldn’t wait to delve in. The suggestion: Fill a jar with citrus peels (in my case, lemon and orange) and vinegar, let steep for two weeks, then clean away! Citrus, , has some antibacterial properties, as does vinegar, AND citrus is known to cut through grease and other nasty substances, so soaking the peels with the vinegar can make a powerful home cleaning remedy, and one that I’m happy to use.

So, why am I making these switches, slowly but surely? Because, one, it’s way, way more inexpensive to buy big ole boxes of Borax and baking soda and a giant jug of vinegar than it is to buy anything else, environmentally safe or not, and these cleaning supplies are toxin free. Kids these days are exposed to so much crap that I feel like it isn’t such a bad thing to bring all down a notch at home. I know I can’t control what E. breathes in the air each day or touches or is exposed to at preschool or other places, but at least at home I can rest at ease that what I clean our home and her toys with is safe.

Next step on my list of to dos: Find out how to safely dispose of the cleaners I will no longer be using but are still hanging around.

I’ve dealt with a lot of yucky, disease related stuff in my short time as a mom. I’ve been projectile pooped and puked on. I’ve endured long, unhappy nights of crying and peaking fevers. I’ve snuggled, made special couch “beds”, and poured cans of ginger ale into foamy, ice filled cups. But I’ve never dealt with them for as long or as urgently as I have the past couple of days.

E. has had a fever for two full days, the poor bug. We’re spending another day at home tomorrow and will probably be making a trip to the doctor’s office in the afternoon. I’ve been trying to figure out what, besides the usual, could perk up my little wilting rose (and keep me busy after I completed all the house work I could possibly find while she slept on the couch).

I decided to bake a Sick Day Cake.

I found a simple (and delicious) recipe in my Domestic Goddess cookbook (by Nigella Lawson) for Victoria sponge cake and used some frozen berries, defrosted, jam, and chocolate frosting to fill and frost the cake. And then I fed it to E.

It’s yet to be seen if the cake has cured her, but it was nice to see her cheer up a bit (and eat something, even if it was just cake) and feel a bit more like a little kid again and not Ms. Sicky Sickerson. I most certainly see this turning into a (hopefully rare) family tradition.

I’ve been aware of my body for a long time. I’m not sure why – I don’t have a specific early memory of someone saying something to me (but plenty of later memories) – but I’ve known for a long time that I’m not one of the “skinny” girls.

Maybe it was being surrounded by taller, slender little girls in ballet class. Maybe it was that most of my earliest friends were these wispy, adorable kids who had boundless, physical energy (when I would prefer to sit and talk or read or draw and “write”). Maybe there were subtle comments made by the women in my life about their own bodies that I subconsciously picked up on, their own insecurities unwittingly effecting me. All I can solidly recall is that early on, far too early on, I felt that there was something a bit wrong about my body.

That’s not to say that there haven’t been plenty of times in my life where I thought I had a great body, that was beautiful, useful, and that I loved. Two key times come to mind: my mid to late teens, where even donning a “plus size” 14, I felt incredibly attractive. The best part: I was able to realize that not only did I look good, I was confident and I was smart and a few people chose to find me interesting, rather than a bit obnoxious (which, really I was more of the latter). The other time was during my pregnancy. I’d never been more gigantic, but when your body is just so full and ripe and full of life, it’s hard to not feel a bit sexy and fertility goddess-like (and any goddess is pretty damn hot).

After my pregnancy, when I chose to do very little for a long time to lose the weight I had gained since I graduated from high school and then over the course of my pregnancy (plus, my stomach was completely and utterly shot – and I wonder if there is any number of crunches that will bring my formally flat, belly-ring worthy tummy back), my body image slowly slipped into a dark abyss. I’m not entirely sure if my confidence in my attractiveness had ever been lower. But I had to make a decision, because, after E. was born, I was not looking in the mirror, silently thinking critical thoughts just for me. I was thinking them for her as well.

