Tiger Shark

Because I don’t have photos from last last week’s graduation
Because I never had a reason to learn how to make a video until now…
Because this deserves to be documented…

Indulge me for just 2 minutes. She made me super proud today.

Posted in Skills | Tagged | 14 Comments

Angry Birds

Gold, silver bronze trophies

Hubby sees Victory.

I see Future School Project Material. (Where can I hide them in the mean time?)

Little Libra sees Angry Birds.

Posted in Child Vision | Tagged | 8 Comments

Getting Your Toddler to Sleep in Their Own Bed

The bottle was half-empty and another one was being chilled. Psychedelic Furs’ Heartbreak Beat played softly in the background. No hubbies or boyfriends, just me and my girls basking in much needed girl time. Giggling, confiding, venting, joking. The night was young and in our minds we were 25. Little Libra enjoyed being one of the girls, laughing when we laughed even more wholeheartedly. So as bed time approached, I wasn’t too surprised when she refused to go to bed.

But I insisted.

And she erupted into a full blown tantrum. NOOOOO! *sob* Good girl! *sob* Want mommy! *sob, sob, hiccup*

BAM! Back to reality. Treating my child like a teddy bear for the past two and a half years just backfired on me at that instant.

At first I thought she was being defiant. But after a few rounds of raising my voice, leading her to the bedroom and chasing me back in the living room, I realized that she didn’t know how to go to bed without me while I was in another room. She was accustomed to going to bed with me, on my bed, by my side. I wanted her to go solo straight away- so I could carry on with girl time. A completely bad mom moment.

I forgot about the very real effect of separation anxiety on my daughter. I skipped a slew of steps which resulted in The How Can You Abandon Me Wailing (what I also like to call crazy crying for short). I had only probed the idea of sleeping on her own bed in passing and then I thrust it upon her just like that. She responds better  when she’s been warned and she has to time to absorb the change (or maybe it’s just my daughter who behaves this way?)

Well, we have to start somewhere.

There was no other time I felt the urge to wean her from my bed until that moment so I ran with it. Girl Night came abruptly to an end (Sorry!) but at least the prospect of more uninterrupted ones are on the horizon. Little Libra is now on her third consecutive night of sleeping on her own. This post is for all the other indulgent parents who are now outgrowing their human teddy bears and aching to entertain (guiltlessly) at home. Here’s what has been working for me…

Getting Your Toddler to Sleep in Their Own Bed in 6 Steps:

1. Establish a bed time and rhythm. Our rhythm is to pick a book, dim the lights, read the book, drink her last bottle,  pray and say good night– at no later than 9pm. I like winding down together. It establishes a closeness but also provides a neat ending to the day. I can go on about the last dreamy smiles, last kwentos and last kisses but for now I consider those fringe benefits. It’s all about tough love moving forward.

2. Tell her why. On the first two nights of crazy crying, she would plead “good girl” in between sobs, as if she was promising good behavior so we could go back to the old program. I had to clarify that I wasn’t angry with her and that sleeping on her own isn’t a punishment. She is a big girl now and that means sleeping in her own bed. That calmed her down. These little ones are so fragile and delicate at times.

3. Give a directive and repeat it consistently. I tell her to lie down, close your eyes, go to sleep like a drill sargent, i.e. with a firm and stern voice no matter how much she cries or smiles or tries to climb back to my bed. Since we’re creating a new routine, she needs to be reminded about what to do and that it is a permanent change. No funny business allowed otherwise I lose credibility.

4.Turn off the lights. This limits her movement, lessens distractions and eventually the darkness makes her sleepy. This was tricky for me. I can’t sleep at 8:30-9pm all the time so I pull out my laptop and that serves as the sole lighting of the room. As long as I repeat the directive, she cannot engage with Mommy.

5. Be consistent. The first night was super stressful for me. With so much crazy crying, I had to toughen up and imagine my happy place to get through it. I wanted to relent but I couldn’t let her think she could crazy cry her way out of undesirable conditions. On the second night, the new routine needs to be reinforced so relenting is not an option, unless you want to go through that first night again… I didn’t think so.

6. Praise her. When she wakes up the next day, tell her “You did it!” — so she sees that she’s ok sleeping on her own and that she connects last nights challenge with an accomplishment. She’ll be very pleased with herself. What a nice way to start the day for the both of you.

It’ll take more time for Little Libra to fall sleep without me in the room at all –just like it took her about 1 month or so with her ballet, swimming and exploring classes. But I think she’ll make the connection eventually. Following the steps above should get her to sleep quicker and allow me to slip away sooner if anything. Then can I finally focus on entertaining guests and other little  rewards that moms deserve after a long day.

Good luck Moms! And please share other tips that have worked for you.

sleeping in her own bed

Look! No Mommy or Daddy beside me!

Posted in discipline, How-To, Skills, The Mommy Psyche | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Cocoa Under Cover

Cocoa seems to prefer lower and lower ceilings…

Cocoa under cover

Under the desk

Cocoa under cover

Under the high chair

Cocoa under cover

Under her rocking chair

Cocoa under cover

Under the ottoman

Is she trying to hide from us?

