Category Archives: Letters to E.

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Filed under E.- the fourth year, Letters to E.

Protected: And now you are three

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Filed under E.- the third year, Letters to E.

E. at 33, 34, and 35 months

I have been remiss at writing one of these and thought I had better get it in before he turns three!

What he’s doing:

Walking all over the neighbourhood. He is a superb walker. We started getting into the habit of walking to the library after I picked him up from nursery school on Monday afternoons because there’s a bakery right across the street and he quite liked the idea of having afternoon snack there. After we’d done this a few times, I decided to look our route up online and discovered that it was 1.5 km! And then he was doing close to another kilometre to get home again from the library, all without complaint. He loves balancing on the angled paving stones on some of the yards in the neighbourhood (to prevent erosion from the lawns). Now that we’re (finally) getting some slightly warmer weather he’s been enjoying walking in his shoes. He was heartily sick of the snow and the ice and the wind and the cold. I thinked he walked to nursery school every day this winter except for one, when it was so cold with the windchill he would have been in danger of frostbite. That day we took the stroller. He’s also enjoying playing in the parks again, and getting out consistently at nursery school. I lost count of the number of days this winter where we would walk there and then discover that it was an indoor day because it was too cold for them to go outside!

He’s also really, really, into the mail right now. He became so disappointed that there was never anything for him that I wrote to all of his relatives and asked them to consider sending him something. That’s resulted in him receiving mail two or three times a week for the last few weeks, which has thrilled him no end. It’s also prompted him to get interested in letters. The other day we were walking back from the library and he asked me why the cats never got any mail and I said without thinking, “Oh, well the cats can’t read. There’s no point in getting mail if you can’t read because you won’t know what it says.” The next day he brought a book over to Q. and said, “I want you to learn me my letters so I can read.” He’s probably got 12 or 14 of them now, and he never fails to recognize when one of the envelopes that arrives at the house has an E. on it!

Speaking of the cats, he bosses them around constantly. It’s almost like having a younger sibling (I imagine) as he shouts at them, “No, no Yiyi! Don’t touch my trains! Shoo! Don’t sit there! Go away!” He absolutely hates it if one of them sits on a puzzle that he’s working on, or tries to sniff his toys. If one of them is in my lap he’ll sidle over and lean on them until they move (if he’s being subtle) or just shove them away (if he’s not). They’ve both taken to hanging out in his room in the mornings to take advantage of the morning sun, which he thinks is hilarious, especially if one of them has gone into his room and jumped onto his change table before he’s even woken up.

He has become very interested in time and numbers. He can count to twenty-nine, and can go higher if you help him out with “thirty” and “forty” (otherwise he’ll say “twenty-ten, twenty-eleven” etc.).  He is trying to figure out how the months of the year and the seasons and the days of the week all fit together. He knows who has a birthday in which month. He also experiments with saying things to me like, “I’m going to go and visit the Bears in half an hour”. We’ve been talking about his new room and he’s told me he wants a clock in there “so I will know what time it is when I wake up”. I read in Your Two Year Old: Terrible or Tender that this sort of interest is really common around this age, which made me feel a bit better. I’m completely incapable of not being obsessed with time and punctuality (army brat), and I was worried I was burdening him with the same rigidity. But it seems it’s just normal development and I’m sure I’ll be pulling out my hair waiting for him to get up when he’s a teenager.

I do sometimes feel like pulling out my hair when we’re trying to get out the door in the morning, or at bedtime. I’ve realized that we have very little conflict in our day if we observe his timeline. It’s when I have to pressure him to do something faster than he wants to do- because I need to run errands before lunch, or I need him to get in bed so he won’t be overtired the next day- that he pushes back and starts resisting and getting silly and running away from me. And if I push back, then we get a meltdown. I am trying very hard to leave enough time to let him do everything he can do himself- put his pants and shirt on, put his boots on, take all winter gear off, etc., but some days I end up taking over and doing it (usually with him screaming and writhing in protest) because we have to be somewhere else. It’s a hard balance to meet.

He still really likes to help me out around the house. He doesn’t enjoy helping with the vacuum, as it’s too loud, but he cleans the toilets when I do the bathrooms, and does quite a good job of it too (I do around the edges, but he uses the brush to clean the bowl). He still loves baking and did 85% of the work for the cookies we made for my students on the last day of classes. He doesn’t help as much with dinner prep as he used to- I think we got out of the habit in the U.K. because the kitchen there wasn’t toddler friendly and it’s been hard to restart. He matches socks when I do the laundry, and puts cutlery out to set the table.

