My Mommy Resolutions

I can’t recall a single News Years resolution I have ever made. That is probably a good indicator that I did not stick to them.

But today is that magical day where Facebook is flowing with declarations and promises. Everyone sets goals to lose weight, save money, travel more, worry less, or something generic about “not letting haters get me down anymore!”

As parents making resolutions, the last thing we need is more pressure on ourselves. I choose to let New Years be a gentle reminder of ways I can better serve my daughter.

Here are my Mommy Resolutions for the New Year:

1) I will embrace the mess. Constant cleaning is futile. My floors will never be free of peanut butter smears and I accept that. I feel that when I learn to overlook the clutter, my eyes may be opened to the sense of warmth and life it brings my home.

2) I will lower my voice. Choosing discipline methods for a child is like walking a tight-rope covered in Vaseline. You can easily slip into too much or not enough without meaning to. It is instinct to shout “NO!” when you walk in on your toddler using crayons on the wall. I will remember that my child is not a dog, and shouting commands is not helpful.

3) We will eat meals together. Even if it’s just Hamburger Helper. Even if it’s just a snack. I will find time in every day to sit down at a table, give thanks, and nourish my body in the presence of my child. I cannot expect her to do so without my example.

4) I will go to the park. We will use our snow boots, our raincoats or our sunscreen. The weather is not an excuse to become a hermit. Barring extreme weather, I will take us outside. It shouldn’t have to be 70 degrees and sunny to enjoy nature.

5) I will re-date my husband. Being a parent is great. But being a partner is what got me here. I will date, flirt with, and enjoy time with my husband, because the strength of my marriage enables me to give that much more energy to my child.

6) I will leave my daughter alone. After a busy day at school, she may need her space. I want her to recognize the value of alone time and know that she is pretty great company all on her own. Being social and friendly are great attributes, but so is the ability to find comfort in your own presence.

7) I will make it a habit to say “I Love You”, even when angry. My goal is to never let any temporary emotion hinder my ability to say “I Love You” to my child. I may be tired or upset, but I will work hard to always keep my mind clear enough to speak those truest words to her.

Happy New Year to all my wonderful friends, family and readers. I hope whatever goals and promises you make this year help build a more loving and fulfilling life for you and your families.


Cheap and Easy Shapes Craft

Glue sticks are my new best friend. CeCe and I do crafts together most days, and glue sticks have opened a world of possibilities. Our latest go-to project is the shape-matching game. All you need is construction paper, scissors, a marker and a glue stick.

I cut some shapes out of construction paper, and then trace them onto a white sheet of paper.

Bam. So easy. I end up with a "worksheet" that looks like this:

Yes, I know you can buy workbooks like this. But I have a surplus of construction paper and I don't like leaving the house. So after I create our worksheet, I give CeCe the shapes and a glue stick. The rest is a lovely stretch of quiet concentration.

I sometimes mix it up by shading in the blank shapes with crayons so she also has to match the color and not just the shape. This is week two in my challenge to find activities using only what we have in our giant crafts basket. I think the shapes puzzle is definitely going on our favorites list.

Sorry this photo is blurry. She rarely stops moving.


No Rest for the Weary

CeCe was awake from 1-5 a.m. last night. So if this post is full of typos I really don't care.

Our sleep schedule has been a little wacky since the time change. My almost-three-year-old once slept 8:30-8:30 with a 2-hour nap during the day. I took that schedule for granted and now miss it terribly. These days she rises at 6 a.m., naps for 3 hours, and is in bed by 9 p.m.

But last night, she laughed in the face of a schedule. I heard her at 1 a.m. making a ruckus in her room. I tried rocking her, but the second I would lay her down she would start screaming. After an hour of this, I dragged her dad out of bed to try.

No dice. We asked what was wrong and she simply said she didn't want to sleep. She wanted to play.

We finally gave up and left her to herself at 5 a.m. By 7:30 she was calling for me that she was hungry and her Pull-Up was wet.

So here we are, running on maybe five collective hours of sleep, and she is running around with her batteries fully-charged. No fatigue, not even a yawn. She wants to go play in the snow. She wants to play dress-up. She wants to jump on her trampoline. And I want coffee in an IV.

Here's my girl with her silly grin (which I need to remember when she is tormenting me in the middle of the night.)


Rainbow Matching Game

We’ve been working on using glue in our crafts, which is definitely a skill that takes time and practice for toddlers.  I saw a photo on Pinterest of a “rainbow color match game,” and decided to recreate our own.

I cut out strips of different colored construction paper and stuck them to a piece of cardboard using a glue stick. Then I collected various beads, pom-poms, pieces of pipe cleaners, and some mini-popsicle sticks I colored with markers.

I gave CeCe a small bowl of glue and let her work out matching the colors and choosing where she wanted to place each item on the paper. She enjoyed herself, although her fingers did get pretty sticky.

The end result was what CeCe called “a beautiful rainbow,” and I have to agree.

