Friday, April 18, 2014

Bad Dream!


It is 6:15am. Little L had a late bedtime, in part because Daddy came home from his business trip and she was excited.  Anyway, after more than 6 hours of "uninterrupted" sleep, she partially roused to nurse. I complied, having been woken up by her rolling her not-so-wee toddler body over top of me in search of the other boob. 

After a few minutes, she unlatched and rolled the other way to sleep again. 

Well, just a few minutes later, she started crying in her sleep. It was a desperate and frantic wail, and she was also sobbing, "I want nye-nye! Mommy!! Have nye-nye! I can't..." and other similar phrases. I quickly returned to nursing her while her entire frame shook from the crying. Uttering soothing and reassuring words, I stroked her hair and held her tight. She never did really wake up fully, not even when her Daddy talked to her to see how she was doing. It took another several minutes to settle her back down (and stop the sob-breathing), and now she is sleeping again (mostly) soundly beside me again. 

Was that a night terror? A nightmare? Just a really bad milk-less dream?

And how on earth do parents comfort their wee babes through an episode without the secret weapon of breastfeeding?! How do they keep their littles from waking up entirely, and still reassure them, sans breastfeeding, particularly when the bad dream is seemingly centred around not having access to nursing?! I have to admit, part of me dreads the day when she weans and I lose my "ace in the hole," even though I know that by then she will be ready to move on from the nursing and it probably won't be the main theme of her nightmares. 

But to prepare me for this inevitability one day, what do you mommas (and papas) do to ease the terrors of a nightmare? I'd love to get some insider tips!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Time We Came ThisClose To Moving

Or yesterday.

Back story: on Sat. we came across a rental listing for a place in Richmond that piqued our interest. We called and were able to secure a viewing that afternoon. The place was huge (1.5 times our current cozy space), "executive-themed" with a double garage and gas stove, and within proximity of all our "must-haves," for the same price we currently pay in rent. After Hubbs green-lit it, I submitted the application that evening. 

That's when the anxiety and unease began. With each day that passed, it intensified. I'm not sure what it was, but it caused me such inner turmoil that I had to pull the plug on the application (with Hubbs' agreement, of course) yesterday. Credit checks had been done and everything, but since nothing had been signed yet, nor had we been confirmed for the place, we were okay to do so without penalty. 

Anyway, it has been a day since the application was canceled, and I'm still not sure what that was all about. The location? The place itself? The timing? Or was it because Little L wailed when we went in for the viewing? I'm not sure. I do know that my father-in-law later told Hubbs that he also felt unsettled about us moving to this particular place, even though he wasn't sure why. Bear in mind that this is the same man who affirmed my teaching Grade 1 as God's call (I think it was) and who has often been a voice God has used to affirm our choices. I do feel pretty good about walking away, even though an opportunity like it doesn't come by often; the moment I canceled our application, a weight lifted from my entire being. It's inexplicable but I feel that for certain we were not supposed to move - at least not to this place - right now.

And with this experience under my belt, I now know what I need to consider when we finally do move (an inevitability given our distance from Little L's future school). Transitioning Little L from the only "home" she has known up to now will involve a lot of work and planning, and I am already thinking about all of the wall decals in her room that I need to buy a second set of. 

I have also realized a few things that I hadn't considered before:

- carpets are not kid-friendly and should be kept to a minimal in any home we reside in
- the quality of a walking route is just as important as the proximity to "must-haves"
- a yard is a lovely thing
- so is a double garage
- Little L should probably get a vote on a future home
- the south and west parts of Richmond are much better than any other areas (yay Steveston, Terra Nova...)

I will be more ready next time, which could be next week or next year...

So how have you prepped your littles for a move? What do you plan to do if/when you move, to help ease the stress of it for them? 


Friday, April 11, 2014

Easter Loot

So, out of sheer curiosity, what's in your kidlet's Easter basket this year? Growing up, we didn't do anything of the sort for Easter, nor did we observe it or celebrate it as any more than just a bonus two days off from school. My folks didn't have a lot of spare change to drop on candy or toys, and I wasn't surrounded by tales of some anthropomorphic rabbit leaving behind presents.

Hubbs, however, got a basket every year from "the Easter bunny;" when he was little, he had to go look for them hidden away somewhere in his house. It was a tradition. When I joined his family, I also started getting baskets. Yes, I was in my late twenties.

