Gelato- 15 Months

We went to Gelato’s 15 month appointment this morning.

He has stayed small: he weighs 22 lbs 2 oz, which puts him in the 25th percentile for weight; he is 30.5 inches tall, which puts him in the 25th percentile for height; and his head circumference is in the 10th percentile.

I find it interesting that he has not gained weight in the past two months. We’ve been a couple times for an ear infection and then another suspected ear infection, and his weight has hovered right around 22 pounds. I know that he eats a lot, but he’s also a very active little guy. He burns it off quickly!

According to the (very accurate, I’m sure) development assessment that I complete each well check, he’s on par with a typical 21-month-old as far as cognitive, language, and physical skills are concerned. I found it funny that there was a question related to how many words he can say outside of family members’ names; if he could say more than 3, I was to circle Yes. This would have been indicative of a typical 20-month-old’s language ability. Knowing I was to fill out one of these questionnaires today, I laid in bed this morning counting the words I can think of off-hand that Gelato already uses on his own, and I got over 100 before I stopped counting. He even uses 2-3 word phrases frequently, like “What’s that?” or “Get it!” or “Wear it!” or “Up there!”

I love that Gelato still has a passion for accessorizing. He wears Hula Girl’s necklaces, headbands, bracelets, belts, and purses all around the house. He puts on my shoes, Jonathan’s slippers, and Hula Girl’s boots all the time. He tries to put on his own shoes but since they’re shoes that actually fit him, it’s too hard for him to wrangle them onto his feet.

Gelato loves to talk on the phone. He will carry around the toy phones (he no longer uses the dollhouse sink/mirror as a phone, much to my chagrin!) and talk all day long. He says, “Heddo, doing? Dood!” (Hello, what are you doing? Good!) Then he tells the person on the other end what he’s doing- sliding, climbing on the chairs, eating play fruit, reading a book, throwing a ball, etc. It’s pretty funny.

He still loves to climb. Lately this has taken him on top of the table in the playroom and on the dining room chairs. I don’t like him up on the dining room chairs since the floor in there is tile, so now I have a strict push-in-your-chairs rule at the end of every meal. He also climbs outside, and has gotten really good at climbing up and down the ladders on the playset. He doesn’t let go mid-ladder anymore, which saves me a bit of my sanity.

He has also discovered the joy of sliding. Since the slide from the playset is pretty steep and a bumpy slide, I make sure to be right there slowing his descent. He really enjoys the slide in the playroom and will slide down it over and over all day long.

He is not afraid of anything, which scares me to death. Moms of boys, I totally get you now. He does things that make my heart stop. Literally, I feel it stop momentarily when he does some of the things he does. WHY are boys so daring?!

Gelato certainly has his own opinions about… everything. I am thinking we might be investing in Dr. Dobson’s The New Strong Willed Child somewhere here in our future. I’m not trying to imply he’s a naughty boy; he’s just very determined. This is a great characteristic when he’s trying to learn how to take off his shoes. But when he’s trying to run after the neighbor’s dog and it’s time for us to go inside for dinner, it can be quite ear-splitting. 🙂

Gelato has some loveys that sleep in his crib with him now. He has his blanket with an owl on it, a stuffed owl, and a bunny that’s larger than he is. The bunny was a gift from the Easter bunny, who brought Hula Girl her giant sheep that she slept with for months as well. He will ask for his “Nanket” while I sing to him, then when I lay him down, he says, “Owl? Bunny?” Then he squeezes his little arms around his blanket over his chest and laughs.

Oh, he laughs, and the boy’s laugh is absolutely the best sound in the world. He laughs all day long. He finds delight in what he does and in what his family members do. Hula Girl will be sitting in her chair kicking her feet and he will notice and burst out in a huge belly laugh. Or Jonathan will peek around the corner and he’ll grin and giggle until Daddy pops out, then the chortle ensues. He loves when I say “Alligator, alligator, chomp, chomp, chomp,” and tickle his little collarbone super gently. He just laughs and laughs. He laughs when he succeeds in doing what he wanted to do. He laughs when he’s surprised, like when a ball rolls off the table. He just laughs SO much.

And he sings. All the time. If he’s not talking on the phone or laughing, he’s singing. And dancing. His current favorite is the same as Hula Girl’s was at his age- Abiyoyo. It’s a song from a book based on a South African folk tale about a giant. A boy tames the giant with his ukelele and then the boy’s father makes the giant disappear with his magic wand. Then all the townspeople join the boy in his song, “Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo…” Pete Seeger wrote it, in case you care. 😉

Gelato decided to try something out this past week- not napping in the afternoon. It’s kind of a bummer deal for him, because then he has to go to bed super early, like 5:30 early. Today is the first day in over a week that he’s actually taken an afternoon nap. I think he got overtired from the time change and then he just hasn’t been able to figure out what to do. I put him down super early this morning for his nap, and he fell asleep quickly, but I wasn’t sure today’s nap would work… yay, it did! I think we’ll stick to slightly early nap times in the next few days to see if he self-corrects. I remember Hula Girl went through a non-afternoon-napping phase at 15 months as well, but then she went back to sleeping twice daily until 17.5 months old. I am holding out hope. Gelato doesn’t get cranky with just one nap, but he DOES sleep really restlessly at night and we are wakened several times per night by him crying out or flopping around. I could do with a good solid night’s sleep again.

And you guys, Gelato is so smart. I have said this before about him, but it is more and more apparent to us every day. He learns so quickly, he speaks so clearly (and so abundantly!), and he is so independent! We are so blessed to have two amazingly bright children who love to learn and who pursue knowledge and skills on their own, without me having to direct them at all. It is such a joy to see their little eyes light up and the looks of consternation on their faces while they’re trying to figure something out. The two of them share a look that says, “I’m thinking really hard about this right now!” It’s so cute.

Oh, I should mention that he is fully weaned now, as of a week and a half ago. It’s nice, but bittersweet. Good thing he drinks well from a sippy cup now.

I love my little man.

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Venturing Out on her Own

I recently had a friend remind me that she sends her kids out every day to play alone in their backyard. I got to thinking about it, and I realized that I played out in my backyard alone while I was growing up. And so did pretty much everyone I know. I did a poll on Facebook and within the first few minutes, I had several responses; everyone said they let their kids (Hula Girl’s age and even younger) go out in the backyard alone to play. I got to thinking- why haven’t I done this!??!

