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.

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

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…

Gastro, birthday parties and little sharks – 2 years, 3 months

It has been QUITE a month! Are you even really a parent until the entire family gets gastro? Yes, that was our reality a few days after I wrote my last post.  I came down with what I thought initially was food poisoning on a Saturday afternoon and by Saturday night I was begging my husband to find some kind of medication that stops you from vomiting as I had thrown up 20+ times by then. Two hours later he finally listened to me and said medication was procured so I was able to stop throwing up some time in the early hours of Sunday morning. 

I was desperately trying to make a recovery from the “food poisoning” as N had his first birthday party invitation from a classmate and it was at a fancy venue.  I thought to not attend would be very poor form so spent Sunday in bed trying to get strong enough to stand up so I could go to the birthday party.  God knows how but I did get myself to that party and spent most of it sitting on the mat at the bottom of the inflatable castle/slide. This was the first time I was meeting most of the mums so I do wonder what they thought of me but I was just too weak to stand up.

Fast forward to Monday night and then both my husband and N started to come down with the same bug.  It was then that I realized it was not actually food poisoning but was really gastro.  OH MY GOD, THE HORROR!  I had taken my contagious self to a kids’ birthday party when I had gastro!  That is so not cool that I am still feeling wracked with guilt about it.  The only small thing to console myself with was that when we called N’s school to explain why he wasn’t coming for a few days they said no one else had had gastro at the school.  I did not tell any of the mums about it as I was so worried of being blacklisted!  I believe a general gastro stomach bug is going around and I did hear from one of the other mums about a week later that they also had the bug but I don’t think we gave it to them.  I certainly hope we didn’t.

Anyway, poor N it was his first time at vomiting and he was a champion.  He was very confused about what was going on but he would only cry just before he puked.  It was actually very helpful as I knew when to be on standby to catch the vomit. As he’s too little to puke into a bucket I was catching the mess with towels.  On that night I was so glad to have an extensive towel collection as we used practically every towel in the cupboard!  The next day was a full day of laundry and cleaning to eliminate all germs in the house!! The vomiting was for a few hours and then he mainly slept off his illness in our bed with us. It is comforting to have him in bed with us when he’s sick even though he does take over the bed like the giant giraffe that he is. 

It took a few days, but we all eventually regained our strength and our ability to eat food properly again and I think we are much, much more careful about washing our hands ever since. 

There have now been four classmates’ birthday parties to attend since starting school in early September.  Apart from it being expensive with having to buy gifts each time and kind of exhausting to chase N around at them, they are really fun.  Birthday parties are serious business though as it seems that most people around here either have the party at a venue (playground, inflatables etc) or they host it at their lavish house and bring in children’s entertainment. I am glad N’s birthday is not until July as it gives me lots of time to think about how on earth to do this. I have also met some nice mums so that’s good. I quickly discovered which mums were good to hang out with as they are the ones that drink wine at these parties!  It’s a good filtering system! Haha! 

The headmistress at N’s school has informed us we should start potty training this weekend.  She has a system that’s kind of a more direct method.  You apparently just remove the nappies from one day to the next and take the kid to the potty every 45 mins.  The only time they wear nappies is to sleep. I am not sure how this will go, but they’ve clearly been teaching him about the toilet as he’s OBSESSED with sitting on the big toilet, albeit fully clothed.  Wish me luck.

It has been a rough time in my relationship too.  My husband lost his job in early July in not-so-nice circumstances and it’s been a bit more challenging than he thought to find a new position that was relevant to his level of expertise. As is reasonable, he has found this period very challenging and has had the associated moods to go with this. There have been some positives to his time of unemployment – he had more time to devote to focusing on our house build which is near to completion and he’s had more time to spend with N, picking him up from school etc. I also worked full time in September, rather than my usual part time, including a trip abroad so this was a good thing that he was around. BUT, he has been quite awful at times and it has and continues to be a real strain on our relationship. We have had some deep conversations about this and every time we have one I think ok it’s going to be better now, but then something new happens that throws me.