One thing he doesn’t seem to be doing a lot of is growing. His feet are in the same shoes I bought a year ago (8s). I’m sure he is getting taller because his head is above the countertops in the kitchen now, but all his clothes still fit and he’s showing no sign at all of needing to move into 3T. We’re going to have to move the carseat around the next time we need to drive somewhere as he no longer has the inch of shell above his head that is the requirement for rear-facing. This is deeply frustrating for me, as the carseat is weighted for rear-facing to 40 pounds, and he is nowhere near that. He’s put on some weight (finally- it’s been a real struggle with him being ill in the fall and then again in December and again in January) and is currently a whopping 28 pounds. I seriously think he might be off the weight percentiles altogether if he doesn’t put on a couple of more in the next month. I am having trouble not stressing about this. He looks healthy and has lots of energy, but it seems odd to me that I might have an average-sized son rather than a tall one, given all of my male relatives are over 6′. Q. is average-sized, so it appears his genes might be winning out. E. is a total beanpole. Even with all the weight he’s put on you can still see his ribs and his pants all slip down below his waist.

He does have a good appetite, although it is wildly variable. Every morning he likes to ask me what the breakfast options are, even though they’re pretty much always the same. I never notice how little his eating troubles me until we have grandparents visiting. They invariably end up pushing him to eat more, or they report back to me exactly what he ate if they were looking after him. My mum finally relaxed one day after watching him eat four bowls of oatmeal at breakfast. I had told her and told her that he ate when he was hungry and dinner wasn’t usually a good meal, but she had still been fretting. Q. and I have started to push him a little bit more with food now that he’s almost three. We don’t push him to eat more, but if he’s eaten everything he liked, or drunk all his milk, and he wants more of the same, we’ve started asking him to try the things on his plate he hasn’t touched. So far this hasn’t led to any battles (I think because food has never been a battle), and it means he’s getting exposed to more things, as he is still a real toddler stereotype in what he prefers to eat. If he doesn’t like what he’s tried, he’s allowed to spit it out. He really dislikes seafood right now, which is funny given one of my favourite memories from his first year is watching him eat everyone’s scallops at dinner the weekend of his first birthday party. Scallops are one of my Dad’s favourite foods, and he just handed them over, entranced at the sight of this pint-sized almost toddler wolfing them down. We had scallops again the other night when he was visiting and E. took the one bite we’d requested of him and then immediately spat it out gagging. Oh well.

What he’s playing with:

These last few months have really been about imaginative play. We spent MONTHS playing Berenstain Bears. We would line up all of the dining room chairs to make a streetcar that we would ride to go and visit the Bears, and then we’d sit on the couch and pretend that it was going to be Christmas, or that we were going to have a picnic with them, or that they were moving out of their treehouse and needed our help. When we set up the trains, the trains would inevitably be transporting things that belonged to the Bears. He would get upset with me at quiet time or bedtime if I told him anything other than, “Have a nice visit with the Bears”, because that’s what he would sit up there doing for the entire quiet time, or until he fell asleep at night. Once he skipped quiet time because Grannie and Grandpa were visiting and he told me at supper, “I’m looking forward to bedtime because I can visit the Bears. I didn’t get to see them this afternoon.” Yep. This child tells me on a regular basis that he has “no friends” at nursery school because “the other children are too yowd”, so I’m glad he’s made friends with someone, even imaginary ones.

When the Bear obsession finally waned, he became fixated instead on Peter Rabbit. He has a stuffed Peter, as well as another bunny (this one a lop) which he has ignored for his entire life. Suddenly they were both treasured companions, and Peter and Mop the Lop (and I) spent days going “gooseberry netting” which consisted of the bunnies eating breakfast, then E. driving his dump truck over to the part of the couch where the gooseberries were that day, and then Peter would refuse to help Mop pick the berries, or Mop would spend the whole time jumping into the truck and Peter had to pull him back out again (depending on which bunny E. was in charge of that day). When the truck was eventually filled, he would get a book from his shelves to be the lid, and then he’d drive it off, dump it out somewhere, and we’d start all over again. The bunnies also come out at night when we sing Sleeping Bunnies before he goes upstairs to start the bedtime routine. He made Q. and I laugh so hard the first time he made them join in, because after the first round of the song, he lay down again, and he made Mop lie down, but then he made Peter keep hopping and refuse to lie down (because Peter, after all, is a very naughty rabbit).

In between the Bears and the bunnies, he became very attached to his stuffed cougar and, by association, my stuffed cougar, which was my most treasured stuffed animal when I was small (and not-so-small- he came with me on all my moves overseas). My mum made his cougar a cape, so now she’s Super Caramel and he spends a lot of time flying her around making a whooshing sound. He’s also continually engaged in a campaign to keep my cougar in his crib. I’m resisting, because as much as I love my son, I can’t relinquish my cougar, but he might wear me down.

