Thursday, February 24, 2011

Word to your Momma

Oh my.  What a ride this has been.  It has finally occurred to me that Gianna's recent behavior (these last few days specifically) may be a reaction to her loss of control as we've implemented 1-2-3 Magic as our discipline/training method.  For four days she has tried everything in her power to push me over the edge.  (Trust me when I tell you I got pretty dern close!)  Her latest manipulation tactic includes the use of her new favorite word. 
She's been using it for 'sport' the last couple of months....but now she is using as a weapon (the word, that is) --- particularly against me. 

"Hi Poo-Poo Mommy!"  is how it all started.  It was playful and funny (although I didn't laugh) I just asked her not to call me that.  And than I tried all sorts of reactions to curb the behavior.  (Ridiculous, I know.)  The ignoring of the behavior came WAY to late in the game. 

It has now become a retaliation to my efforts in calling her on her poor behavior.  If I count (part of the disciple routine), if I say her name (in that momma tone), or even if I raise my eyebrows at somethings she's doing --- the response is "Poo-Poo". 

Let's say she whines after I've told her not to do something.  I'll say, "That's one."  She looks me right in my eyes and says, "Poo Poo." I then say, "That's two."  Her repsonse, "Poo-Poo"  "That's three. Take some time out." And as I escort her to her room, she might either say "I'm sorry mommy" or "Poo Poo" another 5 times.

That delightful repartee was repeated at least 25 times yesterday in some form or fashion. 

Oh, and on Sunday at Mass - she slid herself down off the kneeler and was starting to lie down on the floor.  I tapped her on the shoulder and (with a smile) shook my head. My angelic little cherub summoned the courage to stand herself up and say (louder than a stage whisper)
Lovely.  She was escorted out of the pew to the back of the church where we had a special little "Come to Jesus" meeting. 

During these spiritual meetings I've been doing my best TV evangest impersonations with her forcing strongly encouraging her to repeat the prayers that I make up on the spot. They usually go something like, "Dear Jesus,(repeat) please help me become a better listener (repeat) and help me to obey my mommy and daddy. (repeat)"

I think yesterday afternoon she was sensing that I was at the end of my rope and that her behavior was not only making me miserable, but her too!  After she was released from prison one of her time out sessions, I heard her say these words, "Dear Jesus, help me be better listener and not say poo-poo ANY MORE!" 

I was almost encouraged by that sweet prayer until she committed another offense not even ten minutes later. Geez.

But this morning, my friends, it appears the tides have turned. She has been PURE DELIGHT all day long.  For every time she said poo-poo yesterday, she has said, "I love you, Mommy." today.  Music to my ears!  I wanted to hurry up and post this before she wakes up from her nap...because I want to claim this lovely turn of events as progress - and, well, we all know how toddlers are --- can't really always count on their good behavior.  I'm cautiously optimistic and am determined to claim this as a mini-miracle.

This is a video I took during lunch today.  There a tiny little example of her testing the waters. :) 
(Oh, and SGW - I'm dedicated the "naming" part to you and Ben.)

Fingers crossed for the afternoon!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's time for a little MAGIC

Cute kid, right?
Yeah well - it's a darn good thing - because sometimes her behavior is SOOO challenging.

Overall - she's a precious, joyful and delightful kid....but the Jekyll and Hyde complex is definitely alive and well in that adorable little toddler shell.

Iain and I had gotten to the point where we were truly losing our minds.  He kept saying that he thought she needed to be on medication.  He asked me what I thought was wrong with her. 

She's two, she's smart, she's willful, she's secure and she's fearless. That combination has the potential for creating The Perfect Storm in toddler world. And our busy munchkin has definitely taken Lewis Land by storm.  I'd say a Category 5 storm. 

We were at our wit's end (probably all 3 of us) when I came across the name of a book several times within a week.  I thought it was a sign, so I did a little research and when I saw the title of the fourth chapter, I knew I needed the book.

