365 Project – Day 313 – What’s the Most Annoying Sound in the World?

Take a look at this photo…

Cute, right? I mean, I may be biased because I’m her mother, but I think that I could get the vast majority of people who look at this photo to agree that my kid is pretty cute. But then, most kids are, aren’t they? There’s just something so sweet and adorably innocent about these short, chubby-cheeked humans that makes the adults of the species get all googly-eyed, oohing and aahing over the abundance of cuteness.

Then the little cherubs open their mouths and start whining. You know the sound I’m talking about. I saw you grimace just thinking about it.

Scientific studies have actually been done, proving that the sound of a child whining is, in fact, the most annoying sound in the world. Don’t believe me? Click HERE and read the article for yourself.

As the mother of an almost 2-year-old, I am slowly decending into the depths of whining hell. My child might look sweet and adorable, but she can go from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde in about 3 seconds flat, and the supersonic squealing whines seem to erupt from the very core of her soul, perforating your eardrums and making you momentarily homicidal. As the volume increases, I feel my muscles winding tighter and tighter until I’m afraid that one of them just might snap from the pressure.

You think I’m exaggerating? Come on over to my house around 6:00 p.m. on any given night and see for yourself, because that’s when Cadence’s banshee-like wailing seems to really hit its peak. The lethal cocktail of tiredness, hunger, frustration and sometimes even downright boredom turn my child from the darling little creature you see in the photo to some viscious, bloodthirsty monster who apparently overpowers her prey by emitting a series of soul-crushing screams.

I’ve tried to get the sound on video so I can share it, but Cadence seems to know that the evidence might one day be used against her (perhaps when she brings that first boyfriend home), so she always clams up the minute she sees the video camera. But, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and sooner or later, she just won’t be able to help herself. Then, my friends, you’ll understand why, at least once a day, I like to remind Cadence that she’s very lucky she’s cute.

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to all the parents out there who have walked through the depths of whining hell and lived to tell about it. God bless us, every one!

365 Project – Day 306 – Surviving the Sleep Circus

No matter what anyone tells you, there is no Parenting Handbook. Not really. Sure, you can go to your local Barnes and Noble and see about a hundred different books written by doctors and and nurses and nannies and trained psychologists, all claiming to be the unofficial parenting Bible you seek, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret…

Those books are bull$#*%.

Sure, you might be able to glean a morsel or two of helpful information, but, in the end, all children are different, and not one of those books is going to be the be all, end all, know it all answer to your prayers for parental guidance. In the end, you do your best, and hope that you survive the insanity.

One of the biggest challenges Steven and I faced in our first 22 months of parenting is what I like to call the Sleep Circus.

Every night, it’s a brand new show, an hour-long choreographed production. There’s dinner and playtime and clean up and bath and stories and dancing and sometimes even a chase scene or two if Cadence is feeling particularly squirrelly. Depending on the night (and our fiesty girl’s level of crankiness), the nighttime diaper change and putting on pajamas routine requires me to either be a lion tamer (when she is super pissy and trying to claw her way off the changing table) or a clown (when she just needs a little entertainment).

Once Cadence is diapered and dressed and promised a cup of milk, she is more than willing to give up and head to her room to listen to music and be rocked. And though she usually doesn’t give up and go to sleep right away, she is usually content to play in her crib and either talk or sing herself to sleep.

Usually.

And then there are days like last Thursday.

Last Thursday, Cadence was in a particularly chatty mood after I put her in her crib for nap and left the room. This is what I heard through the monitor…

The endless chattering went on like this for over an hour. Then, after a few moments of silence, Cadence started to protest. She hollered and whined, and I could hear her grunting in frustration.

Then, there was a loud, heavy THUD!

I jumped out of the chair and ran to the room, already knowing what I was going to find when I opened the door. Sure enough, there was Cadence, on her hands and knees in front of the crib where she had fallen. She looked up at me with wide, teary eyes and screamed.

I scooped her up into my arms, giving her a thorough examination as I cooed softly.

“Oh sssshhh. It’s okay. You’re okay. Momma’s got you. You’re okay.”

And miraculously enough, she was okay. Not a scratch or a bruise or even a bump on her.

She cried for a few moments, but it wasn’t even her hurt cry. It was the loud, wailing, “I-am-so-pissed-off-right-now” cry. The same cry we hear when we tell Cadence, “No, we are not watching Rango for the third time today” or “No, you can’t have a cookie before dinner.” And then suddenly the crying stopped and she was pushing away and demanding to be put down.