I guess I’m some kind of crazy overprotective mom. I know I am, actually. I don’t let my kids watch TV (although that’s mainly because of all the research that says it’s bad for kids). I don’t let them do Halloween. I never used the word “scared” or “afraid” until Hula Girl needed that word to describe how she personally felt because I didn’t want to plant ideas in her head. I edit books as I read out loud so that the characters say much nicer things to each other than the author really intended. I keep my kids at home with me 99% of the time, because I am terribly distrustful of the big bad world and I want our schedule and routine to be carefully observed.

Don’t get me wrong- I have a pretty solid plan for how I’m going to loosen up and grant more freedoms and expose my children to the not-so-nice aspects of life. But for now, I have decided that coccooning them away and keeping things positive is the best I can do to give them a strong foundation of security, love, and self-confidence. They are free to have big emotions in their small challenges without a lot of influences from the world around them telling them they’re not good enough, smart enough, big enough, loved enough, or brave enough.

Back to the backyard. I have never let Hula Girl go outside alone. Ever. Any time she’s gone out, I have been there. Part of this is that we have lived in houses with no privacy fence. This especially bothered me at our old house, where the man who lived across the utility easement behind our house was on the registered sex offenders list. We have no registered folks around our new house, but we still have just a wire fence- our neighbors to the right and left and anyone passing on the street behind our house has a full view of everything that’s going on in our yard. On top of that, we live in rattlesnake, tarantula, scorpion, black widow, brown recluse, and wolf spider territory. Oh, and our area does not require dogs to be fenced- we have several neighbors whose dogs roam free. Can you see why I have been worried about sending her out there? That means she’s never gotten to explore completely on her own. She has never been able to just tune completely in to whatever drives her fancy because I have been there talking to her. And I have never been able to just get a bunch of housework done without a “helper.”

My friend Katie sends her kids outside in the backyard, alone, a couple of times each day. And do you know what?! I have always been amazed at Katie’s seemingly remarkable ability to balance so many aspects of her life without DYING of exhaustion. How does she do it!?!?! She sends her kids outside!

Now, you guys all know me, and you know I’m a huge fan of involving the kids in whatever I’m doing in order to instill a good work ethic and to teach them how to do stuff. But I can never find the time to REALLY clean the house or get all the laundry washed, dried, folded, and put away. There are always a million other things to attend to, like helping a certain princess put on her costume or keeping a certain little wild man from destroying his sister’s block tower, all accompanied by higher-pitched-than-you’d-ever-imagined-possible shrieks and whines- some gleeful, others complaining, but always super loud and wow-that-popped-my-eardrums-high. So, I got brave.

Yesterday afternoon and evening, I spent about 45 minutes walking the perimeter of the fence and canvassing the rest of the backyard looking for potential issues with snakes, dogs, or spiders. I kicked away spider webs, I got rid of the giant tumbleweeds in the play area, and I looked for holes in the ground (there were none, thankfully). I also looked for any other kinds of hazards and cleared out some sharp metal things (the people who lived here before us had two little boys who littered the ground with their broken, discarded Matchbox cars).

Then this morning I told Hula Girl that I was going to let her play outside all by herself like a big girl and that she had to stay out five minutes. I brought out her chalk, her shovels and pails, and her bike helmet. I told her she was allowed to do whatever she liked, as long as she stayed in the backyard (like she could even open the fences anyway, but you never know). I reminded her that if she needed me, she needed to come to the patio door and knock. I opened the kitchen window so I could hear her. I set a timer for five minutes.

I thought she’d whine and call for me and ask me to come out. She did. For about thirty seconds.

I thought she’d stay right on the patio and maybe pull out her chalk. She did. For about thirty seconds.

She PLAYED like I have never seen her play. I did dishes as I watched her explore, drag her toys around, bury things in the dirt, and fling rocks all around. When five minutes was up, I opened the door and asked her if she was ready to come in or if she wanted to stay out. She wanted to stay out. 10 minutes later, she wanted to stay out longer. 10 more minutes… 10 more minutes… 10 more minutes… She ended up staying out 45 minutes before I told her we needed to come in so I could read to her before room time. I ended up doing dishes, sweeping the kitchen, planning preschool for the week, calling a friend, and drinking a cup of coffee!

We are planning on putting up a privacy fence around about half of the backyard. We’ll dig it down about a foot so hopefully that will keep most snakes out. Until then, I won’t let Gelato out on his own (especially not with the giant playset he loves to climb) and will be super cautious about letting Hula Girl out. But I do think this will be a wonderful new addition to our daily routine.

Thank you Katie for helping me see the value of outside alone time! 🙂

 

 

Gelato- 14 Months

My little boy just melts my heart.

There is only one thing about him that annoys me right now: he is the world’s messiest eater. It doesn’t help that I feed him messy foods like rice, cottage cheese, yogurt, and the like. But he drops it on the nice, clean, freshly-mopped-tile-and-scrubbed-grout floor! I keep telling Jonathan we need to invest in a splash mat or just an old shower curtain, but I keep forgetting.

Gelato is a climber. He has always been, as long as he could. He will climb anything. Rocks, trees, ladders, people, tables, chairs, desks, bookcases, cribs (we’ll be turning his around when he gets big enough- I have a feeling it will be a struggle to keep him in his crib as long as we did his sister!), couches, dirt piles, fences, cars. His favorite thing to climb right now is the “rock wall” that goes up into their playset. I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but that rock wall is over six feet high, it’s at about an 85° angle, and it has plastic rocks to hold or step onto. And he has been doing this since before he was even 13 months old. Now that he’s a seasoned pro, he’s making some careless mistakes. Just today I had to catch him (my hands were 3 inches from his body, so it more of a “steady” than a “catch”) when he decided to take his hat off mid-climb. Who knows what he’ll climb next?

