July 12, 2017

My kid and notes from Year 2.4

Books, books, everywhere

Did you know that some daycares let kids take books with them to their napping cots? Ours does and now JuggerBaby has to take a book, or five, to bed with zir every night.

We’ve had to set a hard limit of 2 small books for the bed lest ze fall asleep perched atop a mountain of all the books ze can carry.

Helper monkey

Amidst a really hard weekend of meltdowns, JuggerBaby turned into a most helpful creature. Once summer rolls in, Seamus’s allergies flare up, every single year and he requires twice daily feet wraps to ward off infection, calm his hot spots, and relieve his itching. It’s pathetic. This summer, though, his human sibling didn’t just try to horn in on the foot wrapping “fun” like last year when ze demanded I “yap feet!” for zir to look just like Brother. This year, ze is more advanced and less self centered. When ze spotted me closely examining his feet, ze loudly announced that Brother had “ows!” and ran to bring me the first aid kit, his treats, and generally made zirself useful by hovering closely and giving him treats as I worked. 

I wouldn’t go so far as to say he appreciated it but he didn’t hate the treats. 

Just one bite

JuggerBaby still has terrible table manners – frequently trying to steal off PiC’s plate; depositing rinds, peels and cobs on my plate like it’s zir mobile compost bin; randomly overstuffing zir mouth with one food only to chew it and spit it out because you stupidly offered zir something else to eat next. Next can’t come too soon for this toddler. We’ve learned our lesson – never ever offer zir anything new when that mouth is full.

The one thing that’s gone well is ze is still open to new foods and tastes. Even if ze doesn’t think ze will like it at first, occasionally refusing foods on the basis of I don’t wanna, ze is still willing to give anything a single bite trial. We tell zir often: just try one bite. If you don’t like it, then swallow that bite but you don’t have to eat any more.

I’m positive that wouldn’t have worked on me, but it’s perfect for zir. Ze has often rejected food out of hand, mostly out of pique. The dawning realization that this pancake/salmon/pickle is awesome is followed by a delighted “I LIKE it!!!”


Perhaps my proudest moment was serving a totally new dinner of grilled salmon, rice with mixed veggies, and broccolini the other night. Ze has eaten all these food types before but I’ve never served this meal. With zero fuss over the food, ze cleaned zir plate and asked to try the arugula quinoa salad too. Though ze returned a half chewed arugula leaf to me, “I don’t like it”, I can’t blame zir. Peppery leaves? Why??

Ze has come around on the notion of cake, too. Last year, cake was strange and distasteful. This year, we can’t get enough of it!

I wonder if this will be consistent into zir older years. I recall being very adventurous when I didn’t know better, eating fertilized eggs and jellyfish and other interesting native culture foods. Never durian, though, that stuff is a taunt from hell. As an adult, though, I’ve had to actively push myself to try new things like beets and kale and parsnips, or give previously despised foods a chance like yogurt and tomatoes. 

Precious #parenting moments

  • JB: I want yoom.
    Me: Broom?
    JB: Ya. Yooom.
  • Me: Did you just suck the butter off the green bean, then give it back???
    JB: Yes!
    Me: …… just … go.
  • From across the room: *thunk* Ow. *thunk* Ow. *thunk* Ow. *thunk* Ow. *thunk* Ow. *thunk* Ow.
    Me: JB?
    JB: Mama?
    Me: Stop hitting yourself?
    JB: *thunk*
  • PiC: Want to share a banana?
    JB: Yes!
    PiC: Here. Have a bite.
    JB: My ‘nana. Dadda get own ‘nana.
  • Me: Go wash your hands.
    JB: I wait my toon.
    Me: ? It is your turn.

:: How was your palate as a kid? Is it better or worse in adulthood? 

June 14, 2017

My kid and notes from Year 2.3


Complete sentences and abstract thought 

JuggerBaby normally skips words ze can’t pronounce or doesn’t think are relevant. This makes for conversations more akin to translating pantomime and Choose Your Own Adventure than communication. It gets even fuzzier when ze slips into a play-pretend mode in the middle of a normal conversation. At dinner we might be talking about people ze knows, the food’s characteristics, and then suddenly we’ll be pretending to drink tea, or cooking. I’m sure JuggerBaby wonders why we’re mentally slow and why it takes us 5 minutes to catch up to zir imaginings.

