Since no one happened to get a clip of this particular moment a la Super Dads, I thought I’d illustrate it myself.
…and my work today is done. Time for macarons.
When we hear the garage door opening, it’s a flurry of activity. “PAPA’S HOME PAPA’S HOME PAPA’S HOME!!!” She drops everything and runs around like a chicken with its head cut off before she inevitably darts behind the kitchen counter and hides. I can feel excitement pulsing from her as she waits, holding her breath, reading to burst forth and surprise him with a hug.
He walks in, feigning confusion, “Hey, where is everybody? Oh, maybe they are all sleeping. I wondering where Mama is-”
“SUPWIZE!!!!!” she cries as she leaps out and bolts toward him with pounding little feet, “WELCOME HOME! I WAS HIDING, PAPA! I WAS HIDING THE WHOLE TIME!”
I can’t imagine a happier homecoming, and this is not an unusual scene at our home when Ben comes home. I love how she loves him, and I am over the moon for him as I see his face filled with warmth and love and delight in his child.
Everything started off similarly enough today. The garage opening, the open-mouthed excitement, the running around. But when he opened the door, she ran to him and I heard her cry out, “What fruit did you bring me today??”
“She has unlocked the secret language of babies.”
“Five words that all babies say, regardless of race and culture.”
Okay, I totally thought this was bogus the first time I heard about it. But I was also expecting a baby and reading everything I could to prepare for her arrival, so I went ahead and watched the 17 minute clip on Oprah with Priscilla Dunstan.
And then I made Ben watch it, because I was sold.
“A universal secret language that babies use to talk to us.”
Babies only have a few basic needs, right? Eat, sleep, poop, repeat. It can’t be that hard- just try the next one, right? Well, if you really believe that, you clearly have no new parent friends, because if taking care of babies were that easy, your new parent friends wouldn’t all be exhausted and frustrated all the time.
A few months ago we were talking with some soon-to-be-parents about the different types of baby cries, and my husband half-jokingly suggested they tape a cheat sheet to the wall by the baby’s crib. And maybe outside the door and on their phones… and I joked that I’d even write a post about it so they could find it on my blog if they needed.
And then I wrote this post so they could find it on my blog if they ever needed :).
BABY CRIES CHEAT SHEET:
“NEH” = HUNGRY
“OWH” = SLEEPY
“HEH” = DISCOMFORT (like burping)
“EAIR” = LOWER GAS
“EH” = BURP
We were at Home Depot a couple weeks ago checking out their after-Christmas sale. My 3-year-old daughter sat in the cart quietly waiting while I studied the options- there were many. I mean, everyone’s going with LED’s these days, but did that mean we’d have that “cool” glow happening, because I was really looking more for a “warm” gingerbread house kind of look. And what about light clips? Did I have to get those too, and which kind would work for our hou-
Something slammed so loud and hard that we both jumped. It was a big warehouse, and the sound resonated loudly and I felt my heart skip a beat. After my brain took a few milliseconds to assure me there was no danger at hand, I looked at my daughter and saw it on her face: WHAT WAS THAT, MAMA?!?!
Suddenly, BANG!! The loud crash happened again! It didn’t help that I jumped again. I’ve always been easily startled. This only added to her anxiety. I saw panic in her eyes and in a flash, I knew what she was going to do. She was going to throw her arms out for me to hold her, begging, Mamaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa hold me hold me I’m scaaaaaared!
Before she could say anything, I suddenly heard myself cut in with a lighthearted smile, “Oh!” I giggled in a high pitched voice, “That was loud!” I said, throwing my hands in the air in exaggerated surprise.
She laughed, so I did it again and then I told her to try it. She did.
Guys, I don’t giggle. I’m just not a giggler. Anyone who knows me can attest to that.
But I do it for the 3-year-old. Anything for the 3-year-old.
“See, this is a corner,” I say slowly, poking my finger against the point of the puzzle piece. “There are only four corners in this puzzle, so there are only four places th-”
“Here?” she interrupts, trying to shove the piece in, “Here?” she continues, trying another spot haphazardly.
“Well, look at the colors-”
“Here?” she says, sticking it on a non-corner spot.
Ugh. Okay, new strategy.
“Well, look there’s also a border. This line right here,” I pull her finger along the bright blue line, “This is a border. So turn the piece so the lines connect on the outside.”
I know I’m losing her, even as I’m trying to make it tactile for her.
I’m super excited to share this printable with you! I’ve created a customizable chore chart to help your toddler or preschooler gain independence in getting herself ready at the start and end of each day. She simply looks at the picture, follows the activity, then flips up the magnetic flap to to mark off each accomplishment. It has been working wonderfully for us, and I think it would be a great way to start getting your child ready to get ready on his own!
