Scarlett’s Accident

(This is a backlog post. It should have gone up June 3.)

There comes a time in every child’s life when they experience something that can make a mother’s heart stop.

With Logan, it was his premature birth and 10 day hospitalization. With Lila it was the time she drank turpentine at 2 years, 1 month old. Scarlett had yet to do something to freak me out severely (other than running off in a bookstore and hiding when she was 18 months old), but that changed last week.

I will have to begin with some background.

It was Monday, a rather stressful day for me because it is grocery shopping day. I used to shop alone with Scarlett while the other two were at school, but now with the arrival of summer holidays, I have no choice but to shop with all three kids.

Logan was already fussing when we got to the mall because we were only doing grocery shopping, and he wanted to go to the arcade and toy shop. He has no patience for shopping so he was running around, touching everything – every display, every shelf, every food item. He broke candy bars, crushed bags of chips and grabbed everything he could. Normally he is fairly obedient and can manage a trip to the store without too much wildness, but this day his hyperactive nature had taken over and it was all I could do to not yell at him right there. (He has ADHD.)

He continued to be wild during lunch and rest time, and on into the afternoon. He was mean to the girls and kept making them cry. Any sort of punishment didn’t faze him at all.

I finally decided to take the kids to the playground near our house, hoping that some outdoor play could burn some of his energy and tire him out. Yet he continued to be wild. Several times I had to pull him aside from his play as he was biting and pinching the other children. He even bit his own lip when he fell as he was racing up the slide.

The whole time I was keeping half an eye on the girls as they climbed the jungle gym. They are both quite good at it, so, while I stay near them, I don’t have to be right there. At one point I had to go to Logan again, and I didn’t see Scarlett follow me, nor did I see her climb the straight metal slide (not the ladder but the slide) until she was at the top.

She learned to climb the slide some time ago (barefoot), but I’m always next to her as there are no safety rails and she hasn’t yet figured out how to turn from her climb to sitting without putting her butt over the side. I’m sure you can guess what happened next.

It was almost like seeing something in slow motion. I saw her at the top of the slide. I saw her begin to turn, and then I knew she was going to fall. I was too far away to get there in time to catch her. I left Logan and forgot his naughtiness as I ran to my baby.

The slide was about 6 feet at the highest point and she fell from the top, landing in the sand flat on her chest and tummy, hitting her lips hard on one side. Horror stories that I had heard of kids dying from falling off a slide filled my mind, and I struggled to push them away so I could focus on Scarlett. At first she cried while I carried her to a bench and tried to clean the sand off her face, but then she was quiet, scarily quiet. She just sat on my lap and looked at everything. I kept asking her questions but she wouldn’t answer. I managed to round up Logan and Lila, and we rushed home. All I could think of was getting her home, putting ice on her ever-swelling lips, and helping her recover from the shock she was in.

She wouldn’t let me put ice on her lip, nor did she want me to get the sand out of her mouth, both of which made her cry. I was afraid she had some internal injury since she was so quiet. I called Glad, who was working on the other side of town, and told him what had happened.

He asked some questions and then reassured me that she was probably fine but to keep an eye on her.  I held her close and told her how sorry I was that I hadn’t been close enough to catch her. I couldn’t do anything but rock her. After about 30 minutes (from the time she fell) she began to move around. I put a video on for her and then went to my room to cry. The guilt I felt was massive. How had I not noticed her following me? Why wasn’t I paying more attention? Why hadn’t I been right there to catch her? It was awful.

Finally I realized I had some hungry kids on my hands so I forced myself to get up and cook dinner, even though I wasn’t very hungry and could hardly stand to look at food. Surprisingly, Scarlett ate a good dinner! I thought she might just have some yogurt because she could hardly open her mouth, but she figured a way to slip the food in on the side that wasn’t sore. (Fried chicken liver, French fries, and cucumber slices.)

Afterwards she was perky and climbing around, even jumping! She was fine as I showered everyone and got them ready for bed. I let her lie in my bed and she went to sleep quickly.

Glad kept checking in every hour, and he was sure she didn’t have any internal injury, since she was breathing well, had eaten and didn’t throw up, nor was she complaining of any pains other than her massively swollen lip and a sore chest. I, however, was still freaking out inside.

