Sunday, 18 June 2017

Thoughts on Potty Training

I am going to try to tread lightly as I write this post. I have discovered that discussing potty training among parents is as sensitive a subject as religion or politics. Please accept that this piece is merely the mussings of a Mom who read one book on potty training (The Tiny Potty Training Book by Andrea Olson) read the blog of a prominent potty training author (Jamie Glowacki of Oh, Crap! Potty Training fame -both are outspoken advocates of earlier potty training) and has spent six weeks potty training her only 22 month old child (N=1). I respect that not all training methods will work for every child and every family has unique needs for potty training. I'm just finding that I'm suddenly very passonate about a topic I never thought I'd give a crap about (pun, intended).

About 12 years ago, when having kids was the furthest thing on my radar, I received a Christmas card from my cousin in Washington state. She included a family newsletter and went into vivid detail discussing her younger son's potty training. He was a month away from his 4th birthday and I thought that seemed rather late. I did a lot of baby sitting in the 80s and early 90s and I couldn't recall ever diapering a kid older than the age of 3, with the exception of a 6 year old girl with Down Syndrome who needed a night time diaper. My other cousin's sons weren't potty trained until they were nearly 4 years old. Little Myrtle was still using Pull-ups by her 4th birthday and she finally was able to poop on the potty after spending a weekend with her grandmother. Knowing Mrs Myrtle as I do, I suspect she declared that she wasn't going to diaper a 4 year old kid and took the bull by the horns. I just knew I didn't want to be dealing with diapers for that long.

Long before Kate was ever a frozen embryo in the lab, I decided I would use cloth diapers. The decision was motivated by a desire to be environmentally conscious, a throwback to the fact that I was cloth diapered, but I had also heard that babies who wear cloth diapers have an easier time with potty training as they know when they are wet. What I didn't know is that historically, children who were cloth diapered were potty trained at a much younger age. Prior to the debut of disposable diapers in 1959, nearly all kids in the United States were fully trained by the 18 months. As of 2001, the national average in the US was 35 months for girls and 39 months for boys. The time frame has nearly doubled in 50 years. Larger sized diapers that used to be available only by prescription for older children with special needs are now available in almost every store, while it's nearly impossible to find underwear or training pants in a size less than 2T. This fascinates me. It doesn't make sense from an evolutionary perspective for children to regress in their ability. What has changed in that time? Disposable diapers became very convenient for parents and as their technology improved over time, they are keeping kids drier. Jamie Glowacki cites disposable diapers as the sole reason for the increase in the age of potty training. The shift to working moms also explains a lot as well. More so, attitudes and perceptions have changed over time. Recently a Facebook friend inquired about a potty for her 18 month old daugher, and the first person to reply commented that she's "too young". Too young? In 1959 it would be considered late to be starting at that age.  
Shortly after disposable diapers were being sold on the shelves of every local supermarket, in 1962 a prominent pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton published a research paper entitled A Child-Led Approach to Toilet Training, which suggested that mothers wait for kids to show signs of "readiness" before trying to potty train. However, the piece was largely the opinion of Dr Brazelton and it used retrospective data from the charts of 1,170 children over a ten year time period. Oh, and Dr Brazelton was a paid consultant for the Pampers Institute. I admit I'm a sucker to beleive a conspiracy theory, but it's not too hard to connect the dots. If parents wait longer to train, they'll spend more money on expensive disposable diapers. It's promotion of consumerism. One of the reasons I was so emotional about leaving our cloth diaper service is that they were encouraging me to train earlier and be done with diapers sooner, even thought it meant they would be loosing a client. I feel few businesses still have that integrity.

What exactly does it mean for a kid to be 'ready'? In her blog post, Jamie described a conversation she overheard at a playground.
Mom A: My son is really interested in the toilet. He loves watching everyone pee. It's so cute!
Mom B: You should start potty training!
Mom A: Oh No! I'm going to wait until he's ready!
Jamie's point: That IS him indicating that he is ready!!!

Both Jamie and Andrea refute the notion that you need to wait for readiness, and Andrea actually turns the question around; Are you [the parent] ready to potty train? A few points that they make: Some children actually never show any signs of interest or readiness. Others may show interest at an early age (sometimes deemed too early) and parents may wait for that interest to cumulate, but it may not. Very few children self-iniitiate toilet training. Those who do are the exceptions, rather than the norm. It may be hard to tell as their parents are likely to brag very loudly.They both share from their experiences that it actually becomes harder to train, the longer you wait. Children begin to exert their independece and respond with the word NO. However, I know of two friends who had experience potty training another child, and needed three good attempts with a second child before the child was 'ready' for it to take. Perhaps, rather than 'wait for readiness' before trying to train, maybe the message should be; 'try to train and see if your child is ready.'

Both authors teach the naked training method. Let your kid run around naked and when you see him or her starting to pee or poo, air-lift them to the nearest potty, so you can teach that pee-pee and poop go in the potty. Kids' brains will progress from No-clue, to I-peed, then I-am-peeing, and finally I-need-to-pee. As it starts to click with their minds and bodies, you start adding layers of clothing and work on prompting them to pee at transition times such as outings and bedtimes. Andrea argues that Pull-ups should not be used from training as they are essentially diapers. They are diapers that are easy for your kid to push off and pull up, but they are still going to keep him dry and may keep him in the No-clue stage. This really resonated with me as I felt it mirrored Whole 30 Rules that you cannot recreate treats with approved ingredients during a Whole 30. To your brain, eating faux soft serve with frozen bananas is the same as eating ice cream. Whole 30 refers to it as trying to have sex with your pants on (SWYPO), which is maybe not the most appropriate analogy for potty training, but I appreciate it when aspects of my adult life overlap with my mom life.        

Andrea in particular, disputes the need to have kids practice sitting on the potty to 'get used to it'. This is in contrast to what I heard a pediatrician tell parents when I did my clinical rotation in 2001. "Have them sit on the potty for a while, brings books and make it a fun and inviting place." Andrea argues that sitting on the potty just for practice teaches nothing and may even be counterproductive. I think this makes a lot of sense, and as an added bonus it defies conventional wisdom. There isn't really need to practice. It's not that different from siting on a chair. Also, we don't do it at any other time. We put our babies in a high chair and fed them their first solids. Does anyone strap them in to allow them to adjust to the chair while the baby is left wondering what is going on? Do we let our kids get used to their new car seat before we put them in and drive? Let them get used to the stroller before going for a walk? It seems much more effective to show them what to do on the potty. One other aspect I appreciated from Andrea and Jamie is that their training styles do not involve rewards. I was fearful of using rewards because...when do you stop? My colleage admitted she bribed her son with a Star Wars Lego set. The little girl who went viral after she defended her choice of a black doll to a Target clerk is going to be mortified when she grows up and learns that it was because she pooped on the potty for a full month. Jamie admits that some parents do have success with rewards, but in her experience she has seen more diasters with rewards and makes her case with this post. I do have to admit that sometimes do a celebratory 'pee-pee-in-the-potty!' dance for Kate when she is successful.

Kate and I went to a picnic this past weekend and there were two other children present, both less than a year older than Kate. One Mom noticed that Kate was wearing training pants and asked if we were potty training. As I described our journey from doing well at home, complete disaster on our first trip out and to my discovery that IKEA is a great place to practice, she simply replied "Oh, I don't want to push my son." I didn't know how to reply at that moment, and it's probably best that I didn't say anything, but so many thoughts came flooding through my head. Why is potty training perceived as such a negative experience that we feel the need to protect our kids from it? Maybe I'm too green and nieve, but I don't think of it as pushing as much as you're giving your kids an opportunity. I get it that no one wants to be forcing a screaming and crying child onto a potty. Yet how many kids resist and cry when they try any new activity? We teach them to overcome their fears and discover that soccer, swimming, art lessons can be fun. It's a skill they are going to need to know one day. At some point in time they will need a nudge of encouragement from the parents.