Anyway, I wanted to adopt this tradition for Little L because I know her grandparents will want to do baskets for her, and because I do see Easter as a time of great celebration and gifting (arguably, even moreso than Christmas). Jesus gave His precious blood and His broken body, because God loved us that much. This propitiation for our sins is what allows us to receive His great gifts of grace and mercy - forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and the promised Holy Spirit's indwelling.

Of course, chocolate eggs and baskets of stuffed animals do not even compare to the spiritual and eternal gifts that I'm talking about, but nonetheless, it's a start (for a toddler who doesn't quite understand abstract things yet).  I want to use these (small, concrete) gifts as a launching point to help her understand that the gifts of God are not earned, they are not rewarded, and they are awesome, abundant and extravagant. They are worth being excited about and celebrating!

Anyway, I'm also fascinated by what others put into their baskets. Elena from Art of Making a Baby is getting her little girl these things. Here's what's in mine:

1. Chapters Indigo Easter basket - but ours is an off-white sheep one from last season, bought after Easter for half price!
2. Alex Toys bath flutes
3. Crayola sidewalk chalk
4. Little Critters' "I Am Playing" board book 
5. Orajel Elmo toothbrush and toothpaste
6. Glow-in-the-dark Minnie Mouse "wands" from Dollar Tree
7. Sesame Street stickers
8. Minnie Mouse self-inking stamp
9. Hopscotch Kids nail polish
10. Daniel Tiger mini-plush figures (Miss Elaina, Prince Wednesday, O the Owl) - not shown because they are still being shipped

We also have an egg hunt planned, although the eggs aren't the awesome non-toxic eco-eggs that I wanted (not available in Canada), and I'm filling them with Lindt milk chocolate bunnies and eggs.

So yeah, a pretty good bounty for Little L. We plan to give these to her on a separate day (maybe Good Friday) and do the egg hunt on Sunday (or vice versa), just because we don't want to overwhelm her all in one day. 

Are you doing something for your littles? I'm always on the lookout for good ideas at Easter to make the day special for a toddler. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Punishing the Potty Accident - a Rant

First off, I know that no sane, loving parent sets out to be cruel towards their child(ren). Obviously, most people love their kids and want the best for them. Sometimes good intentions don't make for good practice, however; I think that desperation or convenience or something leads some parents to suspend that part of their brain that applies rational thought or empathy and love. Or maybe, because of herd mentality and the justification that "everyone else does it too," these parents absolve themselves of the guilt of doing things that are harsh and unnecessary. They forget that their kids are just little kids, not yet fully matured or developed, and completely at their mercy (or in this case, lack thereof).

My latest beef: potty training "consequences" that involve throwing a poor young child into the shower and hosing him/her down with cold water. Most developmental experts agree that potty training is the result of physiological and psychological maturity; there's a lot involved in figuring out when one's body is ready to void, being able to control one's muscles to "hold it in" until one reaches a potty, and actually being able to void in the proper place, not to mention the readiness to actually want to do these things. Most children are ready by age 3, but as with most milestones, there is actually a wider range of "normal" that is dependent on a host of factors beyond the child's own ability and readiness (e.g. situational factors, etc.).

I've recently discovered that there are a number of parents out there who use this brutal technique to punish/prevent future "accidents" or discourage their kids from playing with pee and poop. Apparently, this is an "effective" method and works in just a few tries. Frankly, I'm not surprised by the efficacy; even an animal knows that being sprayed down with cold water is something to be avoided. I have no doubt that this method works, but does that mean it's okay or humane?!

Why shouldn't a parent use cold showers to discipline a child who keeps crapping his Superman briefs? Well, in case it isn't already obvious - it's cruel. It's also excessive, it doesn't take into account the possible developmental/physiological/psychological/environmental reasons that the child is resisting the potty training, it creates a negative association for a completely natural human function, it shames the child, it is abusive, it lacks grace and mercy, it sets up a fear of accidents that causes greater anxiety going forward, it pits parent against child (or child against body, if they're having difficulties reading their own physiological cues or controlling their bowels), it doesn't follow the "golden rule" of doing unto others what you want them to do to you, it is physically painful for the child (particularly one who might have temperature or wetness sensitivities), it breaks trust between a parent and a child, it uses a bullying tactic that a child is helpless to defend against, it suggests that such an action is okay for a bigger person to do to a smaller one, and it is potentially illegal.

