Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gratification in the smallest things - including number 2

I may have perhaps mentioned before that Toddlers are my favourite age.  Watching them learn and develop is a real joy.  They look up to you like you're the most amazing person. Hearing my daughter run up to me when I pick her up at daycare, filled with smiles screaming "daddy daddy daddy."  Well it sounds more like "da-ah-day, da-AH-dy, da-duh-dy" as her fonts steps fall on sync with certain parts of the word forcing an extra syllable.

Yes - to be real, she does have her moments where I just want to do a Homer Simpson.  The meltdowns in the store, in the driveway, in the bedroom, near the potty, at church, at daycare.  Most of the time I just want to crack up and laugh - sometimes I actually do.  Unfortunately for me she's at the age where she understands laughter and my reaction sometimes makes the situation worse as she gets even madder.

We're trying to potty train her - which is not going smoothly. I'm trying to be patient, but it's tough when she just sits there humming to herself, reading books and enjoy sitting on the toilet.  I tell her to pee, and she feigns a  push and giggles.  Nothing, no pee pee she exclaims as she hops off the potty to excitedly put back on her pull-up.

There really isn't a rush per say except that number 2 is on the way.  No, not that number, 2, but rather baby number 2.  People ask if I'm excited, not really - I guess I'm so busy I haven't had time to think about it.  I'm really focused on work, home, church, toddler and making my wife comfortable in the 8th month.  The nursery is ready, the clothes are almost unpacked (except we don't know the gender).

However - a good chunk of preparation for the new baby is the preparing the toddler herself.  She's old enough to understand, but old enough to also be jealous.  My wife and I have already made a commitment to each other that I will make an effort to spend more time with our toddler and she will with the baby (remember, I much prefer toddler's to babies).  Hopefully this will quell feelings of jealousy while she acclimates to the new addition.  The other half of preparing her is the ending of the night time bottle (done), move to the big girl room and bed (done), out of the diapers (getting there) and discontinuation of the soother (its' only for bed right now, soon to be gone).

I've heard that toddlers can regress when a new baby arrives.  I'm not too worried about that - it's normal.  What I'm concerned about is that it may be more difficult to cease certain habits and behaviours after the baby comes home if they haven't already.  Hence, that is the pressure / rush to get some of these things done.

The countdown is on - the baby is coming, just pray for me that baby number 2 comes out healthy and with few complications and that my daughter's number 2 comes sooner and with few complications :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My daughter is now two!

The toddler years are by far by favourite age.  Honestly, I don't care much for babies.  Yes of course they are cute, no one can deny that.  But, they are so boring.  They just lie there, that's it. 

Toddlers - they are the best.  They are easy to impress, responsive, always looking to show you something new.  They want nothing but your attention.  Everyday is something new.  A new word, action (if you're lucky a hug).  Recently for my daughter's birthday I got her a little cedar playhouse.  It's a rather modest structure - about a 1 1/3 metres by 1 1/3 metres (4 x 4ft for the American friends).  I can only tell you the reaction from my daughter was marvelous.  I hadn't even finished it when she came bolting outside - yelling in excitement, grabbing a screwdriver to hurry the process along.  The other day I just found myself starting and watching contently while she busied herself inside the playhouse.

The other big change - the move to the big girls bed.  I painted the room months ago so as not to bother a pregnant wife too badly with the fumes.  We decided on a twin mattress as opposed to a toddler mattress figuring she's going to outgrow it quickly - so why waste the time and money.  The bedframe allows us to put the mattress right on the floor, so roll outs are not a big concern as the drop off is minor. 

The first night was tough as she made every opportunity to escape her bedroom - but she really took a liking to the bed.  Before, she would mumble about going to bed in the crib.  Now, she actually runs excitedly to her bed, ready to sleep in her big comforter.

Of course there is a downside to everything - yes it's really exciting to see her grow up and into the big bed . She's actually sleeping better at night (she doesn't wake me up anymore).  However, with a good night's sleep and mobility out of bed, that means 7am wake-ups.  Before we could get her till 8:30-9:00am if we were lucky.  Nope, Saturday morning, 7am, *patter patter patter* I hear the little feet thumping on the floor - "hi dada, hi dada" in my face.  Yes of course it was awesome to wake up to an excited little body, not so exciting at 7am on Saturday.