The name of the book is 1-2-3 Magic (for Christian Parents).  And chapter four was named "The Two Biggest Discipline Mistakes.  Wanna know what they are?  Here ya go....
1. Talking too much.
2. Showing too much emotion.
Guilty. BIG TIME GUILTY!  Actually - I may be one of the top offenders in both categories.  So, I immediately ordered the book.  It took us a couple of weeks to get to it because of several things that we couldn't control - but my Jury Duty stint afforded me the time and interruption-free environment to really soak it up. That was my silver lining (not to mention getting a break from all the daily toddler drama I had been experiencing.)

Part of the reason the book is named 1-2-3 Magic is because many parents claim that once they put the principles into action, they start to see results immediately -- like magic.  I love the version of the book that I got (for Christian parents) because it connects all of the discipline guidelines to biblical principles - and it just makes so much sense.

Surprisingly, just as soon as we started implementing what we learned, we started seeing a welcomed change.  It has considerably reduced the stress level in our home.  We're still learning.  We need to go back and read some parts again. I'm just so happy to have this reference to help us raise our child the way we want to - and at the same time enable us to enjoy her...the way we're supposed to.

Now, I must say that using this method doesn't eradicate the bad/obnoxious behavior we'd like to get under control.  Some days (like today!), she's just as challenging as before we read the book.  The big difference has been how we are reacting to it.  And actually - I think THAT'S what's reducing the stress in our home.

I'm no expert in parenting or discipline. That was clear today as I spend about 70% of the day counting, and escorting Gianna to time out. But after two different conversations with friends this week, I have realized that maybe I should share this recommendation via my blog.  Maybe someone else is out there at there could benefit from this little book.  It's an easy read, by the way, and it's meant for use with children between ages 2 and 12.  That's a pretty impressive range.

If you already use the method, I'd be so interested to hear from those who already use the method and are having success - and how you handle some of the pitfuls that you encounter.

So if you're interested in getting a small taste of the book, just click here to take a look at the first few pages...

Postscript:  I should mention that within 30 minutes of her waking up this morning, Gianna has pulled all of her tricks out of her latest bag - and I reacted farely well for about 25 of those minutes.  Then, I blew it.  I'll probably screw up a handful more times throughout the day.  Magic? No.  Helpful. Yes.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Sometimes it's a trampoline, sometimes it's a jumpline.  It just depends on her mood.
But she's ALWAYS in the mood to jump. 
Oh my - how this girl LOVES to jump.
Thank heavens for this beautiful spring-time weather, lately.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Movin' on up...

Just as we came out of the other side of the January sleep stand-off - the brilliant mommy decided to graduate G from a toddler bed to a twin.  I was going to wait til we moved, but I wanted to sell the toddler bed in our next garage sale. (Thrifty usually trumps reasonable.)  We had the twin bed was my childhood bed.
I'm happy to report that a few weeks into our new transition, there were no bumps in the road and she is happy as a clam to be in her BIG big girl bed.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Silent Night ---- finally

There are always hurdles in parenting.  Some of them we master with finness.....and others challenge us more than we thought possible.  And there are a few that all but decimate us. 

And then there are the times when the hurdles seem to overlap and we are confused as to how to approach them. I think we're finally on the other side of this last line-up of hurdles that totally messed with our psyches, our confindence and more importantly - our sleep.

It started on New Years Eve.  The little town where we live seems to have an obsession with fireworks and some sort of competion as to who can buy the most and the loudest.  The commenced at 7:00pm (G's bedtime) and went through 2:30 am. RIDICULOUS!!!  Gianna actually slept from 8-10 just fine...then woke up screaming.  She's not typically scared of fireworks, but these sounded like cannons outside of her window.  Everytime she'd try to fall back asleep, same thing --- horribly loud booms followed by her pitiful panicked screams.  Finally, at 2:30 the dern things stopped and she passed out from sheer exhaustion.

The next day, the same panic set in when it was time to go to bed.  Screaming, begging, pleading ensued.  Horrible.  This is from a child who put in her bed wide awake and puts herself to sleep.  She begged us to rock her and would not let us leave the room.  "Please sleep with me. Please hold me. Please just hold my hand. Don't leave me!"  Just pathetic.

