Setting new fashion trends...
My swim coach has us do kicking drills that she calls "underwaters". The objective is to swim one full length of the pool without taking a breath. The purpose is to try to build breath control so that you learn to take fewer time stealing breaths. To offer some encouragement, or at least perspective, she often reminds us; "it's only twenty seconds of your life..."
It's only twenty seconds of your life. I was applying that mentality as I was facing the visit with my in-laws. I was really dreading the trip as I still have PTSD from their last visit. Yet, it needed to be done. They need to spend time with Kate and their son and I just have to put on my game face and suck it up. Place your hands in streamline position. Squeeze your ears between your biceps, take a deep breath and kick until you get to the other side. It's only twenty seconds of your life. Except in this case, it's not twenty seconds, it's two weeks or give or take 1,209,600 seconds.
So far, we're one week into our stay, and it hasn't been too bad. Kate provides a welcome ice breaker to the awkard silence. While I wouldn't say that I feel comfortable in my in-laws house, I'm feeling slightly less uncomfortable. I'm finding it easier to talk with my MIL, my FIL; not so much. It has helped that we've been getting out every other day, including a visit with another infertility survivor and her two amazing IVF miracles. However, I am holding my breath. Literally. Their shower broke the day before we arrived. My FIL ordered the part that he needed online and it was due to arrive on Monday. Since, we weren't doing anything on Sunday except recovering from the jet-lag, I figured I could make the most of the fact that I rarely get to spend the entire day in my pajamas. Then Husband pointed out that as the part was ordered late on Friday night, the company probably wouldn't process the order until Monday morning, which means we wouldn't get the part until Tuesday.
I hadn't showered since Thrusday night and couldn't go one more day. I had to ask my MIL if she could ask their neighbour if Kate and I could use their shower. "Oh, I suppose I could" she responded. Thank you. I know it's not their fault the shower broke, and I'm impressed that my 82 year old FIL can fix it himself and I understand that they may not be able to afford a plummer, but I was annoyed that they didn't try to provide more of a solution other than putting a plastic cup in the shower and nothing that we could stand in the shower and pour water over your head. On Monday afternoon, my FIL checked the order to make sure it was processed and the part would be sent overnight. He saw that it would only be sent by first class mail and asked Husband to call the company to complain. "Let me check the invoice first" Husband thought it was wise to do so. "Dad, you didn't request overnight service, only first class mail. Didn't you think it was odd to be paying only three pound fifty for overnight service?" I was really struggling to contain laughter.
The part arrived on Tuesday afternoon. Husband and his dad worked to install it on Wednesday. They spent hours at it and at last I heard the sound of water running out of the spicket. Success at last! Not exactly, it was ice cold. I had showered at the neighbour's house and Chris's aunt's house (two showers with the weakest shower pressure ever, but beggars can't be choosers) I also went to a Sportscentre and paid 15 pounds for the daily rate and longily walked past all the gym equipment as I felt lazy only going into a gym to use a shower. On Thursday, I had to take a freezing cold shower and was still shivering hours later. My ILs haven't showered at all during this time. Husband later figured out why the water was cold. The mixing valve had broke, so water that came out of the shower was either freezing cold or scalding hot. He ordered a new part to be shipped overnight (which cost twenty pounds for overnight service). The part arrived on schedule at 9 AM on Friday morning, and at press time (5 PM) they're still working on the shower and I'm still in my pajamas, holding my breath...
Stats: 26 lbs 32 inches
Teeth: At her 18 month check, my pediatrician thought her incisors were coming in, but so far, not yet.
Eating: This has become a little bit of a struggle. As Kate transitioned to the toddler class, I think they are keeping her busier that when she was in the infant group and she's really tired when she comes home. Some nights she's been so tired that she fussies and cries and refuses to eat and we end up just putting her to bed, which makes me feel like this:
I love Fowl Language Comics
The trouble is that the difficulty with feeding carries on into the morning. Especially on the mornings when I swim, Husband was finding that she would resist sitting in her chair and so he would take her out and let her eat on his lap, or walk around the house making a mess where ever she goes. We hit a bit of a parental disagreement, as I want him to be firm and insist that she eats at the table (we transitioned her from the high chair to a booster chair), as she does with me. I feel he gives in too easily with her at times. We came up with a bit of compromise and set up her table in the kitchen, so she can eat at her own table.
Table for One
Since we arrived in England, the time change and unfamiliar setting has intensified her eating struggles. She's been picky about what she eats and refuses to sit. So far, it's been yoghurt to the rescue, as it's providing some protein and she'll actually sit and eat with a spoon. I'm hoping that these eating struggles are part of a phase that will pass soon. If I'm the only one in the room, she'll sit and eat, but when anyone else is present (mainly Husband) she'll fuss and squirm to get down. Obviously, this is not ideal.