Gelato is a water baby. I have been able to take him to the Y a few times lately, and since he can walk now, the toddler pool is just way more fun. The only issues come when he gets knocked over by a big kid splashing him or a current under the water that pulls his feet out from under him. Then he falls down into the water and doesn’t even try to get back up. So my hands are, again, always within a foot of him. I don’t touch him unless I have to. He needs to learn it on his own. But I have had to several times. Silly boy. He really enjoys getting his face wet, too. He’ll crouch down and bend his neck so his face just barely touches the water, then he jumps up and lets out a little shriek of happiness. So cute.

Gelato is a bookworm. Whereas Hula Girl would just come sit on my lap for hours and hours, Gelato has resisted the sitting for reading time his whole life. The only time he sits still for a book is just before nap, because that’s part of our nap routine and he’s used to it. Otherwise, he will carry a book all the way across the house and cry out, “Read-ee! Read-ee!” until I read the book. He will sit next to me for a page or two, but then he gets up and wanders off, but he still expects me to keep reading. If I stop, he will come back, open the book to the last page I read, hand the book to me while giving me a very convincing eyebrow-raise, and say, “Read-ee!” Aye, aye. His favorite right now is Baby Beluga. He calls it “Goo-gah? Baby Goo-Gah?” He loves the pictures.

Gelato is a dog lover. And a polar bear lover. If we are reading and come across a dog or polar bear picture, he gets quite excited. Our neighbor has a dog who is allowed to roam freely. Her name is Scampers. Gelato calls her “Mamper? Mamper?” He looks out the window for her every few minutes and chases her around with random objects whenever she’s outside and we go on walks. She doesn’t like that part very much, but she does like to come out and sniff us and then she takes off in one direction or another like an unpaid tour guide, and Gelato follows her wherever she leads. He adores her.

Gelato is a BOY. Kid picked up a beetle today. I think he wanted to eat it, but Hula Girl smacked it down out of his hand because she was so terrified of the thing. (You go, Girl!) Instead of letting him pick it up again, I told him he could just look at it. He followed it around for a while, saying, “Beeboh! Beeboh!” Then he forgot about it, played with a stick, and was disappointed when he remembered about it and it was gone. (Aw, shucks.)

Gelato is a Mama’s boy. This one is my favorite. He just loves me. He likes Jonathan and Hula Girl, too, but he loves me. Probably because he likes to nurse. But really, it’s so cute. He’ll just wander into the room and hug my leg. Or he’ll sit on my lap and grab my hand so he can interlock his fingers and hold my hand for a while. He likes to give me kisses all day long (“mmmm-ah! mmmmm-ah!”), and he pats my face so gently while he tells me about my eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and hair.

Gelato is a listener. He obeys really really well. The other day I called both kids into the kitchen and asked them to clean up the kid dishes they’d spilled out of the drawer in their hunt for breakfast utensils. He grabbed some cups, put them away, and said, “All done!” Smartie boy. He also tests quite a bit already, which shows me he understands what I’m saying. For example, I tell him stop before he gets out into the street in front of our house (we live on a very sparsely used dirt road, or else he wouldn’t be getting to the road before me). He stops, turns, grins like a little imp, and takes a few more steps before stopping, turning, and grinning again. Test, test, test. I take his hand and move him back to where he was when I said it first, and reinforce. Repeat. It’s a long process, but he really does listen well.

One more thing I just want to record for posterity: I’m beginning to wean him now. Hula Girl was weaned at 14.5 months, and Gelato will likely be weaned by then as well. We’re putting him on coconut milk and we’re trying to cut out all dairy for both kids as soon as we can. He is really excited to drink milk, because he’s seen his idol (big sis) drinking milk so much and now any time she has it, he wants it, too. Her influence can be so great. 🙂

Just Me and My Boy

Today has been a treat for me! Hula Girl took off after breakfast with Grampy. They were supposed to go camping this weekend, but given the low of 21 degrees and the 25+ mph wind speeds with snow flurries expected overnight, they decided to just set up camp at Grammy and Grampy’s house so they could go in if it gets too cold. I should say when. 🙂

Anyway, with Hula Girl gone, I have gotten to spend a lot of one-on-one time with my Little Man, and it’s been so very fun! We’ve spent a lot of time doing really low-key activities and taking it way slower than we normally do with a rambunctious preschooler around.

We started the day a touch later than his normal 6:45, at 6:55. I went in to get him up and nurse him, then he brought me a few books and asked me to read them: “Read-ee? Read-ee?” He is really into dogs and polar bears. When he sees a dog, he will put his little palm down on the page so I can’t turn it yet. Then he puts his other fist down with his pointer finger out and taps his finger on the picture a few times, looks up at me, and says, “Doggie. Woof, woof.” I always affirm him, “Yes, that’s a dog. You found a picture of a dog.” When he finds a polar bear (there are several great illustrations of polar bears in the “Baby Beluga” book), he points to it and says, “Doggie? No. Bay.” Then he taps it several times and says, “Bay. Bay. Bay.”

After reading, I showed him some options of clothes he could wear for the day- a pair of polar bear jammies or a union suit with dogs on it. He smiled really big at both choices, but in the end he settled on the union suit. We went downstairs where it was freezing because my husband is related to polar bears and keeps the windows open until it actually snows. Then Grampy came in and played with Gelato for a while. We ate oatmeal for breakfast, and Gelato asked for more by signing more and then saying, “Eep-meal? Eep-meal?” He also wanted milk and asked for “milt!” When Grampy had a cup of coffee, Gelato asked to “Mell coppee? Mell coppee?” and then wanted to taste it too. We didn’t allow that!

He went down for his nap just before Hula Girl left, so I had some time to catch up on blogging and Facebook. When he woke up, I nursed him; then he said, “Toys!” so I put him in his pack-n-play for roomtime. He played for a while and I got to take a shower. A nice, long, hot shower. Perfect for a windy cold day!

When I went to get him from roomtime, he saw my hair was wet and said, “Peel hay? Peel hay?” I let him feel my hair and told him, “My hair is cold and wet.” The he felt the other side and said, “Ood? Wet? Hay ood wet?”

I brought him down for lunch, which was pizza leftovers from last night. He said, “Peeta? Peeta? Eat! Eat! Hungee! Peeta!” (I wonder if he’ll like the Hunger Games books!) He ate two entire slices of pizza (same as I had). I gave him some pieces that were still quite hot. He felt them and said, “Arm! Bow, bow.” Then he blew on them. He also had a kiwi, which he still doesn’t like. He ate about two bites and then handed the rest to me. When he was all done with lunch, he said, “Down? Walk?” I told him he needed to tell me he was all done, so he did. He just has the sweetest little voice when he says, “All done!”

