Thursday, February 27, 2014

Testing Boundaries

*I see it out of the corner of my eye, a chubby finger reaching for the buttons on the TV console.

Wait, just wait,” I tell myself, “she hasn't done anything …yet.”

That "yet" comes seconds later when Brynna pushes the input button and the TV screen goes black.

“Brynna Helen Brody! What have I told you about touching the TV? Do you want timeout?”

“No no,” she replies from the Winnie the Pooh blanket on the floor. A makeshift seating area for kids and ultimately dogs.

So I’m guessing that I’m making a few rookie mistakes: (1) being that I ask my 15-month old if she wants timeout; (2) yelling. Something that I told myself I would not do.

Raising my voice is not something I am proud of doing but it gets her attention. Of course I can simply steer Brynna away from the TV/dog beds/ coupon drawer/ closet rather than raise my voice. But sometimes it’s a knee jerk reaction when I’m in the kitchen and she’s heading to the bedroom at rapid speed. By the way, toddler speed is crazy fast. How can those little legs cover so much ground in such a short amount of time?

If she can't see me maybe I won't get timeout.
I’ve trying my best to not raise my voice mainly because I cringe upon hearing parents yell at their kids. Of course I understand that everyone has a breaking point, it’s a quick way to grab a little one’s attention, or parents are having a rough day. I’ve been there and totally done that.That's why I'm trying to change this habit.

So far Brynna has had to sit in timeout in JC Penny Home and the library. By the way, to the shopper in JC Penny Home who chuckled when I told Brynna she was going have to sit for five whole seconds in timeout due to misbehaving: shut it.I'm trying to lead by example so I couldn't give you the stink eye. So, i'm doing it now. 

Brynna's version of the stink eye.
Brynna isn’t a fan of timeout but she will sit there – sometimes – while I count to five then explain to her why she was being disciplined. I swear that little girls understands this whole process on some level. But of course she hates it. Sometimes it’s effective.

But not all the time.

Brynna loves to test boundaries. She knows what she can get away with with grandma and her tias, and what doesn't fly with us. The latest  thing is hitting. She will hit out of frustration if we take her away from something that she shouldn’t be doing but wants to do. Usually that results in us trying to explain that hitting is wrong, trying to make her understand that she needs to be nice and sometimes it leads to timeout or just a moment sitting with one of us as she cries and we try to explain why hitting is not okay.

Of course that doesn't always work since she is only 15 freaking months and has yet to really grasp the concept of misbehaving and consequences.

Since this is a fairly recent stage for us, we’re learning as we go. We know sometimes timeout works, other times removing her from an area that we don’t want her to be is key.  Or maybe gentle discipline is the way to go?

I’ve mentioned in a previous blog how self-help and parenting books aren’t for me. But my book club is all about these books so I’ve been giving them a chance. Okay, I really just flip through to the chapters I’m interested in but that’s further than I’ve gotten in most of these types of books. The most recent being Mayim Bialik’s “Beyond the Sling.” There are a few methods that I intend to implement as recommended by Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler herself.

I like the whole saying “Not for Brynna” rather than “No” all the time. I’m feeling the “hands are not for hitting, hands are for hugging/blowing kisses/ giving high fives.” This one especially struck me since this is a behavior I am currently working on with Brynna.

Of course Blossom and I don’t see eye to eye on several of her gentle discipline methods such as time outs. I’m still trying to decide whether or not this is effective. She is completely against it.

I do know that I want to stay away from giving little swats although that was how I grew up. My cousins and I understood that talking back resulted in a swat as did throwing a tantrum or just being a punk. We all ended up okay. When I was a teenage, specific privileges were taken away when I misbehaved.  Having the radio and super Nintendo taken away was equivalent of going without an iPhone for a week. I needed my tunes and my Yoshi’s World!

But I want something a little different for Brynna. Plus this method will really make Alex and I have to think of creative ways to teach her right from wrong (i.e. Teeth are not for biting Bean’s tail but they can chew Carrot Cake. Let’s eat some! I like this one).

Lets put these chompers to use. Just not
on Mom's shoulder or Bean's nub.

I’m not for or against attachment parenting. But I’m all for coming up with a discipline method that works best for us. I’m thinking of a mix of conventional parenting with attachment parenting or any other non-labeled concepts out there.

Maybe my discipline experimentation will result in the perfect (for us)  solution. Or maybe it will steer us in an entirely different way. 

Wish us luck!


