Wednesday, February 27, 2013

On Being Real

I love this.

If you have a moment, please read it.

I'm totally guilty of this. Even to the point that I don't take photos/videos as much as I should because my house is messy, or I'm not wearing makeup, or Will isn't wearing a particularly darling outfit that day. I totally edit my own life... not only how I want other people to see it, but how I want to remember it.

I try and get real on the blog, but even what I post here is usually the sunshiny, happy stuff. Or at least a toned down version of how I'm really feeling. But you know what? My most popular posts are always the ones that are raw and vulnerable. Because in that great vast expanse that is the Internet (and our daily lives), aren't we just looking to connect with one another?

Those moments we all share on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter aren't a total lie. They happened. We have the digital photo to prove it. But the article is a good reminder that such moments are one snapshot in time, not necessarily indicative of the totality of one's day or one's life. In between those sweet and blissful memories is a hell of a lot of stress, frustration and exhaustion. Because parenting (or marriage, or career) is cyclical. For every great stage, there will be a challenging one. For every amazing, self-affirming moment, there will be one filled with anxiety and self-doubt.

Parenting is a lifelong process... mistakes and growth, highs and lows are just part of the journey.

Monday, February 25, 2013

This is becoming a pattern...

Guess who switched OB's at 32 weeks pregnant? Again.

Yes, that would be me.

I made the decision today to move my OB care from a doc to a midwife. I have a great relationship with my doc... he's super supportive of our natural birth plan, and was an incredible resource when I was dealing with my postpartum depression. He's a fantastic doctor (great bedside manner, respectful, knowledgable, etc.), but he's also a really busy guy.

When Will was born, our doc was out of the country (his family lives abroad so he travels quite a bit). He normally doesn't take patients with due dates that overlap his travel schedule, but Will was 15 days early, so he happened to be out of the country. Unfortunately, the doctor on-call that day was awful. I understand we weren't her patients, and she can't be expected to know everything about us or our wishes, but she was blatantly disrespectful of our natural birth plan. Luckily, we had a great birth (everything to plan) and a very, very supportive nurse, but the experience with the doctor still bothers me a bit.

So as BG's due date approaches, I find myself thinking about my options if our doc is unavailable. Though he's not traveling near our due date, he practices at three different regional hospitals/clinics, meaning there's a very real possibility that we may get the on-call doc instead. And quite honestly, I'm not too fond of the other docs in the practice.

When we moved to this practice for insurance reasons in 2010, they didn't yet offer midwife care. But in the last year, they've added midwives to the practice, making it an option for BG's upcoming birth. I happened to meet with one of the midwives last month when my doc was gone, and I loved her. Today, I met the other midwife and she was equally fantastic. So I made the decision to switch. The midwife ethic is just better aligned with our birthing goals, and no matter which practitioner I get, I'll be happy.


Friday, February 22, 2013

2 Years Old

This is a letter I wrote to Will on his second birthday (August 8, 2012). I was on blogging hiatus at the time, but still journaling privately. I wanted to share it before I post his 2 1/2 year old (!!!) update.

Birthday boy at "2"

Dear Will,

Today is your second birthday. I just can't believe it. You are such a big boy now. Funny and clever and full of opinions.

For your birthday, we went out for your favorite dinner (mac and cheese from Noodles), ate chocolate buttercream cupcakes at home, and opened a small gift. It was just the three of us, and it was perfect. We'll have time for the big party with all your friends and family this Saturday, but tonight, it was just our little family. Sometimes I love when it's just us. These are the moments and memories I treasure most.

For your birthday gift, Daddy and I got you two block sets. When you noticed that one set had the alphabet on it, you immediately said: "Let's find the W!" And you did, just a few moments later. You are so bright and so curious. I love that about you.

At two, you know all your colors and can identify a few letters (W, O, Z). You can count to twenty and identify numbers 1 and 2. You love to read, and can recite several favorite books by memory.

You know all of your body parts, pointing out your eyes, ears, nose, teeth, knees, toes, etc. But you're also understanding adjectives and comparisons, so you've started comparing your body parts to others. This can get real funny, real quick. Just the other day we were laying in bed in our jammies and you said: "William has a little teeny tiny belly button. Daddy has a big fuzzy belly button!"

