June 14, 2017

My kid and notes from Year 2.3

Skills

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.

Counting

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

Skills

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

Skills

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.

Sleep-FRICKIN-regressions

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?”

“No.”

“Please?” + the baby sign for please.

“No.”

“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?

February 20, 2017

Our childcare and costs: Winter 2017 update

2017 winter update: the costs of childcare Childcare was a scary thing for us well before having JuggerBaby. Culturally, I should have been able to “expect” my parents to be our live-in babysitters. Multigenerational living is what we’ve always done. But much like  the rest of my life, when the time came, our reality was totally different from what I was told to expect. Mom was long buried, and Dad was utterly disinterested. While I regret what JuggerBaby loses as a result, a richer life with interesting and strange grandparents, there was no use dwelling on what “should” have been. It’s a good thing I’d gotten used to adversity by now!

We went through a long and fruitless search for a good nanny, and finally had to take advantage of my flexible work schedule to be a work from home mom.

I kind of miss my #BabyCoworker, but before age 1, ze was just too social and active for our old arrangements to work for us anymore. The daycares in this area range from the at-home care situations to very commercial operations, and the wait lists were miles long. Naturally, by this time last year, I was pretty stressed about what we were doing with JuggerBaby. We had a huge flash of luck when one of the daycares on our approved list had a few unexpected openings earlier than our requested start date, and we went for it.

It’s expensive, but they’re certified, they’re a big enough operation to really pay attention to all the rules and regulations and gives me confidence that they’re not as likely to have problems with abuse as smaller operations that perhaps have less oversight or employ family members. On the one hand, I love a family operation. On the other hand, if a family member of the daycare provider abuses a child, I simply have no faith that the welfare of the child is going to be put above the provider’s livelihood and natural urge to protect their family.

We expected a tough start but JuggerBaby was PSYCHED. Ze has exactly zero compunctions about diving into the new environment and immediately adored zir adoring caretakers. We only started part-time because of my worries, to ease into it, but that worry was allayed immediately. We continued part-time to save money.

Almost a year after that, we settled into a full time routine at daycare. Verdict: mostly good. The germs streaming home from that place had me more sick in 6 months than I’ve been in ten years, but ze has been largely unfazed. Which has been, as you might imagine, nothing but good for me.

Ze has been through three classrooms and we really miss the first one. There were 5 caretakers in the classroom, they were all loving and attentive and calm personalities, and they were very good at redirecting JuggerBaby when frustration with communication reared. The biting started there but it was only at times of great frustration. Ze was remarkably tolerant of all the small babies using zir as a jungle gym as they learned to stand and walk.

When ze was moved to the next classroom (they’re moved around by age group) the transition was downright horrible. It had me doubting our choice, constantly.

JuggerBaby was crying every day, saying “no-no no-no” and trying to go (RUN) back to zir old classroom. The main thing, and it was SUCH an easy fix, was that 2 of those 5 teachers were standoffish and not at all involved in the children’s care. The other 3 teachers were great but they couldn’t completely negate the negativity from the two bad teachers. We had been told so many times that transitions are always hard and that the kids are always upset that we gave it more time than we should have.  I should have listened to my gut.

After observing the class one morning, we gave the teachers feedback – say hello to JuggerBaby when ze comes in! All they had to do was say good morning to zir, and acknowledge that ze was coming in. Ze just wanted to know that ze was wanted, and every cold morning drop-off was more frigid by the morning teachers who sucked. Lo and behold, within 36 hours of asking for this specific change, ze was happy again.

I know my child – ze is temperamentally inclined to getting on with people but ze is also very attuned to being unwelcomed, by adults at least. And zir unhappiness was wholly unnecessary.

We reported this experience to the directors of the daycare, who were mortified and also grateful that we’d brought it to their attention, and assured us that steps would be taken to ensure this didn’t happen again, and that this was not at all the daycare’s policy to be standoffish when transitioning children to new classrooms.

I later discovered that other parents had the same experience, and had also reported it. It’s a great reminder that we have to be our children’s first advocates, no matter how uncomfortable it might make us, or how we might doubt ourselves.