When I put him down he went and grabbed his shoes and said, “Oos! Out-ide! Walk!” So I bundled him up and took him outside. The first thing he said was, “Ood! Ood!” I told him yes, it was cold and windy. “Eendee,” he replied, as he nodded his head several times to show he understood. Then he walked all around and picked up rocks and sticks and followed the neighbor’s dog. Finally I was too cold, so I brought him back inside.

I decided to bust out the rainbow rice sensory bin, which hasn’t been used since Hula Girl was 2.5. He thought it was great fun to pluck out the kidney beans and place them in the scoop one at a time. Then he thought it was fun to pretend to eat them by putting it up to his mouth and saying, “Mmm, Mummy! Mmmm, Mummy bean!” And then he thought it was hilariously fun to place the scoop on the floor and then tell himself, “Oop on beket,” and then move the scoop back onto the blanket. He giggled at that one for sure.

When it was time to clean up the rainbow rice, I got out the broom, and Gelato insisted on sweeping for me. He did a terrible job, but for a not-even-14-month-old, it was awesome. I left it just the way he did it and cleaned up the rest (aka the bigger mess) when he went down for his nap. After he was done sweeping, it was nap time, so I asked him to go upstairs. He went to his room and pushed the button to turn on his heater, then walked over to the curtains and tried to pull them shut. I thanked him for his help and proceeded to put him down from there.

He really is one independent, helpful, communicative little guy. I am so thankful for the opportunity to spend time with just him this weekend. It really helps to slow down and be able to show him how much I enjoy him!  I can’t wait for this afternoon- we’re going swimming at the Y. I think it will be way more fun since I won’t have to keep an eye on Hula Girl, too. I can just let him walk in the toddler pool and climb all over the pirate ship- I’m sure he’ll want to do the slide, too. But I am not ready for that one yet… at all. No slide today. 🙂

Reining her In… Advice Welcome!

Hula Girl has been engaging in some age-appropriate-but-exaggerated-beacause-of-a-lot-of-changes naughty behavior lately. I have been trying to figure out what is the best way to give her the support she needs to feel safe and secure but to downplay a lot of the defiance. Jonathan and I have brainstormed, searched our parenting books, read through the archives on several blogs and groups I’m part of, asked our moms, and prayed for wisdom. We feel like we’ve got a plan now.

First of all, I want to make it clear that Jonathan and I are extremely cautious about any and all discipline tactics we use. He is a therapist, after all! 😉 We do not use spanking, and time out in our house is a very untraditional sort of thing. I generally use a lot of gentle physical touch and tons of empathy when talking Hula Girl through her rough spots. But when the entire day is rough, my tolerance for her childishness just gets lower and lower to the point where Jonathan has to take over completely for a few minutes when he gets home just so I can regain my composure.

I also want to point out that Hula Girl is a very compliant child by nature. Her wildest temper tantrums have been due to overtiredness or low blood sugar, without exception. She is generally happy, eager to please, and very very smart! She does not have to be told more than once not to engage in any particular behavior. Her age, however, puts us in the prime time frame for battles of the will, if I should choose to engage in such things (I don’t).

The last clarification I want to make is this: because she is only three years old (and a young three), Jonathan and I try very hard to balance age-appropriate expectations for her with her actual abilities. For example, she can remember things freakishly well. She remembers people she has met once, a year ago, by name. Sometimes she will ask me about a random person and she will have to explain when and where we were when we met that person before I have even a clue what she’s talking about. And yet, she remembers exactly what color their eyes were and what kind of shoes they had on their feet. This makes me and Jonathan believe that she will remember a rule we set in place for a long period of time. So our constant question becomes, “How much of this behavior is childishness (age-related), and how much of this is foolishness (choosing to do the wrong thing even when she knows the right thing to do)?”

I took the kids swimming at the YMCA on Thursday. They had closed the pirate pool, so my only option was to hold Gelato while Hula Girl floated and splashed around in a life jacket within an arm’s reach in the big pool. It actually worked out quite well, especially when another 3-year-old little girl came over with a pool noodle for Hula Girl to play with. The two of them kicked, paddled, and dunked around for a while, and all was well. I gave Hula Girl the typical warning that we needed to leave soon and asked her to choose whether she wanted to leave in two minutes or five minutes (this is a Love and Logic tactic). She, of course, chose five minutes. I gave her a 2-minute warning. Then when our time was up, I said, “Do you want to swim to the steps or have me pull you on your noodle to the steps?” She chose for me to pull her. But then she wouldn’t get out.

I reminded her that she had chosen to stay five more minutes, and that five minutes was up. I even offered her two choices on how she wanted to get out of the water (like a horse or like a dragon). She refused again. I looked into her eyes and said, “I can see you’re having a hard time leaving right now. It’s hard to leave when you’re having so much fun.” She agreed. I continued, “We are leaving now because it’s time to go home for dinner.” She grudgingly took my hand and we walked over to our towels.

I had to fumble around with our towels and swim bag for a few seconds, and before I knew it, Hula Girl was walking back toward the pool. I was shocked. She has never tried to leave my side before. Ever. I called her, and squatted down to her level. She said, “Yes, Mommy?” I told her to come back. She said no, turned around, and walked to the edge of the pool. I freaked out. Yes, she had her life jacket on. But she has not had swim lessons. This was a huge safety issue on top of her blatantly defying me.

Instead of panicking on the outside, I calmly walked over to where she was and took her by the hand. I got down to her level and told her, “You do not have the freedom to disobey me. It is unsafe for you to play near the pool alone. You will come with me now because we are leaving.” She came back with me, to my absolute relief. I asked her to stand with her back against the wall while I got out our towels and wrapped Gelato and her snugly. We changed our clothes and headed to the car.

While we were changing, I told her that it was not okay for her to disobey the way she had done. I restated the fact that it is unsafe for her to play near a pool without an adult nearby. I told her that because she had disobeyed, she would be getting a consequence. I told her that I would need to discuss her consequence with Daddy because I wanted to make sure it was appropriate. Then I told her not to worry about it (another L&L tactic).

