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milestones

Celebrating One Hurdle at a Time

That smile <3

This week, I’m celebrating my toddler.

Not long ago, she was in the thick of the “stranger danger” phase. If someone looked at her or talked to her other than her dad or me, she would hide behind her arm or burst into tears or both. Going places was challenging, particularly now with a little sister in tow, because in any situation that made her even slightly uncomfortable she would plant her feet and not move unless she was being held. At doctor’s appointments I often couldn’t even carry on a conversation with the doctor because she was crying so hard. When someone came over to visit it was almost impossible to be social because she was so upset.

This phase lasted a long time. And I was beginning to feel like it would never end and that I had surely damaged my child by sheltering her at home with me rather than shipping her off to daycare. I had no idea what to do. Frankly, I didn’t even know how to ask google what to do.

But I decided to try a few things anyway. First, she started going to a speech therapist once a week, which has been an amazing experience because she gets to go out to a new place and have positive interactions with another adult while I’m still in the room for comfort if needed. When we first went, she cowered in my lap for most of the first session. This morning, the only time she acknowledged that I was there was to ask me for help getting the lid off the toy container.

And we also signed up for the toddler art class at our local children’s museum. This has been such an amazing resource because it provides a no-pressure opportunity for her to socialize with a group of kids and adults. They sit and listen to a story, do a short activity and a quick art project and then they are done and free to go play in the museum. If she isn’t feeling it, we head back out to the museum. So far we have only been twice, but I think she will get more comfortable each time we go.

This has definitely been one of those parenting challenges where I didn’t know where to start so I just started. And now I’m glad I did, because looking back on the situation, I think having her not only branch out and have new experiences but to keep repeating those experiences weekly so that she has time to build up a comfort level has been so good for her.

Last week we attended a crowded pancake feed. She normally would have panicked in the crowd, but she did great and loved the pancakes. She came with me to her little sister’s appointment and said “hi” and “bye” to the therapist without acting shy. She walked everywhere on her own without me needing to carry her.

We’ve also been working on her following directions and her attention span, mostly because these skills are more important now that she is developing her newfound independence. Several times this week, when I asked her to pick up the toys she had been playing with, she did so without needing a lot of extra prompting.

So basically, this post is one giant bragfest about my rockstar toddler. There were several times after her little sister was born that I felt like the toddler made things more difficult than the newborn did. But this week, as I watch her grow into this new bravery and responsibility, as I see her learning and using the skills we have been working on, my heart swells with pride. I’m so excited for her to show the world what I have seen all along–a joyful, sweet, sometimes mischievous little soul with the best laugh and a heart of gold.

A few month ago I thought we might never get over this hurdle. But this week it feels like there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

And it’s so worth the wait.

Meet Her Where She’s At

Even though logically I know better, I’ve been worrying about my toddler.

Her second birthday is fast approaching and she still seems wholly uninterested in the monumental task of language acquisition.

My oldest was speaking clearly in complete sentences by this point. I know every kid is different. I know first-borns often speak sooner. I know that kids develop differently. I know better than to compare two children. I know all that.

But I’m a mom and I worry.

To help ease my worry (or at least distract me from it), I did what I always do: I ordered a book. This time, it was “How Babies Talk: The Magic and Mystery of Language in the First Three Years of Life by Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek.

I picked up a few interesting “tidbits” from the book, but one in particular stuck with me. I can’t remember exactly how they worded it, but the main idea was this:

When children are learning how to talk, use the opportunities they give you to talk about what THEY are interested in.

(Translation: stop trying so hard to engage her in “educational activities” that she isn’t interested in just because you are afraid that she isn’t being “socialized” enough because she isn’t in daycare like your oldest was. Sit down on the floor with her and play princess dolls for the entire day because that’s what she loves. Don’t worry so much about trying to convince her to say the words she is “supposed” to be saying and instead be excited with her that she knows all of the princess’s names.

Talk to her about what she wants to talk about so she knows she can talk to you about what matters to her and you will listen. Listen so that she will want to talk to you.)

Insert parenting face-palm.

My child isn’t struggling with comprehension. She isn’t struggling with learning social cues. She is just going at her own pace when it comes to speaking. She is doing just fine. It is me that is impatient.