 So much of the concern about pushing a child or training prior to readiness stems from a perception that we may be pyschologically damaging our childen by potty training too early. Both Andrea and Jamie explain that there is some historical background associated with this notion. In the 1940s it was common practice to strap a child to a potty and use soap suds enemas to adhere to a rigid pooping schedule, which was abusive, coersive and potentially pyschologically scarring. That was not normal potty training. Normal potty training is not damaging. Looking at the timeline of the potty training age, it would imply that all babies who were potty trained by 18 months prior to the invention of disposable diapers are pyschologically damaged. As would be all the people in many other parts of the world where potty training is completed earlier. Andrea shared her experience of visiting a village in West Africa where no one uses diapers and noted that there was not an abudance of mentally ill people. Jamie used to work as a social worker and shared her experience that she worked with a lot of children with severe psychological disorders. Not a one was associated with early potty training. Andrea also notes that once potty trained, kids have an enhanced sense of self esteem and can even feel more confident approaching social interactions.  On the flip side, could we ever see any effects on the esteem of those who are potty trained later? As older children become more self aware, how will they react to seeing younger children who are out of diapers before they are? Some children have been dismissed from preschool and even kindergarden due to incomplete training. It does happen. Talk about applying pressure to the training process. A former day care worker shared with me that she had a three and a half year old kid in her class who had to ask his mother to hide the diapers in his room when his friend came over for a playdate.

I fully acknowledge that there is no one size fits all approach to potty training. I also admit it's not easy. Andrea describes that the learning curve with potty training it's not a straight line and I repeat that to myself quite often. Kate quickly grasped how to announce that she needs to pee and can make it to the potty in time, but she still needs lots of practice. Challenges such as outings and Day Care still need to be conquered, as well as naps and overnight, which we'll get to at a later time. We're
off to a good start, but I'm constantly reassessing my tactics. Am I overprompting? Maybe I need to give her a little more space. She's had a few misses today; maybe I need to be more vigalant about directing her to the potty. She hasn't peed in a while; is she improving her bladder control or avoiding the potty? The one thing I'll conclude from my limited research and short time experience is that one shouldn't be fearful of potty training and shouldn't delay training due to fears. It's not as bad as you may think.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Kate was a little skiddish the first time I brought out the potty;
so we started putting dolly on the potty first.
Now they go potty toghether. 

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

22.5 Months

Mother's Day is still a tough day even on the other side of infertility. Last year was my first official Mother's Day as a mother with a baby. I felt that I had to be restrianed with how I observed the day. I had to remember what a shitty day it was while I was infertile, and I had to think about all the women who are still waiting to become members of this club. Yet at the same time, I also needed to acknowledge; this IS my first Mother's Day! I've waited so long for this! [Warning: serious whining ahead!] I really needed those around me to acknowledge this was my first Mother's Day. I thought my mother might have sent a card. I know Hal.mark makes such a card as I once helped an older gentleman find a card for his son on his first Father's Day. Nope. Husband, of course, had a hockey tournament and was gone all day. My first Mother's Day was spent pretty much like any other Sunday, with the exception that I went clothes shopping for our upcoming trip to Hawaii and I blew off doing meal prep for the week. Oh, and I was recovering from disappointment of the night before.

Our Day Care offered a Parents' Night Out on the Saturday night before Mother's Day, so Husband offered to take me out for dinner. We dropped Kate off and he asked me if I had $40 in cash to pay the Day Care. Yes, I did. I went to the ATM that morning, so I'd have cash for the Farmer's Market. Now, not only was I having to pay the day care on my night out, I would have to go to the ATM again on Sunday morning. Then, as we got in the car to leavem Husband asked me where I wanted to go. I was so annoyed over the fact that he hadn't put any thought into my evening. He then suggested going to our usual pub (where we go most Saturday nights) as we would be able to watch the NBA playoff game. If you've ever watched Shaun of the Dead (and if you haven't, you absolutely need to) it was like Liz and Shaun ending up at the Winchester for their anniversary. Husband paid for dinner, which since he ordered the special and consumed three drinks to my one, he was responsible for most of the bill. I'm not saying that he had to take me somewhere fancy or had to spend a lot of money, but I just wanted to feel that he was making some effort to recognise my first Mother's day. The Warriors lost in a blowout, which just iced the cake on my disappointing evening. 

Myrtle, who many remember how insensitive she was during my infertility struggles, was the only one who came through for me. She sent me a small little necklace that featured a mamma and baby bird. It wasn't expensive, but it was such a thoughtful gesture. This year, Day Care offered a Parents' Day Out on the Saturday before Mother's Day, and I spent my 6 kid free hours doing some long overdue yard work and I set up a play area for Kate on our deck. Earlier in the month, we received a flyer for Sherri's berries promoting chocolate covered strawberries, so I left it in Husband's office hinting that I wanted a gift. (They were actually rather disappointing, they look better in pictures and they look like the taste better than they do) On Sunday, Husband announced that he was going to take me to brunch. (because every woman really wants to endure the madness of a Mother's Day Brunch) Where were we going to go? The Winchester, of course! Husband argued that since the Winchester opens later in the morning and not too many people know they offer Sunday brunch, it wouldn't be too busy. He was right. We arrived at 12:30 and our favourite table was available. I enjoyed the bottomless mimosas for mothers and the Warriors won after being down by 25 points. It was a perfect Mother's Day. 

Stats: Weight 30 lbs Height 33 inches 

Dislikes: Baths. I could use some help here. Some how my baby girl who used to love her baths, is totally resisting the bath tub. We're still using her inflatable duck and I realised that she stopped sitting in it, and rather would stand during her baths (which I thought was so she could draw with her bath crayons on the wall). I thought she might be getting too big for the duck and I was planning to get rid of it as soon as I picked up some slip resistant pads for the tub. However, when we were visiting our friends in LA, she screamed when I tried to get her to go in the tub. I tried picking her up to put her in the tub, but she lifted her legs so high her heels were almost over her shoulders. I thought maybe she missed the duck, but since we've been home, she's still crying and resisting getting in the tub. Now I just stand her in the tub (next to the duck) and quickly wash and hose her down with the hand held sprayer while she cries. My LA friend and my mother have suggested I get in the tub with her. I'd really rather not, but I'll take advice from this group if anyone thinks it would help. She's not afraid of water as we went to baby swim class today and enjoyed being in the water so much that she cried when it was time to get out. 

Likes: She has taken her 'nite, nite' game to a whole new level by recreating her night time routine. I was going through her closet and drawers to pull out things that didn't fit, while I noticed her playing with her dolly. She took her baby to her potty. Then she brought her step up from the bathroom to her changing table and stood on it and tried to put a diaper on her doll. Next she climbed on to the rocker and held her baby on her lap and read her a book. Finally, she put (threw) baby in her crib, turned on her sound machine and her sleep sheep and directed me to turn out the light and leave the room as 'shh, baby sleeping.' It was so adorable. I brought her to the gym one day and she walked over to some girls stretching on yoga mats and tried to make them go 'nite, nite.'

Health Issues: Husband picked Kate up from Day Care on a Friday afternoon and learned that some kids had been out sick with a stomach bug earlier in the week and two were sent home that day. Kate had been fine all week, so I thought she missed getting sick. The next morning she threw up after drinking her milk. She didn't have a fever and otherwise seemed fine. A few hours later, she had held down her breakfast, so I decided we'd continue with our normal routine and hit the Farmer's Market. I didn't get to far, before I heard what sounded like a cough, and looked in her mirror and saw she had spit up a bit. I turned around to head home and just as we had turned onto our street, I heard what sounded like a faucet turned on full blast. The week before, Husband had taken my car to the car wash because he wanted to do something nice (read: was trying to build credit to ask me for something, or was feeling guilty about something). I had to drive with the windows down for the rest of the weekend and I dumped about half a bottle of Febreeze into the back seat and yet I still get a whiff of puke every now and then. A few days later, I came down with the bug and it lasted almost a week. I lost almost 9 pounds. Then it was Husband's turn. I think even Tyler puked once or twice just for good measure. 