You love kisses, and you love when I tell you that you're "so smoochable". I like to scoop you up in my arms and shower you with kisses and snuggles. You laugh, grin from ear to ear, and announce, "I'm so 'mooch-able!"

You repeat EVERYTHING you hear, so we really have to mindful of what we say and how we say it. You use phrases you've heard in the appropriate context, even mimicking the inflection or tone. One of the funnier one's you use right now is, "What the heck is that?!?" It's hysterical to hear you ask questions and make conversations like an adult. More than anything, it's a good reminder that you're always listening and always observing. We are parenting 24/7, whether we realize it or not.

You decided several weeks ago that you couldn't possibly be bothered to sit in your booster seat any longer. You just hate being buckled and confined. So you started sitting in my chair instead. Your arms can barely reach the table without your booster. Even though you use that chair for every meal and your booster seat has long been packed away, you still refer to it as "Mama's chair".

You like wearing Mama and Daddy's shoes, slipping them on and (trying) to walk around the the house. This is about as interested in dress up as you get, but you like to tell me that you're "Going to work like Daddy".

You love to jump. You ask to "jump" (with assistance) into the bath, into your car seat, out of a chair, virtually anywhere. Sometimes you just stand in the living room and jump for several minutes straight. You also like to pretend you're a bunny or a frog, hoping through the house making animal noises ("ribbit" for the frog and "hop" for the bunny).

You're still a very picky eater, but I'm quite sure you could eat your weight in pancakes. We make them almost every weekend, often per your request. Daddy and I have to eat quickly to even get a bite!

The "terrible two's" have most certainly started, although I cringe calling them "terrible" at all. They're more the "developmentally-appropriate two's", as you're not doing anything outside the realm of normal for a toddler. However, this means you are very contrary most days. Saying "no" for the sake of saying "no", exerting your independence, etc.

Despite being very contrary at times, you are still a very affectionate, snuggly boy. You love to snuggle in bed with Mama and Daddy, snuggle in your chair while reading books, or just give hugs/kisses throughout the day. It melts my heart... you are Mama's sweet, kind boy.

I love you, darling boy. I can't wait to see what this next year brings for you.



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Maternity Style: Winter Edition

Gang, it is so much harder to dress for pregnancy in the winter.

When I was pregnant with Will, my maternity style was so easy. Simple cotton dresses and sandals were my mainstays, and a few easy pieces got me through my entire third trimester (June - August). I looked great and felt great.

This time though, ugh. I find it much harder to be pregnant and stylish in the winter. However, I've found a few pieces that I covet for maternity wear this time of year...

Swing Coat

We're pretty sure this will be our last baby, so I refused to buy a maternity coat. What a waste! But around mid-December, I realized that my regular winterpeacoat wasn't going to button over my stomach much longer. I know many expecting mamas say they're warmer than normal during pregnancy and don't need to button up outside, but I'm convinced they don't live in Wisconsin. It's freezing out... I want full coverage!

While shopping at Macy's, my mom and I found a great swing coat (no longer available, but similar coat from Overstock). The swing cut is perfect, and allows for plenty of room around my growing belly. I get so many compliments on it. And guess what? I can wear this beauty next winter when I'm toting around an infant (and trying to hid my post-partum pooch).

Maternity Tights and Leggings

For months I've been squeezing into my regular, non-maternity tights. It worked for awhile, but since my third trimester? Forget about it. My stomach is way to huge and those suckers are way too tight.

So I invested in a few pairs of maternity tights and leggings. Heaven. They fit like a dream and keep my legs nice and warm. I'm partial to my Plush tights even when I'm not pregnant, so I was thrilled to pick up a maternity pair. They're a little pricey, but oh so worth it. I literally can't feel the cold when I have these things on. Plus, they look great with boots.

Scarves and Statement Necklaces

Now that I'm gigantic, one of my greatest thrills in wearing something non-maternity, even if it's just a stylish accessory or two. I'm especially loving scarves and statement necklaces, as I feel they detract attention from my belly. I'm partial to Stella and Dot for statement pieces, but for trend jewelry on a budget, I love shopping at Francesca's.

