Monday, October 31, 2011

Notes from Hallowe'en

-4+ possible costumes: Donald Duck, bear, monkey, bumblebee, doctor...
-dressing up toddler as duck: he overcompensates by waddling, and has to adjust his too-big headpiece
-his first house is the next door neighbor, and the kids are just setting out (turtle and princess), so we all go year we will plan to go together
-he's happy to be walking along in a crowd of kids and adults, holding my hand
-some encounters seem to be too short for him: he receives candy and is made much of, is directed away, but then once or twice he backtracks as if to go back to the lighted doorway
-he gets handfuls when they see him...
-older kids think he's cute
-he lets four of us take turns to carry him once it gets dark out
-when he is offered choice from a basket, he picks the biggest thing: a two-pack of butter tarts
-he can follow the lead of his older neighbourhood buddies
-when walking,he knows to cut across lawns to go from doorway to doorway...a straight path across makes more sense than going up and down long driveways
-later, at home, he stands at the bay window watching the kids in costumes come and go
-we put on one of his back-up costumes (monkey) for pictures
-Hallowe'en is fun again...truly a kids' night out, and will only get better from here

Friday, October 28, 2011

Evolution of ambulation

One step at a time, an exercise in balance and counterbalance, both arms above his head, fingers outstretched.

Moving from point A to point B, arms aloft mid-level.

One arm out for balance, the other free to hold an object.

Delivery service: lifting up and hugging to himself awkwardly shaped objects while walking, balancing accordingly. Examples include badminton racket, diaper box, exercise ball, DVDs.

Loitering (standing and looking around, stepping to get out of the way or take a closer look at activities or objects of interest) while swinging arms casually, like a caution-tape gawker or a sprinter warming up.

Places to go: zooming along leaning slightly forwards, with arms tucked to his sides and trailing behind, aerodynamic as an airplane. Stepping backwards without looking, aware of obstacles. Climbing under tables, walking while crouching so as not to bump his head.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


One thing we have learned is that a well-rested toddler is a happy toddler. I've heard every age has its own challenges. At the moment, 17 months old, while he isn't talking all the time, it does seem like his needs are easily met. He will still be lulled to sleep in a moving car, and will gradually settle and sleep on a long walk in the stroller. Tonight he cuddled up and dozed off on daddy's arm as they watched music clips on the iPad. When he was moved to his crib, he woke and fussed briefly, and then gathered and drew in his 'loveys' and flopped down to sleep. It's a little more complicated now than the newborn stage, when you'd look down and see that they'd drifted off, noiselessly. I imagine it's easier now than when we move him to a toddler bed and he actively protests being put to bed.

So we anticipate when he'll suddenly be talking all the time, just as at some point he transitioned to walking all the time. I want to remember every toddler moment but then I celebrate with him each time he makes progress...somehow he went from 4 teeth to over 16, from taking first steps to running backwards and shuffling sideways, from drinking milk to spooning his own yoghurt & holding and eating an apple.

He's learned to point at my abdomen when asked where the baby is, and to say 'baby' but I'm not convinced he really understands...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

From yes to no...

I wonder if before he nodded yes to every question because he assumed our intentions and his wishes were aligned, as indeed they may have been (offers of food or comforts). Even now, if he doesn't quite understand a question, he will nod, taking a chance that something good will come of it. Of course, if it doesn't, he is very clear that he DID NOT AGREE to have his diaper changed/leave the playground/go to bed.

As he becomes more and more independent, I can see how a default no is preferable for toddlers. It allows time to understand the situation, to stall, to see if other options will be presented, and most of all, to leave breathing room to continue to do whatever they were already doing.

I may need to learn to make suggestions and seek consensus rather than ask questions. Rather than ask "ready to leave the park?" say "how many more times down the slide? After that, we can walk home and have lunch!" Then be prepared to negotiate down from the impossibly high number, recalling the four-year old we know, who when asked how many fried chicken pieces she wanted, said "ten!"

Bedtime negotiation

The little guy is becoming more and more sophisticated. Tonight I tried to cajole him a few times to head to bed, at his regular bedtime, but he resisted. When I asked if he was tired he scurried away around the couch, where he knew I wasn't likely to follow. He came back out cautiously when I reached for a book and sat down. He thwarts my intent to pick him up knowing he's better off if he keeps his distance, and can then spend more time awake with me! He knew to sit quietly flipping through books and sticking/unsticking magnet blocks. I think he was conserving his energy, knowing that he was getting away with staying up later than usual. I started a new game with him: hid a bath toy frog under two halves of a barrel, moved them around, and watched to see if he could track the frog.