Those are my reasons. What's your thought on this? Do you use cold water hosing as one of your "disciplinary methods"? How would you feel if a teacher did this to your preschooler for pooping his pants at school? Would this kind of "discipline" be considered acceptable at home but not acceptable in any other setting, or is it utterly unacceptable anywhere?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Shifting Gears

It has been lurking in the back of my mind for a while now - this tension between public and private, consumable and confidential. When I started this blog, it was a way to chronicle my thoughts, experiences, discoveries (and opinions!) as a newbie momma. I was holed up at home and needed an outlet. My family and friends were a bazillion miles away and wanted to find out about my new bundle of joy. As I navigated unfamiliar parental territory, it just seemed like a perfect channel to work through my own ideas while keeping everyone in the loop.

However, a few things have changed since two years ago. One: Little L is getting older and more aware, and is starting to really let her personality shine through as she emerges as her own little person. While this makes for some very fun anecdotes, I recognize that she never volunteered to be my blogging muse. Since the internet is "forever," and what's put up can never really be removed, I want to be more careful and intentional about what I post about Little L; after all, she will have to live with it "out there" for a long time. 

Secondly, this blog used to get 15 views, mostly from family and close friends. The numbers have gone up since then, but I have no idea who is reading and what their intentions are. Much as I would like to believe that everyone looking right now is simply curious or loves us, my experience is that there are others who read this blog with the intention of finding something to get fired up about and to hate on. I'm not sure what makes us a "target" but I think any time when someone has a different opinion, and it makes others (particularly a majority) uncomfortable, the divergent one takes the heat or gets attacked/judged for being a dissenting voice. The web allows for anonymity, and in a space where that and herd mentality and hate speech are all interwoven in an ugly tapestry, unkindness is permitted to reign. I do not wish to potentially subject my young daughter to this.

So I'm switching directions and changing gears. As I move forward, I will no longer post pics of my darling on here or Twitter. I will also refrain from discussing specifics about her. Those who want to see her little antics or cutie-pie face can ask to follow my IG (msloquaciousfamily) or my FB (if you know me "in real life"). Anecdotes and short stories will be posted on those more private forums. 

On the blog, I will also focus more on my own musings as mom and wife, and as a Jesus-follower. I have thoughts on a lot of other non-mommy things, which probably has a more universal appeal anyway! I feel like this protects Little L from needless scrutiny and gives her some privacy until such time that she is old enough to choose to blog for herself :) It also provides me with a continuing outlet for my thoughts and ramblings :)  As a grown-up secure in my own person, I am more than capable of dealing with the judgment of being "public."

So if you want, feel free to come along for the ride! :)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

52 Weeks #4 - TOY-let Paper

This week I called it in. :) Actually, I had intended to do some fun things with toilet paper, but as the week progressed, I discovered that Little L already knew what she wanted to do with her roll of 3-plys. No planning necessary!

It all started when Little L bumped her knee against the wall. She wailed, and it came to me that I could use TP to "bandage" her "broken" leg. She has watched the YouTube of Chirp from the Timbuctoo series a bazillion times, so she remembered that when he was trying to figure out how to fly, he had broken and bandaged his leg. The tears immediately ceased when curiosity took over. She saw me retrieve the roll, and wondered what I was going to do to make her a cast.

It was make-shift, but she *loved* that thing and kept it on for half an hour, until it was starting to rip at the knees and become a nuisance to her squatting.

Then we invented a little game, where Little L put different figurines into the TP roll "hole" to see if they would fit. It was like a mini science experiment.

As the week went along, we did other things with the TP. We wrapped Little L up "like Curious George!" from the "Doctor Monkey" episode.

We also wrapped up her monkeys with TP. Sometimes the TP made a "diaper" for them, and other times they were near-mummified with it.

And we used the stuff to hide little figurines, too.

It wasn't an "event" but Little L loved finding a new "toy" to play with, and I suspect that we will be discovering all sorts of additional ways to use the stuff in the days to come.

My Little HSC

I came across a term recently - highly sensitive child - and it seems to describe Little L quite well. After some Googling piqued my interest, I started reading through Elaine Aron's The Highly Sensitive Child. Based on her short "checklist," I think that Little L is a HSC.

Now, I'm not looking for a label; in fact, I don't love labels at all. However, I *am* looking for an explanation and some direction on how to raise a little girl who doesn't seem to "fit the mold" quite like others her age. To some, I'm sure it seems that our parenting style has been very protective and maybe a bit permissive, but I think that as I've tried to raise her in a responsive and respectful way, I've simply been responding to her needs. And unlike 80% of the kids out there, Little L's needs a just a bit different.

