Monday, 10 April 2017

21 months

I survived my first weekend away from Kate. I had a 7:15 flight, so I needed to leave the house before 5 AM and I didn't get a chance to say good bye to her. I did give Tyler some cuddles before I left, which induced some mom guilt that I said good-bye to the cat and not my baby, but Husband begged me not to risk waking her. As soon as I got to the airport, I immediately spotted three mamas baby wearing and felt that something was missing. My heart started to ache for Kate. It just didn't feel right to be travelling with out her. However, once I borded the plane and was able to take a nap after take-off, and not deal with an antsy kid, I was enjoying my taste of freedom.

Freedom that was to be short-lived. I was released from responsibilites as a parent, but was returned to the role of daughter as I met my parents at our hotel in Dallas. Once we were checked in, my mother suggested that she and my dad may need a nap before attending the basketball games later that evening. As I slept for a few hours on my flight, I announced that I would go sit by the pool and read.

My Mother (to my Dad): "Someone has to go with her. Jane can't go by herself"
Me: "I'm almost 41 years old. I think I'm ready to go to the hotel pool by myself."
My Mother: "There's no Life Guard on duty..."
My Dad "Jane is a swimmer. She is the Life Guard"
Me: "I didn't say that I was going to swim. I swim four times a week, why would I swim in the hotel kiddie pool? I just want to go relax by the pool, which is something I can't do at home."
My mother still seems hesitant
Me: "You can see the pool from our room."
Me: "I'm a big girl. I go pee-pee in the potty."

I grabbed my phone, book and room key and left for the pool. I managed to get through maybe twenty pages of my book before my mother texted that she was coming down to join me. We could have had a nice mother-daughter chat while sitting pool side, but I was still pissed off over the fact that she felt I needed a guardian. This continued for the rest of the weekend. I was supposed to try to meet up with some Dallas friends, but one had moved to Chicago and the other was in labour. It's just as well that they were unavailable, as my mother probably would have chaperoned my visit.

I get that you never stop being a parent, but I would think that living on my own for more than twenty years and having a kid of my own has built me some credit. At the same time, I admit that the thought of letting Kate venture out on her own terrifies me. Yet, I can't contain her and I can't always be by her side to protect her. I have to teach her how to survive on her own and hope these lessons will serve as a virtual presence. I'll have to trust her and the job I did preparing her for the real world. At minimum, if we're walking somewhere, I'll trust the navigation system on her electronic device and won't feel the need verify the directions with a paper map.

Overall, I enjoyed my trip. Dallas is seriously nice, y'all. It is very kid friendly, which made me miss Kate at times. We ate at some really nice restaurants, drank some fun cocktails, did some historical sight seeing and recovered from the disappointment that our team didn't win a National Championship for the first time in 5 years.

Weight 28.2 lbs (on my scale)
Height: Not sure

Teeth: The incisors on the top have finally started to break through, but they seem to be taking their own sweet time.

Hair: It's finally getting a bit longer and thicker and I can just about pull it into a ponytail (for all of three seconds before she pulls it out). She's rocking the look of Carol Brady.

Eating: She's a Paleo baby! She's been going through this indecisive phase where she'll sign that she's hungery, but does not want anything that we offer her. (Although I think we may have to stop giving her so many options and limit her choices to [in the voice of Dr Evil from Austin Powers] "Frickin A or Frickin B") One day, a frustrated Husband held her up to the pantry cubbard and she went right for my Whole 30 provisions. She loves Lara bars (fortunately they make small sized bars as she would open one of my bars, but not eat the whole thing, and I would have to eat it as I can't bear to let them go to any waste.) She's also into Epic bars, which does make me concerned about the sodium, but it is a good source of protein, especially for a day when all she wants to eat is fruit. I brought her to the gym with me one time and looked over to the play area to find her drinking out of my water bottle. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but when I discovered that she downed the entire bottle (leaving nothing for me post workout) I remembered it was coconut water! She's been a really good water drinker, but if I add a little coconut water to her sippee cup, she'll gulp it down. So far we've avoiding giving her any juice... with the exception that we've done a few trips to Jamba Juice.