He is in week 2 of a new job now and I think he is happy there, but it’s very exhausting for him in this phase and he’s being awful. There was an incident between us yesterday, which I won’t go into here, but since then he has ignored the existence of both me and N and I cannot wrap my head around this. To ignore me, yes fine whatever, but to ignore your son is so disgusting and immature. N noticed too and I could see it made him sad.  It really hurt my heart.  

I have spoken a bit about my relationship here but have tried to dial it back recently, but I am at a bit of a crossroads.  Where do you draw the line? What is something you can work on and what is over the line?  It’s so hard to decide and I’m trying to stick with it, especially after the terrible year I’ve had, but I’ve got to confess I am struggling with mental health. I have lost about 7 kilograms (15 pounds) since the start of the year, I’m not interested in food (even bad food), my hair is falling out and my skin is full of cystic pimples.  I am clearly breaking down and yet I don’t know what to do about it.  

I am trying to just hang in there as I feel like a change for the better may be around the corner.  Once my husband settles in his job a bit he should be able to manage his moods better.  We are getting a lady in a few weeks to come and help me at home with chores and looking after N from time to time.  And the house should be ready to move into early next year.  I keep telling myself good times are coming, but I am worried I will not be able to hold it all together for that much longer.  I don’t mean to be dramatic, I’m really mainly ok and it’s good to be thin again (sorry, but it is) but I am struggling big time. So if you see me on social media all seeming fabulous, don’t be down on yourself because for sure for every fabulous photo I pick there are 23 other moments throughout the day when I think what has my life come to? 

Thankfully, N is a delight.  Occasionally he does have a two-year-old tantrum and that’s mainly manageable but most of the time he is funny and clever and sweet. I love his happy face. I am so grateful to have him as my son and to have the chance to be a mum, especially after all the challenges I’ve faced to have a baby. N is the best!

Words update:

The words are coming now, albeit slowly.  These are the regular word and phrases that he likes to use. I think there are others in Greek he says but I am not fully aware of them as he speaks to me in English. 

Mummy, Papou (grandpa), Papa (daddy), Yiayia (grandma), hiya, bye bye, yes, nono, socks, car key, gone, run, touch, I don’t know, what is it, last one, that one, it’s hot, 1,2,3 (in English and Greek).

Favourite things:

Washing his hands – he loves liquid soap dispensers generally, but I bought a new one recently that is an automatic dispenser that if you hold your hand under it the soap comes out in a regulated amount. This has been very effective at encouraging N to use soap, possibly to an extreme degree as I have to take the soap dispenser away from him. Using one bottle of soap every week is definitely preferable to having gastro though!

Lollipops – known as “mm-yummies”. There is an ice-cream shop walking distance to our home so we have to visit it on a daily basis to get an “mm-yummy” from it. I now carry a collection of lollipops in his bag and I just present one outside the shop so as not to have to keep buying them from there.  He sucks on them for 1-2 minutes and throws them on the ground anyway, so any dentists reading this don’t worry as he does not eat a lollipop a day. 

Watching the “Little Sharks” video by Bounce Patrol x 1 million per day -it has a section of the song where the little sharks swim slowly and then they swim faster, at which point he runs all over the house squealing with delight, preferably with one of us chasing him. So cute. So very over that song though.

Toys – he’s really starting to get into toys now which is a delight.  We have a few different favourites, but one stand out is a toy microwave I got a couple of weeks ago.  It has different buttons and settings to set for the different food and has lights and makes microwave noises.  Great fun for hours.  Annoyingly, I had to go to the “girl” section of the toy shop to find it.  I also found him a shopping trolley there and finally I found one that is green and not pink.  Seriously, the gender divisions on toys are out of control! 

The fridge and kitchen cupboards – these have always been popular but I’ve recently noticed a step change in the interest in them.  Some days he opens the fridge so frequently and takes things out (aka takes the lids off bottles and tips the liquid on the floor for fun) that I’ve gotten a plastic bag and tied up the doors of the fridge for a few hours so he can’t open them.  No such ability to do that with the kitchen cupboard doors sadly but I have had to rearrange the location of certain items in there so he can’t tip an entire box of cereal on the floor too easily. 

Pushing buttons for pedestrian crossings – he’s mad for these but thankfully there is a park close to our house which is for kids to learn about traffic rules.  It has a course with traffic lights and pedestrian buttons for children to go about on their bikes and scooters.  I just let him loose there for ages as he loves to repeatedly push the pedestrian lights buttons and then cross the road when the green man appears.  

