Toddler

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Over the weekend, Adelaide extended her hand to me and said, “Shake my hand, Mommy.” I grabbed her soft palm and slowly shook it up and down a couple of times.

“Hi to meet you,” she said.

I smiled. “Nice to meet you,” I corrected.

I always think it’s funny when Adelaide displays some new skill or idea that she’s clearly learned from daycare. We didn’t teach her that.

“Hi to meet you,” she said to Tim, extending her hand for a formal shake. “Hi to meet you, Daddy.”

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Weaning After Age Two  |  http://nextlifechapter.com

My berry-loving, messy-faced “Super Awesome!” girl.

Adelaide is officially weaned. She’s now two and a half years old (or 30 months). As I wrote in this post when she was 25 months, or in this post when she was 19 months, it’s been a slow process.

I let Adelaide wean on her own timeline. As a mom who has worked outside the home full-time since my daughter was 12 weeks old, I’m proud that I was able to nurse exclusively until she was one.  At around 13 months we introduced whole cow’s milk and continued to supplement breast milk with cow’s milk. Then at about 17.5 months I stopped pumping while at work. As my supply dipped and Adelaide’s appetite for “real” food increased, it was natural that she only nursed three times a day and drank cow’s milk the rest. Then she was nursing only twice a day. It was that way for several months–in the morning lying in bed before starting our day and at night in her room in the rocking chair, right before books.

The last couple of months Adelaide’s nursing sessions have become shorter and shorter. I laughed when one day she announced, “empty,” as she patted my breast. Sometimes she seemed a little frustrated that Mommy’s milk supply was low, but it didn’t usually bother her. She still nursed for comfort.

A couple of months ago I stopped offering Mommy’s milk, but Adelaide would almost always ask for it. Each night I tried to pause and savor the moment, to look into her eyes and remember the special bond I felt. Then, nursing started to not be as fun anymore. It wasn’t painful, but it wasn’t as comfortable for me as it used to be. Still, I thought each night might be our last, so I tried to appreciate it.

One night when Adelaide was nursing, I asked her if it was empty and she shook her head no. Apparently, she was still getting something. But the sessions became very short–just a minute or two on each side. The last several weeks, Adelaide stopped asking. I was a little bummed that I couldn’t remember the exact last day, the last moment we nursed together. I thought the date would be something nice to record here and in her baby book, but I was okay. I knew it was time.

Then, on Friday, February 7, I was changing Adelaide into her pajamas when she said “Mommy nilk.” The request caught me by surprise. It had been a week or two since Adelaide had last nursed. If Tim has been around, he probably would have said, “Oh you don’t need Mommy’s milk anymore. You’re a big girl.” But, it was just me and her. I was excited to have one last nursing moment with my girl.

I said okay and Adelaide nursed for maybe 25 or 30 seconds. When I offered to “switch sides,” she sat right up and we switched. Almost immediately she popped back up and climbed down to get books to read. That was it. No grande finale. It was less emotionally climactic than I thought it would be, but in a good way. There were no tears (from her or me). That was it.

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A while ago I ran across an article that reassured my thought process surrounding extended nursing and weaning. The following is an excerpt from Norma Ritter’s post “Thinking About Weaning” at Breastfeeding USA:

…human milk does not suddenly turn to water after a certain length of time! Mothers can nurse their babies for as long as both they and their children wish to continue. Children will wean all by themselves when they are developmentally ready to do so.

Many mothers are surprised to learn that during their baby’s second year (12-23 months), 15 ounces of their milk provides:

  • 29% of energy requirements

  • 43% of protein requirements

  • 36% of calcium requirements

  • 75% of vitamin A requirements

  • 76% of folate requirements

  • 94% of vitamin B12 requirements

  • 60% of vitamin C requirements

Ritter goes on to say:

I’ll bet you have never heard a mother say, ‘I will make him walk by the time he is xxx,’ or ‘I will make him talk by the time he is xxx.’ We KNOW that you cannot make a baby walk or talk before they are ready to do so! All babies are different, and there is no reason to set an exact date. The same goes for weaning; children wean when they are ready.

The article ends with the line, “Remember, you know your baby best, and you know what is best for your family. Trust your instincts, and you won’t go far wrong.” Great advice for all of us.

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http://nextlifechapter.comAdelaide’s language is developing so quickly. She’s constantly saying words and phrases that surprise me. She’s even speaking in complete sentences. This is likely perfectly normal for someone who is almost 28 months, but she’s my first child and it’s still fun and exciting for me to see how quickly she learns and picks up things. Her dad and I are going to have to start being very careful what we say around her.

