Conversation With A 3-Year-Old At 11:37 PM

Ella should have been asleep 3 hours ago. She comes out of her room wearing nothing but a diaper.
"Mommy, me have go poopoo in potty."

"No, it's too late for that." This might sound like I'm prohibiting the potty-training. I can absolutely guarantee you that I am not. This is Ella's Stay-Awake Tactic #217. The ONLY time she wants to use the potty is when she's supposed to be sleeping. And whenever I let her try, nothing happens. It's all a trick. She plays around in there. She plays with the shower curtain, the toilet paper, whatever she can reach from the potty. She's even tried this in the past: "Mommy, I PROMISE I go potty!" And of course I gave in to that one. And, yes, it was a trick. Point: Ella.

"Ella, if you want to change your diaper, go ahead." It's barely even wet, but I know it will make her happy.

"Okay, Mama. Watch!" This is not unusual for her. She is a professional Self-Diaper Changer.

She rips off her diaper and makes it into a little ball. "Me throw it in trash."

"Okay, sweetie. Then go get a new diaper, okay?"

"Okay! Me do it! Watch my legs!" I watch as little naked girl runs as fast as she can to her room to get a diaper.

"Do you want me to help you?"

"No. Me do it." She pulls up her diaper. "Me need new jammas. Watch my legs!" She runs as fast as she can back to her room. She reappears with a pair of Peyton's old pajamas: blue with red firetrucks. Her wardrobe choices vacillate daily between extra girly and anything of Peyton's. "You help me?"

"Okay." I help her put on the pajamas and she crawls into my lap. "Mommy, me not like thunder."

"I know, sweetie, but there's no thunder now."

"I heard Boom-Boom!"

"That was the wind on the windows."

"Oh! Oh geez!" Laughs at herself for making such an assumption.

"It does sound like thunder sometimes, doesn't it?"

"Yeah! Mommy, me love you ever ever ever."

"I love you, too."

"Look! Mama ladybug!" Scoops up pretend ladybug and places it on my shoulder. "See?" Turns my head to make me look at my shoulder. "Don't eat it!"

It seems she has to give this warning every time she gives one of us an invisible creature:
"Here's caterpillar. Don't eat it!"
"Butterfly for you. It pink. Don't eat it!"
"Little kitty. Don't eat it!"
"Bun Bun (bunny). It for you. Don't eat it!"

She used to just scoop up these little things and pour them into our hands as a gift. We would pet them softly and care for them. One day, she gifted my husband with an invisible pink butterfly. They had been playing around and being silly, so he thought it would be funny to pop it in his mouth. She burst into tears. He felt terrible and took it out right away, but the damage was done.

The good news is that I get to use it as leverage against him. Don't mess with Ella's invisible animals. Seriously. Don't do it.

So now every time she gives the warning, I get to give James a big thumbs up and whisper, "Good job, Dad!" Because raising kids is sometimes like playing a crazy-fun version of Monopoly. Every time she says, "Don't eat it!" it's like I own Park Place and he just landed on it. Point: Darcy. James owns lots of properties on Parent Monopoly, too, I just can't think of any at the moment. Strange.

"Daddy ladybug, baby ladybug!" Places them on my shoulder. "Purple bouncy ball! They playing!"

"Ella, it's time to go to bed."

"Me not sleepy. See?" Looks up at the light to prove her point. "When me not sleepy, bird poop! Poop!" Throws her head back with laughter. "Me not like matoes (tomatoes) or poop or sammiches (sandwiches)! Look!" Turns my head to look at my other shoulder. "Daddy ladybug playing purple bouncy ball!"

I place my hand above her tummy and wiggle my fingers as if I'm about to tickle her. She brings her little hand up and wiggles it in front of mine and talks in her pretend voice. "Hi!"

"Hi! My name's Handy, what's your name?" I say in my pretend voice.

"Handy Manny! Wanna be my friend?"

"Okay!" We lock our fingers together. Yeah, I know, I could almost gag at the sweetness of it, too.

"Okay, time to go back to bed." I start to get up. She throws her arms around my neck and pulls me close to her sweet little face.

"Mommy, me not sleepy. Me keep you forever."

How do you mess with that kind of logic? You just can't.

And then my sweet little girl headed off to bed.