Milestones: I'm considering this to be the 'Hall of Shame' edition. The things I'm not so proud to report. She can slip her arms out of her straps on her car seat. I was driving on the highway and looked up into my rear view mirror and saw she had popped her arms out and was sitting sideways and just said "hi, there" as she caught me looking at her in the mirror. She now slides her arms out on a regular basis. We've adjusted the straps to make sure they're at the proper height for her. I make sure it's tight almost to the point of being over tightened. My next step is either a bungee cord or some duct tape. She can also climb up her changing table. It has three shelves, so she walks up them as if it were a ladder. She can also get down that way. Since it's still such a challenge to get her to cooperate for a diaper change, on a few occasions, I've held the table steady and let her climb. She's also super close to being able to get out of her crib. She can get her leg up to the edge of the crib, so I think the only thing preventing her from getting out is that she's still in her sleep sacks. We need to start shopping for a big girl bed. Oh, and we taught her how to do 'Cheers!'

Oh, I also let her ride on the trolly while shopping

Sleep: She's still really good at going to bed, although she's starting to learn how to stall. Like saying she has to go pee-pee about 5 or 6 times before I catch on to her. Or requesting 'one more book'. I'm failing at teaching maths skills as 'one more book' usually turns into three. Oh, and if I skip a page -there's hell to pay. She started going to phase of waking up early. Brutally early. 5:00 sharp on a Sunday morning early. We were taking her into our bed with the hope that she'd go back to sleep, but she wouldn't. She lie down for a few minutes and then spring up and announce 'hungy'. We'd bring her milk in the hopes that she'd go back to sleep in a post leche bliss, but no such luck. She'd be ready for breakfast and after eating, she'll want to go 'outside'; not grasping the concept that it's cold and dark at 5:45, oh and it's five fucking forty-five in the morning! One morning, we convinced her to play the nite, nite game with us and she brought her swaddle blankets on to our bed so she could cover us and the pat our backs to go 'nite, nite'. Hey, we got to stay in bed for an extra 40 minutes. But our girl is pretty strict. You have to lie on your front and you get told off for turning on your side. If you try to lift your head up, (don't even think about checking your phone) she pushes your head back down demanding 'NITE-NITE'. During this past work week we had to introduce some reverse sleep training. The new rule is that Kate does not get out of bed until 6 AM, which meant almost 30 minutes of crying one morning, but she started sleeping until 6 and even later after that. Cry it out is my best friend.

Chores: While my parents were visiting, Kate jumped off my lap after having her bedtime milk and ran toward the kitchen. I thought this was another stall tactic, but she went in to throw her bottle in the sink and then ran back to her bedroom. So now we have her bring all her empty bottles and plates to the sink. She is also feeding Tyler (Ly-la) which means I slop the wet food in his bowl and she gets credit for it as she's the one who places it on his mat. She's also responsible for turning off her sound machine in the morning. Especially if I'm sore from yesterday's workout and I don't feel like bending over.

Diapers: In preparation for potty training, I bought a package of Pull-Ups. O-M-G where have you been all of Kate's life. Pull-ups are so much easier than diapers! Seriously, they need to make them in all sizes starting with newborns and recognise they are not just for potty training. There were nights when she would leak and I was sure it was because her diaper was fastened wonky as she was squriming away while I was trying to put it on. Pull-ups fit perfectly every time and they rip off like stripper pants. No fussing with tabs!

Potty training is going really well and this is actually before I took some time off work to focus on training her. We came back from a birthday party a few weeks ago and I decided to try some naked training. It only took two times of peeing on the floor before she was telling me that she needed to 'pee-pee'. Then she wanted to put her pants on and go commando (the next step in her training). Some times she'll request 'Mommy pee-pee' and one time when I oblidged, she starting clapping and shouting 'yay!'. Yeah, it's probably been about 39 years since someone cheered for me to go to the toilet, and I have to say; I kind of appreciated it.

She's had some misses, (sometimes it's hard to distinguish if she's saying 'baby' or 'pee-pee' signing helps, but sometimes she's telling us that baby needs to pee-pee and she puts baby on the potty) but for the most part is doing all her wees in the potty at home (announcing "I DIDIT" each time) and she's even used the potty at Day Care a few times. We've also used the potty in public on a few occasions. (NB: I love the Potette travel potty, absolutely brilliant) Once was at the DMV. When we arrived, they were on number 44 and our ticket was number 66. When they were at number 64, she announces 'pee-pee' 'PEE-PEE'. It was close, but we made it.  At press time, she's graduated to using the 'Big Potty' with a seat reducer. 

One of the big challenges will be doing a #2 on the potty. On my Tuesday off with her, I heard her fart and placed her on the potty. Apparently the GI virus wasn't finished, but since everything happened rather quick and easy, she didn't have time to get scared or freak out. I thought this may be a fortunate oppportunity. Wrong. Oh, so wrong. The Big D struck with great anger and furious vengance. Three hours later, I had cleaned all three of our bathrooms, started two loads of laundry, hosed Kate down three times and cursed a lot. Lesson learned. Diarrhea and potty training? NOT A GOOD IDEA!

Since her training is going so well, we had essentially stopped using cloth diapers. I called our service and had them do a final pick up. Cue an emotional moment. I really loved the company we used for our diaper service. They were so helpful and they stuck to their pick up schedule even on Thanksgiving morning. I left a thank you note to the driver and the representatives with the last batch of diapers. Husband is just estatic about the fact that we save $75 per month.

Activities: Baby music wrapped up another 10 week session, and as I always seem to do, I hemed and hawed about signing up again, and when I tried to register, the class was full. We started spending Tuesday mornings as a play place in the city where I work. It's fun, they have bouncy castles, climbing structures, play houses and a few little tykes crazy coups. Plus, you can buy a book of 5 passes for $35 so it only costs $7 for the morning, where Baby music is $225 per 10 week session. The only down side is that I sometimes run into some of my old patients and I'm wearning my glasses and workout clothes. We're going to be starting Li'l Kickers soccer next month for our Tuesday activity. I started looking for an alternative Saturday swim class, as the one near our house was temporarily closed due to change of management and I wasn't too impressed with it. As I never got around to signing up anywhere else, and it was really hot on Saturday, so we went back to the old pool and found Kate's Day Care friends Alex and Greyson where there. So now I'm torn over whether or not to stay with the old swim clas, so we get to know Kate's friends and thier parents better, or should we try a new pool and maybe make some other friends. 

Eating: Surprisingly, nothing too much to report here. She wants to eat at the table without a booster seat and she wants to drink out of a regular cup, so there are still a lot of argument around meals. I should probably have included this in the 'Hall of Shame' section, but she likes to double park. Drink her milk and water. (I think she gets that from Husband as he'll order two beers if the Winchester is busy). Then she moved on to two packs of Chia Seeds. 

Clothing: In anticipation of potty training, I hit some conseignment shops and got a bunch of elastic waist band pants. To keep them separate from her school clothes, I was storing them in the bottom drawer of her dresser, which she can access, so she started to try to dress herself. She's been kind of getting the hang of it, until she tried to wear her shirt as pants. Yes, one leg in a sleeve and the neck was around her waist. I think she actually pulls it off. I also cleaed out all her onesies. Cue another emotional moment.

Look carefully at the first photo:
Did you notice she's wearing a shirt as pants?

Hair: We've finally achieved pigtails! She actually kept them in long enough to make it to Day Care.

Looking Forward to: We have picnics for the next three weekends, then we have a weekend with nothing planned. I'm going to San Diego for a conference on the last week of June. Then it's 4th of July weekend and the next weekend is Kate's second birthday party. My strategy this year is to do a little bit of work each weekend. Start working on decorations, put the gift bags together, purchase non-perisdable food and beverage items...etc... I want to think with this approach it won't feel like party planning is my second full time job, but who am I kidding? 

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Other Kids' Parents

We flew down to LA this past weekend for a mini Ex-pats reunion. Our friends Barney and Robin served as hosts. I should say from the start, I really didn't like Robin the first time I met her. We ended up going shopping, and I had to watch her try on (yes, pose in front of a mirror) various $800-$1,000 purses; I wrote her off as a pretentious LA bitch. Yes over the years, I would come to learn that she is more down to earth. She was one of the first to whom I disclosed our fertility struggles, and she was surprisingly supportive. We bonded further when we were pregnant and new mothers together, often texting various questions or admitting when aspects are hard. However, outside of motherhood, we have very little in common.

