Parenting is always staying nimble

The thing about having children is that they keep changing and evolving, forever keeping parents on their toes.  I sometimes wonder if the origin of the phrase having children keeps you young is because parents and caregivers are always remaining agile and alert to whatever new thing pops up with their children. I have myriad examples of this, the latest being that even though N has been fully toilet-trained both during the day and night for some time and totally fine with it, he has started weeing the bed at night.  This is not a huge deal as I have been using a mattress protector sheet and so the clean-up job is not stressful.  What puzzles me is why has he now started doing this having spent weeks not doing so.  Children are a mystery!

What is even stranger is that he doesn’t even wake up when he pees all over himself.  He loves his sleep so much that he just keeps on sleeping.  I let him be for a few days but after 5+ consecutive days of peeing in his sleep I had to go out yesterday and buy more nappies, having given away my stocks thinking I was done with them (haha, what an idiot I am!). And who wants to guess what happened last night when I put a nappy back on him?  Of course he made no wees inside it – a completely dry nappy greeted me in the morning.  Honestly, kids are hilarious. 

I spoke to a friend of mine who has two boys, one of which is a couple of years older than N and she said her son also had a similar experience.  She just put the nappies back on at night until her son was ready to go the whole night without getting wet.  I will see how N goes for a few days and if he continues with the dry nappies I will try pants again.

The wetting the bed situation has arisen in the same period as his return to school so I believe somehow they are connected, albeit I am not entirely sure how.  He is very happy going to school now so I am no longer concerned about that.  Perhaps all the change and adjustments of the past few months have just resulted in him being unsettled so I am giving him lots of love, patience and time so as he can work through all of this calmly.

He is incredibly clingy these days which is both lovely and sad in equal measures. He clings to me when I want to go to the gym and says “Mummy stay home” and every single time it breaks me a little. He’s not an especially cuddly child – the irony of not being cuddly despite being the most cuddled baby in history when I had to hold him non-stop for the first months of his life due to his wonky neck is not lost on me – so when I do get voluntary cuddles I soak them up. At the same time I feel sad for him that he must feel some kind of need that’s arisen with the return to school.  And this is even with me working part time!  Imagine how sad he would be if I didn’t see him between the hours of 9am and 6pm?!

At night when he goes to bed he now likes me to stay with him for a few minutes and rub his back until he falls asleep.  I am torn between being melted by this sweet moment (and aware at some point he will reject this) and concerned that he now needs me in order to go to sleep himself.  For now I am just letting it be as he seems like he needs some extra support and love.  Maybe I do too, actually.

His speech is coming along nicely and I can’t really attribute it to the speech therapist yet as he only did his first formal session on Monday.  The previous week was just a getting to know you visit but it was perfect because this Monday N was very comfortable and happy in the space.  The therapist takes him into a small playroom off the side of her office and they had 1-1 time together for 45 minutes.  The most important thing is he seemed to have a good time with her; she said he sat nicely for the whole time and interacted well, albeit he did use tactics to evade verbal communication (I am sure she will work on that), and she said he is very clever. The second most important thing is that during this 45 minute session I got to have a rest on her sofa in the office area.  I mean, if someone had told me 6 months ago that I could have a rest for 45 minutes while this goes on I would have signed him up from back then.  I am only half joking about this. 

I am especially excited that N has really started to use “thank you” in everyday conversation.  The other day when I gave him his dinner he said to me “Thank you, mummy.  Nice dindins.”  Honestly, my heart EXPLODED as he said this so sincerely and sweetly – and then munched through his plate of food.  (Obviously dindins is dinner)

Last weekend our local waterpark re-opened and so we took N along and it blew his mind.  Admittedly, he is too small to enjoy 90% of the park’s attractions, but he loves the water and was in seventh heaven.  His favourite things were a half bubble type thing that you climb up and then slide off into the water, as well as a kiddy section that has a giant bucket of water that tips out every few minutes.  At this park there is a bell that warns you that the water is coming so he’s been non-stop talking about the “bong” ever since.  I think we will have to go back there again soon as we will get no peace otherwise.

I am headlong into birthday party preparations – I’ve booked catering (the party is not at my home so it would be super difficult to cook everything myself), an entertainer and I’m planning on having a bouncy castle. There will be a construction themed cake, assorted cookies etc and decorations so I have instructed my cake lady accordingly.  I need to refine my decorations ideas and get the stuff, plus work out how many drinks I need to sort out.  Here it is also customary to give small gift bags to the children who come to the party and so I am thinking to theme these with beach toys – I’m thinking water balloons and water squirting toys (I’m trying to avoid gun-type toys).  They all have to be put into a lovely gift bag too.  I love this stuff so it’s great fun! At some point I am expecting someone to come and try and rain on my parade so I am trying to remain positive for as long as possible.  Check back here in the coming weeks for the drama as it unfolds!

Approaching 3: Back to school and off to speech therapy

In less than a month, N will be turning 3 and I am so excited!  This year I am throwing him a proper birthday party and inviting all his school friends.  We have been to many birthday parties of his friends so it will be nice for N to finally have his own turn. I am beyond excited about it as my Mum used to throw me wonderful parties too so I am throwing myself into it with wild abandon. Another factor is the previous two birthdays were tough for me and I just didn’t have the energy to do something more formal, whereas now I feel more capable.

And the final reason, because N is obsessed with birthdays!  He loves singing happy birthday, blowing candles out and all the party paraphernalia that comes with it.  Last week was daddy’s birthday and he buzzed all day with the excitement of the cake and the candles.  His head is going to explode with excitement for his own birthday.  I cannot wait! 

I created a birthday invitation from an editable template on Etsy.  This was so super easy and inexpensive – I highly recommend it.  N is obsessed with construction vehicles at the moment – cranes, diggers, dump trucks etc – so I chose a construction themed design.  I have had lots of really positive feedback about it which is so nice.

Another recent development has been the return to nursery school – hallelujah!  Finally nursery schools and kindergartens were allowed to reopen with a monster list of strange and somewhat ludicrous requirements.  For example, I am required to send N’s lunch to school in disposable containers and they can’t put the food in the fridge so I had to send it in a cool bag which is obviously reusable.  Parents are not allowed in the school and at drop off there is a big process that involves disinfecting hands, spraying the soles of the kid’s shoes and taking his temperature.  I find these measures a bit ridiculous as his bag and clothes and the kid themselves may well transmit the germs but we do these things anyway.

The return to school was not without drama though.  The first few days were like starting over.  There was howling and crying, some begging to stay home and lots of “NO SCHOOL, MUMMY!”  On day one I arrived at work a complete mess.  Over the next few days things got better and now N happily goes to school in the mornings, even carrying his own bag.  It is a big transition from staying at home and doing whatever you like to the structure of school, but I think N is better for the interaction with his classmates. 

To coincide with the return to school, N has suddenly become super clingy to me and now requires me to stay in his room to fall asleep.  I am not terribly happy about this new development as I worked so hard to make sure he was able to fall asleep independently, but he seems to be going through a really huge transition right now and thus I am riding this one out.  My plan is to slowly ease off the role I play in bedtime so that I can once again kiss him goodnight and just walk out.

