Friday, November 30, 2012

Send Your Holiday Card Bloopers!

My favorite Christmas card blooper from 2011

The short version:

E-mail me the best of your holiday photo card bloopers to holidaybloopers at polgie dot com!  I will post them here on December 25th!

Why?  Because it will be hilarious and awesome.  Also, I will enter you into a drawing to win a $25.00 gift card to Starbucks.  That's right, my blog is cool enough to have a give away.  For $25.00, you too could feel this awesome.  Will is going to draw the name of the winner on Christmas!  If he accidentally draws two, we'll let Andrew crawl towards them, and whichever piece of paper he picks up and eats first is the winner.

The long version:

It's that time of year!  Parents everywhere are frantically lining up their little angels to try and get the perfect Christmas card photo, or Hanukkah card photo, or New Year's photo, or whatever else the photo card industry can convince us is a holiday worthy of a mass mailing.  (I send photo Halloween cards... I'm so weak.) 

Did I say perfect photo?  Well, sure, ok, we're probably all trying for perfect for at least the first five minutes of the first photo shoot of the first year of these shennanigans.  I was surprised at how quickly my vision of "perfect" deteriorated to "no one looks like they're in pain, it's somewhat focused, and you can see everyone".  Luckily I have Greg on board to make taking pictures fun enough so that it's more entertaining than torturous... for me AND the kids.

Looking through all the photos we took for our card this year, I realized that there were some pretty funny moments, and some pretty funny photos.  I'll post mine along with everyone else's on Christmas (but I won't enter us to win the card, that would be weird and anticlimactic).

You don't have to have children or pets to participate - if you're sending a Holiday photo card and you have a photo from your attempts that makes you smile, please pass it along!  Captions / story optional.  Photos sent will be posted online, let me know how you would like them credited or if you'd prefer names to be omitted!

Here are some of my photo bloopers from LAST year:

Not what I was going for at the time, but now I think it's pretty card worthy!
No Santa Hat!
No Santa Hat!
No Cookie Face!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ice Cream for Andrew!

When I sent out the recent e-mail with Andrew's 9 Month photo, it sparked an e-mail conversation with my mom about how it was around 9 Months that Will began to look like himself.  This inspired a search for photos of Will at 9 months, and I discovered that the fun ice cream photos at Beal's in Maine are of Will when he was 9 Months and 2 days old!  Guess it's time for Andrew to try ice cream!

We waited until Andrew was 9 Months and 4 days so Dad could come with us to get our ice cream downtown on the weekend :)

Here are some photos, then and now!  It's interesting to note that although I wasn't aware of it at the time, Andrew was with us in the ice cream photos for Will, too!  I was 6 weeks pregnant :)  So weird that I wanted ice cream.

Can you tell from these photos that they're brothers?!

Will's very first bite of ice cream in June of 2011

Andrew's very first bite of ice cream in November of 2012
Will's response...
Andrew's response...
"Ok, I'll try some more of that!"
"Ok, I'll try some more of that!"
"Why did I stick my hand in this... it's COLD!"

"Hold it like this, Andrew!"
Elizabeth, Will, Kelly, (Andrew), and Mimi at Beal's in 2011
"I got to try ice cream!  It's all over my pants!  YAY!!!"

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Terrific 2s! Figuring out when to say "no". (NO! No.. WILL! No!!!)

It's hard to say "no" to this guy!

Will is in his terrific 2s!  He's mobile AND he's verbal, and that means he's getting into more things and asking for more things than ever before.  Having a toddler who can tell us what he wants sometimes saves a lot of frustration, but it also means we've had to do a lot of thinking about when to say "yes" and when to say "no".

Some cases are pretty cut and dry.  No, you may not sit on Andrew.  I feel pretty confident about this decision.  Others have Greg and I scratching our heads in disagreement, because while our parenting philosophy lines up, our interpretation of which category a particular situation falls into might not.  He's in distress!  I need to comfort him!  He's throwing a tantrum because he wants your attention and you're giving in!  AHHHH!!!!

Suffice to say, I've been doing a lot of thinking (and reading, and thinking) about this, and thought it'd be helpful for me to organize my thoughts on when to say "No."

What am I trying to teach him?

Often when I say "yes" or "no" my decision is influenced by what I'm trying to teach Will about how he should behave and how the world (or at least our family) works.