He’s really not interested in crafts right now. We get art from nursery school perhaps twice a month, and he almost never colours at home. He does like stickers and sticking them in all sorts of strange places. Trains are still very popular, as is the IKEA tent he got for Christmas. We set it up in the living room and then the bunnies or the cougars will go inside and all sorts of antics will ensue. He’s in the habit now of watching a short (thirty minutes or less) video each day, which is more television than I’d like him to be watching, but since he doesn’t nap at all anymore and his tolerance for quiet time ends at about the hour mark, it’s a useful sanity saver. We tend to borrow DVDs from the library, usually Mighty Machines or Berenstain Bears. The Mighty Machines are 25 minutes long, so he can choose one of those, or three of the Berenstain Bear episodes (they’re 12 minutes and each DVD has five different ones). Mighty Machines has been a great discovery. It’s Canadian, educational, and apparently enthralling to almost-three-year-old boys. I know I’ve learned something from every episode.

He has a wonderful imagination but also incredibly firm ideas about how the game will go. I’ve had to tell him more than once that I won’t play with him if he keep screaming at me because he doesn’t like what I’m doing: “NO! WE’RE NOT PICKING THE GOOSE BERRIES FROM THERE! NO, I DON’T WANT PETER TO DO THAT! NO THANKS! NO THANKS!” I know he gets to control very little in his day, so I try to let him take the lead when I play with him, but I’m also cognizant that I do him no favors allowing him to be a tyrant when playing with someone else.

What he’s reading:

It was basically one Berenstain Bear book or another for two and a half months in this house. I think at one point we had 27 of them out at the library…and he had them all memorized and would correct you if you missed a single word. He didn’t have any strong favourites, although he was quite taken with Moving Day and Go Out to Eat. It was a great relief when the obsession eased in the last couple of weeks, not least because I had used up all the renewals on the library books and had to start taking them back. I think we’ve only got five or six out at the moment. He’s recently moved on to Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, which has become a firm favourite (I think partly because it’s short enough that I’ll agree to read it twice at night, which I wouldn’t do with any of the Berenstain Bears).

What he’s saying:

I think I probably say this every time I write one of these posts, but his language really does change in leaps and bounds these days. He has such a wide vocabulary- we realized the other day (after a lot of wrong guesses) that he was trying to say “ricocheting”. The biggest change, right around 34 months, was he figured out the first person and stopped calling himself “you”. It was really interesting- he woke up one day and was clearly starting to experiment with it. The next day he had it 85% of the time, and the day after that he was pretty much letter perfect with ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘my’. For a long time he was saying “Yep” or “Nope” but lately he’s been using “Yeah?” with this huge upward shift in pitch at the end. He also shouts “No thanks, no thanks, I think that’s a terrible idea” when he disagrees with us. He’s started getting us to come with him by saying, “Ok, come on Mummy, let’s go and play with the trains”, while holding out his hand, which makes me laugh every time. He’s also understanding the idea of sitting together at the dinner table and talking, as he’ll ask, “How is your day, Daddy?” listen to the response and then, if we’re not fast enough, he’ll add, “I want someone to ask me how my day is!”

Here are a few of his conversations:

At lunch (33 months).
E.: “You was hungry! And thirsty!”
Me: “You were! Are you all done? Did you want to get down?”
E.: “No. You want to sit at the table and chat with Mummy for a little while.”
Me: “Sure! What do you want to tell me?”
E.: “Want to tell Mummy about what happened at [nursery school] on Wednesday.”
And he did.

At lunch (34 months).
E.: “I’m going to visit the Berenstain Bears at quiet time.”
Me: “That’s nice. Are you going to see them in their treehouse?”
E.: “Yes. And each day I’m there will be Christmas.”
Me: “Every day will be Christmas?”
E.: “Yes. Because I love Christmas.”
Me: “You do, sweetheart.”
E.: “And each Christmas I will get a big truck. Because I love trucks.”

In the bath (34 months).
E.: “I don’t want to use the potty or the toilet because I’m two.”
Me: “Oh. Does that mean you will want to use them when you’re three?”
E.: *giving me a deep, suspicious stare* “I will use them when I am bigger. Like an adult bigger.”

At breakfast (34 1/2 months).
E.: “Daddy, you and I are going to do the roof.”
Q.: “We’re going to redo the roof in the spring?”
E.: “Yes.”
Q.: “Where are we going to get the supplies we need?”
E.: “We will get the sprinkles (shingles) from Canadian Tire.”