Ze had a second transition recently, and that one was much more smooth. Unfortunately, we don’t love the classroom set-up because they drop the caretaker to student ratio by 2 caretakers for this age group. Now there are only 3 caretakers for 12 rambunctious toddlers and there’s quite a lot more chaos. Mostly controlled chaos, or directed chaos, but I think it’s also difficult because toddlers are loving and jerks at the same time. It’s not that they’re jerk-jerks, they can’t communicate well with each other using words yet so they still revert to slapping, hitting, and biting. I know it’s developmentally normal but it’s frustrating nonetheless.

We’ll be in this class until the end of the year barring any problems, so this is who we have: JerkFace is back. He was in zir first classroom and left us with a bad impression that he’s just renewed. He bullied JB, hitting zir with his jackets, kicking zir, standing over zir so ze couldn’t get up to defend zirself. Any time you walk in, he’s hitting kids, climbing on things he’s been told repeatedly are dangerous, and generally just getting his kicks out of causing harm or dismay. So he sucks.

Zir bestie is there, now, and the two of them are bounding with joy together.

The money part

Year 0

Partway through 2014, I realized the smart thing to do was to start saving for daycare, so we started salting away $2000 a month.

Year 0-1

We spent $1500 on childcare as we tried nannies, sitters, quit for several months, then finally part-time daycare. We continued to save $2000 a month. Between gifts and saving, zir saving account reached a whopping $49,000.

Year 1-2

We stopped saving the full $2000 a month because we couldn’t save that in addition to our 25% savings rate and cash flow the full monthly daycare bill. We spent $19,977 on part-time, then full-time, daycare. Zir savings remain untouched, moderately augmented, even: $66,000.

It’s really scary seeing those numbers. Really scary. At the same time, it helps to see that our savings haven’t been materially diminished, we haven’t lost anything significant in our lifestyle or any true stressors on our marriage, and we’ve been able to truly appreciate the immense joy that JuggerBaby adds to our lives. Even if it does cost many pretty pennies.

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and Super Saving Tips*

February 8, 2017

My kid and notes from Year 1.11

My kid in Year 1.11

The Gracious Host

JuggerBaby has learned to serve zirself at the dining table, sloppily and with very little coordination, at daycare because they encourage the kids to serve their own snacks from the big bowl, and bus their table afterward. The latter skill leads to a lot of food waste, though, because toddlers are mini lemmings sometimes and so when one finishes eating and goes to scrape off their plate, all the others quickly follow suit even if they had only just served themselves. Mixed success, that. But something they don’t teach is serving others because they also have no sense of limits, so if you let them add food to each other’s plates, even more chaos!

Which is why I’m puzzled as to where zir latest habit has come from: “more, mama”, and “more, papa”. We misunderstood that to be zir asking for more for zirself, but zir exasperation and eventual pointing at our dishes cleared it up. When ze gets more, ze wants to make sure we both also have more. When we clink glasses, ze wants to be sure all glasses are refilled. If you haven’t reassured zir that really, you don’t need more, ze will take the initiative and add food to your plate. Either ze is mirroring us serving zir, or ze has inherited that compulsion every cook over the age of 50 in my family has: insisting that everyone have more more more!

Which isn’t to say ze is selfless or anything less than pragmatic. When it was just the two of us sitting down to dinner for a nice hot vegetable barley pasta chicken soup and ze was ready for seconds, ze helped zirself to all the soup in MY bowl while my back was turned. Food thief!

Literacy

I’m thrilled that JuggerBaby enjoys listening to reading now, even if it means the same books ten thousand times.

Ze is now working on “writing”, which means squiggles and scribbles and colors. Ze got my old planner for Art Time which makes zir feel just like mama, and is convinced that the secret to my being able to form letters is the pen. After every word I write, ze forces me to trade pens because ze wants the Magic Pen That Contains Letters. It never seems to work, perhaps clicking it open and closed several more times would help? No?

JuggerBaby dictionary

At-yai: outside
Hap: help
Yight: light, right
Dooaaaannn: down
Chiz: please
Nom nom: please put that food on my plate / please put toothpaste on my toothbrush
Yees: let’s brush our teeth!
Jeep: sleep
Dit-dews: stickers

Parenting skills

Holding the firm line. Our JuggerBaby is the most headstrong child and we have to consistently hold the line against zir temper, demands, and recklessness. It’s business as usual most days, but we seem to have entered A Whole New Zone of irrationality.