Adelaide was sick a few weekends ago. She had a fever and we gave her medicine. Now, she ofen tells us that her baby is hot–that she’s sick and needs medicine or needs to go to the doctor. She also is starting to get into make-believe scenarios. She puts her baby in time out. When you ask her why the baby had to go to time out, she says, “hit my,” meaning, “hit me.”

Adelaide also likes to play grocery store. She wants us to give her money and then she gives us invisible foods. It’s actually more like a restaurant counter. She gives us pizza or peas. “Hot, Mommy,” she warns me, “blow it.”

Today, Adelaide was playing with her Grover doll and she told Tim that Grover was sad.

“Why is he sad?” Tim asked.

“He no have eyebrows,” she explained.

Yep. I guess that would make me sad, too.

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Post partum body image  |  nextlifechapter.com

Photo by Tammy Bradshaw Photography | May 2013

I don’t love my post-baby body. While I’m basically my pre-baby weight, I don’t have my pre-baby body. Not to say that my body was ideal prior to baby. I’ve never had six-pack abs, and always looked to my mid section as my “problem area.” However, at nearly six feet tall, it used to be fairly easy to disguise my imperfections with the right clothes and proper fit. Post baby body means my mid section imperfections are magnified, and I’m not happy about it.

I saw a group photo of me several months ago that nearly brought me to tears (not the photo above). It’s that same, “oh my God” punch-in-the-gut feeling I got a few years ago when a friend tagged me in some of her beach photos on Facebook. I didn’t have a bikini body then either, and I hated that images of me and the least favorite parts of me were exposed to the world. I felt so exposed, and just sick to my stomach. I untagged myself on the photos and politely asked my friend to remove a couple of the most revealing images. I told her that although I may appear to be confident in myself and my outward appearance, I in fact was not — at least not in the vulnerability produced from those nearly nude images.

I recently came across this article by Kate Spencer in the Huffington Post, “Exclusive: There Is More To Motherhood Than A Post-Baby Bod.”

Spencer talks about our obsession with celebrity culture and how we seem to look to public figures for instructions on how to live our lives. We see over and over again that getting skinny after the baby is born is the most important thing (Kim Kardashian, Jessica Simpson etc…). She goes on to say:

And that’s it. There’s no talk of the hard decisions and challenges that arise when bringing another human in the world: coping emotionally, miscarriages and health risks throughout the pregnancy, emotions that range from excitement to loss, how the partner is coping, decisions surrounding the birth, doulas, home birth, hospital birth, breastfeeding, milk supply, c-section recovery, vaginal recovery, colic, sleep, schedules, being tired all the time, depression, regret, fear, hiding in the bathroom crying. Agonizing decisions about work, caregivers and new priorities. Maternity leave. Paid time off. Unpaid time off. Pumping at work. Making time for your partner. Making time for yourself. A body that has changed but can also do incredible things.

Spencer says that the real conversations about motherhood are about all of the above challenges, but celebrity-driven media is only focused on our bodies. I know the shape of my body is only one aspect of being a mom. I want to be fit and healthy for my family, but it’s important to remember that it’s only one portion of the larger picture.

Last year Babble.com posted “What Women’s Post-Baby Bodies Really Look Like” by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor. The A Beautiful Body book project by photographer Jade Beall also celebrates the real bodies of mothers.

Then, just a few weeks ago the 4th Trimester Bodies Project by Ashlee Wells Jackson went viral. The project encourages mothers (and the rest of the world) to reconsider their expectations and embrace the notion to love our post-baby bodies, to love ourselves.

Our body-obsessed culture won’t change overnight, but it’s nice to see these projects getting some press. Seeing these images in the media will hopefully start new conversations and begin to sink into our minds, one mother at a time.

 

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breastfeeding awareness month  |  http://nextlifechapter.com

May, 2012 | Photo by Tammy Bradshaw

On this last day of National Breastfeeding Month, I wanted to share this photo we had taken during a family photo shoot when Adelaide was 9 months old. I consider myself a breastfeeding advocate (and really I’m an education advocate–I  believe every mother should have access to information and support for breastfeeding so that she is aware of the benefits and can get through the tough stages of breastfeeding if it’s what she chooses). I’ve written about breastfeeding several times on this blog–you can check out posts here and here and here and here.