This craft gets an A+ in our book. It is inexpensive, not terribly messy, and lets CeCe practice multiple skills while creating something she can hang on the wall with pride.


The Calm Down Chair

We all have those days. Those miserable, super-sensitive, everyone-is-out-to-get-me days. Toddlers are no different, except in their ability to handle those days.

If you're on Facebook, you are no stranger to the people who seem to live only these kinds of days and enthusiastically share how AWFUL everything is through status updates. But most of us are able to put on our big girl panties and ride out the storm. CeCe is definitely ready for bluer skies today.

Tantrums and bad days have been heavy for my girl this week. Maybe some of the blame goes to the time change and how her internal clock is confused. Maybe the colder weather taking away her sunshine is the culprit. Maybe the planets aligned in just the right way to cause some cosmic-induced mood change.

A friend of mine created a parenting group on Facebook and recently posed the question about dealing with tantrums. Many moms use singing, speaking in soothing tones and gentle touches to ease their toddlers out of a fit. We use: The Calm Down Chair

This is the glider I've had since CeCe was an infant, and we rock in it every day and evening before sleeping. Now, I use it as a safe space too. When CeCe has a tantrum at home, I decided to not try to forcibly stop her. After all, ladies, what pisses us off more than anything? When someone tells us to calm down, (when we WEREN'T riled up to begin with. But now we are!)

Instead of pleading with her to calm down, or walking away and leaving her to deal with it, I scoop her flailing body up and we head to the Calm Down Chair. She cries, I rock. I don't do much of anything, I just wait. But she knows I am there. 

The results: tantrum times are waaaaaaay shorter than they used to be. She lets out her feelings and can move on quickly. As adults, we all talk about needing stress relief, or needing to just "let it out" sometimes. Why are our children any different? 

Let me know if you have any tantrum-techniques to share. I know each child is different, so if you haven't found the key for your kiddo yet, just remember "there is no way to be a perfect parent, but a million ways to be a good one."

Happy Tantrum-Free Tuesday! (Hopefully.)


The Diaper Days Are Over

It's finally happened. The patience paid off, the switch was finally flipped, and CeCe is now potty-trained! Mostly.

Last week I decided to go the "No More Diapers, Deal With It" approach. We got her super excited for big girl panties, made potty chairs available all over the house, and then braced ourselves for a rough week.

That first day she peed on herself, the floor, and me at least five times each. Not one drop landed in a potty. But she quickly realized her options were to constantly be drenched in urine, or get in tune with her body's signals.

Day two saw about 50 percent of potty business actually make it into the potty. By day four, we were right on schedule for no accidents.

I hung this up on our refrigerator as encouragement:

I haven't calculated what we will save on diapers now, but I'm guessing we can start buying brand name toilet paper again. Livin' large!

I read plenty of books and blogs on potty-training, but in the end, I just went with my gut. I do have a few tips for anyone else trying this all-or-nothing method:

1. Offer the potty once an hour. Before you leave the house. Before you leave the place you left the house for. Don't ever get in the car before offering the potty.

2. If you have to bathe after a bad accident, keep it short and strictly business. Don't let it become play-time in the bath. 

3. Have her or him help you clean up accidents. Don't shame your child for it, but let them know it's much easier to wipe and flush than it is to scrub a carpet stain.

4. Buy more underwear. Like, all of it. Sweep the shelves and buy more than you think you could possibly need. Or be prepared for laundry to take over your life.

Happy Potty-Training, parents! May the odds be ever in your favor.


Cecelia K. Downs, Will You Please Go Now!

CeCe is usually very agreeable about bedtime, but we've had a few rambunctious nights lately. We go through our entire night-time routine just for her to run away screaming "I'M NOT SLEEEEEEEEPY!" She says this between yawns, as she rubs her eyes.

So, in honor of our growing Dr. Seuss collection and bedtime story habit, here is my version of one of our favorites: "Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!"

The time has come, 
the time is now. 
Just go, go, go! 
I don't care how.

You can go by foot. 
You can go by cow. 
Cecelia K. Downs, 
will you please go now?

You can go by tricycle,

You can go by broom.

You can walk there in my Ugg boots.

Just go to your room!

You can ride there on a horse,

or on the back of a duck.

You can swim there if you want to,

Or arrive in a fire truck.

You can wear your silly glasses,

Or your pirate hat instead.

You can sleep in your tutu,


I said GO and GO I meant. 
The time had come. 
So CeCe went ...
Just kidding. She stayed up past 10 p.m.

The End.


Hair Ties and Toddlers

At only two years old, my daughter is facing one of womankind's most daunting challenges: "How Should I Fix My Hair?"

CeCe has what I like to call "A Confused Mullet." It's straight in the front, and a mass of curls in the back. It also  tends to turn into a rat's nest of tangles and peanut butter by the end of each day if it's not pulled back. That's where the challenge comes in.

I was adamantly against big bows and headbands on CeCe when she was an infant. She didn't have any hair to pull back, why would she need a headband? But now I see it would have been a good training exercise.

