25 Months-Routine, Personality, and Things for Us Parents to Keep in Mind

So, Hula Girl is getting smarter and more “real-person-ish” every day. I have to say, I am really loving this stage in her life. Even though it’s really difficult because she’s still learning her boundaries (and pushing the ones she knows are in place), she’s starting to settle into a calmness/obedience that wasn’t readily seen before now. I should say she’s always been quite obedient and relatively mild, but now it’s even more obvious to me.

Our daily routine is still quite similar to what it was a month ago, but she can handle a bit more flexibility. It’s fun to see her gaining that flexibility as she gets older. I get her out of bed at 7:45, and we spend 15-30 minutes in her room getting dressed and cuddling while she drinks her milk. Yep, she still has all her milk while cuddling with me in her chair- I LOVE this tradition and I hope to keep it up as long as possible. I also like that she doesn’t just drink milk at meals and then not eat food. 🙂 On Mondays, we wait in her room so we can see the trash truck come by. She stands up on her windowsill (I  hold on just behind her) and watches in awe as the garbage collector moves the bin, empties it, and puts it back. He has noticed us watching, so he always makes sure to wave- Hula Girl loves it. “Hi, gabbage mayn!”

After milk and cuddles, we head downstairs where Hula Girl plays for about 10-15 minutes while I prepare her breakfast. She would think she’d died and gone to Heaven if I served her a fruit smoothie every day. However, we do a lot of different things like omelets, scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, toast, waffles, pancakes, cereal, yogurt, and of course, FRUIT. She really loves breakfast some days; other days, she picks like a bird and declares herself finished after two bites. Either is fine with me. She asks to be excused from the table (and we have had very much success with this- she rarely tries to get out of her chair before she asks anymore), and at breakfast, I let her go before I am done. We end the meal when she is done regardless of what she’s eaten and then she doesn’t eat again until snack time. So if she’s hungry before then, it will help her learn not to “finish” so quickly next time!

Breakfast is always followed by a visit to the bathroom sink, where we wash hands and brush teeth. She’s still too short to turn on the tap by herself, so I always have to accompany her for washing hands. I also make sure to go with her because she can reach her toothpaste and unscrew the lid, and she’d have toothpaste for breakfast if she could. Blech.

Then we get ready for our day. On days we go out, we make sure to go potty and put on sunscreen as necessary before we leave. On days we stay home, we put sunscreen on and head out to the backyard for at least an hour. I sit in the shade while she uses the water from her water table or baby pool to water everything in the backyard, living or nonliving. She loves her rock box and digging in the dirt. She also really likes to try to drink the water from her water table and her pool… which is NOT allowed. She’s getting better at using her water bottle appropriately.

On days we stay home, we find ourselves having some extra time after outside time, so we come in for a snack and then we do sensory-type activities like play-doh and rainbow rice. Occasionally we’ll even take a bath (if she got super muddy or sweaty outside). Then, at 11:30, whether we’ve been home or out, she has her second cup of milk for the day while we cuddle in her room and then she has roomtime until 12:15. I prepare her lunch during that time while I listen to her over the monitor. She says some pretty cute things these days. Another post tomorrow on this!

Lunch is at 12:15, and nap follows pretty much right after lunch is over. We typically serve things like hummus on a rice cake, grilled cheese, beans, veggies, more fruit, leftovers from dinner, etc., at lunch. Lunch is usually her best (read: most predictable) meal of the day. She will eat a lot at this time. Just like breakfast, lunch is followed by hand washing and tooth brushing. Then she kisses her ponies goodnight and troops up the stairs with her pink blankie for nap.

She has been sleeping about 2.5-2.75 hours for each nap. This is definitely not the same amount she HAD been sleeping, but it is working for her these days. As long as she doesn’t wake up crying, I know she’s had a long enough nap. Sometimes she wakes after only an hour and a half and is crying. Then I go in and check on her and tell her to go back to sleep. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.