Why did I need her to talk? Is it because it had come so easy for my oldest and I didn’t want to think about it not being easy for my toddler? Maybe. As a parent it’s never easy to watch our kids struggle.

Still, I had gotten so caught up worrying about doing the “right” thing to help encourage her to talk that I missed the “duh” logic of just letting her talk.

I was busy trying to pull her over to where I thought she should be, when what I needed to do was to meet her where she was at.

So I did.

And truthfully it was probably just ironic timing. Or maybe I was just finally noticing. But after a week of repeating all the princess names (plus Olaf) and chattering about whatever she happened to be focusing on, she seems to have decided talking isn’t so bad.

Today she repeated what I said significantly more than she had before, with less prompting. Last night she announced “apple” clear as day at the dinner table (where before it was only the first syllable).

And if her sudden interest in chattering didn’t ease my worry enough, she has suddenly made it clear that she recognizes her numbers (1-10) and many of the letters and colors. While walking past the front of my car the other day, she stopped, pointed at my license plate and announced, “TWO.” Curious, I quizzed her using some blocks with numbers on them. Sure enough, she recognized the numbers. So we pulled out the new set of fridge magnets, including both letters and numbers. Now she walks past and announces the numbers and letters as she is flinging them off of the fridge. (She hasn’t shown quite as much interest in putting them back on the fridge.)

Bottom line: this girl has always marched to her own drum. She’s bright and intelligent and curious and she doesn’t do a single thing until she is good and ready. And that’s okay.

Someday when she won’t stop talking I’ll look back on this memory and laugh. For now, it was a good reminder for this mama to slow down, stop trying to pull her over to where I think she should be, and just appreciate where she is at.

This Week’s Toddler Milestones (#3)

Wtf?

This week we learned:

1. How to remove the hook from the baby gate at the top of the stairs. NEAT.

2. We are mastering the art of climbing onto things that aren’t meant to be climbed on. (Vacuum. Car. Etc.)

3. We discovered how much fun it is to pull up mommy’s shirt and poke her (HARD) in the belly button. This is very fun for third trimester mommy.

Cheese!
Cheese!

4. We revisited how much fun it is to take a drink and let milk dribble out of our mouth. Last time it offended us when it went down our shirt but now that we are a water park pro it is exhilarating.

5. We learned how to fake chew when there is nothing in our mouth, making mommy think there is something in our mouth and subsequently panic and dig around in our mouth for what we are chewing on. Or not chewing on.

6. We are continuing to master the art of running away when someone threatens to change our diaper.

7. Our selective listening skills are drastically improving, as are evidence by this video. OH WAIT. There is no more video. Because we also learned how to erase videos from mom’s phone.

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 9.35.19 PM8. We learned to take the lid off the Puffs can. Unfortunately, we have not yet learned how to not shove entire handfuls in our mouth.

9. We learned how to say “cheese” for a picture, which is basically the most adorable thing ever.

10. We learned to walk in someone else’s shoes. Hey, we are advanced I guess. 😉

10. We learned that the fastest way to ruin a bath is to try playing with foam bath soap. We HATE FOAM BATH SOAP. HATE HATE HATE.

 

11. Also, we had this fun moment (see below). I like to call this one, “How the heck did you get wet?” No liquids that I can find anywhere in the room. Within 5 minutes of putting on a clean shirt. Go figure.

FullSizeRender

 

This Week’s Toddler Milestones


Here’s what we’ve learned this week:

1. How to operate the diaper pail AND how to use it to pick up all of our toys and make them disappear!

2. How to rally at nap time. This means even though we are yawning and falling asleep on mommy’s shoulder when we head for a nap, within fifteen minutes we will be jumping in our crib like it’s a circus trampoline. In this way, we can stay awake for HOURS.

3. We have also become a homing missile for cups with liquid in them. If there is a cup ANYWHERE in the room with liquid in it, we will find it and dump it out. It doesn’t help that big sister HAS to have a glass of water by her bed at night that is usually forgotten in the morning so EVERY SINGLE TIME we go in the bedroom to play we end up mopping up water. You would think we would learn after the third time this week but no. We just mopped up water again.Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 10.58.48 AM

4. We have discovered that there are games on the top shelf of the toy cupboard. It doesn’t matter that there are a ton of toys down where we can reach them. We only want the toys on the TOP SHELF. Unfortunately, those toys are up there because they all have small pieces we can’t have.