As usual, the norm abruptly changed this month.

Out of the blue, ze started telling us “I like this!” Who taught zir that concept?? But munching down on some pastry, ze will cheerfully pipe up: mama, I like this!

And the next day: mama, I need water, please!

And then: no more stah-berries? No more boo-berries? Onee peach right now?

It seems like ze is grasping the more abstract concepts that we don’t always have exactly what ze wants, when ze wants it. That led me to thinking of how I don’t remember ever complaining of hunger as a young child. Though I certainly skipped meals with unhealthy regularity in the early days of this blog to save money, I will never forget to be grateful that my child has enough to eat.

Fruit according to JuggerBaby and language shifts

Stah-berry – strawberry
Boo-berry – blueberry
Peesch – peach
Backberries- blackberries

JuggerBaby’s taking liberties with the English language again. Suddenly everything comes with an “y” at the end of it:

Noy = no
Oh noy! = oh no!
Boy = bowl
appy ertay oo-oo = happy birthday to you
moy = more

Toddler portion sizes

Speaking of eating, it seems that JuggerBaby is finally eating about the recommended toddler portion sizes for a meal. From the point ze started eating solid food til about 2-3 weeks ago, ze has eaten 2-3 times the recommended-by-pediatricians amount, and has suddenly switched to a much lower gear and eats far far less. At first I was a bit worried but ze wasn’t starving, just self regulating. A few times it was really because playing during dinnertime was more entertaining than eating, but waking up two hours early and STAAAARVING seems to have taught zir a lesson in eating when the eating’s good.


Ze can count up to ten, but ze hasn’t made the connection between the numbers and the idea that they are used in a specific way. Ze used to count all the items on the dinner table, this is how I know ze knows 1-10, but ask zir to count at any random time and ze will cheerfully do so: one-two, one-two, one-TWO!

…. that’s six.

Reading comprehension

Ze is on a huge mimicking kick right now. Clearly both we and zir teachers are doing the same things when we read. Normally, when I read simpler stories to zir, I try to engage zir by asking what things are on the page. It’s backfired. Now ze insists on holding the book up and points at every illustration quizzing us: wat izzit?

Now I encourage zir to act out parts of the story instead. See me next month when ze turns me into zir very own thespian to direct.

Household chores

The industrious little helper monkey I always joked about has arrived! JuggerBaby now insists on peeling oranges for me, and vacuuming, obsessed to the point of falling to the ground crying when I hooked up a new attachment to the vacuum and didn’t give zir first dibs.

Too like a mischievous monkey, though. You can never turn your back on zir without possibly being leapt on. You might be unable to lift your left leg for reasons of 30 pounds of child suddenly latching onto it, or having that same child dart around you cackling and racing to shut the door in your face.

Helper monkeys may be more work than help.

It’s also really strange to see how zir empathy works, or doesn’t. Ze thinks nothing of slapping you across the face, clawing at you like a angry cat, pinning down a limb and trying to bite the belugas out of it. Not a drop of remorse to be found, and if you were caught by surprise and yell “ow!” ze laughs like a homocidal sociopath.

At the same time, I’ve explained that some games are too rough because my hands hurt and each time I decline to hold hands and play a rough game, ze gently holds that injured hand, asks “mama ow?”, pets it, kisses it and gently hugs me. Or ze will get wildly enthused about something, grab my painful hand, and even before I can wince, ze catches zirself and says “oh no! Mama ow!”

Even stranger, it might have been a few days since my hands were that dire, but ze will remember and scold me for playing with that hand, patting it and reminding me that it hurts.

It’s hard to reconcile the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde flip flops.

Sweet sleeper

We always have our ups and downs but I cherish those nights when we have a peaceful dinner, quiet bathtime, go through a pile of books and then ze settles in for sleep. I’m not sure how it’ll work when we open up the crib so ze isn’t trapped anymore but ze usually has several good nights in a row settling in without a fight for a long night of sleep. The irony is I can’t thoroughly enjoy the peace because of my own recalcitrant body, but I appreciate the ability to lay down starting at 8 or 9 and stay put!