Things I do want to teach Will: 

  • I am on your side, and if you want something that's reasonable and I can help you get it, I will.  Crying because you've misplaced a favorite toy? I'll help you find it.  You're screaming in frustration because I've got your sneakers and you want to wear your rain boots outside but it's not raining?  You know what, OK, but you can't wear your sneakers when it's wet out.
  • Our family is consistent and fair.  We treat each other with respect.  We're not going to let you repeatedly slam the doors to your toy kitchen or scream at the dinner table, it's too loud for the rest of us.  I will listen to what you want, and if I say no, it's for a good reason.  
  • Sometimes we're disappointed, but we can recover and still have a good day.  Unless we're out of coffee.  
  • If there's conflict, the needs of the family outweigh the needs of the individual.  You want to stay and play with your train set, but we need to go get groceries so we can eat dinner.  I'll give you a five minute warning, but we're going to the grocery store!   Yes, sometimes I let you use your learning tower at the counter when I prepare lunch, but we're running behind today, and I really can't, I'm sorry but no.
  • You may not do things that are dangerous to yourself or others, or destructive.  

Things I do not want to teach Will:

  • If you scream long enough, I will probably give you what you want.  I may comfort you, and give you hugs, and tell you I still love you, but you will not be getting Halloween candy for dinner, playing with the stove knobs, or opening that toy package in the store.
  • Sometimes I will say "no" just  to teach you to live with not getting your way or because I have more power than you.  This can be tough, I think there's a tendency to worry that if a toddler is screaming, and you then give them what they want, you're teaching them to scream whenever they want something.  I believe that toddlers scream in frustration as a means of communication as well as a means of protest, and if they're communicating that they want something and you haven't responded yet, it's OK to say yes and help them.  If they're screaming after you've said no clearly, then they're protesting and  my strategy is to comfort him if he's receptive, and give him some space and wait it out if he's not.  Otherwise, you're stuck trying to respond to toddler requests in the nano-second before they start fussing, or you're pigeon-holed into saying no.  Sometimes I tell Will I need to think for a second, and then I say "OK, that's all right" or "No, that doesn't work".  Of course, I've also read that if you never, ever change your mind once you say no, they learn to be stubborn and closed-minded.  I've decided that's a nuance for parents of t'weens and teens, NOT toddlers.

Some Pitfalls

  • The fear of saying "yes" because it's the "easy" way.  Sometimes I think as parents we feel pressure to say "no" and be stuck listening to our kids complain because we worry that otherwise we're taking "the easy way" out and spoiling our kids.  Parenting is hard, and sometimes what's "easy" and keeps the kids quiet in the moment really IS the wrong decision.  But not always!  Toddlers live in a world of frustration, they get upset and genuinely need our help often.  Yes, he's going to be quiet and stop complaining if I give him what he wants right now, but if what he wants is something that's easy for me to do, doesn't hurt himself or others or inconvenience the family, then is that necessarily wrong or overly permissive?  I think there are PLENTY of opportunities in a given day for me to say "no" and for Will to learn to live with the disappointment.  I like to save "no" for when I need it, and my hope is that Will actually respects my "no" answers more because I'm willing to say "yes" so often.  
  • How much consistency is there between caretakers? My husband and I agree freakishly often, but even we don't always agree, and often we don't find out until after the fact that we're doing things differently.  "You let him turn the lights on and off as much as he wants before bedtime?  I only let him do it once!"  (Turns out, there are quite a few little differences in our bedtime routine.  Structure's the same, details are different.)  And grandparents?  It's a time honored tradition for grandparents to reserve the word "no" for extreme cases when safety is at risk.  "Cookie?  Nana cookie?"  "Sea glass?  Mimi does?"  Umm, no, you can't have Nana cookies for breakfast and you can't carry Mimi's sea glass around the kitchen and leave it for Andrew to choke on.  At first I did some worrying that Will might get confused about the rules.  Then I realized that Will has learned to have different expectations of his caregivers, and that's OK.  He knows that Mimi will drop everything and let him lead her around by the hand to play with his toys.  He knows Mom can't always do that.  He knows both his Grampas will pick him up and carry him around whenever he asks.  He knows Dad can't always do that.  He has different relationships with and expectations of us, and as long as the big rules remain the same (you eat in your high chair, you sleep in your crib after you read your stories) it usually works out.