And another wonderful coincidence in this period is that N has suddenly developed a stutter.  His language development has been slow all along and we have been toying with the idea of taking him to a speech therapist, but the sudden onset of a stutter was the final motivation I needed to make it happen.  Last Monday we met with a specialist recommended to me by a friend and I really liked this lady.  She had an air about her that made me feel like I made the right decision to come.  She pointed out a few things that N can work on, such as his active vocabulary and his pronunciation as well as indicated he talks out of the side of his mouth.  I don’t yet know what that’s all about but I will probably need to schedule a dentist appointment for N to rule out anything teeth-wise.  Of course, the first question she asked me is whether he uses a dummy/pacifier but I have managed to wean that use down to only at night when he’s sleeping.  Following the meeting with the speech therapist on Monday, N has started parroting new words and phrases like never before which is kind of an ironic twist.  How I see it is that this will be a little boost to help him on his way.  A short-term kind of thing until he gets confidence and is able to keep up with his peers.

One of my friends made a good point that if he cannot communicate effectively that he might struggle on a social level, which I find highly relatable.  He doesn’t seem to struggle too much on a social level now, but I think he might going forward if he doesn’t reach the same level of language as his peers. 

Summer has kicked in properly over this way so we have started to go to the beach.  N has always loved the beach and water generally and he radiates joy during summer. He is fearless in the sea and even if the water splashes over his head and goes up his nose he just laughs and carries on.  Given he is now obsessed with construction he also loves all the digging at the beach. Good times ahead.

Our house build is slowly, painfully coming closer to finishing.  Honestly, no one ever build a house.  It is so incredibly frustrating. But, when it is finally done (please be done this summer) we will have a really nice place and a swimming pool. Sadly it won’t be ready in time for N’s birthday so we are hosting it at his grandparents’ house instead. Those of you that remember his birthday last year will recall how they bailed out of his birthday on the day and so at least this year there is no way to avoid it if it’s at their house.  One of my friends has suggested I made sure I drink some bubbly in the afternoon before the event so as to best deal with whichever family member inevitably makes me upset.  It really made me laugh. It is also very, very good advice.  Nothing like drunk hosting 20 kids plus parents to really make a great party! Wish me luck!

Potty training and looking on the bright side of life

One of the things that the enforced lockdown of the coronavirus has helped me with is being more grateful for what I do have, especially my health and the fact that both my husband and I have kept our jobs without being furloughed or worse. There are millions of stories all around the world of people far less fortunate and I grapple with this every day, sometimes even feeling guilty for not suffering as much as they are.  I realise this is a bit daft, but it just feels like there is so much tragedy surrounding us all right now.

Amid all this chaos, life has a strange way of just keeping going on and never is this more apparent than when you have young kids in your care.  I find my son excellent at grounding me and helping me to see that sometimes the most important thing you can do is jump on the trampoline with him.  I highly encourage everyone to jump on the trampoline at least once a day, with or without a toddler in tow. 

I also have a small confession to make.  I think the lockdown has been good for me in many ways.  It slowed me down.  I got some more sleep as I wasn’t in such a rush in the mornings.  Sometimes cake became a meal.  And I just cut myself some more slack than I usually do.  I follow a few blogs here and I sense a running theme throughout them (and in mine too) that we set such high expectations for ourselves when actually we really just need to strip it back and stop thinking we can be freaking superstars at every last thing in life.  

Some days you will be killing it at work, some days you will manage to bake a cake with a toddler and some days everything will be a total disaster.  But and if you take the attitude of a toddler, the sun will set and rise again and a new opportunity to do better presents itself.  This is what lockdown has taught me. Be kinder to yourself and expect less of each day.

I absolutely freaked out at the beginning of lockdown as to how I would keep N entertained at home, but it all worked itself out and he’s very happy to play with his toys at home now.  In fact, he’s probably more comfortable at home than he ever has been definitely helped by an influx of new toys during this period as well as a recognition of the simple things in life being enough.  

And I would like to particularly highlight how I have seen absolutely zero, none, nadda blog posts or mummy media stories about screen time guidelines for children.  A gigantichallelujah to that because sometimes you just need a few minutes of screen time to reset and get back on track. I for one rejoice in screens as one of my tools in my kit. N has not been so bad with screens.  He has his own small iPad and he does like to use it but he also likes to do other activities, so it doesn’t (yet) rule his world.  Sometimes he even instructs me to sit next to him on the sofa and look at my phone while he watches his iPad.  He will rest his feet on me during these sessions and, if I’m honest, I find these moments sweet and intimate.   

He has also developed a borderline obsession with the rubbish truck which visits our neighbourhood.  When we see it coming we have to sprint outside to watch the truck tip out the rubbish into the back and say hello to the rubbish truck men.  I bought N his own rubbish truck toy and it is his favourite toy by far!  The rubbish truck men really love him so it’s a super fun moment.  He also really into playdough and a marble run toy where you set up pipes for marbles to run through. Most of the time though he just wants to help at home, so he’s become very competent at using the cordless stick hoover and I bought him a small broom so he “cleans” with that too.  He helps get food out for meals, puts away shopping in places that I don’t want it, and even tries to peel cucumbers for me, albeit we are still finessing his technique with that. 

We had an insane heat wave a week ago with temperatures of around 40C (100F+) for a week and during this time I took N and his cousin in his grandparents swimming pool.  This was the first time N had experienced arm bands and he was so delighted!  He was entirely able to bob about in the water without me doing much other than obviously monitoring his safety throughout.  He is so comfortable in water and I am getting him swimming lessons ASAP that such things are allowed again. 

I have also used the unexpected period at home to go through some big transitions with N.  Early on we transitioned him to his big boy bed (his cot bed, reassembled into bed format) and this was absolutely a non-event.  He has not been troubled by this whatsoever and sleeps wonderfully in it. And then I had a crack at potty training over the Easter break and this was unexpectedly smooth too.  I had gotten myself in a bit of a funk worrying about this so the ease at which we managed to get him potty trained still surprises me. 

N’s nursery headteacher had supplied us with some instructions on potty training and I found them useful, albeit I didn’t follow them prescriptively. Her guidance said on the first day of potty training to remove the nappy and not put it back on at all apart from at night for sleeping in.  You are meant to take the child to the toilet/potty every 40 minutes and sit there for a few minutes in the hope that something is delivered in the toilet.  This sounds very straightforward, but on day 1 N peed on the floor every single time.  Each time he peed himself I took him to the toilet and sat him on there (even though he had clearly emptied himself nicely on the floor) before wiping him and putting fresh underwear on him. 

By about 2pm on day 1 I had had enough of cleaning up wee on the floor and put a nappy on him.  I highly advocate when you’re losing your mind to take a break to restore some zen.

On day 2 we made better progress as N started to tell me he needed a wee at the exact moment he was actually weeing.  This may not sound like progress, but it was! Each time he peed himself I would again take him to the toilet to clean him up.  The nappy went on again for a few hours at the end of day 2 too.

On day 3 N got it.  He told me he needed a wee in sufficient time to make it to the toilet (aka 5 seconds) and he made his first wee in the actual toilet.  We have a toddler toilet seat that fits on our regular toilet and he was fine with this.  He absolutely rejected the potty outright. From that point onwards he has always been able to tell me he needs a wee and we have had no wee-based accidents.  One of the advantages boys clearly have is the ability to wee standing up and – assisted by his 4-year-old cousin – by day 5 he was weeing standing up.  This is extremely helpful when you are out and about without easy access to a loo (hello watering the trees!)

