30 Days of Blogging, Day 25

I am so thankful that Avery has a cousin the same age as her. Since her sibling would/will be quite a bit younger, it’s so great to see her forming a relationship with the other kid who will probably be with her for the rest of their lives, as long as the family stays close.

This weekend we visited my sister-in-law for an overnight and the kids, who are 5 months apart, played like it was 1999. The laughter, happy screams, and even tough sharing or hitting moments made my heart full. They are growing up together, learning from each other about how to be in this world.

Avery also has this with daycare, but I know one day we’ll part ways with our daycare provider and the friends she has made there, when school starts.

On another topic, the drive home from our visit with family showed a new, more mature side of Avery. We had a long day full of fun, and left at bedtime. Long car rides at bedtime have historically been disastrous for us – Avery gets overtired and doesn’t want to be stuck in her car seat and screams and screams (once for almost all of a 2 hour car ride). But tonight she really seemed to get it when I said we were going home and would be going to bed as soon as we got there. She was calm. She was tired, rubbing her eyes and yawning, and still didn’t sleep in the car, but she was SO PATIENT. She asked me to sing her songs, she babbled to herself, and she just sat quietly and stared off into the distance for a while. No tears. No whining. I am loving this new level of communication so much. It’s so hard when they’re little babies and can’t understand why you’re making them do something they don’t want to do, and can’t hold their delicate shit together for long. That’s not to say toddlers can hold their shit together WELL, but it sure does get easier and easier as they get older!

30 Days of Blogging, Day 24

It has been what, maybe a week since I started down the slow weaning road again? She’s already showing signs of self-weaning all the way. We cut out all nursing sessions during the day except for nursing to sleep for nap and bedtime, and we still allow nursing through the night. She has started to come off the boob at bedtime and roll over to be spooned the rest of the way to sleep. She has only been waking once or twice a night for milk. It’s amazing what cutting back on nursing does to her sleep….

The downside is that she only had a bit of milk from one side at bedtime today, and she didn’t have any at nap, so one side is full of hard lumps. We’re staying with family this weekend and I don’t have a pump to help me out, and I’m garbage at hand expressing. So I find myself actually hoping that she’ll wake up soon for a nighttime feed…

30 Days of Blogging, Day 23

For today’s post I’m just going to share a blurb from the parenting book I’m reading right now (The Soul of Discipline by Kim John Payne). This passage spoke to me as I find myself correcting behaviour with every turn these days. Instead of getting frustrated or losing patience, I want to keep this in mind:

One effective way to teach your child the importance of respectfulness is to sweat the small stuff. You can insist daily that they behave respectfully in all the little ways. No big lectures needed. Simply stand firm when the line of respectfulness gets crossed.

Every time you insist on respectfulness or true courtesy, you are exercising his or her waiting muscle. Every time you pause and ask your child to reframe some comment, put-down, or mannerism that is disrespectful, you strengthen his or her impulse control. Every time you insist on table manners or pull your child aside and say, “No. We don’t use the word ‘stupid’ in our house; we do not say that in our family,” you are teaching him or her the language of respect and encouraging impulse control, little by little.

30 Days of Blogging, Day 21

We had our first toddler bed challenge tonight, where Avery decided to get up and leave the bed and pull out half of her books from her book shelf and have a fight with the door knob trying to escape. She tried to fall asleep when we first got into bed. We cuddled, she nursed, and she seemed almost ready to drift off.

And then she decided to sit up and get her water bottle, and then she decided to feed her water to me, and then she noticed her books on her bedside table and wanted to read them again, and then she climbed down off her bed and walked away. I asked her to come back and lay down and go to sleep. She ignored me. I picked her up and laid her back down in bed. She screamed and flailed. She got out of bed. I asked her to come back. She ignored me. I brought her back. This went on for a few rounds, until I decided to stop fighting her and just laid down and kept calmly repeating, “it’s bedtime. Time to sleep. Come lay down.”

And then, suddenly, she stopped fussing at the door and walked over to me and gave me a big hug. She climbed back into bed beside me and after another 20 minutes or so of cuddles with only intermittent nursing, she was asleep. It feels good to win these battles. It gives me confidence for the post-weaning bedtimes that are ahead of us.

 

30 Days of Blogging, Day 20

It’s time to kick my sugar habit. Since Christmas I’ve been chasing that sugar high from stocking-stuffer-chocolate, candy canes, and desserts. I eat so much sugar every day, trying to keep my craving satisfied. But the craving just gets stronger the more I feed it.

As of today I’m cutting out all sugar that is for sugar’s sake. No more donuts, candy, or discount boxes of chocolate. No more hot chocolate or dessert after dinner, either. But I’m not one to deprive myself of something I enjoy as long as I can manage eating it in moderation, so I’m only cutting it from my diet until I kick the constant cravings.

Wish me luck!

30 Days of Blogging, Day 19

Rain, dark and dreary skies, chilly and damp air. This January thaw will ultimately break and we’ll get more snow and frigid temps, but while it lasts, this is my kind of weather. Maybe I should live in BC or the UK… I love dark and dreary rainy days.

Having submitted my dissertation proposal to my committee, I have free time now. I’m still dabbling in developing research materials and an ethics appliction, but I also don’t want to get too far ahead of myself in case my committee suggests big changes.

Because I now have time to get all the household chores done before Avery gets home from daycare, we get to really enjoy the afternoons together. Today we spent 2 hours after her nap just finger painting and playing with playdough. It’s great for her colour recognition and naming. She can ask for blue, red, pink, and purple by name.

