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Smoke Alarms

September 23, 2010 by  
Filed under J.Bright, Uncategorized


Last night at 2:30 am, our smoke alarm went off. I vaulted out of bed and ran, heart pounding, to my son Austin’s room. I snatched up Austin (2), and then screamed “Tyler” as I whirled around and headed to his room.
On the way, I practically ran into my husband, Mike, who was in the hallway. At that instant I realized that the alarm had stopped sounding. Thank God.

I put Austin back in bed and checked on Tyler. Mike and I did a careful search of the house and found nothing wrong. We don’t know what caused the alarm to go off; perhaps a spider crawled inside.

But one of the scariest parts of this was that neither Austin nor Tyler (4) woke up. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, up to 85% of kids don’t wake up to smoke alarms because they sleep so deeply and the alarms aren’t loud enough. Safety experts are working to develop different types of alarms, such as those with flashing lights and different sounds. In the meantime, parents should be aware that the alarms might not wake kids up.

Also be sure to check your smoke alarm batteries once a month and replace their batteries once a year. Make a fire escape plan and practice it with your family.

The Fixer

September 19, 2010 by  
Filed under J.Bright

“Mommy, can you fix this?” I suspect like most households with toddlers, toys get broken here on a regular basis. If a toy needs more than duct tape, super glue, or new batteries, it’s beyond me, and my standard reply is, “Let’s ask Daddy to look at it.”

My husband, Mike, can fix just about anything. “Broken” doesn’t mean the same thing in this house. “Broken” is an opportunity to take something apart to see how it works and put it back together again, stronger than ever. Mike is teaching Tyler (4) and Austin (2) that with time and attention, just about anything that’s broken can be fixed. And what a wonderful gift that is!

Thank Goodness for Nana!

September 19, 2010 by  
Filed under J.Bright

One day when my son Tyler (4) was very small, my mom pulled up outside, here to watch him so I could work. Hat on her head and umbrella in her hand, I swear I thought, “My mom looks just like Mary Poppins!

Just about every week since Tyler was born, my mom has come over to watch him (and now Austin [2] too) while I work. Tyler and Austin adore all of their grandparents, and especially my mom. They call her “Nana Train” because she has a huge bin of trains she often brings.

Each night at bath, I ask Tyler and Austin what the best part of their day was. Often  they say, “Playing with Nana” even if she wasn’t here that day. If someone they don’t see a lot, like my Aunt Judy, comes over, they always say “Playing with Aunt Judy.” Otherwise they say “Playing with Daddy.” Interestingly, they never say “Playing with Mommy!”

An Ounce of Prevention

September 19, 2010 by  
Filed under J.Bright

This morning with some trepidation, I had my sons vaccinated against H1N1. I’ve heard that some Mommy MD Guides aren’t having their kids vaccinated, while others are. (Stay tuned to this site for more info on that soon.) But my kids have reactive airways. Their colds quickly turn to wheezing, and so I decided H1N1 presented more of a danger to them than a vaccine reaction, so I had them vaccinated.

True to their personalities, Tyler (four) tried to negotiate with the nurse before she gave him his shot, “Hey, wait let’s talk about this first…” Then he cried like she took off a finger when he got the shot.

Austin (two) said he wasn’t going to cry, and he didn’t. He just said ‘Yelp” when the shot went in! And only one tiny tear escaped from his eyes.

He’s My Brother

September 19, 2010 by  
Filed under J.Bright

“I miss my buddy Austin,” Tyler (four) wailed. I had taken Tyler to a classmate’s birthday party. There were dozens of little boys, games to play, and pizza and cake to eat. But Tyler wanted none of it. “Why couldn’t I just stay home and play with Austin?” Tyler asked sadly.

I explained that we were invited, we were here, and we would make the best of it. Tyler did have a very good time, playing with one of his closest friends, but he wasn’t sad when it was time to go home.

Later that night, I compared notes with my husband. Mike reported that Austin (two) had said the same things. “Why couldn’t Tyler’s friends come to play here?” he asked, crying. “I miss my buddy Tyler.”