After she gets up from her nap, we come downstairs and have a very small afternoon snack. We tend to do quieter activities like looking at books and coloring during this time- she wakes up from her nap in a lazy mood most days. Then at 4:45, we head back to her room for her final cup of milk, snuggles, and her second roomtime of the day, which lasts until about 5:30, when Jonathan gets home. She spends time with Jonathan until dinner (6:00).

Dinner is often touch-and-go because we tend to serve foods geared more toward our adult palates than to her “toddler tooth.” I do try to put at least something I know she’ll like on the table (and often I’ll provide it as a side dish just for her). This is the most difficult time of day as far as training goes right now. First, since we’ve required her to remain at the table until we’re all done eating, she is constantly asking, “Mommy done eating? Daddy done eating?” We’ve also started requiring her to say, “Excuse me,” when she wants to talk. We are very consistent with this most of the time… now it’s just a matter of her getting consistent, too. I have no doubt it will come with time. She learns things quickly. Dinner is, as all meals are, followed by tooth brushing and hand washing.

After dinner we spend family time together- going for walks, playing in the backyard, etc. Then she and Jonathan calm down by reading a book and cleaning up her toys while I head upstairs to draw her bath and get her room ready for the night. Bedtime routine is something that’s very important for us, and I have been pulling myself out of it more and more as this pregnancy has worn on just in case I have to be tending to Gelato during her bedtime routine when he first arrives. She and Jonathan are pretty much independent from me at bedtime now until the stories and prayers. I wouldn’t miss prayers and kisses for anything.

One quirk about her nighttime sleep that just doesn’t seem to be getting better is her penchant for staying awake long after we put her to bed. She knows, recites, and practices her sleep rules before every nap and bedtime (Lie down, close eyes, be quiet, go to sleep), and at naptime she’s asleep within 10 minutes. But at bedtime… well, that’s another story. She will go down around 7:45 and stay awake until 8:30 or even 9:00. She talks and sings that whole time, and we can hear her processing her day. Sometimes she’ll even place “phone calls” to her relatives and tell them about what she had for dinner and what the kids at storytime did that day. So funny. I have decided not to stress out about this phase- I have heard from many many moms that it is, in fact, a phase, which will end… sometime.

Hula Girl’s personality is showing up more and more each day. She is a very routine-oriented little girl who has a deep passion for anything pink, sparkly, fluffy, and soft. She loves other children and will make it a point to stop, approach them, and say hi, no matter where we are or what we are doing. She loves rocks and ants. Her memory is insane. She is very smart and is very determined that once she learns something, she is right about it and has no hesitation about correcting anyone who says things “wrong.” (Yes, it could be said that we have a two-year-old know-it-all!) She has a way of changing her tone of voice that will guarantee a laugh out of anyone at any point in time, but she doesn’t use it in a manipulative way. I used to think that she’d be categorized as a “spirited” child but now I think she’s more “textbook” or possibly even “angel.”

A very strong trait of hers that is absolutely beautiful to see is her major major major compassionate heart toward…everyone. She simply cannot stand to see someone else crying without trying to offer assistance. She constantly changes her tone of voice to one full of empathy when someone gets hurt. She points out other children who are upset or hurting and asks me if they will be okay. She simply cannot and will not move on in her day until she sees resolution. So when we go to the Y, if a child is crying in the locker room, she must stand and watch and perhaps say, “It’s okay, gee (girl), it’s okay, gee! Mommy, daht gee ees dyding (that girl is crying)!” Then I have to assure her that the girl will be okay and that the girl’s mommy (or whomever) will take care of her. She talks about the “gee dyding at Y” all the way home. And sometimes she’ll bring it up again as she’s falling asleep at night. Girl can’t STAND to see anyone hurting.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Even she has her areas of weakness (which, like so often happens, coincide with her areas of greatest strength). Her routine-orientedness causes her a lot of worry and frustration when things aren’t exactly right. For example, when I leave her room at roomtime, I must remember to take her milk cup with me. Otherwise she will spend the entire roomtime crying and pounding on her door, begging, “Mommy mum take my milt cup, meese!” And that’s just one small example. I caution anyone who ever watches her to remember to put socks on her feet prior to every nap and every bedtime- or else you’ll hear about it for days!

