Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Fine Art of Stalling

Our boy has it nailed. Over the last several weeks, he has been perfecting his procrastination around his least favorite part of the day: bath, followed by bed. He gets this rather inopportune burst of energy the second his feet hit the floor after leaving the dinner table. I say inopportune because this fabulous second wind is hitting just as our energy level bottoms out for the day. So you have Sweets, bouncing off the walls as if we fed him Pixie Sticks and Kool Aid for dinner, and his parents, praying for the fortitude to make it to 8:00 without any of the three of us melting down.

The minute we say "ok, time for bath!" (with a degree of cheer that signifies that we know bedtime is just around the corner), Sweets starts negotiating. 
"I just want to play a feeeeeeeeeeeew more minutes!"
"Hey, I'm just looking at this!"
"I need to finish fixing the track, then I'll take a bath."
"I just want to snuggle with you on the couch." (He knows this is extraordinarily effective.)
He also recently discovered that if he takes forEVER to eat his dessert, bathtime gets delayed. He now eats his after-dinner treat in a series of microscopic bites.

It's amazing to me that after all that pre-bath negotiating, he has the energy left over to continue plying us with bedtime excuses. Heard on any given night:
"I need a drink of water." (A time-honored tactic. Well played, my son.)
"I need my nose wiped."
"My foot is hurting." (Just vague enough.)
"I want to read another story."
"I think I need some cough honey." (Leftover from his last flu bug, when we were giving him a natural honey cough syrup before bed. Turns out it's habit forming ;)
"I need some more water."
"I just want to snuggle with you." (Can't say no to that!)
"I want the song about the little boy who... fill in the blank." His favorite new thing is to request a song about a little boy who did something that we did that day. Adorable. 
And his ace in the hole: "I have to go potty." That one is starting to get on our last nerve. We don't want to say no, but it's frustrating when you haul him to the bathroom, take off his nighttime diaper aaaaaand nothing happens. Pure procrastination. A bedtime routine that used to take 20 minutes is now creeping towards an hour.

Stop the insanity ;) 
On chilly nights when we have a fire going, he insists on warming up in front of it after his bath before he can do anything else. We always let him because, hello, could that tush get any cuter?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Black Bean Quesadilla {Toddler Meal Idea}

Hubs is away on a snowmobiling trip this week, so when I planned my menu I went for easy basics that I knew Sweets would like. I don't mind eating toddler-friendly all week, and who wants to slave away in the kitchen for just yourself and a two year old? But, if you know me, you know that nutrition is still at the top of my priority list. I kind of made up this recipe for black bean quesadillas after reading that black beans are a toddler superfood. Sweets really liked them, and he asked for seconds, which is a true sign of success around here!

Black Bean Quesadillas

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 avocado
Shredded cheddar cheese
Whole wheat tortillas 
Sour cream (for dipping)

I usually just buy a can of refried beans, but I really wanted to make them them from black beans (and save on sodium in the process!), and it was SO easy. Just puree your beans in the food processor after draining and rinsing the bean sludge off of them. Then put them in a medium saucepan with enough chicken stock to reach spreading consistency. Add the spices and simmer for a few minutes - you're done! 
Spread a tortilla with beans and mashed avocado; sprinkle with cheese. Fold in half and place in a pan with a little olive oil until the tortilla gets crispy and the cheese melts. Serve with sour cream for dipping (or, if your kid is more adventurous than mine, salsa). 

Dip, dip, dipping away.

Oh, the heck with dipping, I'll just lick the sour cream from the bowl.

Sour cream goatee!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Preschool Ponderings

With our sitter away on a business trip with her hubby this past week, Hubs and I got to spend some extra quality time with our little man (my mom did too, thanks Mom!). It worked out well for a couple of reasons: 1. Sweets was as sick as sick could be last week, and since we had already scheduled our days off in advance, neither of us had to worry about calling in to work to stay home with him, and 2. I'd been wanting to check out a local preschool for next year, and the best time to visit was on a weekday morning.

So on Thursday after breakfast, off we went for our first taste of formal education for little people. Overall, we were very pleased with the program - the classrooms were clean, organized, and bright, the lessons plans were posted in the hallway, the kids were energetic and happy and the teachers caring and  routined. So far, so good. As we watched Sweets follow along with the group, looking just a bit like a lost puppy dog, we remarked quietly to each other that we couldn't believe he was old enough for preschool. Seriously, where have the last two and a half years gone? The class sang the welcome song, they talked about the month and day of the week, they identified the weather, and they learned about the letter R, the color red, and rectangles. After some free play, it was time for snack. I totally did a double-take as I watched one of the teachers lay out the day's snack at each child's seat. Thickly-frosted sugar cookies and Little Hugs. At ten o'clock in the morning. Little Hugs, my arch nemesis because they contain everything I strive to avoid for my family: sugar, high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors, arguably some of the worst things you can put in your body, in my opinion.
The enemy.

Trying desperately to appear casual, I sidled up to the teacher as the kids took their places and chatted her up about snack time. I learned that snacks are provided on a rotating basis by parents, and on the inside, I was silently judging little Caitlin's mom who provided this "wholesome" snack as Sweets clung to my legs and chanted "I want a cookie, I want a cookie!" 