I kept her in bed with me all night. At one point she scared me by waking up and just sitting there and staring straight ahead. After what seemed like forever, she told me she wanted water and to get up, but it was only about 4 in the morning so I convinced her to go back to sleep.

In the morning her lip looked scary. The top one on the right side was big and puffy, the bottom about half the size. Above, below, and on her lips were all the tiny scratches that had scabbed overnight. Scarlett herself was perky as ever, ate a good breakfast, had a normal bowel movement, and showed every sign of being ok internally. But just to be safe, Glad took her to the hospital for a checkup.

I didn’t feel relief until they got home. The doctor had confirmed that she had no internal injury, and her lip was going to be just fine. The swelling went down rapidly over the next two days, so fast, in fact, that we could see a difference from one hour to the next. Now, exactly one week later, all the scabs are gone and there is no evidence that she had such a bad fall.

Since that day I’ve made sure to stay right next to her at the park whenever she is climbing. She is daring, like Lila, and will climb on most anything, so I can’t let her out of my sight. She may be a good climber, but she is still a toddler and doesn’t have as good balance as Lila does.

I shudder every time I think back on that moment when she fell. I’m thankful she fell from the 6’ slide and not the higher spiral one that she so loves. I’m thankful I wasn’t far when she fell, so I could pick her up right away. I’m thankful she wasn’t seriously injured. And I’m most thankful she is still here.

What has your child done to freak you out?

Memories Captured Linkup – December Edition

Scarlett is my youngest, and such a doll. She is almost always happy and cheerful; only when she is tired or not well does she fuss and cry. She loves helping daddy polish off his meals. She follows the other two around, trying to get into their games. She is happy when included and complains to me when they push her away.

Nov 013    Nov 059

She talks all the time now and has an amazing vocabulary for a 2 year old. The words I most love to hear her say right now are “tookie” (cookie), “nabit” (rabbit), “nap” (lap) and “tode” (cold). She tells Logan and Lila off if they bother her, wagging her little finger in their faces and shouting her reprimand. Twice recently she had a firm retort for some strangers who asked her for what she had in her hands. In one case it was a book she wanted and she said, “No, it mine!” In the other, she was holding a jute shopping bag for me, and when one of the shopkeepers tried to take it from her she shouted, “No, dat mommys!” Ha.

Nov 022     Nov 090

She loves having her picture taken. And drawing with my pen. And going for walks. And watching “Minnie Dactous” (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse). She is the one who will snuggle and say “I love you” with such gentleness, and then lick my cheek because she thinks it’s funny that Logan does it. She climbs into my bed at least once a night, then tries to sprawl, kicking Glad and I in the stomach (or worse) until I wake up enough to move her back to her bed so we can be comfortable.

 Nov 010            Nov 042

Scarlett is a cuddlebug, always wanting to be carried or sit on my lap. “I sit you nap,” she says each evening at storytime. Then if Logan or Lila try to get in she says “No, I sit mommys nap.” She loves the color pink. She points it out everywhere and wants to wear it all the time. She loves to announce whenever she burps or farts (courtesy of Logan’s training), and is the only one who has stepped on daddy’s sensitive parts more times than he can count.

She recently celebrated her second birthday. I don’t want her to grow up because I don’t want this cuteness to go away.                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nov 063

  

Today I am linking up with These Little Waves for the monthly Memories Captured meme.

Having Trouble Getting Your Overtired Toddler to Bed? Try These Tips

Overtired kids make for worn out, nerve wracked mommies. I want to share some tips of what I have found that works for me when my little ones have been overtired yet didn’t want to go to bed.

Usually I keep them on a good sleep schedule, but it does happen from time to time that schedules get blown to the wind and naps get missed. The other day Scarlett woke up at 6 a.m. and came into our bed, but instead of going back to sleep like she normally does, she stayed awake. By 11 a.m. she was ready to sleep but I knew that if she went down at that hour, she’d be up even before the other two went for a nap.

I tried to keep her up but she cried even more and kept begging to be carried. By 11:30 I’d had enough but she was too worked up to just lie down and fall asleep on her own like she normally does, so I had to put her to sleep myself.

Here are the steps I used.

