Wednesday 21 February 2018

Kate 2.5 years

I had the best of intentions. Thanksgiving was early this year, so there were four and a half weeks before Christmas. I was going to create and order our holiday cards and the Year of Kate calendar for the grandparents over Thanksgiving weekend, so I could mail the cards and the calendars to my in-laws by the first week in December. I was able to produce the cards over that weekend, but as I was working on the calendar, I decided I needed some pictures of Kate in front of our Christmas tree, which didn't get assembled and decorated until the first weekend in December. I downloaded the app on to my IPad (which is where I store all my photos) and got to work. I uploaded all the photos, added captions, noted birthdates, our vacations, my swim meets, and Husband's hockey tournaments. It took me over two hours to create. Then, as I was adding a photo to use as the cover, the app crashed and my two hours of work vanished right before my eye.

I was on the verge of tears. It brought me back to loosing my term paper the night before it was due when I was in the nineth grade. Husband felt so badly for me that he actually suggested getting a new I Pad as mine is close to 6 years old. A few days passed before I could start over again and I could only do a few months at a time (after I discovered that I could save my work). It took just over a week to finish and while it would arrive in time for my parents to open on Christmas morning, it wouldn't get mailed to my in-laws until after Christmas. Maybe they would not receive before the start of the new year. That was my silver lining.

Let's rewind a year and I'll explain why I was smirking. Last Christmas I sent my in-laws and Husband's aunt and uncle some professional photos of Kate that I had professionally framed. I was honest about the money that I spent on their gifts on the customs shipping form and because of the amount that I spent, they had to pay a fee of 25 pounds when they picked it up from the post office. I get it. It's a really, really crappy thing to have to pay for your own present. However, I like to believe that I was raised to A. Just be thankful that someone went to the effort to send me a gift. B. Feel humbled by the amount the other person spent on me and decide that maybe I wouldn't say anything about it. C. If I felt compelled to mention it to the other person, I would wait a suitable amount of time AFTER I thanked the person for the gift. Not my Father-in-Law. The first thing I heard was about how he had to pay the fee. Husband didn't help the situation by claiming that I should have recognized that most of the cost of what I paid for the photos and the framing was the professional fees and the actual cost of the photo and frame was nominal, so I should have been more accurate in describing the value of the items. This enraged me as Husband wasn't showing any appreciation for the fact that I purchased, wrapped and mailed gifts to his parents, whom (and I can't emphasize this enough) I couldn't give a shit about. Even when we called my in-laws on Christmas morning, my Father-in-Law had to inform me that Husband's aunt and uncle also had to pay 25 pounds to pick up their package. No shit, I sent the exact same things. I just didn't hear from the aunt and uncle about their fees as they learned A-C.

So the fact that they would be getting their gift late this year, seemed to be my little revenge for not being thanked last year, but wait! There is more gift giving animosity related to my in-laws. Last year, they asked what they could do for Kate for Christmas. As we were coming to visit in February, I suggested that we could pick out some toys from Ar.gos and Kate could open them when she arrives, which would save us from having to bring toys with us. Ar.gos is basically the original Amaz.on. It's a small store front with multiple catalogues (think, the Sears catalogue) you write down the item numbers and employee search their warehouse for your products while you pay. You can also order stuff on-line and they deliver. Husband passed on my suggestion and my Father-in-law said that they would just buy Kate some toys when she arrived. Okay, few things annoy me more than when someone asks for your input and then completely disregards it. Well, we arrived and my in-laws had no plans to take Kate shopping, so Husband and I had to go out and pick up some stuff for her. I had really wanted to get some toys that were unique to England, but out of desparation, we ended up at Babies.R.Us -which basically has the same stuff that we could get back in California. We even got her another Baby Doll, so technically her "two babies!" are actually triplets. My Father-in-Law gave some cash to Husband to reimburse for the toys.