I believe the way a mother talks about her body directly effects how her daughter will look at herself. If your little girl thinks you think you’re beautiful, she will think she is beautiful, too (especially if you reinforce it with your own words towards her). If all you can muster are cutting remarks about how you look, then how can your daughter help but assume she, too, must have inherited the same disgraceful features (especially if you’ve birthed a little mini-me, which I have)? I made the conscious decision very early on that no matter how I felt I would only speak positively about how I looked, and as I’ve been losing weight, I have tried very hard to emphasize the health end of things rather than constantly talking about weight and pants size. It also helps that my wonderful husband has no problem telling me that I’m looking good (which is often, apparently) and casually flirting with me in front of our kid (appropriate, maybe not, but at least E. knows someone besides Mama thinks she’s all that and a bag of chips).

There are lots of things that I want E. to know about herself: she’s brilliant, she’s hilarious with great comedic timing, she has boundless and wonderful curiosity that she must never, never lose, she is worthy of every good thing that comes her way and that she is strong enough to tackle any challenge laid at her feet, and I also want her to know that she is gorgeous, body and soul. She will probably be built like me, therefore, she will be short, curved, and cute, but the fashion magazines she might glimpse on our grocery store shelves and her endless collection of Barbies might place that little niggling feeling of doubt that she is “less than” – which she’s not, and never will be. Among all my jobs as her mother, one is to help her know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she is “more than” in all areas, including her body.

(If anything is a sign of the self-confidence E. has in her own body image, it’s the amount of pictures I had on my iPad to chose from to put here. She loooooves to photograph herself or have her picture taken. She also spends more time in front of the mirror admiring herself than anyone I know.)

My mom does this thing on my birthday every year. She’ll look at me with that weird, nostalgic mom look and wistfully say, “At this time, twenty-*insert appropriate number here* years ago, I was…” and some part of my miraculous arrival would be revealed. I know I roll my eyes every time I hear it (in fact, I rolled them a bit as I write this), but in reality, I kind of like it (okay, love it). I don’t remember the day I was born, so it’s nice to know that someone remembers.

And now I find myself doing the same to E.

Today is her birthday, and every time I glance at the clock I try to guess where I was at that moment. It’s hard to remember, because time moved so quickly that bright Tuesday in early April. What I remember, however, with absolute clarity, is the moment I heard her and the moment I saw her and the moment she was placed in my arms and I held her to my chest. It was time slowed down, every emotion flooding through my body, out my fingertips, making my heart pump the blood through my body with a sudden new purpose.

I was a mother, but, more importantly, this was my daughter. If I didn’t have a reason for life, I most certainly had one now.

And the last four years have been the purest I’ve ever experienced, with the greatest joy and the greatest love (and sometimes the greatest fear and frustration). E. has transformed from a beautiful baby, the model infant – perfect nurser, sleeper, completely content – to a full blown child with ideas and loves and a vivid brilliance and ridiculous vivaciousness. I try to not think so much about how she has changed and how quickly it has all happened, because it can bring me to my knees with joy and wrench my heart with the horrible speed in which it has all happened.

I expect the next four years will go in much the same style the previous four have. I will blink and too much time has passed. There will be the cliche struggles and joys. And ever before me will be a girl who I will simultaneously see as the growing, wonderful person she is, but also as the bawling, raw, pink baby quickly thrust over the curtain as she was delivered nearly exactly four years ago today.

Happy Birthday E. You are loved.

I don’t think it’s every mom who sends their little one to daycare only to have them come home with a CD full of lovely photographs.

Our daycare provider (really, really wonderful woman and mom, Megan) also happens to be a professional photographer (here’s her ). Last week E. mentioned something to me about “having my picture taking! Megan made me do all these silly things!” Now, perhaps in another setting I would be a bit sketched out by this, but considering I knew Megan had been building her photography business for quite some time now AND took pictures of her handsome boys all the time, I didn’t worry too much.