Upon checking the mail and realizing that there are two pieces of mail for him and none for me (34 1/2 months).
E.: “I got two mails today! Two!” *shakes his head* “You did not get any mail again. You must be so disappointed.”

What I’ve noticed:

When we have good days, we have GREAT days. He is so funny, so insightful, so curious. He figured out ‘why’ questions in early February, and we often spend much of the walk to nursery school discussing one thing or another. Q. and I both end up shaking our heads sometimes at the things he tells us. He is genuinely good company. We have real conversations at the dinner table now.

When we have bad days, they are very difficult. He is so quick to start shouting or crying or both as soon as he dislikes something. When he’s having a bit of trouble doing something, he’ll start shouting, “Help! Help!” in this really high-pitched voice. Half the time he’s shouting it as he does whatever it is he’s claiming he can’t do. I have to admit I find the high-pitched whine/shout really hard to cope with. Nothing erases my patience faster.

He’s obviously worried about growing up too quickly. He’ll make big strides in doing something and then suddenly start wanting us to do it for him again, as if he’s realized he’s more independent. Bedtime is becoming a progressively larger issue. We put a nightlight in his room about six weeks ago because he was starting to show signs of being afraid of the dark. That worked well, but in the last week or so we’re back to him wanting the bathroom light left on as well and his door left wide open. We also have to check on him multiple times, and we’ve only just managed to curb a bad habit of having to go back in and take him back out of the crib for another cuddle on the futon. The routine also takes forever these days, now that we have to do two rounds of Sleeping Bunnies, and then he wants to run laps of our hall upstairs (usually 20 or so), and then there is the inordinate amount of time it takes him to put on his pjs, and then teeth brushing and hair combing and then there are stories, and then cuddles, and then we have to check on him three times, and then we still often have to go back in again to stop a meltdown. Partly this is a result of him occasionally napping at nursery school. He gave up napping over Christmas. Since then he’s napped maybe a handful of times- three of them at nursery school in the last week or so (which might mean a growth spurt). It’s so clear that he doesn’t need a nap now- it just destroys bedtime. But I also think part of it is he’s developing more sophisticated fears. He woke up from a bad dream the other night and told Q. that he had been lost and he understands the idea of being lonely too. Right now Q. and I are pretty clear on our lines in the sand and we’re not budging. I have to admit I’m glad he’s still in the crib- it would be far worse if he could be popping out of bed whenever he pleased. We were planning on moving him to his new room later this month but the timings are just going to be too hectic, so we’ll wait until we’re back from Oz in July.

Other than the battles at bedtime, his sleep right now is truly amazing. He’ll go to bed happily at 7:30 (8:00 at the latest) and sleep through for twelve or thirteen hours. Once he slept in until 9:00! The other huge change is we can get up in the morning without waking him up (even with our terrible floorboards). Occasionally Q.’s even showered upstairs without hearing a peep from the other side of the wall. And we can check on him at night when we go to sleep. I remember reading about Serenity being able to check on her O. when he was sleeping when E. was so little and so terrible at sleeping and thinking, “That sounds amazing. That will NEVER be us.” Yet here we are. A year ago at this point E. was waking up for the day at 5 a.m. or earlier. Two years ago he was waking up when we went to bed, even with the white noise machine in his room, and if I didn’t nurse him, he’d just scream for an hour or more, even though he’d fed less than three hours before. And now I can walk into his room before I go to bed and smooth his hair and check to see if he is wearing his bunny as a hat, or if he is cuddling a cougar. I can listen to his breathing (or put my hand on my chest if I can’t hear it). I can see how he sleeps. I love being able to do this.

His best bunny isn’t as popular anymore. Since she only has a bunny head and a blanket body she’s not as interesting as the cougars or the other bunnies, so she doesn’t tend to come out of the crib much these days. For a while he wasn’t even sleeping with her. It made me so sad to think he didn’t need her anymore- it was this reminder I just wasn’t expecting that he is growing up. And then I noticed that when he was asleep she was usually nearby, or tucked under his arm or his belly, and the last few times we’ve had a huge meltdown, I’ve been able to get him to calm down and fall asleep by getting him to cuddle her. He was even wearing her like a hat as he slept two nights ago, which I haven’t seen him do in months. I’m glad he hasn’t outgrown her quite yet.

He is still so physically cautious. We started going to playgrounds again, and when he first sat in a swing he didn’t want to be pushed very high at all, and the first time he went on a climbing structure he actually crawled across the little bridge spanning two sections (a bridge that was made of metal and wasn’t going to move). When I told him it would be ok to walk across, he did it, but he kept a death grip on the railing. In some ways this is a good thing, as he’s very sensible and it means I don’t have to worry about any daredevil antics. At the same time, however, I don’t want his excessive caution to slow him down. He became much braver in the playgrounds after a couple of visits, thank goodness. I think he just needed to remember how to play there.

