Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Surreal moments in my life

A few mornings ago, Elle was on the changing table, and I was getting her out of her (very wet) night diaper. We had an entire conversation, with Elle talking and pausing for me to respond, and me responding.

The only word from Elle I understood in the entire conversation was "poo."

Apparently, she has a lot to say about poo first thing in the morning.

Monday, February 27, 2012


I am constantly surprised by things that seem to be conventional wisdom among parents further along in the process, but that are NOT widely known by us new parents until you run into them yourselves. Breastfeeding, for one-- how tough it is for many women. (This, I think, is fortunately becoming more widely known, so that new mothers struggling with it don't feel like freaks of nature. Now, if we can just get to the point where women who end up formula feeding don't get judged within an inch of their lives, I'll call it progress. Moving on.)

Everyone knows about the Terrible Twos, right? Well, one of the things that I have now run smack into is that, apparently, 20-24 months is peak meltdown time. Elle stumbled into this at 19 months, because she's such an overachiever, but 20-24 months is apparently the height of the toddler-losing-her-shit phase. Every mom I ask about this confirms it.

No one told me this! I thought I had a few more months, and that this stuff happened closer to her turning two! We need to update the (mythical) New Parent Info Manual!

It's unconfirmed, but I can't help but wonder if the 20/24 meltdown phase is linked (in all kids, not just mine) with the last four teeth often coming in somewhere between 18 and 24 months. As I've mentioned, Elle's been working on her canines for a few weeks now and having an absolutely terrible time of it; I am dreading her last molars like nobody's business.

It also has to do with their little brains knowing more than their little vocabularies are able to express. Elle's pretty darn verbal for her age, but verbalizing feelings isn't yet part of her toolbox. (I'm working on that hard, trying to identify feelings in things we watch or read. "Oh, look! Elm0's happy/sad/whatever!" I'm guessing this will eventually help.)

Anyway, Elle has discovered a variety of new, wretched behaviors to go along with this meltdown phase. She's really pushy with the other kids at day care, which is a delight. But my very favorite is the eardrum-piercing screaming that goes along with not getting something she wants. At home, I ignore it or laugh at it; in public, strangers don't appreciate losing their hearing.

These behaviors are far more common late in the day. After her midday nap is when it's the worst (particularly if she takes a truncated nap, which she often does on weekends). Late afternoon/early evening is pretty much Defcon Four for most parents I know; that long march till bedtime is brutal for many small children, even when properly rested and fed throughout the day. When planning playdates with a small group of area single moms, I generally suggest we do it after the midday nap-- giving the kids something to do during that time frame may not lead to a quiet, orderly play date, but they're occupied, and that's a godsend.

So we're getting through it. It's not easy every day, but I never thought that it would be.

I'm fortunate in that, despite everything, Elle is primarily a sweet, inquisitive, busy toddler who's endlessly fascinated by, well, everything. In general, she's a happy little muffin, working hard to figure out the world around her. If we have a bad evening, I know that the reset button gets hit overnight, and the next morning she'll be back to her usual good-natured self.

But those damn teeth had better come in. NOW.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I have a confession: when I'm really busy at work, I don't update this journal. That's because I will often jot down notes for journal entries at work.


No, I generally do it during lunch. So I'm not a complete freeloader. But I've been so busy lately that, even when I get a lunch, I spend it doing things like checking my trashy celebrity gossip blogs through Go0gle Reader rather than writing journal entries.

(This is one of the many reasons I'm never going to be a celebrated blogger-- lack of motivation. Also see: lack of talent, unwillingness to put kid pictures online, and a full-time job.)

We've continued on the wild ride that is toddlerhood around here. Elle has always been such a good, even-tempered little thing that these mood swings are a real shock to my system. It is clearly very hard work becoming your own independent little person, and she takes it very seriously. You can practically see her learning things; it's fascinating, when I'm not completely exhausted.

