Nice Ideas that Maybe Don't Toddle-Waddle Out



Because Parenting is all about preconceived hopes and plans going by the wayside. I never really expected to keep any of these, but it's always nice to see the plans of parents get a nice noogie from reality. Thanks for all the advice, world. I've read the articles. I agree your suggestions sound lovely. But yeah. No.





1. I just won't expose her to screen time when she's this young.

Screens are everywhere. Big brother is in my microwave and there's a chirpy google assistant in my watch. Let's be honest. The window is a boring screen. We have one or two devices per room. Every play area. Most friend's houses. Good luck with that.





2.  I'll set a good example by being mindful of my own usage. Parenting is all about attention. I will give my child my attention and not be distracted by my own compulsive device-ing

Such a good idea. Probably really important. I'm sure I'm wiring my child for all kinds of attachment disorders and crippling her ability to socially interact, but I need my phone.

I wish I could give my undivided attention to my child at all times. Except of course when she needs to have her own time. But as much as there is something to be said for the marvel and the wonder of a child... as much as it is something to revel in, well I'm just not stoned enough to spend ten minutes utterly rapt with the light switch turning on and off or poking at my foot. Sometimes, my mind drifts. So let's be honest about attention. I don't need that phone around to be off in my own head or otherwise a thousand miles away, and sometimes that happens while my child is about to make a bid for attention.



And then there's the phone itself. The lifeline:  Friend!!! Playdate HUMAN CONTACT!!! Logistics! Life management!

 What the smeg just came out of my child's ear? Oh god, please almighty google tell me that's supposed to bend like that. 

2. Ok, so screen time. Let's not be a hypocrite here. I'm using screens. They can be a useful learning tool, but I will always watch her and interact with her when we watch together.


Except it's the one time I ever have in which I can sit her down and actually concentrated on anything else. And I've seen the cute baby giraffe chasing a butterfly fifty billion times. I like it. But I really need to make lunch. And I could actually use both hands to do it while she's pointing and saying ZZZZZZ at the zebra that comes out mid-video. And I sing along with the songs...

3. No food battles, but I'm not gonna be a short order cook either. And of course, we won't encourage mindless eating by missing meals and letting her run around with food all the time.



Meals are science experiments. She throws on the floor. She mixes. Then... she munches haphazardly through things she's repeatedly repudiated. Her appetites and interests are sporadic and unpredictable. And if she happened to have gotten herself too distracted to eat at meal or snack times, she still will get hangry.

Snacks. She is much less picky sitting in her chair and watching that giraffe video. Lots of healthy food snuck in that way.

My current approach is that she doesn't have to eat at the table, but we'll have meals at the table together. If she throws something on the floor intentionally, then I'll assume she doesn't want it and take it away. Though, often that's not really the case. I won't make a whole new meal, but I will keep pre-approved foods available for her request at all times: frozen peas and corn, green beans, cereal, yogurt, pre-cooked egg, fruits, pre-chopped zucchini/celery/carrots, cheese cubes, snap pea crisps, soy nuts, pouches, and frozen berries.

When she's older, she can have her own shelf of snacks available. And she can eat when she wants to. Until then, she can have certain snacks while running loose. Mostly though if she requests, she'll sit down. And she can continue to hang out at the table for a while with me at meal times, followed by washing her dishes.

I'm sure that will last... until that stops working. Then ... well... that's another bridge for another day.

Because sometimes the tantrum just isn't worth the effort.

4. Our culture is way too obsessed with hygiene and it's a problem. The hand sanitizer and lysol just breeds super bugs. Regular hygiene is superior. Besides it's building immune systems to allow exposure.

Try washing your hands "properly" with an angry snot monster who's moaning because she's accidentally pulled the top off of her play potty while attempting to climb in it to reach some scissors you'd rather she not have?



 Or after wrestling the baby alligator that your child becomes upon first poop hitting diaper.

 Try making it to the sink in a way that doesn't involve several tons of water on the ground and toddler-hair full of unused soap. If you succeed, I give kudos to you and your Stepford Toddler.



Mine, however? Seriously how did she get snot behind her knee, and is that poop above her ear, and what the heck is that on the... no I do not want to know and... oh I'm sure whatever she just ate off the floor was food. Who can say. Why not lick the public trashcan? It's probably cleaner than our floor and definitely her hands at this point.

Try cleaning a house that's been slimed with the snot of a toddler who doesn't quite blow her nose. Realize you are now using any soft material in sight to mop up the nose-faucet before she continues lapping it up with her tongue. Realize, also, that you have been sick just as often as she has, which is largely a majority of her life.



Enjoy hearing the blow by blow (sniffle sniffle) of the progressing misery of that child who threw up just a few hours after running around your house and sliming everything. And feeling overwhelming sympathy, but also maybe this desire to curl up in a ball and scream "SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP" while running through the house lysolling every single inch of heavily touched home? Just as you were recovering from that cold that you got just after the last stomach bug just after that bad cold that you got just after...

In theory, it's great to get all that immunity in one big three year long dose of agony, but actually... um... after alternating some kind of horrible cough and stomach bug on and off since she became mobile enough to put things in her mouth, you hear about how fun hand foot and mouth disease is on top of a influenza and rotavirus and you think maybe those sanitizing cart wipes start to look more appealing.

5. I'm not going to force norms on her by obsessively gendering things or imposing preconceived notions of mammas and daddas or boys and girls. 

Ok, I'm not forcing. Sure, she has a lot of cute girly clothes now, but who can resist?



