Saturday, June 28, 2008

My New Boyfriend

For the last month we have been bringing Jackson into our bed with us on occasion when he wakes up in the middle of the night (**see disclaimer below) . Matt's not too happy with the arrangement because he says that Jackson kicks him continuously throughout the rest of the night. I don't have the heart to tell him what's going on on the OTHER side of the bed while he is getting bruised ribs. You see, I'm pretty sure Jackson thinks he's my new boyfriend. He snuggles up to me, links his little arm tightly around my neck, kisses my head and face and back and pretty much whatever he can find to kiss, and says, "I wuv you Mommy." It's great fun. I wake up in the morning with a big smile on my face, and Matt wakes up needing an aspirin. I can only assume this is Jackson's way of compensating me for 27 hours of back labor and a c-section.

**For the record, and in the interest of maintaining our street cred, it's a really bad idea to bring your kid into your bed in the middle of the night. Your warm snugly bed is the best reinforcer in the world for a tired little two year old. What does a reinforcer do? It increases a behavior. Thus, bringing your two year old into your bed increases middle of the night awakening behavior, which can generalize into problems going to sleep too. I'm embarrassed to say this isn't just a theoretical example; it just took us a while to see the light. When you think about it, it's a nice little example of operant conditioning. Sadly we've had to put a sudden end to middle of the night snuggling/kickboxing.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Jackson's two truest loves are Dora (see I Heart Dora) and airplanes. He seems to be blessed with bionic hearing for airplanes, and loves to inform us when there is one flying over us, which happens a lot because we live about 10 miles from the airport. Matchbox airplanes are the best toys because they are tiny and portable. If we go out, I toss one or two in my purse and viola: instant party. Jackson's Pap-pap gives him an airplane each time he sees him, so we now have an ridiculously large collection of them. Every night Jackson sleeps with an airplane clutched in one hand, and his teddy bear clutched in the other. God help us if we can't find the exact airplane he wants ("I want boo [blue] airpane....Nooooooo!!! Uda [other] boo airplane! Uda boo airpane!"). Because of this, Matt and I are rather obsessive about making sure that airplanes always make it back to the "airplane box": Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was in the middle of blowing half my paycheck at Target (a weekly occurrence, sad to say), when I happened upon.....

...that's right....DORA IN AN AIRPLANE!!!! His two favorite one! I snapped it up and hid it for a special occasion. The best thing about having a toddler is knowing that a two dollar toy like this will totally rock his world.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Potty Training: Day 2

This morning we considered throwing in the towel on potty training and just letting Jackson go to college in diapers. He had two accidents and zero successes. I'm fairly certain that some marriages have ended over this issue. However, after his nap he stayed dry straight through until bed time, and peed on the toilet about a million times (still motivated by those M&Ms!). We went out and bought him a Dora potty seat. Believe me, we'd pay Dora herself to make a personal visit to our home if it would mean the end of diapers...
Anyway, he's pretty excited about wearing underpants, and who could blame him? How stinking cute is this?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Potty Training: Day 1

Our first day of potty training was thwarted by the Mars Corporation. Let me explain. Being bookish, academic types, Matt and I spent at least a week preparing for potty training using the book Toilet Training in Less Than a Day. We studied the book carefully, took notes, and purchased everything they suggested, right down to the M&Ms, which eventually proved to be our downfall. Jackson, unaccustomed to such gourmet items as M&Ms, became completely preoccupied with them within five seconds of starting training. The "teaching questions" went like this:

"Jackson, where do you pee pee?" "M&Ms!"

"Jackson, do you pee pee in your pants?" "M&Ms!"
"Jackson, the potty doll is wet! Oh no!" "M&Ms!"

"Jackson, are your pants wet or dry?" "M&Ms, M&Ms, M&Ms...waaaaaahhhhh!"

We did have some successes. He peed in the potty several times. He even spontanesouly used the toilet at a party at my boss' house (we put him in a diaper for the party - I'm not crazy) that afternoon after he saw a little girl go. Here's a picture of him scooting away in his new Thomas underpants:

Despite the promises of the book, he was not anywhere near potty trained by naptime. He did gleefully anounce, "I pee pee! M&M!" while standing in the middle of our kitchen. Maybe we should have used raisins.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I Heart Dora

Jackson loves, loves, loves Dora the Explorer. We try not to go crazy on character merchandise, but when you see how excited your kid gets about a cookie shaped like his favorite character, it's hard to resist. Unfortunately, most Dora stuff is sort of, well, pink. And our efforts at trying to get Jackson to convert his affections to Diego (Dora's male cousin) have been met with an underwhelming response. But we've managed to secure some good Dora loot for him anyway like this....