So, I set her down on the floor and watched with mild amusement as she stomped over to her bookshelf and gave three solid punches to the books on the middle shelf. Obviously, one of the middle shelf books was to blame for her accident. I wonder which one was the culprit.

As I stifled my laughter, and watched my daughter wipe her eyes and head into the living room to play, it dawned on me…

Houston, we have a problem.

Cadence knows how to get out of her crib.

I’m pretty sure I saw my life flash before my eyes as I realized that this, my friends, was the beginning of the end. I mean, it has only been a few short months that Cadence has been on a really good sleep schedule. Steven and I were just getting into a routine where we were actually able to bank a good 6-8 hours of sleep a night and not walk through our days as short-tempered, sleep-deprived zombies.

I had to think fast.

The short term solution was to turn Cadence’s crib around so that the shorter front rail faced the wall. And it worked like a charm. Boy was Cadence maaaaaad the first time I put her in there for a nap and she realized her climbing days were over. But, as I watched her grab the very top of the crib and jam her chubby little feet between the slats to give herself leverage, I knew that it was, indeed, a short term solution.

If we were going to survive the sleep circus, we would have to have to get creative, because putting Cadence in a toddler bed would only ensure that no one in the Romano household would ever sleep again.

And then I saw it…the answer to our prayers! Because, if it is going to be a circus, then by God, there should be a tent…

That’s right, a crib tent. Feel free to laugh, roll your eyes, judge me if you want. I used to be one of those people that would probably roll my eyes at something like this. Hell, I used to laugh at parents I saw who had their toddlers on leashes. I laughed right until I bought Cadence a cute little brown bear backpack and leash. We’ve never actually had to use it. She’s pretty good at listening and holding our hands, but I like to know I’ve got it if I need it, and I made sure I packed it when I flew to Arizona in September, thinking a leash might just come in handy if Cadence decided to launch her escape plan in the middle of Sky Harbor Airport.

So yeah, we have a toddler leash. And now we have a crib tent. We’re one giant plastic bubble away from being the overprotective parents that Momma Dawn and my sister Kassie used to joke about. But hey, if it saves us a trip to the Emergency Room with a head injury or a busted lip that needs stitches from falling over the side of the crib, then it’s totally worth it. And hell, if Cadence enjoys tents as much as I used to as a kid, she might actually end up fighting us when we try to take the tent off and stick her in a big girl bed.

Yeah, that’s probably not likely, but so far, she is sleeping in her new tent and not throwing a fit. I guess we’ll see what she thinks when she wakes up in the morning and realizes there is no escape. Muahahahaha! 🙂

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to all the parents out there who have had to rethink and revamp those perfect parenting plans. What were some of your most memorable compromises?

365 Project – Day 276 – Sometimes, $#!% Happens

Life is full of little moments that you’re just never quite prepared for. And somehow, the majority of them seem to involve your children. It doesn’t matter how level-headed or organized you usually are. It doesn’t matter how far you plan in advance. Children are masters of disaster. They can turn your entire world inside out and sideways in three seconds flat. I’m not 100% sure how that Chaos Theory works, but I would bet my last dollar that the guy who came up with it had a toddler at home, because that, my friends, is just how they roll.

Feel free to disagree with me here if you think I’m wrong, but I have come to the conclusion that the most important thing you can do when you are raising children is to try and be prepared for anything.

Anything.

And, if nothing else, try to keep your sense of humor.

You seriously better dust off those imaginations people, because your kids can put you in situations you never even dreamed were possible. For instance…

Cadence and I drove to Omaha today to take Gamma Diane and Uncle Keith back to the airport after spending a very fun weekend together. Cadence was exhausted but, as always, managed to fight sleep and keep herself awake until we were about 10 minutes from the house.

Of course, she woke immediately when I tried to get her out of the car, but she still had that glassy-eyed sleepy stare, so I figured she might actually go back to sleep. I changed her diaper and put her in her crib. She flopped down immediately and didn’t even make a peep as I left the room.

Victory.

About 10 minutes later, I heard Cadence stirring. She sighed once, twice. Then there was some rustling and a couple of thumps as the rolled around, perhaps trying to find a comfortable position. A few minutes later, she began talking to herself, quietly at first. Sometimes at nap time she talks and sings herself to sleep, so I didn’t think that all was lost. Perhaps she just needed a few more minutes to wind down and settle back in.