 I don't really gender my words much out of general vagueness and uncertainty. Most animals and toys are "its". Children are "kiddos" and people are, well, "people." When talking about bigger and smaller animals in books, I don't usually assume the bigger animal is the "mamma" or "dadda." Although occasionally there are books in which that's explicit.

 And ultimately Chaya doesn't probably understand the real idea of gender and sex distinctions, but she is human. And humans categorize. She's currently divided the world of strangers into mammas, daddas, and babies. She'll seriously spend an entire outing dividing people into these groups and shouting out which group any individual pertains to while pointing.

I'm not entirely sure what these categories mean to her. Babies appear to be anyone under about 14 years of age. Mammas are typically women or girls, but not always.

Andrew Jackson is a Mamma

 I do think there's typically slightly longer hair involved. She's a little more selective about which people are daddas, but they are almost entirely male. Mammas are a wide range of ethnicities and definitely include some men.

Of course mamma and dadda also refer to things owned by me or Andrew. And she clearly distinguishes between her mamma and other "MAHMAS', but it is fascinating to see her sorting people this way. And wondering what qualities she is attaching to these terms. And how that will evolve into more fixed or fluid concepts of parental roles and differing genders.



And of course I can't control what exposure she has to preconceived notions. Everyone treats her "like a girl" and who doesn't talk about "boys!" even at this age. There are naturally some typical differences rooted in biology and these just get more and more entrenched starting at this age. But, well, I look forward to folding and buying her all that Princess stuff. Honestly, I'm ok with Princesses. I was a princess. Just so long as she's a princess who still feels comfortable with any desire to roll in mud (or not!) and to make noise (or not) and to take risks without fear of failure.

And well, now that we're nineteen months in, I'm sure many other great ideas will evolve and develop and maybe modulate.

I have no preconceived notions about potty training (other than not pushing it). I have some grand aspirations for discipline of course. I look forward to hitting the brick wall of reality on those as well.

In the meantime, it's still a pretty fun ride.

March to Mt Vernon and the Big Deep Breath - A Toddler Tale

And the eventful March marches on!

As of Thursday March 9th, Andrew and I are double property owners. One condo, one home. Two towns. We rock it. And our realtor - who did quite a bit of scrambling in the last minute over the usual odds and ends getting odd at the end - is stuck with us. He might have intrigued us with the idea of renting out our condo, but we finally decided we'd rather just sell and have done.

It was a dramatic signing, but only insofar as the weather and commute went - crashes and back ups both ways. Otherwise all went smoothly. Chaya even had a fantastic playdate with her new (again) almost-neighbor, Sebastian.


So let the next steps commence!! AGH!

Panicking. Yes, that would be the next step. No, really. I responded by setting up a moving date for March 30th. Andrew responded by skipping town. I don't blame him. You should see the chaos that needs to be quelled in order to transfer anything from one place to the next.

No, really, this is a family vacation and a memorial service that was planned far in advance of our closing date. In fact, we would technically be closing next Thursday if not for some very helpful professionals.

So currently I'm in semi-holding pattern; holding up the fort as single mommy and person who probably should be doing the little pre-moving chores that are easy in theory and impossible with a toddler! Bring on the coffee. And the head cold, apparently. Because I'd almost entirely recovered from that Hundred Year's Cough we got earlier in 2017.

For Lent, this year, I'm giving up (1) my Bellingham, (2) my hair (chopped it all off after much mulling and baby attacks), and probably my sanity!



But at least I'll look cute in that padded room.

And the Chaya beast continues to roar!

Almost nineteen months. We should have a new photo of her in her satellite chair. But she doesn't hold still long enough to get it. I've tried. It nearly killed us all. Perhaps a new chair for a new year and a half?



I swore I'd never be that parent who photographs her child on the potty, but well... I think it's ok in this case. The doctor said it was worth having one around since she is interested in pee and poop (hilarious as they are). And I couldn't resist the mini-me toilet.


And her stuffed animals are getting a good training anyways.



We're through with the molars for now. Mostly. Sleep has mellowed. Mostly. There is still illness and tummy discomforts and unknown nights and blown naps. And I'm expecting some push-back with Daddy's prolonged absence. But until moving, it will hopefully be less of a deal. And maybe we'll luck out on the move and not have too many tough nights and naps.

And with that little hiatus, we turn to the more internal and interactive.

Boy is she ever! Super verbal, although not combining words much. I've lost count of how many words she knows, but my favorites remain GURAAAW (giraffe), TUUUPEEEEETA (pepita), and SHUUUUBEEEE (shoe).

And we're working on boundaries. Working.

I'm continuing to reaffirm that "discipline" is as much about disciplining oneself as it is one's child. And that the word discipline still lacks a certain nuance. Coaching? Navigating? Facilitating? Juggling big emotions with respect for self and others? Kumbaya my Snugglepuppy Inner Child?

And that lets me off the hook as quickly as it puts me on it. I get to and ought to slip up. I have always been realistic about my ability to model great even-keeled sanguinity. I'm not that person. Some people are naturally good and kindhearted. I'm sure they have their struggles, but it still mostly comes easily to them to be kind and peaceful. I have that in me. I have a deep well of good and positive patience and love. But as deep as the good, so runs the negative. I'm also pretty sharp. Pretty impatient. I'm pretty sensitive to external stimuli and the world around me. And that can run me down. I can get eroded to some pretty dark places. I have to choose to nurture the best in me as often and as much as I can. And I think that's a meaningful choice that I honor. It gives me strength and compassion that the easily good (if there are such people) lack and a didactic advantage for those who are similarly complex.