So back to why I love toddlers.  They are just the most amazing age - between 2 and 6.  They are funny, full of wonder.  My daughter sometimes loses thought in wonder at something simple.  Some folks absolutely hate white clovers.  My daughter is ecstatic when a couple of white clover flowers poke their heads above my lawn.  She bends over and collects a few to give to me as a gift.  In our harried rushed life, we always have a place to go, a place to see, appointments, shopping, whatever.  There are times thought that I realize appreciate when my daughter reminds me to slow down.  I'll catch her actually stopping to smell the flowers, admire something in my garden.  To her, understanding what's going on is important.  We're so busy most people could likely not recount various occurrences in their surroundings.

Either way - toddlers rock.  I couldn't wait for her to turn two and I'm going to squeeze as much enjoyment out of it - at least until the expected baby turns two.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Where did the quiet amicable child go?

I wrote previously about the small tantrums which as of the present have evolved into thermal nuclear temper tantrums.  Ok, compared to what I've seen elsewhere, they really are not that bad, but surely feel that way when you are in public.

You often hear people talk about their love of infants, the newborn smell, and holding the tiny little bundle.  I'll admit, it is endearing, and I loved my daughter no less as a result, but honestly, I just find the infant age so boring.  They are too young to respond to anything you really do - and 99% of the time, that smile you think you saw, was likely gas.  For me - I like the 1 - 5 year mark, that's when they are really fun.

My daughter's is 21 months and her independence and personality are growing and blossoming.  She runs to me for hugs, gives me kisses on the cheek and waves bye-bye when it's time for me to leave Daycare in the morning so she can run off to play with her friends.  She looks at me with adoration and is constantly working to impress me with something or pull out a book or toy to play with.  She gets to watch 30 minutes of Treehouse (A Canadian childrens' network) in the evenings while I prepare dinner and it's a great feeling when she sits on the couch and pats the seat beside her motioning for me to join her for a bit. 

Don't misunderstand my glowing adoration for my daughter.  Along with the growing intelligence and sweet personality hides a Mr. Hyde.  As my child continues to experiment with cause an effect, we find sometimes a little troll emerges who stomps her feet, slams the floor and screams when she doesn't get something she wants.  In her defence, it's sometimes out of pure frustration with Mom & Dad.  I mean, why don't Mom and Dad get it, how much more clear could "ah da baba ba galk" be?  They just don't get me.... famous words of a future teenager.  Don't get me wrong, I don't struggle with dealing with the episodes, nonetheless, it doesn't mean I would prefer to avoid them.

And as frustrating as it can be at times with the tantrums - toddlerhood is still my favourite age.  I really enjoy seeing that little personality grow and establish itself, new words that flow from their mouths, and laughter that emerges as she finds delight in something.  Even the little fits that drive me a little crazy, oddly enough I enjoy because I know its her attempts to assert herself and communicate with me.  I smirk when I see the tiny little pants, shirts and socks and the funny way they run.  If I could have my way, lock them in a cycle for the next 7 years, and that way I can avoid teenager hood.

(Exclaimer -- not a real picture of my daughter, but you get the idea)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Terrible twos and she's only 20 months

I love my daughter's independence, something she showed early in her development. Perhaps it's a result of our exercising the attachment theory, or maybe she's just a bold individual at heart. Either way, I love it, it keeps me on my toes and guessing. Some people may think she's out of hand when she tears down the aisle at the superstore hoping I will chase her down and scoop her up (to a round of giggles and cackles). What do I care, as long as she listens to me when it matters.

And there is the crux - as long as she listens to me. And now we enter the stage of her development where she starts to define her own identity and understand her own likes and desires. Surprisingly enough, we managed to dodge hearing the "no" word from her. Again, I'm not sure if this was a result of our using the word sparingly (we used synonyms and sounds), luck or a blessing from God. Half of the encounters with my daughter now usually results in legs flailing, attempts to wriggle out of my arms (which sucks because I have a sprained wrist), lying on the floor crying, etc.

I think the part I appreciate the most is when my daughter lies on the floor and cries, my wife and I will leave the room as we do not want to reinforce the behavior. Our daughter will pause, look up to see where we are, move into an area that is in our view and begin the process again. Yes it's annoying and hard not to respond - but at the same time, its even harder not to break down in laughter at the absurdity of it all.