Posted in Pets | 4 Comments

Wild Thing

My daughter is eating me up.

My tricks and empty threats don’t work anymore. I count One…She chimes Two! I look into her eyes and say “Follow. Mommy.” She looks at me squarely and says “No”. In my heart I think Wild Thing! Her eyes say You betcha…Game on Mommy.

I can’t help but associate this new found defiance/confidence with her progress in class. This whole growing into her independence thing coincides with a testing of its powers. What a double-edged sword motherhood is! But how do you discipline with love and not with exasperation? How do you not react to tantrums and keep your wits intact? How do you demand respect without negating her sense of individuality?

I don’t know. I’m figuring it out.

Based on experience, losing the temper doesn’t work. It just results in guilt, wrinkles and a sore throat. No apology can erase the sight of seeing your mother lose it. I’m thankful she hasn’t learned resentment yet. And after all that drama, nothing even changes. She reacts with another act of defiance.

Sharing the issue with Hubby helps. He gets a taste of the tantrums in hors d’oeuvres sizes. So sometimes he thinks it’s cute. But he eventually gets his fill and can sympathize with my plight, my tantrum entrees if you will. He told me to remember that she’s two, to not give in, and to ignore her. Spoken like a true…man. It helped to talk it out.

Asking my friends worked for me best. I have a couple of friends I consider Kid Whisperers. They are approachable, sensible and really patient with my line of questioning– flow diagram style (what if this, what if that). So my KW coached me through the Time Out method. Honestly, it doesn’t sound like much of a punishment to me. Being sent to a room and being alone? That’s my  version of heaven. I say leave me there and don’t come back! But as my husband said, “Babe. She’s not you. She’s  TWO.”

I put the theory into practice. When the Wild Thing emerged, I kept my cool, declared a Time Out and walked her to the spare room. I closed the door and waited in the hallway, not knowing what to expect. She didn’t seem to know she was being punished. But the method proved itself when she came out crying after less than two minutes. It worked! (I know. I have been pushed so far off the edge that I’m happy to see my baby cry.) I pulled her back into the room and talked about her unbecoming behavior. I asked her to look me in the eye and say sorry. Her eyes were filled with tears and the sweet voice I know and love apologized to me. The remorse was apparent and my heart melted.  We embraced and I whispered in her ear, “I’ll eat you up. I love you so.”

And that’s how I tamed my Wild Thing– for now.

Posted in discipline, How-To, The Mommy Psyche | Tagged | 6 Comments

Impromptu Graduation

I don’t usually do this but I scheduled a swimming lesson right after exploring class. So we ran from one venue to another in fifteen minutes and had to change into our swimsuits. Well, Little Libra changed. I forgot my swimsuit… Happiness!

This should have happened two sessions ago. I just didn’t have the heart to desert her especially when her classmates had their moms by their side.  But I knew she was ready when I needed to endorse Teacher’s command, as if Teacher was a yaya and I was the swimming authority. Me. The one whose sole concern was keeping her hair dry. Me. The one who flinched every time a kid made a big splash.

I would love to tell you how proud I was to see her swim independently, how secretly sad I felt for not being needed. But I can’t. I was too busy relishing in my dry clothes, chatting with the other moms, half-watching and half-cheering her on. It was exactly the way I dreamed it would be. Unfortunately, my camera -which I usually forget- was deliberately left at home. I thought I’d be in the water. So I have no photos of graduation. This post will have to do.

Happy graduation to me…

 

Posted in Skills | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Birthday Suit

I was tinkering around the kitchen when I realized that I was tinkering away uninterrupted for far too long…

Look what I found:

A newly acquired skill

Carefree!

My thoughts in chronological order:

Naked again?!

Oh gad, she wants to be Cocoa. That time she poured milk into a plate and lapped it up was not a one-off thing! Should I start getting clothes for Cocoa??

She kind of looks like those PETA I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur ads.

She’s so happy. I thought that smile was exclusively for watching TV.

I bet it feels so liberating.

Hmmm…Why is she wearing socks??

Socks and only socks

Today's outfit: Socks and only socks

I saw a pile of her clothes stuffed into a bin on the floor. What was she possibly thinking? Ok, finished packing all my pambahay in this bin. Everything…but the clothes I’m wearing!

Then while scouring her top drawer she sees the socks: There’s a bit of a draft. These socks should do the trick!

Apparently, there is an alternative way to view my naked toddler and it has nothing to do with Cocoa, fur, or being a hippy –she just figured out how to undress herself. Yay! Surely that means the dressing-herself skill is around the corner, right?

WhatToExpect.com lists a couple of others ways to help understand the naked toddler:

  • Being naked just plain feels good. (Hilarious, but true!)
  • Shedding clothes is a way of asserting control and testing boundaries. By taking off the outfit you painstakingly put on, your little streaker is sending the message: “You might be able to dress me, Mom, but you can’t keep me that way!”

