The magic of Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve to all who celebrate it!

On our first really exciting Christmas Eve with a kid who understands what’s happening, we were prepared for a magical evening of love and joy. But we have a 2 year old, so instead we got a tantrum and overall terrible behaviour.

Tomorrow will be better 😂

My little introvert at Christmas

Avery’s an introvert. And I’m not just saying that because I want her to be one because I’m one and I think introverts are great. Lately she has been asking to step away when social gatherings or playdates get too boisterous. We had a friend over today with her two high strung kids and Avery sat in the corner doing a puzzle while the siblings fought and screamed at each other and cried to their mother (not a great example for us to witness as we plan to have another child, btw… feeling some mixed feelings now…) Anyway, Avery was watching them out of the corner of her eye while she played by herself. Then eventually she cuddled up on my lap and continued to watch them. Then she asked if she could go up to her room to play with toys.

I totally support her need to step away. Some family members think she’s being antisocial (story of her young life…), but I think it’s really healthy that she can recognize when she needs some alone time and can act on that need rather than getting overwhelmed and emotional. As we enter a week full of Christmas festivities, I’m going to do my best to ensure she has the opportunity for a quiet reprieve. I feel so defensive of her budding introversion… I don’t know why its seen as some kind of social weakness ☚ī¸

Happy holidays to all, and may you get the opportunity to recharge your batteries in whatever form that takes.

Our no-more-naps update

Even though Avery’s only 27 months old, we dropped her last remaining nap of the day about a month ago. She had been fighting naps and bedtimes like a kid who legitimately wasn’t tired. When we dropped the nap she coped well, staying alert and relatively happy until 7pm, and then would fall asleep happily at bedtime in 15 minutes. It was a really good solution.

But then she got sick. She has been sick with one bug or another for at least 2 weeks now, and she has been NEEDING that extra sleep. The problem is, [after we weaned from breastfeeding to sleep] it took nap training with lots of tears to get her to accept that naps happened in her bed at a certain time. I knew when we dropped the nap that we wouldn’t be able to easily go back to the way it was… So instead of a scheduled nap when she got home from daycare, she has been crashing while doing whatever we’re doing (watching a movie during quiet time, going on a stroller walk, or even colouring on the floor). Sometimes she crashes at 2pm, sometimes at 4pm. Interestingly, even an hour long nap at 4pm hasn’t been messing up bedtime – she has been begging to go to bed at 7pm. It’s clearly because of being sick. I wish I could get her to sleep earlier in the day (and in her bed), but we’re just rolling with it right now. I assume that after the holidays when our days are back to normal and she’s no longer sick, she’ll stop crashing in the late afternoon and be fine without naps again.

Mother-daughter Date Night at the Walk-in Clinic

Avery was doing better since the really-crummy-super-sick-weekend-from-hell. But suddenly yesterday I realized she was dehydrated. She didn’t have to pee in the morning (or through the night), so I figured she’d pee when she got to daycare. But when I picked her up from daycare I learned that she hadn’t peed yet, and hadn’t wanted to drink water. She wasn’t eating. In the afternoon she fell asleep with her head on my knee while we were colouring on the floor together. Then she slept on me for an hour and woke up groggy and listless. I couldn’t get her to drink water. I couldn’t get her to eat. So we packed a bag and went to the after-hours walk-in clinic when it opened at 6pm.

We waited in the packed waiting room for 2 hours, and super-mom over here forgot to bring any toys and had a nearly-dead cell phone battery. Luckily Avery had brought along a doll whom she pretended was the real patient for the doctor we were going to see.

When we first arrived, it was standing room only. I held her and rocked for almost half an hour, and although she is SOOO much heavier than she used to be, it took me back to those long nights rocking her for hours in her room when she wouldn’t sleep detached from me.