#1 Hard as it is to do when your child is screaming or whining (especially if it has been going on for a while), keep yourself calm. This is the first step to calming your child. If necessary, go to another room for a few minutes and just breathe. Tell yourself that you are in control of your own emotions and you will get through this.
I made sure to keep myself calm while she threw herself and tried to get away as I put her diaper on. (She is almost completely daytime potty trained but still wears a diaper for naps and nighttime.)

#2 Go to your child, and in a calm, soothing voice, tell her it is time for sleep. As I got her ready for nap, I made sure to keep my voice calm. I have in the past let myself get upset because my kid was upset and all that came of it was an extra-tired child screaming and an upset, frustrated mommy angrily forcing them to sleep. Not a good combination at all.

#3 Lie your child down in her bed and sit next to her (if using a toddler bed) or sit in a chair next to the crib. You will want to sit as this part may take some time. Scarlett sleeps in a toddler crib that is rather low to the floor so I just sat on the floor next to her. It has removable bars so she can get in and out on her own. Make sure the room is darkened as much as she is used to for sleep, and close the door if there is noise in other parts of the house.
Alternately you could lie your child in your bed with you lying next to her, if you think that would work better. While I prefer my kids to sleep in their own beds, getting to lie in mommy’s bed can have a rapidly soothing, almost magical effect.

See the bars? There were 3 but the plasic parts broke after being used by all my kids and at this time, I can’t put any of the bars in place, meaning Scarlett gets out of bed often at night. Excuse the walls. 🙂

#4 At this point, your child may already be calming down, but if she is struggling to get up, firmly place one hand on her bottom and hold her down. At the same time, gently pat or rub her back with your other hand. Though it may be hard over the screaming, try singing her favorite lullaby or shush her by chanting “shh, shh, shh” in a rhythmic pattern. This is what I do. I find it works better for getting Scarlett to stop crying than singing, but sing if that works for you.
The goal here is to take control of your child falling asleep and at the same time let her know you sympathise with her tiredness and want to comfort her. Keep your voice calm and make sure you don’t show any frustration with how long it is taking. Actually, the calmer you are, the faster she will calm down. Don’t ask me how it works; it just does.

#5 Once she stops screaming and lies still, you can take your hand off her bottom, but you will want to continue patting or rubbing her back. You can either stop the vocal soothing or keep going, depending on how your child best falls asleep.

#6 Stay there until you are sure she is asleep. You will know she is in a deep sleep because her breathing will become rhythmic and she won’t open her eyes or try to get up when you move.

#7 You can let out that sigh of relief now. Take a deep breath and congratulate yourself. You just got your overtired toddler to sleep without becoming a bundle of nerves yourself! Take a few minutes for yourself and enjoy the peace.

Of course you may have other children to tend to and you may feel the need to get back to them, especially if they were coming into the room while you were putting your toddler down. I had to send Logan and Lila out several times, using silent hand motions and facial expressions so as not to disturb the atmosphere while I was putting Scarlett down. Even though I could hear them fighting and hurting each other, they had to wait as I knew it would be easier to deal with them once Scarlett was down. Thankfully they were quiet when they came in, but if your older children barge in and disturb you, calmly tell them they will have to wait ’till the younger one is asleep. Lock the door if necessary. Or just make sure your older ones are busy with some engaging activity before you go to put the younger one down.

These tips may also work with older babies (over 8 months) and even with children older than toddler age. Logan rarely naps any more, but some days I notice he is cranky so I lie him down and sit next to him and he will sleep faster than if I leave him to fall asleep alone.

What works for you when your child is overtired? Share it with us.

"He’s a Bad Boy!"

That’s what my son told me when picked him up from school today. One of his classmates had pinched him and he was very upset. Logan is by no means innocent of pinching. No, he pinches just as hard and often as the next kid, but hates being on the receiving end. Of course!

What got me was how quckly he labled his classmate as a bad person. Remember we are talking about kindergardeners here. I asked Logan why he was saying that, and apparently he had heard his teacher call the other boy bad when he did stuff like hit and pinch.

So I took some time to explain to Logan the difference between doing something that is bad and actually being a bad person, and I began to recall something I had read years ago in regards to discipline – never lable your child or they will end up living up to it. Since it is such a habit for me, I wrongly assumed other adults were aware of it too, which is why Logan’s statement about his teacher surprised me so much.

