30 Days of Blogging, Day 30

My blogging challenge has come to a close. I’ve loved writing for 30 days straight, and I’ve learned a lot about what’s most important/pressing to me in life by what I’ve chosen to recount. Lots about sleep and breastfeeding, not surprisingly. That’s mostly what you get from me if you follow my blog! That, and a spattering of chicken talk and pics of homemade bread.

Tonight I’m going to write about something we haven’t been plagued with in quite a while – teething. Avery has started teething her 2-year molars. Last night she woke up at 1:30am crying (which she hasn’t been doing for the past couple of weeks – she wakes and asks calmly for me to come in and give her milk). This time she was inconsolable. I tried offering milk, I tried cuddling her, I tried bringing her back to our bed, but she wasn’t having any of it. I tried taking her downstairs to watch tv but we have a basement tenant and she was still crying downstairs, so I figured that wasn’t a sustainable option. Finally at 2:15am we put on Moana in our bedroom. She fell asleep cuddled into me watching her favourite movie. It was so adorable.

This morning she felt hot to touch, but didn’t have a fever. Her cheeks were red. She wouldn’t take her fingers out of the back of her mouth. She barely touched breakfast, snack, or lunch. Advil was a game changer – clearly she was feeling pain.

Although we can’t see swelling at the gums, it’s hard to see back there, and the teeth could be moving down but not at the edges of the gums yet. I’m 99% sure that teething is on the table. I hope they come soon, but I’ve heard that the 2-year molars can take a long time to work their way down. It’s also kind of shocking to think that my little baby is working on the last baby teeth she will ever grow…

30 Days of Blogging, Day 29

I got some kind of flu-ish bug. I woke up at 5am from the stomach cramps, and I was so thankful to have my wife around to help out. She got Avery ready in the morning, took her to daycare, picked her up from daycare, and spent the afternoon working from home as a second set of hands.

When these things happen I’m always keenly aware of how different life would be as a single parent. Hats off to those who work and parent all by themselves. I commend you. Before I met my wife, I actually anticipated that I’d become a single parent by choice. But now that I’ve been a parent for a mere 17 months, I don’t know how you do it.

30 Days of Blogging, Day 28

What am I doing with my life?

I long for autonomy, so I’m working toward a steady, 9-5 job in my field. But that only gives me financial autonomy. I’m afraid that plan might actually backfire and make me feel even less in control of my own life.

Not that I have a choice in the matter. My wife has been the breadwinner for long enough and she needs a break. The responsibility is wearing on her. I’m not the type to get stressed or feel burdened by financial responsibility, because I come from the privileged position of being able to say, “everything will always be OK. There are plenty of jobs, plenty of ways to make money.”

So if I had a choice in the matter, what would I do to make money? I think I’d love to dabble in dozens of things. Precarious employment is my jam – I’m a multipotentialite and don’t want to be tied down doing the same job day in and day out. I’d want a bigger piece of land to raise chickens and veggies and sell eggs and things at a roadside stand. I’d work as a consultant program evaluator and bring home an irregular paycheque from that. I’d pick up the odd teaching job at a local college. I’d offer workshops on chicken keeping and gardening for suburbanites who want to start on a path of self-sufficiency. I’d raise our kid(s) and cook and clean.

But only one of those things brings the stability that is required of a breadwinner. It seems I’m stuck on this path of using my PhD to do research work for The Man. The Man with benefits and a pension program.

I’m just floating along, feeling sorry for myself because I have TOO MANY options, too much privilege, and a self-entitlement that only a millennial could have.

30 Days of Blogging, Day 27

My sourdough turned out!! From the starter that was born two weeks ago, yesterday we had dough, and today we have bread.

The process was stressful because it was my first try and I didn’t want to F it up. But now that I’ve done it, I can’t wait to make another loaf. It just takes a little planning, and in my case, a babysitter… I started making the dough when Avery was in daycare in the morning, but by the time I needed to knead she was home and napping. Of course she woke up half way through the kneading process and whined, tugging at my legs, for the last 5 minutes before I could set it aside again.

It literally took an entire day, from 9am until 9pm to finish making the dough, even though its just a mix of starter, flour and water. There’s a lot of proofing, folding, waiting, flipping, kneading, and more waiting involved. Then it sat overnight in the fridge for the final proof, and took almost an hour to bake the next morning. It’s a great task for weekends, if only we weren’t away from home on so many of our weekends.

The starter was bubbly and ready to make some bread

Added flour and water to grow the starter to the amount I needed for the recipe and let double in size

Measured out 1 part starter, 2 parts water, and 3 parts bread flour and mixed gently

After 15 minutes of kneading by hand, the dough became smooth with a taut surface

After a couple of rounds of folding the dough into itself, it spent the night lightly covered with a kitchen towel in the fridge

It baked in a preheated dutch oven for almost an hour at 430°F

I’m loving the flavour of our wild yeast, captured right here in our own home. It’s mildly sour, the crust is crispy, and the crumb inside is buttery soft and airy. Wish the internet had smell-o-vision, because it smells like heaven.

30 Days of Blogging, Day 26

My wife plays Magic: The Gathering with a group of friends, and we just started playing together at home. Avery has been sleeping soundly through the evenings again since cutting back on nursing, so we’ve been able to actually get involved in something in the evenings besides re-runs of tv shows we don’t care about missing when the cries come across the monitor every half hour.

But Magic is hard. It takes so much brain power. Has anyone else played it?

What kinds of things do you do with your partner after the kid(s) go to bed?

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 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?