Feel-Good Dress

Perhaps my favorite maternity piece this time around was this Ponte knit dress from Gap Maternity. Seriously. This thing makes me feel so damn good when I'm wearing it.

What makes a dress do-able, even in the winter, is a great pair of boots (I love my Frye's), some warm leggings (see above), and a nice thick fabric. This particular dress has some weight to it from the fine Ponte knit, which makes it ideal for winter months. Plus, I love the collar, which provides some visual interest and feels very luxe.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Bump Watch 2.0

31 Weeks with BG

Hello, I'm a giant person (compare this week to 30 weeks pregnant with Will).

At my OB check yesterday, I learned that I've already gained 35 pounds this pregnancy, which is pretty awful considering I have 2+ months to go (the recommended weight gain is 25-35 pounds total). 

Everyone says I carry it well (another tall girl perk), but I'm really sad about the extra weight. I know it's because of winter and bronchitis and eating an entire row of Oreo's in one sitting not exercising as much, but it just feels like a lot (I only gained 33 pounds during my entire pregnancy with Will).

I'm trying not to be too hard on myself. I was told to stop exercising until my bronchitis improved, which took 6 weeks. And though I probably could have made some better food choices here and there, I'm pretty healthy eater overall. But I'm starting to have some anxiety about my fitness level and how it will affect my ability to labor naturally again. Not to mention slimming down after birth.

The upside? It will be spring and summer during BG's newborn stage, which means lots of walks and outside time. I'm ready for the warm weather to return. To be outdoors and active again. Winter is really bringing me down this year.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Laundry Room Makeover

I love our house, but if I had one complaint, it would be that there's no mudroom. We have plenty of closet space, but the door to the garage opens right into the dining room. As a result, our dining room serves as a default mudroom, especially during the winter. It becomes a holding zone for coats, shoes, and anything that has to eventually make its way into the car.

Garage overflow

Our laundry room is in between our dining room and the entrance to the garage (laundry room door pictured above), but it also tends to be a clutter magnet. Other than holding our washer and dryer, it's essentially a waste of space. Stuff piles up in there like you wouldn't believe, probably because I can close the door and forget about it. The closet, the counter, the floor... it's all a mess.

Wasted space
Messy, messy

I hesitate to post my domestic disorganization on the internet for all to see, but clearly something needed to be done. And since I'm 7 1/2 months pregnant, I am in the mood to organize, improve and nest. Enter: Project Laundry Room Makeover.

Even though we don't have a formal mudroom, the proximity of the laundry room to the garage door makes it an ideal space to hold all our stuff. As we were trying to figure out how to re-do the space, we identified the following goals: 1) Get the clutter out of our dining room, 2) Organize the laundry room and the junk in it, and 3) Make the laundry room space more functional for our needs.

Here's the final product...

Everything in its place 
Nice and neat
No more clutter!

We invested about $200 and an afternoon into the project. The bench and shelves were ready-to-assemble from Target, which we accented with fabric storage bins. We installed a piece of wainscoting behind the bench and framed it out with a piece of trim to make it look more built-in. And most importantly, we were able to purge a lot of junk while finding a place for everything to live.

We just finished today and I already love it. It makes the space so much more functional, giving us the mudroom we so desperately needed. And I've reclaimed my dining room from winter clutter!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Definition: Tantrum

It occurs to me that many people mean different things when they use the word "tantrum". For some children, it's high pitched screaming and flailing on the ground. For other children, it's a pouty face and whining. There's a huge range on the "tantrum" spectrum.

Will has been testing his limits lately, and I use the word "tantrum" often to describe his behavior. For Will, a "tantrum" is generally tears, crying and whining. It may also involve squirming and an arched back if I'm following through (i.e. forcing him to do something he doesn't want to do). Will's "tantrums" are relatively short-lived, lasting just a few minutes, typically subsiding as soon as the consequence or follow-through is completed. We also often "talk about it" when he's upset, helping him find words for his emotions and snuggling until he feels better.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


At dinner last night...

Ben: "Have some carrots, Mama."
Me: "No way, I'm so full." [remembers Will is listening] "No thank you, Daddy."
Will: "Mama, did you use your very polite manners?"
Me: [almost laughing] "Yes, buddy. I sure did."
Will: "I'm so proud of you for using your manners, Mama!"