When Kate's birthday rolled around, the in-laws asked again what we wanted them to do. I replied that I just wanted her to having something that she would know was from them. I may have said something to the effect of not slipping cash in their kitchen like it was a drug deal. I also replied that I wanted her to have somethings that would represent England and I shared that I had found a few series while we were visiting and I gave them the titles. (I also specifically mentioned the store where I purchased the books and where they are located). Two months later, they sent some books. They weren't wrapped and there wasn't anything in the package to suggest it was a birthday gift. The books weren't the ones I suggested. They are probably appropriate for a second or third grader. If you don't want to take my suggestions, is it too hard to ask someone in the shop what books would be suitable for a toddler?

This year, I knew better to make any suggestions on what they could do, just so they could be ignored. I went into my 'whatever' mode.  Husband said the easiest thing was for us to get a gift for her and they'll give us money. So I went out to buy gifts for Kate, and wrapped them and put her Grandparents' names on it, so on Christmas morning, they could Face.time to see what gifts I bought for her.  I had to leave the room. Oh, and I won't get reimbursed until we go back over to England, but that's not the point. It just really annoys me that this is one more thing on my Christmas to-do list. My 82 year old Father-in-Law can fix his shower, but can't shop, wrap and ship a present to his granddaughter? I know there will come a time when we'll have to get gifts for them, but for now, they're capable. They're just being lazy. End Rant.

Height: 36.5 inches
Weight: Still at 34 pounds. I want her diet of eating snacks all the time and not gaining weight

Likes: ALL.THINGS.PEPPA.PIG. OMG we are so into the Peppa Pig phase. We introduced the characters with some books and then started adding some Peppa clothes and Myrtle sent some Peppa puzzles. Now it seems that we only read Peppa books at night and she even has Peppa socks and underwear. We've been letting her watch "Two Peppas" on the weekends, since A. It gives us a little more time resting in bed and B. It's a good incentive for good behaviour "If you don't do XXX, you can't watch Peppa" (we have been strict about following through with the threats). While I would rather her not be watching TV, as I fear it will become the Pandora's box that cannot be shut and she won't want to engage in other forms of play, I noticed that it has stimulated her imaginative play. She has a toy mobile phone and she'll call Peppa characters, Mr Rabbit, Madame Gazelle, Mr Bull... I'm not really sure what she has to discuss with Mr Bull and I can't help to notice that she is gravitating to the adult characters in the series and I wonder if it is a function of being an only child.

Her latest game is to play Farmer's Market. She'll go into the fridge and take out my bags of carrots, kale and other produce and will put then on individual squares in our tiled hallway. She then pushes her baby's stroller along the hallway and collects the bags. (Now, she has a cloth Ergo carrier for her baby, as she's a hip Californian Baby-wearing Mom) Our friends in LA gave her an activity desk for her birthday (which we finally assembled at Christmas) and it has a feature where it plays music. Kate will set the desk in the center at the end of the hallway (right where the live musicians play in the actual Farmer's Market). Then she asks me for a dollar to tip the musician.

Dislikes: Our main power struggles are taking a shower and getting dressed, although the latter has become a bit better. She initially agrees to go into the shower, then plays the stalling game. She strips naked and then declares that she needs to "warm up" and swings her arms by her side. We're not sure if this comes from waiting until the water is warm enough, or watching us warm up at the gym. I'll get through my entire shower (shampoo and conditioning my hair and even shaving my legs) while she is still "warming up". There have been days where I've had to drag her in kicking and screaming. We've gone through giving milk, soup (juice) fruit snacks, bath crayons and paints and even a Peppa pig wash cloth and she still resists. Right now, we're doing a shower every other day, but I think we're going to need to do it every day.

Milestones: Fortunately, I've not heard her use the F-word since my last post and she has discovered the L-word. One day she was sitting on my lap and I kissed her on the head. She turned and looked at me and said "You love me?" In an astonished voice. Hearing her say 'I love you" just melts my heart every time. Other important words she's learned...I caught her calling her VG her "hoo-ha". I'm pretty sure she picked it up from Husband and I didn't correct her as it sounds so cute when she says it. Then one day she walked in our room while Husband was getting dressed and I heard her ask "Is that your hoo-ha?" So, now she knows the proper anatomic terms. We also turned her front facing in her car seat. Question: what do you do when your kids starts kicking the seat?