Hubs and I thanked the teacher for having us and beat a hasty retreat before I had to wrestle a Little Hug out of my son's hands. We drove to a nearby bakery and set Sweets up with a whole grain blueberry muffin while we debriefed over coffee. I told Hubs that even though we were both happy with the preschool program, the snack thing would bother me every single day. And it dawned on us: for the first time, we are going to be sending our child out into the world without us. We won't get to choose each meal and snack, or who he makes friends with, or protect him from rude people. It really freaked us out. We discussed our options around the snack issue, which as far as we could tell, amounted to two: send Sweets his own snack (but really not feasible, as I am not going to put the teacher in the position of having to deal with his meltdown when he is offered a bran muffin while the other kids get cookies) or buy all the snacks every week (not feasible either, from a monetary point of view). You can call me uptight if you want, I'm fine with it. But we believe wholeheartedly that you get out of your body what you put into it, and nutrition is too important not to care about. This is especially true for little ones - since they can be finicky eaters anyway, I truly believe that every bite counts. And don't get me wrong - we enjoy treats and dessert as much as the next person, heck, I made an entire batch of sugar cookies this week, but overall we aim for balance, with the healthier stuff winning out over the junk.

So, I'm going to look at another program next week. I already read their parent handbook online (score! they have an online handbook!) and noted that they have an entire section on snacks, and how they believe in helping children make healthy choices. Parents do provide snacks at this school as well, however, you must choose from the approved list (some examples: 100% fruit juice or milk, cheese and crackers, celery and peanut butter, muffins, fruit, veggies, etc.). We'll see how it goes! In the meantime, I'm off to go look at Sweets' baby pictures, sniff...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bedsharing with a toddler

From very early on, Hubs and I knew that we just weren't "family bed" kind of parents. We sleep in our space, kids sleep in their space, everybody is happy. This is, of course, based on the fact that our kid sleeps at all, which he often sometimes does not. When he was a wee thing, Sweets ended up sleeping in our bed quite a lot. This was born of pure neccessity; he was up nursing half the night and I was so exhausted that the easiest solution seemed to just have him right there next to me. It worked ok, and by that, I mean that Hubs slept, teeny tiny Sweets slept, and Mama laid awake worrying about smushing him. As he grew and moved into his own room and his crib, it confirmed for us that separate sleeping spaces was what worked best for our family. We had gotten into a nice routine where Sweets goes to sleep easily in his bed, and the only time he was coming into ours was on weekend mornings for some snuggles before getting up for the day. And let me be clear: we love and cherish those weekend mornings and look forward to them all week long.

Then cold and flu season hit and Sweets is often feeling under the weather, can't sleep comfortably and is wanting some extra snuggle time. I get it. I respect it. I'm more than happy to do it. But these last few weeks have re-affirmed why we don't cosleep on a regular basis.

An Analysis of Toddler Bedsharing, in Pictures
I am by no means an artist. But you get the picture.

Exhibit A: Daddy gets a pillow. Sweets gets Mommy's pillow.
Mommy is clutching the side of the bed for dear life.
Exhibit B: Both Daddy and Mommy are teetering on their respective edges of the bed
while Sweets occupies prime real estate in the middle.

Exhibit C: Daddy opts to move to the couch in an effort to reduce crowding.
Sweets wants to snuggle as close as is humanly possible to Mommy.
Mommy is a cliffhanger. 90% of bedspace goes unused.

Parenthood. You have to laugh :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Working Mama Blues

I love my job as a high school counselor. And I am so, so lucky to have it. If you're a fellow working mom reading this post, nothing I am going to say will be new to you. But I am going to say it anyway, for the sake of commiserating, fellowship, and (just a hint) of self-pity.

Being a working mom is hard, can we all agree on that? Throw in cold and flu season and it can feel like you're scaling a rock wall with no hand holds and no end in sight. We canNOT escape the sickies this year, and I am dreading the fact that it's only going to get worse as Sweets transitions into preschool next year. Allow me to provide you some examples.

Sick scenario #1: Our sitter texts me in the middle of the day that Sweets is not himself, and running a fever of 102. She assures me that he's ok until I get home (and I totally trust her judgement, as the mama of 4 fabulous kiddos herself). When I arrive to pick him up, the only thing he will mumble is "can you pick me up?" and subsequently lays like a wet rag on my shoulder. He has a miserable night that includes very little sleep for all of us, and in the morning, his fever has risen a degree. He is glassy-eyed and lethargic with no appetite. So, I call in to work and settle in to snuggle my little boy. Two hours and a few glasses of diluted juice later, he has perked up and his fever is dropping. He bounces back to about 75%, and has the energy to play.
Outcome: Guilt over missing work.

Sick scenario #2: Sweets wakes up from his nap at our sitter's house dry-heaving, with a fever. Upon arriving to pick him up, he is crying inconsolably "I want Mommy, I want Mommy," and is generally a hot mess (literally, fever and all). I spend the evening trying to convince him to suck on ice chips and munch on oyster crackers. Surprisingly, he sleeps through the night and mows down a bowl of Cheerios and a cereal bar in the morning. So I pack him off to the sitter's house for a day of laying-low while Mama goes to work. Unable to resist texting to check on him, I learn that he has tanked and is having a rough day. In fact, he is still in the process of getting over this illness.
Outcome: Guilt over going to work.

Sick scenario #3: I pause at work this afternoon to realize I have a headache, which wouldn't be that unusual except for the accompanying chills and body aches. By the time I get home I am shivering violently and standing upright is a challenge. My sweet boy brings me cups of juice and sticks his thermometer in my ear until Hubs gets home to take over. Currently I am huddled up with a blanket in our 80-degree-woodstove-heated living room, so chilled and achy, and slugging water and juice like it's my job in the hopes of flushing these evil germies out of my system before tomorrow morning.
Possible outcome A: I drag myself to work tomorrow because I have so much to do and have already missed a bunch of days due to Sweetie Pea being sick. Result: Guilt over exposing my colleagues to my germs.
Possible outcome B: I camp out on my couch tomorrow, sleeping and watching Grey's Anatomy reruns, in a throwback to pre-baby sick days. Result: Guilt over not dragging myself to work.

Do you see how every outcome involves guilt? Somebody please solve this problem for all of working-mom-kind.