A few weeks ago, my little girl graduated out of her crib and into a big girl bed. With this move came the freedom to get up and go potty whenever she needed, to fiddle with the light switches in the middle of the night, and to come and go from her room as she pleased. But she’s not the only one who was about to get some lifestyle upgrades: so were we! As sad as I was to see her finally lose all traces of babyhood, I was also ready to charge forward into big girl life. That is, a life where Ben and I could sleep in!!!
You see, with great freedom comes great responsibility… for her! And a little bit less for us. Little did she know that as much as I would miss the crib, I had also been anticipating this day. As soon as she gave us the green light and the crib was gone, I put my grand plan into action. Ideas had been brewing in my mind for months, and now the day had come. We were ready to commence Operation Sleep In.
Someone in my favorite mommy Facebook group had once posted a picture of a cool magnetic chore chart, but I couldn’t find a good template online. I quickly slapped together my own chore chart, drawing simple pictures of five activities I wanted her to learn to do on her own, then gluing strips of magnets down for each flap:
When she was a baby, all I had to do was poke a cool toy in front of her face and she was distracted from her crying.
As she hit the early toddler years, I found that offering a little snack was my easy out when I was desperate:
Crying child: “WAHHHHH!!!”
Mother: “Here, have a Cheerio.”
Child: *nom nom nom*
But as she neared three, I found it increasingly difficult to calm my toddler when she was in the crying-so-hard-she’s-gasping-for-air stage. HAVE A CHEERIO. HERE’S AN APPLESAUCE POUCH. LOOK IT’S DANIEL TIGER! LET’S PLAY CATCH! WANNA GO FOR A WALK? LET’S FACETIME AUNTIE JAMIE! …SQUIRREL!
Nothing was working, and she’d cry for what felt like hours. In reality, it was probably under half an hour, but it was torturous. I’d hold her little brother on one side and I’d hold her on the other and she’d just go at it and I would just sit there tracking Ben on my phone like a creepy stalker: Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Leave. Work. Now. Leave. Work. Now.
Guys, I know I get all sentimental and nostalgic on my blog a lot, but there are definitely rough days. I guess I haven’t found a constructive and encouraging way to talk about them without complaining or entering an unhelpful negative zone, so I don’t usually go into much detail there. Also, I don’t want my kids to hate me in ten years for exposing their less angelic moments here…
But the crying. It’s real. The inconsolable tantrums. They happen. And I have a new favorite trick to calm the crying child down, and I wanted to share it with you just in case it works for you, too. Because when it’s one of those days, it’s these tricks that get you through the day.
Little did I know when I picked her up and out of her crib this morning, it would be the last. The last time I would walk into her room to see her standing there, patiently waiting for me. The last time she’d be cozy in her blue sleepsack, fluffy and as squeezable as a teddy bear. The last time she’d need me to help her start her day.
I carried her up to our room, “Let’s have some morning snuggles!” I said, hoping I could relax in bed for a few more minutes before her baby brother woke up, too.
We snuggled in bed, warm under the covers when her face suddenly popped in front of mine. She looked at me with wide, serious eyes, and whispered, “Mama, today I want to nap in a grown up bed. So I can get up and go potty all by myself and wash my hands and get back into bed.”
I looked back at her, my mind processing this sudden request to grow up.
She nodded seriously as she saw me considering, “Yeah, Mama, I think that’s what I want to do. Can I nap in a grown-up bed?”
Ben and I had been talking about switching her out of her crib. Eventually. But it never feels like the right day to change up routines that are working beautifully for the family, so it took this confident, determined request to finally bring about the change.
Have any of you taken the leap and started an art space for your child? I was so happy to hear that my brother and sister in law went out and stocked up on art supplies after seeing my post! I’d love to see pictures of your child’s work or photos of your space if you’ve done it, too! Now, if you’ve actually gone and started the whole art thing, you’re probably running into a common problem/fear of parents of kids with paint: MESS
We are fortunate enough to have a dedicated art room. I basically decided we weren’t going to attempt fancy dinner parties anymore and gave away the dining table and chairs. (Everybody likes scrappy dinners better anyway, right?? I mean, at least they happen.) And just like that, we had a dedicated room just for making things.
I didn’t fill the space with a ton of stuff. Just a low shelf, a kid-sized table with chairs, and a rolling “art cart” full of art supplies. But before we got rid of the dining table, when I was still in my let’s see if this art thing is really going to stick phase, the only thing that made that space “the art room” was the art cart. It was a great start to our art studio, and if need be, it would have been enough on its own to accomplish most of the things I wanted to do with the art space.
What is an art cart? It’s just what it sounds like. It’s our 3-tiered rolling IKEA cart that I’ve stocked full of the most-used art supplies. Here are five reasons why I love it and would keep it even if we downsized: