23 Months: Entering the Mine Zone

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My little ragamuffin is now 23 months old.

The first time she went without a nap was on her 20 month birthday.  From that point on she started getting her toddler on more and more.  She’s not a tantrumy type girl.  But she’s still a toddler.  She is certainly exploring the concept of things being “mine” or belonging to different people.

I think I must be weird because I love it.  I love her feisty little “MINE!”, I love seeing her mind tick over and discover the concept of ownership.  I love that when you touch or tickle her she cries “No dat’s MY nose!” or “No dat’s MY foot!”.  She has a strong sense of bodily autonomy and ownership and I love that.

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She likes her personal space.  If another child starts getting to far into her personal space without her permission, she starts saying firmly “No!  Stop!  Get away!”  She is shy and wary with people she doesn’t know and takes quite a while to warm up.  Which is always strange to me, because with us and people she is comfortable with, she is an utterly zany, crazy little person who is a laugh a minute.

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She is a talker.  She talks in full sentences and has done for at least the last month or so.  Things like “I want toast” or “I fink its dry now” or “mummy is dat yummy?”  People often comment on how clearly she speaks.

For all her strength in the linguistic area, she is slower on the gross motor skills.  She only mastered climbing recently and was very proud of herself.  She has only just figured out that you can climb off the bed by turning around backwards.  She stills needs my help to climb on a rocking horse or those little toddler push bike things.  Her mummy is more of a bookworm than an athlete so maybe she takes after me 😛

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She spent about 2-3 months obsessed with The Wiggles.  Then she got a Hairy Maclary DVD and watched that a million times.  Her latest obsession is Peppa Pig.  Through all of these fickle changes of heart, however, her longstanding love is Angry Birds Toons.  She will beg for “Angy Birds ona iPad” and we will find her the videos online and she will beam from ear to ear.

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She does still nap most days, although will sleep in sometimes and then skip a nap that day.  However she now doesn’t go to bed until around 9:30-10pm.  She has stamina!  She still loves our bottle cuddles and she still goes to sleep on my lap with a bottle and dummy and I put her in her bed once she’s a sleep.  I know the day is coming all too fast that she won’t need my cuddles anymore.  So I enjoy, while I still can, the warm weight of her growing body on mine, watching the slow descent of her eyelashes onto her cheeks.

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She is a fussy sparrow eater.  She likes to graze and very rarely eats a dinner-type meal.  Vegies are a no go, although luckily she likes a lot of fruits.  All I can do is try to make sure her grazing snacks are as healthy as possible and keep offering dinners and vegies and eat them in front of her.

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Although I love her exploration of the concept of “mine”, obviously that doesn’t mean she gets her own way all the time.  If something isn’t in fact hers, then it is my place to step in and guide her around the concept of ownership.  We are getting there and I think the most important thing is to keep your expectations to an age-appropriate level.  It is totally normal for a child to not understand the idea of sharing until after the third birthday.  I find that often in the heat of the moment she may get upset or whingy, but then next time she sees the object or enters a similar situation, she will say something like “dat’s Daddy’s one”.  It’s like her little brain has been processing it all in the meantime and it’s kind of cool to observe.

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I can’t believe she is almost two years old, but then, on the other hand, she is certainly moving past the level of a one year old and in that respect, her being two totally makes sense.  She is feisty, funny, empathetic, strong willed, attached and yet independent.  She always wants me close by but she wants to do things for herself.  She is just an awesome, awesome little person.  I adore this age (even if she wears me out sometimes!) and I adore her.

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14 to 18 Months: An Energizer Parrot!

Sometime around the 14 month mark, Scarlett started walking.  To be honest, I actually don’t remember her “first steps”.  I do clearly remember one day, at a time when she had taken the odd step or two now and then,  that she suddenly walked a series of 3 or 4 steps across the lounge and Daddy C and I just looked at each other in surprise, because we hadn’t been expecting it.

IMG_2628-1-4One of the first times she stood on her own, at about 12.5 months

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From there it was just a gradual process of becoming more confident, and slowly transitioning her first choice of movement modality from crawling into walking.  By 15 months, walking was the mode of choice, with a funny little waddling run thrown in now and then.  I quickly forgot what it was like when she DIDN’T walk and she continued to gain confidence.