Also, she showed a sign of being ready to potty train (although we’re still planning to wait a bit longer). She laid down on the floor and asked me to change her diaper. As soon as her diaper was off, she jumped up, squatted, and peed (thank goodness we have hardwood!). I said “Oh! Pee!” And she started repeating, “Pee! Pee!” She was really proud of herself. We don’t yet own a potty, so I didn’t really know what to do when she decided to go on the floor. But I guess we’ll see if she tries to take her diaper off to go again, and we might have to pick up a potty sooner than we thought.

We haven’t done any potty training at all with her, but we are reading her the book Duck Goes Potty. She is obsessed with ducks, so we figured it was a natural potty training book to add to her library. I’m now wondering if she got the idea to take her diaper off from that book. Exciting times, we’re living in right now!

30 Days of Blogging, Day 18

Weaning from breastfeeding. I don’t think I’ve ever been so back and forth on a life decision as I have been with the decision of when and how to wean my daughter from breastfeeding. My blog reflects that with a mix of posts about weaning attempts and posts about how hardcore committed I am to breastfeeding.

Some days I feel like I’m ready to throw in the towel. Like I’m being tapped of my energy and life essence, or I’m touched out, or I just want to be able to have that second big glass of wine after a hard day. I look at my big, healthy toddler and I think, it’s just for me that we’re still nursing. She doesn’t need this anymore.

But then on other days I’m extremely defensive about any suggestion that we stop. I want to fight back against the stigma about toddlers breastfeeding. I shout from the rooftops that the WHO recommends breastfeeding until age 2. I want to remind everyone that breasts were made to feed children. I love how easy it is for me to soothe my cranky toddler, how easy it is for me to get her to sleep (a thousand times a night……), and how reassured I feel when she’s sick and she’s staying super hydrated because she loves nursing so much.

But today I’m flopping to the side of being ready to wean. My nipples have bloody little cuts on them from sharp fingernails and teeth. My wife can no longer sooth her through the night since we gave up night weaning. Last night she was attached to me for hours in the middle of the night and I felt a really uncomfortable surge of anxiety rushing through me. It was like restless leg syndrome in my whole body. I wanted my body back.

So once again, I’m launching a plan to wean. I’m actually considering trying to be completely done by the time she’s 18 months, which is just over one month away. The last nursing sessions to go will be nursing to sleep at nap and bedtime.

Don’t hold me to this timeline, because we all know I’m a flip flopper. But this is my current goal.

30 Days of Blogging, Day 17

Avery’s in Duck swim class now. She was in the Starfish class when she was 4-8 months old and she loved it. Today was the first class of the season and she hated it. I don’t really understand why, since we’ve been swimming with her since her last lessons (September was the last time), and the starfish and duck classes include the parents, so I was holding her the whole time. She started screaming (not just crying – angry screaming) the second her toes hit the water, and only calmed down after 15 minutes. The instructor brought her a toy boat and whale and eventually she let her guard down enough to play with them a bit, but she was glued to me, and giving the instructor the side-eye. I just let her get used to the pool for the whole lesson and didn’t push her to try any of the floats or kicks.

Swimming lessons this season are actually going to be her Mo’s thing, but my wife had to be out of town today so I took her. Luckily for me, my mom was visiting and I had an extra set of hands in the change room. It’s really a lot easier with a second set of hands. I had visions of sitting at home in my pajamas on Saturday mornings, drinking coffee and reading a book, while my wife took the kid to swim. But I’m realizing that I’m probably going to have to go with them to help with saturated swim diapers, sticky bathing suits, and towel caddying.

Here she was over a year ago as a 5 month old, enjoying her first swim.

30 Days of Blogging, Day 16

Today I’m going to talk about teaching consent to a toddler. A toddler who isn’t even 18 months old yet. How the hell are we supposed to do this?

I was always concerned about people forcing hugs and kisses on our baby. I wanted her to learn consent so she could trust her feelings and know when she didn’t want to be touched, and feel confident saying no to physical affection from anyone, even trusted family members. To our surprise, that has been the easy part. Our family and friends have been pretty good about following our lead in asking if they can hold, hug or kiss her. Our problem is that we need to teach Avery to get consent before giving physical affection.

She’s such a huggy, kissy, loving baby. She always has a big, run-at-us-full-tilt, hug for us, and an abundance of lovely kisses on the lips with the best “mwaaa” sound effects. We love it. But somehow we need her to understand that not everyone does.

Her best friend at daycare is petite, and although the two of them are the same age exactly, Avery is twice the size. Avery LOVES her friend. Unfortunately, our daycare provider has reported back to us on a couple of ocassions that Avery’s forceful kisses and hugs aren’t always wanted by her friend, and sometimes Avery’s bear hugs knock them both over and her friend ends up crying.

So what do we say or do to teach Avery to dial back the overt affection and wait for cues of consent to proceed? A young child of her age hasn’t yet developed empathy as we know it, and can’t articulate how someone else might feel when receiving unwanted physical affection. All she knows is simple instruction, like “no.” But we don’t want to just say “no touching,” as it feels too general and isn’t the message we want to send.

What we’ve come up with is to use a one-word instruction that has worked really well to teach her how to approach the cats: “Gentle.” When we instruct her to be gentle, she slows down her approach and seems to become more watchful for signs that she can approach. We’ve asked our daycare provider to use this word when she starts laying on the unwanted affection with her friend, and if that doesn’t work, to simply say “Please don’t touch her right now.”

Our approach is to give simple instructions that are easy to understand and follow. But this doesn’t really tap into what consent is, or why someone may not want her wonderful, loving hugs and kisses. But I think maybe she’s just too young for that level of context.

What are your thoughts on this parenting conundrum?