What Gender are Unicorns?

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This is a serious question folks.  Everyone knows it’s NOT okay to have a gender specific theme for your child’s nursery.  If you do choose to live in the 50’s and paint your daughter’s bedroom pink, you’re basically saying, “hey, you’re a girl!” And there is something very wrong with that in our world.

I definitely fell into this gender neutral ideal of raising your baby.  If eliminating pink, dolls, and frills was going to make my daughter a stronger more empowered human being, I was in! We painted our nursery green, I wanted a mermaid theme but thought, “no, no, what kind of message would that send?” So we went for baby animals instead.  Gender neutral baby animals to be exact.  Is that a boy cub or a girl cub? No matter, cubs are equal in their abilities and potential, amirite?

The problem I found with this whole gender neutral approach is that it almost makes being a girl taboo.  Not that pink, dolls, and frills equal girl, but these are things generally associated with girl interests (doesn’t mean it is ALL that interests a girl though).  So in my quest for gender neutrality, I found boy things for girls were A-OK, boy things for boys were good too, but girl things for girls or boys…BAD!

I don’t think it really hit me until I saw this unicorn head at Target.  I really wanted to buy it for R’s room (not that it had any place in her baby animal theme).  Then I thought, “unicorns are definitely girly right? That means I can never buy it.  Why can’t I buy something girly? Why is it bad to be a girl? My daughter loves playing with dolls and strolling them  in carriages at other people’s houses, why am I denying her of imaginative play that interests her? She gets giddy when we take things out of shopping bags, do boys do this? Should I discourage it? …When did being a strong woman mean denying your womanhood?”

This $20 unicorn head  made me question everything! Which led me to this conclusion:

Screw Gender Neutral! Let your child be who they are.  Guess what? If you paint your girl’s room in trucks and race cars that’s for you, not her.  You may as well like what her nursery looks like before she changes it all up with her own opinions and preferences.  Cause your child WILL have her own opinions and preferences.

*I did not buy the unicorn

Parenting Fail: When Mealtimes Become Sensory Play and Mommy Loses It

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Parents of toddlers/older babies know what I’m talking about.  You sit down to a healthy balanced meal that you poured lots of thought and energy into making.  It smells delicious, it looks beautiful.  You go to give your child a taste and the dreaded locked mouth makes an appearance.  You decide maybe your toddler wants to feed herself, so you spoon some pieces onto the table for her.  She picks it up slowly.  She inches it toward her mouth.  You have hope that she will love your food.  But it never makes it into her mouth, for she’s already thrown it onto the floor.  I can normally roll with this, but after a full day week of this at EVERY mealtime, I’m all out of patience.

I cannot just let my child subsist on crumbs here an there.  NO! I can’t let her wither away into skin and bones! Doesn’t she know that she needs food to grow and develop? The answer is no. No, she does not know.  So when she smashed her food all over her tray and made it rain salmon and peas all around her, I lost it.  And then I felt awful.  “NO WE DO NOT THROW OUR FOOD ALL OVER THE FLOOR!!!” I said it so loudly that I startled her.  It was the second time in two days that I did this.  Nothing I had been doing was working and I was at my wits end.  I’m sure you’re judging me right now, so I want to share with you all the things I tried before I lost it.

Things I’ve tried:

  1. Redirecting the food throwing. “R, will you put that pea in the bowl?  Good job!” This works if she’s merely throwing food, and not smashing it as well.
  2. Simultaneous feeding.  “Can you feed that to mommy? I’ll feed you this at the same time.” This used to work, but no longer.
  3. Giving her utensils to attempt to feed herself.  This does not work.  She becomes wrapped up in moving the food around the table with her fork/spoon that she never eats a bite.
  4. Giving her her favorite foods every time.  This works temporarily, until her favorite foods lose their luster.
  5. Taking the tray away when she starts throwing food. This just makes her mad
  6. Taking the food from her tray the moment she starts smashing it around and ending mealtime.  This makes her happy, but then stresses me out because she hasn’t eaten a DAMN thing.
  7. Raising my voice.  “STOP SMASHING FOOD!!!” This does NOT work, and only makes me cry tears of regret afterward.