Still, I was looking forward to getting together and meeting their daughter Little Myrtle (who has the same name as the other Little Myrtle and as Robin is again pregnant after another first attempt, so the nickname fits). Yet, I would learn that motherhood can unknowingly change the dynamics of your friendships, especially when it seems like your friends are mothering your kid. I have to acknowledge one rookie parent error; when we visit another kid's house, I have to ask their parents 'what are your house rules?' Where is food allowed? Shoes on or off? I get the no shoes rule, we do the same thing in my house, but are you allowed to walk one foot in the door before you remove the shoes, or do you have to take them off as you pass through the threshold? Also can you also appreciate that my daughter's shoes Velcro in the back so that she can't take them off herself before you scold her for not taking off her shoes? If she tries to climb up on the couch, is that allowed or is it considered 'climbing on furnature'?

I feel that I should have asked these questions, so that I could have done more to teach Kate about how we behave we were are a guest in someone else's house, and maybe I wouldn't have felt that I was walking of eggshells, so afraid I was going to get admonished for doing the wrong thing. But what really getting to me was the way she was interacting with Kate.

"Kate, do you know what colour this is?"
"Kate, can you sing a song?"
"Kate, [after she placed a sticker in the wrong spot of a sticker book] that sticker is improperly placed. Can you say 'improperly placed?'"

I should realise that she was just trying to engage her, but it was annoying the shit out of me. "She knows her colours." I informed Robin, while wanting to add; she's a bit overstimulated in a new environment, and you're a stranger, please don't expect her to perform. Of course, I interpreted her questions to Kate as an interrogation of my parenting skills, where she was checking in to see that Kate was learning appropriately.

At the same time, the visit did serve as a useful learning opportunity. Little Myrtle is about two and a half months older than Kate, which is a significant gap for their ages. Her speech is very progressive, she's speaking in small sentences. She can recognise letters and numbers very well. We probably should do more singing with Kate, although I think she does quite a bit at school, as she knew 'The Itsy-Bitsy Spider' and 'Wheels on the Bus' before Robin tried to take credit for "I got her to sing 'The Itsy-Bitsy Spider!'". We definitely need to work on manners, expecting her to say 'please' and 'thank you'. Maybe I just feel so resentful as I was able to make these observations myself without Robin pointing them out to me. Or rather, I feel that I didn't need her to tell these things to Kate, and make me feel like I'm not doing my job as a parent. In what ways are friends allowed to extend parenting to our kids?

I'm in such an unfamiliar territory; yet I also have to admit that I'm guilty of judging other people's parenting in the way I felt it was done to me. I went through the Denver Development check list with my cousin's sons to make sure they were meeting their milestones, and I actually got down on my hands and knees to show my cousin's nine month old son how to crawl. I've been silently critical of the ways Myrtle is raising her little Myrtle. At the same time, I was acknowledging our deficiencies during this trip, I was scoring the areas where we are ahead. Kate is physicially stronger. Kate is ahead in potty training. We use less screen time. We serve healthier foods. I lost my pregnancy weight (okay, that last one was just me being petty).

Why do we do this? Parenting is really hard. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Some of us are better at disclipine. Others are more creative at thinking up games and activities. No one is perfect. We're all really making it up as we go along, just trying to get from one day to the next. We're on the same team. But how do we work at teammates? How do you incorporate your friends who are parents with your kids?

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Right Now -May 2017

Celebrating: We've had a few birthdays this past month. My Dad's was over a week ago, and my aunt's 80th was over this past weekend. We attended a party for a colleague's 4 year old son and Kate has been singing "Happy Dirthday" since then.

Reading: I finished Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus by Matt Taibbi. I had a free subscription to Rolling Stone for a year and I love Taibbi's writing style. It was probably the only section I read of the magazine. I also just downloaded Diaper Free by Three on to my Kindle. A friend who is a Urology PA recently posted an article written by a pediatric urologist who concludes that just about every pediatric urologic disorder is the result of potty training too early and he insists the ideal age is between 3 and 4. I've been reminding myself that he is a specalists who justs sees the problem cases and not normal healthy kids, but it freaked me out a bit, so I had to do some back up reading, even though the points in Diaper Free were already stated in the previous book I read (almost on the borderline of plagiarism)

Watching: I haven't yet cancelled my subscription to Netflix, so I'm still making my way through the Gilmore Girls. I had conversations with a few people who felt surprised a what a spoilt little bitch Rory had become in the revival, but then realised she was always like that. I think I found the episode that reveals just how obtuse she was. (Spoiler Alert, Risa!) In season 5, Rory practically stalks Marty (aka 'Naked Guy' from her freshman year) and invites him to hang out with her, even though he clears doeesn't want to. He reluctantly agrees to get together for a Marx brothers movie marathon. She makes quite an effort; dressing in costume, hanging movie posters around her room and offering an array of snacks. There is an awkard tension at first, but the both seem to relax, especially as Rory has her legs over Marty's lap. Then Logan shows up to see if she wants to join him and his friends for Chinese food. Rory knows exactly how Working Class Marty and Spoilt Rich Kid Logan feel about each other as her first encounter with Logan was to confront his disparagaing and demeaning behaviour toward Marty. Nonetheless, she offers little resistance and Logan invites Marty along as "if you're going to be hanging out with Ace, I should get to know you outside your uniform." A pointed dig and a bit territorial. (BTW, the nickname 'Ace' seems really ridiculous as we now know she was a failed journalist) Poor Marty is forced to listen to the rich guys brag about their drunken escapades at their fancy foreign private schools while he watches Logan play with Rory's hair. Then he's subjected to more humiliation as he can't pay $75 for his share as he doesn't have the cash in his wallet nor his bank account. Rory lends him the money just so he can save face (Logan payed for her) which does beg the question why he didn't just give a credit card. Rory is sensible enough to pass up the post Chinese food night clubbing and walks embarassed Marty home, where he admits he has feelings for her and she reveals that she likes Logan, just in case it wasn't obvious. Then she begs Marty to still be her friend, making you wonder if they ever were truly friends, and suggests coming back to finish their movie marathon. Logan has to spell it out for her that Duck Soup is one of his favourite movies and doesn't want that movie to be tarnished with his memories of such a shitty night.

I also finished watching the second season of The Detour. Although the ending was strange, it's a brilliant series and worth watching just for the parody of Hamilton.

Listening: I really don't listen to any pod casts, but when I google searched Insane Clown President to check the spelling of Matt Taibbi's name, I noticed there is an audio version of the book narriated by the author. Almost exactly 10 years ago, I struck up a conversation with the most intimidating perinatologist in our department as he noticed by copy of Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them. A few days later, I was in clinic when he paged me. I was struck with panic. It is never a good thing when the perinatologist is paging you. Except this time he wanted to share that he bought the audio version of Lies after he read a chaper of my book and wanted to share that I had to hear the words in Al Franken's voice. He was right, listening to the audio version enhanced my experience of that book.

Drinking: I've been making my own version of Cacao Almond Milk. Safeway sells it, but at $3.49 for 8oz, it's a rip-off. I read the ingredents and bought some cacao powder, liquid dates, and Himalayan sea salt. Now I can make it whenever I want for much less.

Eating: I've been struggling to find a balance. I completed another Whole 30 in March and my game plan was to follow the Whole 30 rules during the week, but give myself some freedom on the weekends. Sounds easy right? Well I think I've been over doing it on the weekends when I am compliant, or I'll bend a little during the week, as I'm not doing a "true" Whole 30. As a result my weight fluctuates with my eating. If I have an occasional glass of wine, baked treat or Friday night pizza, my weight will balloon to pre-pregnancy digits at 155. If I avoid temptations, I can get down to 151. I have to decide which is more important to me.

Wearning: An old but favourite long sleeve Nike shirt and gym shorts. This is kind of a pervey question.

Loving: So many things, I'm feeling like I have a good rhythm with work and family and I never thought I'd be this happy.

Anticipating: We're going away this weekend to visit our friends Robin and Barney in LA. They have a daughter who is 3 months older than Kate and are expecting their second.