However, I did not expect the CD E. came home with, much less these gorgeous pictures:

I won’t deny it – I am one lucky mama.

Parenting from the Inside Out by psychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel and early childhood expert Mary Hartzell attempts to tackle the age old fear of “becoming your parents.” Through gaining a more concrete understanding of yourself as a person and building a “coherent” story of your past, Siegel and Hartzell claim you can better communicate with and parent your children (without leaving the nasty emotional scars your own parents supposedly left you). The book focuses largely on the concepts of attachment (and those who practice attachment parenting may already have an idea of the neuroscience behind this or will be pleased to have the science for why attachment parenting is a good idea presented to them), making interpersonal connections with your child, and how you can facilitate emotional and empathetic growth in your child.

The book feels as though it is largely intended for parents who do, perhaps, have a genuine fear of repeating the mistakes of their parents. The few examples given in the book to illustrate concepts often feature parents whose childhoods include abusive or distant mothers or alcoholic fathers, and have since grown up, had their own children, and now are having difficult times attaching themselves to their children. For those of us who had really very good childhoods (though my parents would be the first to admit they weren’t perfect – but they did a good job, as far as I’m concerned), it might feel hard to understand why we might have difficulties as parents, as we lack the traumatic beginnings.

What I particularly liked about the book were the more or less scientific explanations regarding brain function in both children and adults, giving me a better sense of why we act the way we do. I also liked the examples that showed alternatives in how to communicate with your child, which I’ve started to employ with my own daughter. For the most part I agreed with the concepts the book presents, like acknowledging your child’s emotions and experiences in the world (which could vary from your own) is an important thing to do and encourages positive emotional growth. I also thought it was nice that there were “inside out exercises” at the end of each chapter, which gave you an opportunity to explore the concepts talked about in each chapter and how they apply to your life.

What I particularly disliked about the book amounts to a bit more than what I like, unfortunately. I did not think it was particularly well written or organized. I think a lot of the information was presented in a confusing way and was, frankly, a bit boring. If I’m going to spend my time reading this book when I have a lot of other things to do as a busy parent, at least make it a bit more entertaining. I also felt that while I don’t mind technical explanations of things (what with all the jargon, regardless of how well they define it), I also need lots of good examples to back it up. I needed to see what they were talking about in action, and there were very, very, very few examples. The book would be so much more powerful if I had a more solid concept of what exactly was being discussed. I also think examples would make working with the “inside out exercises” mentioned above a bit easier to do. And finally, along with the exercises at the end of each chapter there were the “Spotlight on Science” articles, which I thought were totally redundant and boring. They were basically a tangent on a particular scientific aspect of a concept discussed in that chapter. After getting through a chapter I really had no interest in delving further into a concept.

Overall, the book did have some helpful points, and I am curious to read another book I have featuring Daniel Siegel, despite my feelings regarding this particular book. I think this book would be most helpful for someone who has had a difficult upbringing and would like to shed light not just on their parenting but also on their own past as well and how to reconcile the two.

Rating: * * * (out of five)

I tend to get obsessive. I latch on to an idea and can’t seem to let go until I’ve exhausted every aspect of the idea (and if it’s inexhaustible, well, then we’ve got a problem). Lately I’ve got a few things I feel like I just need to write about, because I am completely obsessed.

1.) Vermont. I about a upcoming family vacation (the first out of state) to Vermont this summer. Well, this afternoon we finally reserved a campsite at a state park on Lake Champlain for two nights in August. Holycrapiamsofreakingexcitedimightpuke!!!!! I’ve started complying lists of things I want to do and places I want to go. The trip is 20.5 weeks away (you know I’m serious when I pull out the decimals), but I’ve already started putting together a supplies list. Granted, that in and of itself isn’t so unusual (I’m a super organized camper, otherwise I’d go insane), but doing it five months ahead of time is a little wacky, even for me. Must be the crazy summer-like weather we’ve been having in Maine.