She's also getting fussy about how she wants her food. One day she was refusing her beloved chicken nuggets that I had cut up for her, but reached over an grabbed one that was still intact. It was as if to announce "I'm a big girl now and I don't need you to cut my food up for me." She also wants her strawberries whole, except if it's the cut strawberries for my lunch. Then she has to have those, and even if you cut up her strawberries, it's not the same thing. Also, if you open a box of raisins from the wrong end; they cease to be raisins and are unacceptable for consumption. Close the bottom and open them from the top? No, the bottom was open. They are tainted. (For the record, I ended up giving her a fresh box and I taped up the one inadvertently open at the wrong end. I haven't yet tried to offer it to her). I learned another lesson about coconut water when she saw me take a swig from the container. Even though she watched me pour the Zico coconut water (generously) into her sippee cup, that wasn't acceptable. She wanted to drink from the container too. It brought me back to when I was a child and saw my dad drink out of the milk carton for the first time. To a kid, drinking out of the carton is cool. It's totally badass. It's only to adults that it's considered gauche and undignified.

We're getting a little better at eating in a more civilised manner. I'll place her plate on the table and she'll actually try to climb into her booster seat herself to sit down at the table. I find that she does better if someone is sitting with her and sometimes, I'll need to spoon feed her to get her to eat; which does feel a bit like we're taking one step forward and two steps back. Yet I do feel strongly that we have to reinforce designated eating areas. 1. I don't want to be cleaning up food messes all over the hours (we're prone to ant invasions). 2. Such rules exist in other places (recently she had a meltdown at the play gym as they are strict about no food in the play area).

Sleeping: Surprisingly, we all did well with the jet lag coming back from England. Within a week, she was back to her normal schedule and I feared we'd hit another setback as the Daylight Savings adjustment was just a week away, but she handled that well too. I know I am so fortunate to have such a good sleeper, but I do fear that will come to an end once Kate transitions to a big girl bed and can get escape. Myrtle kept Little Myrtle in her crib until she was almost four years old, which I was silently and very much unknowingly judging as my comparison were my cousins gave us their crib when my nephew was just two and a half. (I also suspected it was because Little Myrtle's room is really small) Now I understand her logic. It's a whole new ballgame when they can roam free at night. Kate was showing signs of looking to climb out of her crib, but she hasn't done so lately. Good. Keep it that way. My mom used to have a set of jingle bells that she kept on our front door and our cat would ring the bells when she wanted to be let out. I'm going to ask my mom if she still has them for me to use on Kate's door when she goes to a big girl bed. It feels so circle of life.

We're still trying to have her nap in her crib on weekends, but lately we've been so busy that she's napped in the car or in her stroller. As the rain has stopped and the weather has been warmer, I've gone back to taking her to the pool for Tuesday Nap Time/Mummy Work-outs. One day she woke up really early and it was perhaps the one time I was happy to be doing a 200 IM set as I think she enjoyed watching everyone swimming different strokes and was content to sit patiently in her stroller. Husband recently had the challenge of getting her to nap in her crib. If the thirty minutes of crying wasn't enough to let him know how she felt about taking a nap, she made sure her feeling were known.

Likes: I got her a toy stroller and dolly for Christimas, figuring she would probably be more interested in pushing the pram, but she's really getting into her dolls. When we get ready to leave, she puts her baby in the stroller and pushes her toward the door (and sometimes down the steps leading into the garage). We've started taking baby with us when we go out, and I need to consider getting a back up doll as I fear we (I) could lose it somewhere. Her favourite activity with her dolls? Putting them down for a nap. She's place her dolls face down on the ground and will cover them with anything she can find (a blanket, burp cloth,towel, pillow a jacket) and will pat their backs saying "night, night" Yeah, it's pretty adorable.