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How I (reluctantly) started home preschooling

First day of preschool (2012)

In September, Will started at an amazing Montessori-based preschool. Like ah-mazing. The teachers, the space, the curriculum. We were so in love.

He attended three mornings a week, which was just perfect for him. And despite a few rough drop-offs in the very beginning, he adjusted rather quickly and loved it. Being a very independent, tactile, and methodical learner, we found his personality really well suited to a Montessori environment. He was learning so much, and we were thrilled to see him thriving. It's such a joy to see your child light up when you arrive at school.

But after four months, we received some disappointing news: The school would not be re-opening after the Christmas break. The lead teacher was making some changes to her family situation that would not allow her to continue running the school. We were devastated.

We struggled with how to tell Will. He loved it there. How do you explain to a two year-old that he doesn't get to go back to his school? With his teachers? And friends? I had just graduated with my master's degree when this happened, so on his last day we told him he was "graduating" like Mama. I got a few questions in the days afterward ("Is it a school day, Mama?"), but overall this reasoning seemed to appease him.

Immediately after Christmas we started looking into other options. To date, we've toured four other preschools and researched countless others. But nothing has been a good fit. We struggle with a few factors: 1) Will only needs to attend part-time, 2) Many preschools are not accepting mid-year enrollments, and 3) The majority of preschools do not take children under three who are not potty trained.

We did find one preschool that can accommodate on all fronts, but something about it was just off for me. Many of Will's friends have since enrolled there, and while I love the curriculum (Montessori), I can't get on board with the tuition or the generous breaks. One friend described it as "Baby Harvard," and while Will's education is worth every penny, I'm just not confident that the value matches the cost.

We have some options for the fall, including two Montessori-based preschools that will lottery open spots at the end of the month. I'm confident that we'll have something great for September and beyond, but we have few options for the next six months. I don't want him to loose momentum on his learning, so I made a big decision: I'm going to home preschool.

We're supplementing with other activities for socialization, but ultimately, I'm making myself responsible for his formal learning. I created a preschool space in our basement. I made up lesson plans. And beginning next week, I am his teacher three mornings a week.

I'll be posting more on our actual preschool space, resources I found helpful, etc, but if you've home preschooled or have any recommendations for us, I'd greatly appreciate your input. I'm still unsure if this is going to be a good move or a complete disaster.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

So Proud

One of the things we emphasize in our house is speaking calmly and verbalizing emotions. I really want Will to have the emotional coping skills necessary to understand and articulate his feelings, as well as the ability to self-advocate. We do this at home by helping him find words for his emotions ("It seems you're feeling sad/frustrated/overwhelmed/disappointed/etc") and by taking one-on-one time to help him process what he's feeling. This often involves heading to a quite place to snuggle and "talk about it". Will does this well at home with Ben, Grandma and I (even when he throws a tantrum, he's usually able to associate an emotion with what he's feeling). But he's never really had to do it with others.

Last week, we were playing at a local kids' cafe when a little girl (probably 3 or 4 years old) came over and deliberately knocked over the train Will was playing with. It took everything in me not to intervene, but I stayed put. Will was visibly upset, but instead of crying or running over to me, he turned to her and said, "Please don't do that. It makes me sad."

I was so. damn. proud.

Unfortunately, his actions didn't really affect the other child's behavior. She came over several other times and knocked over whatever he was playing with. But each time he calmly picked up the toy, asked her to stop ("Please don't do that") and explained why ("It makes me sad").

Later, we had to have the hard conversation of why people don't always do what we ask, even when we ask kindly, but I told him over and over again what a great job he did. It was one of my proudest parenting moments, which I really needed after some of the other toddler behavior we've been experiencing as of late.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Day in the Life

Here's a snapshot of a day in our life... Will at 2 1/2 years old. This is one of my "at-home" days (i.e. I don't have to work). This particular day was a Wednesday...

6:50 AM: I wake-up to Will chattering happily in his room. He's always in such a good mood in the mornings.

6:55 AM: Ben has been up for a while getting ready for work. He goes into Will's room to say good morning and change his clothes. I buy a couple extra minutes under the covers.