This may come as a surprise to some, but at 25 months, Adelaide is still nursing. She doesn’t nurse in public–there’s really no need for it at this point. She nurses in the morning when she first wakes up. I bring her into bed with me and it’s the way we start each day. I also nurse her before she goes to bed. The nightly routine is nurse, brush teeth, read books, bed. Sometimes, these nursing sessions are short, like she could totally take it or leave it. Sometimes, they are longer, as if this time with me is the moment she’s been waiting for all her life. I’m comfortable with our breastfeeding relationship right now. I thought I might try to wean her at two years old, but she seems to SLOWLY be weaning herself. Some mornings I ask her if she wants Mommy’s milk or milk in a cup. She almost always chooses Mommy’s milk, but she has chosen milk in her cat cup or milk in her Elmo cup on a couple of occasions. I know it is just a matter of time before those five-minute nursing sessions become two minutes and then nothing at all. Until then, we will continue to do what feels right for both of us.

I don’t talk about the fact that I’m still breastfeeding very often. I guess it just doesn’t come up in conversation. However, I’m not embarrassed of it. I’m proud that we’ve had such a long nursing relationship. My pre-pregnant self wouldn’t have understood why we’ve continued so long (see my point about being an education advocate above). I thought that when a kid was old enough to ask for it, they were old enough to wean. After educating myself about the benefits of breastfeeding and learning that the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until at least two years of age, my attitude has changed. I used to feel shy when I saw a nursing woman in public. I didn’t judge her for not covering herself, but I just thought I would never be that way.

A lot of modesty goes out the door in childbirth and for me, in motherhood. I did use a cover when Adelaide was young, and I do love my nursing tops that give lots of coverage, but I’m not embarrassed to nurse in public. When my baby was crying and needed to eat, I didn’t hesitate to “whip it out.” My hope is that one day breastfeeding in public will be common place–that women will never be asked to cover up or leave a public place.

In celebration of the month, our photographer Tammy Bradshaw, has an exhibit up at Cloth, a new natural baby story on East Passyunk. I think the show may be coming down this weekend, but it got some nice coverage in the local media. (Save yourself a rise in blood pressure by not reading the comments.)

Also, earlier this month there was a lovely campaign going on over at Mama By the Bay. Suzanne Barston, Jamie Lynne Grumet and Mama By the Bay’s Kim Simon launched the “I Support You” project. Check it out. It’s about supporting both nursing mothers and formula-feeding mothers. It’s about ending the mommy wars and supporting each other without judgement.

So, my final words as Breastfeeding Awareness Month comes to a close is for people to keep talking about it. Keep educating others. Keep breastfeeding in public and nursing beyond the publicly-accepted one year mark. Help to normalize breast feeding and “extended” breastfeeding. Keep supporting each other.

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Last year, on October 1, Adelaide moved out of the infant room at her daycare and into the young toddler’s room, and I blogged about it here.

This year, on Monday, August 26, Adelaide moved out of that young toddler’s room and up to the two-year-old room. I don’t know what she’s going to do without her Kiki and Saddie. (Kiki was her teacher and Saddie is her friend who is a few months younger and not yet moving up). Adelaide talks about “Kiki Saddie” all the time. As if they are one entity. Kiki Saddie. Kiki Saddie.

Adelaide even has a “Saddie shirt.” (It’s actually the t-shirt with the daycare’s logo on it, but Saddie has one too so she calls it her “Saddie shirt.”)  Adelaide also has a Saddie cup. I’m not sure where that even came from because I’ve talked to Saddie’s parents and while Saddie does have sippie cups (don’t they all?) she doesn’t have one like Adelaide’s “Saddie cup.”

I don’t know if Saddie is just an easy name for a toddler to say, or whether this girl has really made that much of an impact on our daughter. All I know is she seems to have Rock Star status at our house.

It’s not as if Adelaide doesn’t know the kids in the two-year-old room. She’s been going to our daycare three-days-a-week since she was 12 weeks old. Most of the other kids in her class were in her toddler room or even her infant room at one point. Our daycare is so small that Adelaide will still see Kiki and Saddie regularly. They all play together in the morning and during pick-up, and they sometimes do other activities together throughout the day. And, with a late October birthday, Saddie will likely be moving up to the two-year-old room later this year.

Although today was day three of being in her new room, Adelaide walked straight into Kiki’s room when she got to school today. Old habits are hard to break, and I don’t think Adelaide quite understands that she’s not in Kiki’s room anymore. While getting dressed this morning and talking about school, it was all “Kiki Saddie.”