Hoping: Trump gets impeached soon.

Following: I haven't done so yet; but a few of my teammates follow [Olympic Gold Medal swimmer] Nathan Adrian and I'm tempted to join because he posts pictures of his cats.

Wondering: If I am doing the right thing by potty training Kate now versus waiting until later. My instinct tells me that I am, but that article got in my head a bit.

Trying: New recepies, fitting in some more exercise. I've had to miss some swim practices or gym nights due to my work and husband's work schedule. I started a sticker chart and I'm trying to at least get some squats or push up done on the nights I miss.

Planning: I have to figure out meals for the week we come back from LA. We land at 2 PM and I'll need to hit the store and do meal prep

Contemplating: How to best spend my time when I have a parent's day out on the Saturday before Mother's Day. My plan is to clean the deck, so I can set an outdoor play area for Kate. I also should do some gardening. I know I will have unrealistic expectations for what I can get accomplished. I should hit Lowe's earlier in the week so I don't waste time on Saturday.

Monday, 10 April 2017

21 months

I survived my first weekend away from Kate. I had a 7:15 flight, so I needed to leave the house before 5 AM and I didn't get a chance to say good bye to her. I did give Tyler some cuddles before I left, which induced some mom guilt that I said good-bye to the cat and not my baby, but Husband begged me not to risk waking her. As soon as I got to the airport, I immediately spotted three mamas baby wearing and felt that something was missing. My heart started to ache for Kate. It just didn't feel right to be travelling with out her. However, once I borded the plane and was able to take a nap after take-off, and not deal with an antsy kid, I was enjoying my taste of freedom.

Freedom that was to be short-lived. I was released from responsibilites as a parent, but was returned to the role of daughter as I met my parents at our hotel in Dallas. Once we were checked in, my mother suggested that she and my dad may need a nap before attending the basketball games later that evening. As I slept for a few hours on my flight, I announced that I would go sit by the pool and read.

My Mother (to my Dad): "Someone has to go with her. Jane can't go by herself"
Me: "I'm almost 41 years old. I think I'm ready to go to the hotel pool by myself."
My Mother: "There's no Life Guard on duty..."
My Dad "Jane is a swimmer. She is the Life Guard"
Me: "I didn't say that I was going to swim. I swim four times a week, why would I swim in the hotel kiddie pool? I just want to go relax by the pool, which is something I can't do at home."
My mother still seems hesitant
Me: "You can see the pool from our room."
Me: "I'm a big girl. I go pee-pee in the potty."

I grabbed my phone, book and room key and left for the pool. I managed to get through maybe twenty pages of my book before my mother texted that she was coming down to join me. We could have had a nice mother-daughter chat while sitting pool side, but I was still pissed off over the fact that she felt I needed a guardian. This continued for the rest of the weekend. I was supposed to try to meet up with some Dallas friends, but one had moved to Chicago and the other was in labour. It's just as well that they were unavailable, as my mother probably would have chaperoned my visit.

I get that you never stop being a parent, but I would think that living on my own for more than twenty years and having a kid of my own has built me some credit. At the same time, I admit that the thought of letting Kate venture out on her own terrifies me. Yet, I can't contain her and I can't always be by her side to protect her. I have to teach her how to survive on her own and hope these lessons will serve as a virtual presence. I'll have to trust her and the job I did preparing her for the real world. At minimum, if we're walking somewhere, I'll trust the navigation system on her electronic device and won't feel the need verify the directions with a paper map.

Overall, I enjoyed my trip. Dallas is seriously nice, y'all. It is very kid friendly, which made me miss Kate at times. We ate at some really nice restaurants, drank some fun cocktails, did some historical sight seeing and recovered from the disappointment that our team didn't win a National Championship for the first time in 5 years.

Weight 28.2 lbs (on my scale)
Height: Not sure

Teeth: The incisors on the top have finally started to break through, but they seem to be taking their own sweet time.

Hair: It's finally getting a bit longer and thicker and I can just about pull it into a ponytail (for all of three seconds before she pulls it out). She's rocking the look of Carol Brady.

Eating: She's a Paleo baby! She's been going through this indecisive phase where she'll sign that she's hungery, but does not want anything that we offer her. (Although I think we may have to stop giving her so many options and limit her choices to [in the voice of Dr Evil from Austin Powers] "Frickin A or Frickin B") One day, a frustrated Husband held her up to the pantry cubbard and she went right for my Whole 30 provisions. She loves Lara bars (fortunately they make small sized bars as she would open one of my bars, but not eat the whole thing, and I would have to eat it as I can't bear to let them go to any waste.) She's also into Epic bars, which does make me concerned about the sodium, but it is a good source of protein, especially for a day when all she wants to eat is fruit. I brought her to the gym with me one time and looked over to the play area to find her drinking out of my water bottle. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but when I discovered that she downed the entire bottle (leaving nothing for me post workout) I remembered it was coconut water! She's been a really good water drinker, but if I add a little coconut water to her sippee cup, she'll gulp it down. So far we've avoiding giving her any juice... with the exception that we've done a few trips to Jamba Juice.

She's also getting fussy about how she wants her food. One day she was refusing her beloved chicken nuggets that I had cut up for her, but reached over an grabbed one that was still intact. It was as if to announce "I'm a big girl now and I don't need you to cut my food up for me." She also wants her strawberries whole, except if it's the cut strawberries for my lunch. Then she has to have those, and even if you cut up her strawberries, it's not the same thing. Also, if you open a box of raisins from the wrong end; they cease to be raisins and are unacceptable for consumption. Close the bottom and open them from the top? No, the bottom was open. They are tainted. (For the record, I ended up giving her a fresh box and I taped up the one inadvertently open at the wrong end. I haven't yet tried to offer it to her). I learned another lesson about coconut water when she saw me take a swig from the container. Even though she watched me pour the Zico coconut water (generously) into her sippee cup, that wasn't acceptable. She wanted to drink from the container too. It brought me back to when I was a child and saw my dad drink out of the milk carton for the first time. To a kid, drinking out of the carton is cool. It's totally badass. It's only to adults that it's considered gauche and undignified.

We're getting a little better at eating in a more civilised manner. I'll place her plate on the table and she'll actually try to climb into her booster seat herself to sit down at the table. I find that she does better if someone is sitting with her and sometimes, I'll need to spoon feed her to get her to eat; which does feel a bit like we're taking one step forward and two steps back. Yet I do feel strongly that we have to reinforce designated eating areas. 1. I don't want to be cleaning up food messes all over the hours (we're prone to ant invasions). 2. Such rules exist in other places (recently she had a meltdown at the play gym as they are strict about no food in the play area).

Sleeping: Surprisingly, we all did well with the jet lag coming back from England. Within a week, she was back to her normal schedule and I feared we'd hit another setback as the Daylight Savings adjustment was just a week away, but she handled that well too. I know I am so fortunate to have such a good sleeper, but I do fear that will come to an end once Kate transitions to a big girl bed and can get escape. Myrtle kept Little Myrtle in her crib until she was almost four years old, which I was silently and very much unknowingly judging as my comparison were my cousins gave us their crib when my nephew was just two and a half. (I also suspected it was because Little Myrtle's room is really small) Now I understand her logic. It's a whole new ballgame when they can roam free at night. Kate was showing signs of looking to climb out of her crib, but she hasn't done so lately. Good. Keep it that way. My mom used to have a set of jingle bells that she kept on our front door and our cat would ring the bells when she wanted to be let out. I'm going to ask my mom if she still has them for me to use on Kate's door when she goes to a big girl bed. It feels so circle of life.

We're still trying to have her nap in her crib on weekends, but lately we've been so busy that she's napped in the car or in her stroller. As the rain has stopped and the weather has been warmer, I've gone back to taking her to the pool for Tuesday Nap Time/Mummy Work-outs. One day she woke up really early and it was perhaps the one time I was happy to be doing a 200 IM set as I think she enjoyed watching everyone swimming different strokes and was content to sit patiently in her stroller. Husband recently had the challenge of getting her to nap in her crib. If the thirty minutes of crying wasn't enough to let him know how she felt about taking a nap, she made sure her feeling were known.