For Chaya, I'm not the perfect mommy. And I'm learning that this is actually an asset. This isn't a perfect world and she will not be the perfect person who finds perfect relationships. It's the repair work done when things go wrong that are the most meaningful. Like a couple reconciling after a fight, when I have a lapse and work through it, that is more valuable for me than never lapsins. And that this is good. And it makes me - gulp - a far more accessible potential role model.

I get to figure out the balance of self and selfless. Demonstrate healthy boundaries. Demonstrate self-care. And demonstrate the ever exciting self-awareness and mindfulness and all that nonsense. It the midst of the toddlernado. All the while trying to suss out if the howling is physical discomfort, tiredness, hunger, or emotional distress at not getting the very right thing at the very right time. And how to address any one of those.

I've come to look at my own moments as "teaching moments" far more than hers are. When I'm impatient with her, I try now to stop and not just apologize, but tell her how I am feeling. I tell her it's my "grumpy time" and I shouldn't take that out on her. That I need to breathe for a minute. I suggest we breathe together. When she's driving me nuts and is super impatient, I ask her to help mommy breathe. She thinks deep breaths are funny most of the time, so that helps. When she does it during the day, I thank her for reminding me.



One interesting thing I really notice is that I have a few "witching hours." Fascinating to see how my patience stretches and snaps throughout the day in waves. Usually around 8 a.m. and 3-4 p.m. I've a much shorter fuse. I'm sure part of that is involved with whatever interactions I'm having with Chaya's ebbs and flows. The morning certainly hits that time where her first wake up devolves into whatever food flinging and moaning of more concludes breakfast. The 4ish time is long enough after the nap that we've both lost our naptime reset, but not quite onto giddy baby and visits from Grandma Pam (or the return of Daddy). It's definitely good to know this in advance, since I can then try to schedule our times apart for these hours. The distraction helps us both I think.

Though all that self-compassion is exhausting. And I've gotta say that sometimes when I've dropped Chaya off and am in the car, I gleefully indulge in a big fit of curmudgeonly cussing just to scratch that itch!

And with that, I continue sniffling on through naptime with a little walk on the treadmill. The first of many indoor "walk it off" sessions to balance what should continue to be a very eventful second half of the second year of little Miss Gremlin's life.


Chatty Chaya and the Impending Upending!

Miss Chaya continues on her toddlerjectory with aplomb. And it's heading straight down south to Mt. Vernon.



Really soon.

Gulp.

That's right, we are theoretically (not confirmed yet, gulp!) set to close on March 9th. Andrew is, of course, celebrating by immediately going on a family ski vacation that was scheduled long before we made this offer. And then we do want to take some time to strategize the move before just leaping into it. I imagine that is all good in theory but will culminate in yet another round of panicked "throw everything into a box and dump it in the basement" finality. Moving always ends up that way.



It is going to be very strange, living in a new house in a new town. Far more for Chaya than for me in many ways. Her entire world is oriented according to this house. If she sees a picture of her Gramma Pam or Grandpa Ian, she says "door" and points towards our front door (from any room of the house). If she sees a duck, she says "quaaaa quaaaa" and points up to the ceiling of the nursery where a mobile of ducks hangs. When she says car, she points to the area of the garage.  When she wakes up from a nap, she waits by the door, but then points back to the green toddler ok-to-wake clock. If I say "baby," she finds a poster of babies that has been pasted on top of our downstairs changing station. And she understands her routine so well. The places we go, the walks we take, the sights we see out of the window. The people who come by and when they come by.

 Of course we've traveled with her before, so this isn't totally uncharted territory. Though, also of course, that was when she was younger. And she slept like CRAP during the travel, so that doesn't give me the hugest hope about my future sleep, but hey with a toddler there's always something. .

I'm glad we're moving while she's this young. I think for a while it would just become more and more emotionally difficult. For now, her world will be a little shaken, but there should be enough familiarity to put her back at ease in time.

In the meantime, Miss Baby plunges ever further down the path of rip-roaring personhood. She's checking off almost all those little boxes on our pediatrician's milestone checklist. And then some. She's got major toddlertude. Serious confidence. Serious relish of the learning and mastery that she experiences every day. And - to show she's truly becoming a little kid and not a baby - she finds PEE and POOP very funny.


And she's talking. It's amazing. It's miraculous. It's possibly the source of more frustration than when she couldn't communicate at all. I am baffled at people who suggest teaching their children signing is the cure for those late infancy crying spells and impatience. Chaya knows just enough words to confuse the heck out of both of us. Just enough to  frustrate her expectations repeatedly. And just enough to yell things like MORE MORE MORE MORE MORE over and over and over again.

I love it, though. It is fascinating to watch how the human brain processes language and sorts categories.

For instance, I'm mama and Andrew is dadda. This is very distinct because she lilts them with a certain tonal element. However, she doesn't have enough words to identify certain objects, so she also uses "dadda" and "mamma" to identify those objects that she associates with us. Andrew's chair, Andrew's cup, Andrew's pillow, Andrew's hat... they are all Dadda. Even words she does know, she find there is more specificity in calling them Dadda.



This sort of shortcut of using speech she can use for words she doesn't have yet is also clear in her more general categories. She recognizes the difference between a shoes, a boot, a sock and a slipper and will find the right one if you ask her to. But she calls them all Shuuubeeeee. Any four-legged animal that isn't otherwise identifiable is a DAH, but she makes clear distinctions between them. I think an elephant is usually a dog, although she favors them. Sometimes they are GURAAAAAH (giraffes), although that is usually reserved for either (1) animals with that sort of dappled pattern  on their skin and (2) a general statement that she would like to sit in her Inglesina chair and watch YouTube videos of baby animals or the infectious Spanish language songs I've been inflicting on both of us.