To keep the tradition going, here is the new “first day of school” photo from Monday in addition to the photos from the previous two years. It’s so fun to see how much she has grown and changed (and how long her hair has gotten).

First Day of School | http://nextlifechapter.com

First day of school in the two-year-old room – August 26, 2013

First day of school in the young toddler room - October 1, 2012

First day of school in the young toddler room – October 1, 2012

First Day of School | http://nextlifechapter.com

First day of school in the infant room – October 20, 2011

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Adelaide turned two last Sunday. It was a great weekend. We had a Sesame Street-themed party for her on Saturday at Herron Park Sprayground here in South Philly. She loved it.

Sesame Street Birthday Party | http://nextlifechapter.com

Tim designed the invitation – notice his added touch of the Philly skyline reflected in her glasses.

Back in June I was trying to decide what we wanted to do for Adelaide’s birthday. She loves animals, so I was thinking of something with a circus theme or a zoo theme. I didn’t want to do a bash quite as big as her Moustache First Birthday party last year. That party was really more for us than for her, so we just invited all our friends. This year, we wanted to primarily invite the kids from her class at “school” and their parents, as well as other families we know with kids around her age. With a birthday at the end of July, I knew it would likely be a hot day. Still, I wanted to invite quite a few kids and knew we didn’t have enough room to host it at our house. I tried to find an inexpensive air-conditioned room to rent within the city. I looked into the local parks and thought about having an afternoon BBQ. Finding a park that also had a public restroom was a challenge, and although Adelaide is not yet potty training, I knew several of the kids her age would need a restroom nearby.

Then, when we were in Illinois visiting my parents in mid-June, I saw how much Adelaide loved the Miller Spray Park outside the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington. During our week vacation, we went there three different times. Back in Philly, a friend mentioned Herron Park and how she thought they had restrooms. So, our first weekend back from vacation, Adelaide and I made a scouting trip to the sprayground to check it out.

I thought it would be perfect.

A few days later I was looking through the book of birthday theme cakes at the local grocery chain when I saw one fitting for an animal theme. Then, we passed a cake with Elmo and Big Bird on it. Adelaide went berzerk yelling “Elmo, Elmo!” I looked to Tim. “I think Adelaide wants an Elmo party.” So, Sesame Street theme it was. Adelaide picked.

Sesame Street Birthday Party | http://nextlifechapter.com

This cake from BJs Wholesale was nice because the plastic cars are something Adelaide could keep and continue to play with later.

We invited everyone from her class at school, everyone from my Saturday playgroup and a few other friends. Including Adelaide, we had 11 kids attend (ages three years to 19 months, most right around age two), the total group including parents was right around 30 people. Several people RSVP’ed late, so I was proud of how smoothly everything went.

I picked up some Elmo plates and napkins at the local party store and the party favor bags of Elmo, Cookie, Bert and Oscar were adapted from something I saw on Pinterest. The project was more time consuming than I had expected (I’m a bit of a perfectionist), but they were a big hit and I think it added a nice personalized element to the party. I filled each bag with a little container of bubbles (also from the party supply store) and a pack of Elmo alphabet cards I found online (using my free one-year trial of Shop Runner for free shipping).

Sesame Street Birthday Party | http://nextlifechapter.com

I think Bert was my favorite.

Everyone loved the location, and I’m glad we brought the tent Tim uses to cover his booth for craft fairs. It provided a little shade for the table with the cake and fruit and for our guests sitting on blankets. The playground is newly renovated so the trees are young and don’t provide much shade yet.

The weather cooperated splendidly. (Did I just write “splendidly”?) It was in the high 80s, but not too hot and not rainy or cloudy. Having the party from 10 am to noon worked out really well too. It maybe was a little strange to eat cake at 11 am before lunchtime, but having the party in the morning meant people weren’t expecting a full lunch and the party didn’t interfere with all the different afternoon nap times. It also meant the sprayground wasn’t yet over crowded. It was pretty perfect if I do say so myself.

Sesame Street Birthday Party | http://nextlifechapter.com

I can hardly believe I’m the mother of a two-year-old.  The terrible twos. The terrific, giggling, twirling twos.

Happy Birthday, my sweet girl.

 Sesame Street Birthday Party | http://nextlifechapter.com

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siblings

My sister and me at ages six months and four years old.