He’s starting to develop some empathy. He spends a lot of time telling us that he misses us, asking about our days, giving us big hugs and cuddles, etc. When he knows we’re upset, he brings us kleenex so we can wipe our tears and feel better. He wanted to buy Q. flowers when he finished teaching for the year because “Daddy will love the colours and they will make him so happy”. He has also finally, finally, stopped rejecting his father. I am still doing 99% of the bedtimes, because if I’m home E. will make a huge fuss and it’s just been too stressful a semester to push that, but if I’m out Q. puts him down with no trouble at all. More importantly, E. has stopped yelling at his father to leave as soon as he walks in the door and he no longer shrieks and throws a fit if Q. gets him breakfast or changes his diaper. I had to leave for work before E. woke up a few times in the last couple of months, and Q. didn’t have to call me to get me to talk to a hysterical little guy. E. gives Q. lots of hugs and kisses now. They giggle together when they’re being Sleeping Bunnies. He seeks out his father for stories after supper. It makes my heart happy to watch them together.

Watching E. process the loss of the baby was heartbreaking. For weeks I’d be ambushed out of nowhere with questions: “Tell me again why there’s going to be no baby in September.” “Is you still sad about the baby?” E. told me that he missed the baby and that he was sad it wasn’t going to get to come out. His interest in the months of the year was sparked by his wanting to know exactly when September was. He knew that we weren’t supposed to going to Oz this summer- when we were talking about it, weeks after it had happened, he piped up with wanting to know why there wasn’t going to be a baby again. The other night I was telling him that he’s my best medium-sized guy (because he doesn’t want to get big, but he’s not little like a baby either), and he thought about it for a while and then said, “Mummy, I’m your only medium sized guy.”

He gets me through the day. Even on the days where he’s driving me absolutely up the wall and I don’t know whether to cry or scream and I’m afraid I’m going to do both, he gets me through.

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Filed under E.- the third year, Letters to E.

His favourite things (31/32 months)

What he’s doing:

Bossing us around. Negotiating on everything he possibly can. Talking a mile a minute  non-stop. Asking us to tell him a story and then telling us exactly how he wants the story to go. Then memorizing the story the first time and freaking out if we change anything (because we can’t remember it) when he inevitably wants to hear it again. Demanding to play hide-and-seek- he’s mastered 80% of the game but hasn’t yet realized that a) you shouldn’t hide in plain sight (like lying on the carpet in the middle of the hallway) and b) you shouldn’t yell out where you are when someone asks, “Where’s E.?” (“You behind the door!”). Wanting to join in “family cuddles” where we all lie on the couch together. This used to be restful before he was born. Now it resembles being on a couch with a small octopus as he wriggles and jumps and climbs and asks over and over again for “Daddy to tickle you with his feet!” Hiding under the blanket with me in the late afternoons- we lie on the couch together and I pull the big afghan my grandmother made for me over us both. Dressing himself- he’s fine with pants provided they don’t have buttons or zippers, and he can manage a shirt if I help him figure out which way is the front (with pants he tells himself “the tag goes at the back”). He gets worried with shirts because a lot of them are tight over his (larger than average) head, even the polos and others with a more open neck than t-shirts.

Also? NOT napping. He was really really sick in early December and right after that I realized he was starting to skip naps on days where he wasn’t at nursery school (he’s only ever napped once at nursery school, but we’d been in a good pattern all fall of him napping the other four days when he was at home). Then he started going five, six, eight days in a row before he’d nap. And although he was tired and harder to deal with at the end of the day, he wasn’t a wreck. We were away for a week between Christmas and New Year’s, and he napped twice. I think he’s only napped once since we’ve returned home- it took him over two hours to fall asleep, he fell asleep with toys and books in his crib and with the overhead light on, and taking that nap completely ruined his mood for the whole rest of the afternoon. Luckily he seems to be happy to play in his crib quietly for ninety minutes or two hours and accepts this as “quiet time” so my work schedule hasn’t been completely scuttled. But I’m not going to lie- on days where he didn’t quite get enough sleep the previous night, he is BRUTAL to deal with by about 4:30 p.m. or so.

What he’s playing with:

If I had to sum up E.’s thirty-first month in one word it would be: PUZZLES. Right at the start of the month I bought him (on a whim) a twelve piece puzzle only to discover that he could do it without help the second time through.  I then went out and bought him more (hurrah for Winners and their outrageously discounted pricing). It was a real eye opener as to just how badly I had been underestimating his ability. We went from twelve pieces, to twenty-four, to forty-eight within a couple of weeks. I ended up having to return two puzzles I’d bought him for Christmas because they would have been too easy by the time we gave them to him! The puzzle mania eased off a little bit in the thirty-second month, mainly because he mastered every puzzle we owned. He was given a bunch of new ones for Christmas, so that will keep him busy for a while (and allow me to rotate them around a bit more).