2.) Whole and real foods. I’m still learning what exactly qualifies as “whole” or “real” (or if those two concepts are the same or even related), but the gist is, I’m starting to get a little obsessive about the food we eat. I think it goes hand in hand with the fact that I’m watching how much and nutritious the food is that I am eating, and I’ve always tried to be conscious of what E. eats. Now, however, that I’m not obsessing as much over delicious chocolate cake or cheesy potatoes, my food fixation has shifted to how exactly nutritious and healthy and safe our food actually is.

3.) Women’s (my own, specifically) health. Between exploring the options available to pregnant women when it comes to their care, learning how to track my cycles (something all women, in my opinion, should be taught), and all the craziness that has been in the news lately regarding birth control, Planned Parenthood, and politicians and some members of the government deciding they need to stick their noses where they don’t belong, I’ve found myself becoming extremely passionate about women’s healthcare and access to services for and information about their bodies and how to properly take care of themselves. It has become so ridiculously empowering to know so much about my body, what I can do, without the help of anyone or device or medication, to decide whether or not I want to get pregnant, maintain reproductive health, and just have this intimate knowledge of my whole self.

4.) Babies. I have full-blown baby fever (example here, and please check out the comments area, my cousin Kate offers up some great information). We are so, so ready to have another and the summer (one more reason I can’t wait this next season!) can’t come soon enough.

5.) Above all, I cannot get over my family. I am more in love than ever. There has been so much growth between my husband and I in our relationship. I feel more and more ownership in role as a mother and the love I have for E. is one of the most overwhelming feeling in the world. I am getting my hands on lots of literature, lots of ideas, and doing lots of thinking to help expand and secure my role and abilities as a mother and wife. I take such tremendous pride in who I am in my family that I can’t help but obsess a bit over it.

What are your obsessions or can’t get enough of?

It was my birthday on Monday (woohoo, twenty-four!) and with my birthday comes the annual awesomeness of the Amazon gift certificate from my aunt.

Usually, the gift certificate is divided between a couple of books, maybe a CD, and then some other miscellaneous items or things for E. But this year I had a huge backlog of books I wanted to buy and finally made good on it.

So, here’s what I got:

1.) The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family by Daniel J. Siegel
I don’t really own any parenting books, and while I’m slowly starting to form my own philosophy regarding what kind of parent I want to be, I’m of the school that there are always resources out there that can further inform your outlook on life. Whether it’s personal experience, family and friends, discussion boards online, or a solid book. I also enjoy books that give you a set number and kind of strategy to use. I’m a bit formulaic, and while I understand no idea is one size fits all, it’s nice to have something to start with.

2.) The Successful Child by William Sears
I heavily consulted The Baby Book by Dr. Sears when E. was little and really agreed with what he had to say. I’ve been meaning to pick this book up for some time, but never seemed to have the extra cash. It’s been sitting on my Amazon wish list for a while! I’m curious to see if he sets it up similarly to The Baby Book and how he sees the continuation of attachment parenting with older children.

3.) Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters by Joann Deak
I read this quite some time ago, having borrowed it from the local library. I got either right before or right after E. was born and remember thinking, “Jeez, I’ve got to get this book and hang on to it!” It provides wonderful insight on how to ensure your daughter embraces herself and role in society.

4.) Death Comes to Pemberly by P. D. James
A purely for fun book. (And you saw the other books I’ve got on here, I deserve one!) It takes place at the Pemberly of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, where they are living as a married couple and find that someone has been murdered in their home! *Gasp!* The horror!! I’m so excited to read it!