We decided her consequence was that she could not take toys into her bath for a week. She loves water play, and since she disobeyed at the pool, we figured the closest meaningful consequence was to un-fun her bath. (Jonathan actually suggested taking the whole family swimming this weekend and not letting her participate, but I nixed that idea because I don’t like the thought of one of us having to sit out WITH her! Why make the consequence for me, too?!)

After the pool incident we had a busy day on Friday- filled with a 3-hour drive to a wedding, then the drive home that night. We arrived home at midnight. Needless to say our whole family was tired on Saturday.

And then Sunday happened.

Before church on Sunday, Hula Girl peeled and ate paint off her wall; licked fingernail polish; colored on Gelato, the wall, a chair, a door, and some furniture; and cut her hair. And it’s not like she’s not supervised. She was just using whatever tactics she could use to tell us she was feeling wildly out of control. She needed us to just take control back so she felt safe and secure. She was out of her routine, out of her sleep schedule, and just wonky all over. Plus her behavior has been deteriorating for some time now, so it was just the right time for a huge change in her life.

So now, here’s where we are:

  • We removed all toys and books from her room  in an effort to encourage her to stay in bed rather than getting out of bed to wander and play. We hope this will yield about 30 more minutes of sleep per day.
  • Hula Girl is under a strict “3-step rule.” She is not allowed to go more than 3 steps away from me or Jonathan at any time, unless we give express permission. This keeps her away from Gelato (she had started being more physical with him than I would like- not kicking or hitting, but rough hugs and some gentle pushing- enough to make me nervous) and it keeps her within my eyesight/arm’s reach at all times.

Of course, I am still doing plenty of superfun things with her and allowing her LOTS of freedom when we go outside. I don’t maintain her “3-step rule” outside at all. I am still interacting normally with her. It’s not like she’s being emotionally punished. I think the closer proximity is actually better for both of us as it encourages a lot more interaction and eye contact throughout our day.

While we have reined in her freedoms, we have also upped our talk of trust. We told her that trust means we believe she will do what we ask her to do, even if we’re not there to watch. We told her that she needs to earn our trust by doing what we ask her to do while we’re watching her. We will be stepping down our interventions incrementally over the next few weeks.

Do you have any other suggestions or thoughts about this particular age and how to handle some of these behaviors? Is there some fantastic article or book you’d like to recommend? We’re open to exploring lots of options!

 

Hula Girl’s Art Table

Hula Girl and I do not see eye-to-eye when it comes to “projects.” I tend to have a finished vision in mind and she couldn’t care less. She is much more interested in the process and discovery than the actual product. She LOVES to paint, color, tape, glue, and make a mess. A huge mess. There is some innate sense of hatred of paint that resides deep in my soul. Every time we pull out paints (water colors, tempera paints, finger paints, doesn’t matter), I end up a stressed-out ball of frayed angry nerves and I don’t tend to mother with very much gentleness or grace. I don’t know what it is about paint that does this to me.

And it’s not just paint. Hula Girl puts everything in her mouth. I mean, EVERYTHING. (I’m actually looking into this from a more medical/psychological point of view right now because I mean it when I say she puts everything in her mouth.) She knows that she’s not supposed to, but she does it. From the very first of our art endeavors, when I handed then-10-month-old Hula Girl some crayons and a piece of paper and proudly posted pictures of the scribbles all over Facebook, to our most recent watercolor masterpiece at the easel encounter, she has had her supplies taken from her for putting them in her mouth. I am not kidding. I have had to stop the activity or take supplies each and every time we have ever attempted art, because she is always tasting and sampling and chewing and licking and spitting. Drives.me.crazy. (My poor mother-in-law has had to hear all about this over and over. Sorry, Momma C.) Thank goodness kids’ art supplies are generally considered non-toxic (although you’d have to pay me a LOT of money before I’d admit that maybe the artificial dyes aren’t so bad after all…)

Anyway.

I have been wanting to test a theory. I have been pondering the idea that perhaps Hula Girl has been so obsessed with putting art supplies in her mouth partially because she knows it makes me so upset. What if I just gave her free access to them and didn’t care about what she actually does with them? What if I just let her go for it using whatever supplies she wanted to use to create anything she wanted to create? Would we still have the mouthing issue? I have been talking it over with Jonathan and he said we could create an art space for Hula Girl somewhere in the house.

Then, last Friday we were given a free “art table” for children. It looks like this. Some random neighbor we’ve never talked to before chased me down when I was out on a walk with the kids (actually, I was terrified about this random person running behind me!), and she offered the art desk to us since she doesn’t have any kids. I said we’d take a look at it, and once we did, we knew we had to have it.

Since it was used, Hula Girl and I spent some time on Saturday afternoon washing it and making it a bit more presentable (we removed the white board section before we soaped it up). It wasn’t in really bad shape, but it had some writing on the white board that was done in permanent marker, and it was a bit dusty. Hula Girl was a great help when we were washing it. I gave her a sponge and let her go for it. She ended up with mud all over her feet, a trend that continued throughout the weekend. (Mud messes I can handle; paint messes, not so much. Weird?)

I ran to Walmart (our favorite store, duh) and stocked up. Like, STOCKED UP. Hula Girl now has access to white board crayons, regular crayons, markers, watercolor paints, colored pencils, regular pencils, erasers, tape, glue, scissors, paper, and stickers. I am planning to add playdough (homemade), 3-D supplies (like egg cartons, etc.), and chalk. I will also add other supplies, and specialized supplies (like glitter crayons), as she gets older.

She has been busy. She has spent 2.5 hours total over the past three days just cutting. My floor is covered in little tiny scraps of paper. But she is busy and happy and she feels that the work she is doing is very important. She keeps putting stickers on paper and cutting them in half so that Jonathan and I can “learn what happens.” She has painted, colored, taped, and written the letter “N” over and over. Absolutely nothing I would have wanted to do in my supplies-hating heart.

And do you want to know something else? She has not put any of her supplies in her mouth, with one exception. She put the glue stick on her lips because it reminded her of chapstick. She hasn’t done that since. 🙂

 

Natural Consequences 1, Hula Girl 0

So. This morning Hula Girl was waiting downstairs while I went upstairs to get her a cute outfit for storytime. I wanted her to look extra special since, after all, it is VALENTINE’S WEEK! (Yes, Valentine’s Day is awesome and I have always liked it and now that I have a house that I can decorate in PINK for at least a month a year with a legit reason, well, it’s even better.)

