Friday, October 25, 2013

It's been a while

Hi there!  I thought I'd give blogging a try again.  Made a few changes in what I intend the content to be.  Parenting books gave me the advice I needed for a while, and still do from time to time if I ever find time to pick one up these days, but mostly I just started to get down on myself when I wasn't able to follow through with their techniques.  I've read enough I think, although I do have, Your 4 Year Old sitting next to my bed (I've only read the first couple chapters), still have several highly recommended books in my Amazon cart, and a DVD about the 1-2-3 Magic technique that my sister in law is going to loan me.  I can't help myself, child development and behavior is actually fascinating when you're reading about it, not so much when you're in the thick of it!  However, I think instead I'll try to focus on our daily adventures, good and bad, easy and difficult, challenges and rewards, etc. because that's what makes us who we are. 
When I say we, I'm speaking of me and my guys and now there is one more little guy who is already 1 1/2!  He's Gabriel Talbert McGuan, born March 4, 2012.  Other changes in our lives include a new house (well, new to us, its actually quite old) and a new nephew!  My sister and Tony had a little boy, Alden Scott Talbot, October 10th, 2013, so I'm an Auntie again, but this time to a nearby nephew.  I'm so excited for the boys to grow up with a cousin close by.  Marlowe and I never had that like Matt did and it just sounds really cool.

Anyway, recently someone close to me experienced some tragedy in her life and it really made me want to focus on the people I love.  I always want them, especially my kids, to know how much I love them.  I don't want to be the grumpy, exhausted, frustrated, and angry mom that I can often fall into the rut of being.  Interestingly, Garrett, who remains my biggest parenting challenge, has really helped pull me out of that rut.  He started a very endearing habit of giving me big hugs and telling me he loves me after we've had a tough moment.  He doesn't hold a grudge, and with his sweet bear hug and whispered, "I yuv you mom", now neither do I.

Lesson learned!  Thanks Garrett, I love you too!  Lots and lots!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sticker Chart for the BIG Win!

For a while now brushing Garrett's teeth has been a big chore.  Matt and I both look at each other and ask, "who's going to brush Garrett's teeth tonight?" And then grudgingly drag Garrett into the bathroom.  It usually involves some screaming, lots of water everywhere, and sometimes even wrestling.  Its no fun at all!  UNTIL the sticker chart!  Thanks to a tip from my lovely friend Shayna (don't know why I didn't think of it, I am/was a teacher after all) I drew up a nifty little sticker chart and taped it on the bathroom door.  Now all we have to say is, "Lets go brush teeth and see if you can earn a sticker!" And he runs, cheering, in the the bathroom, "Yeah, I brush my teef, I get a ticker!" My rules are: He has to let me (or Matt) help him brush without resisting.  We also have two toothbrushes for him, a blue one and a green one.  But first he chooses a flosser to use and I floss a few of his teeth, then he "flosses" while I put toothpaste on both his brushes.  Then he chooses which toothbrush he wants and I take the other one, I wait a bit while he chews on his and sucks off all the toothpaste and then its my turn to brush.  When I say, "Say AH" he opens up wide and I scrub the back teeth, and when I say, "Say cheese" he shows me his front teeth and I get those (these were always the hardest before the sticker chart when he remained quite tight lipped!)  Then he sticks out his tongue.  Yup, he's even learning to brush his tongue.
Yes, I know I said I'd start every post with a joyful parenting moment, but this was it.  I LOVE THE STICKER CHART!  Bribing is so much fun, especially when all it takes is a simple little sticker!  There's an added perk to the sticker chart.  Garrett loves to count his stickers.  Math lesson!  BUT he's still counting, "1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10!"
Here's his chart after adding a few stickers.  He has 10 or 11 now and has gotten one every time we've brushed so far!

What would Love and Logic say?  Well I think they'd give me props for all the choices!  He gets to choose his flosser, he gets to choose his toothbrush, he gets to choose which sticker he wants and where he wants to put it!  I can also use an enforceable statement like, "I give stickers when you let me help you brush your teeth."  I probably should model it more.  Yes, I do brush my teeth (AND floss) but not so much in front of him because I frequently want a glass of wine after he goes to bed and who wants that nasty taste of wine over toothpaste?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bedtime adventure

First off, Happy Father's Day!