Potty Training: I have a friend who is a Potty Training and Eliminiation Communication (EC) coach. She posted on her Facebook group that the stress of the holidays (going different places, family visiting, etc...) can either seal the deal with potty training or cause it to fall apart. I really thought we were going to be in the seal the deal category. She came home from Day Care in her undies TWO DAYS IN A ROW, she was using the potty by herself while my parents were here and when we were out, she would tell me when she needed to pee. I went over a week without having to use any of the spare clothes in our potty backpack. She was even staying dry through her naps and I don't think we've diapered her for a nap in over a month. Then she started peeing a bit in her undies en route to the potty. It was getting to the point of needed to change her undies and pants all the time. Next we progressed to full blown accidents, as in her bladder might as well be a water balloon that just burst over the floor and oh yeah, in our bed... She was having more accidents at Day Care and they were giving her two chances before going back into pull-ups. I even tried to bribe her by letting her watch Peppa during the week if she stayed dry at Day Care.

I was in denial for a while, but I needed to face the reality that we were in a full blown regression. We went back to naked training for a weekend. It was killing me. A few weeks ago I thought we were done and here we were back to square one with naked training. Fortunately, it stopped the accidents almost immediately and she was using the potty again. I decided we're going to spend quite a bit of time in the commando stage. Commando is meant to be pants without undies, as undies or training pants can sometimes feel like diapers. However, most girls pants are so tight, they're basically leggings. So I've been having her wear her pajama bottoms while we're at home and I found some looser fitting pants at a conseignment shop. At press time, it seemed to have worked. She only had one accident at Day Care this past week (which was during their Valentine's Day Party) and none at home. She had one accident at the park this weekend and another at the Zoo, but both times she told me she needed to go, but just didn't make it in time. I bring the Portette travel potty everywhere we go, but if she knows she has an option for a 'big potty' she'll refuse to use the Portette. I brought her to my swim meet this weekend and she insisted on using the big potty when there were only three heats of a 100 IM before my heat. She PR'd the potty run and I made it to the starting blocks on time.

Eating: I fear we've made no progress in this category. When I visited Myrtle just prior to my transfer, I was silently critical as she let her daughter watch cartoons on the IPad and play with toys during dinner and then wondered why her daughter wasn't eating. We had been eating in our kitchen and I was finding that Kate was getting easily distracted as we keep a lot of her toys in the kitchen for her to play while I'm cooking. We had also fallen into the habit of watching the news to absorb the latest scandals of the Trump administration and then bang our heads against the wall as we ask 'how is he still in power?'. After the New Year, I cleared my dining room table from what was gift-wrapping central, and decided that we would eat in the dining room -no TV. No change. Kate will squirm around in her seat for a while, before climbing out of the chair and finding something that she 'needs' to bring to the table. If I get her back in the chair, she'll request 'help' to eat, which really means that I have to spoon feed her. Sometimes she'll even whine "I'm a baby" We've tried explaining that if she's going to regress to being a baby, then she can't do big girl activities, but eventually, my maternal instinct to nurture and my desire not to waste food kicks in and I'll end up feeding her. Husband has been really pushing me to stop doing this, as she is in the 90th percentile for her weight, she can stand to miss a meal and it may be the only way for her to learn. I've been pondering going my grandfather old-school "Eat it, or wear it" but I think she'd find it fun and it would really be a mess for me to clean.

Sleep: Once Kate starting escaping from her crib, and we transitioned to the toddler bed and started sleeping on the pull out mattress next to her, I knew it was the wrong thing to be doing and it would eventually bite us in the ass. Yet for a while, it wasn't so bad, especially as she started sleeping though the night again. Husband and I accepted it as a trade off, it would take longer to get her to go down, but we got a good night's sleep. Initially, it would take 10-15 minutes, maybe only 5 on a really good night. Then it became more like 15-20 minutes. Next it stretched to 45 minutes. Around the start of the New Year, it was taking almost an hour if not more to get her to fall asleep. I was finding that I was delaying her bedtime (part of the problem) as I needed to make sure I had all my lunches, meal prep and other chores done, because there were some nights when I would fall asleep and I once spent the whole night on her pull-out mattress. This bull shit had to stop.