She also loves stickers. Shortly after she transitioned to spending a full day at Day Care, she started getting clingy and crying at drop off. I would try my Harvey Karp techniques to get her to calm down, but some days I would run out of time before I needed to leave for work and would leave the poor teachers to deal with my crying and screaming kid. Then one day, the instructor pulled out a sheet of stickers for Kate. She just turned to me and said "Bye-bye" Of course, what she was really staying was; Um, I have stickers now. What are you still doing here? We're using stickers very sparingly and stragetically as we don't want them to lose their magic too soon. The good thing is that you can find stickers almost anywhere. Clothes shopping at G.ap? Just plaster the size stickers all over her and she's as happy as a pig in mud. Our swim coach has us use sticker charts to keep track of how many practice sessions we attend and if Kate makes it through a practice, she gets some stickers too.

She's also discovered that her clothes have pockets and they are the best things ever. She loves keeping her hands in her pockets as well as finding small things to stash in her pockets. I need to start checking pockets before doing her laundry from now on. Here she is multi-tasking while talking on her 'phone'.

Dislikes: Bibs. She won't even do the IKEA smock any more. As we've had some many problems getting her to sit and eat, I've recognised that I just have to pick my battles. Even with a bib, she'd probably figure out how to get her clothes dirty anyway and she's just going to out grow them. Actually, I've gotten pretty good at removing stubborn stains, something else I can add to my list of Mom skills.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It just means they won't be eligible to conseign or pass on to someone else. Not everyone understands this. When we were in England, I was so pleased that Kate was sitting at the little table her hosts set up for her and was using a spoon to eat her soup that I didn't even notice that she dripped some on her dress. "Do you need a bib?" asked our hostess. "No thank you." I replied "I have an extra set of clothes, I'll just change her after lunch." "I have a bib I can give to her. We still have some lying around." she ignored every word I said. "No, really it's okay..." I protested as she started looking through a drawer. I though it was universally known in the Mom Code that when a fellow Mom says "No, that's okay." what she really means is FOR THE LOVE OF GOD I SAID NO! Sure enough Kate was interested in what she was looking for in the drawer and abruptly got up from the table spilling the soup everywhere...

Cutting her nails. I can really use some help with this one. I used to do it at the begining of Baby Music. Kate would sometimes take a light snooze during the drive and would be a bit sleepy, or she would be in shy mode at the begining of class and just want to sit on my lab where the nail clippers were lurking in my pocket. I realise that it's socially unacceptable to cut your nails in public, but this was my only opportunity. Sometimes, I only get to cut one side of a nail, leaving a more dangerous sharp side, which I question if it is worse than just leaving the nails long, but smoothe. I tried letting her watch TV or a viedo on the iPad or iPhone. That worked once. Now she hides her hands behind her back. My only shot is to sit her in our bathroom sink so I have some leverage on my side. Sometimes she'll turn on the tap with her feet and get wet, necessitating a PJ change, but it's a casualty worth risking. Sometimes she's squirm out and I'll wrestle her to the counter and try to clip. I even cut the cat's nails in front of her to demonstrate that it's no big deal. (Tyler is the easiest cat ever as he actually purrs while he sits in my lap and lets me cut his nails). Maybe I'll try to do mine the next time I to do hers.

She's also not a fan of getting dressed. She's not yet the kid who takes off her clothes and runs around naked, but there are times when she'll duck to avoid something being put over her head, or she'll push it off her head before I can get her arms in. Oddly, she does love putting her shoes and jacket on, as she knows this means we're going out. It broke my heart when Husband and I were leaving her with my in-laws one night in London. She saw use putting on our shoes and jacket and grabbed hers as well. Now that we're back home, every time she gets her coat, she starts mentioning the names "Lilly" and "Alex" thinking that she's going to Day Care.