On his shelves this month:

3 January. New things on his shelves post- Christmas.

The top left space has three big floor puzzles: an alphabet train from M&D, a farm, and a dump truck, as well as eeboo’s Life on Earth matching game. He’s a bit young for the matching game right now, but he’ll grow into it. The middle space is his basket of small cars and trucks. The top right is the bunny house my mother made for him:

31 December. E's Bunny House, made by his Grannie.

31 December.

The bottom left has his alphabet blocks (Uncle Goose) which have become very popular at the moment. Bottom middle is his Plan Toys pirate ship, and bottom right is his Duplo. The shelves have pretty much stayed the same since we got back home from visiting after Christmas. In his cubby under the stairs his Bruder garbage truck and his wooden double decker bus have been joined by the Bruder dump truck/digger combo Santa brought at Christmas. I’d say he spends 60% of his time right now playing “construction” of some sort, 20% playing some version of “house”, 10% puzzles, and 10% other things.

What he’s reading:

Thirty-one months was all about Lost and Found and The Water Hole. We found them both at the library and I ended up buying him The Water Hole for Christmas because he loved it so much, and I loved it too (I adored Animalia as a child). He also really got into our Christmas books, especially The Poky Little Puppy’s First Christmas and A Porcupine in a Pine Tree (A Canadian Twelve Days of Christmas), although that one caused a huge emotional crisis. Then he made this huge leap and suddenly only wanted to read the longest books we had in the house (like Blueberries for Sal). We came back from visiting at Christmas with a bunch of Robert Munsch and some Berenstain Bears (all left over from when I was a kid) and he is obsessed with the Berenstain Bears. I read those books all day every day right now, and he keeps telling us how he’s going to move to a treehouse just like they do, and how he’ll go on a picnic and they’ll be there and they’ll all have lemonade together.

What he’s saying:

Mid- November:
E.: “You want to decorate the Christmas tree.”
Me: “No, E., we’re not going to do that. Christmas is too far away still. We’ll decorate when it’s December.”
E. continues asking, becoming progressively more and more agitated. Tantrum approaching, it’s late on a Saturday afternoon and Q. and I just want a bit of peace and quiet.
Me: “E., we’re not going to decorate the Christmas tree. Do you want to watch a garbage truck video instead?”
E.: “Yeah!”
The next day
E.: “Want to decorate the Christmas tree!”
Me: “We’re not doing that today, little love. I’m sorry.”
E.: “Watch a garbage truck video instead? Maybe just one teeny tiny video?”
Parents stunned into silence, realizing their toddler makes connections faster than they do.

Me: “Be careful, E. I think the grilled cheese could still be hot.”
E.: “NO! It not hot! Not hot!”
Me: “Well, E., it just came out of the oven, so it could be. Just check and blow on it if you need to.”
E.: “IT NOT HOT!”
Me: “Ok, E., fine. It’s not hot. I’m not going to argue with you.”
E.: “You want Mummy to argue with you. You want to keep arguing.”
My life has turned into a Monty Python sketch.

After buying a red potty like he asked for:
E.: *carrying the red potty around the room* “It’s an airplane!”
Me: “Do you want to sit on the airplane, E.?”
E.: *looking at me with deep suspicion. “When you older. Right now you want to wear diapers.”

Watching one of the cats investigating his snack:
E.: “Yiyi eating your snack! She should be eating her own snack!”

In the bath:
E.: “Want to tell Mummy a story. Once upon there were two bunnies. They were in the garden eating grass. They were eating flowers too. Outside Bunny was eating flowers and Biccie Bunny was eating grass. And they were eating waffles on plates with peanut butter for a special treat.”

At breakfast, perfectly cheerful:
E.: “I’m planning on having a horrible day at nursery school.”

Discussing travel arrangements for Boxing Day:
E.: “You want Mummy to sit next to you in the car… You a little bit worried about being alone.”
We agree that we should bring Caramel the cougar and she can sit next to him the whole time.
E.: “We can’t forget Canamel. We’d have to drive back home and then drive back to get her!”
More discussion about who would be in the car.
E.: “When I get a bit bigger I can drive. Then Mummy and Daddy can sit in the backseat!”

Opening a present from his Granny on Skype on Christmas Eve:
Me: “What do you think it is, E.?”
E.: “Duplo. Because of the sound it made.”
He was right.