Book Recommendation

My Uncle John, who introduced me to the term "terrific 2s" and who is one of my parenting role models, gave Will a great book for Christmas last year called "No, David!" by David Shannon.  It's a really funny picture book of a young child doing lots of things that make his parents yell "No!", but that ends with "Yes, David, we love you."  Such a great message and a fun book to read with toddlers who are dealing with their own frustration of having to hear "No" more often than they'd like!  There's even a Christmas version.

A Closing Thought

This blog post was partially inspired by a friend of mine posting about a rough morning she had when she and her husband disagreed on whether to say no to their toddler, and there were tears, and she had that horrible gut-wrenching "Am I scarring my child for LIFE?!" moment.  (I've so had those moments.)

Luckily for us, our kids' behavior and happiness is the SUM of all the parenting decisions we make, not the result of any individual one.  I'm going to keep trying my best to make thoughtful parenting decisions, to make my kids feel lovable and loved, and to let go of some of my fears that I'm making mistakes along the way.

And when Will screams "NO, Mommy, NO!!!" when I reach for his train set, I'm probably going to laugh.  Then I'll put the train down.  I can show by example that it's nice to respect other people's things.  I'll let Andrew teach him how to share.  ;)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Respect the Vote!

Elections are exciting.  I enjoy the anticipation as we sit on the couch, watching the states turn red and blue on the big electoral college maps on t.v.  I enjoy it even more when the candidates I support win :)

If what I see on social networking sites is any indicator, voter turnout is going to be great this year. I love the enthusiasm and the pride with which people post about voting.  I've seen posts about women's suffrage, being thankful for democracy, and great encouragement to others to get out to vote.  It's cool to vote these days.  I love that.

What I don't love is how uncool it seems to be to disagree with someone else.  I see a lot of disrespect of the opinions of others online.  It feels to me as though for some people, it's cool to vote, as long as you're voting like them.  I saw a post where someone was bragging about pulling over to shout obscenities at some people exercising their right to protest.  An extremely educated friend of mine posted their shock that ANYONE would vote for the "other" candidate.  (Umm, some of your friends might be voting for the other candidate.  And they may resent the rather scathing remarks you have therefore just made about their intelligence.)  Let's respect each other, try to understand each other, and hope that our candidates can do the same.  That's how real progress can be made.

I remember being in college and screaming through the phone receiver at an infuriatingly calm Greg who disagreed with me about something on the ballot.  I was young, passionate, and right, gosh darn it, and I wasn't sure I should even be dating someone who disagreed with me.  I understand being passionate about something, I really do.  Since then I've had more opportunities to talk in depth with people who disagree with me, not just Greg, although he's my favorite person to talk politics with, and I've discovered some things.

Most people are not evil, even if they disagree with me.

Many people who vote opposite me actually agree with me on underlying moral principles, but disagree with me on how things should be done even though they hope for a similar outcome.

Very few people agree entirely with a specific party or candidate, a lot of us have to choose what our priorities are with each election.  I may agree with you on gay marriage, disagree with you on Roe v. Wade, agree with you about environmental policy, disagree with you about free enterprise, and vote with or against you depending on which of my agendas seems most at risk because of a particular candidate.

I know really good, moral, intelligent people who vote Democrat, and really good, moral, intelligent people who vote Republican.

I hope that if you're eligible to vote, you do.  And I hope that you'll consider talking to someone who disagrees with you about the vote.  Not in an effort to change their mind or allow them to change yours, but in an effort to understand why they're voting the way they are.  You might be surprised to find that you disagree with their decision more than you disagree with their reasoning.  (Or you might not be.  In which case you can be even more excited to go vote against them.)

Since November is a month to be thankful, I would like to mention some things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for my right to vote, a right that's extended to people regardless of gender, race, property ownership, or sexual orientation.

I am thankful for the people who have disagreed with me in the past and been willing to explain their thinking in a non-confrontational way.

I am thankful to live in a country that spends a great deal to have provided me with public schooling, food that's been inspected for safety, non-toxic toys, public roads, and a safety net of social services that I hope not to need.  I am willing to pay my share of taxes to keep enjoying these services.

I am thankful for turkey, gravy, sweet potatoes, chocolate cream pie, pumpkin pie, green bean casserole, wild rice, and stuffing.  If you think stuffing shouldn't be cooked in the turkey because it's gross then YOU ARE SO WRONG.  WRONG!  I DON'T THINK I SHOULD EVEN BE DATING YOU.  AHHH!!!!  Clunk.

Happy Election Day :)