As I was coming back down the stairs, I heard Hula Girl start to gag and cough a bit. I figured she had eaten something awfully bad for a toddler to eat, so I stepped up my pace. I realized that we had just painted her toenails, and she has always had a fascination with the nail polish… what if she drank some?!? I started to sprint down the stairs two at a time. Then I heard, “I am going to YO UP!” (That’s toddlerspeak for THROW UP.) Three at a time.

I finally found her in the kitchen (after about 4.2 seconds since this all started, but it seemed like 4.2 hours because when your kid is gagging and coughing and crying about throwing up, time sssslllllloooooowwwwwwsssss dooooooowwwwwwnnnnnn and you can’t move fast enough no matter how hard you try). I asked her what happened… and then I looked down. And I cracked up. And took a picture, naturally.

Yummy.

Yummy.

 

Her breath was atrocious after this incident. She kept telling me that the basil made her sick. She calls all spices basil. I am so glad this was the culprit, and not the red nail polish. Sheesh, I really need to do a better job of keeping my kitchen counters cleared off. 

Hula Girl- 2.5 Years Old

Where to begin? My girl is great. She is absolutely delightful, yet her behavior can be absolutely and jaw-droppingly frustrating at times! What can she do? She’s 2.5! Every moment is full of excitement, drama, and emotion! Every new discovery is the coolest thing ever! Every disappointment is utterly heartbreaking! Every scrape, bump, bruise, or fall, real or imagined, induces the worst pain she’s ever known! And, oh! When Mommy says no… 

Since we only do yearly visits for well-checks now, we’ve only got rough estimates on her growth. She weighs 32.5ish pounds and she’s 36ish inches tall. That puts her between the 75th and 90th percentiles for weight and at the 50th percentile for height. I have all her monthly heights marked on the inside of a closet door, and she shot up between 27 and 28 months, but since then she’s only grown a quarter of an inch.

Here’s the typical rundown:

Current Schedule (you’ll notice this is pretty much the same as it has been; we adjusted 30 minutes earlier for DST):

7:00 out of crib, milk, get dressed (maybe)

7:15 go downstairs, play while breakfast is prepared

7:45ish breakfast

8:15ish play indoors (project, reading, toys, whatevs)

9:30ish roomtime

10:30ish play outside

11:15ish play while lunch is prepared (she usually runs around singing and being silly)

11:45/12ish eat lunch

12:30ish nap

3:00ish snack and roomtime

3:45ish sibling playtime (closely attended by Mommy)

4:30ish help with dinner and free play

5:15ish dinner

6:ooish family time

6:30ish bedtime routine

7:00 in bed

Eating

Hula Girl has stopped eating. Today, for example, she ate one piece of French toast, a 1-inch chunk of cheese, 1/4 cup of corn, 10 or so Cheddar Bunnies, 4 bites of macaroni and cheese, and 10 bites of mushrooms. That’s it. All day long. I’m not sure what’s up with her, but she’s been low in the appetite department for about a week now. She won’t even eat her all-time favorites, like clementines and Bunny Grahams. Weeeeeeird.

Sleeping

Naps are getting better again! And so are nights! So, she’s actually falling asleep within 15-30 minutes of bedtime and waking around 6:30. So, about 11 hours of nighttime sleep. Then she is actually taking her full 2.5-hour nap (and sometimes even extending that nap a bit!), so we’re back up to the 13.5 hours of sleep each day! Yahoo! She has a much better attitude when she’s well-rested. And she rarely gets sick. Booyah. As a side note, she has 3 out of 4 of her 2-year molars in. I think this is greatly contributing to her improved sleep.

Behavior

Can we say “testing”??? I’m going to leave it at that.

Attitude

Hula Girl’s overall attitude is happy-go-lucky, chipper, gleeful, and fun. However, we are starting to see her protesting (with a very annoying WHINY voice) several times each day. We’ve handled it by telling her that we can’t hear her when she whines. Then I will  tell her she can try again when I count to ___. So I count to that number, veeeeeeerrryy sloooooooooowwwwllllyy, and then tell her it’s okay to ask again with a “big girl voice”. That does the trick. After reviewing several of my posts on her monthly development, I have come to realize that even though these little annoyances seem like they last forever, they’re really over within a month or two, so I have no reason to be concerned. Just consistent! 🙂 I have a feeling Hula Girl is going to be even better at counting by the end of December!

Language

Kid can talk. And talk. And talk. And sing. And talk. And tell a story. And talk. And tell me every single little thing she’s doing and thinking and saying and singing and worrying about and wondering about and wanting and deciding all day long. Oh, and she talks a lot, too.

Her enunciation is getting very good. She still says /y/ for /r/ /s/ and /l/. She still says /t/ for /k/. Therefore, she “YOVES TUPTATES!” As evidenced by her mini Christmas tree, which is covered in pink, purple, and silver glittery balls and-yes-cupcakes. I can’t believe they even make these ridiculous ornaments. But when I saw them, I knew they had to belong to Hula Girl. They scream Hula Girl, in fact. I digress.

Interests

Hula Girl’s interests are diverse. Her very favorite thing to do, still, is to read. As soon as she gets downstairs in the morning, she crows, “Yet’s Yead a Booot!” As soon as that one’s done, “Anunna Booooot!”

She loves talking about her family. She will ask me where Grammy, Grampy, Great-Grandma, Ama, Papa, Nay-Nay, and Daddy are all day long. In fact, I have answered that question so many times that now I ask her where she thinks they are. And guess what!? They’re all on the moon right now. And the moon is white because it’s covered in snow. So there ya go.

Marriage has been a topic of interest lately. As previously mentioned, Hula Girl has a special ornament that she has declared the ornament from her wedding day. She has also decided that when they get old enough, she will be marrying Gelato. I’m thinking it’s because he’s the only boy she knows who’s not taken. 🙂

She is still very eager to help her little “Bo” (bro). She is very compassionate and always wants him to be happy. He is. She makes sure he has toys and that I change his diaper frequently.