SWEET CHRISTMAS do I ever feel like a hostage to this toddler’s terribleness sometimes. Even just the slightest thing sets off the crying jag of the century, ever-so-slightly worse than the last one ten minutes ago, like asking zir to come say hi, or to leave daycare, or to go TO daycare, or go eat, which, what? YOU LOVE FOOD! YOU LOVE FOOD SO MUCH.

But we navigate it. Like the one morning when ze was circling PiC’s legs like a horrifically large cat when he was trying to cook and I set off a stopover at Meltdown City because we asked zir to come sit with me instead. Ze just fell to the ground sobbing, instant tears and snot, because how could we do such a thing??? Three rounds of tears later, I suggested that ze might want to look at pictures of “baby” (zir own baby pictures), and perhaps ze might want to do what baby is doing in the picture (eat)? Through many tears, ze forced out a YES. Ze even begrudgingly managed to dredge up the energy to shuffle over to the table, and then was immediately distracted by the crayons, and had to be convinced all over again to “show baby how to eat”. It’s possible that the current key is that ze likes to set an example.

Teaching manners. Ze went through a long phase of being a jerk to Seamus. Yelling “no!” at him, getting in his space, even putting zir hands on his side and trying to push him. As if ze could shift his 100 lb bulk. Nevertheless, it’s rude, it hurts his feelings, and it’s not ok. There have been consequences every time ze has been rude to him, and lo, miracle of miracles, it paid off! Ze accidentally kicked him in the face whilst flailing about one day, and turned and apologized to him without prompting! There was a lot of happy parental gasping in that moment. And some praise for the JuggerBaby.

Best moments …

Bath time

I drew a shallow bath for us. One minute we were practicing lying on our backs in the water. The next we were embroiled in a splash war. This kid believes the best defense is staying on the offense and ze isn’t wrong.

Reading time

Ze handed me a book but refused to lie down. Instead ze insistently pointed at zirself, garbling zir name over and over. “You want to read this?”
YES.
*shrug* Ok, you read to us.
Ze stared at the page for a while. Handed it back.
“Can’t read?”
No.

Too much snuggle

I lay down next to zir on the Boppy, elbow draped on zir leg.
“NO!”
Get elbowed off.
“BASE!” (Space)

Bed Time

PiC lowered zir into the crib. Ze bounced back up. YIGHT! Ze had to turn them off, personally. Ok fine. Lights off.
Bye GiGi! (Seamus had fallen asleep early and forgotten to come over for bedtime.)
Back in the crib. Bounced back up, arms out. I leaned down expecting to thwart an “up!”
Instead, arms went around my neck for a big hug, and ze flopped back down into the crib, satisfied.

Ponderings

“Pick one book, then it’s naptime, JB.”
Ze tapped zir finger on zir nose. “Hmmm.”
Where did that come from??

Roar!

JB pointed at zir shirt, then threw zir arms in the air: “RAWWWRR!”
*expectant look turns impatient*
“RAWWWRR!”

Zir shirt had …. DANDELIONS!

Favorite books

Nursery Rhyme Comics
This was the gift that just kept giving. Ze gets to pick three books to read before bed, and ze always picks this one. We’ve read it no less than 6 times a day, every day, for weeks. WEEKS.

Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep! by Todd Tarpley and John Rocco

You know JuggerBaby has robots on the mind when ze yells beep beep!

:: Does anyone else antagonize their kid/dog/cat/turtle just a little bit for laughs?

January 18, 2017

My kid and notes from Year 1.10

JuggerBaby in Year 1 and 10 months Words, words, words

JuggerBaby is a veritable treasure trove of gibberish. This month’s additions are mangled versions of “Thank you” (tant-too!), “cheers” (dis!), and “Seamus” (deee!). We can just about figure out what the heck ze wants between a combination of signing and listening to the 7th repetition of zir’s “word”.

There are also a lot of signs, like opening and closing a fist over zir head means sing Twinkle twinkle little star, or flapping arms in a certain way means to sing The Wheels on the Bus.

Disciplining a toddler

JuggerBaby isn’t, in any sense of the word, obedient. Not unless ze wants to cooperate which makes it cooperation and not compliance. Staring a not-2 year old down just does not work, not this one anyway. It’s worked on every other kid but of course not the one I’m legally responsible for. I had to find other ways to get zir to do what I wanted. Sometimes bargaining and bribery is useful – ze will do most things with the promise of giving Seamus a treat. Sometimes a more direct approach is necessary.

