Friday, 27 April 2012

From baby to toddler

So, a month back, I posted about how my daughter had taken her first step.  Remembering my son's steady progression from that first step to walking all over the place in two or three weeks, I eagerly anticipated a similar burst of determination from my daughter.

Not so much.  Although she's always been more ambitious than her laid back brother, she has never been pushing to walk.  Simply discovering the ability to take independent steps was not enough to inspire her.

After giving the matter some thought, I came to the conclusion that the big difference in circumstances for the second child is that I wasn't going at her pace.  With her brother, I could arrange my whole day around him, taking things as slowly as I like and letting him crawl alongside me or stagger around holding my hand.  With the second child, I'm rushing to get things done in between the school runs or trying to keep up with the toddler instead of slowing down for the baby.  I've been carrying her a lot more, and she has had absolutely no objection to that.

So starting Monday, I changed my habits, remembering to slow down wherever possible and to do handheld walking as much as possible.  On Thursday, something clicked and she started walking.  Not exclusively, but she's gone from crawling as the default mode to walking (until she falls over) as the default mode.  The change was dramatic enough that my husband noticed the difference between when he left for work in the morning and when he came home that night.

I've also rediscovered just how much of a jump in interaction walking makes--and how much better I am at toddlers than babies.  Also on Thursday, she knocked over her brother's glass of orange juice.  I gave her a paper towel to clean up the mess, and she promptly started wiping at it (with remarkable effectiveness).  I then asked her to throw the used paper towel in the bin and (after a couple of repetitions) she toddled to the kitchen and did so, giving me frequent looks for confirmation and a big grin when she realised she understood what I meant.

One of my mild concerns is that I've not done much in the way of giving directions to her, so I am genuinely delighted she understood me.  And lest anybody think I've got some sort of miracle child, I did have to clean up most of the spill myself--she just did a better job with her paper towel than her brother did at that age.

Speaking of spills, she's recently got the hang of drinking out of her doidy cup so I've started giving her a glass for occasional drinks, in true Montessori style.  I found one at a thrift store a few months ago, that was small but surprisingly heavy.  I'm hoping this means that it can survive a trip to the hardwood floor (so far untested), but the weight encourages her to use both hands to lift it and focus a little more on what she's doing with it.  She's a lot more inclined to just knock things over for fun than her brother ever was, so this is something very intermittent.

But I've moved their table to the window, where it's a little closer to the shelves for carrying practice.  I think I'm going to try and have them eat there more often when we're not having a family meal (i.e.  snacks and lunch).  She's not mastered the art of getting on and off the stools yet, but it'll be a step closer to independence when she does.

Basically, I'm in a wild burst of enthusiasm for having a toddler again, especially since my son's left that behind for the mentally draining 3 year old stage.  For the first time, she's easier than he is!  Yet of course, as much as I've been waiting for this, there's that bittersweet thought: "No more babies, soon she won't crawl around at all...."  I don't do well with babies, and I'm tired of how all her leggings are grey and dingy at the knees, but.... still.  She's been a very cute baby.

Also, she cut three teeth almost simultaneously: two molars and a canine.  That explains the grumpy mood towards the end of our holiday.  I am still waiting on the other canine to poke through, but she's got tired of me poking into her mouth, so for all I know it's there already.

Dampening my burst of wild enthusiasm is the sick day my son's had today.  After a complete lapse in behaviour yesterday, he threw up twice overnight and then again after lunch today.  So far he's kept dinner down, so fingers crossed.  At least he's been much more cheerful today, and I was able to keep him occupied by building a gigantic train track all across the living room rug during his sister's morning nap. 

I probably love that train set more than he does.  I am not looking forward to when they outgrow it....

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Easter Holidays

Hadn't realised just how long it had been since I last posted!  We had friends from the UK stay with us for our Easter Holiday (or Spring Break, in US terms).  They had two boys a little older than our pair, so we were eight people in the house.  Accordingly, I was pretty busy getting ready for them, we had two weeks of madness, and it's taken me another week to recover!