CeCe won't wear headbands, and I realize if I had stuck them on her head at birth she would have been conditioned to wear them by now. But I didn't and she won't. 

She unfortunately inherited the combination of my curls and her dad's cowlicks. And she has a double crown so her hair instinctively swirls in opposite directions. This leaves me with few styling options, but lately we are trying.

She is a big fan of certain styles:

"The Pigtails" 

"The Whale Spout"

And "The Miley Cyrus"

Two hours tends to be the limit for her coif, and then she's yanking out the elastics faster than you can say "Don't you look SOOOOOO cute!"

I am searching for creative ways to fix my toddler's hair that doesn't require her to sit still for any extended period of time, and can work with uneven lengths of hair on all parts of her head. Until then, it's at least pretty funny trying to teach my husband how to work a hair tie.


My Grocery Gal

Each day I try to do one learning activity and one out-of-the-house adventure with CeCe. Our new routine of grocery shopping combines those two things. I’ve learned that if I hand over the reins to my two-year-old, grocery shopping is like school.

First I print out CeCe’s shopping list. This is one of our usuals:

Her shopping cart is actually an $8 buy from Kroger. It included tiny cardboard boxes of play food, but we use it more for this functional purpose. It’s a good height for a toddler and gives CeCe so much freedom throughout the store:

Often we have produce on the list and I include the quantities we need so she can practice counting as well. She loves to take her marker and check items off as we shop:

I also let her hand over the Kroger card and help put away the bags. I want her to learn responsibility along with associating pictures with the actual objects, counting, manners and maybe a few sight words along the way. It also helps that aisles are numbered, so I tell her to find aisle 13 and she treats it like a scavenger hunt.

Grocery shopping is still a major chore, but these mini-trips are a great time for both of us. It takes MUCH longer than usual to get through the store, but if you have the patience, it’s worth the slow pace.


Princesses Don't Wear Pants

I respect my two-year-old's fashion choices. Dora nightgown with silver high-top sneakers? Sounds fab. Pink tights and the top half of her lion costume? Let's go to Target! But I can't get over the absolute refusal to wear bottoms. Because "princesses don't wear pants."

So thanks, Disney. CeCe was wearing a dress today that has gotten too small. My solution was to throw some shorts under it, and wham bam- adorable tunic ensemble. WRONG!

We had a WWF wrestling match in my living room over the shorts. She clutched her plastic tiara and bucked her legs around screaming "NO PANTS! IMMA PRIN-CESS!"

I desperately shuffled through our DVD collection and whipped out Aladdin, thrusting the cover in her eye line. "Look CeCe- Princess Jasmine wears pants!" Unless you can tell me wear to buy blue harem pants in 2T, I lost that battle.

Would it be that hard for Disney to put out a special edition series where Cinderella wears jeans? She's cleaning the house for heaven's sake, it would be completely realistic. Or maybe Sleeping Beauty throws on some sweatpants before she falls into her deep slumber.

I don't mind that CeCe likes playing princess. She also pretends to be a pirate, a dinosaur and a doctor on a regular basis. But this is the only fixation that has such fashion constraints. My plan is to buy two different Barbies and Frankenstein them together until I have a princess doll wearing a tiara, flannel shirt, tutu and skinny jeans underneath. Or maybe that's just what I'll wear next time we need to go out.

Apparently princesses don't wear shirts either. I give up.


Back in the Saddle

It's been a while since I've updated, which isn't to say life was boring. It's been anything but. I've thrown myself into building up BabyBumpLexington.com. I think it's come such a long way in a year, and continues to grow as we reach out to the Central Kentucky maternity community.

But now I'm ready to refocus and reopen this little corner of my life. My blog was my chance to ramble on about my pregnancy, then about my newborn, and now about my toddler. I'm jumping in to a new world of potty training, preschool learning and trying to come to grips with my daughter turning three.

So I will try to have more helpful, insightful or at least so-ridiculous-it's-kind-of-funny posts soon. Until then, here is a recent picture of the bear giving her best pageant smile:


Toddler Volcanoes

Time for another Pin-tested, life-saver of a cool toddler activity!

I've never been good at science. My interest in the subject waned once we stopped watching Bill Nye videos in school. But some good old baking soda, vinegar and food coloring makes me look like a freaking rocket scientist to my two-year-old.

I tried this project with my six-year-old nephew and five-year-old niece first. It was a hit. Cheap, easy and fun for kids? Check, check and CHECK!

Step One: Pour baking soda on a plate or baking tray.
Step Two: Mix food coloring with vinegar.
Step Three: Let kid use medicine dropper to drop vinegar onto baking soda and smile contently as they shout "Look! VOLCANO!"

I was skeptical that a young toddler would be as invested as the kindergartners were in the project, but CeCe had a blast. She would hand me her plate and ask for "more white" so she could keep making "volcanoes."

It is also a great activity for those fine motor skills. CeCe had to learn how to squeeze the bulb to suck the vinegar up, and then again to pour it out. This is definitely a five-star activity in our house now. Rainy days, you are no match for Pinterest!