No suck luck. The talking grew louder as the minutes ticked by, and over the course of the next 45 minutes or so, I heard a wide range of giggles, squeals, hollers, grunts, coos, and guffaws, as well as a couple of bumps as Cadence emptied the contents of her crib (which included a baby doll, a monkey, a blanket and a pillow) onto the floor. Usually she empties her crib just before she falls asleep, so once again I thought she might actually be readying herself for a nap.

Wrong again, but I figured it didn’t hurt to leave Miss Cadence playing for a bit while I got caught up on a little work.

Suddenly, the frantic crying started.

I hadn’t heard any loud thuds or crashing noises, so I couldn’t imagine that Cadence had climbed and fallen out of her crib. Yet, she sounded pretty upset, so I figured it was time to go see what all the fuss was about.

The smell hit me the minute I opened the door. Cadence often needed a diaper change about the time she was ready to get up from her nap, so that was not really out of the ordinary. Something, though, was certainly awry.

Cadence was standing funny in her crib, sort of hunched over behind the railing instead of hanging over the side to be picked up like usual. I stared at her for a minute, trying to figure out what she was doing, and finally realized that her shorts were gone and she was holding up her diaper.

“Hey little monkey, what did you do with your–” I started, but I stopped abruptly when I saw it. There, on the rug, about three feet from the crib was a flat greenish brown turd about the size and shape of a small hamburger patty.

“Aaah!” I cried, pointing. “Cadence, what is that?”

She just stared at me, wide-eyed for a moment, and then started doing her best fake soap opera star wail.

I started to laugh.

Really, at that point, what else can you do? Vomiting was certainly an option, but luckily I was blessed with a strong stomach long before I became a Mom.

Of course, I also snapped a quick photo with my camera phone before gathering the cleaning supplies needed to sterilize and disinfect both the child and the room, and as I worked cleaning up the crime scene, I began to piece together just exactly what had gone on in that room in the moments before my arrival.

Cue the Law & Order music.

Here is how I imagine it went down…

When I changed Cadence’s diaper before putting her in her crib, I secured the diaper the way I always do, crossing one of the velcro tabs snugly over the other. Apparently today, this backfired.

After I left the room, I would bet that Cadence was lying sort of half-awake her crib for those first ten minutes when all was quiet and peaceful. And I’m thinking that she probably started chattering about the time she was filling her diaper. At that point, all hope of sleep was lost, but she wasn’t uncomfortable enough to really cry or protest, so she stayed, playing happily in her crib and tossing things out just for the fun of it.

About the time her crib was empty and there was nothing left to distract her, she probably started thinking that the lump in her diaper was a bit of a pain in the butt (pun intended, har-de-har), and decided to do something about it. I imagine it took a little while for her to work her way out of her shorts, but after that, all that stood in  her way of comfort was that darn diaper, so she pulled and tugged and twisted and turned and poked and prodded at it, yet was unable to pull just right to un-velcro the tabs.

And yet, with the right amount of force, she somehow managed to pull the entire front of the diaper out from under the tabs. So, the front likely fell down, which left the diaper hanging from her waist like a reversed apron and dropping the fresh turd right in her crib.

I like to think that the flattening happened while the turd was still in her diaper (perhaps she was jumping around and fell on her butt a few times), because the thought of my child sitting in her room making fecal matter mud pies is enough to turn even my iron stomach. Luckily, the evidence (or lack thereof) tends to support my theory because the only poo I found in my investigation (other than the turd itself) is one small spot on Cadence’s sheets where the turd likely landed when it fell from her diaper, and small streak on her hand which was immediately washed with soap and water, more soap and more water, and one more round of soap and water before I plopped her in the tub for her second bath of the day.

Then, it was time for some deep carpet cleaning, some laundry, and a thorough scrubbing of every surface in Cadence’s room followed by an airing out of the house, after texting the photo to Steven of course. After all, why should he have to miss out on all the fun while he’s at work? His response, once I filled him in on the gory details, was:

“Haha. That’s kinda awesome.”

Spoken like a true guy. But, I do have to say that even I am a little impresed by Cadence’s accuracy, managing to throw the turd dead center in between her shorts, her blankie, her baby and her monkey. We like to think it means that she might have a very promising future in competitive sports. Until then, we are the proud parents of the undisputed Fecal Matter Flinging Champion of the world.

Don’t be jealous.

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to all the bewildered parents out there. I am officially 20 months and 2 days into this business of parenthood but still, every day, there is something completely new. Sometimes, shit really does happen, and what else can you do, but laugh?