Lamb and Lion Note Holder Kid Kit

Because March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb: I just finished my Lion and Lamb Note Holder Kid Kit. Perfect for springtime! I mean, really, does it get any cuter? Impossible.

The lamb's and lion's legs are made out of clothespins, so you can clip in little notes or lists. I'm obsessed with To Do lists. You should be, too, because then I would feel more normal. I even stamped a a few lamb and lion papers to start you on your way to obsessionville. Really, we love it here. Really.

Here are the "sheep" and lion that Ella made. Whenever I call it a lamb, she yells: "No! It sheep!" Ella is quite fond of sheep. And yelling. Anyway, I did the cutting, she did all the gluing. Look at the sweet little lion's face that Ella drew:

And here are Peyton's lamb and lion. He did all the cutting and gluing himself. Except for the lion's face - he insisted I do the lion's face. But he did cut out the body circles and the lamb's face and all the yarn. His scissor skills are really coming along!

Happy Crafting!

Why You Might Want to Consider Wearing More Sunscreen

I overheard my 5-year-old explaining death to my 3-year-old:

Peyton: "Everyone goes to Baby Jesus sometime when they get old. Everyone! Did you know? Even dogs!"

Ella: "Peyton, what old?"

Peyton: "Old is when your skin gets bumpy and wrinkly and has lines. When it gets more and more lines you will die."

Ella: "Yes, you die!"

Recycling Crayons

I had been wanting to do this broken crayon melting thing for some time and I finally took the plunge! I searched online and found about a hundred and one different ways (oven temperatures, baking times, broken crayon sizes, etc.) to do it. I like living on the razor's edge, so I made up my way as we went along. 

We dumped out our bucket of crayons and then sorted through them to find all the broken ones. Then we got to the peeling. Some of the crayon wrappers were a little tough to remove, so I was in charge of cutting each wrapper down the side with a small paring knife. Peyton and Ella were then able to take the rest of the wrapper off easily. 

I lined an old muffin tin with paper liners and then we tossed in the crayon pieces. Some we color coordinated and some we just mixed. I've seen this done in the fancy shaped muffin tins - like hearts and flowers and such - and it looks super cute.  I don't have the fancy kind, but I think the paper liners made our new crayons pretty fancy anyway. Take that, Martha Stewart.

We melted them in a 250 degree oven for about 20 minutes. It probably takes a shorter amount of time for most ovens, but we kept opening the oven door because Peyton and Ella wanted to watch the melting process. 

As soon as the pieces were all melted I took out the pan and stuck it in the freezer to speed up the hardening process because I'm impatient. Look how cool! 

Although, I do have to admit that the kids were a little disappointed that our experiment didn't turn the crayons into dessert. As soon as I took the them out of the oven, Ella said, "I want eat one!" They're used to delicious treats coming out of muffin tins, not writing utensils. But once they got over their disappointment, they thought their new crayons were pretty neat. It's a brand new experience, since they have to use the side of the crayon shape to draw, and they can't be as precise as with regular crayons. But it's a fun experiment and much more efficient than throwing away all your broken crayons. Ella's favorite: Pink, of course!

Ella's New Game

It's called: I Should Be Sleeping In My Bed - Can You Find Me?

"Ha Ha Sucker! I fell asleep behind the door while listening to Mommy and Daddy watch TV! Do you need a recap of last week's "Lost"? Because I can totally give it to you. "

"Ha Ha Sucker! I took my blanket into the hall outside my room and fell asleep. When Mommy came to check on me, she actually walked around me thinking I was a pile of clothes. Then she didn't see me in my bed and figured it out. Maybe if she was a better housekeeper, she would have noticed sooner."

"Ha Ha Sucker! This time I'm not even sleeping! I'm playing with my toys! When Mommy came in to check on me, I held really still. Somehow she still found me. She must possess some kind of Super Hero x-ray vision powers."

"In case you weren't keeping score: I win. Mommy loses!"

Buzzy Bee Bouquet Kid Kit

Yay! I just finished my Buzzy Bee Bouquet Kid Kit. The kit makes the cutest non-stingingest little buzzy bee you will ever see! I totally just made up that word: non-stingingest. Could you tell? 
Anyway, now we have three of these bees in our house. Peyton and Ella carry them from room to room and doorknob to doorknob. Sometimes they take out the flowers and fill the bees with more important stuff, like foam letter stickers and broken crayons. 