Precious #parenting moments

  • JuggerBaby kissed me on the nose and then head butted me twice. That sums up our relationship pretty well.
  • My two freaking year old just told me “I do me, mama, you do you.”
  • JuggerBaby grabs my hand and shakes it: nice to meetchu!
  • JuggerBaby hovering a piece of an orange rind near zir mouth: “ahh? ahhh?” Joke’s on you, kid.

Read past JuggerBaby updates

:: What helper animal would you pick? What’s your favorite summer fruit?

May 17, 2017

My kid and notes from Year 2.2

JuggerBaby in Year 2, Month 2


Sleep routines

Our sleep routine is finally starting to settle down a bit – this month, ze hit a phase where it was ok to do the bath, books, song, bed routine, with two notable exceptions. Ze now insists that papa go clean up, while mama massages zir feet. It seems the memory of the massages I used to do before bed when ze first had an eczema break-out have stuck.

I can’t blame zir, if I could have a foot rub before sleeping every night, I’d demand it too!

But the one thing I’m finally remembering now is that sleep will always change. We’ll enjoy every full night of sleep we get and get through the rest.

Toilet training

Toilet training continues apace with some ups and downs. JuggerBaby has also fallen in love with Elmo of Sesame Street which means that if ze sees an Elmo on a diaper, even if it’s a swim diaper, ze quickly runs to change into that one. Thanks, Sesame Street.

Some days, ze is eager and happy to try the toilet, other days, you’d have to drag zir kicking and screaming. Like with the sleep, we just have to be patient and get through it day by day.

Table manners

On occasion, there are foods that JB doesn’t care for, or tasted and thinks is The Worst. Zir typical response is to hand the glob of half masticated gross back to me – I don’t want it!

We’ve been working on training zir to just set it in the corner of zir own plate or the edge of the bowl, instead.

It’s taken several weeks, but I think the lesson has finally sunk in. Instead of reacting like an enraged howler monkey when a bite of food isn’t pleasing, ze just calmly sets it aside and moves on. I think the key here is that we’ve not been harassing zir to eat everything on zir plate at every meal. That doesn’t seem like a battle worth fighting since ze is normally relaxed about trying out new foods. Turning it into a fight would probably mean that ze refuses to stay relaxed about trying since we’d be taking away zir ability to choose. Besides, generally, ze will return to previously rejected foods like asparagus and enjoy it.

One minute, please

JuggerBaby has been struggling with communication. Ze tries really hard to tell zir classmates what ze wants, or doesn’t want, but they don’t always understand or want to cooperate.

Bestie is great, though they have their little tiffs, ze understands JuggerBaby and they have a great system of trading. As an act of desperation, overseeing a small pack of 1-3 year olds, I taught JuggerBaby to ask zir companions to trade toys if they weren’t ready to give them up yet. It was a better approach than just trying to grab or yell MAH TUNE! (my turn!) when ze wants to play next. It worked when I was there to explain what trading meant, it didn’t work quite so well when ze offered up a trade item without explaining and trying to force the exchange. Luckily Bestie knows when JB offers an alternate toy, ze intends to trade, and will willingly trade back later if asked. So at least one kid understands zir!

The great thing that came out of our parent teacher conference, though, was the two-minute concept.

I use a one-minute version of it at home. When ze is being especially rambunctious and needs to be chased down and tackled, you still can’t force arms and legs into flailing limbs without growing a third one of your own! To ask JB to cooperate, I’ll say “it’s Mom’s turn for one minute, ok?” and VOILA! Ze will actually stop fighting and comply! It’s a tiny magic bullet in parenting. 

Things we bought

Our pediatrician has never suggested that we buy anything specific for JuggerBaby, he’s a very mellow and go-with-the-flow kind of doctor, but my GP made some great suggestions for our travel planning.

Water wow

The mess-free, water-only coloring book. I love it.

The color is already embedded in the pages, all the kid has to do is brush water on the page and then colors appear!

JuggerBaby LOVES watercolors already, but there’s no way I’m flying with, and juggling, watercolor paints on a plane. Granted, this does nothing for teaching them to actually color creatively but that’s what a handful of crayons and blank pages are for.  It’s also a reusable book so we don’t have to just use it and discard it, which pleases the Good Steward in me.