On days 1-4 we did have a bit of a poo issue, aka there was no poo.  I started to get a bit worried as he usually poos once a day and I have heard horror stories of potty training and constipation, but he ended up doing a poo in his pants on both day 4 and day 5.  We were at the building site of our new house on both occasions and I think he just didn’t really know what to do about the need to go so let it out.  This was a bit of an admin headache and mildly traumatic for me but overall everything was fine. 

And then on day 6 we had success! A big plop of a poo in the toilet and we were all so delighted, no one more than N(actually, maybe I was the most excited one)!  There was a lot of congratulating him and he very much enjoyed looking at his “yucky poo” in the toilet.  Since then, it has been a daily delight for him to see the “many brown” of his “yucky poo” in the toilet before flushing them away by saying “bye bye yucky poo!”.  I’ve never been so happy to celebrate poo in my life! 

Since then, N has even stopped weeing in his nappies at nighttime so last night we successfully went entirely nappy-free, even at night.  The biggest lesson to me in all of this is how capable N is now. It’s hard to process that he is so independent and grown up now! 

I also got a LOT of pushback and unsolicited comments from my husband’s family telling me he wasn’t ready for potty training so I cannot begin to describe my delight when he took to it in days. No one said a word after that!

On the practical front, our lockdown measures have been eased and there have been a couple of days recently where no new cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed. At my work we begun to progressively return to the office from last week, and this week everyone is back to normal.  There are some various measures about hygiene and keeping your distance, but it’s business as usual.  The only hiccup to this has been that while schools are open now, nurseries/kindergartens/daycare remains closed.  There are rumours that they may open in June, but I’m not sure yet if that will go ahead.  I’ve had some help at home which has made it possible for me to continue to do my work but it’s been enormously difficult overall for working parents (usually mothers) to juggle the childcare requirements.

I can’t help but wonder how the pandemic has changed the fabric of life as we know it.  I don’t have any real insights into this but I do feel that it has helped me to reset in a way that was REALLY needed.  Perhaps most of life will return to how it was before, but I think I learned a few new skills during lockdown that will be useful to reflect on for other difficult moments in the future. But most of all I realised that sometimes you just need a glass of wine at the end of a very long day.

Parenting: Corona-style         

Wow!  Parenting in these lockdown times is fully wild!  At first the idea of staying home – which mainly means being inside with apartment living – really freaked me out, but we are finding a way. It’s been a month now since schools, kindergartens and nurseries all shut and the biggest issue I see is trying to convince our children to return to school when they open again. Every time I ask N if he would like to go to school he replies with a resounding “no” so I am going to have my work cut out to get him to go back.

The most important thing though is trying to stay well as good health means everything.  Sure, this whole situation is really frustrating, but the alternative is far worse. That’s not to say I am not envious of those folks who have the freedom to stay home and binge-watch Netflix while simultaneously doing online workout videos, baking fresh bread and cleaning out their sock drawers.

Life at our house is run on 3-minute intervals, be that playing hide and seek, jumping on the trampoline, playing pretend kitchens, squeezing fresh orange juice, playing cars, riding the scooter, eating lollipops,  drawing, painting, and arts and crafts. Every day is full of action over here! I hear some people are having trouble sleeping during isolation.  I do not suffer this fate.  I am exhausted at the end of every single day! I will say a big thank you to iPads and Masha and the Bear as a little screen time can sometimes save the day when you have just had enough.  There is a time each day where we sit on the sofa and just re-set for a while.  I have not heard any “experts” dare to mention recommended amounts of screen time during this period! I wonder why!

As our regulations here restrict us to only leaving home once per day, we save our one trip outside for a walk around the neighbourhood each afternoon which is actually really lovely and not something we would have done as a family frequently in regular life.  As we walk we chat and debrief the day, as well as greet all the neighbourhood dogs. It’s the highlight of my day.

In general, N is getting a lot more time with both of us, but especially his dad and the impact is clear to see.  He has started asking/demanding that daddy do certain things with him that were previously things he did with me.  For example, he now demands that daddy sits and has breakfast with him and if daddy tries not to, N goes and drags him to the table.  This is a great result for me as I finally get to eat my breakfast in peace!

The biggest challenge is trying to get any work done which, frankly, is impossible to do with N around.  We have worked out a timetable so that I can do some work in the mornings so we are doing better than others, but it’s not ideal for anyone.

In the midst of all of this though, N is a delight and a source of constant entertainment.  His vocabulary has grown enormously and now he commentates on absolutely everything.  He is really keen on doing everything for himself these days and so one of the most commonly used phrases is “Mummy don’t touch!”  It makes me laugh every time.

He speaks full sentences, can communicate what he wants, loves to talk about colours and likes to count. He can now get to 20 in both languages, so that’s a gigantic leap for someone who four months ago was saying practically nothing.  Some of the words he pronounces with a really Australian accent and others he is more English (my accent also swings because of the time I spent in the UK) and it’s so funny to hear him chat to himself and say a really Aussie-sounding “nice” (Aussies out there know what I mean!)

He’s growing again and is now in 5-year-old clothes and wears EU 28 sized shoes / size 10 UK, despite not turning 3 until July. Hopefully then the lockdown will be over so we can have a small party for him.

A couple of weeks ago we switched him to his big boy bed, expecting that there might be some troubles getting used to that, but actually he has been wonderful.  He accepted his big boy bed immediately and once he’s in it and sleepy he doesn’t (yet) get out of it in the middle of the night and roam around. Long may that continue! This boy likes his sleep (like his daddy) so I expect that is the main factor.  I don’t think I did any magic parenting to make him like this.  Of course, if he’s not sleepy then he’s a total nightmare to keep in bed!

The next big development is that we will be attempting potty training in the next couple of weeks. I have some time off work and so I will be able to focus on helping N transition to potty life.  I have been putting this off until warmer weather arrived and now it is getting more Spring-like here, and I have some ideal circumstances for it so I am going to give it a shot.  I may well be writing here again in a few weeks saying it was a failure, but sometimes you just have to give something a good try and if it doesn’t work out, try again later.

Wish me luck!

IMG_6313(Some top class hiding going on here)

Chatterbox incoming: 2 years, 7 months

Well hello to all these new words! Finally, our small guy is becoming quite the chatterbox and it is wonderful!  He has so much to say and has an exploding vocabulary. He now commentates his own day and likes to give me instructions too, such as informing me when the traffic light turns green, “GREEN! Go, go green!” and asking me to pretend that I’m sad, “Mummy sad” (which then requires me to cover my face with my hands and mock sob), and telling me which gate to exit from at our apartment complex carpark “No, no! Gate 1!”

We are genuinely delighted that he’s enjoying finding his words and growing his vocabulary every day.  It’s been a significant trend since just after Christmas which sees new words and phrases enter in his speech every day.  Which is why it came as quite a shock when a family member of my husband’s decided to inform me they are concerned with N’s speech development and implored me to seek specialist help with a speech therapist for him. The person that said this considers themselves a self-designated expert (I do not agree with this designation at all) and so no doubt their message to me was well intentioned, albeit completely not requested and not well received.