NAH is clearly banana, but sometimes if she doesn't have another word for a berry or orange, she'll call them nah as well.




Oh toddler speech and the tricky matter of homophones. Pee, for instance, could mean one of several things. It could mean "pee" (as in urine). It could be pea, as in the vegetable. It could mean the letter "P" which she recognizes in her Curious George Alphabet Book. Or any number of round green things she also calls pea (edamame, lima beans). It could mean the snap pea crisps that she likes to snack on. Or any vegetable where she just can't think of the word for it. It could mean Rice KrisPEES (which are either Krisipies or Corn Flakes). Or maybe I misheard her trying to say zucKEEnee. Or misheard B(uuun)nEEE.

So... if Chaya starts yelling PEE, it may mean any number of things including (1) Chaya has wet her diaper and does or does not want to do something about it (2) Chaya wants mommy to go to the bathroom so Chaya can watch her use the BAAAH while she dances around chanting PEEE and TUIIIII and TOOOOOOOWWWWW (toilet and towel, which is her word for paper towel, toilet paper, and all other towels), (3) Chaya sees a floppy eared animal that she thinks is a rabbit and/or wants her bunny, (4) Chaya wants any variety of snacks that are not the slightest bit interchangeable

Though I will note that she now will respond to questions about whether she has peed in her diaper, by pointing at her diaper. And when she's ready, I can ask if she would like to change her diaper and sometimes she will lead me to the changing area and consent to a diaper change.

I know what you're thinking... while we're doing that whole moving thing, let's also throw on potty training yeah??? That won't cause any disturbances at all!!

No really. Not rushing that. But she has her toy toilet now. She's tried to climb into it several times and enjoys the flushing noise it makes when you flush the toilet. I keep staring at it thinking "oh god how do you clean something like this" and being glad we still have plenty of diapers left.

And boxes specially labeled as such for the movers when it's relevant. Because boy is her room going to be set up long before any of our stuff. For real. I have a checklist. It will be meaningless by moving time, but it's my version of a security blanket.

And in the interim, we'll muddle about thinking about THE FUTURE with new eyes and new ears and all the sense of opportunities a toddle-waddle faces every single day. Good to be in it together.



...


The Teething Toddle-Waddle Chronicles - LiveBlog at 1.5 years

Life with an eighteen month old.

For context, our entire household has been dallying with any variety of common viruses and the like for the last several millennia. Currently it's a cough that just won't go away. Before that, it was a stomach bug. Before that, some kind of cold.

In the meantime, Chaya has popped her first four molars, something a month or two in the making, but which seems to have really escalated in the last few days.

Also, she's a year and a half years old. So this is a warm up for the terrific twos.

And now, my approximation of a day in the life

12:30 a.m. -2 Wake up to miserable howling. Go into the nursery. Attempt all measures of soothing. Fail utterly to succeed

2:00 a.m. Send hubby downstairs and bring Chaya into bed.

2-4ish baby lays on your chest trying to get comfortable. Eventually crashes on your totally numb hand.

4-5:30 baby sleeps, occasionally rotating in a little toddler circle around the bed.

5:35 toddler stirs. Sits up says "eye" several times. Then "dog" and "nummy"

5:40 breakfast with daddy. Lots of vacant staring but toddler is in a sterling mood.

6:00 - Use bathroom upstairs and change into clothes while toddler runs around yelling PEEEE PEEEE

ok, time goes fuzzy around now...

6:15ish Liberate toddler of sleep sack

Unzip toddler's sleeper while she reads a book. Toddler runs around a bit. Howls when you take diaper off. Finds her naked reflection hilarious. Runs around more.

Follow naked toddler around the house with a wet wipe and fresh diaper.

Toddler yells DOOR to be let into first bedroom. Then baaabaaa as she identifies one stuffed sheep. Then MORE BAAA as she looks for the other sheep.

Wipe toddler’s folds  while she plays with one sheep

Follow toddler back into the stairway. While she is holding onto the rails, rush diaper up and around toddler trunk. Affix diaper slowly over several more minutes



7:00ish:

Toddler throws sheep down the stairs. Participate in long game of sheep fetch and toss. Toddler shrieks with glee for about fifteen minutes. Then runs in a circle, trips and begins howling.

Bring toddler back to the kitchen area and make eggs with one hand. Baby chants eeeeggg. Then naaaaaa (banana) and several rounds of mooooooore while you heat her oats

Set table. Dish out oatmeal. Chaya begins to whimper as she nears the table. She yells "ball" indicating she wants to sit on mommy's exercise ball. Bloody murder when mommy moves her to a chair instead.

Running to kitchen offer Chaya dates. No. Raspberries. No. Banana. Chaya yells more and stands on hey chair on resistance.

Give Chaya a spatula. She allows you to put get in chair. She throws the dates one by one to floor. Then begins sobbing again as you lay the tray out. Offer wooden spoon.

Chaya attempts to eat oatmeal with wooden spoon. Throws on ground angrily but accepts a real spoon and starts eating. Only after demanding Kuaaah, an uncooked squash, with which she plays for several minutes... before throwing it on the ground.



Chaya says egg. Throws some on the floor.

After eating most of her oatmeal, Chaya says "more!"