Going over speed humps fast – he is a speed demon and loves when I drive over speed humps a little too fast so that he gets some air in the back seat.  He laughs his head off.  Should I happen to need to brake hard he also says “ooooooh”  asthough I’m a bad driver, cheeky monkey! He also likes for me to run when I’m pushing him in the stroller so it ends up being a bit of an interval training session for me.  Good for the endorphins at least!

Two years + one month – All change again

Does anyone else fall into the trap of learning about something that children do at a certain again and deciding “oh my child won’t do that”? I think this must be some kind of survival mechanism of our brains to think our child will be immune to whatever difficult stage of their life this refers to. I mention this because I think I’ve suffered it throughout my parenting experience, always thinking privately, that “this will not be the case with our son” as though he is somehow excluded from the less attractive aspects of growth and development.

Well, newsflash, seems like I was a bit naïve!  Our lovely N had his second birthday and then days later (seemingly seconds later) he started making some big changes. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we have experienced the full power of the Terrible Twos just yet (something to look forward to) but out of no where N went from being quite a good sleeper to absolutely point blank refusing to go to bed.

It was mad.

I was scratching my increasingly exhausted head about it as each day went on with no great solutions appearing in sight.  This also coincided with our summer break so N’s schedule was a bit messed around with, but if anything, I would have thought all the sun and swimming would make him more tired and inclined to sleep rather than the opposite.  Anyway, we persevered with it all and tried to make him absolutely physically exhausted at bedtime so that there was less of an argument. We had mixed success with that but we did fully wipe ourselves out. 

Then just as quickly as it started, it pretty much stopped. Just like that. So I am guessing that this was a sleep regression.  There is one at 2 years old so lucky us! In our attempts to “cure” the sleep issues we did make a couple of changes, one of which being that N’s daytime nap has now been shortened to only 1 hour in duration.  I am starting to think that in 6 months time or so he might have no daytime naps.  I guess if he’s sleeping well at night that at some point he might not need them anymore.  

He starts nursery school in early September so I suspect that will make him more tired.  The timings of his school are such that I can pick him up anytime until 2.30pm but there is no napping during school.  He can stay awake that long without a nap but usually there is a knock-on effect from a late nap time to a late night bedtime, so I think some experimentation will be required during this phase.  And, just to complicate these things further, I will be on a business trip a for 3 nights right when he’s starting school.  Honestly, working mum life is hard! We will be ok, but that’s not to say that the bumps are pretty shitty sometimes. 

Anyway, back to N and his development, we are seeing some words emerging ever so slowly, but they are coming.  He says “mummy” a lot and in context – usually when he wants something.  He also says “kaka” which is Greek for “poo”, but he doesn’t say it in context. I think he just hears it a lot and so repeats it. Yesterday he said to me “mummy pee pee” but I don’t think he actually meant he had gone pee pee or that he wants to, or that I should, just that this is something he has heard his nearly 4-year old cousin say he was going to do. I also think he is pointing to things and saying “that but he sometimes says it wrong.  I don’t know.  

He is able to follow instructions and do what you ask him, such as “give the TV remote to daddy”, “put the nappy in the bin”, “climb in your chair for dinner” so he obviously understands. 

He has really gotten into toys in a big way and he has become more emotionally receptive – he actively cuddles into me now where he really didn’t for some time.  For example I will pick him up to take him somewhere, the car or something, and he will rest his head on my shoulder.  Oh my goodness, it melts me EVERY TIME.  He’s started noticing babies and so whenever we come in contact with a baby (whether they are strangers or not) he will peer into the stroller to have a good look. 

He is also really cheeky and aware that bathtime comes before bedtime, which also means bedtime means no more playing. So during the pre-bathtime period he becomes kind of manic trying to use the slide a lot and play with all the toys, dance, sing, shout etc – I guess to show me that he’s not tired and definitely doesn’t need a bath or to go to bed.  Bad luck, buster! Haha! 