TICKLE ATTACK!

Ze loves being tickled so much it’s nearly an addiction. When ze is a recalcitrant toddler, it’s time to go on the offensive. Not only does it break the impasse, it puts zir in such a good mood that ze either forgets to be stubborn or chooses not to be anymore. It’s also become useful as a threat. When ze runs away and wants me to chase zir, I cock an eyebrow and ask “Are you coming back?” [NO!] “Ok, I’m gonna come GET you!” [NO!!! *giggles* *runs back*]

This morning…

Me: Put on your socks.
JB: No.
Me: You sure? Put them on.
KB: NO.
Me: Last warning.
JB: Nope!
Me: *tickles*
JB: *cackles*
Me: Ready?
JB: No
Me: *tickles harder* DO YOU STILL HAVE THE COURAGE OF YOUR CONVICTIONS?
JB: Noooooo
Me: *tickles harder* ARE YOU PUTTING ON YOUR SOCKS NOW?
JB: *cackles* YIISSSSS
Seamus: ???
Me: Ze is FINE. Ze is just learning who the boss is.
Seamus: *snort* *judging*

Parenting skills: not helping

We let JuggerBaby do a lot of things on zir own, and we were pleasantly surprised to see some of that pay off last week. Ze went from trying to put zir socks on through the toe side, to being able to get them on sole-side up, and then on entirely correctly. This happened in one 20 minute car ride, without help.

Then ze put on zir own pants! Then ze tried to put a shirt on zir legs and another pair of shoes on top of zir sneakers, reminding us that we are still quite far from There.

Surprising things about parenting

The dog is a DOG

JuggerBaby really does seem to be oblivious to the fact that Seamus is a dog. Ze has been insisting on offering him a pair of shoes every morning, after zir shoes are on, before his morning walk. I get the feeling that ze is judging us rather harshly for not providing him with his very own shoes, and ze is determined to make up the lack.

Ze is in turns more affectionate than ever, bestowing on him kisses and hugs as bribery for looking the other way when ze gets up to shenanigans.   The jury’s out on whether this is acceptable currency because of the meanness, but he benefits nightly from zir insistence on giving him treats when ze gets home so probably he continues to look the other way anyway.

Just after the affection, though, there arose this complicated thing where ze acts territorial or jealous and runs over to push him away even though he’s not in zir space and isn’t doing anything to anything. It’s really frustrating to have zir yelling NO at him for no reason, being a big jerk to him when he’s just a big loving dog. We’ve scolded and disciplined, seemingly to no avail, but after weeks of this, we finally seem to have broken through a little. We have always insisted that ze be gentle with him, and so this is just a repetition of old instructions but it took several adjustments to our approach to get good results. For some things, consequences work just fine. In this case, they never did. So instead of scolding or punishing zir for being mean, I would insist that ze apologize for being rude, and say kinder things like “hi brother” and “how are you?” And when ze did act out, ze was instructed to apologize. We would remind zir that ze wouldn’t like it if he pushed or pinched zir, and that it was quite rude to do that to him.

We finally had a day when ze resisted the urge to pinch him, and he was patient enough to let zir make a mistake, correct it, and pet him gently without getting vindictive. Later that night, ze reached out to pet without trying to hit or pinch or push, and had a whole five minutes of petting him with kindness. *deep sigh of relief* I know we’re not there yet, but I really needed to see that progress was going to be made.

Things we are loving

Favorite books

Anything about space that includes a rocket blasting off. Currently we’re reading a children’s level biography about Mae Jemison, the Curious George book about space monkeying, and Roaring Rockets.

Dinosaurs. Ze particularly loves re-enacting this book.

Pulelehua and Mamaki: I have my suspicions that ze likes this one because it’s easy to say “mamaki.”

Favorite bath toys

Empty shampoo pump bottles! We’re learning about how water is heavier than air, and so when you submerge an empty bottle, it makes BUBBLES. Because that’s the air being pushed out of the bottle by the water, and the air floats. Something like that. I’m not sure that ze was following the lesson very well but we have time.

Things that are my fault

JuggerBaby refuses to wear costumes.

Things that are PiC’s fault

Ze eats 4 times as much as the normal toddler.

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