Another issue is that she is very inflexible about the names of objects. For example, today she was wearing a tank top. I asked her to help me take her shirt off. “No, Mommy, nank bop!” We have been working on acknowledging her correct words for things while modifying her viewpoint- “Yes, you are wearing a tank top. A tank top is a type of shirt. Let’s take off your tank top shirt.”

While she is sometimes disobedient to the point of trying to just say no to me, she is also very malleable and is quick to listen and obey. We continue to play a lot of games that require her full obedience, and I am very consistent about doling out logical consequences when things don’t go well. She is beginning to give me an unprompted, “Yes, Mommy,” each time I call her name. She will then turn and look at me and say, “Yes, Mommy,” again after I’ve given her directions. When she does so, I praise her for listening to me. Then when she follows through I praise her for obeying. We talk a lot about listening and obeying and what those two skills look like. She is often quick to remind me that we must listen and obey God, Jesus, Mommy, Daddy, and _________ (insert name of anyone we have mentioned in the past 24 hours). The best thing is that she understands that she must obey Mommy and Daddy because God and Jesus tell her to do so.

 

Jonathan and I have recently become aware of a little trait of hers that will need a lot of shaping and monitoring as she grows. Hula Girl is a follower. Even though she’ll initiate the playing/interacting with other children, she will never actively take the lead. Even when the child is months younger than she is. She will always stand back, watch, and then follow the other child(ren). This has worked to our benefit occasionally. For example, she has two little friends that she sees at weekly storytime. They are three and five years old, and so they set the example for how she should behave during storytime (and they set a very good example, kudos to their mom). So Hula Girl is getting a great “education” from these girls. However, she also watches and learns about other kids’ behaviors that are not-so-desirable. I will say that the majority (like, 98%) of the time when she sees kids doing something “questionable” she will ask me about it first. For example, she saw a little boy running in a store the other day (like, he was running away from his mom). She said, “Daht boy ees yunning in stoy (That boy is running in store)?” I said, “Yes, he is running in the store. You’re right.” She then asked, “[Hula Girl] may yun in stoy, too?” I answered, “No, you may not run in the store. You may walk by yourself or you may walk and hold my hand. What do you want to do?” “Alk by yelf.” Okay. Cool.

So obviously we have to keep a close eye on her and monitor her surroundings and influences. I think it’s healthy for us to address her questions and desires about following the examples set by other kids. I see us having a lot of “Why does this kid get to….” conversations in the future. Honesty and consistency will hopefully be our best tools when dealing with this type of thing. I’d rather have her follow good examples set by her peers and adults around her, and feel safe enough to ask us about the poor examples before following them than to have her just go through childhood fearing our reactions and learning how to be sneaky about disobeying. Of course, at this age, it is as simple as restating her boundaries and then offering a couple of safe choices within those limits. I am, however, really enjoying the mental stimulation that accompanies these larger issues that are cropping up as she is getting older. It’s also nice to have a husband who is keenly interested in discussing these matters with me and deciding how to handle things together!

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The Village People who live near Me!

Yep, you guessed it. We joined the YMCA. Before I let you in on all the details of Hula Girl’s and my first visit, let’s discuss the video that’s undoubtedly driving you crazy or making you bust a move right now.

First of all, nice outfits. Second of all, dude has a really nice voice if you really listen to it. Third of all, love the shot of the Empire State Building at the end of the video.

And that’s about all I have to say about that. Except this:

Okay, so our visit.

We left the house at about 9:00. Hula Girl had gone pee-pee just prior to leaving the house, so I thought we were golden. We arrived at the YMCA parking lot at 9:10. She had had an accident and wet through her only pair of pants for the day. Fortunately, I had some pants in the car left over from another trip… a few months ago. She wears a 2T or 24 months right now… but these pants were definitely 12 months. Heh. Lucky for her, she’s still got a skinny tushie, so I stripped off her wet pants and undies and stuck her in the silliest little highwater fleece pants imaginable. Poor kid.

