Calm Down Bottles

At almost five, one might think that Lil’ CB might be past the need for timeouts. But one would be foolishly mistaken in that case. ;) As Lil’ CB has grown older, his outbursts and tantrums have certainly grown fewer and farther between, but we still do see them and we still combat them with some time away to breathe, think, and calm down.

We adhere by the “one minute per year of child’s age” rule when it comes to the length of the timeout. This means that, currently, Lil’ CB’s timeouts last for almost 5 minutes. While I fully believe that is an appropriate length of time for him to sit, decompress and calm down, I also felt like he was having a hard time gauging how long he would be sitting there, which sometimes makes it harder for him to settle down.

I had seen these calm down bottles or jars all over Pinterest and decided to give one a try, especially once I read that you could adjust the “ingredients” so that it acts almost as a timer. Calm down bottles are essentially a type of sensory bottle (see more from Mrs. Deer here), made with glitter, water and glue. The water becomes thickened with the glue and glitter and when shaken up, the glitter slowly settles down to the bottom, much like a snow globe. The more glue you add, the longer it takes the glitter to settle. Not only does it act like a timer, but with the swirling glitter to watch, it becomes a sensory tool and a way to help young children self-regulate (more about that here).

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And Then There Were Four

Yes, you’re reading that right.  The Confetti family is growing!

We made a big wish, and now we couldn’t be happier!

Amazingly, we found out on Colin’s birthday that I was pregnant again.  We have gone through every emotion under the sun while warming up to the idea of being pregnant again (fear, anxiety, relief, tentative excitement).  To the extent that Colin understands, he seems to be open to the prospect of becoming a big brother – at least his repeated requests to read I’m the Big Brother lead me to think that way.

As you’ve patiently listened to me drone on and on about what a paranoia-pants I have become since my miscarriage in January, I don’t need to go into detail about how crazy I have been throughout my first trimester.  But now that we have gotten past the twelve week appointment and the sequential screening, which all came back totally normal, I can finally breathe a heavy sigh of relief.  And tell people other than my husband, my mom and my BFF.  And stop hiding my massively growing bump through the pathetic cloak of baggy and overly flowy shirts.  And, and, and…start to maybe shift from scared to excited.

I am due at the end of January, and I am looking forward to all that 2015 will have in store for us!

Life With Two Kids: Still in the Weeds

Where we last left off, my second son had joined our family. Fast-forward nearly nine — NINE! — months, and my little baby isn’t so little anymore.

Frankly, I thought it would be way easier by now. I knew I would just have to muddle though those first few sleepless months, and then wait for the fog to dissipate. Surely it would. I would be getting more sleep — that would make everything better. Little Y, now 3, would be more independent. That would make everything better, too. I would be used to having two kids. That alone would make everything better. Right?

As with almost all things parenthood, it hasn’t worked out that way. The baby still doesn’t sleep very well at night, and his older brother — formerly a rock-solid sleeper — often throws a night waking of his own into the mix. The baby needs two solid naps a day, making it hard to get out of the house and get Little Y the stimulation he needs. Babyzilla is beyond mobile, crashing into trains and trucks and blocks and provoking his brother’s rage. I think the word “GENTLE” has lost all meaning in my house. Shouting it as much as I do is probably counterproductive, anyway.

My too-cool-for-school 3-year-old, left, and his little brother, Babyzilla

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Cute And Clever Little T-Shirts

Your kid is cute, clever and awesome. It makes perfect sense that they wear tee shirts that meet some of their cute, clever or awesomeness. When it comes to daycare or school, t-shirts are the easiest and most comfy for littles to be wearing – might as well make everyone around them (who can read) smile too.

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Bath time at the Bears’ House

Bath time with two has never been an easy. When Olivia was a newborn, it meant having an entirely different bath for each child, which usually resulted in Patrick pitching a fit that he couldn’t play in the water, even if that water was just a simple sink bath. I admit I was relieved when Olivia got older, became better at sitting up unassisted and taking more interest in baths because I knew it wouldn’t be long before they were both in the tub at the same time. Right around the seven month mark I started letting the kids take baths together and we haven’t looked back since.