Garrett has officially learned how to climb out of his crib.
We discovered this new found skill this morning (Father's Day) after he had thrown a fit (about what I can't remember) and Matt had put him in time out.  (Yes, we use his crib for time out, he never developed a bad association with it and sleeps fine in his crib and it seems the safest place for time out for the time being.)  We were standing in the kitchen (just outside his door) and all of a sudden heard the door knob turn and out came Garrett.  This is eirily similar to the way Matt demonstrated the same skill to his mom when he was close to Garrett's age!  Both of us just looked at each other and then at Garrett and then Matt asked Garrett to show him how he did it.  So he put Garrett back in his crib and Garrett proceeded to climb out, by swinging his legs over and sliding down feet first, but when he hit the ground he fell back and bumped his head.  We thought perhaps he might be deterred from climbing out now that he had experienced a minor injury from doing so.  And we went on with our Father's Day morning.
Nap time approaches and I start to wonder how things might pan out.  I am actually in the process now of trying to put him down.  Here's a play by play.

  • We finish watching the landlord mow the lawn.
  • I turn off the lights, sit in the chair, and try to sing and rock they way we normally do.  This works much better at night than it does at nap time but we try it regularly anyway.  Today he squirmed to the point that I couldn't hold him and so I put him in the crib and left the room closing the door behind me.
  • I wait a bit and before too long the door opens and out peeks Garrett.  It really was so cute!  He saw me watching and quickly closed the door but I know he can't get back in the crib so I go in tell him to stay in his crib.  I ask him if he wants his blanket, his lion, for me to sing.  He responds, with a "no" to each question and then says, "I want Mom leave now."  So I do.  
  • Within minutes I hear the door open again.
  • Repeat 3 and 4 at least two more times.
  • Finally I decide if the door opens again I will put one of the door knob proofing thing-a-ma-jigs on.
  • I sit down again and here the door knob rattle.  He can't open the door.  
  • I hear him say, "Mom?" a few times, I hear an electronic toy briefly.  Silence.  Maybe he's crawled into his twin bed?  I had pulled down the covers in case he wanted to fall asleep there.  Nope, I hear him again, this time I can tell he's putting his mouth right down near the crack under the door cause his voice is louder. "Mom, I'm ready to come out now.  I wake up."  
This is just too cute, I can't stand it, even though I know it means trouble.  I have no idea what to do know, but I'd better go do something or there will be no nap in our near future.  Wish me luck!


Final outcome:

  • I go back into Garrett's room and explain to him that if he climbs out of his crib he can get into his big boy bed to sleep.  I don't think he got it.  He insists that he goes back in his crib and that I leave.  I think this is becoming a game, but I leave anyway, hoping that maybe he'll climb out and go to sleep in his bed.  
  • No such luck, he's out and calling for me again.  
  • I go back in put him in his crib and sit down on the chair.  He yells at me to leave, but I stay.
  • I watch him climb out of his crib.  Its pretty awesome actually.  What a monkey!
  • He tells me, "I want to sit right there." and points to my lap.  He curls up in my lap and my heart melts.  I can't believe I'm being so patient with him right now.  What has come over me?  It's really a sense of calm.  Probably cause I have nowhere to be at the moment other than right here with Garrett as he figures out what it means to be a big boy.  As he drifts off the sleep I shed a few tears as I look at his beautiful face.  I don't know why I haven't had more moments like this.  I hope I have lots more!
  • Finally I put him down in his big boy bed and tuck him in.  Its been one hour since I first tried to put him down for his nap!  I have a little anxiety cause its next to a window.  I will keep a close ear at his door and tonight if he sleeps in his big boy bed we'll move it to the other side of the room, which will mean removing the crib.  Its a big day!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I've had some AHA moments recently and there are A LOT of them.  I have actually forgotten most of them.  Mostly realizations that in order to deal better with Garrett's difficult behaviors I need a change in perspective and mood.  I need to run more in the morning (for happiness), I need to realize that my mood is intricately linked to my cycle, I need to realize that Garrett is just 2 and change some of my expectations, I need to ask for more help and accept it when its offered, I need to forgive myself, but most of all I need to be more POSITIVE.  Here I have an adorable little guy who is SUPER smart and says the cutest things and all I can blog about is the problems we're having?
I did an exercise in a MOMS group I was in a while back.  I came up with it on my own while examining life and parenting.  Here's how it works:  Make a list on the fridge of positive or joyful parenting moments.  Resolve to write at least 1 each day.  For me I had to be very specific that it was a parenting moment and not just any other joyful moment because that is what is so difficult in my life right now.  I normally see too many negatives in my parenting but when I started writing this list after the first day I was constantly thinking about what I would write on the list at the end of the day.  I saw joyful parenting moments everywhere.  And when there was no joyful parenting moment I would write down something else that made me happy, because a happy Paige = a happy mom = a happy Garrett.
So from now on I will start each blog entry with a joyful parenting moment.
Joyful parenting moment #1:
Matt came home last night and had planned to go fishing with Garrett and his brother George.  He didn't want to go without another adult because it was Garrett's first time and they would be going to the dock where Garrett would need close supervision.  George was busy watching the Stanley Cup Finals, so he asked me to go.  Even though I knew I would have fun if I went, I also knew that I needed some ME time (and I secretly wanted to watch the game too!) and I told him that I couldn't go.  We brainstormed and realized Uncle Tony might want to go and low and behold he was available!  So after many hugs and Garrett requesting for me to come "shishing" off they went and he actually seemed happy to go without me in the end.  I picked lettuce, ate a fresh salad and had a sparkling drink, relaxed and then did some chores all in silence.  Ahhh... But the best part came when Garrett and Matt came home and Garrett came rushing into the house with the biggest smile on his face and exclaimed, "I catch a shish!" and "Dad put shish in bucket".  (They caught a bunch of herring and Matt was putting them in a brine to preserve them for bait.)  Anyway, last night I had MUCH more patience for Garrett as he tried to escape me during a diaper change and tried to wiggle out of my arms at bed time.  It was amazing how a few hours of ME time changed my mood and perspective on Garrett's difficult behaviors.  So yeah for me for realizing that I needed that time and yeah for me for having more patience.  And yeah for a tired Garrett who is sleeping late!
Sorry, not all my joyful parenting moments will be that long.  I feel ready to start the day now.  Here I go, in search of another joyful parenting moment!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Am I really cut out for this?