My husband lost his job a few weeks ago so he’s been around at home a lot these days, which has been really nice for him and N, although financially it would be helpful if someone decided to employ him!  Anyway, N and daddy are now thick as thieves and it’s really beautiful to see. I think my husband also has a deeper appreciation of the things that were previously my responsibility, such as the challenges of changing the nappy and/or getting him dressed in the morning while he tries to run everywhere. Also he’s been doing a lot of the grocery shopping and chores and he keeps complaining every day that he doesn’t sit still. Every time he says this I simply laugh. 

So a little summary of all things N.

Things N likes:

 Daddy, a lot
 His monkey comforter 
 TV and phones, but only Cocomelon videos.  If anyone would like me to perform a repertoire of nursery songs by Cocomelon I am available at good rates
 Turning light switches and other buttons on and off, and on and off, and on and off…
 Running, fast
 Toys that do stuff – I got him a parking station for toy cars and they go up in an elevator and down a ramp, with noises etc. He loves it. He also is fascinated with a drum that my friend has so I am looking to get him one of his own. 
 Blowing kisses to everyone – so sweet, long may it last
 His cousin who is nearly 4, the two of them are always exhausted after playing together
 Drinks with straws

 

Things N does NOT like:

 Any kind of TV/video that is not Cocomelon, not even Peppa Pig or equivalent toddler TV 
 Open-toe shoes / sandals.  He takes them off as he prefers bare feet or closed shoes/trainers.  So weird. 
 Toenails that catch – if his toenails get a bit damaged and need clipping he will not leave them alone until I fix them. 
 His bath – overnight he refused to get in the bath (this was simultaneous to the refusing to sleep phase) so we have been giving him showers ever since. While kind of sad at least it saves time and water. 
 High chairs that have a tray rather than direct table access.  We have the Stokke high chair and I took off the tray a long time ago so that he can sit directly at our dining table and I think he prefers it as he feels like a big boy. 
 Either me or daddy leaving to go somewhere.  It is hard as he clings to me like a barnacle, at the same time it is so sweet so I always pause to enjoy it as I keep thinking he will stop doing this and I’ll be sad
 Ditto the same situation at bedtime.  He hangs onto me so that I don’t leave his room so I stay a moment longer just so I can enjoy the feelings of love. 
 The size 18-36 months pacifiers/dummies.  I tried to upgrade him to the bigger size when he got older (as you’re meant to) and got him a bunch of really cooldesigns.  I made a big error though as he can tell they are different not only by the feel but the designs and he flat out refuses them.  So I have found one that is the same design as the smaller size and have managed to trick him into using it.  Seriously, the things we do! 

 

As for good old me, I think my health is mainly stable but I’m not feeling so great.  I think my issues are mainly emotional these days and I’m trying to be kind to myself but it’s hard.  My hair has started falling out and I lost some weight so now I am actively trying to make sure I eat better.  My dentist told me I’m grinding my teeth and that it’s from stress/anxiety.  No shit! I’ve started back at yoga this week and I’ve done some acupuncture too so I think I’ll try this for a few weeks and see if I feel any differently.  Otherwise, I’m just trying to be kind to myself and not sign myself up for things that are too demanding of me.  Let’s see how I go!

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

 

 

Feeling all the feels

It’s been a rough old time over these ways the past couple of weeks and I’ve been feeling very introspective about many things.  I’ve wanted to write so many posts about these feelings but the challenge is time. There is just so much rushing about these days and I need to prioritise blogging over all other things, but mainly sleeping.

My poor Mum is continuing to battle on and truly it is an inspiration. Even despite everything continuing to head south she is still persisting with some chemo treatment in the hope that it extends her life for as long as possible.  The way it destroys her body is just absolutely horrendous and to see someone you love be slowly deteriorating inch by inch is awful.  My dad died a few weeks after his 50th birthday (and a couple of days after my 16th) and it was a big shock to us.  That trauma stays with me to the day for many different reasons and I’ve always thought it was a terrible way to go out – so suddenly with no real time to prepare or say all the things you want to say.  Now I feel differently.  Now I feel like going out quickly while you’re having a pretty great life is the way to go.  I’m not saying I’m trying to encourage a premature death in anyone but my goodness cancer is a bitch.