Bring over a tiny cup of almond milk and cups of rode krispies and cornflakes. Science experiments persist through a few more Tiny cups and spoons.

Once everything has been thrown on the floor and half an egg consumed, Chaya yells "out!" and then "stool."

8:00ish:

Time to play at the sink. Mommy rushes to clean and get some of the morning things accomplished while Chaya plays with two water bottles, all the cups and bowls, the sink strainer and a sponge.

Rush back to stool several times to stop baby from tumbling off

Toddler hands you a cup and demands "Nummy"

Nurse briefly as toddler thrashes and giggles and bites.

Ask toddler if she'd like to go to the store. She giggles and says STOH!

Tell her we need shoes and socks. Toddler finds sandals. Tempt her into socks. She runs several laps in her socks. Ask if she wants shoes or boots. She brings over shoes and then screams when you try to put them on her. Decide boots can go on in the car. Divert to finding coat. Chaya is now running around with the two sheep yelling baaabaaa. Sneak coat on. Ask about store. Chaya says store and car. Assume this implies assent.

Loop own coast over head, grab a bag of snacks, slip on shoes

9:00ish

Chaya yells "car" happily. Once in carseat Chaya yells "more, "unhappy with the ziplock bag you've offered her. Offer toys. Chaya throws them. Baby sobs so much that you turn around and come back in.

Chaya demands "giraffes". Sit get in her seat and put on YouTube video of high diving giraffes. Sneaky cut baby talons.

Continue looping the video while unloading dishwasher. Chaya demands various things from dishwasher. Drops them on floor. Leafs through a book. Freaks of the credits on the video roll.

Baby demands out. Nurse. Bite. Laugh. Repeat

Hold baby. Baby demands "more".

Offer raspberries. She demands "dog." Pull up puppy YouTube video and back in her seat.




She demands more. Give her a rye cracker and some cashews. She empties cashews onto floor and eats a raspberry. Demands pouch

Start making a refillable one, but demand is strong and strident. Give her a store bought Plum pouch. She has some then drops it down into her her seat and starts chewing on the bottom end.

Realize after you've taken her out of seat that she's upended the rest all over herself.

9:30ish

Upstairs to change. Several additional hijinks and rampant naked baby moments later, diaper is clean and new clothes worn. Chaya rampages through the rooms with dirty shirt on her head. She starts pulling books off shelf. Finds a pair of underwear from the hamper and entertains herself wearing it as a necklace while running laps around the bed.



Look at phone to see seven or eight new messages. Before seeing what they are, hear baby howling. Trip of some sort? The world will never know for sure, but she is irate!

10:15ish

Walk around kitchen holding howling toddler. Eventually sit down. Sure arches her back and cries a bit. Tried to walk behind and push you off. Then back to nursing.

10:20ish - baby is asleep.



Restlessly sleeping and blowing all chance of a nap later. Mommy goes all in and tries to hold really still on the hopes it'll last a while

Mommy's nose starts gushing snot.

Chaya cries. Goes back to nursing. Sleeping and nursing.

Mommy desperately tries not to sneeze out cough. Both feel urgent.

Chaya snorts and wheezes but continues nursing an arm around neck.

Curse the gorgeous sunny day streaming bright light into both faces.

Wish you could reach your drink. Or the pillow. Cautiously wipe noise.

11:19 well that's awkward. Still nursing, Chaya stands up into a downward dog nursing position. In a few more minutes, her eyes pop open and the nap is done.

As Chaya gets up and grabs her sheep, chug coffee, cough finally and blow nose. Chaya demands BAH (bathroom, not sheep) and tugs mommy upstairs.

Chaya huts door to bathroom yelling Nummy Nummy. Tugs at her clothes and mine. Apparently we are taking a bath (redacted for privacy)

12:15ish

Repeat the diaper and clothing rodeo. Put on Chaya's third pair of pants for the day after much wrestling and giggling on the bed.

12:45ish:

Take a walk.

1:30ish:

Give up on any semblance of normalcy or desire for healthy parenting. Serve “lunch” at the counter relying on the all mighty YouTube. Terrifying cartoons superimposed over nature footage pop up. Chaya eats more raspberries. A little bit of sandwich. A couple of triscuits. Not the ones with applesauce or almond butter.

Chaya demands to nurse then gets distracted by the cartoon, then wants the stool. Then wants to see the babies. Then nurse.

Chaya nurses for a few minutes, bites, laughs and tries to grab mommy's coffee. After another crack at going the store, Chaya brings over boots, puts on a hoodie and grabs an empty gum container to play with on the journey

2:00ish

Pick up Chaya and start out. Trip on a cushion, fall to knees, then topple and roll, landing on a shoulder with baby's head just shy of the floor. Baby considers her response, and then decides she doesn't care beyond a slight whimper.

Make it to the store briefly but find nothing you wanted. Give baby a sample of snap pea crisps and call it good. Pray toddler will fall asleep on the drive home. She yawns but decides to sing instead.

Follow toddler around the house trying to get her coat and shoes off. Eventually get to the basement door which is closed. Chaya begins to howl. Bring her to her room

3:00ish

Deep breath. Time to try a nap. Read, energies, song and sleep. But crying as soon as she hits the crib. Hold her again and let her nurse. She crashes. Sort of. Wonder if teething is involved given how uncomfortable this is. Hunch forward awkwardly and again try to mop up snot.

3:45ish:

Turn on the green ok-to-wake light awkwardly so that Chaya keeps that association. Chaya runs around, throws some books down the stairs, runs through the couch on the guest bedroom. Explores the basement.




