Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Long Awaited Reward

Jilly is not the kid who begs for everything in the store.  It's one of my favorite things about her.  But this beautiful, big Mylar butterfly balloon in the floral section at Safeway caught her eye a few months ago and she has asked for it several times.  I like to indulge my kids once in awhile (especially because she doesn't beg for anything and everything) but the balloon was fairly expensive, so I wanted her to earn it.  I didn't go the "do chores and earn spare change" route, as she wasn't yet 4 and doesn't really get money/costs.  So I set a goal for her and told her when she did X, she could have the balloon.  I promised her I would go out at any time of day or night to get it for her immediately, if she would just do this one thing.  Whenever we'd go to Safeway and she'd see it, she would ask for it again, very politely "Mama, I want the butterfly balloon.  Can I have the balloon?"  And I would remind her, "Jilly when you do X, I will happily get you that balloon."  Sometimes she'll ask again, but she never fights about it, or gets upset.  It's a routine we've kept up for months, not sure of when it would ever come to fruition.

This past week was Spring Break and being the resourceful (read: desperate) parents we are, we decided to use that time for something useful.  Potty training.  As some of you may recall, we did a round of potty training back in August.  It was semi-successful once we figured out the right verbal cues to use with her (being told to squeeze/push her pee out was just what she needed to hear) and she's been able to pee in the potty since then.  Rarely will she suggest it, we usually have to prompt her, and honestly we get lazy when she's in a pull-up and don't always remember to take her.  But with Ducky's imminent arrival and seeing the progress Jilly has made communication wise over the past few months, we decided to try again.  We knew that the key would be consistency and a big block of time without interruption.

Each day we tried to keep her either naked or only in panties and take her potty every hour or less.  We set a timer to remind us and we'd ask her frequently too.  For the most part, we got quite a few successes for pee, but a few accidents with poop.  It was discouraging, but on Thursday, Steve was extra vigilant about keeping her naked all day.  That evening, I got the text that Jilly had earned her balloon.  :-D  Steve says she was a little surprised by how much he was celebrating, and then she asked, "Is Mama going to get me TEN balloons?!"  He laughed and told her, "No, I think just one."  She was okay with it.  I got home a little while later and we decided to go out to dinner.  I let Jilly pick between Macaroni Grill and Red Robin and she chose Red Robin, quite emphatically.  We had a super fun meal, Jilly was even in panties and went to the bathroom with me at one point!  After dinner, even though it was late, we definitely had to get the balloon.  We stopped by Safeway, leaving the boys in the car, and I got to take Jilly in to find her balloon.  We came in and looked at all the balloons, there were so many options!  Bumblebees, dragonflies, a frog and the beautiful butterfly.  I pointed them all out to her and asked which one she wanted.  It was still the butterfly.  As I picked it up, I saw that the ribbon was purple and came with not only a weight, but a purple clip too.  So I clipped in on her jacket and had her carry it around the store while I grabbed a couple things.  She was SO PROUD of her balloon and of herself!

She really liked pulling on it and making the wings flap, like it was flying.  Jilly really really wanted to take it to bed, but I saw that as a recipe for disaster, both for the balloon and for the kids!  So I made her leave it outside her bedroom for nighttime.  The next day she was thrilled when she got up and it was still there.

In the days since, we've had quite a few more successes.  Friday night, Jilly spent the night with her grandparents.  They took her out to dinner, and even though she was in a pull-up, she asked Granny to go potty.  Granny took her, had her pee, and then Jilly pooped for her too!  At a restaurant!  WOOHOO!!!  Saturday, she did it again for Daddy later in the day.  In fact, since then she's really only had one (poop) accident and that was Sunday evening.  I put her in panties and didn't keep up with taking her potty very often.  So we discovered a bit of a mess when it was time to get in jammies.  Monday, she did everything in the potty, including at school!!!  We are still putting her in pull-ups when she goes out, especially if she won't be with one of us and/or it could be hard to get her to the potty quickly and often.  So that includes school and church.  But we've found, if we stay up on it, taking her every hour or so, she stays clean and dry in between quite often.

It's still work, still not perfect, but we're making progress.  To some it may seem ridiculous that she's 4 1/2 and not potty trained yet, but for our girl, she's coming along right as she is able to.  She's made such progress in the past year with all her other delays, that we took our time with this one.  And look, she's doing great!  Our goal (dream) is to have this processed completely finished before Ducky arrives.  So we've got about 6-9 weeks to get this down.  Based on how well she's been doing lately, I don't think that's crazy.  We're proud of our Birdie Girl!!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for Cookie

My kid is in love with a blue, plush puppet. IN LOVE. At least 6,752 times a day, Jason climbs up next to me in the chair, lays his head sweetly on my chest and relentlessly asks "Cookie, Mama? Cookie, Mama?" until I finally give in and hit the bookmark for the Cookie Monster video. He never gets angry or yells about it, just asks over and over and over and over again, "Cookie, Mama?" It's all very sweet and adorable and one of the ways I can actually get him to sit quietly with me, for even a few minutes. So we watch it, a lot. Steve came up with the brilliant idea of having a Cookie Monster themed birthday party for Goo's 2nd birthday, complete with a cookie cake. Not only was this an adorable idea, but it also sounded delightfully simple and do-able to someone who will be 2-4 weeks postpartum. :-D

So, because I like to share things that my kids love, here is the C is for Cookie video. May another 'Cookie Monster' monster be created in your house. ;-) Jason's gotta have something to talk to the other kids about in Nursery, right?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The same, yet different.