Clothing: Children sizes are so funny. I have some 12 month sized onesies that still fit, but as I'm trying to transition to separate, I got a bunch of 18-24 month long sleeved shirts. "Are you trying to make our daughter wear compression wear?" asked Husband when I dressed her in one of the Tees. Yeah, they are totally snug, but I'm trying to make one get at least one wearing. I recently hit some clearance racks and stocked up on a bunch of 2T and even some 3T shirts. Oh remember how I went a bit overboard at a boutique in London as I wanted her to stand out wearing some clothes no one else would have? Yeah, the first day she debuted a new outfit they played outside and her pants were caked in mud. I soaked and scubbed but the dirt was just absorbed into the fabric and my cleansing efforts wore away some of the color and the fabric. Why do I bother? Well, I thought I learned my lesson until one day I saw Lilly in a cute little dress and my mind registers 'game on!' and the next day I dressed Kate in another London outfit. That was the first day they learned how to paint. [face palm] "Children cannot run and play and do all the things they are supposed to do if they're worried that they'll mess up their clothes" Sigh. Yes, Fraulein Maria, you are right. At least now Kate has some very stylish play clothes and one very foolish mother.

Diapering: My potty training book describes that Pull-ups are essentially diapers and should not be used for training, but I picked up a box as I'm so sick of the wrestling match every time that we change, I'm curious to see if Easy-ups may be easier until we're fully potty trained. I recently placed my first order of tiny undies!

Health Issues: At our 18 month check up, Husband pointed out that Kate's second toe overlaps her big toe. Our pedi commented that it's very common in kids, but thought hers was a bit extreme and suggested seeing a podiatrist. "Do you remember Dr Tarsal?" he asked me. I hadn't heard that name in years, but I absolutely remembered. Years ago my Pedi and I worked for a different medical group. I split my time between two offices and when I was in the satelite office, I used a desk that was shared with Dr Tarsal. One day he left a plastic container with bloody toenails on the desk. Yes, it was just as disgusting as it sounds, and I'm not using the word bloody in the British sense. I left a note asking that we remember to respect that the desk is a shared space. The next time I was in the office, I found my note in the garbage bin and the toenails hadn't moved. In retaliation, I littered the desk with gynaecology parphanillia. Uterus post-it notes. A plastic model vagina and an actual Nuva Ring that I used for demonstration purposes, but would be open to speculation. My message was clear. You do not want to get into this with me. Two weeks later the toe nails were finally removed.
Fortunately, at her visit, Dr Tarsal didn't recognise me as the one who passive agressively decorated his desk with vagina stuff and I didn't volunteer the information. He said the overlap is either due to a tight tendon or underdeveloped metatarsal bone, and should resolve by the age of three. In the meantime, he suggested using toe spilts at night to help keep her toes in line. You can imagine how much fun it is to get them on each night. Add that to the list of dislikes.

Milestones: I had an interesting conversation about developmental milestones with an unlikely source while I was in London. Rico Suave is a handsome and charming bachelor in his mid-thirties. I thought he might be thinking about settling down as he's nearing the big 4-0, least to avoid being the creepy old guy in the club; but he met up with two girls that he swiped on Tinder while attending a gathering at a bar for a friend's birthday. He asked about my experience with motherhood, and I replied that I didn't go in with any expectations, but I'm fascinated watching Kate develop. "I'm so easily impressed with how she's learning. I'm convinced that she advanced and that she's brilliant, but then I talk to other mothers, I learn their babies are doing the same thing." Rico replied, "You know it really doesn't matter when you hit your milestones as long as you achieve them." He elaborated that he dated a woman who didn't learn to read until she was 12, but graduated at the top of her class and is a successful doctor. I privately questioned how smart she was to be dating someone who is nicknamed 'Sex Pest' and has probably had every minor STD at least once, but I appreciated his point. It helps to keep some perspective. Just because your kid can use the potty; remember, so can your cat. She walked at only 10 months? Stephen Hawking will tell you walking is not a function of intellegence. She's talking up a storm? Yeah, someone else claims, "I know words. I have the best words." It doesn't mean you have anything profound to say.