The best global melt down yet was when my daughter found my pregnant wife's stash of chocolate covered almonds, sealed in a container. She very politely brought the treat to me in the kitchen saying "here you go." Naturally I know what she is alluding to. She wasn't giving them to me as much as she was hoping I would open the container for her. Of course I declined, chocolate aside, it's a nasty choking hazard. So I respond, "thank you, these are mommy's." Well, the face scrunches up, turns red and the beginning of a wail and cry as if I had just stomped on her little toes. She didn't move, just contorted her face in her effort to put forth the crocodile tears.

For the most part, I admit I'm a strict parent and so the behavior above is generally like nails on chalkboard to me. Indeed it is a phase of her development. A Pandora's box that we opened as well by encouraging her independence. And indeed, while it is good for a laugh at times, I really do look forward to the end of this one.

Note --- it's even more lovely that she has started teething again, so the tantrums combined with a less then sunny disposition some days are a wonderful experience.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Slumber no more

Like many out there, I love to sleep. I turn down the temperature in the house at night to a frosty 19-20 degrees in the winter which makes huddling under the blankets that much more enjoyable. There are actually several studies that suggest people sleep better at night when the ambient temperature is cooler (rather then warmer).

My wife and I used to sleep in on the weekends: 10:00, 11:00, sometimes even until noon. Even knowing that I usually feel like garbage when I sleep in too late, the only time we would get up early was for special events or the morning liturgy. A friend and seasoned parent made a comment to me in Church one Sunday whilst my wife was still pregnant. He advised me to enjoy sleeping peacefully through the night because it will likely be the last after my daughter was born. He wasn't referring to the broken periods of rest when your newborn wakes up hungry (or whatever reason). He went on to explain that after your child is born, it's like something changes in your own body chemistry and that you begin to sleep lighter, almost like slumbering with one eye open. I guffawed him at that, figuring he was just another veteran Dad trying to tease me and get a rise.

I sigh now wishing that was all it was. As it stands now, full peaceful nights of rest are uncommon. It's like an instinct to protect has engaged and I find myself at best lightly slumbering - always with my ear alert and aware for the sounds of my daughter. In the beginning disruptions to my sleep were magnified by the infant monitor we were using as I could then hear every sneeze, cough, yelp, moan and cry of my daughter. Most of the time it was her just yelling or laughing or something weird in her sleep. Nonetheless, it would be enough to cause me to stir. I was ever so happy to finally turn off the monitor at night(she is 18 months now) so I'm no longer awoken by her every toss and turn. Our room is close enough to her room that I can hear at night if she cries. Another funny thing that changed is my inability to sleep in. I never used to be a slave to the morning routine, I woke up when I wanted or needed to.

Again, it is like something changes as I know find myself up bright and early in the morning, regardless of whether it is a weekday or weekend. Even if my daughter affords me the luxury of sleeping in on the weekend (by doing so herself), I still lie awake in bed with the new day. I have no idea what happened, maybe I'm just getting old.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Years Eve, how you've fallen

It wasn't long ago that I would get caught up in the revelry and fooforah of the New Years Eve celebration.  Admittedly I didn't really care much for it except for the fact it was an excuse to go to a social event.   To me though, it's another day of the year, so I never understood the kissing and hugging at 12:01am, or wishing me a "Happy New Year," or resolutions to change ones life (why wait until Jan 1 to do that). 

The last two  years though have been spent at home with our daughter sleeping blissfully in her crib while my wife and I watch rather boring NYE presentations on television.  We actually mused as to the reason for the poor singers used on the presentations.  Perhaps they couldn't find anything else for the evening.

But how things have changed --- no more social events, parties or gatherings.   It's off to bed at 12:05am knowing that our daughter will be up bright and early the next day (she was gracious this year and let us sleep in til 9:00am if you can believe it).   If you had cut out the silly shows on television this year, someone looking in on us through a window would never know this night was any different then the others.  Perhaps the burnout of the holiday is partially to blame (see Grinch post) or the bust of the Mayan prophecy (what sillyness), or just too busy - It's all rather farsical to me. Why make a big deal out of December 31?  It's just another day of the year, nothing is different, it's still cold outside (if you live far enough north), you still get up the next day, albeit hopefully to a day off work.  