Meanwhile, the same day, another member of family approached my husband saying very similar things and it became entirely apparent that some serious levels of collusion are going on here. My husband is such a strong character that he immediately shut them down and informed them that we are monitoring N’s language development in conjunction with his teachers at nursery school and if we feel he needs it we will seek professional advice, but we do not require unsolicited advice in addition.  There are many people close to me who I would be glad to hear their opinion about N’s development and for those people I will ASK them their opinion.  For everyone else, I would prefer if they F off and show some respect.

I also think the “advice” would have been better received by us if it was given by someone who actually invests in spending time with N and engaging him in conversation so that they could accurately gauge his abilities. I find it so frustrating that these judgments are made by people whose first choice activity to do with him is to watch videos on their phone and yet they are the ones complaining about his speech development.

I shall conclude this rant for now, but place it a reminder to us all to stay in our own lanes!

Anyway, so much is said about the “Terrible Twos” that I approached this age group with trepidation. We are more than halfway now and – save for a few choice moments – I have found this phase to be completely hilariously funny. I really love the huge leaps in development and N’s thirst for independence.  It can be a lot messier and slower to allow him to do things solo but it’s so beautiful to see him learn and take pleasure from being able to do new things.

Just this week he has decided that toast is the greatest item of food in the entire universe (he is correct), I think primarily because he likes the process of putting the bread in the toaster and cooking it. He does eat it afterwards though so it’s all good.  He also really loves to drink tea because I am a keen tea drinker.  The other day we had afternoon tea which consisted of tea and toast and I felt like perhaps I have converted him to be a Victorian schoolboy by accident.

We also took another visit to our local camel farm on the weekend and N confidently fed the camels their approved snacks like a champion. I am so delighted he loves animals and has a natural capacity to communicate and interact with them. There are many other animals in addition to camels at this venue and N was interacting with a llama at one stage that was making some pretty funny whiny noises.  N thought it was hilarious and started making similar noises back to the llama (which the llama seemed to like) and it was then I realized he has such empathy for animals and my heart exploded a little. He is excellent with our three cats and I’m struck by how he interacts with them differently.  Our youngest cat, Lucy, is the one most obsessed with me and he is always chasing her and trying to mess with her.  Meanwhile, he treats the other two, slightly older and more sedate cats with a lot more respect, gently stroking them and patting their heads.  I think both N and Lucy realise they are in a battle for my affections.

I’ve not yet toilet trained N but I think he could do it from now. The challenge is it’s the thick of winter right now and it’s a bit complicated with so many clothes to deal with.  I think we will wait until it warms up a little in a couple of months and then we will go for it.  Same with the dummy.  I have reduced the use of it significantly, but he REALLY loves the dummy for going to sleep and who wants to ruin his sleep? Not me!

I have now introduced a kiddie pillow to his bed and he really seems to love it. We are also starting to think about taking the side off his cot bed but haven’t done it yet.  He isn’t bothered about not being able to get out of bed and he’s always been very good at communicating his needs, so why rush him? I’m sure these things will come in good time and when he’s ready.  Like his speech, FFS! I have brought him to our bed on a few occasions recently in the small hours of the night when he’s been a bit upset. He’s had a bit of a cough but also I worry he is cold as we have had a big cold snap recently.  In any case he sleeps really nicely in our bed between us and there’s something really beautiful about snuggling and waking up together as a family!

Things he loves:

  • His scooter – he rides it all the time now
  • Toast
  • The cats
  • Telling me the colours of things, including informing me of when the traffic lights turn green
  • His classmates – primarily the girls. I think he has two clear favourites!
  • Anything with a light on it, toys, torches, the lights at home, the list is endless
  • Counting his bunnies and monkeys (bedtime snuggle toys). He says “bunny one, bunny two…”
  • Indoor soft play centres – he loses his mind when we drive past KFC near our home every day and can see their soft play
  • His trampoline which he calls “jump”
  • The song “Uptown Funk” with Bruno Mars (“Bruni”)
  • Washing his hands – so much soap used but better to have clean hands!
  • Likes to pretend he is sad or sleeping, or wants you to pretend these things
  • Likes me to tell him “Ready, set go” when he’s doing something active, like riding his scooter
  • Loves to blow out candles while singing happy birthday and wearing birthday hats
  • Our new house! He has been to it many times (even though it’s a construction site and it is terrifying to have him walking around it) and seems to really love it.

 

His vocabulary now:

  • His own name, although he refers to himself as his nickname (BooBoo) not his real name, so if he makes a small spill he says “BooBoo messy!”
  • Names of family members
  • Names of his friends and teachers
  • Colours – only struggles with yellow, which he calls lemon
  • Body parts – head, feet, toes, hands
  • Animals – bunny, wolf, mouse, dog, cat, pig, bear,
  • Various nouns – such as mummy car, daddy car, boot, car seat, bag, hat, pants, top, bed, book, milk, juice, apple, banana, ipad, dummy
  • Various verbs such as eat, jump, sleep, wake, wash,
  • Counting to 10 in both English and Greek
  • He can say short sentences such as “Turn on the lights” or “Daddy at work” or “The pussy cat is running away” or “sit on the chair”
  • Repeats some words after he hears them
  • Obsessed with talking about the electric gates at home, known as Gate 1 and Gate 2

New year, same me, but better!

I generally believe that New Year’s resolutions are deeply flawed and set you up for failure, but after The Year of Sh1t Things Happening (how we refer to 2019) I have used the transition into a new year and a new decade to try and get myself back on track.

I’ve been tuning into a few different resources to understand the best ways to make such changes and the best piece of advice I’ve found is to keep the goals small.  The idea behind this is to make very small, do-able, incremental changes in my schedule that ultimately make me feel better.

For most of last year I was doing practically no scheduled exercise.  The main exercise I had – once I recovered from my illness – was to go for walks with N and/or just generally chase his energetic butt around.  On some days this was MORE than enough exercise anyway, but I really missed the luxury of an hour doing something for myself here and there. Meanwhile, my husband has been going to the gym after work 3-4 times a week since forever. While I think that’s great he was staying fit and well, it was really disheartening to know that he wouldn’t set aside one day a week so I could do something for myself.  His excuse was always that I could take N to his parent’s house if I wanted to work out. I guess it’s true that I could do that, but it added a whole layer of complication and sometimes that was too much – and it’s also a layer of complication that he never has to face as I don’t make him take N anywhere so he can enjoy his leisure time.

Some people advised me to stand up to him about this, but it just ended in gigantic rows about how unreasonable I was being, all of which fed deeply into a feeling of resentment and unbearable sadness.  It’s very hard to adequately represent those arguments here, but suffice to say that I became defeated about it and just recognized that my own free time would have to be sacrificed until I came up with a better plan.

Then 2020 rolled around and a better plan was found!  I now have someone helping me at home which means I am less weighed down by home duties and more free to do nice things with N.  It also means that I have the flexibility to leave N at home for a short while to do something, such as pop for a manicure or go to work out. I would really have preferred my husband to step up but sometimes it’s better for long-term harmony to look for a solution, rather than bang on about the same gripes forever.  The flip side for him though is that he now has to pay for someone else to help at home.