Likes: I got her a toy stroller and dolly for Christimas, figuring she would probably be more interested in pushing the pram, but she's really getting into her dolls. When we get ready to leave, she puts her baby in the stroller and pushes her toward the door (and sometimes down the steps leading into the garage). We've started taking baby with us when we go out, and I need to consider getting a back up doll as I fear we (I) could lose it somewhere. Her favourite activity with her dolls? Putting them down for a nap. She's place her dolls face down on the ground and will cover them with anything she can find (a blanket, burp cloth,towel, pillow a jacket) and will pat their backs saying "night, night" Yeah, it's pretty adorable.

She also loves stickers. Shortly after she transitioned to spending a full day at Day Care, she started getting clingy and crying at drop off. I would try my Harvey Karp techniques to get her to calm down, but some days I would run out of time before I needed to leave for work and would leave the poor teachers to deal with my crying and screaming kid. Then one day, the instructor pulled out a sheet of stickers for Kate. She just turned to me and said "Bye-bye" Of course, what she was really staying was; Um, I have stickers now. What are you still doing here? We're using stickers very sparingly and stragetically as we don't want them to lose their magic too soon. The good thing is that you can find stickers almost anywhere. Clothes shopping at G.ap? Just plaster the size stickers all over her and she's as happy as a pig in mud. Our swim coach has us use sticker charts to keep track of how many practice sessions we attend and if Kate makes it through a practice, she gets some stickers too.

She's also discovered that her clothes have pockets and they are the best things ever. She loves keeping her hands in her pockets as well as finding small things to stash in her pockets. I need to start checking pockets before doing her laundry from now on. Here she is multi-tasking while talking on her 'phone'.

Dislikes: Bibs. She won't even do the IKEA smock any more. As we've had some many problems getting her to sit and eat, I've recognised that I just have to pick my battles. Even with a bib, she'd probably figure out how to get her clothes dirty anyway and she's just going to out grow them. Actually, I've gotten pretty good at removing stubborn stains, something else I can add to my list of Mom skills.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It just means they won't be eligible to conseign or pass on to someone else. Not everyone understands this. When we were in England, I was so pleased that Kate was sitting at the little table her hosts set up for her and was using a spoon to eat her soup that I didn't even notice that she dripped some on her dress. "Do you need a bib?" asked our hostess. "No thank you." I replied "I have an extra set of clothes, I'll just change her after lunch." "I have a bib I can give to her. We still have some lying around." she ignored every word I said. "No, really it's okay..." I protested as she started looking through a drawer. I though it was universally known in the Mom Code that when a fellow Mom says "No, that's okay." what she really means is FOR THE LOVE OF GOD I SAID NO! Sure enough Kate was interested in what she was looking for in the drawer and abruptly got up from the table spilling the soup everywhere...

Cutting her nails. I can really use some help with this one. I used to do it at the begining of Baby Music. Kate would sometimes take a light snooze during the drive and would be a bit sleepy, or she would be in shy mode at the begining of class and just want to sit on my lab where the nail clippers were lurking in my pocket. I realise that it's socially unacceptable to cut your nails in public, but this was my only opportunity. Sometimes, I only get to cut one side of a nail, leaving a more dangerous sharp side, which I question if it is worse than just leaving the nails long, but smoothe. I tried letting her watch TV or a viedo on the iPad or iPhone. That worked once. Now she hides her hands behind her back. My only shot is to sit her in our bathroom sink so I have some leverage on my side. Sometimes she'll turn on the tap with her feet and get wet, necessitating a PJ change, but it's a casualty worth risking. Sometimes she's squirm out and I'll wrestle her to the counter and try to clip. I even cut the cat's nails in front of her to demonstrate that it's no big deal. (Tyler is the easiest cat ever as he actually purrs while he sits in my lap and lets me cut his nails). Maybe I'll try to do mine the next time I to do hers.

She's also not a fan of getting dressed. She's not yet the kid who takes off her clothes and runs around naked, but there are times when she'll duck to avoid something being put over her head, or she'll push it off her head before I can get her arms in. Oddly, she does love putting her shoes and jacket on, as she knows this means we're going out. It broke my heart when Husband and I were leaving her with my in-laws one night in London. She saw use putting on our shoes and jacket and grabbed hers as well. Now that we're back home, every time she gets her coat, she starts mentioning the names "Lilly" and "Alex" thinking that she's going to Day Care.

Clothing: Children sizes are so funny. I have some 12 month sized onesies that still fit, but as I'm trying to transition to separate, I got a bunch of 18-24 month long sleeved shirts. "Are you trying to make our daughter wear compression wear?" asked Husband when I dressed her in one of the Tees. Yeah, they are totally snug, but I'm trying to make one get at least one wearing. I recently hit some clearance racks and stocked up on a bunch of 2T and even some 3T shirts. Oh remember how I went a bit overboard at a boutique in London as I wanted her to stand out wearing some clothes no one else would have? Yeah, the first day she debuted a new outfit they played outside and her pants were caked in mud. I soaked and scubbed but the dirt was just absorbed into the fabric and my cleansing efforts wore away some of the color and the fabric. Why do I bother? Well, I thought I learned my lesson until one day I saw Lilly in a cute little dress and my mind registers 'game on!' and the next day I dressed Kate in another London outfit. That was the first day they learned how to paint. [face palm] "Children cannot run and play and do all the things they are supposed to do if they're worried that they'll mess up their clothes" Sigh. Yes, Fraulein Maria, you are right. At least now Kate has some very stylish play clothes and one very foolish mother.

Diapering: My potty training book describes that Pull-ups are essentially diapers and should not be used for training, but I picked up a box as I'm so sick of the wrestling match every time that we change, I'm curious to see if Easy-ups may be easier until we're fully potty trained. I recently placed my first order of tiny undies!

Health Issues: At our 18 month check up, Husband pointed out that Kate's second toe overlaps her big toe. Our pedi commented that it's very common in kids, but thought hers was a bit extreme and suggested seeing a podiatrist. "Do you remember Dr Tarsal?" he asked me. I hadn't heard that name in years, but I absolutely remembered. Years ago my Pedi and I worked for a different medical group. I split my time between two offices and when I was in the satelite office, I used a desk that was shared with Dr Tarsal. One day he left a plastic container with bloody toenails on the desk. Yes, it was just as disgusting as it sounds, and I'm not using the word bloody in the British sense. I left a note asking that we remember to respect that the desk is a shared space. The next time I was in the office, I found my note in the garbage bin and the toenails hadn't moved. In retaliation, I littered the desk with gynaecology parphanillia. Uterus post-it notes. A plastic model vagina and an actual Nuva Ring that I used for demonstration purposes, but would be open to speculation. My message was clear. You do not want to get into this with me. Two weeks later the toe nails were finally removed.
Fortunately, at her visit, Dr Tarsal didn't recognise me as the one who passive agressively decorated his desk with vagina stuff and I didn't volunteer the information. He said the overlap is either due to a tight tendon or underdeveloped metatarsal bone, and should resolve by the age of three. In the meantime, he suggested using toe spilts at night to help keep her toes in line. You can imagine how much fun it is to get them on each night. Add that to the list of dislikes.

Milestones: I had an interesting conversation about developmental milestones with an unlikely source while I was in London. Rico Suave is a handsome and charming bachelor in his mid-thirties. I thought he might be thinking about settling down as he's nearing the big 4-0, least to avoid being the creepy old guy in the club; but he met up with two girls that he swiped on Tinder while attending a gathering at a bar for a friend's birthday. He asked about my experience with motherhood, and I replied that I didn't go in with any expectations, but I'm fascinated watching Kate develop. "I'm so easily impressed with how she's learning. I'm convinced that she advanced and that she's brilliant, but then I talk to other mothers, I learn their babies are doing the same thing." Rico replied, "You know it really doesn't matter when you hit your milestones as long as you achieve them." He elaborated that he dated a woman who didn't learn to read until she was 12, but graduated at the top of her class and is a successful doctor. I privately questioned how smart she was to be dating someone who is nicknamed 'Sex Pest' and has probably had every minor STD at least once, but I appreciated his point. It helps to keep some perspective. Just because your kid can use the potty; remember, so can your cat. She walked at only 10 months? Stephen Hawking will tell you walking is not a function of intellegence. She's talking up a storm? Yeah, someone else claims, "I know words. I have the best words." It doesn't mean you have anything profound to say.