I wonder, do I make an attempt to hide my cynical attitude of NYE when my daughter is old enough to be curious?   I'm not an old fuddy duddy, we will have fun with the Tooth fairy, Santa Clause and the Easter bunny for a few years, but even then, children eventually grow up to understand what they truly are.  Do I decide to wait until my child is an adult before she figures out what NYE really is? *shrugs*  Who knows :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How the Grinch almost stole my Christmas

Robert Martignani | How the Grinch almost stole my Christmas           Even though we had purchased our Christmas tree on December 2nd (tradition is the first weekend of December) we finally decorated it on the 10th. Down with the flu, no one in the family was interested in decorating the tree. Infact, much of the feeling of festivity has been missing from our home this year. This is a new development as in years past we have always been cheerful around Christmas time. I've always loved buying a fresh tree so that the smell would permeate throughout our home. This year in particular I've been really looking forward to my daughter's reaction to the lights and decorations on the tree (she was impressed by the way). However, something has been missing this year, and I'm not sure if it is the additional commitments in the schedule, or, maybe I'm just getting older. It's actually frustrating because I used to LOVE the feeling of Christmas being in the air and getting out to celebrate. As a fact though, this year I find myself somewhat wanting to do the opposite and withdraw from the "Holiday world."

          So what's changed? I don't think it is because I'm a year older, or that there is a bit of stress with a newer child in the home (I would have thought it would make it more fun). Work is much the same as before. Albeit I've had the flu for the better half of November and December, that really hasn't dampened my spirts before. I don't think it's because my head isn't screwed on quite right. I don't think, perhaps that my shoes are too tight. I don't think the most likely reason of all is that my heart is two sizes too small. I realized that it was my desire to withdraw that was calling attention to the issue. I've been wanting to escape "the holiday".  As a society we really don't celebrate Christmas anymore, it's all about the "holiday".  Without Christmas, there never would have been a holiday.  There is an attempt to appease too many by changing the nature of the season and defining it as a holiday.  Developing it around about good cheer (pfft, more like Scrooges lately), parties, friends.  Many stores have adopted the absurd notion of displaying and advertising Christmas decorations and sales as early as October.  The reality is, it's become about shopping, shopping, parties, stress, commitments (some that is) that you don't really want to attend, dinners, parties, and more shopping. The Grinch has escaped and is shouting at the top of his lungs, the "noise, noise, NOISE." No wonder we are all burned out before Christmas day has arrived.

          The purpose in my muse is not to harp on how consumerism has taken over - that can clearly be seen by the disruption of Thanksgiving by Black Friday shopping. I just find myself lamenting over the lack of focus on the real reason behind why we celebrate Christmas. Here is the funny part that I don't think anyone saw coming. For years and years, we've been taught that Christmas is about the passing of gifts, that "the true spirit of Christmas is to give." And that is where I think it began, a perfect storm of consumerism with the inherent need to give (thanks to our upbringing) - and that is where I think we've started to become lost. 30+ years ago, you didn't wake up to a Christmas tree stuffed with "Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums! Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!" So what has happened?

          I've been observing a small but growing shift among those of us who recognize the season is not about presents and parties. It's about celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus (Sorry to my atheist / agnostic friends, but Christ is the reason for the season). I'm starting to see a rejection of the mass commercialism and heavy focus on consumerism.  It's not all about the amount of presents under the tree. Indeed, the spirit of giving is a still apart of the season - but it's only a small part.  I've heard and read that some are trimming their shopping budgets in general, others are donating their shopping funds to charitable causes. Some families are only giving a couple of presents to the children (no adult gifts).

          I'll be honest, my wife and I used to spend ridiculous amounts of money on each other at Christmas. A big expensive tree, decorations and oodles of presents underneath it. And for what? This isn't the Christmas that I want my daughter to learn and know. Please don't get me wrong, I still want to see her face Christmas morning(s) to see what Santa has left for her under the tree. I still want as a family to pick out and decorate the tree with Christmas carols playing in the background and the smell of rice pudding cooking on the stove. I still want to sit down and watch the movie  “A Christmas Story”.

          The Grinch and I, we're in one accord after some introspection. "What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” And that's really it - and so, I hope and pray that I can teach my daughter that Jesus is the centre of Christmas. Who knows, maybe by removing all the "holiday" noise and focusing on God I can reignite my passion again for Christmas.