Reusable sticker scenes

I was skeptical about the idea of reusable stickers. JuggerBaby’s early habit of trying to eat the stickers made me doubt that it’s a good idea at all, but it turns out that these stickers only stick to their intended surface. They’re perfect!

Ze recently came into a small trove of puffy or fuzzy stickers and has been carefully sticking and unsticking it on various locations in the house. I’m pretty sure there’s a fuzzy dino stuck to my desk right now. Ze still tries to eat regular stickers, of course. Because OF COURSE.

Favorite books

This massive list is for Penny to help her with Half Penny’s library.

Little Golden Book: My first counting book: This was a new addition to our library and we had to read it three times a day, every day.
Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists: Ze has finally picked some favorites so we don’t have to read ALL FIFTY NURSERY RHYMES daily. Whew.
Dr. Seuss’s ABC (Beginner Books, I Can Read It All By Myself): This is a car-favorite as well.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie: We read a lot, can you tell? Ze asks for this at least five times per weekend.
If You Give a Moose a Muffin: We’re not a fan of this book, or the Pig story, because the animals seem like such takers but we use the opportunity to remind JuggerBaby that just because someone asks you for increasingly ridiculous things, you are not obligated to satisfy the request! Also, don’t feed the wildlife.
Dr. Seuss’s ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book: It’s not clear what ze loves about this book now that ze knows zir letters, mostly, but still, we read it.
The Foot Book: Dr. Seuss’s Wacky Book of Opposites
Big Dog . . . Little Dog: Bit of a silly read but ze likes it.
Go, Dog. Go!: This is where JuggerBaby learned “red light means stop!” It’s a useful phrase for a toddler bent on destruction.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go!: A fan favorite, though ze hasn’t tried to read it by zirself yet.
Pulelehua and Mamaki: A wonderful book about the Kamehameha butterfly from Hawaii.
Penguin on Vacation: We like these books in English or any other language we can get them.
Penguin and Pinecone
Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep!: JuggerBaby can’t help but yell along with this one.
There’s a Wocket in My Pocket! An early favorite with stamina. We read this in the car a lot.
I Thought I Heard a Tiger Roar (Light Up the Mind of a Child Series): We don’t love reading this but JuggerBaby picks it at least three times a week so what do we know?
I am Amelia Earhart (Ordinary People Change the World): Technically for older readers but JB enjoys it.
I am Rosa Parks (Ordinary People Change the World): Again, for older readers, but you can tell JB is following the narrative, and feels strongly about the racism described. We also tell zir about the ongoing struggles with racism that we see today.
Down at the Beach: A delightful gift from a friend, this is read to the tune of “Wheels on the Bus”.

:: What are some of your favorite books for kids or young adults? How much sleep are you getting these days? Did you take mortal offense if your rejected food stayed on your plate?

April 5, 2017

My kid and notes from Year 2.1

JuggerBaby in Year 2, Month 1


Dental hygiene

JuggerBaby has been very enthusiastic about the idea of brushing zir teeth, but zir execution leaves much to be desired. Typically toothbrushing goes something like this:

Mama, yeet? Bush yeet?

Ok, sure let’s brush teeth.

Mama, num num?

Yes, I put toothpaste on your brush already.

Mama, bush yeet!!

Yes, I’m going to brush mine too.

Then for the ten minutes, ze will lick all the toothpaste off zir brush, ask for more, go back to licking the brush when I say no, and then chew on the bristles while criticizing my technique. The bristles touch teeth maybe once, unless incidentally on the way to brushing zir tongue, or if I insisted on brushing them for zir. Of course the latter always starts a fight and ends in tears. Not my tears, though.


I didn’t know there were sleep regressions after Year One, especially one at 18 months and another at 2 years. At least I didn’t know until ze was nearly 25 months and then it punched us in the faces. Out of the clear blue sky, putting JuggerBaby to bed turned into a wailing, sobbing, desperate-to-keep-us-in-the-room MESS. For days, we tried to put zir to bed after the bath and 3 books routine, and every single day ze tried to monkey-parkour zir way out of the crib and catapult into our arms. Not because ze wanted cuddling, which is when ze is sick, or because ze needed food (ze sports a Buddha belly that could last a week on no food), but because ze didn’t want to be alone.