7:00 AM: Will runs into our room and climbs into bed with me. "Mama, do you want to get up?" We head into the kitchen to have breakfast.

7:05 AM: After perusing the cereal selection in his cabinet, Will selects Crispex (his favorite). He helps me pour cereal into a bowl and requests milk and a banana. I get him all set and make myself some coffee. I decide on oatmeal this morning, which Will wants to sample as well. "Mama, will you please share?"

7:15 AM: Ben leaves for work. Will runs to his room to watch Daddy drive away. He then comes back to the kitchen to finish his breakfast.

7:30 AM: I'm still sipping coffee, but Will is done eating. He hops out of his chair and plays in the living room while I listen to NPR (Morning Edition) and clean the kitchen.

7:40 AM: I join him in the living room and we play trains. His favorite game right now is pretending to load and unload cargo. He likes to tell me what's just arrived. "This is apples, Mama. And this is milk."

8:00 AM: I need to shower and get ready for the day. In a perfect world, this would happen before Will gets up, but I'm pregnant and like need to sleep. So we head into the bathroom together. I recently found a short video about trains on YouTube that he loves, so I put that on for him while I shower.

8:12 AM: Video's over and I'm out of the shower. He asks to watch it again, but I say no (we try and limit his screen time to an hour or less a day). He helps me pick out my clothes ("Mama, that shirt is cute") and I get dressed.

8:20 AM: I'm doing my hair and makeup. Will is playing in the living room with his puzzles. When he hears the blow dryer, he runs into the bathroom so I can blow dry his hair too.

8:40 AM: We brush our teeth in his bathroom. He likes to start the electric toothbrush for me. While helping him with his teeth, I notice he has another molar. This may explain some of especially cranky behavior lately. Only one molar to go!

8:42 AM: Tooth brushing is over. He asks to fill up his cup with some water from the sink. He takes a drink, puts his tooth brush in the cup, and says "OK, bye!" on his way to his next adventure.

8:45 AM: I pry him away from his trains, and we start the "heading out the door" process. We put on his shoes, coat, hat and mittens. He helps me button my coat. I grab his backpack and my wallet. We head out to the car and get buckled up.

8:55 AM: We leave for swim class. We'd normally have another 10 minutes at home, but it's really snowy and slippery today so I want some extra travel time.

9:10 AM: We arrive at swim lessons. There's an especially "jumpy" (i.e. upbeat) song on the radio, so Will asks to listen to the rest before we get out of the car.

9:12 AM: Song is over. I get out of the car and start to unbuckle Will from his car seat. He starts crying because "it's too windy" (which it is). I try to soothe him and explain that it's a quick walk to the door, but he's very upset to have to go out in the blizzard. He buries his head in my shoulder as we make our way through the snow drifts to the door.

9:15 AM: We've made it inside and and to the locker room. Will doesn't want to get undressed. Sigh. I'm trying to be patient, but lessons start in less than 15 minutes. I end up peeling his clothes off of him while he cries and protests. Eventually he's undressed and has his swimsuit on. He's no longer upset, in fact, he's now excited to go swimming. We head out of the locker room and wait for the teacher.

9:28 AM: Will names all the letters and colors he can find in the waiting area. He gets shy when the other little boy in his class arrives, and he buries his face in my legs.

9:30 AM: Class time! Will and Everett head into the pool with Ms. Alina for their swim lesson.

9:31 AM: I take a seat in the viewing area. I discuss local preschools with Everett's mom. The boys are the only class at this time, so it's nice at quiet at swim school. I love that he gets so much individual instruction and undivided attention from the teacher.

10:00 AM: Class is over. I remind Will to say "thank you" to Ms. Alina and we head into the locker room to shower and change.

10:02 AM: Will rinses off in the shower. He LOVES the shower. I think this is half the reason he enjoys swimming class so much.

10:05 AM: Will doesn't want to get dressed. He's stalling by packing and unpacking his duffel bag. I ask him to help me put his clothes on, but he refuses. So I've got to wrestle them on him. He's crying and complaining and thrashing around, but what can I do? I can't take him outside naked and I need to follow-through. I said it's time to get dressed, so we're going to get dressed. He fights me every step of the way (diaper, shirt, pants, socks, shoes, etc). This is particularly trying in the small locker room space where his tantrums disrupt the other parents/children.