As the mother of two kids, I can't help but compare and contrast their personalities often. Wednesday night was a great example of the ways these two are similar, but quite different.  We went to the mall so the kids could play and I could do a little shopping for Jason.  In the play area, there are a bunch of cool things to climb on and slide down, such as a mountain, rocks with an octopus on it, a ferry, and a few orca whales.  The kids immediately took to them and played around.  Jilly was especially adept and climbing up and down by herself (woohoo!).  Jason still needed help, but was pretty good for being smaller than most of the kids there.  We've been taking them to play at parks lately, so they've been getting practice at that type of stuff.  But there is one behavior we can't seem to get Jason to stop.

Like most kids his age, he hangs out right at the bottom of the slide, where he's either in the way of the kids coming down or he gets knocked over by them.  I don't fault any kid that comes down the slide and knocks him over; it's his own fault, because we repeatedly tell him to move and physically move him.  He persists nonetheless.  In fact, he tries to climb up the slide from the bottom.  Again, I know it's pretty typical of kids his age, but it drives me batty nonetheless.  So last night, he was doing that again, even after he figured out how to climb up to the top of the slide himself.  We would pick him up and move him to the side so he could climb up, he'd climb, turn himself and slide down, giggling hysterically as he hits the floor, then would look at us and try to climb up the slide!  Every single time we'd tell him "No, Jason.  You can't climb up the bottom of the slide; you need to go around," and we'd motion with our hands.  His response?  To smile at us and, while maintaining eye contact, try to climb up the bottom.  So every time we had to physically pick him up and move him to where he could climb again.  The cycle repeated itself for 30+ minutes, with both Steve and me taking turns moving him.

Here is where Jilly is different.  She is usually pretty good about not climbing up the bottom, but once in awhile she'd forget and try it.  We could call across the play area and tell her to go around.  As long as she heard us (sometimes we'd have to call her name a couple times to get her attention), she would immediately respond and run around to the correct side.

The difference here is pretty indicative of how these two work most often.  There certainly is something to be said for their age difference.  At 4 years old, Jilly definitely is more mature and able to process and respond to verbal instructions much better than 21-month-old Jason.  I totally get that.  But I think it has more to do with their personalities than anything.  We don't get a lot of willful, intentional disobedience from Jilly.  Certainly, she has her moments, but most often if she is doing something she shouldn't be, it's because she got busy and forgot and as soon as we verbally correct her, she'll stop.  Jason on the other hand, will make eye contact with us, hear us tell him not to do something, then smile and do it anyway!  While looking at us straight in the face and laughing!  The little turkey!  And of course, he does it with such charm you can't help but giggle with him.

You could certainly ascribe this behavior to the difference in their ages and sure, that is part of it.  But when you really watch these two, you see the personality differences.  I would definitely describe both of our kids as charming, but they are very different forms of charming.  From a very young age, nay, I'd say since birth, Jilly has been able to charm people into loving her.  Being around Jilly just brings joy into your life.  If she's in a good mood (which is 80% of the time), you can't stay grumpy around her.  She is just Joy embodied, smiling, laughing, giggling, being goofy, etc.  However, her charm isn't an intentional thing.  It's just how she is and it infects those around her.  It's a very cherubic, innocent, child-like charm.  Jason is also incredibly charming, but he knows it.  He has this twinkle in his eye and he uses it.  Like I said earlier, he looks you in the eye and makes sure you're watching him when he does something (both good & bad things), all the while flashing his charming grin and twinkling, mischievous eyes. He charms you because he wants to, and it's a more adult, intentional charm.  I just hope as he gets older he uses that charm for good and not selfish manipulation.  Jilly cannot tell an intentional lie (at least not yet), she just doesn't think to lie.  While Jason doesn't have enough words to outright lie yet, I can tell with the way he uses his words that it's not that long until he starts using them to manipulate and if not outright lie, at least spin things for his benefit.

These two little monkeys keep us on our toe, for sure!!  The older they get, the more their personalities come out, the more you see how they work with and against each other.  It's rather fascinating to watch their dynamic.  I love watching them do a lot of the same things, yet they each have their own spin on it. And come on, they're just the freaking cutest things EVER!  :-D