This challenge has brought up an issue I think will be huge for us in the near future–discipline.  What does caring discipline look like? What does it look like at each age?  I fear that my teaching background has caused me to expect way too much from my 15 month old and need to take it down a notch.  My hope is that I haven’t somehow damaged her with inconsistency and loony behavior on my end.  Here’s to keeping calm and carrying on!

 

More Blueberries, Please

Ever since Little Lady was born it’s been a challenge to feed her.  Whether from breast, bottle, spoon or fork, this has been our major struggle.  She is many wonderful things, but “good eater” is not one of them.  Because she’s inherited my lovely chubby cheeks, people think she’s just fine, but I completely disagree.

On the week that she turned 1, Little Lady realized that she was in control.  Gone were the days of mommy shoving a bottle into her mouth to try and get to that magic 16 ounce minimum of formula.  Gone were the days of tricking her into opening her mouth for an extra spoonful of oatmeal.  She could shake her head ‘no’ and purse her lips shut.  She decided that she didn’t want to drink anything for a week and there was nothing I could do to change her mind.

Since that week, it has been an on again off again struggle to get her to eat/drink what I’ve read to be the recommended amount of calories per day for a one year old.  In case you’re wondering, that number is 900.  I’m pretty sure Little Lady maxes out at 500.  But maybe I’m underestimating. You be the judge. Take a look at what she typically eats for breakfast, morning snack, and lunch.

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She pretty much just ate blueberries for the first 6 hours of her day.  Sigh…

Now here’s lunch:

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Now, I’ve read a few things stating that forcing a child to finish their food causes eating issues down the line.  So what’s a mama to do?  No, seriously…I have no idea.  I’m pretty much letting her dictate when she’s done eating, but that is not coinciding with the whole recommended calories thing.  Should I trust that she knows when she’s full? Or should I try to coax her into taking one more bite? For now, I’m just going to buy some more blueberries.

Playtime: The Treehouse, Tarzana

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The Treehouse
18600 Ventura Boulevard
Tarzana, CA 91356
Isn’t there some study that proves dogs have similar intelligence as children until the age of 2? I thought I heard that once.  In any case, I’m finding my experience to prove that one true.  Even though I’ve never actually owned a dog for more than 24 hours (but that’s a story for another day). Check out my non-scientific list of ways dogs and toddlers are similar below:
1. Dogs love to play, as do toddlers
2. Dogs respond well to praise, as do toddlers
3. Both love games, mealtime with R proves this one to be true
4. You can teach both “tricks” (where’s your nose?)
5. They both love cuddles
6. I think they have a very similar receptive vocabulary for a while
7. They need exercise
That’s where this whole Treehouse comes into play.  We went there one afternoon as a way to “exercise” R.  We try to leave the house at least once a day because when we hang out at home all day she basically lounges on her butt until bedtime since we have such a small condo (serious lack of motivation from this one).
The Treehouse had only been open for 2 months, making it sparkly and new compared to other playspaces we’ve visited (major plus for a semi-germaphobe like myself). Here are some pros from our visit:
  • relatively large space
  • cute toddler sized eating and lounging area
  • lots of window seating for parents
  • really cool obstacle course for kids
  • well sized section for babies under 2
  • lots of snacks and drinks for sale in case you forgot your snack bag

The only thing I think it could use was an extra bathroom, since there was only one.

R had a blast doing the parts of the jungle themed obstacle course that she could manage. She loves climbing, so it was perfect for that.  If you have a child under the age of 5, this place is great to kill a few hours.  I’d just say to avoid any rainy days or school holidays, because indoor playspaces are kind of chaotic on those days.  But on any other weekday I’d say pick up an iced latte, head over, shell out $10 and watch your little puppy, er…kid have some fun.