Note: Cooperation is our biggest struggle right now. He knows the routine and what's coming next, but simply doesn't want to do it. We try and engage him in the process by offering choices ("It's time to get dressed. Do you want to put on your shirt or pants first?"), but rather than making a choice, he just ignores us or refuses to answer. I understand he's exerting his independence, but this can be SO FRUSTRATING.

10:23 AM: He's finally dressed. Despite fighting me the entire time, he's now in a great mood. I smile apologetically to the other mothers, pack up his bag, and get him bundled up to head outside.

10:25 AM: We leave swim school. The roads are TERRIBLE. I wanted to take him to the library today, but it looks like we have to go straight home. It takes me twice as long as normal, but we chat about the weather, look for snow plows, and sing songs on the radio.

10:48 AM: We're home. Will takes off his coat and shoes, then bounds into the living room to play.

11:13 AM: Will starts exhibiting some signals that he has to go #2 (asking for space, tugging on his bottom, etc.). I ask him if he wants to sit on the potty, but he declines. After a few minutes, he asks me to change his diaper, but it's still clean. He's all clenched up and telling me his bottom hurts, which are pretty clear indicators. We go into the bathroom together and I gently encourage him to sit on the potty. He cries and says that he can't, but eventually sits. He goes almost immediately. He's so proud and excited. I make a mental note that we're probably ready to seriously potty train. I help him get cleaned up and wash his hands.

Note: We've been casually potty training since the fall, basically offering the potty as an option and letting him decide if he wants to or not. He goes #1 almost every night before bed, and #2 when we manage to catch his signals. He still wears diapers 100% of the time, but I think he's ready to make the move to underwear.

11:45 AM: Lunch time. Today we're having a peanut butter sandwich, carrots, yogurt and grapes. Pretty standard.

12:05 PM: Will's done eating. He asks if we can paint, but I need to clean up from lunch, so he settles for crayons (which require less supervision).

12:10 PM: Coloring was short lived. Will's back in the living room playing with puzzles.

12:20 PM: I'm done cleaning the kitchen, so I join Will for some playtime. He's working on his new 25-piece animal puzzles (there are four puzzles total). His favorite is the elephant.

12:55 PM: It's nearly nap time. We head into Will's room to change his diaper and read some books ("Mama, do you want to read my stories?").

1:15 PM: I leave Will's room. He goes down for naps so easily. I hear him talking to Barkley (his stuffed dog) in bed, but he's sound asleep within 10 minutes. He usually naps 2-3 hours in the afternoon. I use this time to work, catch-up on emails, check Facebook, read, etc.

4:04 PM: I fell asleep (yay, pregnancy!), but I wake-up to Will chattering happily in his room. I lay in bed for a minute, then swoop in to give him a kiss. I change his diaper and ask him what he wants to do next. He elects to play with his trucks in baby sister's room. We sit down together to "dig and scoop and dump" with the trucks.

4:40 PM: Will hears the back door open ("Oh! Daddy's home!"). He runs into the kitchen to give Ben a big bear hug and drags him back to baby sister's room to play. "Daddy, this is the big, big yellow wheel loader! It has a big black bucket for lifting dirt." Ben and I catch up on the day while playing with Will.

5:20 PM: I leave Daddy and Will to play while I start dinner. We're having pan seared rosemary chicken and wilted balsamic kale for dinner.

5:50 PM: Will is a very picky eater, so I prepare something for him too. We put whatever we're having on his plate, but he typically won't eat it. Tonight he has pasta with marinara, string cheese and blueberries, in addition to a small portion of our chicken and kale.

6:00 PM: Dinner time! We sit down at the table to eat together. Will gobbles up his pasta, cheese and fruit. He tries the kale, but doesn't touch the chicken. Child still won't eat meat. I keep expecting him to grow out of it, but who knows.

6:22 PM: Will is done eating. Ben and I are still dining and conversing. Will brings his trains into the dining room and plays under the table.

6:35 PM: Ben and I clear the table. We elect to clean the kitchen after Will goes to bed, so we can get some more playtime in now.