I've always needed time to myself, so by the time I get her down and clean up the kitchen (this is non-negotiable: I will not sit down until my kitchen is cleaned up, even if I have company), I'm pretty tired. And it's hard for me to really have the motivation to get anything else done until I've had an hour or so to eat dinner, check e-mail, and stare at the TV with exhausted, bleary eyes.

Given that Elle goes to bed at 7:30, I'm usually cleaning up/getting food ready for the next day until after 8, and I need to be in bed by 10, this leaves pretty limited zoning out time.

It is what it is. It's not forever. But I'm going to whine about it every now and then.


A few snapshots of my daughter:

- In our music class, at one point we take little jingle bells on sticks and jingle them against our knees. Elle likes to go around the circle of people, gently touching her bells on each person's knees. Sometimes she remembers to do so on her own knees, but mostly, she wants to jingle them on everyone else's.

- When we go in my room, where there's a TV (we don't have a TV in our primary living area), she will ask every time for "Elmo." (The "L" is finally making it in there.) She started saying something else last week, and it took me several days to realize that she's asking for "Elm0's World," which is the name of the specific segment on Sesame Street that Elmo appears in. General Elmo videos = no interest. She wants her Elm0's world, man. Girlfriend is specific about her Elmo.

- Sunday at church, she went around during the sign of the peace, sticking her hand out to people to shake and chirping "Peas!" She has no interest in the ritual part of the service yet (though the bread is pretty yummy), but she's getting the social piece down pat.

- This morning, she melted down on the way to the car. I realized too late that she wanted to walk to the car, not get carried. My baby can do a lot of things for herself now. I need to let her.


Part and parcel of our crabby teething toddler woe is not-so-great sleeping. She actually generally stays mostly asleep-- she'll make noise and put herself back to sleep within a few minutes, but she makes noise on an hourly basis. I only go in if she's really, really up, but I wake up every damn time she makes noise. You can do the math. I even run a fan in our hallway, but I still hear her most of the time, and I still wake up.

After a Sunday night of absolutely wretched sleep, last night I shut my door. Our house is tiny enough that, trust me, I'm still going to hear her if she's really, really up-- but the closed bedroom door means I don't hear her every huff and puff.

I slept for seven glorious hours, interrupted only once when I woke up at 3:30 wondering why I hadn't been woken up before.

New plan: shut the door. Every night.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


We are having a rough week at Casa Plus One.

Part and parcel of having a toddler is having the toddler do things you don't like. My toddler is highly opinionated-- not unusual for a toddler, I know, but she is in the unfortunate position toddlers get into of having more opinions than she has words to express them. This leads to some undesirable behavior. Meltdowns. Getting pushy with other kids when they don't bend to her will.

I know that lots of this is typical toddler behavior, and it's been going on for a while. But she did such a Jekyll to Hyde thing as of Monday morning-- suddenly, it was like usual toddler behavior, squared. Then cubed, and tossed with a healthy dose of restless sleeping and separation anxiety.

The sitter wondered if perhaps her ear infection (finished antibiotics last week) wasn't entirely gone. She's a bossy little thing, but there's a big difference between my willful, sunny toddler and the entity that's taken over her body since Monday. So I made a doc appointment. It's worth a copay to make sure the ear infection is well and truly gone.

It's not her ears, fortunately. I don't want to keep putting her on antibiotics. It's her teeth-- all four of her eyeteeth are coming in at once. Hell, I'd be crabby too! The pediatrican was pretty clear that I should use Tylen0l as needed, even during the daytime.

Teething is barbaric, when you think about it. We just need to get through it. If nothing else, I'm glad to have a reason why my sweet girl is... not so sweet right now.

She'll be back.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Expressing her individuality

I say this without sarcasm: it has to be hard work to be a toddler. Really! You understand a lot but can't use it-- you can't talk about it fully, you can't reach things, you can't get places without help or you can't get there fast enough. Other people run your life, and all you want in the entire world is to run your own life. Right now.

(This sounds a lot like teenagers, doesn't it?)