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Off a-waddlin at 16 months

I’m not sure I can explain why, but as soon as she started walking, I started enjoying motherhood with her a LOT more.  I struggled with life with a baby, but I LOVE having a toddler!  She is so fun, I love that she can get to where she wants to go by herself – she is less frustrated and is able to communicate better, because anything she can’t say, she can just go to or point at, and it helps immensely.  I love when she goes and chooses a book she wants and bring it to me to read – she is no longer just a receptacle, a recipient… she has her own ideas of what she wants to do and play with, and it’s so much more fun.

Her language also continues to grow and grow.  I made a little impromptu list  on her 17 month birthday, just out of curiosity and as a kind of keepsake.

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However, no sooner had I written the list, than it became redunant.  She is becoming more and more of a little parrot every day.  The things she comes out with these days continue to amaze me.   She also has a couple of sentences: she says “it’s a ___” or “that’s a ____”, for example: “itsa cat!” or “that’s a mummy”.  She also says “where’s ____?” while holding her hands out in an extremely cute little shrugging gesture and searching for the mentioned item: “where’s bowl?” or “where’s minna?”  She’ll say things I didn’t know she can say quite unexpectedly and both blow me away and crack me up at the same time… such as when she threw the flash cards all over the floor and then said “itsa mess!”  Hahaha yes, why yes bubba, it IS a mess!

She is an energizer bunny, she gets up at 6:30-7 am, has one nap and is often still going at 8:30-9 pm at night.  She has the funniest, zanniest little personality and it is so awesome watching it develop as she gets older.  She is such a little girl now… and I am loving it! 🙂

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14 Months Old

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15 Months Old

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16 Months Old

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17 Months Old

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Today on her 18 months birthday 🙂

“Minna”: Thoughts from a Dummy Mummy

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Scarlett, for some unexplainable reason, calls her dummy a “minna”.  Don’t ask me why – I’ve never called it anything but a dummy!  For some reason, she has quite firmly decided that it is called a “minna”.

I never intended for my baby to have a dummy.  In fact, I used to hate them.  But Scarlett has always had a very strong need to suck.  When I weaned her from the breast at 6 months old, I quickly realised I was going to need something to replace my boob for times when she needed comfort, not food.  It made me realise how often she had been comfort sucking at my boob!

I did my research and I do know the risks of using a dummy – largly orthodonic risks.  In the reality of day to day life though, I just don’t know how we’d do without it.  As I have often discovered in my parenthood journey, intentions can often mean nothing if they are formed without accurate expectations and understanding of the situation you are creating intentions for.

Interestingly, the majority of the cot death research suggests that having a dummy DECREASES the chance of cot death.  Funny how the powers that be are so quick to promote things like breastfeeding and not smoking when they show a correlation with a lowered chance of cot death… and yet you don’t really hear about this other potential risk-lowering factor to nearly the same exent.

It’s not like I use the dummy as a substitute for mySELF, for my motherly love and presence.  But rather, if she is hurt or tired or needs comfort, she will feel more comforted sitting in my arms with her dummy, than she will sitting in my arms without her dummy.  It calms her, gives her that point of focus.  It reminds me of how I feel when I take that first sip of a much needed cup of tea – her whole body relaxes, the tension goes.

Will I have to go through some painful “removal” process at some point?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Have you ever met an 18 year old who still uses a dummy?  For now, as with most things in parenthood, I am just letting her have what she needs and going with the flow.  When she needs comfort, when she needs to be calm, when she asks for it – she has her “minna”.

I had this conversation with her the other day on the change table:

Scarlett: <holding her dummy and pointing to it> “Minna minna minna!”
Me: “It’s a DUMMY!”
Scarlett: “Itsa MINNA!” <shoves it in her mouth and glares at me>

I guess it’s a minna then! 😛

13 Months: The Growth of Comprehension and Independent Thought

I gotta tell ya, 13 months has been pretty challenging for me.  She has been constantly grizzly and clingy, which I find very difficult to deal with.  I have done my best to remember the lesson I learned the other day, to just let go of stressing about getting anything done and just be present to her – which helps and I think I have largely been the mother I want for her (with the help of a few deep breaths from time to time!).  Sometimes it’s like she doesn’t even know what she wants herself – she’ll grizzle to be picked up, so I pick her up only to have her twist out of my arms, and then immediately whinge to be picked up again!

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I know it’s just because of her growing little brain though, and I really do feel like she has turned some kind of corner developmentally lately.  Just little things, but somehow they always excite and surprise me and make me look at her differently.

She’s starting to play little games and use her budding little imagination.  For example, the other day I turned around and she was pretending to write on a piece of paper with a pen.

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Later the same day, she started playing a peekaboo game with me – she crawled into our bedroom and shut the door then started peeking around the door and giggling and then shutting it again.

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And perhaps the cutest of all, while Daddy C was away for a few days recently, she kept picking up her toy phone and going “Dad!  Hi Dad!”

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Her language and comprehension is really growing too.  The other day I said to her “Shall we go for a drive?” and she lifted her arms up to me and said “Car!”  Her latest word is “nana” (meaning “banana”).  I made the mistake of showing off her new word to Daddy C the other night, and then she refused to eat anything for dinner except the “nana!” she could see on the bench!

It’s hard to explain how it feels to have her suddenly start expressing herself and developing her own little sense of volition like this.  The best analogy I have is this – imagine you had a pet dog, and you woke up one morning and the dog just wandered in, opened its mouth and said “Good morning, sleep well?”  Wouldn’t you feel like your whole frame of reference for this dog and who this dog was had changed?  I don’t want to liken my child to a dog of course, but that’s the best way I can explain how it feels to me – this kind of taken aback, slightly excited feeling when this little being for whom I’ve had a certain frame of reference for so long (“baby”) suddenly starts to demonstrate understanding and expression that just yesterday she was incapable of.

This age is hard and it can be frustrating – but it is certainly also amazing to watch all these changes as she grows into a little person… a cheeky, funny little person!

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Scarlett’s First Birthday

It was almost a month ago now but I decided it was well past time I wrote a little post about Scarlett’s first birthday!

Her actual birthday is August 12.  But it all started on Friday, August 10 – baking day!!

I made two batches of cupcakes and one decadant chocolate cake, and somehow it managed to take me ALLLLL day!!  Bubba helped out by sleeping while I did most of the baking, and then licking the spoon when she woke up 🙂  By the end of the day I was exhausted and the kitchen was somewhat the worse for wear…

Chaos, anyone?

…but I had done it!!  It wasn’t the beautiful shiny cake I saw so many other friends making… but it was made with love and I was proud of my efforts.

The next day was Scarlett’s birthday BBQ (held the day before her actual birthday because Saturday is just more convenient for people when you live 40 minutes from the CBD).  We don’t really have close friends with children here in Perth yet, so it was more an adult celebration – but hey, Scarlett didn’t mind being the sole centre of attention!

We invited people over for midday in the hope Scarlett would have just woken up from a morning nap… of course she didn’t sleep all morning and was ready for a nap as people were arriving!  The joy of an adult party was that it didn’t matter – she napped and we watched the footy and caught up with everyone for a while.

Once she had woken up, she indulged in her favourite food – strawberries!! – and stunned everyone with her ability to eat a whole strawberry in one mouthful!

Then we headed to the park for cake and cupcakes.  Scarlett absolutely DEMOLISHED her piece of cake!!  She loved it!  She also enjoyed opening all her presents… although she seemed more fascinated by the cards!

After all that sugar, she wriggled off to use off some of that energy!

She had a great day and the adults enjoyed some chats and bevvies after she had konked out for the night, exhausted 🙂

The next day, Saturday 12 August, was her actual birthday.  We just had a quiet day at home, but we saved the pressies from Mum and Dad until her actual birthday to make it a bit special.  She wasn’t quite sure about the dolly, but she loved the name puzzle and especially loved the Bop N Pop lion!  Both the puzzle and the musical lion toy are still some of her favourite things to play with.

Sometimes I wish I was one of those mums that made perfect cakes and made lovely themed decorations and let millions of babies and children run rampant through my house… but I figure I just have to accept that’s not really my style and just make the best of the mum I am.  I think she enjoyed her days and I know she enjoyed her cake! haha!  I think she knows how special she is to us, and I guess that’s what counts, at the end of the day.

Happy birthday once again, my little monkey!  I can’t believe you’re turning into a real little girl now!

It’s Not Her, It’s Me

Last Thursday we had a nightmare day.