7:00 PM: I draw Will's bath. Will helps Daddy clean up his toys, then heads into his room to pick out his jammies. Tonight he selects his airplane jammies. We set his jammies, socks, slipper and diaper on his bed.

7:08 PM: It's time to get in the bath. Will requests a parade into the bathroom. We all line up and march through the house singing, "I love a parade!"

7:12 PM: We end up in the bathroom. Door shuts and it's time to get undressed. Will doesn't want to get undressed and tries to bargain for another activity. I try to keep him focused, but he doesn't respond to choices ("Do you want to take off your shirt of pants first?"). He's deliberately ignoring me, so after asking him three times I choose for him ("Since you are unable to share your preference, Mama chooses shirt"). This upsets him ("No, Mama, pants! Pants, please!"), but we're trying to work with him on cooperating and listening the first time he's asked. One of our consequences is "when you do not listen, you loose your choices." Since he could not offer a choice when asked, it becomes my decision.

7:16 PM: He's upset and refusing to cooperate, so I literally have to wrestle him out of his shirt. Seriously, this kid has the strength of 10 grown men. It would be way easier just to give in and do his pants first, but we're trying to follow-through on the limits and consequences we set. He can't refuse to answer until a consequence is delivered. So shirt it is.

7:20 PM: I eventually get his shirt off and he cries in my lap for awhile. I empathize with his emotion ("I'm sorry you're feeling frustrated, buddy") and explain the context ("That's why it's important to listen the first time Mama asks. Next time, please tell me your choice when I ask you"). We have lots of snuggles and hugs. He takes a deep breath ("I'm all better!") and I ask him if he'd like to do his pants or socks next. He chooses pants. After the initial battle, the rest of the choices go very smoothly.

7:25 PM: He's totally undressed. I ask him if he'd like to sit on the potty or get in the bathtub. He chooses potty. He goes #1 almost immediately. This is pretty routine for him now. He flushes the toilet and washes his hands.

7:27 PM: He "jumps" in the tub (with my assistance). We play with his bath letters, practice the back float from swim class, blow bubbles, and listen for fish. In between all that fun, I manage to also wash his hair and scrub him down with the wash cloth. He helps me pull up the drain and "swims" on his belly while the water is draining out.

7:38 PM: He gets dried off and steps up to the sink to brush his teeth. He insists on unscrewing the cap on the toddler toothpaste. He brushes by himself for a bit, then I help.

7:40 PM: Teeth are brushed. He asks for drink of water before bed, then it's off to his bedroom to put on jammies.

7:41 PM: He went into his room willingly, but he doesn't want to put his diaper on. He's running around his room acting silly. I ask him several times to come over and put his diaper on, but he doesn't respond. This results in me picking him up, setting him down on his bed, and wrestling a diaper on him. Again, consequences and follow-through. I'm remarkably zen through these episodes, but they exhaust me.

7:45 PM: Diaper is on. He's upset again, so we snuggle on the bed and talk about it. Again, after the initial battle, the rest of the process (jammies, socks, slippers) goes very smoothly.

Note: In writing down the day, I'm realizing that most of his tantrums are directly related to getting dressed/undressed. Interesting...

7:50 AM: It's time to read stories. Since I did bath and jammies tonight, Ben does stories and songs. I give Will a big kiss and leave him snuggled up with Daddy in bed.

8:00 PM: Ben leaves Will's room. Will is singing in bed.

8:05 PM: I hear Will get up and lay by his door. He talks under the door "Mama, where are you? Daddy, where are you? Are you guys in the kitchen?" I listen (and laugh) for a few minutes, then head into his room. The minute I open the door he gets up and runs straight back to bed. I cover him up and give him another kiss.

8:06 PM: He stays put, but is still talking/singing in bed.

8:10 PM: Things are getting quieter in his room.

8:16 PM: Will's sound asleep. Ben and I clean the kitchen and pick up the house a bit.

9:00 PM: I'm in bed, usually working, reading or catching up on TV shows (I watch almost everything online these days).

10:30 PM: Ben comes to bed. By this point, I've typically fallen asleep doing whatever I was doing, so Ben puts my computer/book away and removes my glasses for me. I stir, mumble something incoherently to him, and drift back off to sleep.

Whew! It's amazing all we do in a day. A day with a toddler is never dull, that's for sure!