I had assumed the Buzzy Bee Kit would be used to make a pretty little bouquet decoration somewhere around the house. Or maybe as a way for you to score some bonus points when your precious child makes one for Grandma. I never really thought to use one as a storage container, but there you go.

Color Ice

Here's a super easy and fun bath activity for kids. Fill up an ice cube tray with water. Let your child add one or two drops of food coloring to each section. You can keep the basic colors of the food coloring or you can let your little one try out color combinations. Gently stir each cube section and freeze.

At bath time, pop out as many cubes as you want and watch your kid have a blast. If you want to be the "Teachable Moment" parent type, you can teach your child about color mixing (yellow and blue make green, etc.) while you're at it.

Ella's Technique:
Ella calls it Color Ice. She likes to "lose" her cube in the water and then call out "Iceeeee! Where are you Iceeeee?" while she tries to find it before it melts. 

Peyton's Technique: 
Peyton likes to let his melt in a bath cup before pouring the colored water into the bath. Sometimes he uses one as an ice crayon and draws on the sides of the tub.

Back in the day, I would let each of my kids have only two per bath time. The bath water would turn a pretty color and I'd take pictures. Now I sometimes let them have a whole tray in a Color Ice Bonanza. Inevitably, the bath water turns a hideous dark brown/purple yuck color. My kids think the swamp water look is hilarious. I imagine someone walking in and accusing me of bathing my kids in dirt while they dial social services. But I try to get over it, since it is only food coloring, and it's totally safe and washes right off for the most part.

Here's my extra fancy cost analysis: They're cheap.

Here's my extra fancy price comparison: 

Buy It: Crayola Color Dotz cost $4.99 for 30. That's about 17 cents for each Bath Color Dot. They are neat though - and they're great stocking stuffers!

Make It: Dec-A-Cake food coloring is about $2.00 for the 4-color pack. I'm totally guessing how many drops are in each one, but let's say there are 50 drops per squeeze bottle.  That's about 2 cents for each Color Ice. And your little monkey child gets to help make the cubes, which is an extra added bonus. 

Happy Bath Time!

Idea Tree

I just finished my Idea Tree. It started out super mod, but then I felt it needed a little something special, so the little bubbles appeared. I call it the Idea Tree because the leaves remind me of just how many great ideas we all have every day. We have so much potential!

"We are hoarding potentials so great that they are just about unimaginable."
-Jack Schwartz

Kicking the Two Binky Habit

Getting Rid of the Binkies: Take 1

I had always known that when Ella turned 3, we would get rid of her pacifier habit. We only let her use her pacifiers when she sleeps, although if she could have her way she would have a binky in her mouth 24 hours a day. Peyton never used a pacifier, so this is new territory for us.

I did lots of research and decided that having her "give" her binkies to a new baby would be a good option for removal. I told her her Auntie Ali and Uncle Josh's baby, Hayden, would need the binkies. But baby Hayden hasn't been born yet, so Ella didn't really understand. Instead, she decided that her cousin Noah could have them. When they were younger, Ella spent the majority of her time trying to steal Noah's pacifier out of his mouth, so maybe she feels she owes him.

Here's Ella taking one of Noah's pacifiers back in the day. I'll tell you what she's thinking: Ha ha cousin, try and get it back. What's that? You can't, because you're stuck in Exersaucer baby jail? Being 3 months older than you is really starting to pay off.

So we had a plan. She could have her pacifiers for her nap, but then we would pack them up and mail them. Naptime came, disaster struck. We could only find one pacifier. Here's some pacifier background on Ella. She has to sleep with a minimum of two pacifiers - one for her mouth, one in her hand. It has always been this way.

As her third birthday approached, we threw away the pacifiers as they got cracked and didn't buy any new ones. So at this point I knew we owned three binkies. One was in my husband's car at his work (I really have no idea why), she had one, and one was missing. She had two this morning and now she had one. Did I mention she HAS to sleep with two?

Peyton, Ella, and I searched high and low. If you've ever searched for something with two little kids, I don't have to tell you: I did the searching. They mostly walked around the house calling out, "Binky! Where are you Binky?" and playing with whatever toys they came across.