When we arrived inside, she started saying, “Hi!” to everyone we saw. Literally, everyone. I got directions to the family locker room and then to the pool from there. This YMCA is big enough that we actually had to ask directions- it’s quite new and nice, but confusing all the same.

We changed in the family locker room (there are separate changing rooms where you can lock yourself in with your wriggly toddler so she doesn’t run around in the buff while telling everyone hi. Thanks, YMCA designers. I mean that.)

After changing, I took her out to the pool area, only to discover that we weren’t allowed in the big pool room, which houses the big pool, the wave pool, the lazy river, and the baby/toddler pool. The big pool was being used for a lesson, so apparently that means the toddler pool can’t be used. Boo. But not to be deterred, we just went in the therapy pool…with all the elderly citizens (a.k.a. “Village People”) of our fine city.

(Whoa, I totally JUST realized that “citizens” and “city” likely have the same root word. Greek or Latin? And yes, I am really interested in etymology.)

The old folks loved Hula Girl and her friendly disposition. She must have said hi to each of them at least 12 times. They thought she was the cutest thing on the entire planet*. Many of them launched into stories of their own grandchildren, which I listened to and laughed at the appropriate moments. I bet those kids really are that cute. But yes, my kid is cuter. Heh. Then one sweet old lady started talking about how she doesn’t have any of the little ones around anymore. Her youngest granddaughter is 23, and none of her grandchildren are married or close to having kids. She told me it’s great for the elderly to see young kids, because it brings back such hope and laughter. So, that was nice. I thought of my friend Kate, who just blogged today about visiting an elderly woman from her church, and how Kate’s kids love visiting just as much as the woman enjoys their visits!

*One nice thing about Hula Girl getting all the attention is the way I felt more comfortable with my oversized pregnancy body in a swimsuit. Yes, I did take Jonathan and Hula Girl shopping with me so I could get a maternity swimsuit. But still, I felt self-conscious. But the old people only really cared about Hula Girl and her supercute bikini. 🙂

So all in all, the therapy pool wasn’t that bad at all! The warm water definitely felt really nice. And Hula Girl didn’t even need her swim diaper- she waited until we got out of the pool to go “pee pee inee boppy.” Clever girl. And really, what 20-month-old can hold it that long in warm water?! Insane.

I am very excited to go back to the Y really soon. I want Hula Girl to check out the ChildWatch room. It looked like a lot of fun when we walked by! There were lots of kids running around and having a good time. I am also excited to get her in the baby/toddler pool since it has a “shipwreck” in the middle, complete with mini-waterslide and fountains!

Doh-dee-mime Fail

Every morning when Hula Girl wakes up, the first thing she asks me, is “Doh-dee-mime?” She loves storytime at the library so very much, and it only happens once a week, on Tuesdays. So every morning, I say, “Yes, I know you love storytime! We’ll go on Tuesday!” Of course I know that she doesn’t actually understand the concept of Tuesday. But I tell her every day anyway!

Today, being a Tuesday, was different. She woke up, asked, “Doh-dee-mime?” and I was able to smile at her and reply, “Yes, we’re going to storytime today! It’s Tuesday!” What a thrilling answer! She smiled and told me that she was excited to see the kids.

Storytime starts at 10, but if you’re one of the cool toddlers, you show up with your Mommy at 9:45, because all the cool toddlers like to hang out and gawk at each other for fifteen minutes. (Another alleged reason for arriving at 9:45 is so that the Mommies can milk an extra 15 minutes out of a fun activity that breaks up a rather long and repetitive week. Not that this reason is accurate or necessary…) Since the library is 10 minutes away, that means we don’t leave the house until 9:35. And 2 hours is a long time to fill when Hula Girl is 19 months old and can’t wait to get to storytime.