4:30ish Gramma Pam blessedly comes to visit. Mommy rushes like mad to start dinner, clean up "lunch" and takes a couple of breaths. Chaya starts to feel her fatigue and demands to be held again.

5:45ish Dinner time. Daddy's on the the way home, but won't be here just yet. Chaya repeats a few science experiments, tosses her cup of rice against the wall with some MLB force, eats about 3 eggs, half a rice cracker, and a few peas. Then systematically discards the peas in a halo around her chair. Spends several more minutes pulling the straw in and out of her water cup.

6:15ish Chaya has thrown it all, started howling and yelling STOOL. Release her to the stool and hope Dadda will be home soon.

6:20ish Just as Chaya starts laughing like a hyena and tossing cups of water on the floor, Daddy's home! Mommy brings Chaya to Dadda, Chaya reaches for him, then - as per usual - pushes away from him indignantly. Then looks over her shoulder at him and starts laughing hysterically at her clever rouse.

6:30ish - 6:40ish Chaya is yelling NUMMY through her bedtime stories, She leaps from daddy's arms onto a nipple. Pops off exuberantly and yells DAH. Then crashes almost immediately upon moving.

...

And mommy forgets the rest, but I think it involves thanking god that tonight Chaya didn't bounce up and start crying after putting her down. And preparing for another long night that blessedly didn't come.

Mommy on the Move: Big Changes (maybe) and the brain that wouldn't die.

Enough about baby sleep. Actually - knock on wood - things have settled down a bit. Chaya still isn't sleeping as much as she needs (by which I mean she's still acting pretty tired), but she's mostly taking naps, and her morning wake up is closer to 5 a.m. recently.

But the course of true sleep never did run on pure Delta Waves.



Things I thought about instead of sleeping last night.

Background: Out of the Royal Cobalt Blue (or thereabouts) our realtor sent us a new listing yesterday during Chaya's afternoon nap. Some finagling over schedules (mostly baby, but with a twist of Superbowl Parties and rabid demand for viewings of the place) ensued. Before we knew it, we were turning around from our Saturday Starbucks date to sweep up the baby and head out on the road to Marvelous Mt. Vernon and its cabaret of curtilate curiosities. I am proud of my turnaround, rushing out to the car with pockets full of bells and books, and a purse full of baby snacks. I am also proud of Chaya's chill with the cumulative hours of driving and her inability to actually run around the house. 

We've seen some interesting places. A master bathroom facing out over a park through lofty oriels. M.C. Escheresque lodges. 

But this time, it was a hit. A large basement for our exercise equipment. Double car garage (holy moley). Beautiful kitchen. Great rooms. Nice bathrooms. Enough space, but not too much. Directly across from our favorite park. A six minute walk to the elementary school and quirky little grocery/taqueria...

And of course an exquisite view of (1) Little Mountain hovering over the mist like a Chinese painting, (2) the substation next door. 

That's actually a relief. It's pretty prominent in the view. We were wondering why the price was so low for the place. We're guessing it's related to that. 

And so, we've decided that the competition is heavy and we're ready to make an "escalating offer" - I'm not even sure our maximum price will be competitive, given the interest in the home and the Mt Vernon market. But it's still pretty exciting. And scary. And sudden despite some months of idly looking. 

Naturally, my brain had to weigh in. But only after bedtime. (I could barely keep my eyes open when we were watching youtube after baby bedtime, but put me near a pillow and BING)

1. That place is really nice. Wow. It's almost like it's made for us. Ok, wait, it's not actually perfect at all. Chaya's room would be right in between two bathrooms and it's all on one floor. So there's a likelihood that noise in the kitchen or the main room would carry far more. And when we have some guests over, that can be loud. I would miss having the bedrooms on a separate floor.

2. And while we're at it, moving? Chaya does not sleep well in new environments. It'll be a little different with all her stuff, but by all reports the sleep (that is just settling down again) is gonna be brutally. What do we do if she starts waking up at 3 a.m.? Ah lord, it was just a matter of time.

3. And I'll see more of Andrew. That would be nice. Though at this point, Chaya's getting up before him anyways. Now it'll be even earlier than him. So will he really see more of her? But maybe he'll be able to watch Chaya a little so I can gather breakfast while she's actually up instead of constantly trying to beat her ever regressing wake up? Or maybe we could have dinner a little earlier so at least she's getting enough rest. Earlier bedtimes do seem to yield slightly later wake up times (slightly) and longer night sleeps over all. But again. Moving? She'll never sleep again. She's always wanting to watch that video of the baby giraffe moving around. Wonder if I could sit her down somewhere and let her watch that while I get things ready. Where will that infantino seat go?



4. I'm starting to feel really out of shape - not moving much and mindlessly devouring all of Chaya's myriad snacks. I don't miss being super skinny, but I do miss having a more distinct waist and being genuinely in-shape. Just starting to run a little during the week. But if we move, we won't have those trails and that little route to Bloedel to run/walk with Chaya. Where will I run/walk? If it's too loud to get up and do things in the kitchen, should I sneak into the basement and run on the treadmill before Chaya gets up? YMCA? Don't they have classes you can bring 18 month olds too? Maybe I should sign up for one of those here. What about that toddler music class she's taking. I should sign up for that too. We're not gonna move within 6 weeks. But the 9:15 one with the scary bigger kids or the 10:15 one that's too close to nap time but which has all Chaya's friends?? Will she ever not be traumatized by the experience? Well we're not going to music class there if we move. Wonder if there's...