In the middle of this is the wonderful baby N who is now practically Usain Bolt with the speed of his walking.  It’s interesting because as he has become more adept at walking, he has become more cuddly.  It was as though before the walking he didn’t have time or interest in cuddles because he was so focused on getting up on two legs.  He now actively leans in for the hugs and even enjoys kisses (sometimes)!  And he loves, loves, loves his soft toys now which was kind of an overnight transformation.  We have been all about the Jellycat soother bunnies for months now and all of a sudden he has decided the Jellycat soother monkey is THE BEST THING EVER.  So if he’s having a bit of a cry about anything, you provide the monkey and everything is fine.  I think we all need a monkey in our lives!

But poor Baby N had a bit of a shocker last weekend whereby he suddenly threw a very high temperature of over 40 degrees at about 6pm on Saturday night. The poor love battled for about four days, which basically meant no sleep for the rest of us.  He cried and cried and cried at night on Sunday in particular, but also Monday.  Saturday he was semi-ok and by Tuesday night he was much better.  What is it with Sunday nights for freaking out?  He must do it almost every Sunday so I turn up on Monday at work looking quite horrendous (I joked that for Halloween I should just turn up at work with no make-up on as that would scare anyone). Anyway, this Sunday he was so poorly that the only way to comfort him was to bring him to bed with me.  Unfortunately that meant he then also took over the entire bed, daddy got a bit annoyed and twice got up to go sleep on the floor in the other room. I kept thinking to myself, well that’s fine as now I have more bed.  Hahaha!

You know baby N is really poorly though when he didn’t eat.  He pretty much refused all food for two straight days. Even getting liquids into him was a challenge so I think he had a sore throat.  By Tuesday lunchtime though he was ready to eat the entire kitchen so that was the big sign to me that he was back to better health.

My work has been totally ridiculous the past few weeks too.  It’s the time of the year when everyone is trying to get everything done they were meant to earlier in the year, but didn’t and then also plan for the next year.  I have a confession to make though.  I keep thinking it is still 2017 even though we are almost in November.  Seriously.  And I blame the pregnancy and maternity leave for that.  I was on leave from July 2017 until start of February 2018 so effectively I missed half of 2017 and so my poor pea brain still thinks it’s in 2017.  So I keep referring to next year as 2018 and everyone must think I’ve fully lost my mind.

As I work in a client-based industry (PR) it’s a bit hard to manage my part-time hours (clients do not care for this) so I feel like I’ve been working even when I’m not supposed to be (or paid to be) which means I have been feeling like I am crap at both my job and being a mother – and possibly even a wife. I’ve not been working out as much as previously and so I’m generally feeling a bit stretched.

However, in those moments where I have finally left the office I’ve been having some great times with Baby N.  Each day when I pick him up we go for an adventure together before going home.  That might be for a walk around the Mall (great place to take a kiddie learning to walk as it’s pretty safe and indoors), a trip to a new park, yesterday we hung out with some other of our baby mamma friends (he’s a full head taller than all the other babies) and today we went to a baby music class.

Now we did try one of these baby music classes earlier this year with the baby mamma group and it was a total disaster.  The vibe was all wrong and maybe so was the timing so   baby N pretty much hated it (I also hated it which probably rubbed off on him).  Not wanting to get myself into something like that again, my friend who suggested I join the class arranged for me to go for a free trial today.  So off we went with very low expectations and do you know what?  Baby N bloody loved it!

There were about 15 babies and their mummies (no daddies, what is up with that?) and two teachers with beautiful voices.  The lesson was not in English so that was fun for me as I basically had no idea! I mean it’s not complicated so it’s not a barrier and I do understand a good chunk of the local language anyway.  All the babies apart from Baby N were very nicely sitting with their mummies and doing all the different movements that you’re meant to do.  What was baby N doing?  He was dancing in the middle of the circle, totally in his own world and loving every second.  This kid is not shy! I think I could have gotten up to leave and he wouldn’t have minded either.

Anyway, by the end of it he was so delighted with his surroundings that he lied flat on the floor.  He then went around cuddling all of the cushions on the floor and I literally had to physically remove him from the class before the next one started and he was very unhappy with me doing so.  Needless to say, we signed up properly for the lessons!