5.) Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil deGrasse Tyson
First of all, if you’re not familiar with Neil deGrasse Tyson, the world’s dreamiest astrophysicist, go google him or something, or check out his podcasts, or look at old NOVA episodes on PBS’s website or Netflix, or even Monday night’s episode of the Daily Show where he was interviewed, because he is so cool and makes space even MORE awesome (as if that’s possible). As a kid I went through a stint from about 5th to 8th grade where I really, really wanted to be an astronaut and then a physicist…and then I found out you would need to be able to do math – and I hate math – so I decided reading about it could be just as effective. Neil (we’re on a first name basis here), makes space just that more interesting and awesome.

6.) Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health by Toni Weschler
Supposedly this is a bit of a Bible for anyone who is looking to try natural birth control or is looking to get pregnant. While neither one of those are on my plate at this moment, I’ve found that the more in tune I am with what’s going on with my body, the better I feel and the more easily I can manage lady…stuff. I’m looking forward to digging into this!

7.) Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel J. Siegel
I think it goes without saying that I went a little nuts with the parenting books, but…you can never be too prepared, right? This book is by the same author as The Whole Brain Child but the focus is more parents rather than children. I think it’s good to look it how you’re raising your children from multiple perspectives and obviously the perspective of the parent him or her self is pretty important.

8.) Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis
I started reading this over the summer, but the book had a tragic accident and I couldn’t continue. If you have any love for the muppets, Jim Henson, or Sesame Street, chances are you’ll find this book pretty intriguing. I love having loads of useless historical knowledge about things I enjoy (like Sesame Street), so this book is right up my alley.

9.) How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking by Nigella Lawson
Oh, Nigella. How much do I love this woman? She is as beautiful as she is talented (which is very) and I love, love, love her cookbooks and the food that comes from them. I’ve read (like, from cover to cover read) two of her cookbooks and have been itching to get my hands on this one to add to my collection since it was mentioned by a professor during one my classes a couple of years ago. Reading one of Nigella’s cookbooks is more than checking out hundreds of recipes. It’s reading someone’s philosophy on food, taking a peak into her life and culture, and giving you a chance to think about how you view cooking and food. For some, I know, this would be a total bore, but for those of us who would love to be foodies and decent home cooks, it’s immensely interesting and even important.

I’m getting really excited about these books (writing about them hasn’t really helped) and have been checking Amazon and my e-mail obsessively to see if they’ve shipped yet. They’re not due to arrive at my doorstep until March 6th at the earliest, so it’s going to be a bit of a wait, but hopefully worth it. I do plan to review at least a couple of the parenting books and Nigella’s cookbook (though I can kind of already tell that it’s going to be awesome), since those directly correlate to a lot of what I write about here. I’m hoping I’ll feel as though they’re all good buys by the time I’m done reading!!

What was your most recent (or exciting) book purchase?

I mentioned in an post that I was going to write about what has been working for us in the realm of parenting. These are fairly recent developments, but I was so excited to finally feel like I was doing something that was actually working, that I had to share.

Of course, I am coming pretty late to the game in a lot of this, and I’m not giving anything new, so you may read this and go, “Yeah…duh…”, but keep two things in mind: One, I write this partially for me, to remember that at one point I felt like I knew what I was doing, when, you know, E. is a rebellious 16 year old with a nose ring. Two, I also write this for commiseration. There are other parents who are sometimes floundering in a sea of parenting information, yet feel completely immobilized when it comes to handling their child’s less than savory behavior.

Also, in E.’s defense, she’s a really great, easy going kid, but as any kid does, she’s developing some…interesting…behaviors that I’d rather nip in the bud now, rather than let them stew and become worse.

Laugh it off.
I can be very uptight sometimes, especially when I’m getting tired and E. is reaching that phase of little kid exhaustion where it’s like being with an especially intoxicated person. There’s only so many times you can ask a kid to put her underwear on and be told to, “put it on your face, Mama!” *cackle, cackle*. It’s times like these where I have to give myself the mental reminder of: She thinks she’s being REALLY funny. Just go with it.

Silly behavior in little kids is not coming from a place of rudeness or from a desire to mess things up for you – they’re just trying to have fun. And while I may not always feel like getting in on the laughs, I’ve at least started to relax and realize the undies are still going to get where they’re supposed to go (not on my face).