When we finally got chairs, she sat next to me reading a reader’s digest magazine… It was adorable. She also cuddled with me quietly, sang quiet little songs, played with the little hands of her doll, and watched Planet Earth on the waiting room TV. She was such an ANGEL for the entire 2 hour wait. When we finally got called in to see the doctor, it was 8pm (which is after bedtime). We then had to wait another 15 minutes for the doctor to come in. She just sat on my lap and talked about how “baby” (her doll) was sick and needed a cuddle. But she was also happy. We chatted about going home and watching tv in bed together, and although she did keep asking to go home, she never once melted down when I said we couldn’t go home yet.

The doctor was absolutely lovely and great with kids. She told us she was looking for butterflies in Avery’s ears, and then had to listen to her tummy to determine what colour “medicine” she needed… After ascertaining that Avery’s favourite colour is yellow, of course we were prescribed yellow “medicine” (Gatorade…).

Anyway, after all that we were sent home with a recommendation to try icecream and Gatorade to get her hydrated. The doctor did validate me for my decision to bring her in, though, and said I was right to follow my instincts. She was dehydrated, and we needed to remedy that immediately. Thank goodness it didn’t require a trip to the ER. Turns out, Avery loves Gatorade. She drank so much of it last night that she had three pees in her potty through the night. Shes still tired and has no appetite, but I’m making chocolate pudding for her to have when she gets home from daycare and we’ll just cuddle, watch movies, and drink yellow Gatorade until she feels better.

I kept telling her how much I LOVED spending the evening with her in that waiting room, and I had fun going on a 9pm icecream run with her. When we got home, my wife asked her how the trip to the doctor went, and Avery said, “it was fun!”

Parenting win.

Still having fun after 2 hours of waiting ❤ī¸

Nighttime potty training

There’s really not much to say on this as it has gone very well, but I want to keep up my daily #blogmas challenge, so here we go…

Avery potty trained right when she turned 2. We had a lot of success with the Oh Crap! Potty Training Method, but we held off on nighttime training because the book recommended waking your child up through the night to put them on the potty. We were already waking up through the night for our sleep-challenged kiddo, and waking her up on purpose seemed like a terrible idea to us. But last month marked 3 months of daytime potty success, and Avery had started to not want a sleep diaper anymore. Can’t say I blame her… Once you get used to not sitting in your own excrement while you’re awake, it would start to become a gross concept even just while you’re sleeping.

So we had a talk with her (as we did when daytime training commenced) and made sure she understood the expectations. We then set up her little potty in her room, right beside her bed, and stuck her on it every time she woke through the night. Because she wakes on her own for random reasons, we actually didn’t have to wake her ourselves more than a handful of times. And every time we would put her on the potty – even in her half-asleep state – she would either pee or tell us that no pee would come out, and then she’d quickly go back to sleep. My worst fear of fully waking her and having to spend another hour getting her to fall asleep again was not realized.

It went so well.

The only times she has had an accident in bed have been when she’s getting sick. In fact, that has become our consistent predictor that she’s going to wake up sick the next day… otherwise, she has been consistently dry to the point where we’re not even afraid to have sleepovers at someone else’s house who doesn’t have a mattress protector (we just have to make sure to get her out of bed and onto the potty at least once through the night).

Once again, I’m thrilled with how the Oh Crap! method has worked for us. It’s an intense process for which you have to be entirely committed… And I’m also reminded by some very capable parents and potty trainers that some kids are more receptive to this kind of intense training than others… But if a) you can be a patient but strict trainer, b) your kid is interested in the potty, and c) your kid gets internal satisfaction from learning new skills, I highly recommend this method.

My two year old is hard on herself

Avery has always been a determined learner. She has a strong inner drive to learn new things and to practice new skills. For example, she has been working on writing letters since she turned two. I’m always amazed by her aptitude and determination and focus. I try not to shower her with “Good job!” or “you’re so smart!” but rather say things like “you’re working so hard on that letter,” or “wow, look at that Q you drew!” That’s how all the parenting books have told me to give praise, so that the praise encourages and acknowledges the process and doesn’t come out sounding empty after the 100th “good job!” (That said, I of course say “good job” and “you’re so smart” some of the time).

