Friday, November 28, 2008

Buy Local this year (If you buy anything)

Ah, the season of giving is upon us. Lest we forget, that also makes it the season of buying. I will stay away from my personal feelings on the consumerization of the winter holidays and focus on one thing - helping the economy.

Buy locally. Yes, from your neighborhood stores. I know it's easier living in Lakeview, Chicago to hit local stores. I can walk North on Lincoln Avenue up to Paulina and hit most every type of shop. Two toy stores, clothing, art, sporting goods, army/navy surplus, two Starbucks, you name it.

When you're out and about looking for the best items, try to steer clear of online retailers and big box stores. Patronize small, specialty shops. Bring in ads from the big box stores and ask them to match the deals. More than likely, they will be happy to oblige. We all know that once you get into the store, you'll either change your mind and get something better or get additional items.

I will try to do the same. My family patronizes Costco and Target regularly. More and more recently, though, we are trying to buy from the smaller shops. The toy store, Building Blocks at 3306 N. Lincoln Ave. (no website) is one of our favorite stops. They have a train table set up in the middle of this 400ish square foot store that is stocked floor-to-ceiling with toys. No video games, either. They have educational and just-for-fun toys. Best of all, the staff know their inventory and give great suggestions for age-appropriate toys.

Sure, you're going to hit your grocery store and Starbucks, but look out for the little guy. We all know a can't-miss deal and jump on it when we can, online or otherwise. More jobs are provided by small retailers than larger ones. They provide better service and usually have comparable prices on most items. (They don't have the cheapo loss leaders that are used to get people in the door.) Your local economy will thank you for it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Time-Out. Ouch!

I have begun to more seriously address a problem we've been dealing with for at least a year.
JD throws cars, crayons, stuffed animals, plastic animals, books, food, cups, blocks, puzzle pieces, hockey sticks, train tracks, trains, and, of course, balls. Fortunately, he has yet to throw something breakable like a plate or glass. I've told him that he's allowed to throw balls (trying to allow for a positive - something he's allowed to do.) He seems to know that limit. He also clears papers and the like off of tables and I consider that throwing, too.
The biggest problem is that he throws things like cars and blocks at people. It was cute for a bit, then annoying, now infuriating. I've let him know about it every time he throws something since he first started. Now that he's got some vocabulary, he'll throw something, look at me, and say, "No throw!" Sometimes I want to laugh and other times my head wants to explode.
Tonight, he threw a bus at me. A toy bus about 6 inches long and metal. It's heavy. It hit me in the wrist. I had to count to 10 a couple of times before I could be rational with JD. He's only 22 months, I had to tell myself. Then I picked him up and took him for a "time-out."
You've all heard of or used times-out. Some people believe in them, others don't. I've discovered several things about the time-out. First, they are as much for the adult as they are for the child. Second, they have to be meaningful. Third, they have to be consistent. Finally, sometimes they have to hurt.
I've discovered that I have a short temper with JD when it comes to things I've told him over and over. Putting him in a time-out allows me to compose myself. I'm convinced that he now knows when he's doing something wrong but can't control his impulses. I have to be able to control mine. A minute or two (or longer, as I'll get to) will help me relax and be able to get back to productive exercises with him.
Putting JD in a time-out doesn't help if he doesn't know why he's going there. When he throws something, I pick him and the object up, bring him to his time-out area, and show him the object. No throw cars. Cars hurt. No throw cars. Time-out.
If I don't do it every time, then he probably won't know when he's misbehaving. Every time he throws something he's not supposed to, it's a time-out. No questions asked.
You may have read the hurt thing and thought physical. No. Here's what I learned tonight. I had been putting him at a chair at the dining room table, the emptiest room in the house. There's nothing to do, nothing to distract. After a few moments, he would get up. No matter how many times I put him back, he knew he could get up. He would smile and sing to me and laugh. He wasn't getting the point; it was a new game.
Tonight I buckled him into his high chair without the tray in the dining room. Then I walked out. That took the fun away. He had to sit there and he knew it. It didn't take long for him to start crying. And I let him cry. For a couple of minutes. Then I took the steps described above. He appeared much sorrier than he had at any other time. It hurt him to be locked up like that. He knew there was a reason he was there.
Many of you may strongly disagree with what I'm doing. I feel like it's a safety issue. Those are the times when I enforce strong discipline - when it's a matter of safety for him or for others. Just as importantly, he must respect my word like the word of G-d. If that means I have to hurt his feelings from time to time, so be it. It's better than someone getting hit in the face with a random object. And I believe he respects the boundaries that are set for him.
These are the terrible twos. He's testing his boundaries and crossing them whenever possible. Boundaries are like walls; sometimes I'll help him climb back over, other times I'll throw him over. One way or another, he'll know when he crossed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pick and Choose

JD's been eating cereal with milk for a few weeks now. His favorite cereal is bran flakes. Just plain bran flakes.

I recently found that he likes raisins. This morning, I put some raisins into his cereal. I realized I had just created raisin bran. Quite the brain storm, I know.

At first, he did not know what to make of this concoction. He stared at it for a while, then looked at me and said, "Hot," which means he doesn't want to eat it or that he doesn't think it's ready to be eaten.

I had finished my Cheerios and decided to pick out the raisins. It was just too much of a good thing, I guess. The few raisins that remained I buried under some flakes. Ready to go.

JD went to town eating the bran. After a few spoonfuls (or spoons full?) he discovered a raisin had gotten on to the spoon. He reached with his opposite hand and picked the raisin out and ate it.

He proceeded to eat the rest of his cereal in that manner. After he'd finished his cereal, I gave him the balance of the raisins and he finished those. I'm just worried about what I'm going to come across tonight or tomorrow in his diaper.