Here’s a little breakdown of the pre-storytime timeline from this morning***:

  • 7:30 wake Hula Girl, get her dressed
  • 7:42 come downstairs, start breakfast
  • 7:53 strap Hula Girl into high chair, eat breakfast
  • 8:01 done with breakfast, try to cajole Hula Girl into eating more
  • 8:03 brush teeth
  • 8:06 go to living room and pull out new lacing beads
  • 8:07 find new activity- train- as lacing beads are just not interesting
  • 8:08 find new new activity- finger painting- since train is  boring
  • 8:22 stop fingerpainting since Hula Girl put paint in her mouth and that means we have to stop (immediate logical consequence!)
  • 8:32 go upstairs to put away Hula Girl’s laundry in her room
  • 8:45 come back downstairs and try to grab Hula Girl’s attention with books- unsuccessfully- so just end up reading baby books aloud while Hula Girl wanders around playing with toys
  • 8:54 Hula Girl asks me to play with her- I do- as soon as I get there, she leaves
  • 8:55 decide Hula Girl didn’t eat enough for breakfast and strap her into her high chair for a midmorning snack of blueberries and yogurt
  • 9:02 unbuckle Hula Girl from her high chair since she wasn’t hungry at all
  • 9:03 actually capture Hula Girl’s attention with some books
  • 9:20 start getting ready to leave for the library
  • 9:34 strap Hula Girl in to the carseat and leave

***Now, let’s remember that Hula Girl is still recovering from her illnesses, and so this morning’s timeline is not quite accurate for most days. I can usually find an activity or two to hold her attention for longer than 2 minutes at a time. However, she was in a funky funky mood today, and it was wonderful to realize that we could finally start getting ready to leave the house at 9:20.

We arrived at storytime just a bit before it began (due to some unforeseen parking lot traffic) and we were shocked by the number of toddlers who were there. Normally there are about 8 or 9 children there, all under the age of three. Not today, my friends. Today, there were 16 children, most of whom were boys, over the age of four. What their parents were thinking, bringing them to “Toddler Storytime,” is beyond me. Hula Girl was in heaven. She loves kids. But not only that. She adores boys. She had the time of her life walking up to each and every child there and saying hi this morning. 

As soon as we were called into the story room, Hula Girl walked in, said, “Bee-boo,” (thank you) to Miss Kirsten, who was holding the door, and sat down on her favorite spot- the letter U. The alphabet rug is really a genius invention. All the kids get their favorite letters. For the older kids, who can spell their names, it’s exciting to sit on “their” letter. For kids like Hula Girl, who only know a handful of letters by sight, it’s exciting to recognize the same (albeit obscure) letter each and every time and sit on it. The only issue arises when kids share the first letter of their name. Madison and Megan had a fight about who gets to sit on “M” the other week until Megan’s mom said Megan might sit on “N” because it’s the last letter in her name. About halfway through storytime, however, Madison decided she  should be on “N” since her name ends in “N”. Nice try, Mom!

Anyway, as soon as we sat down by “U” the kids came streaming in. Miss Kirsten, who runs the storytime each week, looked a bit surprised at the sheer number of bouncy little chubby faces and did her best not to freak out. Unfortunately, each week’s books and themes are chosen pre-storytime and Miss Kirsten has a schedule sheet that lists song lyrics and that day’s sign language for parents. Usually this is good. However, today, Miss Kirsten was in Trouble, with a capital T.

This week’s theme: Noise.

This week’s books: Shout! Shout it Out! and The Loud Book!

This week’s demographics: 5 girls under 2, 3 girls between 2 and 6, and 11 boys ages 2-6.

See, Trouble.

Hula Girl was pretty much terrified of the boys during the first book. At this time, the boys decided to have a contest to see who could “Shout it out!” the loudest. I am pretty sure the little boy sitting right next to us won. Hula Girl chose to move onto my lap. The little girl behind us, who is almost three and has not worn anything but her princess dress since Santa gave it to her on Christmas, informed her mommy that “the other kids are being very noisy.” Her mommy and I exchanged looks and contemplated leaving and starting our own storytime with the theme of “quiet” at Starbucks.