With this new structure in place I have kicked off the new year by starting to do some sessions with a counsellor on a weekly basis. It is an EXHAUSTING and overwhelming experience – it is definitely a can of worms situation!  I think I might need to keep going to her every week for a whole year to get through all of my stories.

Some of the early observations are that I’m lonely (no surprise) and that I have a lot of emotional pain that has been unprocessed (also so far, no surprises). During the last session she asked me if I am being my authentic self, which I later looked up online and seems to mean if you are being authentic this is not to allow a situation or person to change you, unless for the better. I guess she feels that I have allowed myself to be changed, and not for the better, which I do agree with to an extent. She also observed that it’s as though I have given up, which unsettled me a lot.

On the flip side, I’m a little amused that over three sessions we are still so far back in my story that the counsellor hasn’t heard anything about my husband yet.  She’s in for a ride when she gets to hear about all the fun and games of moving countries, getting married (with his parents and family members not coming to the wedding in Australia), infertility, IVF, miscarriages and then obviously my Mum’s illness and passing.  I think she’s definitely going to earn her fees!

I’ve also been able to go to yoga once week since the start of the year.  One week I went twice! This has been really good for me and important to my overall wellbeing.  My next step is to start working out properly as I am unhappy with the impact of gravity on my butt, so I will be working to address that. I decided that evening gym classes do not work for me in this phase as that’s N’s dinner time and it gets complicated, which then puts me off attending.  Instead, I’m hoping to arrange to go once a week to start straight from work in the afternoon (I work part time).  I can then go straight home, have a quick shower and be fully hands on for N.  The only drawback to this scenario is that my husband will need to collect N from nursery school and bring him home, which will no doubt result in me needing to present him with a trophy for his tremendous efforts. I will see how it goes and if there is too much drama associated with that scenario, I will come up with an alternative plan.

I do feel better already, but I am still exposed to the variables of everyday life like everyone.  My marriage is better, but certainly not going to win any awards right now. There have been fewer monster fights in recent times, but the house build is still ongoing, and this is a regular source of tension.

The most recent issue is that I am feeling rather down about how small our green areas of the back yard will be and that there will be not so much space for N to play outside (there is loads of space inside), and certainly less than I had expected.  We have a rather large pool which is tremendous, and I am delighted about, but our house is quite big and perhaps we should have factored this in.  I wasn’t part of the discussion process during the period the pool/backyard design was implemented as I wasn’t capable, so I am cross and disappointed.  Where we live is a very hot and dry climate where things don’t grow so well, i.e. lawn grass is not a viable prospect, and it’s often so hot that it’s difficult to play outside anyway unless you’re in a pool or by the sea so maybe it will all be fine. I am from a rural area of Australia so having so little outdoor space is unfamiliar to me.  Also, I find myself better grounded in nature and each of these factors is playing its role in my anxiety about this.

I am aware this sounds super-princessy behavior (I have a chat with myself about this on the daily), but when you invest so much time and money into something and you’re not satisfied with the outcome it can be hard to overcome. Someone please tell me it will all be ok and that kids will adapt no matter what? I am quite down about this. But also, yay pool! You’re all invited to enjoy some wine by the pool with me if this house build is ever finished.

Meanwhile, N has been really lovely recently.  His vocabulary is exploding and it’s so much fun. Amongst other things, he can now count to ten in both English and Greek.  When you consider he was saying very little at all before Christmas, this is a big development.  Right now he loves his scooter so much and is a daredevil when he rides it.  I love his courage!  He also has a girlfriend in his class who he talks about non-stop, but literally doesn’t care for any of the boys in his class at all.  You can say their names and he doesn’t even blink.  Say the girls’ names though and he’s got so much to say in response.

Other favoured pastimes include colouring – he loves to draw (washable) marker pens all over his fingers, which I think is him trying to make coloured nails like mummy – playing with balloons, jumping on the trampoline that our neighbours kindly gifted us (in perfect condition, what a result!), going for walks to the park and patting our cats.  He now talks to the cats in a high-pitched “cat voice” and it’s the funniest thing ever.

He is continuing to resist bedtime, which seems to be some kind of wonderful phase of a two-year-old, but patience and not allowing an afternoon nap seems to make this mildly more manageable. He is also increasingly fussy over mealtimes which is a bit of a stress but we do a top-up on any dinner not eaten with banana. Considering he’s almost grown out of his car set which is allegedly suitable for up to 4 years old, I think the amount and what he’s eating doesn’t seem to be too much of a concern.

N

99 things to do but sleep isn’t one – Life with a two-and-a-half-year-old

My cheeky little monkey, small guy N, is going to be 2.5 years old on Friday! Life is busier than ever these days with N no longer having daytime naps which means little downtime between morning wake-up and evening bedtime, and he is a very physically active child! We haven’t fully finessed the routine for bedtime as his sleep schedule has varied as we go through the transition of ending naps.  Some days he still has a short nap, but now it is more likely to be in the form of a power snooze in the car or on the sofa. If he has a power-snooze, they are usually late in the afternoon and that will push his bedtime a bit later as a result.

No napping does have benefits as it gives more flexibility for adventures and visiting friends, but some days mummy used to enjoy naptime as she also got a cheeky bit of shut-eye too.  RIP naps.

This past month or so has been hectic.  N feel sick before Christmas, first with a kind of flu (fever for 5 days) which then improved before it merged with an ear infection (pain, more fever). N is so stoic when he’s suffering that it’s difficult to understand what specifically is the problem, but when his fever returned and showed no signs of diminishing I suspected an ear infection, which was confirmed by his pediatrician.   Poor N got antibiotics for Christmas!  He was a bit improved by Christmas Day but still poorly so wasn’t on good form for all the presents and fun of the day.  It only took a few more days and then he was better, when he then suffered a suspected spider bite. He got a nasty bite on his ear – I suspect when sleeping – which developed into a blister, as well as two big bites on his hand and three smaller ones on his face.  He really did look a bit of a mess for a few days.

This all took place across about three weeks and when he was really sick he was pretty much silent, just wanting to be cuddled.  Once he got better though it was an explosion of words and now he doesn’t stop talking.  Every single day there are new words emerging and he’s getting really good now at repeating new words that I teach him. I think he must have a vocabulary of over 50 words now in English and an unknown number in Greek as he doesn’t speak Greek to me generally. He says the names of most of the people close to him, can tell me all the colours (except yellow, but he can identify it) and has a few full sentences he uses, such as “turn on the light” and “the tree is gone” (this relates to us taking down the Christmas tree, which was clearly a big disappointment as he’s still talking about it 10 days later).

He is also able to very adequately express when he doesn’t want to do something, which is quite a lot of the time these days! I get told “No no mummy!” a lot!  I find it funny that he says no in English but for yes he prefers to use the Greek version.

One unfortunate bi-product of the period of sickness is that N is now obsessed with his dummy/pacifier.  I had been really strict up until now that the dummy is only for sleeping but he had it throughout the day when he was sick and now just wants one all the time.  One way he has tried to use cuteness to get me to give him a daytime dummy is that he will bring me one of his dummies – one of the ones he doesn’t favour, obviously – and inform me that it’s a “mummy dummy”.  He will also bring me one of his monkey cuddlies too – again, not his favourite one – as though if I have a monkey and dummy too then it’s acceptable.  I like his thinking even though it doesn’t get him what he wants.

