Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Everyday Struggle with a Twonanger

I'm not really sure how to say this without sounding like a terrible person, so I'm just going to get right to it: I love Callum like crazy with every single part of me, but, these last few weeks, I haven't really liked him. My sweet, quiet little boy has transformed in to some sort of stubborn, crabby, defiant monster.

We've moved in to a whole new territory over here, ladies and gentlemen. My two-year-old now has a big personality and lots of opinions, and he wants them heard now! See that face above? The side eye and the pouty lip. I've been seeing that one a whole lot more than the smiley one I much prefer. I'm well aware of the fact that these are growing pains as we move in to a whole new stage of development and independence. But, man, it has been hard.

It feels like I'm struggling with him every day over the littlest things. It's a fight to get him dressed in the morning. I can't get him to stop hitting the dogs. He throws a fit if I don't let him watch another episode of Thomas the Train. Every mole hill is turned in to a mountain. Callum is pushing his limits any chance he can get, and I just feel like I'm a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off.

The other day, I came in to his playroom and asked him to start picking up his toys. He looked me straight in the eyes, held his hand out like a stop sign, and sternly said, "Stop talking, Mama!"

Whhhhhhhaaaaaattttttttt? How do I even respond to that? How do I explain to him that's not ok?

I am just starting to feel so overwhelmed by this new stage of defiance. Am I am discipling too much, or not enough? Am I damaging his psyche permanently by ignoring him when he acts out? Does he even understand that he's doing anything wrong? I am just so unsure of how I should be handling this sort of behavior. On one hand, I'm worried that I won't be able to get this behavior in check and I'll dealing with a badly behaved child until he's 18. On the other hand, I'm trying to relax, take a deep breath, and just remember that he's two and a half, and this storm shall pass.

So, tell me, mommas: Tell me this is normal, and all the screaming and tantrums and "Nos!" are to be expected. Also, what did you do? How should I be handling my difficult "twonanger?" What books did you read and advice did you listen to? I feel like I read a million books about what to expect the first year, but have no idea what to expect for the next 17.

One of my favorite pieces of parenting advice I've ever heard is: Just give them a hug. Through the tears and the screaming and the yelling, just give them a hug. Because, when it comes down to it, that's probably what they need the most. So, that's where I'm going to start.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sesame Street Live: A Review of Make a New Friend

Yesterday morning, we took a trip down to the Milwaukee Theatre to see Sesame Street Live. You guys. It was so much fun! The show was so happy and upbeat, we all left just feeling so great on our Sesame Street high. I thought I would find the music sort of obnoxious or just down right annoying, but it was not at all! The songs and story were so great, and left us smiling for the rest of the day.

The show, Make a New Friend, followed all the Sesame Street favorites as they welcomed Grover's new friend, Chamki, from India. The concept was perfect and a good reminder for everyone in the audience: No matter where you're from or who you are, everyone is special and deserves to be treated as such. They all celebrated and shared their cultural differences through fun songs and dance. They talked so much about being nice and welcoming to new friends that you meet, including everyone as you play. Also, the story line touched on how scary it can be to make new friends and how everyone feels a little shy at first. I wish the real world was a lot more like Sesame Street and we all just celebrated our differences through song and dance. (It would definitely make this upcoming election year so much more exciting.)

When the show started, I'm not sure who was more excited: me or Callum. It was so fun to see Elmo, Grover, Big Bird, and, my personal favorite, The Count break out in song and dance with the first number. And, then, they started walking in to the audience and I almost lost it. Seriously, it was so fun. Callum was in heaven, too. He clapped and danced the entire time! His eyes did not leave the stage. The dancers were so amazing! I can't imagine dancing the way they did in those costumes. But, they were beyond! Pretty sure I caught a whip-nae-nae or two along the way.

And, the music! The music was so much fun. We ended up leaving with the soundtrack, because  I honestly wanted to listen to all the songs again. (And, at just $10, I thought it was the perfect show souvenir.) My personal favorite was "Moves like Bert," which parodied Maroon 5's "Moves like Jagger." Seriously. It was so cute.

The show was 90 minutes long, with a 15 minute intermission, which was just long enough for Callum. We brought a few snacks, too, which helped to occupy him for the final few minutes. Even if you are worried about your child being able to sit through the show, just remember that there is always a kid or two a few rows away that is way more obnoxious than your child will be. I promise. Everyone's in it together.

Since the show, all Callum has been asking for is Elmo and Chamki. He's been carrying the CD pamphlet from the soundtrack everywhere and talking about all the characters in it. I think it's safe to say he really had a good time. 

All in all, we very much enjoyed Sesame Street Live's Make a New Friend. It was such a good family outing, and definitely a good learning experience for Callum. I know there will be many, many opportunities in the future for us to use Make a New Friend as a good reminder for how to treat your friends. We will definitely be attending any future Sesame Street Live Shows in Milwaukee.

And, until then, we'll be dancing our butts off to the soundtrack. If you need me, I'll be doing my best to learn the moves like Bert

(To keep on eye on future show dates, or, if you're not in the Milwaukee area, to find an upcoming show near you, be sure to check out the Sesame Street Live website for shows and dates.)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Friday Favorites {21}

Happy, happy Friday! Did everyone survive the first week back after the holidays? Personally, I was so ready to get back to our routine. I very much enjoyed the time off, but was happy to get everyone back to our regularly-scheduled program.

Since it's back to the usual round here, I thought I'd jump in today and share a few things I'm currently loving. Enjoy!