She still really loves her milk. As we've been trying to wean her off a bit, it's become more difficult to
hide it from her. If we're going out, I have to prepare she sippee cups with her out of the room, otherwise she'll start making the milk sign as soon as she hears the fridge door opening. When we're stopping, she recognises the red carton of Horizon Organic Whole Milk. Husband and I used to refer to it as M-L-K, but now she's starting to recognise those initials so we've been calling it Martin Luther King or Harvey, but then realised it may be a little inappropriate to be referencing two slain civil rights leaders in such a manner.
Sleeping: Since the toddler class wears her out, we've had to move her bedtime up to 7:00 from 7:30. She still falls asleep really well. Our routine is really simple, change into jammies, read stories whilst she drinks her milk and she's been doing the sign for brushing teeth when we finish with the books. After brining her back into her room after teeth cleaning, if I say "night, night" she'll parrot back 'night, night' as she gives me a kiss. I'll tell her "I love you!" and she'll respond with Mwa-mwa-wah-wah [insert Charlie Brown teacher voice] which only I can intrepret as "I love you, too" and my heart just melts into a big puddle on the floor. Some nights there is no crying or fussing once I place her in her bed. Since she's been going to sleep a little earlier... it does mean she's been waking a bit earlier. If she wakes up after 5 AM but before 6 AM, we'll bring her back to our bed, and most times, she'll fall asleep for another hour or so. Again, not ideal, but we're rolling with it for now.
Her napping has been better. I was a bit concerned as her day care providers in the infant class noted that she needed to be held and cuddles for quite a while before going down, which was the struggle I have and sometimes leads to her napping in my arms. The toddler class does more of a group nap, where they drag out a bunch of mats and blankets and the kids each lie down and go to sleep. Maybe she's sucombing to peer pressure, as her attendants report that they have no problems getting her to nap with this approach. As it's been a bit colder, I've lost the option of putting her in the stroller to fall asleep as the cold air and any blowing winds keeps her awake. I've had to switch to Cross-Fit classes on Tuesday, as it's just been too cold to keep her by the pool. I was worried about what we would do while we were visiting my in-laws, where we would face the same problem of cold and rainy weather removing the stroller option, but she's not had any issues napping in her crib like a civilised baby. She does want to mimic her night time routine and signs to brush her teeth after reading. No problem. We can add an extra teeth cleaning if it gets you to nap.
So, I'm hoping that the napping success carries over when we go back home, but I'm dreading what we'll face when we re-adjust to the time change. For the first few nights, Kate would wake up in in the middle of the night and we'd take her back to bed, where she'd toss and turn for 2-4 hours before falling back to sleep. One night, she was in a more playful mood and starting slapping Husband and me in the face. She was instructed to stop and was threatened that she'd have to go back to her bed and she responded by giving me a stinging slap that left a red mark. I brought her back to her bed and we let her cry it out, which lasted just over 35 minutes, which was also the same time it took for the stinging sensation wear off my cheek. However, she slept through the night that night and has been sleeping through every night since then. We did have some explaining to do to my ILs in the morning. "You know we have rules against that in this country" my FIL told husband (because they don't have such laws in the states and apparently we're child abusers), until Husband informed him, "no, Kate hit Jane..."
I consulted another ex-pat, who has done the England trip with her toddler a few times, to see if she had any advice. "Not really, just wishing you luck." She replied. She checked in a few days later after Kate's sleeping schedule had adjusted. "So, how is it when you go back..?" I was almost afraid to ask. "Oh, it's much worse, since you have to go back to work and don't have the luxery of napping during the day" she replied with brutal honesty.
Milestones: I was starting to feel a little frustrated with her language progress, as one of the claims with baby sign language is that toddlers will actually have a larger vocabulary than their non-signing peers. One particular reference book has a comparison chart and Kate's number of words for her age was more consistent with a non-signing child. What the hell? However, when I went throught the signing book to count the number of signs, which was over 30, I had to acknowledge that she does know all the words for those signs, even if she doesn't always use the word when she signs. I've noticed that signing is also helping her appreciate homonyms. The sign for pig is the same sign that is used for the word 'dirty' and within the span of an hour she correctly excuted the 'dirty' sign when she was trying to touch her diaper pail and then later did the same sign when she saw a picture of a pig. She also can use the 'orange' sign to recognise the fruit and the colour.