Anyway, Kate's language exploded as soon as she hit 18 months, but I was getting concerned as it seemed to have slowed down after we returned from England. Maybe she was just taking a break as her vocabulary seems to be blossoming again. She's exhibiting at least 1-2 new words per day and she's starting to string some words together. She kind of said her first sentance, but it took a lot of prompting and signing from Mummy. She was fussing while having her diaper changed, so I pointed to her dolly that she had just made go 'night, night' and said "Shhh, baby sleeping" and she parroted it back with words and signs. Now when we're out, if she sees another mom or dad pushing a pram, she'll alert me, "Shh, baby sleeping."

She enjoys looking at picture books and can name objects when asked or can point to particular objects. When she sees the picture of a computer and a picture of a TV set, she says 'Daddy'. We're giving her credit for that answer. She's also starting to identify colours. Socially, she scored two invites to playdates with her Day Care classmates, which we have to work on setting up with her parents. My fear is that we'll have to return the favour, and I'm not sure how to host a play date. She's also mastered walking up stairs as she had a lot of opportunity to practice while we were in England.

The most exciting event: she went pee-pee in the potty! One night we were in the kitchen and she grabbed my hand and let me to our guest bathroom and pointed to the toilet. I ran and grabbed her potty (which I had been storing in the garage), but she started to freak out once I showed it to her. I left the Bjorn potty in our main bathroom and thought I'd put one of her dolls or stuffed animals on it. Then next morning, I actually found her putting one of her dolls on the potty! That evening when we came home from Day Care, I had to pee, so I put her on the potty while I went on the big potty and success! I'm happy that she peed after the first time she sat on the potty. I'm planning to pull the diapers over Memorial Day weekend, but we'll keep practicing. She's gone from no clue to recognising when she's peed. She'll either grab her crotch, place her hands down the back of her pants or start to undress. We'll take her to the potty, she'll sit for a few minutes [without peeing] and then wipe herself. When I returned from Dallas, I found that she was standing over the potty... just as she observes Daddy doing... It was amusing, but not something I want her doing!

Looking forward to: To quote Calvin and Hobbs 'the days are just packed' We have two birthday parties and a 5K this month. I thought we had a free weekend, but I checked the calender and that's Easter Sunday, so we'll go to my aunt's house for brunch. Then, we're visiting friends in LA during the first weekend in May, the following weekend is Mother's Day and our Day Care is offering a Parents Day out. Then it's the weekend just before my birthday and finally it will be Memorial Day weekend and we lead into the potty training adventure. It's going to be a lot of fun, but I'd be happy with a weekend where we didn't have to go anywhere or do anything except hang out and figure out how to slow time down.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

10 Ways I'm Rocking Motherhood

When I first started blogging, I was so excited when I started getting nominated for various blogging awards from fellow bloggers. Then I realised that they really are modern chain letters and I started to find them annoying and stopped participating. It seemed that everyone else grew tired of them as I hadn't seen anyone else promoting a blog award. Then I read a post by my bloggie bestie Risa on 10 Ways I'm Rocking Motherhood. I thought it was just a creative list, so I was quite shocked to discover at the end it was one of these chain letter blog posts, but I was even more shocked to see my name! What me? I'm rocking motherhood? Seriously?

I decided to take the plunge and list my motherhood highlights and I really encourage others to do the same. We're so hard on ourselves. We're our toughest critics. It's worthwhile to remember all the things we do well.

1. I'm the Executive Chef of our house

I make all our meals. I google search for new recepie ideas. I plan our weekly meals with attention to what leftovers can work for lunch, effortless meals for my late nights and gym nights. If I make a simple mistake, such as forgetting to defrost some chicken... it can wreck my delicately crafted plans. I also have to work around the fact that Husband won't eat leftovers for dinner as he doesn't like to eat the same meal two nights in a row. I could be sympathetic if this were an OCD thing; but it's not. His mother let him get away with being a spoilt little brat. I used to make a large meal on Sunday, so we could just re-heat it on Monday, when I work late, but he started boycotting leftovers for a second night's dinner. I tasked him with coming up with an alternative and noted that it had to be specific. "Something easy" he replied. Still not specific. "Something quick" Like re-heating leftovers!!! I thought my head was going to explode.        
I create meal plans. Then I make shopping lists. Then Kate and I do the shopping. Then I run out during my lunch at work and pick up stuff I forgot during my weekend shopping trips. On Sundays, we go to the Farmer's Market. Then I come home and cut up fruits and veggies for Kate's and my lunches for the week. I still make my own packets for her. I used to make a big meal on Sunday (so we could have leftovers on Monday), but now I do something simple since lunch prep takes up so much time. Meal prep extends throughout the week. After cleaning up dinner, I cut veggies, meat and prepare dry ingredients to make quick work of cooking. Yes, the crock pot is awesome, just walk in the door at night and dinner is ready! Yet, you still have to spend time doing your prep work. I know this doesn't really make me a rockstar of a mom, as it's sort of my job, but it's exhausting. Often unappreciated by my spoilt brat Husband who will decide at the last minute that he doesn't feel like having what I've planned, prepped and started making. As if I have a back up alternate meal ready to go. (I'm so close to declaring every night a FUFFY -Fuck yoU Fend For Yourself-) If Kate doesn't like something, she'll throw it on the ground, which also makes me feel unappreciated. (Earlier this week, I hear myself cry out 'You zoodled the cat!') Actually, she's become a little more polite and sometimes she'll hand her food back to me, which still makes me wonder why I bother. I'm sure most every mom has these same challenges and the same struggles, so I acknowlegde that I'm no different, but I want to give a shout out to everyone who feels their meal planning/prepping/cooking efforts go unappreciated. I appreciate all the work you do. It's all consuming and exhausting.

2. I still make myself a priority

I still remember when my cousins had their first baby. We went to visit them a few months into their journey and listened to them describe how time consuming a little infant can be. "If you guys have kids.." My cousin's husband warned "all the sports and activities you do will go right out the window." I thought it was an odd remark considering that my cousin and her husband didn't do any sports or activities before they had kids. I smugly thought to myself Challenge Accepted! Well in a way he was right. As my mother abruptly pointed out, I'm no longer playing tennis or field hockey, but technically those stopped before Kate. I'm not bothered about field hockey, although I miss hanging out with my old teammates (I was so happy to get together with our old goalkeeper while I was in London. The goalies and sweepers are bonded for life). I'd really like to play tennis again, but I can just about manage to keep up with swimming and going to the gym. Let me tell you; it doesn't always happen. There are days when she wakes up early in the morning and especially if she has a cough or cold, the mom guily overwhelms me and I'll stay home from swimming. Then I'll log on to and see what I missed at practice and the swimmer's guilt sets in. I'll try to take her to the gym while she's napping and sometimes she sleeps, sometimes she wakes up after I've barely rowed 500 meters. But there are some days where one of the life guards at the poool will play with her if she wakes during swim practice, or I'll coordinate with another Cross Fit mom to bring her kids to play with Kate in the gym's kiddie area. Kate recently hit a PR and stayed in the play area for an entire workout. No it, doesn't always happen, but it will never happen if I don't try.        
Yes, gone are the days when I could run 1-2 10 Ks per month and aim to complete 3-4 half marathons per year. At least for now. My fantasy of being the long distance stroller pushing mom is being dashed by the reality that Kate doesn't like being in the stroller for a long period of time. A 5K is her max and race strategy is now all about making her milk and snacks stretch thoughtout the race. Maybe when we move up from the jogging stroller to the little thing that is like a tent on wheels and she doesn't have to be restrained, it will be more fun for her. Or maybe I'll just have to wait until she's big enough to run along with me. Maybe the window is closed for now; but out the window? That's not going to happen.