365 Project – Day 270 – The Art of Raising a Daredevil

I have to admit, when the ultrasound tech first told Steven and I that we were going to have a girl, I experienced a moment of sheer panic. What the hell was I going to do with a baby girl? Especially if she was a super girly, I’m-a-princess-and-won’t-wear-anything-but-sparkly-pink-dresses-and-bows-in-my-hair kind of girl. I mean, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually worn eye makeup and lipstick in my life, and if I wear a dress more than once a year, it probably means there was a funeral, a wedding, or a lost bet involved.

Yet, maybe my momentary panic was a bit hasty. After all, this kid had a 50/50 chance of inheriting my tomboy genes. All we could do was wait and see.

Just shy of 20-months-old, Cadence has erased any doubt in my mind that she has even an ounce of girly girl in her. Sure she loves babies and has half-a-dozen baby dolls that she likes to hug and carry around, but usually those babies end up being Cadence’s base jumping partners as she counts loudly to three and makes a flying leap off the couch. And put my girl in a dress and you’ve got a short 10-12 minute window to get pictures while she’s looking cute and unsoiled. After that, she’s likely to be camped out and digging in the biggest dirt pile she can find.

The thing that I didn’t anticipate was the anxiety that comes along with being the mother of a mini-daredevil. I’m torn between my natural instincts to protect my child, and my understanding of her desire to conquer the world and assert her independence. I wonder if it’s the same anxiety my Mom felt when I used to swing as high as I could and then jump out to see how far I could fly, or when the neighbors called her at work to tell her that my friends and I were spending our snow day off school climbing to the top of the neighbor’s old quonset building so we could sled off the roof.

I guess I’m finally beginning to understand why parents blame their gray hairs on their children. But, honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It makes my stomach turn to see my child fall off a stair that she’s trying to climb by herself or crash face first on the ground because she’s trying to run faster than her little legs can take her, but I have to say I can feel myself bristling with pride when I see Cadence get up, shake it off, and get herself going again, hardly shedding a tear. That’s my tough girl!

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to my little daredevil. If nothing else, she may have a very promising career as a stuntwoman.

Come on Momma! Push me higher!!!
Why walk when you can run?
We don't just slide, we jump down the slide and fly off the end.
Cadence, the fearless explorer.
Oh yeah, I can jump that. No problem.
Who says this big slide is only for big kids?
My little girl conquering the big swing set.
Up and up and up.
Just one more step!
Climbing with skills like Catwoman.
Wooohooooo!!! Look at me!
Again! Again! Again!

365 Project – Day 247 – Sleep

Since Steven and I made a conscious effort to improve Cadence’s sleeping habits several months ago, she has been sleeping like a champ. She generally wakes around 8:00 or 8:30 a.m., goes down for a nap between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m., sleeps for 1-3 hours, and then goes down for the night between 8:30 and 9:00. Except for the occasional bad day where she either skips a nap or awakens during the night and refuses to go back to sleep without a fight, we have been very pleased with the routine we’ve established.

Then, we leave home, and all hell breaks loose.

Cadence was actually thrown off schedule the day before we left for Arizona when we spent the day celebrating her cousin Korbin’s 1st birthday. She caught a 5-minute catnap in the car on the way to the party, and then didn’t sleep at all for the rest of the day. By the time we returned home, the big black bags under her tired eyes were making her resemble a very young Wednesday Addams. Yet, she refused to give in, and actually fought bedtime until nearly 10:00. She also woke two times during the night, and woke up the next day just before 8:00 a.m.

I was hoping that she might catch a little nap as we drove to Omaha to catch our flight. No such luck. And if you read yesterday’s post, you know that she napped for all of 5 minutes as the airplane was landing and taxiing to the gate. By the time she got wound down and it got dark here in Arizona, it was already an hour past her normal bedtime. to make matters worse, she woke around 2:00 a.m. and decided it was time to play.

I tried bringing her into the bed with me to sleep. When all else fails, snuggling with Momma, usually does the trick. But Cadence was having none of it. She spent a good 45 minutes sitting up, lying down, sitting up, standing up, flopping down, sticking her hand inside my collar and sleeves, standing up, bouncing on the bed, lying down, snuggling close, and trying to impress me with an impromptu anatomy lesson as she jammed her little finger in my face and said, “Eye. Eye. Noh. Teeh. Hah. Noh.” = “Eye. Eye. Nose. Teeth. Hair. Nose.” until I finally got fed up and put her back in the Pack ‘n Play.