1. I know I'm super late to the game on this one, but I finally bought a spiralizer. (I actually found it at Aldi for $1.99! I love that place.) Anyways, I've been making a ton of zoodles (noodles made from zucchini). They are so good! Callum loves them, too. They are super easy to make. You just add the spiralized zucchini to a skillet with olive oil over medium heat, cook and stir zucchini in the hot oil for 1 minute. Add a little bit of water and cook until zucchini is softened, about 5 minutes. Then, I'll season it with a little bit of salt and pepper. They are delicious just like this, but my favorite way is to eat them is in marinara sauce with sautéed mushrooms and some parmesan. Seriously amazing. So, if you don't have a spiralizer, get to Aldi now! It will be two dollars very well spent. (Also, I don't want you to think I'm pretentious and added that accent to 'sauté' all by myself Good ole autocorrect did that for me.)

2. THIS article. It's so true. As a mom, I definitely think you have to learn how to go with the flow and take everything in stride. It's impossible to make your kids conform to that perfect child all the parenting books talk about, and it can be extremely stressful to attempt to follow all the "parenting rules." (Warning: There's a fair amount of F-bombs. If swearing isn't your thing, you want to skip it.)

Raising my baby to be perfect is impossible. He was born perfect. My task is to try to keep him as close to that innate perfection as possible by giving a finger to what everyone says he should be. So I’ll read him a story, but if he’s not interested, I’ll toss that motherf*er and we’ll cuddle in my bed watching a movie and eating ice cream. I’ll iron and match his clothes, but when he doesn’t like what I’ve picked out, I’ll let him pick out his own outfit even if it consists of more color than a 64-count crayon box. I’ll work on him, but I’ll let him be. And most of all, I’ll continue to do this mommy shit as carelessly as possible, not giving a damn who thinks I’m too lenient, too indulgent or too hood.

3. So, every time a new season of the Bachelor or Bachelorette starts, I'm faced with a huge dilemma: Should I watch it or should I not watch it? I know if I start it, I'll get sucked in and will be invested for the whole season. However, if I don't watch it, I'll be able to spend two hours of my week doing things that are much better for my well-being. Well, there's officially no going back: I started the Bachelor on Monday and can honestly say I'm very happy with my decision. Are you watching? Can we talk about it?? Every single season, my first question is always, "where in the world do they find all these crazy people?!?" The chicken enthusiast? Lace? The woman with the flower on her head? They were all so crazy. I don't have a favorite yet, but I'll be sure to keep you posted in coming weeks. I'm sure you can't wait.

4. Have you guys heard of air plants? They are essentially plants that don't need to be potted in soil. I saw this DIY from Homey Oh My and thought it would be the perfect way to add plants to a house with toddlers. I've already ordered a few air plants from here.  I'll keep you posted on my results.

Photo from Homey Oh My.

And, that's all I wrote! (How have I not used that one before?)

I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend! I'm sure it will fly by since it'll be the first one since the holiday season. If you're looking for something to keep you busy, here are a few things happening in Milwaukee this weekend.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Milwaukee Tradition: NYE with the Globetrotters

The Harlem Globetrotters have been in Milwaukee on New Year's Eve for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, my family would spend NYE watching the Globetrotters almost every year. I have such fond memories of watching the games with my parents, and I could not wait to be able to take Callum. This year, we decided it was time for Callum's first NYE with the Globetrotters.

Before the game, we went to the Old German Beer Hall for food and a few drinks. We decided to go there because they were doing a count down at 5:00 PM, which was midnight in Germany. We didn't want to keep Callum that late, so we thought this was a fun way for him to experience a NYE countdown without actually staying up until the ball dropped. (Plus, Matt and I were doubtful that we'd be up until midnight, since we're basically 85 years old.) Old German Beer Hall also ended up having live music and plenty of room to sit. It was just the place to sit and enjoy a beer, while Callum was totally entertained. It was perfect.

Old German Beer was just a block away from the Bradley Center, so we were able to walk right over when it was game time. From the moment we walked in to the arena, Callum was just in awe of everything. It was pretty amazing to watch him take it all in.

The moment we sat down, Callum was totally entranced. He clapped, he danced, he pointed, he laughed. He totally loved it. Matt and I really enjoyed the game, too. The players are not only ridiculously skilled basketball players, they are also such good entertainers. In exciting news, the Globetrotters have a female player on the team for the first time in their 90-year history. That was pretty cool to see. There was also a player who was 7'4" tall! It was seriously unbelievable. He could stand with his feet on the ground while still holding on to the basketball hoop.

Callum made it until about half time before he couldn't sit still anymore. But, hey, I'll totally take an hour and a half of Callum being able to sit still. That's super impressive for him. Not to mention, he didn't nap during the day and was definitely tired. So, Matt and I took turns walking around with him to keep him busy.

After a bit of running around, we were all able to sit down for the last few minutes of the game and watch the Globetrotters win. Not like we were surprised. Do they ever not win? ;) When the game was over, all of the players hung out on the court to sign autographs for a while, which I thought was really awesome. If our kid wasn't on the verge of a major meltdown, we would've stayed around for a few autographs. But, since it was pushing 9:30, we decided it would be best to hit the road. It took all of 30 seconds for Callum to be in the car before he was out like a light. 

All in all, it was the perfect New Year's Eve. We all had such a great time. The best part was definitely watching Callum enjoy himself so much. Kids really do make everything more magical. Harlem Globetrotters, we'll see you next year!