But now I’m seeing behaviour that’s worrying me, and it has me questioning how I praise… She’s so hard on herself. She was working on drawing an A along a dotted line stencil (her own idea of fun, not prescribed practice or anything) and every time she went outside the line she put her hands to her face and said “oh no! Not right!” and then she’d hurriedly erase it and try again. She’s not even 2-1/2 yet. She blows my mind with the things she has picked up on and yet, I don’t want to push her. I like the idea of early childhood being about play and freedom from performance pressure… Is her self-criticism due to something I’m doing wrong as a parent? Am I expecting too much of her? Or is being tough on herself just part of who she is? And what can I do to help her balance wanting to master new skills with enjoying the process and taking life a little more lightly?

An anniversary love confession

For our 10 year anniversary my wife gave me a book of poetry that I had been eyeing up at Chapters. She circled a couple of the poems that helped her express her love. I was finally getting around to reading the rest of the book, and I found this poem that perfectly says how I feel about my wife.

Sometimes when I’m coming home, she’ll wait by the door and kiss me under the fading light of the day. She’ll say it’s because she forgot to leave the key out, but when she looks at me, I know it is because I am loved. There was a time before we had met and all my stars had burned out, until one day she found me and suddenly there was no longer any doubt. There she was with a smile in the early morning and I was in love again. I dream with her about the house we will have and all our days growing old. Someday when our skin is worn and our hair is gray, I will still look at her like she is the sun on a rainy day. I will never say I’m sorry for the way I feel about her, because she is all I need. And every single time I look at her, I know we’ll make it anywhere. She is honest and true and fair and my heart belongs to her with every memory we share. Even if she never understands why she means so much, I will spend all my days falling more in love with her.

We’ve been together for 10 years, and we’ve been parenting together for over 2. That shit can be hard on a marriage. And when I read love confessions of those much younger and greener than I, I start to feel worried about our relationship. The passion isn’t always there anymore, like it used to be, but then I’m reminded that the love is stronger than ever.

-excerpt from Pillow Thoughts, by Courtney Peppernell

The most thoughtful gift

My wife used to work in the automotive industry. She worked with a bunch of old-school Italian guys, and she often felt she couldn’t be her authentic self. But there were a few guys in her plant who were totally supportive of us, and even years after she stopped working there, they visit us and send Avery gifts.

A package arrived in the mail yesterday, addressed to Avery. Inside were three little stuffed bears, and this book. I was blown away by the thoughtfulness of this book, gifted to Avery by a old Italian guy. The world’s not all bad!

My almost weekend off

I have a lot of work to do these days, and the longer I take to do it, the longer we have to put off having another baby. So my wife was going to take Avery to the family cottage this weekend where she could be with her cousins and frolic and play. I was going to have a solid weekend to myself – Friday night till Sunday night. I was going to work all day, and then relax all night. I had my bottle of wine and TV playlist selected.

But today Avery came down with pneumonia. I’m babying my baby instead of relaxing in front of the TV. I’m bummed about it, but I also wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but by her side while she’s sick. I’m really sad for her that she didn’t get to go to the cottage though… She had been talking about it for WEEKS, and had a little cry when we told her she couldn’t go. But I’m sure she’d rather be cuddled in my arms when she feels like this, too.

Family Planning as a PhD Mom

Here’s a secret… I had been planning to start trying to make baby #2 in the first week of January. I had kept it from the blog. We had been updating our donor contract, gotten our donor on board, I’d been collecting syringes from the pharmacy, and taking a prenatal vitamin. But then my PhD progress threw a wrench in the works.

I finally got my dissertation data last week, and it was not all that I hoped it would be. It was OK, but not enough to constitute a dissertation. So, my advisory committee and I decided that I needed a second study. A new study, a new ethics application, another 400 people recruited, another big batch of data collected, and a whole new story to write up about it. My original plan was to be finished writing in spring, and defend early summer. My new plan is to finish writing in summer, and defend in fall. So conceiving in January would mean I could be defending my dissertation with a fresh baby on my boob – no thanks!

The new plan is to start trying to conceive in MAYBE March, skip April (we’re too busy in December to have a December baby), and resume in May. I’m bummed out for many reasons…