Some of the things N loves now:

  • His new kitchen he got for Christmas – he plays with it every day and likes to make me pretend cups of tea. We also make real cups of tea together and he has his own mug of very lukewarm, weak tea.  Most of the time he drinks it nicely without spilling much.
  • The trampoline (he calls it “jump”) – our neighbours gifted their perfect condition trampoline once their daughters got too big for it and he is obsessed by it
  • His scooter, which generally lives in the boot of my car. He instructs me “boot” when he wants to ride it which is every freaking time he sees my car.  May need to have it live somewhere else as “boot” is not always a practical option.
  • ipad – uggh, ipad is both a savior and a nightmare. N is quite competent with saying the word “ipad” now.  Fav things to watch are Masha and the Bear, as well as strange YouTube videos where people record themselves slowly running a car tire over different objects and crushing them. It is bizarrely compelling to watch. Cocomelon is still a fav too.  During the illness phase I nearly went insane watching Cocomelon videos. I think I could write an academic essay on interpretations of the videos now.
  • Dummy and monkey (see above)
  • Mummy – yep, all the cuddling when he was sick means he is now more obsessed with mummy than ever before.

 

And some of the things N does not like now:

  • Going to bed. Yep, we have hit the phase where everything is more fun than going to bed.  However, if/when you do get him into bed and settled he is usually fine. We do quite a dance some nights to convince him it’s a good idea to go to bed and I’m hoping this is a brief phase.  Ditto this is one of the reasons why naps have been generally scrapped.
  • Being told no. Meltdown will ensue.
  • Getting off the “jump” to go to school. Cue crying.
  • Help with doing anything difficult – he is stubbornly independent which is 100% his daddy coming out of him
  • Being rushed. Toddler time is a thing so I have to balance giving him the space that he needs while actually getting the places I need to go in a good time.  This is not simple or predictable. Some bribery ensues at times.

 

Mummy update: I went for my regular doctor check up this week and my recovery has been so good that I am being weaned off the nasty medications that made my hair fall out.  I should be clear of those by March, although I will stay on the low dose steroids for a while yet. The steroids don’t bother me these days so this is not an issue.  This also means that after a period of three months following stopping the meds that I am clear for having another pregnancy.  I am really unclear in myself as to what I want to do with regards to a second child. It is quite a stressful thing to consider.

If I am truly honest, I am not keen to go through another pregnancy and newborn phase.  It was difficult and lonely for me.  I know this is not everyone’s experience and the shock factor of the first child will not apply for a second, however having a second child will definitely involve some new stresses. BUT, I know that it’s nice to have a sibling and someone to go through life with.

Then I think about the age factor.  I am now 41 and realistically the earliest I could potentially give birth would have me at 42.  Is it negligent to have a child at this age? My father died when he was 50 and while hopefully that’s not my fate too it does make me worry so very much that having a child at my age means that they will likely lose one or both parents when they are not so old themselves.  I’ve experienced that and it’s hard and I don’t want to knowingly inflict that same trauma on my own child.  Please share opinions on this as I am torn!

In other good news, I have seen a counsellor! I have only gone once and so all I managed to do in that time was set the scene, but I’m going again this weekend with my intention being to heal myself in 2020.  Hubby and I also took a short trip together after the new year, without N, and it was really nice.  We took it slowly and just enjoyed ourselves.  I bought myself a too-expensive handbag because I thought WHY NOT?!!  I never do such things, but I feel after the past year or so that I need to shake things up. Life is for living and so I’m making a conscious decision to do the things that bring joy, wherever possible.  It’s not all sunshine and rainbows and life is still hard but I am doing my best to not just survive but to thrive.  It’s not going to happen overnight, but I am doing my best to change my attitude.

Sleep is key to my happiness it turns out.  I know some people can survive on less sleep, but I cannot.  I am physically incapable if I have a run of no-sleep nights.  So, as part of my healing process I am trying wherever I can to prioritise sleep and making sure I am well.  This is not always possible, for example I think N is growing his two-year old molar teeth this week and he’s been sleeping terribly and waking up due to the pain, and so I have had to forego the likes of my yoga class yesterday to have a nap instead.  It was a great decision as it has helped me get back on track today.

I feel like something new is on the horizon for me.  There are still a lot of variables in there and I have serious work to do, but I don’t want another year like 2019.  I know this comes from me so I am trying, step-by-step, to make improvements to set myself up for good things.  Let’s see…

Two years old!

Happy Birthday to baby N who turned 2 on Wednesday!  TWO YEARS OLD!  I’m so proud of what a great boy he is and somewhat at a loss to getting to grips with the fact that I have a two-year-old.  I am trying my hardest not to verbally mention the “terrible twos” because I don’t want to make them into a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve definitely seen huge leaps in his development and capabilities recently so I guess the “terrible” parts might come hand-in-hand with the good things.

N has been going to summer school since the start of July at the same nursery school he will go to properly from September.  Summer school is only from 9am to 12 midday so it’s a good warming up process for him ahead of September, but also it’s the same school we have been visiting for playgroup sessions – so I think all of these things combined have helped make the transition easier.

Even with only 3 weeks of summer school under his belt I can see that N is now better at following instructions and his talking – still months behind what would be considered average/normal – is improving.  He now even says “Mamma” and not just randomly, but usually when he wants something.  I know that most children are saying this a lot earlier, but you take your wins when you can get them.  N does talk a lot, but it’s in his own language.  The actual words are getting more clear now but as his nursery school is Greek language I’m wondering if his Greek vocabulary will grow before his English. Let’s see.  What I am happy about though is that he understands absolutely everything and is able to follow instructions which means the words should follow.  Here’s hoping.

For N’s birthday I organised a small party at home for family and some friends. It was meant to be intimate and relaxed but the whole thing spiralled way out of control with a row between my husband and his parents, which escalated to them not coming, and me hysterical because the party was falling apart.  I don’t really care about the argument (though I do support my husband’s reasons for the argument) but believe you should look past your disagreements and just turn up FOR THE CHILD.  My parents-in-law are N’s only grandparents with both of my parents gone and the absence of my Mum was so, so raw on his birthday.  The fact that they CHOSE not to come absolutely tipped me over the edge.

I have been on the edge for a few days now and I don’t really know the reason for it.  I think it’s just the vast accumulation of too much on my shoulders (husband was fired from his job recently, my work is overwhelming, we’ve sold my mum’s house, N hasn’t been sleeping so well, life etc), but this not-coming situation from the grandparents made me lose my shit fully.  Around 2.30pm on N’s birthday (N was not at home) my husband came home to find me in our bedroom, in the dark, sobbing my head off at high volume.  He did manage to calm me down and the whole scenario did finally break me down a bit so that I could regroup but I was exhausted by it all.  Later, we had a very nice time at N’s small party and he absolutely loved it, screaming his head off in delight, but I will not have such shadows cast on his special day again.  They have lost their rights to birthday parties now.