5. The library in Mt. Vernon isn't that good apparently. And there won't be Bloedel. There's Jungle Playground. The Kids Museum. We'll have to get a membership. Man are we ever gonna use our FIG membership if we live so far away? Costco membership. We'll have to get one of those again. Man, I'm gonna miss Freddy's. But there are some good stores. Chaya likes going "shooii" (shopping) in the morning when no other kids stuff is open yet.

6.  Oh man, it'd be cool to hang out with Claudia and Sebastian. We'll be a five minute drive from them. And I could help out with the new baby. Gulp, didn't I offer to watch Sebastian when Claudia's in labor? How will I watch two of these kiddos? Can I leave Sebastian in a room alone to put Chaya down for a nap? Just skip that nap? What if it's a long labor? Where will he sleep? He stays up really late. Will I have to stay up? Will Chaya? Seriously that's what I'm thinking about?? Focus, brain, focus.

7. Ok. I said I'd learn Spanish if we moved. How will I balance that with Chaya? Are there mommy and me immersion classes? Should I leave her with Claudia and do a summer program like that french one? How will that mix with my professional education? I wanted to be a GAL, but with all the recent Trumpism, I've wished I were an immigration lawyer so I could ride to the rescue. Is that something I could do? Knowing Spanish would be helpful. Isn't that all federal court? How the frig would i learn how to do that competently? Would an immigration lawyer mentor me? Can I really learn enough from CLEs and guesswork? And really I won't really know Spanish that well, ever. Too bad, that would be good even as a GAL in Mt Vernon... oh my god what am I gonna do with my life??? What preschool should Chaya go to?

8.  I have to pee again? Really? I can't possibly. What do I do on nights when I actually sleep?

9. Man, it's an extra hour back for Andrew. That's really huge for him. He's putting a lot on that hour. Time with Chaya, personal time, training time, time with friends, time with me... is he really gonna get all of that in there? What if we move and he's still unhappy? What if we spend more time together and we don't like it? What if the things we've been blaming on the commute - the little kvetches and inconveniences - are actually something else entirely? I don't want to move again!

10. Oh god, moving. There's so much junk in our house. I want to burn it all. Do I really need that Instant Pot? I've never used it. But I could get rid of my rice and slow cooker and just keep that? Will I ever be able to use the food processor with the kitchen being so close to Chaya's room? Infant carseat is still downstairs. And all those piles of toys and clothes we have barely used. I'm oppressed by my possessions.

11. If I fall asleep now, I'll still get a few hours of sleep. Andrew will be home, so I can do breakfast stuff while Chaya's playing with him. Except if he has to use the bathroom or something. That assumes I won't wake up as early as I always do (Chaya has to take after me in the waking up the same time regardless of bedtime thing, sigh). Or Chaya won't wake up at 4. Or I won't ... oh like I'm gonna fall asleep.

12. Huh, again? I have to pee again? But I think I was asleep for a while. Should I do the 9:30 or the 10:15 class? I want to see my friends, but I don't want Chaya falling asleep in the car after melting down at music class.

13. Will they take our offer? Will people want to buy our house? I think we should put the baby gate at the foot of the stairs. Huh, that will be harder getting to the car, going down those stairs. Where should we put the other baby gate? What about the big baby gate? The living room is pretty big. I think a table by the kitchen, then Chaya's. Maybe we should get low level shelves for all Chaya's stuff... where will the (etc. etc. etc).



14. It's still close to Bellingham, but it's further away. Will I still be able to visit? Should we change banks? Doctors? Pediatricians? Oh man, Chaya should see a dentist already. But maybe I should wait.

15. If I get some sleep now...

16. Maybe I should take a nap tomorrow. Naw, I'll be totally fine tomorrow. It's the day after the day I didn't get much sleep.

17. AGAIN?? Seriously! This is just habit isn't it? Or god, what if I'm pregnant. What if we move and I'm pregnant and we have to move when Andrew's on his ski vacation and I'm all alone and... seriously, no.

18. But if I were going to study immigration law, where would I start. Maybe I should write the Bar Association about how to get reinstated. I know I'd need malpractice insurance and an IOLTA...

19. Was that the baby? No. What time is it? Can I get up yet?

20. But seriously, do I really want that maternity dress in the closet and where would we put the tv.

...

Wish us luck. Whatever that means.


Shana-no-nap Sha-na-no-nap: Toddler Edition

I have to admit there are miraculous things about having a toddler. My dad says that watching the development - the wonder, the connections, the evolution of personality - of children as proof of the existence of god. I dig that. Chaya is a teeny tiny miracle. Every day, new words. New ideas. New discoveries. And a laugh that evokes the glee of angels.

But of course if the Devil did not exist, we would have to invent him. And the devil of all these amazing miraculous lurks in the tolls that all that cerebral legerity.

So we turn to our favorite subject - Baby Battle logs: Sleep Edition. 

Really, most of the other big battles have subsided for now. I'm off the medication and still nursing (constantly). Sure I guess discipline evolves. Self-care etc etc. But the primary primal babyness persists mostly only in the snoozy sleepy details. And to that I say, hats off, and ... 

...Well Weissbluth and Ferber and all the glories of sleep training, it was a good year. 

Thank you for the sleep in the nights, the eventual naptime peace. Thank you for saving my brain in a difficult baby time. But baby's sleep function has slipped out of whack again. 




Yes, I know, sound the threnodic theatrics. Baby sleep is back out of whack yet again. Seriously is it ever in whack? Really, truly, it was. Not perfect, but in whack anyways. But not so much recently. 