Hula Girl received a keyboard from our landlord for Christmas last year. (I just realized it’s been a year since we got that thing; those batteries sure last long!) She loooooves to play music on that insipid, obnoxious, LOUD toy! It will play a number of familiar tunes, like “She’ll be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” and “Polly-Wolly-Doodle”. Of course, Hula Girl thinks it’s utterly important for me to know exactly which song is playing at all times, so as soon as any new song starts, she runs to wherever I am to inform me of the title of the song. As if I’m not the one who taught her.

Christmas. What kid isn’t obsessed with Christmas from Thanksgiving on? Fortunately, she’s just excited to have Santa wake her up in the middle of the night so she can pet the reindeer. Yup. Who needs presents? How disappointing it will be when she realizes that Santa likes to operate in stealth mode.

Quirks

Still loves those fuzzies… though not as much as she did before the caterpillar incident of 2012.

Has taken to biting her fingernails (and her toenails). Any ideas on breaking this habit? It’s horrible- she will bite until she bleeds.

Related to the above, she no longer likes to wear socks. This is truly weird for her.

Whenever she’s trying to get her way, she will tell me something like, “I’m going to go get a book so we can read, okay?” All the while she will cock her head to the left and nod it quickly and keep her eyes wide open. It’s very comical. I must nod my head a lot to try to get her excited about things. I will say this: I don’t add “okay?” to the end of my statements. She does that on her own. 🙂

Hula Girl – 28 Months

Hula Girl is 28 months old, or two-and-a-third years old, today. Only two thirds of a year left until she’s THREE. Yipe.

Current Schedule:

7:45 out of crib, milk, get dressed (maybe)

8:00 go downstairs, play while breakfast is prepared

8:15/30ish breakfast, followed by hand-washing and teeth-brushing

9:00ish play indoors (project, reading, toys, whatevs)

10:00ish roomtime

10:45ish play outside

11:30ish play while lunch is prepared (she usually runs around singing and being silly)

11:45/12ish eat lunch, followed by hand-washing and teeth-brushing

1:00ish nap

3:30/45ish snack and low-key activities

4:00ish sibling playtime (closely attended by Mommy)

4:45ish roomtime

5:30ish Daddy time

6:00 dinner, followed by hand-washing and teeth-brushing

6:30ish family time

7:00 bedtime routine (bath, potty, lotion, jammies, stories)

7:30 in bed

Eating

Hula Girl has started doing better at the table. She is no longer thinking it’s a fun game to leave the table as many times as possible in one single meal. Her new thing, however, is to say, “I want something else.” She says it in a very demanding voice. The funny thing is that she doesn’t get “something else”… ever. I simply say, “Well, we’re having ______ right now. You can have something else at your next meal.” She then eats whatever I’ve given her, and usually asks for more. She’s not super picky these days, which is nice. Lunch is by far her best meal of the day. I am starting to cut down on her snacks. She was getting one in the morning and one in the afternoon. However, she stopped eating as well at meals, so I cut out the morning snack and I have reduced her already-small-to-begin-with afternoon snack. Yesterday she had two slices of cheese for her afternoon snack and that was it. She ate a very healthy-sized dinner last night.

Sleeping

So, night sleep is better. We finally stopped the middle-of-the-night scream-a-thons. However, her naps are suuuuuuuuuuuuck-y. She has not slept past 2:15 in about 2 weeks. That means her naps are less than 1 hour 15 minutes each day. I am considering moving her nap back in the day to around 1:15 to see if that helps her sleep longer. ‘Cuz the shorter nights plus the lame naps are only going to get her overtired. Sheesh. I can’t wait for her to stop napping. And then when Gelato stops napping, I will throw a party. Yes, a party.

Behavior

Hula Girl’s behavior is back on track. She’s kind of settling in and it’s normal for her to have a little brother now. It also helps that Gelato is not having short naps requiring Mommy-intervention several times a day. I can spend extended amounts of time with her and not feel nervous about having to stop whatever we’re doing and run upstairs at the drop of a hat. This means she has much less unsupervised time as I can plan to put her in roomtime at the appropriate times during the day. Hallelujah.

A brief anecdote about her awesome behavior: Yesterday when we went to Gelato’s 2-month checkup, the pediatrician made a face when she walked in the room and noticed Hula Girl was there, too. It looked like she was thinking, “Oh Geeze, she brought a 2-year-old, too. This appointment is going to be hectic.” Well. Hectic is not the way Hula Girl adds to appointments. Cuteness, sweetness, helper-ness, and kindness- these are things she adds. Hectic just isn’t in her. She is an obedient girl who knows the rules and understands when it’s time to ask for Mommy’s help (unless Daddy just got home and she is keen to have BOTH parents’ undivided attention). Anyway, Hula Girl spent the majority of the appointment looking out the window and singing quietly to herself. Then I put Gelato on the ground (on a blanket!) so I could finish talking to the doctor, and Hula Girl jumped down and talked to him to keep him from fussing. The doctor was impressed. She said, “Oh, are you going to talk to your brother so that we can finish talking? That’s so kind of you!” And when the doctor left the room (after witnessing how Hula Girl followed my directions and re-packed the diaper bag all by herself (as I comforted a screaming, just-had-shots baby), she smiled and said, “Bye [Hula Girl]! It was nice to see you today!” Heh. My good girl.

Attitude

I wrote this about her last month, and it still rings true today:

Sunny, chipper, happy-go-lucky, giddy, gleeful, no-flies-on-her. That is exactly the way I would describe my little Hula Girl. She loooooooves to sing, dance, laugh, play, create, joke, invent, explore, explain, hide, seek, chase, read, and snuggle. Her primary concern in the day is whether or not Mommy and Daddy are happy, too. She rarely has a moment where she feels grumpy or mad. She does not stay grumpy or mad longer than about twelve seconds. She takes correction with a smile and says, “Okay, Mommy! I won’t do that again!” She is unstoppably carefree and delightful… and it’s catching. Spend one hour with my little drop of joy, and you’ll feel lighter for a week. I adore this quality of hers.

When she DOES get upset or hurt, she is quite loud and everyone will know it. Make no mistake, she wears her heart of her sleeve. Gotta love that. However, I am aware that I need to be helping her determine when and how it is appropriate to tip her cards. I don’t want her heart getting smooshed.