So here are the random things I learned with this that I'd like to pass on for those interested.

Sleeping arrangements!  Our children ended up sharing a room for the first time--previously, my daughter has shared with us if we needed the extra bedroom.  But since there's a twin bed in her room (and she sleeps on the floor mattress next to it), the simplest thing to do was move her brother into that bed.  On the advice of a friend, we put them to sleep at different times, which worked like a charm.  I think there was one night where my daughter couldn't sleep, and we let her sit up for a little while, to let her brother go to sleep before trying again.

The first night, my son rolled out of his bed, landing on top of my daughter, which set them both screaming in the middle of the night.  Fortunately, they both settled pretty quickly and that was a one-off.  The biggest drawback was the wakeup times.  If he woke up, he'd leave the room, but slam the door on his way out which would mean she woke up too.  If she woke up, she would start crying and he'd wake up.  For the most part, this meant they were both up before 6:30 everyday, which is hardly the end of the world, but I frequently wished I only had one to entertain in my pre-7am state.

We did a couple of excursions that required a night in a hotel, where all three of us shared one room: us in one bed, my son in another, and my daughter in a travel cot.  On the whole, the children handled this fine, but I lay awake listening to them, which made me tired and snappy the following day.  I have sleep issues anyway, so it doesn't take much to trigger insomnia.  Learning from this lesson, we're going to try and avoid room-sharing with us in future trips.

We had learned from our trip to the UK last summer that keeping the nap routine was vital when there was so much stimulation and upheaval during the day.  Our son is in the middle of dropping his afternoon nap, some days he takes it, some he doesn't, and we did fairly well at keeping on top of that.  Our friends were very good about scheduling the days to incorporate an afternoon nap at home most of the time (we also had our daughter nap in the stroller/car-seat a few times).  Their youngest son was four and hadn't napped for well over a year, but he ended up taking a few afternoon naps as well, due to all the activity.

The spread of ages (six years between our daughter and the oldest boy) wasn't as difficult as I'd expected.  Most of our daytrips were to places we'd done before and knew that they were hands-on.  My daughter didn't understand what was going on, but enjoyed messing with everything, the oldest boy (seven) could grasp the educational aspect and the other two ranged in between.  Our friends speculated that it would be more difficult in another couple of years when their eldest might be rolling his eyes at what the younger children wanted to do. 

We had a one adult to child ratio, which worked out pretty well for catering to their individual ages, and also for letting each adult have a break at different times.  The three boys in particular could usually be grouped together with just one or two adults supervising.

We did Busch Gardens, VA, which was the first time my daughter had been able to get involved in a theme park trip.  The minimum requirement for most of the children's rides there is walking ability.  I had remembered that when I first took my son on the rides a couple of years ago, we had started in the Sesame Street area which is very loud and busy.  We'd gone on the first ride we saw, without actually watching it first and it had been a little more exciting than we'd realised.  My son had freaked out and it took us the rest of the day to get him on another ride.

So with my daughter, we went to a quieter area, started with a peaceful ride and let her watch it first.  She caught on very quickly and went on anything and everything she could after that.  She was outraged when we let her brother go on the bumper cars without her.

We had hired an eight-seater car for the driving, so we were all together.  The three boys sat in the back and were more or less self-entertaining for the road trips (we rarely drove for more than an hour).  My daughter sat between me and the other Mum and loved it, but tended to get needy and stroppy.  She actually did a lot better when I transferred back to the front seat and she couldn't see me any more.

We did a drive up to Washington DC at the end of the holiday, which is four hours away.  For that, we started at the children's bedtime (having brushed their teeth and got them in their pajamas), so most of them slept on the way up.  We drove for three hours, stopped for the night and then did the final hour into DC in the morning.  Spent the day there (did a lot of walking), then got the kids in their pajamas and drove home from 6-10pm.  That worked very well for us and we will probably do that trick again.

Phew!  Will try and get back to regular updates now.