Is it worth it?
This section could also be called pick your battles, because that’s basically what I’m doing. When I’m finding that I’m getting annoyed with E. over something and am getting ready to go into pissy mommy mode, I ask myself, “Is it worth it?” Is it worth getting upset, getting E. upset, and potentially throwing off a good day over whatever it is I’m having a problem with? Naturally, sometimes E. is behaving in a really not okay way and something has to be said or done, even if it’s going to get those involved upset. But other times I have to wonder if it’s really the behavior or if it’s me. Once I give myself some perspective, it’s easier to decide whether or not I want to get into it with E., and I find we’re battling less, enjoying each other more, and some of those behaviors I wasn’t so keen on before, they recede or go away completely.

Eliminate the negative by accentuating the positive.

We’re trying this new “thing” amongst all the other approaches we’re taking with E. Above is a picture of two rather unassuming jars both with some of those glass stones you see filling vases with flower arrangements. Those are E.’s “stones” and she is currently trying to fill the smaller of the two jars in order to earn a reward (in this case, she wants to bake a treat with me).

E. earns stones by showing good behavior and being helpful without being prompted. For example, E. really struggles with transitions. When she does successfully transition from one thing to the next, I reward her with a stone. Or, today, E. volunteered to pick up her toys off the stairs without my asking, so I gave her a stone to put in the small jar. I don’t give her a stone every single time she does something good or that she’s supposed to do (though we do use a lot of positive language); we mainly focus on the areas that she struggles with the most (so, transitioning well, staying calm when she’s frustrated or mad, picking up her toys without being asked or prompted a lot).

Time and choices work wonders.
I don’t know what it is about counting that gets little tushes to move, but when I start saying, “One…two…” she’s moving! On the occasion when I get to three and E. hasn’t stopped doing what I’ve asked her to stop or hasn’t come to me when I’ve asked, then I will get up and move her. Sometimes to a time out spot, sometimes to where I asked her to go, but most of the time, one, two, three gets her going.

I think giving her a few moments to think and decide for herself if she’s going to do what I asked helps. It gives her some sense of control over her actions, which is something I think all parents of 3-year-olds can agree is important to them. And, in this vein, I do try to give her control over what’s happening as much as possible. A choice means she is more likely to at least do one thing that I need her to do and she will feel good about doing it, rather than put upon. I’ve also had to realize that I can’t expect what I ask her to do to be done immediately or exactly the way I want it. Giving a little extra time is just fine.

Mommy time outs are more effective than kiddo time outs.
At our house, time outs for E. can frequently end with a red faced and tear stained little girl pouting on a flight of stairs (this is where we send E. for time outs). Sometimes they are effective and give her a chance to cool off (I don’t usually set a time for E. to sit on the stairs, but instead say that she can come back and talk to me after she is calm and has taken some deep breaths), but most of the time it makes little difference in her behavior. In reality, when I send E. for a time out, I’m the one who really needs it.

Sometimes you’ve just had enough. Their behavior is bad and yours isn’t so hot either and sometimes it’s better to just step away. If the hubs is home, I might go out for a walk. If not, I make sure E. is in a safe place and I step into my bedroom or even the bathroom, and just chill for a little bit. If I can, I’ll try to read a few pages from a book, or, at the very least, take a few deep breaths. It helps a lot to be able to go back into a troubled situation with a clear mind, making me more receptive to E.’s needs.

Okay, so I’ve written this all out, and I’m feeling pretty good, because this is, on a whole, what I do with E. and it’s been working well for us. But, please know, that there are also times when you can find me nose to nose with my little girl, hashing it out, choices, mommy time outs, and stones be damned. But, on the whole, what we should look for as parents is progress, not perfection, because we’ll never be perfect parents (or, at least, I never will be). And being able to utilize what I’ve written about above? That, my friends, is progress.