We consulted our friends in LA, who advocated for the Cry it Out method. Painful, but it works. I was planning to do it over the President's Day long weekend, but our Day Care provided baby sitting on Valentine's Day, so I decided to do it that night, as we were off our usual routine anyway. I closed her in her room and she cried for 28 minutes before falling asleep on the floor, leaving me just enough space to slip in and carry her to bed, where she woke up, but fortunately fell back asleep quickly. We tried it again the next night, and as we wasn't in such an overtired state, she really was trying to body slam the door. I was afraid she might hurt herself, so I came in and offered that I would sit on her rocking chair, which I did for a few minutes before moving just outside her door.
So this is where we're are now. I've read stories from other moms who have tried this approach, gradually moving themselves further away and staying for shorter periods of time. One friend offered that she would set a timer, telling her son it was for "ten minutes" and then she would set it for fewer minutes, until she was out in two minutes. I think that might work for us. At least for right now, while I'm in the rocker or sitting outside her room, I can use my IPad and feel like I'm being productive .

Clothing: I just purged out the remaining 2T clothes, save a few from Gym.boree that sometimes run larger on their sizes. Her 3T shirts are starting to look tight. [face palm] she is going to be wearing 4T sizes before she's actually 3 years old.

Activites: We started a new gymnastics class. While I loved our previous instructor and there were some perks to that gym (it was right next to a Whole.Foods and a Pet.Smart, plus there was a playground nearby) I didn't feel like it was challenging her. The "class" was just an open gym with 10 minutes of circle time to sing songs at the end. We even were able to drop in one the 2.5 - 4 year old class as a make up, and it was the same format. The new class is very structured, which is really making Kate work on her listening skills as well as her gymnastics. She likes working on the stuff she is good at (forward rolls, swinging on the bars and rings) and doesn't like the stuff she needs to work on (hand-stands, stretching) I feel that it was definately the right move, especially as the instructions progress all the way to team Competetion, and their teams travel and do really well. The only annoying thing is that while it's closer to our house, it still takes the same time to get there as it did for the other gym because Bay Area Traffic really sucks.

Looking Forward to: Having our garage back! Shortly after Christmas, we started a project of replacing the siding and Windows in our house. 'The Menz' (as Kate calls them) have been storing all their tools in our garage, so we've had to park in our driveway and sometimes on the street. It's funny that we didn't use our garage for the first five years that we lived in our house, but it's been a huge inconvenience to be without it now. Part of the reason is that we're in our rainy season, and I've been soaked while trying to get Kate into her car seat. The other reason is that we rely on Kate to fall asleep in her car seat to take her nap. There have been a few times, where I've had her sleeping in the car while it's parked on the street and I'll sit in the front seat and work on an article I agreed to write. I'm sure it draws looks from neighbours who are walking by.

A more serious reason for wanting the garage back, is that my car was, let's say "accessed" as I don't know if I can call it 'broken into' when I think it was left unlocked. I came back from picking up Kate from Day Care and brought our bins into the garage. I saw that Kate was holding my keys, but I wasn't really paying much attention to what she was doing with them. Husband was due to return from New York late that night, nearly at midnight, so I didn't set the alarm, so I wouldn't risk waking up Kate. When Husband came home, he discovered the boot of my car was open, as was the passenger door. The glove box and the console were also open. We found the tool used to break into a car; however as there was no damage to my car, we think Kate had played with the lock and it was my fault for not checking to confirm it was locked. Here is what was stolen; a bag of Kate's old clothes I had set aside to give to a pregnant woman at my gym, a pair of gloves, an umbrella, and a few socks stuffed with granola bars that I give to the homeless. Oh, and they also took my Garmin, which I haven't used in over 10 years. All I can say is that if the thieves really needed these items, I hope they make good use of them. It was kind of a no harm, no foul, break in, expect I realised it could have been much worse. My garage door opener was clipped to the driver's side visor. The thieves could have gained access to my garage. If I had heard the garage door open, I would have assumed it was Husband and when he didn't come in after 5 minutes or so, I probably would have gone out to see what was taking him so long to come in, and could have walked in on the robbery in progress. So today's security tip: don't leave your garage door opener in your car if you have to park in your driveway.