We tried leaving zir with Seamus. That was good for one night. We tried telling zir that we were right outside the door and that ze could call if ze needed us. That worked once.

Finally, we negotiated with the toddler-terrorist. Or rather, we caved. Each night, we would put zir to bed, and ze would say “Mama jeep? Dada jeep? Gigi jeep?” We were all to go to bed at the same time, in the same room. If we were good and quiet, ze would roll around like a mad cannoli for 20 or so minutes and pass out. If we bothered zir too much by talking or looking at work on our phones, it’d take over an hour. It got so bad that we were just all asleep by 9 pm for several days in a row. Nothing was getting done – our nights were effectively over by 6 pm.

After 3 weeks of being held hostage, I decide we were trying again. I told zir: “ok, we have to go clean up now, so you stay here and we’ll be right outside, the door is open if you need us.” This time, ze was open to it, saying “ok” and just asking for more massages before I left. I was cautiously optimistic, remember, this worked once before too and then 2 weeks of misery followed!

But it seemed to coincide with the pieces falling into place with toilet training. We had added 4 potty breaks to our nighttime routine: after dinner, after a shower, after reading, and one more time after being put to bed. Once ze was in this routine for a few days, it seemed that ze wasn’t quite as inclined to demand that we stay in the room and sleep with zir.

Clean up clean up! Everybody cleans up!

I adore daycare for teaching the kids a clean up song because it encourages them to comply when you ask them to help clear the table. Heck, JuggerBaby will start clearing the table when ze finished eating, even without being asked.

This can sometimes be inconvenient if you meant to eat it.

Toilet training

To be honest, I’d dreaded starting toilet training but so far, with PiC taking the lead on much of it, JuggerBaby has been pretty good at telling us when ze needs to pitstop. We have a 50-75% success rate, depending on the day and level of enthusiasm.

Super cling

This may be a phase related to not feeling well but where ze once hit the ground running and didn’t look back, daycare dropoff has become a series of persuasions, mostly to remove one tentacle-like limb off my leg, or the other. PiC has no better luck unless we’re both dropping off together, then ze dismisses him with an aggressive BYEBYE and keeps a possessive hand on my knee.

My working theory is that either ze doesn’t feel well or ze doesn’t like the chaos that reigns after a certain time when all fourteen kids are running amok. The one time ze ditched me readily was when no kids had arrived yet, ze happily linked up to the teacher and literally didn’t look back.

Things we bought

This is the kiddy version of washi tape which I won’t allow JuggerBaby to get into. (My precious washi tape!)

Daycare lets kids take a roll of painter’s tape and stick it on the walls, windows, and fences, and this is definitely something JuggerBaby now wants to do at home.

:: Did you ever have separation anxiety as a kid? Or an unnatural addiction to office and stationery supplies?

March 15, 2017

My kid and notes from Year 2.0

My kid in year 2.0

The Age of Un-Reason

Leaps and bounds

JuggerBaby hit age 2 with a blast of temperamental mood swings and sudden skills developing. A week before zir birthday we were still prompting, “More, what?” “Mo’ milk.” “More milk, what?” “Chz.” “Say, ‘more milk, please'” “CHZ!!!”

The day after, ze strung it all together handily into nearly civilized dinner conversation if you ignored the rice and curry dribbling down the side of the table, and the curry in zir hair, splattered when ze gesticulated with an excess of emotion: “Mo mik, chz!” “Mo wice, chz.” “Tant you, mama.” “All done!”

More phrases: “No, mama eat!”
“Gigi (Seamus), nom!” (Seamus, come)

Literacy (almost)

Ze is pretending ze can read more frequently, making noises that mimic reading as ze taps each page of the book “ah eh oooh ah ah oooh, eh eh eh.” Then ze looks at me expectantly. It’s still unclear if ze wants applause or follow-up reading. But here’s the sort of amazing overnight change: ze has a play alphabet set from my aunt and ze went from knowing where to place the “A” and the “Z” one day, to placing all the letters with confidence the next day. This is after months of playing with the letters, chewing and licking them, and getting the placement wrong 98% of the time.

I’m going to assume that the tantrums are associated with these leaps in skills and not what we can expect for the whole year.