Anyway, Kate's language exploded as soon as she hit 18 months, but I was getting concerned as it seemed to have slowed down after we returned from England. Maybe she was just taking a break as her vocabulary seems to be blossoming again. She's exhibiting at least 1-2 new words per day and she's starting to string some words together. She kind of said her first sentance, but it took a lot of prompting and signing from Mummy. She was fussing while having her diaper changed, so I pointed to her dolly that she had just made go 'night, night' and said "Shhh, baby sleeping" and she parroted it back with words and signs. Now when we're out, if she sees another mom or dad pushing a pram, she'll alert me, "Shh, baby sleeping."

She enjoys looking at picture books and can name objects when asked or can point to particular objects. When she sees the picture of a computer and a picture of a TV set, she says 'Daddy'. We're giving her credit for that answer. She's also starting to identify colours. Socially, she scored two invites to playdates with her Day Care classmates, which we have to work on setting up with her parents. My fear is that we'll have to return the favour, and I'm not sure how to host a play date. She's also mastered walking up stairs as she had a lot of opportunity to practice while we were in England.

The most exciting event: she went pee-pee in the potty! One night we were in the kitchen and she grabbed my hand and let me to our guest bathroom and pointed to the toilet. I ran and grabbed her potty (which I had been storing in the garage), but she started to freak out once I showed it to her. I left the Bjorn potty in our main bathroom and thought I'd put one of her dolls or stuffed animals on it. Then next morning, I actually found her putting one of her dolls on the potty! That evening when we came home from Day Care, I had to pee, so I put her on the potty while I went on the big potty and success! I'm happy that she peed after the first time she sat on the potty. I'm planning to pull the diapers over Memorial Day weekend, but we'll keep practicing. She's gone from no clue to recognising when she's peed. She'll either grab her crotch, place her hands down the back of her pants or start to undress. We'll take her to the potty, she'll sit for a few minutes [without peeing] and then wipe herself. When I returned from Dallas, I found that she was standing over the potty... just as she observes Daddy doing... It was amusing, but not something I want her doing!

Looking forward to: To quote Calvin and Hobbs 'the days are just packed' We have two birthday parties and a 5K this month. I thought we had a free weekend, but I checked the calender and that's Easter Sunday, so we'll go to my aunt's house for brunch. Then, we're visiting friends in LA during the first weekend in May, the following weekend is Mother's Day and our Day Care is offering a Parents Day out. Then it's the weekend just before my birthday and finally it will be Memorial Day weekend and we lead into the potty training adventure. It's going to be a lot of fun, but I'd be happy with a weekend where we didn't have to go anywhere or do anything except hang out and figure out how to slow time down.


  1. Totally looking for help with nail cutting too! I can manage finger nails if he is occupied for a few minutes but toes are almost out of the question without a full on fight.

  2. The story about your mom following you to the pool is hillarious. Also, all those toddler absurdities. So much fun. It's amazing how many skills they learn so quickly.

  3. Would you be okay putting nail polish on Kate if it is kid-friendly? Piggy Paint nail polish is non-toxic polish that I sometimes use on Izzy (found on Amazon). Maybe tell kate that you have to trim her nails before she can get painted?

    Izzy has been playing with stickers for a while now so I can tell you that they certainly haven't gotten old (yet)....

  4. I'm dying over the story about your mom! Still... kind of a nice taste of freedom, even though I would have missed Olivia terribly. And peeing in the potty! And language explosion! Wow! Seems so crazy that Olivia isn't that far off.

  5. We have that exact same tricycle! My babies got them for their first Christmas and still use they 2 years later. That picture of her with the hand in the pocket and talking on a cell phone is so adorable. Makes her look too grown up though! Speaking of grown up... that story about your mother needing to supervise you at the pool was hilarious! I'm sure you didn't think so, but I couldn't help it. I laughed. Sorry! :)