After hours of trying to get her to sleep, she would finally give in -- and then wake throughout the night with the panicked screams....anywhere from three to six times per night.  HORRIBLE.

We tried sleeping on the floor....but she always knew when we got up - even if it was an hour later and she was sleeping.  We tried rocking her til she fell asleep.  She'd wake up screaming when we put her in be.  The first couple of days was horrible - almost like post traumatic stress syndrome.

After the third day, we realized that what started out as panic, turned into learned behavior and manipulation.  No matter how long she cried before we entered her room, she'd say without a tear, "Rock me, Mommy/Daddy!"  Smart girl figured out the payoff for her desperate cries.....Parents on Demand!

It got so bad that she would go ballistic when we'd try to leave her room. She started running after us (in the dark) and banged on the door screaming all the while.  Pathetic.  We reverted back to the infant sleep training we did - let her cry for five minutes, comfort her, then wait ten minutes, then twenty minutes.....BRUTAL.  She even would lie on the floor at her door and call for me through the crack under the door.  Oh so sad. 

We tried everything we could think of to turn around this unwelcomed change of behavior.  We'd go in every time she cried to comfort her, we'd beg her, we even bribed her (which worked a couple of times).

For 28 days (TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS!!!!)  this screaming and crying continued.  She screamed so much that she lost her voice.  And during month-long sleep drought,  matters were complicated by her getting sick, a huge thunderstorm hit in the middle of the night, there was a power outtage which cut the heat and turned off her sound machine, and we started implement a new parenting/discipline technique (more on that later).

We were ridiculously sleep deprived....all three of us.  It didn't just affect our nights - but our days, as well.  I spent all my waking hours (and there were a lot of them) trying to come up with solutions.  We were dealing with fear, manipulation and a new set of habits --- which we were desperate to change.

Finally, around Day 25, it occured to me that Gianna was getting a little too dependent on us rocking her to comfort her.  I pulled the rocker from her room to see what would happen.  It actually made things easier.  She'd still ask to be rocked, but I'd just sit on the floor (she was in a toddler bed then) and hold her for a minute or two.  Conincidentally, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was in search of a glider rocker.  I was inspired to offer ours for that sweet little baby and his momma.  I was a tiny bit sad to let go of it so soon, but I figure it really was a win-win for both families.  If we're blessed with another baby - than we'll get another rocker.

I think reduced rocking combined with the fact that the lack of sleep was totally catching up with her, she FINALLY started stopped fighting it and started sleeping.  Now, bedtime is easier than it has ever been.  She's down again at 7pm and up between 6 and 7am.  Doesn't wake at all through the night (knock on wood.)  When we tell her it's time to bed, she say, "Okay.  But dare's NO fireworks. And NO funder!"

Whew. We made it through the torturous month of bedtime bedlam.  So happy to survived that set of hurdles.   We are currently scheduling a firework free trip for July 4th.  We're NOT going through this again if we can help it.

Here's to hoping for Silent Nights for all the tired moms and dads and munchkins!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Jelly Book - vol 5

I keep a "JELLY BOOK" of some of the entertaining things that Gianna says and does.
Here's the next entry.

* * * * *

We march a lot.  Gianna often requests marching music, but when I can't provide it - she starts marching anyway and calls back over her shoulder, "Can you feel the beat?"

* * * * *

We were driving and Gianna spotted something, "The KEY!!!"  Completely confused by what she said, I responded, "What Gianna?"  She looked down, shook her head and said,  "Never mind."

* * * * *
Gianna:  Mommy, I wanna go play on the diving board.
Me:  Umm....we don't have a diving board.
Gianna:  Yes, Mommy - in the sunroom. I'll show you.

(She dragged me into the sunroom to point out the treadmill. Ha.)