I feel like every week, we lose a little more. First there was vacation. Then sickness. Then the morning nap went away. Then for a while the afternoon nap got short. Mornings got earlier and earlier... 

Last week, it was doubly early wakings - somewhere between 4 and 5 a.m. We accepted them. We revised. This week, it's naps. Ouch. Naps. Not just "one nap." Oh remember when she refused to take her morning nap and we benightedly thought that was a sign of nap transition and hey that's kinda cool. Now it's her one nap of the day. In the last week, she has taken three out of seven afternoon naps. And one of those three, one only sort of counts. A few days ago, I aborted our nap routine, came downstairs for a while, waited for a bit and then tried again. Yesterday, she actually fell asleep nursing and slept in my lap (in the nursery, in her sleep sack... I guess it was peaceful?) Today - to confound everything - she fell asleep in her crib on her own.



Oh yeah, she also will deign to pass out in the car somewhere mid-morning. But only for a half hour. Like clockwork, her eyes pop open after that. 

I suck at sleep training. I can't even commit to not committing to it. Every third day I break down. Every morning, it's just too much not to take the beast on a little car ride for a break for the pair of us.  I know "the nap" will be a thing for anther year and I know I should invest in the future. But we are so tired sometimes. 

To cobble together a sleep schedule yesterday, it was (1) driving around for about fifty minutes in order to squeeze out a morning nap. I guess I should admit it was also just for peace of mind, because after straight days of skipping naps, my little toddler was friggin' insane and mommy was losing her mind and needed a peaceful moment listening to jazz and enjoying the sunrise; (2) the aforementioned nursing nap. I'm not saying I would like to go in this direction, but I found myself thinking how very much I envied those who could actually cosleep for naps. Sitting very still while my child slept on my lap was nice enough, but I would actually enjoy the cosleeping snuggles. And the rest. It set me back a while in terms of all the shit I do during her naps, but it was restful. I should also add that this has never worked before and I suspect she only took a nap this way because she was so sleep deprived. 


Otherwise, she wakes up at 4:30 (or 4:45 if she hasn't had a nap the day before... way to sleep in, I know). When we go through our normal nap routine, she seems kind of fussy but into it. When I start singing to her, she might fuss a bit more, but when I put her down it is complete meltdown. Occasionally I will leave, and she'll spend the better part of an hour talking and playing. Other times, she flips out so much that I end up going back in the room and just sitting with her whispering "it's nap time shhhhh" while she (then) alternates between fussing and playing. 

On the bright side, she is way easier to put down for bed on those days... not worth it. 

I do think that something else is still "up". Be it the rabid and rapid language development - she did rouse from her boob-snooze yesterday to stare into the distance and whisper DOG, before falling back into a slumber - or teething, or something to do with those rancid stinky farts she's been having after her illness last week... something. But it's also just the age where this happens. I know I am not alone with the nap strikes. I think our toddlers are unionizing and going global. And there will always be something. 

And although I keep thinking I can hack this somehow, I also agree that this may just be the "new normal" for a while and just to roll with it. We invested in something called an OK TO WAKE toddler clock. It's a little old for her, but basically it's a clock that has a soft nightlight during sleep time and a different light when nap/sleep time is over. The idea is that it's either nap/sleep or quiet time. Chaya does seem very aware of the light by the stairs and often will stir from a nap (back in the napping days) to look out her door and see if the light is on yet. Eventually, they sleep again I hear. So setting up some limits and starting to communicate the idea of "quiet nursery time" and "time to get up" is something worth doing while the naps go to shiznet anyways. 


​​
The new normal is kind of exhausting. I could use that naptime. If I get up at 4:30 I have just enough time to start breakfast and the like before the beast is up and demanding attention. We've agreed she gets up at 5:30, so even if she's up, I do have some time. At least I get some time if Chaya doesn't officially start flipping out (then I get zen time whispering "it's sleep time" in a darkened room). But I've lost an hour. She used to start waking up around 6 and play for a while after that.

If I'm committing to my sleep training, I may have some time during "nap time" while she plays and fusses in her crib. But I usually end up sitting in the room with her until the end of the arbitrary period. Or caving and ruining everything by being inconsistent whilst saving my last semblance of sanity. The naps she does take are a little less compensatory, since I spend much of them waiting for her to wake up. 

Since I'm getting up earlier, I'm getting less time with Andrew in the evening so I can go to bed earlier as well. 

Andrew misses a little time with me, but on net this new normal isn't quite the same wear and tear for him. He mostly gets to see Chaya more without much change to his schedule. Well, except waking up an hour earlier on the weekend, which is tough. I do appreciate that he's started watching her for an hour on weekend mornings so I can have some time on the treadmill (I'm gaining weight quickly, which is still healthy but eventually probably won't be - and I wouldn't mind staying in shape). And I've already told him that if - as it seems to be next on the list - her night sleep goes to crap, I'll be asking him to sit with her until she goes back to sleep. 





And yet, although I'm learning more and more the values of getting some momME time, the little beast becomes more and more amazing every day. Her vocabulary expands exponentially. Her dexterity improves by the day. And even the most baleful toddler snuggles are lightyears beyond the most rhapsodic Wagnerian embrace. 

And that sleep debt will eventually be made-gooded. I'm sure of it. I think that's what the teenage years are for, right?

Until then, snuggle into your beds and have a wonderful weekend sleep-in for me y'hear? And if you want to sneak into my house at "nap time" and start dinner/clean the toddlernado, I'm not gonna complain.