Elle's in a phase where getting changed/dressed is, apparently, similar to being waterb0arded. Seriously. She loses her mind. I can distract her-- sometimes with a sock, or a toy, or turning on the TV-- but not always; often she's running away or rolling around the bed like she's trying to escape from a vicious torturer, howling all the time.

I have tried giving her the option to pick her clothes out; that really doesn't go anywhere yet. Basically, I have to hold her down to get her clothed or unclothed, and from the sound of it my neighbors are going to be calling the cops on me. Girlfriend has excellent lungs.


Her Elm0 love continues to grow. I had a return for Targe.t this weekend-- clothes she received for Christmas that are too big for her, and too warm for her to wear this coming summer when she grows into them. I used part of the credit to get her two Elm0 DVDs, and we watched part of one on Sunday night.

She was transfixed. She danced when he danced, never taking her eyes off the screen. Elm0 is hot stuff, man. HOT STUFF.

Now, whenever we're coming downstairs, she looks at me and says plaintively "Emmo?" Since we usually have about five minutes to spare before we need to leave the house, I usually reply "We can watch Elm0 later, honey," and she's fine. But when she's babbling to herself (as she does all the time), I often hear "Emmo" as part of her talking.

She's all about the Emmo. The rest of Sesame is just fine, but not nearly as compelling as anything and everything to do with Emmo.

Fortunately, I don't find him annoying. He's not a character from my childhood-- I'm old school! Mr. Hooper rules!-- but I've always thought he was cute.

There's this female fairy character that I find annoying as heck, though-- they do lots of CGI stuff with her, and she just feels like a purely marketing-driven character. Fortunately, so far Elle has little interest in her. All Emmo, all the time.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


We've reached another phase where Elle is clearly working on all kinds of developmental milestones. This results in all KINDS of fun behavior, sleeping disturbances, etc. yadda yadda.

At 18 (almost 19) months, she's probably going through the expected "language explosion" (though arguably that happened a couple of months ago). Also, given her late walking, she's just discovered climbing and that is ALL she wants to do. Combine that with what I'm pretty sure are more teeth (canines) wanting to come through, AND the usual toddler mood swings, and you have a baby who will love on you one moment and lose her tiny little mind the next. Very loudly.

She wants to stand on something all the time; she'll stand on a little step stool in front of an ottoman, and play with toys on the ottoman, which is hysterical. She'll stand on her washcloth (!) in the tub. It's all about standing on... anything, apparently. This does not work so well on stuffed animals, but that doesn't seem to deter her.

One thing I've never had to worry about is her being clingy. She's one of the least clingy kids I've met; she's outgoing and social and so interested in everything going on. Sunday at church was actually the first time I couldn't just leave her in the nursery and take off (I don't always leave her there, but it's nice to be able to once in a while). We had a meeting going on that I wanted to attend, but I realized pretty quickly it wouldn't be possible. Every time I left her, after about ten minutes she melted down and one of the teens in the nursery had to come find me. She was fine playing in the nursery (so many toys! so many other kids!) but I had to be there, or it just didn't work. Eventually I gave up on the meeting, hung out with her for a while in the nursery, and headed home to grab some lunch.

(After which I got a three hour nap. I DO NOT GET THREE HOUR NAPS. Ever. You know something's not right when I do! And I had to waste a big chunk of it on her car seat, which is a separate entry entirely.)

In other news, unsurprisingly, she adores her music class. Loves it. She does her own thing most of the time, dancing around, checking out what the other kids are doing. As you'd expect for a toddler her age, she has all the focus of a gnat on speed. I even asked the instructor if it was OK for her to be wandering around so much, and she said it was perfectly normal-- that it was unusual that Elle was the only one doing so in this particular class. Apparently, usually it's most of the kids.

She has a good sense of rhythm already, and is really working on singing along/duplicating what the instructor asks of the kids, rather than just nattering along to her own internal tune. She's brilliant, of course. Brilliant.

And I'm probably projecting, but I swear Elle knows what I mean when I say "We have music tonight!" (or tomorrow, or whatever.) She gets so excited.