After the shouting match, the boys lost all interest, and Miss Kirsten lost all control. Hula Girl did her best to follow along, but she is so quiet and young compared to the other children, that she was almost overlooked when Miss Kirsten was handing out the shakers. My poor little girl was standing in the middle of the rug all alone, holding her hand out to receive a shaker, and Miss Kirsten didn’t even notice. I had to politely ask for one. Then the first thing Hula Girl did was put the shaker in her mouth. DOH! If that weren’t enough, Hula Girl almost didn’t get to put her shaker back in the box since Miss Kirsten was too preoccupied with keeping the big boys from trampling a little 10-month-old girl. She politely stood there holding out her shaker and waiting for the box to pass her by. When that didn’t happen, she put out her lip and hung her head, but kept her hand out in front of her. Finally, the little princess girl, Evie, took Hula Girl’s hand and walked her over to where Miss Kirsten had placed the shaker box on the floor. I decided right then and there that Evie’s mom and I MUST start our own storytime. Hula Girl should hang out with kids like Evie more often!

The craft activity today was absolutely ridiculous, too. It was two full-sized, front and back worksheets, containing counting, matching, and writing practice. Um, hello, your advertisement says, “Toddler Storytime for Kids ages 18 months-3 years.” Really? These kids should not be learning how to write in cursive yet. And their parents shouldn’t be hovering over their shoulders  and encouraging them to draw straight lines from the “M” to the monkey. As if. I told Hula Girl to just color. Unfortunately, she put the crayon in her mouth, and that was the end of craft time for us. (Immediate, logical consequence!)

All in all, storytime was much worse than it normally is. Hula Girl did not talk about it much on the way home. She usually repeats everything that happens, telling me, “Did, boy, dee, muh, nin non, dah dah,” (kids, boys, girls, books, sing songs, color). Today, all she said was, “Out! Out! Boy out!” (Shout! Shout! Boy shout!) and then she started talking about her car toys.

I’m still not sure whether she realized today was not as fun as it usually is. She didn’t necessarily want to leave, but she never puts up a fight about that anyway. I just hope it didn’t ruin her excitement about storytime in the future. Have your kids ever had a major disappointment about an event, but then recovered at another time afterward? I’m hoping this is salvageable.

Pull a Rabbit out of the Hat!

Today has been a pretty nice day so far! I have actually been well enough to play with Hula Girl, which I haven’t done in about a week. I know, bad mommy skills on that one, but I have just been so run down. However, today I had no choice- Jonathan went back to work so I would have had to pull a rabbit out of the wellness hat somehow even if I were still feeling so icky. Fortunately I did not need to become a magician.

Hula Girl and I spent the morning playing with her clean diapers. She likes to “help” with laundry, so we play a lot during that time. This morning was super fun as she’s been really into laying on her tummy and laughing for no reason lately. So while she did that funny little dance, I piled all her diapers on top of her and let her giggle. Then I reached through those microfleece layers and tickled her little toes. Oh, how she loves “Tickle Toes!”

Our next adventure involved looking at the Mommy and Baby on the car seat box. Yes, it’s still sitting in my living room, even though we got the car seat installed on Saturday. We’re sick, all right?! We’ve been busy gardening! I don’t really think I need to make an excuse. It’s only been 3 days. Anyway, Hula Girl has been very into noses lately. She likes to point out noses whenever she sees them. Animal noses, human noses, cartoon noses, you name it. If it’s a nose, she points to it. So cute!

After nap time and lunch time, Jonathan came home to visit. Hula Girl was very excited to see her Daddy. After all, it had been, what, five whole hours since she saw him last! I can’t say that I blame her. It is very exciting to have him home at lunchtime. Since he’s doing training for his job this week, it will be a week-long event! Something to look forward to every single day!

Our visit went really well yesterday. We were concerned that Hula Girl might be really nervous and crabby- she’s got a pretty marked case of stranger anxiety. However, she cried only once, when a man in glasses approached her, but then she was fine the rest of the time. She even went and played with the girls’ fingernails (painted hot green) and hat tassels (who wears a hat indoors in spring!? Middle schoolers!) and chewed on some Tupperware. It was great to see those girls!

All in all, I’d say our outlook is improving as we are getting over this mondo-illness. Thank goodness!

What’s the best magic trick you’ve ever seen?

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