But, for anyone looking to play a 2 year-old’s birthday party, let me tell you that the biggest hit of the party was about 20 balloons that I blew up by hand and put in N’s playhouse.  The kids LOVED THEM.  They loved discovering them and then they ran around for a very long time throwing them at each other, sitting on them, and generally being delighted by them. Balloons for the win.  I also have lovely, decorative helium balloons that he cares nothing for, but I like them a lot!

N did a fine job of blowing out his candles and I was very pleased with him.  He was though too excited by his party to actually eat any cake.  Ditto gifts: zero interest in them. When the guests left he seemed quite sad but also exhausted (parents as well) so we bathed him and tucked him into bed and then, literally, 30 mins later we also went to bed, without even having dinner.  That’s how exhausted we all were.  Resolution for the next 12 months: less drama!

So time for an old-fashioned update, me thinks!

Age: 2 years + 2 days

Height: 96cm (almost 38 inches) – the boy is the height of a 3 year old! He wears size 27 EU shoes (that’s size 10 in US sizes)

Weight: 15.5kg – and the weight of a 3 year old, but he’s not chunky at all anymore

Feeding: N eats almost like a grown-up now.  There are very few things he can’t eat and he is quite the food thief meaning that if you are eating something he will absolutely demand to eat it too. He eats a full 3 meals a day and at least 2 snacks, usually more.  He loves fruit so they are his main snacks.

Sleeping routine: N sleeps at night at around 9pm and we wake him around 8.00-8.30am in the mornings for school.  He has one nap in the afternoon at around 1.00pm for about 1.5 hours, although I’m thinking of shortening it soon as he seems to be struggling to go to sleep in the evenings.

Hair: Curly dark blond hair, like a proper beach bum.

Eyes: Light brownish in colour

Things he loves:

  • Balloons
  • Daddy
  • The Smart Trike – he can pedal himself!
  • Colouring with pencils, sometimes the walls even (ugh)
  • Turning lights on and off, and on and off….
  • Bubbles
  • Drinking all drinks with straws – minimum 2 straws required, maximum witnessed in one glass was 6
  • Sleeping with his monkey – god forbid we lose the monkey
  • The beach, swimming pools, the shower, the bath – this kid loves water!
  • LooLoo kids videos on YouTube – he has zero interest in any other kind of TV sadly
  • Running everywhere
  • Escalators and lifts
  • Stealing all the fruit at the supermarket to eat without paying for it
  • Singing the Lady Gaga song “Shallow”

 

22 Months – Baby you can drive my car

I took a bit of an accidental hiatus from blogland just recently and so thought I better pop back to show that I’m all ok. It has been such a weird time in so many ways and I’ve had so much to say, and yet said none of it. A few weeks back what can best be described as a shitstorm erupted in my husband’s family and it really hit me hard. I probably shouldn’t go into it here, but it has really made me reevaluate my approach to his family and likewise all of us have taken a step back from interacting with any of his family members subsequent to this.

What all of this also highlighted in bold to me is the complete disregard that anyone in his family has paid to my situation – with being a foreigner in the country (and a foreigner in the family it seems), to losing my mum, to my illness, and to the fact that I don’t have a support network in this country. Now I am exceptionally grateful for the many, many blessings I DO have in my life which helps to balance me and to keep my spirits up, but I am not in the frame of mind to give extra energy to anyone (family or not) who are bringing negativity to my life. This mental seachange that I made was made a few weeks ago now and has helped me transform my mood and given me the space to feel a bit more like myself. I have focused on putting our family (my husband, son and me) at the forefront of everything and also done great things like go to the gym a bit more often and just generally be more on top of life. I feel better for it.

I am now taking a lower dose of the steroids – just 8mg a day, whereas I was on 48mg per day at one stage – and I think the reduction in the steroids has also helped with my mood as well as my face (it is no longer quite so puffy finally). Also going to the gym helps so much with feeling good about myself. Two weeks ago I went to the gym twice in one week which was the first time I’d been able to do that this year, mainly because of the illness. Then what did I do? I fell over a week ago Friday and did a nasty sprain of my ankle so I’ve been unable to go to the gym since. Luckily, I have been able to see the irony and laugh (through the pain) about this. Maybe in the next few days things will improve and allow me to go back…

In the meantime it was Mothers’ Day in these parts a weekend ago and I found it really, really hard. I think I cried most of Saturday about how this was my first Mothers’ Day ever without my Mum. As I couldn’t bear not to buy her flowers I sent some to her best friend instead, and then I went out and bought an orchid (my Mum loved orchids) in a colour I thought she would like and now I’ve got to try and keep the thing alive. Eeeek! I had hoped my husband might help my son to get me something – a card or similar – but he didn’t and it upset me more than I thought it would. I did address it with my husband late in the day on Sunday and he said he had thought about getting a card (???) but didn’t find the time. This did not make me feel better. So I will just have to wait until N is old enough to source his own stuff or for him to ask his Dad to help him with this kind of thing. I did wonder if he thought I didn’t deserve it, but I know that I’m a good Mum so that’s ridiculous thinking. The more likely case is my husband is just lazy and crap at these things.

Anyway, the point is though that N is going through another really fascinating phase and I love him so deeply that it helps me to get over these disappointments. I wouldn’t say they go away, but I just look at his cheeky face and remind myself to be grateful for his good health and overall wonderfulness.

We’ve had some good times recently with N and his development is huge. While he’s still not very good at talking, he is muttering nonsense (his own language) non-stop so the words are just going to turn up one day perhaps. I am pretty sure he said “no more” the other day when his snacks ran out. So cute.

These days you just need to ask him where the moon is and he runs to point to it for you. I can give him lots of instructions and he can follow them, such as bringing different items for me and helping me feed the cats. The other day he got some washing from the dirty laundry basket, took it to the washing machine, put it in and shut the door, pretended to put in washing detergent, turned on the washing machine, selected the correct setting and started the washing machine. I stood there and watched the whole thing unfold and was deeply shocked by his competency. Who knew you could convert your children into little helpers at such a young age?

N goes absolutely bananas for swings, slides and the park that has ducks and geese. He laughs and laughs so loudly at ducks and geese and it makes my heart swell. I am so happy my little guy is a nature and animal lover like me. I’ve tried really hard to foster this in him and early indications suggest this is paying off.

And while it does all sound like sunshine and roses, the tantrums are starting to show themselves which is a bit frightening as to what the future brings. The funniest thing about his tantrums is that he throws out his bottom lip in exactly the same way I used to. This child is definitely getting revenge on behalf of my mother. Haha! These days N insists on “driving” my car each time we get in or out of it, which is cute the first time and then highly irritating from that point onwards when you actually need to go somewhere on a timeframe. I have now built such requirements into my timings.

We have an electric gate for the parking area of our building which has a remote control for operating it. I can sometimes appease him if I have to hurry him up by giving him the remote and he is entirely capable of opening the gate on demand for me, which I must admit is handy.

I also made a return last week to the playgroups at the nursery school he will be going to from September. The first time we went last week he absolutely howled and clung to me for the first 20 minutes but then was more-or-less fine. It didn’t fill me with much confidence for him starting in September! But I took him again this week and he only howled for about 2 minutes which was GREAT PROGRESS! I stay for the playgroup sessions too and it was so good to see him actually getting used to how they work, sitting for story time and clapping along to the songs. When you consider the songs and instructions at playgroup are in Greek and he primarily gets access to the English language that is especially good to see. I also met some other mums of kids who will be in his same class so hopefully we can become good mates with our kids hanging out together.