WOW!  Things have been rough with Garrett's behavior recently.  Here is a rundown of how things have been for us these days in the McGuan household.  I'm sure to the seasoned parent these seem like totally normal behaviors but in the moment dealing with them is all consuming and exhausting.  It's hard to remember that they are normal when they irk you so!

  • There's the kicking and squirming when I'm trying to change his diaper.  This is one of our number one struggles and it doesn't seem like much but it seriously gets to me.  It's like I'm trying to take care of him with love and kindness but he won't let me.  I tried bribery and it only worked for a couple days, now he just gets mad when I won't give him a treat after because he kicked me or something.
  • There's the laughing at me and continuing the infuriating behavior when I'm infuriated with him and trying my hardest not to let it show.  Again this frequently happens during diaper changes and results in me clenching my teeth and pinning Garrett to the floor with my legs while I wipe and change with my hands and then he starts screaming.
  • There's the general devilish attitude that sets in when he's tired (although it seems like all the time these days).
  • There's the spitting or spraying.  Just disgusting, I can't handle it.  It happens mostly at meals.  Sometimes he doesn't like something and I can understand that, but then it turns into a full on game, spraying his milk or water all over, blowing bubbles in it, etc.  He's promptly dismissed to time out on these occasions.  Other times it happens when he's just being defiant and he'll spray right in my face.  Oh, that is blood boiling for sure!  And away to time out he goes.
  • There's the running away laughing hysterically which can sometime be really cute but sometimes be exactly the opposite.  This always happens when I need to change his diaper.  
  • There's the running after Lily smacking at her game.
  • There's the screaming at (and just today hitting of) friends who want to play with "his" toy or share "his" snack.  
  • And there's the hitting and clawing Mommy when I've sentenced him to time out in his crib.
We don't seem to have many full out tantrums really or really even many displays of downright anger but the "smaller" behaviors really add up and they frequently feel like they are solely for the benefit of frustrating ME and I feel like I'm about to boil over.  I take that back, sometimes I DO boil over.  In my heart I know what I should do, but in the moment I can never think of the right constructive way to deal with Garrett's behavior.  And yes, I have smacked him a few times on the bum.  I hate myself for it.  In these times I wonder:
  • Where can I muster up the patience to deal with this constructively?
  • Does my Love and Logic book seriously suggest I should pick him up calmly, tell him I love him but his behavior is not acceptable and calmly set him in time out?  Screw them!!!!
  • Is this really normal behavior?
  • Is it time to get serious about potty training so I don't have to deal with the struggle of diaper changes?
  • Am I not paying enough attention to him?  Is that what causes these attention getting behaviors?
  • Maybe I'm not really cut out to be a mom...too late!
  • How do other SAHM's do it without going crazy?
  • I just have one child, how do you do it with more?
  • Why are we trying to have another?
  • When we have another I'll have a sweet little baby again!
I guess its back to the books for another refresher course.  Now I have a couple new ones:
  • The Emotional Life of the Toddler
  • The Happiest Toddler on the Block