So, I've been pushing on with the sign language and I've been introuducing Spanish. We have an animal book and a colours book that are in both English and Spanish and we sign as we read. My pediatrician wants her to know 3-5 colors by her 2 year check up and my goal is to have her know those colour names in English, Spanish and ASL. It seems to be paying off, as she's really excellerated her spoken words and signing in the past few weeks (she now knows the signs for 3 colours -4 if you count orange). The little play kitchen that Myrtle gave her teaches some Spanish; specifically 'abierto' and 'cerrado' for when the fridge door is opened and closed. If she wants something opened (a packet, or a door) she'll ask "Abri! Abri" I don't think she's ever used the word 'open', so it's the first word that she only knows in Spanish, which makes me feel quite proud. Actually, she also only knows 'beso' (kiss) in Spanish. Husband taught it to her, as I think it's the only Spanish word he knows.
I'm finding that it's becoming frustrating to go out with her to do shopping or errands. She doesn't like being in the stroller as she wants to get out and walk. Physically she's capable of walking for long distances, but she has no focus. She just runs around and gets into everything. It's become another aspect of parental disagreement. As soon as she exhibits the slightest bit of fussing, Husband urges "Get her out." Right while we're going through Immigration and still have to schlep to baggage claim. Do you really want to be chasing her through a busy airport? I insist that we can't give in every time she fusses (additionally I read that kids sometimes fuss in the pram when they need to pee) but I often try to appease her/keep her occupied = quiet while she's in the pram by giving her something to eat or drink, which is also not ideal. The other aspect of the struggle is that Houdini can wiggle her way free. She's been able to pop her arms out of the shoulder restraint for a while, even after we re-adjusted it to match her new height. Today, she demonstrated that she can stand on the seat and work her way out of the lap belt. Such a spirited little shit. I'm looking into to getting a harness for the chest, but I'm not too far off from using a bungee cord.
Likes: Even before Kate was born, Husband and I agreed that we were going to try to be 'low-tech" parents. So I became annoyed when he started giving her his iphone to hold when she was just four month old. "She's going to discover that it does stuff..." I warned. [of Note, Husband finally stopped handing over his phone to her after she threw it in the cat's waterbowl and ruined it. He wasn't planning on getting the iphone7, as he had just finished paying off his old phone, but he is quite content with his upgrade] If either of us leave our phones within her grasp, she'll snag it. As I leave my screen locked, she'll mostly just press the main button to make it beep and will occasionally summon Siri. I know there is an emergency call feature, but she'll randomly Face time people. Such as contacts from a former job that I never got around to deleting. Kate's random Face timing had become the new butt dialing. I decided I needed to take a fight fire with fire appoach and I picked up a Fish.er Price toy cell phone for her. It has a mirror and makes the 'click' sound so she can take selfies. It also has a 'swoosh' for when she sends emails and 'tweets', so techincally Kate is on twitter before we are. Oh, it also plays music and actually rings, so she'll know phones are used to call people, which she often will hold it up to her ear. Husband and I have vowed to be more vigalant about not playing on our phones in front of her.
She really loves her baby doll. Whenever we are getting ready to go out, she puts her dolly in her pram and pushes her toward the door. There have been a few occasions when we've had to take the doll and her stroller with us. She's also getting really good at puzzles. Not puzzles with interlocking pieces, but the ones with cut out shapes and little pegs. She's showing that she can play independently for a few minutes, but when she wants to you play with her, she'll let you know my grabbing your hand (if you're sitting down, let's say trying to sip your morning coffee) and will demand "Up!" She is also really into washing her hands. I had a travel sized bottle of hand sanitizer attached to her diaper bag, which I had to remove as she kept flipping the top and squeezing a small amount onto her hands. I'm wondering if there is anything in the sanitizer that is appealing to toddler, as she kept running back for more like a junkie. She's a junkie of a different kind. My kid has OCD.
Her Daddy-itis has become much worse. While we're at home, she definately shows a preference for him. Since we've been in England, she'll go into full-blown tantrum mode if he has the audacity to leave the room. Of course, this makes him look like a rock star parent in front of his parents, which is very good, but it does make me wonder what they think of me as a mother. I've had the opportunity to practice the Harvey Karp Toddler-ease Fast Food Rule to deal with her tantrums "Kate want Daddy? Kate wants to see Daddy. It will be okay. It will be okay. Let's go read some books" It has been working like a charm, but I hope it's effectiveness doesn't wear off from overuse.
Oh, remember how I said that I didn't want to do extended breastfeeding as I didn't want her to be putting her hands down my shirt? Yeah, she does it anyway.