Yes, that's a can of Dora corn in there. How can you resist a character that promotes corn?! So anyway, about a month ago we were getting ready to make a cross country trip to visit my parents, and we decided to get Jackson his own backpack to carry his toys. We took him to Target and Matt picked out two options and I brought Jackson over to let him choose (this, by the way, was our fatal mistake). He was diligently trying to decide which very manly backpack he wanted, when his eyes happend to travel upwards and land on...

...a giant pink Dora backpack! "Dora!" he exclaimed, quickly losing all interest in the manly backpacks. Matt and silently locked eyes. This was a critical moment in our parenting career. We are, after all, psychologists. Of course we don't want to promote gender discrimination and our kid should be who he wants to be, right? I caved in first. "Jackson," I lied, "those backpacks aren't for sale. They're just to look at." "Yes!" Matt shouted with a sigh of relief, "Now how about a nice Diego backpack?" Let the gender stereotyping begin!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

No Thank You

Jackson has a favorite game. It's called the "No Thank You" game. It's not very complicated. Basically it involves him offering you a bite of food. When you open your mouth wide to take the food, he takes it back, stuffs it in his mouth, and gleefully says, "No thank you!" Then he laughs hysterically while you pretend to pout or cry. This is a pretty funny game over all, and generally makes us all laugh. The only problem is that once in a while he decides to be generous and actually gives you a bite of the offered food. This typically involves a piece of already chewed food that has been dipped into something disgusting. Today I opened wide, fully expecting to have an unidentifiable piece of food swiped away, and instead I received a piece of cold soggy waffle covered in chunks of cottage cheese and smeared in banana. I'm still trying to gag back mini-throw ups. I don't think Bobby Flay has anything to worry about.

The Germany Flag

Jackson goes to a full time daycare (or "School" as we prefer to call it; it makes us feel less guilty for some reason) while Matt and I work. In his Walker class (which comes after the Crawler class, and before the Twos class), each week has a theme, and each day has a focus related to the theme. So if the weekly theme is Colors, the focus might be red, blue, or green. A weekly theme of Sea Life might include days on whales, sharks, and seahorses. We usually get cute flashcards related to the weekly theme and the kids do related art projects. It's all very cute. So we were rather surprised to get this last week:Yes, you read that right. The theme of the week was GERMANY. The daily themes included Germany, The "Germany Flag", German Cornucopia, and German. Random? Perhaps. Hilarious? Totally.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Toddler Time

Sometimes it seems like I spend all day hurrying Jackson along by cajoling, threatening, and bribing. Our most overused trick is to threaten to "help" him if he doesn't get a move on. For example,
"Jackson get your pants on before I count to three or I'm going to help you."
Toddlers really really really don't like help. It occurred to me that the poor kid never gets a break. I mean, even an event that's supposed to be fun like going to the beach involves thirty minutes of heavy prompting to get dressed, get downstairs, eat breakfast, put on sunscreen, get in the car, etc. So today I decided that maybe instead of trying to get him to do things on MY time, I should try to slow down and live on Toddler Time for a while...

2:01 Jackson wakes up from his nap. We sit in his chair and read Amazing Airplanes three times. I don't actually have to read it at this point because I have it memorized. It's a long story. I'm fairly certain this is going to impress someone, someday.

2:16 I suggest that we go to the grocery store. This is usually a very exciting opportunity for Jackson because our grocery store gives away free cookies and balloons, and has these horrible car shaped carts for the kids to ride in. Jackson gets very excited and shouts GROCERY STORE! I tell him that we will need to 1) put his shoes on, 2) go downstairs and 3) get in the car.

2:17 Jackson leaps off my lap to look for his shoes, which he brings in my general direction. On his way back he finds a gummy ring that used to light up. He drops his shoes and works intently on getting the ring on. I sit back in his chair and stare blankly out the window, trying to enjoy Toddler Time.