Christmas Eve:
E.: “Have to have a really good sleep because Santa is coming!”
Then slept through until 8 a.m.!

Christmas Day, after playing with Santa present for about five minutes:
E.: “Want to see if there is something for Mummy and Daddy too.”
Cue hearts melting.

Christmas Day, post (very short) nap:
Q.: “Should we go for a walk?”
E.: “NO! Don’t want to go outside because it is very snowy.”
Pause.
E.: “Don’t like the forecast.”

On being asked if he’d like to go out to dinner:
E.: *runs to window* “Are we sure I can go outside? It’s very dark out.”

While watching me get dressed:
E.: “Mummy wearing underwear? It hides Mummy’s bum!”

While helping me cut loose threads off the couches:
E.: “Mummy tells the cats to stop scratching. Mummy says, ‘Hey you, stop doing that!’ But the cats really don’t.”

When my sister had been looking after him so I could go to the clinic:
Me: “E., do you want to draw a nice picture to say thank you to Auntie C.?”
E.: “Yeah!” *runs and gets a piece of paper, chooses a peach marker, uncaps it, and makes one small vertical line in the centre of the (very large) sheet. Takes it to his auntie.* “There you go.”
C.: “Thank you, E.! What is it?”
Given he’s been into minimalist art lately we were both expecting him to tell us it was a truck or a boat or something similar.
E.: “It’s a piece of paper.”

When playing with his Plan Toys pirate ship:
E.: “This one is wearing an eye patch.”
Me: “That’s right. He’s lost an eye.”
E.: *thoughtful* “Maybe he’s playing hide and seek with it.”

What I’ve noticed:

Two and a half is exhilarating and exhausting in equal measures. The hard physical exhaustion of child rearing is behind us and we’re all getting enough sleep, but he is just so intense, almost all the time. He NEVER stops talking. He catches on to things far faster than we expect. He is an emotional whirlwind after being even tempered for so long. I’m not going to say we’re in the terrible twos, because when he’s on an even keel he is so much fun, but the meltdowns are much more frequent and much more intense than they used to be. He gets on recurrent feedback loops (about stories, about food, about the games we play) and it’s harder and harder to distract him and break the loop.

He’s becoming ever more introverted. He had a really hard time with extended family while we were away visiting over the holidays. The grandparents were all fine, as was my sister, but any extra family caused him to clam right up and seek solace in another (quieter) room. He tells me all the time that something is “too yowd” and he doesn’t “yike” it. The other day he tried to convince Q. he was sick so he couldn’t go to nursery school, then had the biggest meltdown Q.’s ever had to deal with. Q. asked him at one point why he didn’t want to go, and E. thought for a while before saying that nursery school was “too yowd” (I spend a morning there every week- it’s really not an overly loud environment). E. has even refused to allow me to read a particular book because the front cover shows a house with lots of people in it and he feels it will be “too yowd” as well.

He is SO sensitive and self-aware. He’s also really anxious. Q. had the bright idea of turning his crib around so we could lower the drop side during the IVF tww- if E. stood on a chair he could then step into the crib. We managed to get him to do it (and now he loves it and won’t let either of us lift him in or out), but the first time he was literally shaking with terror and crying, “I’m scared!”.

The other interesting thing is he’s stopped sucking his thumb. He was never very reliant on it except for when he was going to sleep. Q. and I realized that when he got up in the morning and was still sleepy and fuzzy, although he’d still rub his bunny around his face, he was no longer putting his thumb in his mouth. While away over the holidays he was sleeping at my Dad’s house on a mattress on the floor, so one of us would lie down with him, and we both noticed he wasn’t using his thumb at all. So we checked his hand, and the callus is gone. Both Q. and I needed parental intervention (at a much older age) to stop finger/thumb sucking, so we’re thrilled he’s done it all on his own.

His imaginative play is fantastic. He self-narrates, and we love listening to him talk to himself while we’re finishing dinner. The other day he got out one of the laundry baskets, told us it was a pirate ship, and then sat on Q.’s backpack, told us it was a rowboat, and then “rowed” himself out to the pirate ship.

He is a LOT of work right now, but it is so worth it. His language use and speech just blow my mind. We have lengthy, thoughtful conversations now. I love it, and the exciting part is I know it’s just going to keep getting better.

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Filed under E.- the third year, Letters to E.

A few of his favourite things (Thirty Months)

E. is two and a half today. And I’ve been thinking for a while now that I miss writing his monthly letters. I don’t think I could keep up with them if I tried to keep doing them in that much detail, but I miss how observant they made me, how they made me stop and find a spare moment to write down what he was doing and saying from month to month. He is still growing and changing, even if it’s not quite as obvious as it was in the first or second year, and I feel like it is all starting to blur together. So I thought I’d start a new type of post to mark his months, one that helps me remember who he is in this particular moment in time.