Examples of high sensitivity:
Is hard to get to sleep after an exciting day
- Little L has always been alert and intense, and one who finds it hard to wind down to go to sleep, because everything is EXCITING! Hence her crazy sleep patterns!
Notices the distress of others
- She cries when someone else, or a toy, is injured. When Miss Bee stubbed her toe the other day, Little L wailed inconsolably, and I thought that she was the one who got hurt! Likewise, today when she looked at a picture in the book where a baby was crying and it looked like her bottle had splashed milk onto her face, Little L's lower lip began to quiver and she almost burst into tears.
Uses big words for his/her age
- She has a pretty extensive vocabulary for a 2 year-old (eg. she uses words like "definitely", "delicious," and "frustrated" -but not together - on a regular basis). 
Is bothered by noisy places
- Little L likes quiet, uncrowded, uncluttered spaces, and experiences anxiety and stress when she is in a crowded or messy or busy space. When she is at my sister's home (usually a very loud place with lots of stuff around), Little L will beg me to take her to a room by ourselves and to nurse there. The last time we were at the house, Little L nursed and then stayed in the basement alone with me for nearly an hour before she was willing to go upstairs. 
Prefers quiet play
- She can't stand to be around large groups of wild kids (eg. dance class, music class, story time at the library) and would rather be by herself or with just one or two other kids. She also needs time to decompress after outings - even from the library - and prefers a few moments of independent quiet play (or nursing) once she gets home 
Doesn't usually enjoy big surprises
- She needs "warm-up time" with new things. Every time I buy her a new book, even one that belongs to her favourite series, she only glances at it half-heartedly for like a minute for the first couple of reads. Usually it takes a few days before it becomes her fave book du jour. 
Complains about scratchy clothes, seams, or labels/things against his/her skin
- She hates having a "sticky neck" and dirty hands, and urgently cries, "Mommy! Wipe off! My hands are dirty!" when she is done eating or painting with them. 
Startles Easily
- She dislikes certain loud or strange noises (eg. the Magic Bullet, her microwave buttons, my Nespresso), so I usually have to give her a few warnings that the noise is going to occur, before actually turning machines on. This has helped give her time to run and "hide" herself some distance away from the offending noise.
Is a Perfectionist
- She is fairly determined, and a perfectionist who cries when things aren't  "just so." If I build the playdough object incorrectly (by her standards), or if I put something down in a way that she doesn't agree with, she will let me know!
Learns better from gentle correction than strong punishment
- Even a stern tone can make her cry, so our voices have to be gentle when we correct her. Once, when she was younger, Hubbs made the "Baaaa!" sound for a sheep and Little L thought that he was saying that she was being bad. She burst into tears and didn't want to go near him for an hour, even though he apologized and explained that he wasn't mad and that she wasn't being bad. If we react strongly after we have had an accident, that also makes her cry.
Has a clever sense of humour
- For being just two, she has a wicked sense of humour. The other day she farted, so I asked her, "Did you just fart like a koala?" Her immediate reply - "I would never do such a thing!," followed by a giant mischievous grin.
Considers if it is safe before climbing high
- Little L is very aware of the concept of "danger," and has shown a caution that I don't think is related to our own hesitation as parents or is common for her age. She doesn't do a lot of high climbing, and we've never lamented that our kid has a death wish. She won't even jump off the couch, preferring instead to use one of our ramp pillows to slide down.
Wants to change clothes if wet or sandy
- Although she isn't always picky about this, sometimes Little L will not want to be dirty, and the moment her clothes have a stain, she will want to get changed. It's not a wet-dry thing for her, but she does have aversions to certain "fuzzy" textures.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. There are so, so many examples that I could share, and every time I read another page in the book, I can think of another example from Little L's life that corresponds to the author's point.

I haven't finished the book yet, but it's good to know that there is research out there to support the idea that this kind of trait isn't clinical or abnormal. It's not "fussiness" or "shyness." It's not a sign that my child falls on the autism spectrum or is "weak" or "antisocial." It doesn't mean that she will be destined to have problems as an adult. 

It does, however, mean that Hubbs and I have to parent her differently and be sensitive to her aversions and anxieties. It means avoiding certain things that other kids love, using way more strategies to "prep" Little L for big changes and anxiety-provoking situations, and not allowing our own convenience to trump her needs. It means figuring out ways to build her resiliency. And it means that although we will probably continue to get static for the way that we parent, it is imperative that we continue to exercise gentleness, grace, respect, and responsiveness in our interactions with Little L. We need to find ways to model Jesus's love and patience in how we raise her up.

Isn't that what parenthood is about anyway?

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