I will have to do a separate post on her language skills and other attributes. I am out of time today!

“Whoa, I LOVE the Floor!”

Our Fall Wall Hanging

Today I woke up with autumn in my bones. It’s currently 90° outside, but it was only 56° at 7:00. So Hula Girl and I had a fallish morning.

We started with a harvest breakfast: strawberries, peaches, banana bread (for her), maple & brown sugar oatmeal (for me), and hot peach tea. Hula Girl even got to drink her tea out of an adult mug- what a treat!

After breakfast, we headed outside to create the wall hanging you see above. This thing is huge. It’s 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. So it’s not just a painting. It’s a wall hanging. And it’s hanging in our hallway because I haven’t gotten around to putting up a gallery wall like I want to do eventually. This will suffice for now.

And yes, her feet are huge these days! (I did take the picture at an angle, though, so the bottom footprints are not likely to give the most accurate scale.)

She had so much fun! I put the red, yellow, and orange paint on a paper plate, had her step in it (which she was very tentative to do at first but when I encouraged her more, she wanted to JUMP in it!), and then I spun her around in the paint a few times just for good measure. She loved that part! She also loved walking in the grass and getting the blades all red, orange, and yellow. (We watered the grass afterward to wash the paint off.)

So she was barefoot outside. I allow this. What kid should not be allowed to go barefoot? Yes, I know there are “dangers” around our house- fire ants, super sharp “pokies” (grass seeds/burrs), lots of rocks, etc. But our backyard is pretty tame- cement, grass, 1″ granite. Hula Girl is quite adept at carefully making her way across the rocks without hurting her little feet. She also knows to avoid the ants.

However, Gelato started crying and wanted to eat. I decided to nurse him outside since it was a beautiful morning and I wanted to let Hula Girl stay outside playing. But… as soon as the baby got settled into nursing (which took a while because I have a super super super powerful letdown and he sometimes struggles to stay latched at the beginning of a nursing session- imagine trying to comfortably drink from a fire hose), Hula Girl started screaming. She had a “poky” in her foot. I told her to sit down where she was, but in her panic she decided to run on tiptoes to where I was nursing Gelato. I reached down to pull the poky out of her foot, causing Gelato to get a)squished, b)unlatched, and c)angry! Then of course the poky did not come out cleanly and she had two supersharp needle thingies left in her foot. I jumped up, told her to stay put, and ran inside to get the tweezers. I set Gelato on the floor, booked it to the bathroom, and returned to find her screaming bloody murder at the screen door (she’d hobbled over) and him just chillin’ like, “Oh, hey Mommy, the floor’s pretty comfy!” I got her inside and used the tweezers to extract said sharp objects, and her foot began to bleed. That did not make her screaming stop. Quite the opposite, in fact. Gelato was looking at her quizzically, probably thinking, “Shrieking sister-thing has got to be crazy. How could she be so upset about the floor? I love it here!” 

Gelato is going through his four-week growth spurt. He is normally very predictable on a 3-hour schedule, which is why his wackiness yesterday threw me off-guard. I kind of thought he had already gone through his 3/4 week growth spurt, because a couple days ago he woke early to eat a couple of times. But yesterday and today, his feedings have been closer and closer together. Today I have been feeding him every 2.5 hours. It’s funny though, because I expected to have to feed him more at night during a growth spurt, but last night was one of his best nights of sleep ever! He just ate and went back to sleep every time I woke him! And today he’s been hibernating- he’ll wake up enough to eat, but then he’ll fall back asleep immediately afterward. Even when he’s with Hula Girl and she’s screaming her head off because she has a bleeding foot. How he did not get overstimulated like mad is beyond me.

The adventures continue. I was just talking to my mom about how I am working to keep everything in perspective. Once Gelato is Hula Girl’s age, things are going to be CAKE around here. For real. They will play together constantly, they will have nap/rest time at the same time, they will eat meals at the same times, and she will be much less inclined to get “into” things. An example, just for humor’s sake- my little girl is growing up so fast! She learned how to do a good job of sweeping today. She practiced her skills on a whole pile of baking soda that she dumped on the kitchen floor while I was upstairs getting Gelato’s diaper changed. Ummhmm. I want to chronicle all these things so I can look back on them and laugh. I had a hard time laughing about it this morning. But I do think I handled it well. Her only consequences were that she had to clean it up (she was very dependent on my help… but a few more episodes like this one, and she’ll be a master at sweeping!) and she had to apologize to me for being wasteful.

I want to mention that this whole parenting-two-children-thing has come as a surprise to me. Honestly, I expected it to be hard. But I couldn’t have predicted the ways in which it is hard. I feel like it’s similar to having our first child- I expected to be tired, but I didn’t know quite how tired the human body can be. I expected my life to change, but I had NO idea what that really meant. Now, having my second child has been easier in many ways. I knew how to handle newborns. I knew how to feed, burp, change diapers, give baths, settle a baby for a nap, etc. But it has been SO hard in other ways- I am having to learn to balance the needs of two very needy little people. I am having to learn how to be flexible in ways I’ve never had to be flexible before. I am learning how to cherish the few moments of true “me” time I have each and every day. It’s not like Jonathan can come home and just “handle it” anymore. I still have to be actively involved in parenting 24/7 because he can’t nurse Gelato. It kind of makes me feel stuck.

But then I have to step back and regain perspective. One month down, eleven to go until I am no longer breastfeeding. One month down, five to go until we start solid foods. One month down, one or two to go before he’s sleeping through the night. Seriously, I’m halfway to having a baby who sleeps 8 hours straight! And a third of the way to 12 hours! So really, this is truly a super super short season.

Something else that has given me perspective is this blog post. I ran across it on facebook today and it’s really helping me feel like my struggles with Hula Girl’s behavior in the past couple of days are normal, and that I’m dealing with things the best I can. I just need to remember to ease up on my expectations of her (she’s only two!!!) and keep a more eternal perspective. If she’s still getting into the cupboards and drawers next week, I have not failed as a parent. 🙂

Hokay, have a good afternoon. I have about 5 more seconds before Gelato’s due to wake for his next feeding.

 

 

 

 

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