Anyway, "we" emptied toy boxes, drawers, laundry baskets, entire closets. "We" moved couches, cabinets, and beds. "We" took off sheets, blankets, and couch cushions. It was nowhere. And now that I had seen what was under my couch cushions, I had to add "vacuum unidentified old food pieces" to my To Do List.

I asked Ella if she had put it somewhere special and she said, "Yes," but she really didn't know where it was. And if you are thinking - Seriously, it's a freakin' pacifier, let her deal with it - you have a point. I would have if it had been a regular day. But I knew this was her Last Binky Hurrah and I really wanted her to get everything she could out of it.

After (I'm not joking) an hour and a half of searching, I promised her I'd keep looking but that she had to take a nap. For the next hour she cried the most heart-breaking cry I have ever heard. In between sobs, she would call out, "Where are you, Binky? I love you, Binky!" Remember the first time you got your heart broken? This cry was EXACTLY the same.

So of course, I caved, and I promised her that she could have her binkies for one more night. But I still could not find that freakin' purple pacifier anywhere. And of course, she didn't sleep.

About 5 minutes after she got out of bed she went into my closet and brought out a purple binky.
"Ella! Where did you find that?"
"In boot."
"Did you put it there?"
"So it won't be lost."

Excellent. Excuse me, sweet little girl Ella, while I go pour myself a nice big glass of wine. And while I'm drinking, I'll be reminiscing about the twenty-seven times we've watched the episode of "Caillou" in which the mom loses her car keys and Caillou finds them in her snow boot. Hey, Caillou, guess what? Even though you are an innocent little cartoon boy, I just put you on my Shit List.

I told my husband the story when he got home. James had never been a fan of the Cold Turkey approach. So he convinced me to let Ella keep just one binky for one more week as a way to wean her. During this time I decided to switch to the Binky Fairy tactic.

Getting Rid of the Binkies: Take 2

So, after Ella's nap a small gift bag appeared on our doorstep. In it was a letter:

Dear Ella,

I am the Binky Fairy. You are 3 years old! That means you are a Big Girl now and you don't need a binky anymore.
Please put your binky in the bag so I can have it.
Then check the bag in a little while because I am going to leave you a Big Girl present.

The Binky Fairy

Ella seemed to agree that the Binky Fairy was a good plan and happily threw her binky in the bag. After bath time we checked the bag and the Binky Fairy had brought Ella her own set of Big Girl TinkerBell car keys. Get it? Caillou and the keys? The Binky Fairy has a fantastic sense of humor.

At bedtime, Ella was fine. An hour later when she wanted her diaper changed:

Me: Ella, I'm so proud of you. You are such a big girl now!
Ella: Yeah! No more binkies!
And then we High-Fived.

Seriously? Can it be this easy? Is it possible? I've heard stories about it being this easy. I always thought they were made-up stories. You know, Feel Good Stories to make you do something that you might not want to do. Like when "they" say you forget about the pain of childbirth. When I gave birth to Ella, my epidural didn't work. I'M STILL WAITING TO FORGET ABOUT THAT.

Next day at naptime (brace yourself):

Ella: Me can't find binky. Me check in dishwasher.
Me: Remember Honey, the Binky Fairy took your binky because you are a big girl now. You don't need a binky anymore.
Ella: Me check in dishwasher. (She checks in dishwasher.) Nope, no binky!
Me: No more binky, the Binky Fairy took it. Remember?
Ella: Oh! Okay! Me like Binky Fairy! Wonder what she bring next?

And then she went to sleep. Seriously. She went to sleep. I totally fooled you with that "Brace Yourself" warning, admit it. I had to do it, because even as I reread this post, my heart starts to race a little when I get to naptime. Yep, I was so nervous that I'm still affected. Post-Traumatic Getting Rid of the Binkies Take 1 nerves.

It's been two weeks and I'm just posting this now. Why? Because I still can't believe it was that easy. I keep thinking she's going to wake up one night and start cussing "What the hell, Mommy! Where's my freakin' binky? I've put up with this for 2 WEEKS! Screw the Binky Fairy, Santa has never pulled this crap!"

But she hasn't renounced the Binky Fairy. She never even asks about her pacifier. The closest she's come is to say, "Mommy, remember when Binky Fairy brought my keys? I love Binky Fairy."

Here's to you, Binky Fairy! You made my Kick-Ass List (and that's the good one).