How do you teach your kids right from wrong? 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Happiness and other topics

A few weekends ago, I spent the better part of a Sunday morning drinking mimosas and noshing on strawberries with a bunch of cool mamas. Oh yeah, and we discussed a book we recently read.
I joined a book club for moms a couple months after Brynna was born in an attempt to a) widen my circle of mommy friends and b) do something for me. Something that I enjoyed Reading has always been a beloved hobby of mine (yes, this meant that I was that girl who always had a book in her backpack. I was a nerd.). The book of choice for the most recent meetup was Gretchen Rubin’s “Happiness Project.” Now I hate self-help books. The only self-help book on my bookshelf is “He’s Just Not that not Into You.” Okay, it’s packed away now but it was my go-to book back in my days of singledom whenever I questioned whether or not to continue in a destructive relationship. I’m not quite sure what it is about self-help books that make me never want to open the front cover. Maybe it’s the inspirational statements, the words and phrases to live by that I know I’ll never carry over into real life. Maybe I’m just a book snob. Anyways, I decided to try and read “The Happiness Project” and while I didn’t finish it and scanned through a good portion of it, there were some tidbits of information that made me stop and read.
  • What makes me happy? We discussed this during our book club meeting and it seriously stumped me. I haven’t really taken the time to think about what truly makes me happy. Of course being a mommy brings me joy, as does having a fulfilling relationship with my husband. I like being with my family and friends, but there has to be more to it. Here is what I came up with: Working out, having no plans; spending time with friends, play dates, reading, laughing at Alex’s ridiculous statements, cuddling with Brynna, those few hours when the workday is done where I sit on the floor with Brynna and we read together. Most of the time Porkchop is on my lap, Beans is by my side and Alex is taking his first breathe of the day. Walking to Nordstrom’s rack; going into Nordstrom’s Rack (and preferably walking out with something new); coffee breaks, writing and walks/runs.
 Brynna spending time outdoors with her guinea pig friend. I don’t like petting zoos but Alex and Brynna enjoy them.
  • Remember Love: Rubin divided this section on marriage into different categories. The ones I plan to implement are Fight Right and Give Proofs of Love. Okay, okay so I admit that I can be stubborn. And defensive. And I like to be right. We don’t fight often and I take pride in our tendency to laugh at how stupid some of our arguments are. But there are times when we are both hardheaded. Time to fight right. Give Proofs of Love: Alex is awesome when it comes to this. He’ll make my lunch, marking my sandwich with a little heart, or he’ll buy me random gifts like an Anchorman calendar ‘cause I love Will Ferrell — and crave organization. I’m not so great at it. So, I’ve been making sure to give those little proofs of love throughout the day. Even if it is just a quick I love you in the morning or a text during the workday. It’s important.
 Now this is my idea of fun: using Beans as a pillow with a book in hand. Not Alex’s idea of fun. Notice him in the background trying to find out when the Walking Dead is scheduled to return. 
  • Find more fun: This sounds so easy yet setting time aside to do “fun” stuff can be tricky. Fun these days is going to the park or the library so that Brynnna can run around. Or walking around the Farmer’s Market with my little family, catching a movie or going on a date with Alex. My idea of fun has definitely changed. We’ve been trying to find new things to do that aren’t costly and are fun. Personally, I’ve been making time for myself at least twice a week when I’ll go to the gym. Yes, working out is my version of fun. I’m not a volunteer-type of person, I don’t like yoga or eating at fancy restaurants. My idea of fun is reading, happy hour with friends, play dates and being outside. Now while Alex and I may agree on two of these activities, Brynna won’t find happy hour or my genre of books amusing. So fidning more fun for all of us can be a challenge. So far, I’ve discovered that Brynna is finally close to being okay with playing in the gym’s kiddie center while I work out, which is awesome! Plus it’s a chance for her to socialize and play with toys other than her own. It seems as though we are constantly looking for fun things to do that we can all enjoy.
Proof that I’m a proud book nerd. 
  • Make time for friends:  This ties into my Find more Fun rule. ‘Cause my girlfriends be super fun. I’m also adding Make time for Alex to this list. We are aiming for a couple nights out at least once a month.
Alex excited to be enjoying  a hot meal and cold beer on date night. 
  • Enjoy now: I’m working on it. So far we’ve implemented a no cell phone after work rule. It seems to be helping. Allowing myself to be in the moment is really hard to do. Sometimes I feel like my brain won’t turn off and it’s always tuned into the “let’s worry about things we have no control of” channel. I strive to be in the moment and truly appreciate today.

 What makes you happy?