I just want to start by saying we’re not quite ready for a second baby. I mean, I’m really not sure how people do it — pregnant a second time with a four-month-old or a seven-month-old? Even now as Adelaide hits the home stretch toward two years old, I can’t imagine the exhaustion of pregnancy on top of keeping up with her. And, how do people afford to have two kids in daycare?

This week, a second friend with a toddler around Adelaide’s age announced she is expecting baby number two. Their kids will be almost exactly two years apart. I have lots of friends my age with siblings two years older or younger — it’s a perfectly normal thing. My sister and I are three-and-a-half years apart and four years apart in school. I’ve always thought that was the perfect spread. We were never in high school together at the same time. We were never competing against each other in school or extra curriculars. Still, we played together a lot growing up (as the oldest, I was the bossy one in charge — maybe that’s why I’ve always thought it worked so well.) But even now, living on opposite ends of the country, my sister and I still talk on the phone at least once a week and we consider each other close friends.

I read this blog entry on papercoterie.com a few months ago, and it made me think about having kids even closer together. We’ve obviously missed the boat for having them two years apart (and I’m PERFECTLY okay with that that), but I just hope that when we are ready for a second child, that they will also have a close relationship and special friendship. I know the number of years between siblings doesn’t make or break for close siblings. As much as I like to think three-and-a-half years was the perfect spread for my sister and me, I have a girlfriend whose younger sister is the same distance apart in age and they are not particularly close. It all depends on the individual personalities (And maybe some on the parenting? Ah, no pressure there).

Tim and I have always agreed on having two kids and I’m excited for Adelaide to one day have a little brother or sister. The baby fever isn’t in full force yet, but one of these days we will know that there will never be the perfect time and we will close our eyes and leap. And, if anyone has any tips on putting two kids in daycare, I’m all ears.

 

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We bought Adelaide a little potty a few weeks ago. She was super interested in it at first and wanted to sit on it all the time (clothes on). When we came back from our trip to Illinois, Tim and I decided to see if she wanted to start sitting on it without a diaper and had her sit on it when we went to the bathroom.

She’s been talking a lot more about the potty and accurately reports when she has gone poop, or “poot” as she says, but we had low expectations and didn’t really know what we were doing. (I have a book on potty training, but I haven’t had time to read it yet!) Anyway, the second day we had her sit on the potty, she actually peed in it. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this at first and didn’t see the pee in the potty until several hours later. No proper praise given for a job well done. Later that evening I put her back on the potty. She stood up and walked into the hall where she peed on the hardwood floor. I immediately called Tim over to help clean it up and we told her that we don’t pee on the floor, we pee in the potty.

That was a couple of weeks ago. Ever since that incident, Adelaide’s interest in the potty and sitting on it (clothed or not) has waned. When we mention sitting on the potty she just says, “no potty floor.” I think we’ve traumatized her.

One thing I did read is that parents need to be consistent in the terminology we use. I admit I find this a challenge. I tend to call both the toilet and urine “potty” although I’m trying to refer to the toilet as the “potty” and urination as “pee.” One time she called the pee “water” and I tried to explain that’s the pee.

The next day she referred to pee as “poop water” — hilarious!

Our adventures in potty training have barely begun, but I’m already that mom talking about it on the Internet.

We got this 3-in-1 duck potty on clearance at Target for $5.99. It's supposed to play music when it senses liquid in the basin. We thought that would be annoying, so we never got batteries for it. Now I'm rethinking it since I didn't even know she actually peed in it. The music is supposed to be a reward for the kiddo, but it would also be an indicator for me. Or, I could just check better from now on.

We got this 3-in-1 duck potty on clearance at Target for $5.99. It’s supposed to play music when it senses liquid in the basin. We thought that would be annoying, so we never got batteries for it. Now I’m rethinking it since I didn’t even know she actually peed in it. The music is supposed to be a reward for the kiddo, but it would also be an indicator for me. Or, I could just make it a point to actually check.

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For the last month or so, I have regularly been awakened by the call “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy-Dow” coming from Adelaide’s room. Depending on the time, I am sometimes extremely annoyed by this summon. But some mornings, I think it’s the most beautiful sound. “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,” she calls. “Mommy-Dow, Mommy-Dow.” I can only assume this means Mommy Down (?), my daughter calling for me to be the first person who greets her in the morning, the first person or thing that comes to mind when she awakens. However, this could just as likely be a call for Tim. She calls him “Mommy” just about as often as she calls him “Daddy.”

 

UPDATE: Adelaide is pretty good about saying “Daddy” now. I wrote the above a couple of weeks ago.

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