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Forging My Own Path

I haven't been very dedicated to this blog lately or my Love and Logic book for that matter.  I think the reason lies in my tendency to need time, help, advice, and support, to get used to new things but once I start learning and getting better at that new thing I begin to feel more comfortable and start branching out on my own.  This new thing called parenting that I'm learning all about is obviously going to be developing for my whole life, but I feel like at least in the area of discipline I'm beginning to find my own path.  There are days when I realize I'm a little lost and I have to turn around and find the right path.   The path takes turns and have its bumps but I've put my map in my pocket and I'm having an adventure finding my own way.  I still have the map close by in case of any extra tricky terrain I come across.
One of my newest discoveries in parenting with my own love and logic is the use of time out.  I'm sure for most of you more experienced parents this is no big surprise.  Recently Garrett has taken to having little fits when things don't go his way, yes I know, another big surprise for all you parenting experts!  When this happens I can't help but feel a little disappointed for him.  I mean even adults get upset when things don't go the way they want except they usually know how to handle the disappointment without screaming and yelling (although not always!)  I want to give Garrett the option of crying or yelling or screaming and getting it out of his system and calming down but I also don't really want his fits to happen in the living room where he demands my attention and interaction.  So I ask him if he wants to go have his fit in his crib (and yes I know that I shouldn't give him time out in his crib because of the negative association but its the only safe place for him in our house since he's taken to climbing his changing table in his room!)  When I ask him this, he usually shakes his head, "no" and then stops screaming and we move on, but sometimes he doesn't and that's when I take him to his crib, trying to do so in a matter of fact way, saying, "when you are done with your fit, you can come out".  I change the environment in his crib by removing the cozy stuff like blankets, pillows, and animals.  I figure this way when those items are present he'll feel like its a nice place to be and won't have the negative association.  So this is how time out works for us in our house.  So far... I still don't know how to do this when he has a fit in the grocery store, at my parents house, or when we take the crib down.  I will now consult one of my many maps, YOU!   Any suggestions?
In other Garrett news:
I can no longer keep track of his new words and phrases which have grown from 2 to 3 words "sentences".  It actually no longer surprises me when I hear a new word, sometimes I don't even notice them, except the more recent new word which I'm pretty sure he picked up during a particularly abysmal Notre Dame game, or maybe its just because he's a little thug (see picture below!)  Yup, that's right just the other day he started running around exclaiming the f-word!  So far our reaction has been trying desperately to cover up our hysterical laughing, realizing that reacting will probably just encourage him.  I have a feeling time out won't work with this one.  So again, any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I see my future and it looks daunting!

Christmas came and went and Garrett was amazingly well behaved and flexible with the schedule changes, people, and parties.  The very next day it was like a whole different child awoke, demanding to watch "Peep" or "Bears" or "Whales" and screaming when the answer was no and not able to be distracted by books.  I don't think we've read 3 books since Christmas!  That's just crazy!  Have I spoiled him with the few DVD's I've decided to let him watch from time to time?  They are just music and animal footage.  And then there's "Peep" which has captivated him and seems worthwhile, but really I'd rather not be watching TV at all.  I gave in a while back when I just needed to get the dishes done without having my pant legs tugged at every 2 minutes.  Now he asks for these videos several times a day.  The new rule is 1 a day, so I have to tell him no a lot!  I thought maybe he was just tired out after all the late nights, but even 4 days out we're still having some issues with fits of screaming and crying when he doesn't get what he wants and its very hard to distract him with the usual favorites like coloring and books.  Today, just before 10 am we had already eaten breakfast, watched "Peep", colored, played with play dough, and finger painted and every time an activity ended there was screaming involved!  It is taking some serious energy to entertain Garrett right now.  I think I'm going to have to get some tricks up my sleeve, maybe some crafty stuff, and polish up on my delivering of consequences with empathy.  Wish me luck, write in with ideas for fun indoor activities to keep Garrett entertained, and check back to see how things are going.