The sticky phase

My last post was such an offloading of so many things that have been going down that I don’t think I gave a really good overview of life with Baby N right now. It seems that 13 months is a transitional age as he moves from baby-life to toddler-life and I can tell you that it is undoubtedly one thing and that is sticky! Now that Baby N is mobile, if not walking, he can get his hands in everything and he does.  My poor cats can no longer have their food and water on the floor when Baby N is around because he either eats it (yes, I know, parenting fail!) or puts his hands in it and smears it everywhere. This is also the case for pretty much any item that is of a non-solid state and includes poo so during nappy changing you have got to be super-fast if there is a number 2 in there!

He is a funny guy these days no doubt, and it is such a joy to see him trying out new words.  He’s definitely got the hang of mum/mamma/dad/dadda, and the next clearly audible words that followed were “quack” for rubber duckies and anything vaguely resembling a duck, to “cat” which he likes to shout when he sees any passing cat, dog, monkey or horse (not too many passing monkeys or horses around here, but there are plenty in his books)! I can sometimes hear him trying to say “yes” but what mainly comes out is “sssssss” which is cute. I am trying very hard to teach him “hiya” but I think the two syllables are my downfall.

He loves to do high fives and screams with delight at them. Other things that are super hilarious include his huge golden retriever dog toy from Ikea (20 EUR – excellent value for a giant fluffy animal), our cats chasing balls (usually from his toys), tickly cuddles on the bed, standing up with his hands all over the sliding doors blowing bubbles on the glass, his 2.5 year old cousin and daddy generally.

His number one favourite song right now is “I like to move it, move it”, the Will.I.Am version from the Madagascar movie (seriously addictive and very clever lyrics). He absolutely has no interest whatsoever in baby or children’s TV.  I am trying my hardest to encourage him to watch the likes of Peppa Pig and even when I was in Australia I tried him out on Play School, Sesame Street and The Wiggles and he might have looked at them for a maximum of 20 seconds, usually when I song was playing.  I know he’s young still, but what kid doesn’t like TV?!  I’m very confused by this.

He does really enjoy books though and will often flick through them alone, although he does enjoy it when I read them to him, especially when they have texture or flaps to lift up.

He has started to show an interest in soft toys beyond his bunny cuddly which is cute.  He grabs them and hugs them enthusiastically.  He will also do the same thing with the cats’ tails if they stay still long enough to let him. Haha!

His food has been an interesting one though as he is making a transition from blended purees to textured food.  He does enjoy eating himself but it is so ridiculously messy that we still do a combination of spoon feeding and self-feeding.  But we are getting there.  He is now fully transitioned off baby formula and his milk is cow’s milk which he enjoys.  I don’t often give him milk at night before bed anymore as he has it with his dinner, but if he seems to need or want it I give it to him in a sippy cup.  In the mornings though I’m still giving him milk in a bottle as he seems a bit cranky if I don’t. Slowly, slowly…

The past week though has been super trying as he suffered from very high fever for three days straight.  His temperature was around 40 degrees most of the time so he was constantly having Calpol/Panadol and cool baths to bring it down.  He had some 2am baths which were traumatic for everyone involved.  It is so hard seeing your small one sick and not being able to do much to help them to feel better.  We were all puzzled as to what was causing the fevers, even his paediatrician.  But then on Tuesday he broke out in a full body rash and it was then that he was diagnosed with Roseola, which is a fairly common virus that young children get.  It starts with several days of high fever and once the fever breaks the kids get a rash for a few days and then they feel better.  Tuesday night was the worst as there was nothing I could do to calm him down and he howled right through the small hours of the night before crying himself to sleep in my arms in my bed.  It’s safe to say that we were all wrecked on Wednesday – mummy, daddy and baby – although baby didn’t have to go to work and pretend to be able to think.  Lucky baby in that regard.Today he is doing better though so thank goodness!

Baby N is not yet walking but he’s doing a lot of one-handed standing so I am wondering if it might come soon.  He’s seemed really frustrated the past few days, but he’s also been sick so I’m not sure if he’s annoyed he can’t do more physically or annoyed that he’s sick or a bit of both.  In any case he gets bored super easily these days so I think if he can work out how to walk it will open a whole new door of excitement to him.  And a whole new world of worry for us.  Welcome to being a parent of a toddler!