Parenting skills

Toddlers mimic everything you do. Some parental behaviors for infants, therefore, are completely inappropriate if your goal is to nurture a toddler who isn’t a giant bully. At a gathering with friends and their kids, ranging from six months to three years, I noticed the infants’ parents grabbing things out of their hands quickly without a second thought. That’s because infants lick and chew everything. But a toddler is watching what you do, so if you grab things out of their hands routinely, this reinforces their already uncivilized propensity to grab whatever they want out of other kids’ hands.

JuggerBaby still gets into everything but thankfully ze doesn’t immediately shove it in zir gob every single time so I can be more relaxed and strategic about my responses. When ze dug into my bag of chargers and cords, rather than scolding and snatching them away, ze was directed to clear the mess. Always happy to have a task, ze helped me organize the cords. This is a 180 degree difference from how ze “helped” me at nine months (and I have the pictures of the utter wreck of a room to prove it).

Bargaining. JuggerBaby used to exercise rudimentary bargaining skills, learning to offer trades to get what ze wanted, but ze sprang a new level on me the other day.

Normally our bedtime routine is strict: dinner, bath, books, bed. But I deviated by looking for a song from daycare on my phone and ze asked for a different song when our search came up empty. It was a treat but then ze tried to push zir luck for more. “No, that was one-time treat, we’re not watching more videos.”



“Please?” + the baby sign for please.


“Ears?” Gesturing at ears.

This is a restriction I often place on listening to music on my phone: “radio-only” or “ears-only” when we are playing and ze wants music. I don’t like zir to be glued to a screen all the time. It was a clever offer – it was a compromise I was tempted to accept. But no, I’d rather we didn’t get used to using the phone as a bedtime crutch. I had to congratulate zir for being clever enough to think of negotiating terms, though. It was much better than going straight to a tantrum.

Things we bought

I was not planning to spend more in 2017 than we did in 2016. We bought formula, childcare, diapers, and a minimum of clothing. Then surprise! We were given a list of Must Haves for zir transition to the next age group in daycare. It turns out you swap bottles and formula gear from infancy for active kid gear in toddlerdom. Initially I was annoyed but most of them make sense.

Of course, I didn’t buy everything right away. We had a few weeks to get it together so I made the most of my time: did some research, scoured sales, compared new to used prices, used gift cards when I could.

Bike helmet

Daycare has tricycles in the play yard, it seems a shame not to let zir participate and, with any luck, gain some sense of coordination.
The problem is that zir head is still too small for standard kid sized helmets, so we had to spend more than I wanted to on a much smaller helmet.

My target budget was $20, the helmet we ended up with after some research on safety and fit was $27.50.


Rain boots

This makes sense, ze should be able to splash about even if it’s wet, and shouldn’t have to go around in wet shoes and socks all day.
We hadn’t gotten any rain boots because we live in drought-bound, foggy California, and it seems silly to get seasonal gear for a season that usually lasts 2 and a half days in three months. I talked to friends with kids first to see if they had any outgrown rain boots lying around, but no one did.

After seeking advice from a friend with twins, who confirmed that it was perfectly fine to buy the boots in sizes too large so they last more than a year, we visited REI to see if they had anything on clearance.  Ze tried on a pair three sizes too big for a test clomp (size 9) and LOVED it. Ze was able to get around, but they were a little TOO awkwardly oversized, so that was helpful information. We don’t want to send zir into the rain to twist an ankle! REI wanted $90 for the boots that were rated for freezing and snow weather, which is much more severe weather than we’re likely to be in, so we passed on that pair.

We bought this pair in size 8, only 2 sizes too big, from Amazon for $13.76. I had a $2 promotional credit from this offer (buy a set of 3 gift cards for $3, add at least $10 to each card, get $2 back per card), plus a $2.55 credit from a promotional credit they’d screwed up on an earlier order, bringing the total down to $10.06 after tax. That’s less than what I was seeing boots listed for, used, so I’m satisfied with that price.

Update since buying them: Ze is in love with these boots, and we’ve had an unusual amount of rain this year, so the cost per wear is already down to dimes per wear! That makes me feel much better about buying them.

:: When did you learn to ride a bike / trike? Were you a reader, growing up? Do you remember being read to by adults?

This website and its content are copyright of A Gai Shan Life  | © A Gai Shan Life 2017. All rights reserved.

Site design by 801red