It’s an important goal of mine for Tyler and Austin to be close, to watch out for each other, and to love each other. Mike and I have stressed the positives in Tyler and Austin’s relationship, such as pointing out, “Look how  happy you made your brother” when one of them makes the other smile and referring to them as “your buddy” or “your brother.” A brother is a friend who never has to go home.

Many Hands Make Light Work

September 19, 2010 by  
Filed under J.Bright

“If I help you, it’ll be done in half the time and then we can play.”

I was more than a little shocked to hear those words come out of four-year-old Tyler’s mouth! Not because he doesn’t like to help–he does. He’s the neatest, most organized four-year-old I’ve ever met. What surprised me was the logic behind his words–that two of us could do the job in half of the time.

We’ve always modeled work before play and gotten Tyler and Austin involved in tidying and cleaning. And if they ever pick up the Swiffer or a dust cloth, there’s much celebration!

In Pursuit of Readers

September 19, 2010 by  
Filed under J.Bright

“Noooooooooooooo!” Austin was wailing like someone was trying to take his favorite toy away from him.

But that wasn’t it at all! My mom had asked if she could borrow a book of mine, and Austin had misunderstood. He thought that my mom wanted to borrow his books. And he was completely hysterical about it.

Both of my kids love books. They enjoy hearing three to five stories each night before bed, and each night they choose an armful of books to take to bed to “read.” When I asked Austin which was his favorite Christmas gift, he said “my books,” without hesitation.

If my boys grow up to be readers, I will be very very proud and pleased. My husband and I both read to them before they were even born, and we’ll drop anything when they ask us to read to them. We’re readers, too, and I think modeling that helps. We’ve taught them that books are valued in this house, and so throwing or tearing a book is a serious “offense.”

Toy trading

September 19, 2010 by  
Filed under J.Bright

“Austin, will you trade Thomas for James?” Tyler (four) asked.

“Sure, Tyler!” Austin (two) replied.

Exchanges like these are daily, probably hourly, events here at our house. We used to have such a challenge with “toy taking,” one boy snatching a toy from the other. Then, I discovered the power of trading! My husband and I started to encourage the boys to offer something that they have in exchange for something that they want.

This worked out great because at the time, Tyler had a Leapster, but Austin didn’t yet have one. Austin would trade practically anything for a chance to play with the Leapster. So they quickly both learned that trading was beneficial to them both!

Now they trade toys back and forth all of the time, and toy taking is rare.

Paper, paper everywhere

September 19, 2010 by  
Filed under J.Bright

Wow, did I feel bad. Tyler was crying hysterically, and it was my fault.

He asked me for some Valentines that he made last month out of paper and plain envelopes, and I couldn’t find them. Worse, I suspected that I had thrown them out.

I felt terrible because I knew how I would feel if someone had thrown away something I had worked hard on. Yet sometimes I admit I do toss some of my sons’ “artwork” in the recycling bin because otherwise we’d be drowning in it.

But Tyler was so upset I knew I needed a better plan. So we agreed that before I threw out a drawing, I’d ask. Anything Tyler wants to keep goes into a small bin. Once the bin is full, it’s Tyler‘s job to sort through it and throw out enough paper to make some room.

Toddler Talk

September 19, 2010 by  
Filed under J.Bright

“We don’t say stupid!” Tyler (age four) proclaimed from across the room.

I didn’t even realize Tyler was paying attention! I was talking with a friend, and Tyler looked to be completely absorbed in playing with his Thomas wooden trains.

Yet, apparently he was paying attention, and he was enforcing a rule that he sometimes breakes himself.

Around two years ago, we entered the age of “toddler talk.” Our sons picked up words from who knows where; stupid and poopy were their favorites. My husband and I quickly adopted a zero-tolerance policy for this, and every time the boys said those words, we calmly replied, “We don’t say ‘stupid.’”

Amazingly, this approach worked! Tyler and Austin have dropped the words from their vocabularies, and they are quick to point out to family and friends that “we don’t say ‘stupid.’”

And it’s amazing to me how much these “little pitchers have big ears,” even when they don’t appear to be listening. Really keeps me on my toes!

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