Diapering: While my mother was visiting over Christmas, she noticed that Kate has a fairly obvious tell when she is doing a #2. I felt embarassed as I've been rather oblivious to it, but once we recognised her moves, we started teaching her the sign for 'poop' and now she'll alert us when she needs a change. She's also started wiping herself. Since we change her whilst standing, I once handed her a wipe just to keep her occupied, but she demonstrated that she knew what to do with it. I've decided that we're ready to start potty training.
Clothing: Her legs are skinny, but she still has a round baby belly. I've been dressing her in sweaters (as it's been colder) and trousers with a onesie underneath as her sweater or top tends to ride up and would expose her skin without the onesie. In preparation of potty training, I've been shopping for regular shirts in a size 2T, large enough to hopefully keep her skin covered. I wanted to do some clothes shopping while we were in England to pick up some items that we couldn't get back home and I ended up going a bit mad. Will need to have a glass of wine it's time to pay the bills as I can't remember the last time I spent this much on clothes for myself...
Looking forward to: Potty training! Seriously! I know there is a bit of debate about doing it early versus waiting until they're ready, so all I'll say is that I think this is the right time for us. Okay, I will admit that I am a bit motivated by the fact that my cousins and Myrtle didn't have their kids completely potty trained until after the age of 4. I've just be contemplating the timing. I figure it will take some time the re-adjust once we get back and we'll be busy getting back into our usual routine. I have a swim meet in the middle of March and then two weekends later, I'll be in Dallas. (My friend did get the job and moved to Chicago last week, so hopefully I'll still get to visit my other friend if she's not in labour). We have a week off from Day Care, but I only have two days off that week and my parents will be visiting. I'm not sure it would be the best idea to potty train during their visit as my Dad probably won't help at all (just being honest) and my mother will have her own opinions on how we should be doing things. Not ideal.
I have a big swim meet the following weekend and then we're planning to see our friends Robin and Barney and their two year old daughter for a weekend in early May, and I don't want to take her to someone else's house until she's really got the potty thing down and isn't having accidents, so I'm looking to start it over Memorial Day weekend and I'll take the rest of the week off from work and keep her home from Day Care. Wish us luck! In the meantime, I'm working on gathering supplies and teaching communication for when she needs to pee. My plan is to dress her in a shirt and diaper and make notes when I see the line turn blue.
This Friday we're gathering with our friends in London who are single, or don't have kids and my in-laws will baby sit. The get-together is actually to celebrate a friend's birthday and for some reason both Husband and I thought the event was last Friday and didn't realise our error until that morning. I suggested that maybe we could go out for a date night since my in-laws had already agreed to let us go out for the night. Husband took me to the restaurant where we had our rehersal dinner. It was great to recount the memories of that night and the years that followed and it was great to see that the pub (which had just recently opened when we held our event) is doing so well that they built an addition to accomodate more seating and created an outdoor seating area. We are fortunate that we get a night out every now and then thanks to Kate's Day Care offerning Saturday night baby sitting, but some how, we always end up at our usual pub. We ate at the bar of this pub for both Mother's and Father's Day (although I admit it was because we were watching the Warriors in a playoff game and bar seating has the best view) and recently we tried a new restaurant only to find it was really disappointing, so we ended up back at the bar of our favourite pub. Not that I'm complaining in any way, it just was really nice to feel like an adult by having a proper fancy three course meal back at the place where it all began.
We ended up sneaking another night out as our friends Leonard and Penny have divorced. Due to their custody arrangements and the fact that he and Penny don't even speak to each other, let alone be in the same room, we ended up having dinner with Lenoard one night as Penny will be the one attending the birthday drinks. It will be an early night and a light one too, as we fly out early the next morning and the only thing possible worse than an 11 hour flight with a toddler, would be an 11 hour flight with a toddler whilst hungover. Still, I'm just looking forward to being in a bar in London, overlooking the Themes and the city landmarks. Brings back so many memories...
I'm also looking forward to my home shower. Oh, how I miss my outdoor pool deck best shower in the world! We visited friends over the weekend, and I was treated to a bubble bath complete with a glass of wine! It was so decadent! I was able to get a shower on Sunday, but when we came back, the shower still wasn't fixed, so Husband and his father spent most of the day working on it. They installed all the parts, but kept finding leaks. Finally, they were able to get it to a point where the leak was slow enough that my FIL figured we could use the shower for brief periods of time. We were able to use the shower on Tuesday, but my FIL had left the hot water heater off, so it was another cold shower. On Wednesday, we had hot water, but I had to keep my shower really quick as I also needed to wash Kate as well and I didn't rinse the conditioner fully out of my hair. Throughout this time, my in-laws still haven't showered (although they do 'wash up' each day) and my FIL isn't planning to finish the work until after we leave. Holding my breath. 1,209,600 seconds of my life.