2:25 A scream of rage interrupts my thoughts. Jackson has found his shoes again and is trying to put them on himself. Any attempts at helping are met with an angry "Jackson do it!"

2:27 Shoes are on the floor, and Jackson is now happily playing with his yellow school bus.

2:35 Jackson brings his shoes to me and demands "Mommy do it shoes on grocery store cookie." I first try to decide if this counts as an eight word sentence (I'm pretty sure it doesn't), and then I oblige and try not to notice that it's now been 20 minutes since I suggested going to the store.

2:38 We head downstairs. At the bottom of the stairs Jackson exclaims, "TRACTOR!" in a voice reserved for long lost friends that you run into unexpectedly at Starbucks. The tractor is sitting where he has left it after playing with it before his nap. I try to use deep breathing to decrease my blood pressure and then decide to clean the kitchen while he plays with the tractor. This IS Toddler Time after all.

3:06 My kitchen is sparkling clean and Jackson is still playing with the tractor. I finally ask gently, "Jackson, honey, did you want to go to the grocery store with Mommy?" He jumps up and runs for the door yelling, "Push button!" (AKA 'open the garage door'). As soon as he pushes the button, he squirms out of my arms and makes a beeline....straight out of the garage and into the driveway where he runs around in circles whooping like a teenager at a concert. I think, "Oh my god, it's like this kid has no frontal lobe!" And that's when it hits me. He. Literally. Has. No. Frontal. Lobe. Or at least the one he has isn't working yet AT ALL. I'M supposed to be his frontal lobe. I'M the one that is supposed to keep him on track (insert cheesy trumpet song)!

3:08 "Jackson," I say firmly, "you have ten seconds to get in your car seat or Mommy is going to help you." He runs happily to the car and chants with me, "One...Two...Three..."

My Mom's Birthday Party

In early May we had a 70th (gulp - I swear she must have been 45 when she had me) birthday party for my mom. She tried to beg off of the whole thing on a few occasions, but we bullied her into it, and I think she had a good time in spite of herself. Here are some of the highlights:

World's Best Neighbors

We have the World's Best Neighbors. Seriously. I almost don't want to tell you about them because you might try to buy our house and frankly we can't afford to move. When I had Jackson just a couple of months after moving in, they showed up with gifts and dinners. When we gave them a card for Christmas, they showed up with a bag of Christmas treats. When I learned my lesson and made them bread the following Christmas, they bought Jackson, Matt and I each individual gifts, plus they gave us a gift for the whole family. When I made them cookies because one of them had surgery, my gift tin got returned....full of even better cookies. When we go on vacation they get our mail and water our plants...even when we haven't asked them to. Ok, so sometimes it is a bit weird, but they are still the Best. So, you would think that the World's Best Neighbors couldn't do anything more, until they gave Jackson the World's Best Toy....

Jackson calls this his "green car" and rides it pretty much every day. He thinks it can only be driven on the driveway, so Matt and I relax in lawn chairs while he goes through endless rounds of the "travel game." This fun toddler invention entails him screaming "Bye Bye! Have a good trip! Bon Voyage!"and then scooting around the driveway and then returning and saying "Welcome Back! Have a good trip?" Good times.

In case you are wondering, Matt assuages our guilt at having the World's Best Neighbors by mowing their front lawn. It's the least we can do.

Family Photos

We got all of Jackson's cousins together last weekend, and my mother-in-law "Nana" begged us to get a beautiful picture of all the children together. You might think that this was a reasonable request until you hear the ages of the models: 1, 2, 2, 3, and 6. Now, just getting five children and six adults dressed and ready to take pictures is quite an achievement. After at least an hour of showers, diaper changes, spills, and waking up of napping children, we finally got the whole crowd together. It was going to be everything Nana dreamed of...until the 3 year old decided that he was NOT GOING TO GET HIS PICTURE TAKEN! With a capitol NO! Thus, our pictures look like this (that's the back of his head in my arms on the far right):

Since we didn't think this was quite what my mother-in-law envisioned, we decided to shamelessly bribe the troops with Popsicles. Unfortunately, getting five children eating Popsicles to focus on anything but the Popsicle turned out to be close to impossible, and Jackson decided that it was much more fun to stand in the wobbly chair and drip on the rest of the kids then to do anything else.

 you go Nana! It's not a perfect family, but it's yours!