3. I made sure Husband was going to be a 'Hands-on Dad'

When Kate was only a few months old, I read an article on Scary Mommy, or some other parenting website. The author had two kids, aged 5 and 8 and one day she discovered that her husband was so inept that he couldn't even call their local pizza parlor and place an order for the same pizza and sides that they have every Saturday night for the past few years. It dawned on her that she had been parenting all by herself all this time. As moms usually do, she blamed herself for not ever requiring her husband to share any responsibility or teaching him what to do. I felt that this article carried a warning: don't let this happen to you! I consulted the lone Dad in our New Parents Group. The poor guy who is now probably permanently cross-eyed from trying to avert his eyes away from all the breastfeeding moms sitting around the circle. "Don't just ask for help," he advised "Assign a specific task". "Lists are also useful" he offered. I wrote out the inventory of the diaper bag on a little index card and I'm thinking I should do the same for packing Kate's lunch. When I gave Husband the task of washing pump parts and preparing Kate's bottles, he took it very seriously and I feel he earns some of the credt for giving Kate breast milk for one year.

Don't let me lure you into thinking that we operate in some kind of utopia where the work load is split 50/50. Ha! Most of the time, I feel like I am the default parent. I take care of packing the lunches, her school bag, giving her bath, putting her to bed, picking out her clothes to wear. I do most of the diapering, because Husband admits he is "lazy" about it. Sigh.  At least I know that he can do these tasks when I need him to. He gives Kate her dinner, does her bath and puts her to bed on nights when I have my department dinner meetings. Once he cmplained that I didn't have any food ready for her dinner. "Oh, you mean you had to figure out how to heat up some meatballs? It's a good thing you have a doctorate" On Friday mornings when I leave the house by 6:30, sometimes Kate is still asleep and he has to give her breakfast and get her ready for Day Care all on his own. It may mean that on some mornings, such a last Friday, "breakfast" involves giving her a container of blueberries and letting her walk around the house with them... but I've learned to let that go. I did not think about smushed up blueberries all over the house as I drove to work. That was his problem.        

4. I involve her in the household chores

Shit has to get done! I want her to appreciate that life is not all fun and games and we all need to work at times. She'll help with the laundry and emptying the dishwasher. She's still really curious about the vacuum and I know that when I've vacuuming, she'll actually sit still for five minutes and I don't have to worry about her getting into anything. She's also getting a bit better at engaging in her own independent play while I'm cooking or putting her clothes away.      

5. I enjoy my time away from her

I love that little girl with all my heart and then some more. Everyday I feel fortunate to have her in my life. But I need a break now and then. It's nice to have some separation and to go out of the house and spend a few hours away from being mommy. There are some mornings where I don't really feel up to going to the gym. Then I remember it's a hour of kid-free time, plus driving time and suddenly I feel like working out! I used to feel guilty about the fact that I didn't cry dropping her off at Day Care and I don't think about her during the day, but NonSequitur Chica reassured me that it means I feel comfortable with her Day Care Attendants and I'm busy at my job. We'll see how I do when I go to Dallas for the weekend at the end of the month. I realised it will be the first time being away from her for a night since she was placed in my uterus in embryo form on October 21, 2014. How much I miss her may also depend on if my parents are driving me nuts.

6. I can manage parenting solo

I totally admit I was terrified when Husband had his first business trip after I went back to work and I was left on my own with Kate. Not only did we manage; it wasn't too hard at all (not that I'll admit that to him). My biggest challenge was trying to get up before she woke so that I could shower and would hope that she wouldn't wake up while I was in the shower. Not I opt to sleep as long as I can and I'll give her some milk and brings some toys into the bathroom while I scrub. I know I've said it a million times and I'll say it again, that I don't know how single parents manage and I'm in ever in such awe, but I can manage for a few nights or a week every now and then. Actually, last month when Husband was away, I found that with Kate going to bed earlier and sleeping through the night, I could enjoy having the house to myself like the good old days.

7. I'm a master bargain shopper

Since we don't need to buy them that frequently due to our cloth service, I only buy diapers when they are on sale or sponoring a promotion. I never waste a BBB 20% discount or $5 off coupon. My parents are also signed up and they forward me their emails and mail circulars. I've been known to make separate transaction during the same trip when I have multiple coupons available. I would often purchase exactly $25 worth of Baby.ganics stuff so I could earn another $5 BBB gift card. I make use of all my's Reward points and Gymbucks and Gap Cash.  I shop the Clearance racks and looks for Kate's next size. I've sold a lot of her used baby equipment on a group and I frequent a local conseignment shop. At least a third of their inventory are clothes that have never been worn or worn once or twice maximum. I hit the Dollar Store when I need cheap toys for travelling. As soon as I can be confident she won't destroy the books, we'll start going to our library.

8. We follow the No TV Before Two rule (sort of)

Please note! I am not criticising any mom who lets her kids watch TV! Actually I'm a little bit in the camp of "My mom let me watch Sesame Street before I was 2 and I turned out okay". I can say to this day that I still remember a lot of what I learned on the Street. I still sing 1-2-3-4-5, 6-7-8-9-10, 11, Tweeeellllvvvveee! I often play 'one of these things is not like the other' I learned cultural awarness. As we lived in Wonderbread Whitetown, the first people of colour I saw were characters on Sesame Street. I discovered people speak different languages because there are other countries and other languages. The first Spanish words I learned were from Luis and Maria. I learned about death when they said good-bye to Mr Hooper and I first learned about adoption when Gordon and Susan brought little Miles into their family.

More so, it was a call to action for Husband and I to cut down our own TV time. In the words of the great Eleanor Roosevelt, "You cannot ask of others that which you are not willing to do yourself". We ditched cable and switched to Roku. Now we only watch a handful of shows in our room and we listen to Pandora in the kitchen. I decided I was going to have to break my no TV for Kate rule when we flew back from England (direct to SFO is 11 hours). Years back, I worked with a women who flew a lot with her 4 year old and thought that personal DVD players were magic. "The key to it's success" she explained "is that it's only a treat for the plane. We tell her it doesn't work at home." Ah, take advantage of your kids while you can. In my case it backfired. Kate had no interest in watching The Secret Life of Pets or Finding Dory. (I enjoyed them both, but I watched them with subtitles, so I feel I need to see both again to appreciate the movie with the voice actors) I downloaded some signing videos for my iPad and that held her interest... for maybe 20 minutes. Then she tried to send an email to Kimberly Q.

Our rule has been that the only time TV is on in front of Kate is if it's sports. [and the Gilmore Girls revival] When the election was in it's final weeks, we started watching political news shows while she was in the room. Now that it's a total shit show and we want to be aware of just how much is fucked up, we're kind of watching political stuff all the time. I'm recognising that I need to be careful with Real Time with Bill and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, not only for the language, but a recent episode led her to dance along with "A Man Like Putin"

9. I'm doing things I said I would never do.

Well actually, it all started when I said that I would never do IVF... Two stim cycles and five transfers later, I'm going to Mommy and Me singing activities with Kate. I have a horrible singing voice. I was rejected from school chorus in the Fourth Grade and I have traumatic memories from that. I always said that I was never going to do any activity that involved mommies sitting in a circle singing with their babies. That's why I signed us up for signing classes...and we learned songs on the first day. Then I tried Baby Yoga... and there was also sitting in a circle and singing! Finally I relented and we started going to baby music. In the privacy of the dance studio, I sing, dance and play instruments. Something I never wanted to do and for such a long time, never thought I would never have the opportunity to do.

10. I know I just really lucked out

I have to be humble and admit that some of the things that make Kate a great baby are just sheer luck and I can't take any credit for it. Nursing went well, but it wasn't because I have any special skills. She's a good sleeper because that's just the way she is and not because of anything I did. She just happens to be an easy kid and fso far parenting her has been pretty easy. So much so, that I really fear she's saving all the hard stuff for her teenage years.

I nominate all the moms who read this blog to write your own list of the ways you are rocking motherhood. Maybe it's an idea for your next post, or the post that brings you out of blogging hibernation. Maybe just write it down on a piece of paper and stick it in your sock drawer. Reflect on it the next time it feels like motherhood is rocking you and know; you've got this.