Going from one infant in a small tub by themselves and one toddler in a large tub by themselves to the infant and toddler sharing one large tub at the same time wasn’t easy. Patrick had to adjust to the fact that his space was that much more confined, his splashing had to be minimized, and in general bathtime became quieter affairs. And Olivia had to adjust to the fact that she was mostly immersed in water, being splashed by her older brother, and any toys I might try to put in front of her were suddenly commandeered because Patrick decided that they were “No, mine!” There were no shortage of outbursts and tantrums those first few months, but with a little patience – and a lot of bubbles – we’re now pretty much in a bath paradise.

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Travel Toys at the Target One Spot

We’re leaving for our annual trip to visit Mr. Bee’s parents in the Philippines next week, which means that I’ve been in full-on preparation mode! The trip is 3 flights one way, and about 40 straight hours of travel. I was terrified the first year we made this trip when Olive was 9 months and Charlie was 2 1/2, but this is our third year in a row going so they’ve become pretty seasoned travelers.

In the past I’ve taken a lot of toys because I was worried about keeping them entertained for so long, but I found that they really didn’t need very many. For the most part they were entertained just by being on the plane. And now that they’re both older (2 1/2 and 4 1/2), tv shows, movies, and games will definitely help keep them occupied. So I tried to keep it pretty simple this year. I purchased a travel Guess Who game for them to play together, and this stickerless version of the Rubik’s cube for Charlie. I’m also taking some playdoh because both of them never tire of playing with it. Finally I hit up the One Spot at Target (since we don’t have a dollar store near us), and this is what I got:

Most of these items are art-themed (though they did also have some toys) because art keeps Charlie and Olive occupied way longer than toys.

- A Hello Kitty and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles box. Charlie and Olive love little boxes of all kinds. They can store their art supplies in here.

- Imagine Ink Coloring Books – I’ve purchased these off Amazon for $7, but they usually have them for $3 in the Target One Spot so I stock up. They include a clear mess-free marker that magically reveals a colorful image when they color in the pages. Charlie and Olive adore these! It’s very satisfying and easy, similar to the Water Wow Coloring books.

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Effective Discipline at Age 3 with 1, 2, 3 Magic

I’ve found that as my kids grow, I’ve had to change up our methods of discipline a bit to fit with their age.  At age 1, there wasn’t much discipline going on, and a lot of redirection. At age 2, we started implementing time-outs, which we called “calm down time.” She did not seem to mind time outs, and even willingly put herself there at times, but it was still very effective for us because it helped her calm down and recollect herself. After the “time outs” were over, I would give her a hug, tell her I loved her, and tell her why she was put in time out. Then all was forgotten and she’d happily go about her merry way.  It was a good reset for all of us.

Then age 3 hit, and the defiance, willpower, and opinions got even more intense. A simple time out wasn’t cutting it anymore, and it did not calm her down as easily as it once did.  Something shifted in her too, and she suddenly hated time-outs.  This was when we turned to 1, 2, 3 Magic. I had read this book when Noelle just turned 2, but when we tried it at that age, it didn’t really click for her. Now, whenever she doesn’t listen to us I will immediately start counting, “1… 2…”, and I rarely have to reach the count of 3 before she starts yelling, “waiiiit!!!” and does what she’s supposed to be doing.

In 1, 2, 3 Magic, the authors also distinguish between START and STOP behaviors.  You only want to count 1, 2, 3 on STOP behaviors such as whining, teasing, tantrums, arguing, etc. These are things that you can nip in the bud right away.  Stuff that only takes about a second for them to stop doing.

What you don’t want to count is START behaviors (behaviors you want your kids to START doing) such as picking up after themselves, getting up in the morning, getting dressed, eating, homework, and bedtime. It takes a lot longer for them to do these things, and these are the types of things you’d want to reinforce through positive reinforcement. Basically, you want to stop obnoxious behavior, but encourage positive behavior. Things like reward charts, timers, praise, and natural consequences work much better for START behaviors.  For us, using a timer has been really effective in promoting START behaviors in our daughter.

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