We often forget that children, especially between the ages of 2 and 5, are just learning which actions are acceptable and which are not. Children lash out and hurt each other because they don’t know how else to react when a friend or classmate does something they don’t like. Hurting each other is like a built-in self-defense mechanisim.

Children will only learn other methods of working out problems from us, their parents and teachers, and it is imperative that we explain and demonstrate the behavior we want them to learn in a calm manner. Yelling at them to stop hitting is usually counterproductive. I know because I’ve tried it. Like any mother, I will get frustrated with their meanness to each other and I will yell and threaten, but I shouldn’t because I know better. When I do stop to talk to them and I handle it calmly, they are more likely to sort out their differences and get along better.

Here are some tips to remember when you are faced with hurtful behavior from your child.

– Never call your child bad. Do that often enough and your child will see themselves as bad and they will wonder why they should even try to be good.

– When your child does something that hurts someone else, first let them know that it is the action that is bad. Say, “Pinching the baby was a bad thing to do.” Never say, “You are a bad boy for pinching the baby.”

– Next, explain why what they are doing is bad, and why they shouldn’t do it. Ie. “Pinching is bad because it hurts and we shouldn’t hurt people.”

– A further step would be to show them how they should act instead. You could say, “We touch people gently” while taking their hand and showing them what a gentle touch is. Show your child how to gently pat or stroke the child they hurt on the arm or hand.

– After that, it is good to teach them to apologise. For a toddler who isn’t verbal yet, you can teach them an action that they can do when they hurt someone. Maybe they could pat the person or give a kiss. At first you will have to walk them through the action while saying “I’m sorry.” That way they connect the action with the words. A child who can talk can learn to say “I’m sorry” and maybe they could do something nice for the person they hurt.

This kind of training doesn’t belittle the child; instead it helps them see that they are capable of acting in a good way, plus it gives them a life skill that they will be able to use in the future. We all want our children to be good, but it is the way we say it that will encourage or discourage them.

Do you have a story or tips you would like to share along these lines? Please do so in the comments.

Getting Scarlett to Sleep In Her Own Bed

Little Miss Independent wants to do everything herself.

In my last post on Scarlett’s weaning I mentioned I’d be working on getting her to sleep in her own bed and that I’d let you know how it went. This is me letting you know. Ha.

Truthfully, it was easier than I expected. Her crib is right next to my bed. That was to make it easy for night time feeds. I could just reach in and take her out and I often did so in my sleep. When I made the decision to wean, I also started not taking her out of the crib when she woke for water. I’d give her a drink and a hug and then tell her to lie down.

I think it was only two or three nights that she made a fuss, and after that it has been no problem. To help her get more used to sleeping on her own, I also put her in her bed both at nap time and night, instead of patting her to sleep on my bed as I had been doing. She actually reached a point where she didn’t want me to pat her and if she was on my bed, she would get up and try to run, so confinement to the crib worked.

I honestly don’t know the exact length of time this took, but I believe it was only a few days. Now, at nap I put her in her bed and stay in the room for the few minutes it takes her to fall asleep (unless she had already nodded off in the highchair). At night, into the crib she goes and I stay until she is asleep. When she stands up, I remind her to lie down, sometimes a few times, but she is usually asleep in about 5 minutes or so.

During the night now, she wakes once. I give her the sippy cup, she drinks alone and sometimes falls asleep with it in her arms. Lately I wake to find the cup thrown on my bed or the floor, so at some point she wakes again, drinks and throws it out. Ha. At least I’m getting more sleep these days.

Now to work on keeping the other two in their beds all night. Again! Hopefully it will be easier this year.

Scarlett is Weaned

Well, it’s official. My youngest darling is weaned! And now that I think about it, it wasn’t really that hard because I went the slow route of eliminating feeds until she was down to one.

I had wanted to nurse all my kids until 18 months. I thought that would be ideal. But I got pregnant with Lila when Logan was 9 months old. By the time he was 11 months I began weaning from the breast because my body literally felt like it was falling apart. Since he was still so young, I put him on bottles so the switch wasn’t too hard to do.