* * * * *
Gianna was hanging on the arm of the treadmill....swinging
Me: Gianna, do you remember what happened the last time you swung on the treadmill?
Gianna:  Yeah,  I broke my back.

* * * * *
The weather has been super cold lately, and on our way to my mom's house we saw a man doing yardwork.  He was bundled up in a black parka coat.
Gianna:  Mommy LOOK!!!!!! (In an excited whisper)  It's a gorilla!!
* * * * *

Gianna:  Mommy. Don't you want to hold me? 
or Don't you want to play with me? - kinda hard to say no to that!

* * * * *
At prayertime.
Me:  Gianna, should we pray that God sends you a brother or sister.
Gianna:  Oh yes.  How 'bout Benjamin.
Me:  Well, he's already got a family...but that's really sweet.

* * * * * 
overheard on the baby monitor in a sweet soft voice

Gianna:  Umm...does somebody wanna come get me?

* * * * *
I let G watch a youtube video of a little girl singing a Whitney Houston song on Britain's Got Talent

I asked her if she wanted me to teach her that song.

She said, "Well, Mommy - could you teach me how to howl like that?"

* * * * *
My mother watched Gianna for me while I was on jury duty.  When I left her house one day, Gianna asked my mom, "MeMaw, where's mommy going?

MeMaw:  Well, she went downtown to a big building and with a bunch of other people and they have to wait to see what the big important man says they have t do.

Gianna: No, MeMaw. She's at the courthouse for Jury Duty!
* * * * *

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


...we're not the only ones with a heart for adoption.

Gianna to Mommy.
"Hurry, Mommy. take their picture."

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Joy to the World ---- STILL!

This past December,Christmas music was a big hit with Gianna. I'm talking a BIG hit.  She learns lyrics very quickly and her repertoire grew at a rapid pace.  I wanted some good Christmas music that was created for children and happened upon this little CD set I found at one of those music kiosks at Target. 

It's a 3 CD set for less than $10 and I'm telling you it's the best Christmas music I've heard....with the broadest range - from secular to religious - and very culturally diverse.

So why am I writing about this in February?  Because Gianna is STILL begging me to play Christmas music.  I accommodated her through mid January, but I felt I had pull the plug at some point.
So, the playing of the Christmas CD's has ceased - but the Christmas music has not.
She still belts out her favorite Christmas tunes everyday. Still,
I guess we'll be super prepared for next Christmas season.

Friday, February 04, 2011

The Jury's Out

Well, actually - the jury's in....I'm just not on it.

I was summoned for jury duty - beginning this past Monday.  I've been called twice before and served on one jury, but never being a stay-at-home mom with a two year old at home.  I really didn't want to go at all - but didn't want to neglect my duty either.  I figured odds were with me and I'd hopefully get sent home after a day or so.

What was I thinking? Since when do I have the odds in my favor when big things are at stake.  I should have known better.  We were informed on the first day that there was really big case on the docket. Not only was it a big case, it was a big high profile murder case that was expected to last at least two weeks.  I started panicking as I was not at all prepared for that much time away from my child.

They had us all fill out a lengthy questionnaire regarding this trial and I did my best to make myself look as undesirable as possible.  (Not that I had any idea how to really do that.)  I did note that I was very concerned about the length of the trial and said that I had child care for this week (my mom) but the next week that wouldn't be the case.

Out of the 300 or so in the jury pool they called 50 or so to be considered for the big case.  Guess who was in that 50?  Lucky me.  Out of the 50, they called 20 or so for individual interviews because of something we had written on our 4 page questionnaire. Yep.  I was one of them.

Apparently, they were concerned about my comment I made childcare.  I was sworn in and had to take the witness stand.  I was interviewed by the D.A. and the defense attorney and the judge.  I cannot begin to tell you how demeaning it was.  I felt completely belittled by their questions and comments.  "Why can't you just get someone else to watch your child next week."  I told them that was not possible and the only alternative was for my husband to take off of work - which may be made complicated by the unforeseen issues happening at the plant.  They were unimpressed.  I told them that I had waited a long time to become a parent and that my choice to stay home was so that I could be there for her and that I could be the one meeting her needs.  They were again, unimpressed.  It's not that I wanted a medal, but I did want a little respect and validation.