5. We either have a cold or are in teething hell, because we have a nose that runs like a faucet and we have also started drooling, which is fun in itself but it’s also a neat combination with the snot. In addition to this fantastic new mess (or perhaps because of it), we have learned how to pick our nose. Yep.

6. We have learned how to run away from mom when we poop in our diaper.

7. We have, either from black magic or from the teething/cold combination, learned that we don’t have to go right to sleep at bedtime. Instead we can stay up and jump on our bed and hide our binkies in the hiding place behind that crib that is still fun to use even though mom knows about it now.

FullSizeRender (2)8. We finally, 3/4 of the way through summer, decided that water in pools is not the worst thing on earth. In fact, we will even climb right into the baby pool now, and can go to the water park without crying the whole time. This is a great milestone, even if it means pregnant mom can no longer relax in the shade next to the water table but instead must chase the toddler around the kiddie pool.

 

Oh Look, New Milestones

  
Here are the fun toddler milestones we’ve reached this week:

1. We recently became aware enough to spot toys in the store and then WANT THEM. And if we can’t have them, we express our unhappiness. The whole way around the store. 

2. Not only do we know how to express our unhappiness with our voice, we are mastering the art of the full-body struggle. Combine this with our previous milestone of hating the doctors office and you have an extended full-volume wrestling match that ends in mom not hearing a word the doctor said. Happy 18 month birthday. 

3. We learned how to reach for our own private area as soon as our diaper comes off, although we typically only do this with poopy diapers. Unfortunately, mom is still mastering the parenting milestone of being able to hold feet AND hands during a diaper change. We should probably buy stock in antibacterial wipes. 

4. We have somehow learned how to pee with a diaper on but get the pee OUTSIDE of the diaper. Mostly it happens at 6 a.m. So our sheets are really clean from being washed every day. But sometimes it happens just riding in the car seat, that way when we arrive at our destination, mom discovers our clothes our soaked from our knees to our neck in urine and we get to undress in the parking lot and then go into the museum to pick up sister from camp wearing only a diaper and shoes. 

5. We have learned how to stash our binkies between the crib and the wall. Actually, to be fair we learned this a while ago. Mom only just found all the binkies. 

6. Mom also recently slowed down and looked at the crib long enough to wonder, “Have there always been this many teeth marks in the wood?”

7. We started mostly being able to feed ourselves from a plate without trying to shove ALL THE FOOD into our mouth at once. It might be because we are distracted by dumping it off the plate and sorting it into our cup holders but hey. It counts. 

8. We learned that mommy will come back after laying us down at nap time if we yell “maamamamamamamamamamamama!” at the top of our lungs. If we really commit to it, this can last for all of nap time. 

Cheers to another week of magical moments in parenting. 

May 11, 2015

 
There’s something beautiful about the second child. With the first child, you spend the first year in a panic. Every phase feels like it will last forever. Until you look back and realize you blinked and it was over. 

With the second child, you know that every phase, the good and the hard, is so fleeting.  You pay more attention. 

This week, I’m watching the excruciating process of learning how to grab. It makes me realize how much we take little things like this for granted. Watching her work so hard to master this new skill tries my patience and fills my heart. And watching her succeed?

There’s nothing that compares. 

Daily Photo – April 3, 2015

 

My oldest has been on-the -go for her whole life. My youngest is my laid back baby. 

So it makes sense that she is not as ambitious when it comes to milestones. My oldest was always ahead of the game. This sweet little baby prefers to take her time. 

She isn’t behind at all. But it’s a little startling as a parent when you look at baby pictures of your first and find that, at this stage, she was already sitting in a bumbo and standing in an exersaucer. And this one isn’t ready. 

You can help but worry. You can’t help but Google. 

Google doesn’t help.

And then, right in her own time, she holds her head up or props herself up on her arms. And you know you were worrying for nothing.