It was the same with Lila, only she was 10 months old when I got pregnant with Scarlett. Both Logan and Lila were weaned from the breast by their first birthday, yet they continued with bottles, mainly at night, until about 20 months. (You can read the complete details of their weaning process in this post.)

On to Scarlett: When her birthday rolled around I didn’t even consider weaning. I wanted to nurse her to a point when I wouldn’t need to put her on bottles. Around 14 months she sort of became aware of nursing. I guess up until then it was a need, then it just became fun because she would ask for it at odd times. She even came up with her own word for it: boof. She would lift my shirt and say “boof, boof” whenever she wanted it. It was cute.

I don’t think I ever really made a firm “I’m going to wean now” decision. I just slowly got it down to morning, before nap, and before bed, plus at least twice in the night, then before I knew it, she wasn’t asking for it at all in the day. About 3 weeks ago I eliminated her before bed nurse. She was already having a cup of milk and a snack so she didn’t really need to nurse as well.

The only one I didn’t know how to cut was the middle of the night one, and at times it was two or three times, depending on her moods. Also, I was always so tired that I often didn’t even remember taking her out of the crib and feeding her, but I know I did. She would be sleeping peacefully beside me and I’d be like “how did you get here?” Ha. Tired mommy brain doesn’t work too well at night.

So I continued letting her nurse at night. In the last week though, she was only waking once for it. Then the other night she asked for water. That was it. I knew she was ready. Last night I made sure to have her sippy cup by the bed and when she woke, I gave her water. She didn’t even ask to nurse.

So I guess I got my wish: I nursed one of my babies until 18 months. When the older two were that age I would have felt weird offering them the breast, but with Scarlett, is has felt weird to not offer it. I still can’t believe I am over and done with breastfeeding! And that I don’t have to deal with night bottles! Yes! Success all the way!

Now on to the next hurdle: sleeping in her own bed all night. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Outing Ideas

Do you ever feel the need to get out of the house with your child but you don’t want to go anywhere that is a big ordeal or where you have to pay a huge fee? Here are a few ideas that are sure to occupy children, cost little or nothing, and are fun:
Your local pet shop – Places with animals are usually great for small children.

My three love animals.

A children’s bookstore – read a few books and maybe pick one to take home. Some children’s bookstores offer a story hour which preschoolers will enjoy.

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Your local library or a children’s library – these also often have story hour, or you can just browse and borrow a few books or DVD’s.

The children’s library near our house.

Lila (10 months) enjoying the books.

The mall – go during off hours when there is hardly anyone shopping. That way your child can run and look at things without causing trouble for anyone.

Last Christmas Eve.

A toy shop – my kids love visiting the toy shop, and I always make it clear to them that we are just looking, not buying. They often point out things they like and it gives me ideas for birthday and Christmas gifts, and once in a while we do get something small for right away, like bubbles or a small toy or book.
One drawback of a toy shop is that many are very strict about children not touching the toys or playing with them and that can be frustrating since obviously that is what children know toys are for. As long as you are right there and they aren’t wildly pulling stuff off the shelves or being rough with things, it should be fine.

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Ice cream shop – always a fun place to visit, especially in summer.

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A park – if you are bored with the one you always go to, find a new one.

Lila and Scarlett having fun.

 Where is your favorite quick-outing place?

Summer Fun – Water Play

My children have always loved using water play to cool off in hot weather. When we lived in a tiny apartment, they played in the shower, but when we moved to our house and got our large patio/balcony, they had more space to play.

At first I gave them a bucket of water to play in; then we used the baby bath tub. This works just great for small children in a small area.

September 2010 – Logan, 2 yrs. 10 mo.; Lila, 1 yr. 5 mo.

Then I got them this tiny pool that measured only 2′ in diameter. It was small but they could both get in and enjoy it. It only lasted a short while though as Lila started biting holes in it and I couldn’t inflate it any more.

September 2010

After that, Logan got this large pool as a gift for his 3rd birthday. We finally set it up a few months later once the summer was in full swing and I was recovered enough from Scarlett’s delivery to carry buckets of water to fill it. I think this one is 6′ across.

May 2011 – Lila 2 yrs., Logan 3 yrs, 6 mo.