The defense attorney asked, "So, Ms. Lewis, are you going to be completely ticked off at the court if you are called to serve on this jury - making you unable to render a fair and impartial verdict?"  Of course I was irritated that anyone would have questioned my ability to be fair - and answered, "No."  It wasn't until later that I realized I was mistaken.  When I returned to the jury pool, I learned that another juror was released because she was a middle school teacher and serving as a juror would prove to be a hardship.  My mom was a teacher. I completely get that. But, sheesh - I have a two year old that I have been away from for more than a day or choice - not because I can't find a babysitter.

Back in the jury pool they called the first 14 to be questioned.  They went in at 11am, broke for lunch and were question until after 6pm.  After lunch the rest of us were told to go home and come back in the morning.  The next day, they again, took the first 14I was at the end of the list, so I figured they'd probably never get to me. What was I thinking?  They took the first fourteen in to be questioned.  They went in at 11am and stayed til 6pm.  They reported back that next morning with the rest of us and were questioned for another 3 hour.  Eight hours of questioning for 14 people! And that was only the first panel of juror. That's eight full episodes of Law and Order. Can you imagine?

This lengthy questioning of perspective jurors apparently isn't usual.  It certainly wasn't my experience of my first jury experience 20 years ago.  But this was a criminal case. We were informed that the defendant was charged with 2nd degree murder. The victim was a 20 year old marine just back from Iraq.  The gravity of the situation and the responsibility of the chosen jury was great.

After lunch on Wednesday, the judge called the next 14 jurors for questioning...and he wanted the rest of us in the courtroom while that went on....hoping that listening would make our questioning take less time.  Meanwhile they called another 25 jurors from the original 300 to come back in. Holy cannoli.  It became clear that they wouldn't be anywhere near starting the trial until next week.

To witness the questioning of the next panel was interesting, entertaining, disheartening, and frustrating.  There was a lot of 'explaining' about he process, the charge, the situation, the law, etc. threaded between all of the personal questioning.  I just felt terrible that some of the people who had to share highly personal, emotional facts about their lives, jobs, families. A lot of the questions were insensitive and presumption were unfair.  It is such a shame that the experience of many jurors is that they are being accused of a crime. On the other hand, some of the jurors REALLY enjoyed the spotlight.  One after another all but started 'trying out' to make the jury.  It was hilarious to watch the dynamics - but frustrating to see how much time it was taking.

First it was D.A.'s turn to interrogate the individual jurors.  It took him over four hours to get through the fourteen.  Then, the defense attorney began. He only got through two jurors before the judge finally let us go.  It was 6:15 pm.  I got home 15 minutes before Gianna's bedtime. 

Meanwhile, the weather reports were grim for the end of the week and the judge said that the court would likely be closed on Friday - and that we'd have to come Saturday.  You can imagine the reaction THAT got!  And even though the city was shutting down on Thursday, we were told to show up to continue questioning. Lovely.

Thursday morning we started at 9:00 am and the defense attorney finished the rest of the 14 jurors. Me and the remaining 11 hadn't even begun our rounds of questioning...and I was getting nervous.  By this time I was getting an idea of what they were going to focus on with me and I was practicing my answers in my head.  I had a couple of speeches brewing that were going to be fabulous.

At 11 o'clock once we returned after a short recess.  The judge said, "Well folks, I've got good news and I've got good news."  We all looked around a little nervous and excited. 
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have a jury. (He named the ones who were chosen from the current panel.) We will begin the trial Monday.  You are all dismissed."

Hallelujah!  We were thrilled.  And then on our way out I caught a glimpse of the young man being accused. And then I caught a glimpse of the victim's mother.  My life's temporary inconvenience was ovcr - but their lives' tragedies were continuing.

As the trial begins next week, I feel called to pray for all those involved in this sensitive case.
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