I expected a revolt, but she just continued jabbering, and picked up the anatomy lesson with one of her baby dolls where ours left off. Once, she stood up and asked for milk, but I told her no, it was time for night night, and she accepted that news without a fight as well. I guess she really was tired. Another 20 minutes later, and she was sound asleep again.

Cadence woke for a the day just after 7:30 Arizona time, about an hour later than usual. Considering her 2-day lack of naps and late bedtimes, I was certainly hoping for a whole lot more sleeping in, but my little Energizer Bunny was having none of it.

After a whole lot of playing and running errands, we finally arrived back at Nonna’s house in time for a nap (about 2 hours later than usual, but better late than never I guess). So overtired by that point, Cadence did everything she could to fight sleep. She cried, whimpered, hollered, whined, demanded tissues to blow her nose, asked for more milk, tossed her baby dolls out of the Pack n’ Play, and then cried to get them back, tried to crawl out of the Pack ‘n Play, laid down, talked to her babies, sang, called for Dada, kicked her legs, rolled around, rearranged the blankets, demanded another tissue, and talked to her babies some more.

Just when I thought it might be getting to the point were it was too late for her to even have a nap, the room grew suddenly quiet.

I glanced slowly over at the Pack ‘n Play. Cadence had been lying on her back, holding her new baby doll up and jabbering away, and had apparently fallen asleep mid-jabber. I stifled a laugh and grabbed my camera. Finally, my little Energizer Bunny’s batteries ran out…

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to my going going girl. Here’s hoping we’ve got a good night’s sleep in store for both of us!

365 Project – Day 216 – Why So Serious?

It wasn’t so very long ago that I used to be able to get a lot of stuff done in a very short amount of time. I mean, when particularly motivated, I could tidy up of the house, cook meals, run errands, write, spend some time chatting with friends either on the phone or on Facebook, do a little reading, and even find time to watch a movie or play some video games–all within a 24-hour period. Give me an entire weekend, and I just might be able figure out time travel or find a cure for cancer.

When you have kids though, time management is one of those things that changes drastically. Suddenly, something as simple as running to the Post Office to buy stamps begins to resemble a scene from Mission:Impossible, only instead of guns and gadgets and hidden surveillance equipment, you arm yourself with toys and sippy cups and an assortment of bite-sized snack foods.

The funny thing about having a toddler though, is that sometimes just staying home ends up being far more adventurous than trying to go out anywhere. Toddlers are into everything, all the time, without stopping or standing still or giving you a break, even for a minute. Hell, some days I feel like I deserve a medal just for finding a way to take a shower with Cadence in the house. It has gotten to the point lately that I have to bribe her into sitting in her high chair (where I can lock her in) so I can shower without having to worry that she is going to climb on top of the refrigerator or manage to demolish the house in my absence.

Usually, if I give her some paper and a pen or some crayons, I have about 6 minutes of free time before she begins to demand release. And even there, in the confines of her high chair, it’s amazing what a toddler can accomplish when you’re not looking…

When I got out of the shower and I saw this, I asked, “Cadence, were you chewing on the pen?”

She just stared at me.

“Cadence,” I said again. “Did you put the pen in your mouth?”

Still no answer.

“Cadence, were you drawing?”

She nods.

“Cadence, did you chew on the pen.”

Annoyed at my persistence she shakes her head violently back and forth. Then she grabs the paper, crushing it in her hands.

“Nah!” she hollers. “Nah! Nah!”

Translation = No. No. No.

Hmmm…I don’t think I believe her.

“Cadence,” I say, pointing to the big black glob of ink at the corner of her mouth. “What’s this?” Did you chew on the pen?”

She looks up and smiles sweetly. I bite my lip to keep from smiling back at her. I furrow my brows and put on my best stern face.

“Cadence LaRue,” I say, staring her down. “Were you naughty? Did you chew on your pen?”

Finally realizing that she has been caught in the act, Cadence does what toddlers do best–she turns on the charm, knowing that the only way out without getting in a whole heap of trouble is to remind Momma just how adorable she is. So, she puckers up her lips and asks for a kiss.

Damn. That face is like kryptonite–it works every time.

“You know kid,” I say, as I shake my head and scrub the ink from her cheek with a wet washcloth. “You’re lucky you’re cute.”

Today’s 365 Project is dedicated to the kiddos who keep us on our toes and keep us laughing through the chaos. Some days, all you can do is just hang on and enjoy the ride.

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