And we are still using it, but now I use a hose to fill it. And Scarlett loves to help.

This was taken yesterday. Scarlett 16 mo., Lila 2 yr. 11 mo., Logan 4 yr. 4 mo.

Some water play tips:

– As with any activity, safety is important. Make sure the area you are using is non-slippery and has drainage. For a balcony area, you may want to sweep it first if there area lots of leaves or dirt. That way the water stays cleaner and there is nothing painful to step on.
– Bring the toys your child wants before getting in the water to avoid having wet feet and drippy swimsuits running through the house for something they forgot.
– Even if your child is old enough to play alone, do check on them frequently. And never leave a toddler or baby unattended around even a small amount of water.
– Remember your sunscreen, and use hats and t-shirts if your child burns easily.

Have fun.

What is your kids’ favorite way to cool off in the summer?

Summer Fun – Water Painting

This might not be what you are thinking it is, so read on. I once read about this activity in a book of things to do with preschoolers. It is simple and sure to keep them occupied.

All you need is a large paintbrush (one for painting walls), a bucket, and an outdoor area such as a driveway or balcony that is cement or waterproof.

Fill your bucket with water, then show your child how to “paint” the walls with water. As children are wont to do, this painting will probably cover more than the walls. The ground, steps, car, outdoor toys – everything will be painted. But you can rest assured that nothing will be ruined since the paint is actually water.

You may also want to dress your child in a swimsuit and not leave them fully dressed as I did. I just increased my laundry pile. Not smart. But they had a lot of fun, even painting each other in the process. I finally had to put a stop to it when they began climbing into the bucket and fighting over it.  Next time I’d better give them each their own bucket.

You could also do a mini version of this if you don’t want them to get wet by giving them a small paintbrush and a plastic cup of water. This works well with Lila as she likes working with small things, but I would never give it to Logan if I wanted him dry as he would be sure to get wet, throw the water, drink it, or dump it on someone.

Potty Training 102

Logan at 16 months.

In my last post on potty training, I discussed daytime training. Now I want to talk about naptime training.

I don’t think there are any tricks to it. With both Logan and Lila, there came a point when I noticed that they were waking up from naps dry, and they would, at that age (between 20 – 24 months), nap a minimum of 2 hours a day, sometimes more. Though I had taken them out of diapers during the day, they wore one for nap until they were able to go for a while without waking up wet. Of course if I didn’t put them on the potty as soon as they woke, then they would wet, but once they got used to going on the potty after nap, they would hold it until I put them on. Once they reached that point, then I could let them nap without a diaper.

Lila is currently 2 years, 8 months old. She is daytime and naptime trained, but that isn’t to say there are never accidents. These mostly happen when she has had a lot to drink, enough that she has to pee several times in one hour. At those times I do remind her that she has to remember to get to the potty instead of peeing where she is – on the floor, couch, playmat, balcony, my bed, etc.

It is important to remember that, even once a child is trained, accidents can and will happen, but it doesn’t mean you have to go back to diapers. Some reasons a child might have an accident are:

– Forgetfulness. Toddlers need lots of reminders, not because they can’t remember things (try to get them to forget that song they heard on t.v. two weeks ago that they only heard once and won’t stop singing), but because often fun gets in the way. They are busy playing and exploring the world. In other words, their minds are engaged in what they are doing and they don’t notice that they need to go until it is too late.

-Not recognizing the need to go. Learning to recognize the feeling of needing to go is important and it takes time.

– Some children try but just can’t hold it, others wait until past the feeling before they say anything. I remember doing that as a child, why, I don’t know. Logan will also wait until the last second before he says anything and then he can hardly hold it, but he does. I can’t remember when he last had an accident. (He’s 4.)

– Too much to drink. Input equals output. The more they drink, the more they will pee. It isn’t rocket science.

I think that what it comes down to is that you have to remember for them until they can do it for themselves. If it has been a while and you suddenly think about it, put them on right away. I know that when this happens to me and I ignore the feeling, next thing I know is that Lila is wet. It happens often and you’d think I’d have the lesson down by now. Let’s hope I get it before I begin Scarlett’s potty training.

Potty Training 103 -night training.

How did naptime training work for you and at what age was your child staying dry during their nap?

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