Summer has hit now so I am so looking forward to spending time at the beach with N as I think he will be at such a good age this summer for enjoying himself, with less eating of sand. He loves, loves, loves water so I feel good times are ahead, finally.

22 months – things N loves:

  • Monkey – it’s official. He cannot sleep without his monkey cuddly and so I get such anxiety that we are going to accidentally lose it one day
  • Opening the electric gates of the carpark at home with the remote control
  • Baby shark do do do do do do
  • Drinking out a proper glass, although it rarely ends with dry clothes
  • Opening and closing sliding windows and doors and/or throwing monkey or the AC remote out the window
  • Swings and slides – he’s a daredevil!
  • “Driving” my car including pushing every single button in the car, opening and closing all the windows and the boot, turning the volume on the stereo up offensively loudly and steering furiously
  • Being chased and tickled
  • Pointing to the moon
  • Being carried by mummy (why not daddy???)
  • Drawing artworks with crayons
  • Having bubbles blown at him

 

 

20 months: Climbing, sliding and somersaulting

Baby N has now passed his 20-month-old birthday and is now hurtling towards two years old. Up until now when people asked me his age I would reply in months but now I say “he’s almost two”, and then I think to myself, how is he almost two and where did the past two years go? I also think I have said from about nine months old that each milestone is my favourite age group so I think all age groups except for the newborn phase are pretty awesome in their own ways.

Right now N seems to be growing in his intelligence and capability literally by the second. His awareness and ability to observe something and then replicate it is remarkable. He watches everything I do and is obsessed with then doing those things himself, particularly chores around the home. He will regularly pull out the broom and sweep up the crumbs on the kitchen floor, or grab the step ladder and drag it to the kitchen sink so that he can reach to “help” wash up the dishes. He will also take the cats’ litter scoop and start shovelling cat litter in the vicinity of the little bin I have for cat poo. Unfortunately he does make more of a mess than anything else but I’m thinking this is good training for the future so I can get him to clean up after the cats. Haha!

Meanwhile, his love affair with food of all kinds shows no sign of abating and a few days ago, in a particularly hungry moment where apparently I wasn’t preparing dinner fast enough, he went to the bin and fished out a nasty strawberry I had discarded and started eating it! Obviously I was appalled and took it from him mouth before getting him something else to munch until dinner was ready, but seriously my kid is taking food from the bin?!! WTF?!!

N is continuing to be a head taller than all other children his age and I generally buy clothes for him that are for a 3-4 year old now. He wears European size 25 shoes, which I think is about size 8.5 in US sizes. His appetite matches his size and I am having to constantly carry snacks just in case he gets the munchies while we are out and about. Thankfully he has pretty broad tastes so will happily eat fruit as a snack which is fantastic. Top favourites continue to be strawberries and grapes, but he likes most fruit from bananas, apples, pears, kiwis, watermelon and the list goes on.

These days he is especially delighted to eat any food with a fork, stabbing the food and then feeding himself completely self-sufficiently. I honestly feel like this is one of my greatest parenting triumphs the fact he can mainly eat self-sufficiently. I try and give him as many foods as I can that can be eaten with a fork as it makes him so happy, so things like small pieces of chicken, frittata, cucumber pieces (peeled) and even cheese can be eaten with a fork. The other day I even caught N eating corn kernels individually as he managed to stab one of them at a time with his fork. I guess this is the way to diet effectively! Haha!

He is getting better with a spoon though and when he’s really, really hungry he will spoon food into his own mouth quite effectively. If he’s not so hungry or bored or not in the mood, he won’t do it himself though so I do feed him on these occasions.

Other things that make N super-happy these days are as follows:

  • Being outdoors generally – he cannot be contained inside and so bad weather days are a special kind of nightmare. He is also super-high energy so I literally have to run the beans out of him each day to tire him out.
  • The car – he insists on sitting in the driver’s seat and “driving” the car before going anywhere and on arriving back home. This is something his dad started with him and I curse him for it every day. Some days I don’t let him do his few minutes sitting in the front seat and he gets so upset with me.
  • Climbing the sofa and doing somersaults off the sofa (it’s a nightmare whereby many, many cushions have to be employed for safety reasons)
  • Buttons and switches, being turned on and off repeatedly. He is also getting more capable with operating our phones, daddy’s computer and the TV remotes. He now knows what specific buttons do and can select them consciously.
  • Slides – he can climb the stairs and slide them completely independently, although sometimes on the steeper ones we have to catch him at the bottom before he shoots off it and bumps his head
  • Water, any kind of water – this includes the bath, running taps, puddles, water I may be trying to drink out of a glass or even the bowl of water left out for the cats
  • Electric gates opening and closing, very exciting
  • Buses and the rubbish truck
  • The moon, also very exciting and requires a lot of pointing at it
  • Ducks, geese and turtles at the local lake
  • Little Bunny Foo Foo
  • His monkey cuddly toy – he has two of them which are completely identical but one is older than the other. He knows the difference and will not accept the newer one
  • Specific dummies/pacifiers. He will pick them up and inspect them individually like a an antiques dealer inspects your grandmother’s old jewellery and will only accept them if they are one of the approved dummies (no idea why some are acceptable and others are not)

On a regular day where he is well slept and happy he is a ray of sunshine and I’m so happy to have him in my life. I have recognised that when I’m around him I am more happy and it does help with my grief. It doesn’t make it go away but it helps me to focus on the bigger picture and that is my responsibility to help him grow into a capable, happy person.

My health has improved over the past few weeks which is due to a few things including my doctor reducing the dose of my medications and also trying to get some more sleep. I still look pretty crap with steroid-induced puffy cheeks and big bags under my eyes. Also, my body looks pretty flabby right now as the steroids make you get a bit frumpy around the middle. I stopped caring at some point as I was just so sick and eating well seemed to be quite low down on my list of caring. But now that I’m starting to be a bit more well again and summer is coming I’m thinking maybe I should try and work on my fitness and figure again.

Mentally I have been see-sawing a bit. Some days I am mainly fine and able to cope. Then I have found I have been having some rage moments where I have a disproportionate response to something that has annoyed me. I am definitely not zen so I now think I need to work on that and just try and choose my fights (and maybe not shout at everyone when I do feel the need to fight). My inner mamma bear has been turning into my outer mamma bear a bit too much recently.

Then I have some days where I just feel completely devoid of energy because I am just so damned sad. Being sad really drains you of energy. I miss my mum so much and I cannot overcome the feeling of how unfair it is that she’s not here anymore. I try and talk about her a lot, make jokes about certain things that she wouldn’t approve of. For example, my husband was trying on jeans today that had rips in them and we both agreed my mum would not approve of not only the fact they had rips in them, but actually having to pay extra for the rips. I have many photos of Mum at home and it’s nice to see her face every day but it does feel surreal. Like she is still sitting at her home and doing her thing there and all of this has been a terrible dream.

Does anyone out there have any experience with grief? How on earth are you meant to get over such a loss? It seems like it will just follow me around forever.