The site also shares how parents should handle it:

  • Say yes sometimes. When temperatures and circumstances allow, let your child be naked if he wants. When he does need to get (and stay) dressed, explain that people wear clothes outside of the house or when guests come over because their bodies are private. If he persists in public disrobing, try dressing him in togs that are harder to take off (i.e., shirts with small buttons, overalls, pants with a belt).
  • Don’t overreact (or even react at all). Acting horrified or punishing your little one will send the message that his body is something to be ashamed of. And if you laugh, he’ll think, “Aha! Here’s a way to get attention,” and you’ll set yourself up for repeat (strip-tease) performances.
  • Provide opportunities for practice. Give your toddler a doll or stuffed animal with easy-on-and-off clothes and let him dress — and undress! — his toy to his heart’s content. (Putting the clothes back on is always harder, so stick around to lend a helping hand.)

And last but not least, DOCUMENT IT. It’s too precious.

 

 

Posted in Child Vision, Skills | 4 Comments

Every Day is Mother’s Day

I secretly love the sight of this:

Better than watching TV

God bless this mess. I'd rather clean this up than switch on the TV.

I even love the lump in my throat when she climbs up the big slide all by herself:

Big slide

Look at me!

She can run with the best of them:

  • RunningChasing Bailey
  • And usually outlasts them:

  • She's still going...Go to sleep already. Your playmates are knocked out.
  • I think my friend, Tess, said it best, I’m not just proud to be a mom, I’m proud to be     Little Libra’s Mom.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Posted in The Mommy Psyche | 1 Comment

    Trophies

    The teacher handed me an envelope of Little Libra’s artwork and immediately after skimming through it I ask, “Are you sure these are hers? She has a classmate by the same name and these are too good.”

    There. It’s on record. I doubted my daughter abilities. I don’t know if this is a categoric Bad Mom Moment, an offense I’ve committed and surrendered to numerous times. But I think it was more of my first Honest Mom Moment. I know my daughter. I know her strengths. She is amazing to me in ways that are not necessarily tangible—yet. She’s well adjusted, obedient, charming, not-so-bratty, curious, assertive, friendly and very very attached to me, latched even. And in terms of art, I consider it a work in progress.

    “Actually Mam, in class they really follow Teacher,”  she said glowing with pride.

    Completely unconvinced but careful of not killing this young woman’s confidence (she deals with six Little Libras at  one time in one hour, if not anything she deserves my respect), I answer with the most sincere yet ironic response I could think of,Ah talaga?? Galeng mo naman!” (Wink, wink) I know you did 90% of this.

    For a week now my daughter has been expressing her desire to “paint.” Her version of painting has been dotting the paper for 5 seconds and reluctant to see the paint go to waste, I end up using the rest of it. So if I don’t feel like painting, she doesn’t paint at all. But this morning was different. She was so bored (i.e. driving me up the wall) that I voluntarily brought out the painting materials.

    I set up the Manila paper, the glue, the glitter, the paint, the water and the brushes. Then I noticed the envelope of artwork sitting on her bureau. I’ve been meaning to hang those up. So I did, delighting in the colors and details of each piece, admiring the creative use of paper plates, garbage bags, popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners. I remember thinking that this is like putting things together in a scrapbook. I should take a photo, print it and stick it into our family book of clippings and souvenirs. Our “archives” I like to call them.

    Just when I was about to show her my artwork of her work, she shows me hers first:

    All on my own May 2011

    First Solo Work

    I was astonished.

    This is a breakthrough piece.

    Let me  qualify.

    This was the first time I didn’t watch her or guide her. This was the first time she used all the materials without giving up in frustration or boredom. This was the first time, she didn’t ask for help or make a mess. In fact, this was the first time she cleaned up after herself. She did 150% of the work and it was no fluke.

    I looked at the wall and all of a sudden the story behind her class artwork emerged: Look what I did without you, Mom (and Dad). I can do things on my own. My teacher taught me!

    Trophies of Social Progress

    Mom and Dad, I'm actually learning something in class

    As far as I’m concerned, these are trophies of Little Libra’s social and emotional development, and oh yeah, her motor skills. She let someone else in or someone else made her way through.  Probably both. Regardless, I’ve never appreciated a teacher’s efforts more. The breakthrough piece is the result of hours of instruction and repetition of which I am incapable. It was arrogant of me to doubt my daughter or her teacher, as if I was the only one who could teach her, as if I didn’t pay for a class in order for her to learn.

    And so this post is a trophy of sorts, a plaque of appreciation, awarded to Teacher Nicki.  Let me make right what I mistakenly said in fake sincerity: Teacher. Ang galeng mo naman talaga! Thank your for your invaluable contribution to our daughter’s development and for her first significant offering to our family archives.


     

     

    Posted in Child Vision, School, Skills, The Mommy Psyche | Tagged , | 9 Comments

    Postcards from the North

    Scenes from the mountains…

    The colors of the North…Flora greets you at every corner.

    And back to BenCab. Just can’t get enough…

    So this is what it feels like to be a tourist in my own country… I couldn’t be prouder.

     

     

    Posted in Field Trip | 2 Comments