I had to wait until he decded he was ready for bed, at which point he pulled me by the hand upstairs, and flopped down to sleep for the night. I've seen him do this before, to of his own accord let me know he was tired and ready for bed, even leading me to his crib so I couldn't mistake the message. When he was younger (!), he might become overtired yet resist sleep.

Before he went to bed, watching him, I wondered if he was staking out some one-on-one time with me that he missed earlier in the evening, or if he just felt he needed to play a little
while longer to settle himself for sleep. Perhaps he will be a child to reason with, who can regulate his own bedtime, and who can be aware of what he needs as a bedtime routine to unwind.

(I say this yet my husband and I are both night owls who didn't have set bedtimes growing up.
He still stays up for gaming, and I still stay up too late reading.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mr Potato Head, acquisitions, empathy

Tyler absolutely loves Mr. Potato Head. He is aware of body parts and laughs when I protest, in role as Mr. PH, at the snatching & chewing of my nose. I buy him a set with one oversized Mr PH which contains a Ms, two smaller, dog, and cat. Body parts are strewn on the bedroom floor. The ears are gathered up one at a time, and then all the eyes...

I put a face together with the sticking-out tongue, and he mirrors the expression, blowing raspberries.

It's a slippery slope, to buy toys that you know will help your child learn, and make him laugh. A teacher friend and I had a play date with our kids at a toy & book sale, and we supported each other's book purchases. She has the provincial curriculum standards from kindergarten to grade 12 on the top shelf of a bookcase in her 6 month old's room. I had been planning on buying only storybooks or picture books with artistic value but seeing him flip pages and name objects I've started buying picture/word books. I still resolve not to do flash cards with him...

I've chosen my 'last day of work' before the next period off. It will be the Friday before March Break, enough time ahead of the due date for nesting, daily walks, Tyler time, eating healthy, and family & friend time before things change again.

I'm recognizing that Tyler is an adaptable, accommodating individual. I'd noticed it from te beginning, when he rarely cried and could be easily soothed. A few months ago he walked slowly behind his great-grandmother while she used a walker, smiling up at her. I see too how he adapts his expectations for different people, and accepts limitations. I get up more slowly now, and he waits, holding my hand, before proceeding to lead me somewhere. He doesn't protest as I've held him for less and less periods of time. When daddy is playing with him and I'm lying down, drifting off to sleep, he checks in periodically, leaning down to make eye contact and touch foreheads. He pats my leg as he walks by, just as I might rub his back as he backs into me to sit on my lap, letting me know he's there.

When I weaned him (while pregnant), I thought, if I only have one child, he's enough, all the sweetness of him.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Second trimester & a 17-month old!

I'm getting out of that foggy first-weeks of pregnancy state into rhe period when your body is incrementally changing yet not feeling consistent movement of the growing baby. I feel well enough to forget at times that I'm pregnant, until I misjudge how to sleep and find myself awake six hours after turning in early.

Am I already going to need to adjust again to being sleep-deprived?

Meanwhile, my toddler takes me by the hand and leads me from room to room. Holding my hand, he'll walk up a few stairs before reverting to the more efficient means: climbing.

We were offered a play set, and I'd like to see it set up this year, so he can play outdoors closer to home in good, but changeable weather.

One of the new senior managers has a ten-month old son, and he visited during a lunch break this week. Seeing her interact with him for just a couple of minutes humanized her, and gave an instant shorthand glimpse into her values, and capacity for warmth. I realized afterwards that she didn't take a year away, and I think it helped her career not to, as she has taken on new responsibilities from her former role. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to another year away while trying hard not to be in 'exit' mode.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I've just started the second this blog will now need to accommodate two. As word spreads, I'm recognizing that rise of the community of support again, and it's reassuring. Our work week family of mom/dad/toddler/mother in law has become a cozy unit, with still some individual time and space for each of us.

Even though the baby hasn't made its appearance, it has made its presence felt. I breastfed Tyler until he was 16 months old. I weaned him when my supply went down, about nine weeks along. He was still interested and would have continued. I am more mindful of not tiring myself out, and am asking for more help when I need it.

I've heard some moms express concern that they won't have enough or as much love for the second baby. I'm already somewhat nostalgic for the undivided attention I can give to the firstborn. He doesn't know what's coming, but he will soon be displaced by a needy, physically dependent newborn. I hope I can cherish the alone time we have and that he's not pushed to grow up too quickly.

I think that just as the new baby will recognize his parents' voices that s/he will also recognize the voice of their big brother...