Scarlett was whinging and grizzling all day and wouldn’t go for a sleep, no matter how much I tried to put her to bed. By afternoon, she had progressed to screaming. So, I am ashamed to say, had I. Finally, at around 4:30 pm, after a desperate phone call to Daddy C and some deep breaths, I sat her on my lap with a muesli bar and she fell asleep almost instantly in my arms, exhausted.

My poor grumpy baby last Thursday

The next day I went away for the weekend and I work Monday to Wednesday, so today was my first full day with her since then. She had been difficult for Dad over the weekend also, so I was afraid I was in for another day of tearing my hair out.

Well, it’s currently 3 pm and she has been wonderful all day. But the thing I’m sitting here trying to figure out is – has she been a happier baby today… or have I just been a better mum?

You see, I changed my approach today. I read a lot about gentle parenting. I completely agree with the idea that grumpy toddlers need you to recognise their needs with compassion, not to be disciplined for having emotions. I know that me getting stressed out only adds to the problem and will never solve anything.

So today I decided I wasn’t going to worry about getting anything done. If she got grumpy, instead of getting annoyed with her, I would get down on the floor and give her the attention she was asking for. And that is pretty much what I’ve done. There are toys all over the lounge room. The kitchen bench is covered in dishes. Anytime she was grizzling, I picked her up and read her a book, or sat on the floor and played with some toys.

Funnily enough, she has also been happier to go off and play on her own for short periods. Is that just because she is feeling happier today? Or is it because, with her need for love and attention met, she is satisfied and more able to spend some time on her own?

I tried to put her down for a morning sleep and she wasn’t having a bar of it. So instead of getting annoyed and stressed out and trying over and over again (a la last Thursday), I just accepted that she wasn’t ready to have a sleep, and got her up and read her a book instead, and then she wiggled off for another play. Finally, half an hour ago at about 2:30 pm, she became quiet on my lap and with little effort from me, fell asleep.

My beatuiful happy girl today

Last Thursday, when I was trying so hard to get her down for a nap – was it really because she needed a sleep? Or was it because I needed that cup of tea and half hour of silence? Was I really thinking about her needs – or about my own?

Today, when she wouldn’t go for a morning sleep – I just had my cup of tea anyway (sans silence :-P). I checked my Facebook while I gave her lunch. I gave up on the idea of a quiet cup of tea alone and accepted that I could fill my own desires while still putting her first and being present to her.

So have we had a better day today because she woke up feeling happier? Or has she been happier because I let go of how I wanted the day to go and instead focused on going with her flow?

I think it’s a combination of the two, to be honest. She definitely had woken up on the wrong side of the cot last Thursday, from the moment she got up. But I also handled it badly, and went to bed ashamed of the mother I had been that day.

Hopefully I will be going to bed a little happier tonight 🙂 And a little wiser, for having seen in action what I had long believed – that so often, it is not her that needs to learn the lesson, but me.

I guess we’re in this together bubba, my little teacher

Scarlett Rose: The First Year

This is a little ode to Scarlett – a compilation of photos from the first year of her life that I have been working on.  I’ve watched it about a million times and it makes me teary every time!

This has been such a rollercoaster year.  It hasn’t always been easy.  I didn’t take to motherhood as instantly as I had always thought I would.  There have been hard times and dark days.  But she has always been amazing.  She is such a good, happy, funny little girl.  She has such a nutty personality and watching it unfold and grow is just amazing.

I would say that things have gotten steadily more enjoyable for me as a mum since about 7 months old, when she started being able to move around on her own.  Since then, I have found myself enjoying her more and more.  I genuinely love hanging out with her, she makes me laugh constantly, even when I’m grumpy.  I love the way she chats and babbles and giggles and dances and squeals.  I love that big cheeky grin.

Becoming a mum has been a challenge and a struggle and a massive learning curve for me.  But it has also opened me up to a level of love that I never knew was possible.  My heart bursts at the seams with how much I adore her.  Even when I’m struggling, I know that it’s me that’s the problem, me that has a lesson to learn – she is always perfect.  She is my teacher, not the other way around.

She has changed so much in just one year – I can’t imagine what life will be like in another year’s time, who she will become.  But I’m just so goddamn blessed that I get to go along for the ride 😀