What he’s doing:

E. is (probably because of what he gets up to at nursery school) quite interested in painting and stickers and drawing and other such activities. I’m trying to be better at making sure we have the right supplies on hand. He makes very definite colour choices, has started telling me that he’s drawing something in particular (like two airplanes or a bumblebee, even though it still looks like a page full of squiggles), and can draw a pretty good circle.  He absolutely loves asking me to write his name on his drawings- sometimes one drawing ends up with four or five signatures. He loves baking and has now mastered cracking eggs. When we make banana bread, I do the measuring and the final stirring when the batter is coming together, but he pretty much does everything else. He also still loves sweeping, although he’s less enamoured of the vacuum as he feels it’s “too yowd”. He loves music and asks me to sing him songs all day long. If it’s a song he almost has memorized he will mouth the words that he knows along with me. Nursery school has been fantastic from this perspective as Q. and I probably don’t sing with him often enough.

He finally showed me that he can jump, although he’s not very confident. He’s still very cautious physically: very slow to go up and down stairs (suits me as it means he’s being safe, and our stairs are very high and very steep and end on a hardwood floor), very worried about getting down from any sort of height, etc. He does love to balance on the angled stones at the edge of some of the properties we pass on our way to nursery school. We’ve really noticed a difference in his walking since starting at nursery school. The walk is about 800 metres, and he walks both ways, three times a week, absolutely no exceptions. When he first started he’d suddenly crouch down in the middle of the sidewalk, saying he needed a break, but now he just trundles along, and if we’re in a rush, he is able (although not particularly willing, which is fair enough) to run along next to me the whole route, which means we get there in less than fifteen minutes.

What he’s playing with:

I hit a snag this month with my long-standing policy of toy rotation when E. made it clear that he could remember toys that I’d put away and request to have them back again. So far we’ve been willing to negotiate where if he wants a particular truck back he has to choose a different vehicle to put away, as I’m stoutly resisting having all vehicles out, all the time. Toys that he really, truly wasn’t playing with at all (like his Schleich animals) he doesn’t seem to miss, but vehicles that had fallen out of favour for a week or so seem to still be tightly retained in the toddler memory.

This month E. has been into his Duplo and his Megabloks in a big way. He likes constructing vehicles out of the Megabloks and the Duplo, but he also loves feeding the Duplo piece by piece into his Bruder garbage truck. He will happily do this by himself for ages if I’m cooking dinner or upstairs having a shower. The other toy that gets a lot of independent play is his Brio train set. I’m so glad we didn’t go with the Thomas trains- I have a real problem with them because the vast majority of the engines are male, and the silly boxcars are female- but by this stage E. would have a problem with them too, as he doesn’t like vehicles with faces on them. He has a dumptruck with a face, and he complains about it, pointing out that it’s supposed to have lights. He’s happiest playing with the trains on the carpet without the constraints of the tracks (again, very glad we didn’t get one of those massive train tables), and will make up all sorts of adventures for them. One day recently the train was loading up crackers and bananas before it drove to the store made up Duplo to drop them off.

On his shelves this month:

In the living room: Duplo, his basket of small vehicles, his Megabloks, his wooden farm, his train set, and his Bruder garbage truck have been out all month. I’ve been rotating the Schleich animals, musical instruments, wooden blocks, his Haba block set with dowels, his wooden car that can be assembled several different ways, and his balls. He always has a few medium sized vehicles out (the Playmobil airport bus was a huge hit when it reemerged) and a puzzle. He still doesn’t spend much time in his bedroom, but he’s played with the M&D vehicle sound blocks as well as a set of little construction vehicles when he’s been up there.

What he’s reading:

E. isn’t as interested in sitting still for stories these days, except pre-nap and at bedtime. My mother found a book of trucks with flaps on each page that she gave to him at Thanksgiving. He’s been obsessed with it ever since, demanding it every night. Q. and I would dearly love for it to disappear. He also insists on reading I am a train and Counting with Miffy at bedtime, which are two more strong contenders for the title of “most obnoxious book he owns”. He loves being silly with Counting with Miffy and will insist that there are two or three of something on every page, except for the page where two (or three) would be the right answer, at which point he yells out another number. Llama Llama Misses Mama played a huge role in helping him adjust to nursery school. Cars and Trucks and Things that Go was probably the best book purchase I’ve made to date as he STILL loves it and gets it out a few times a week. Some days he will listen to a very long story (like Scrambled Eggs Super or Blueberries for Sal or The Library Lion) while on others he prefers That’s Not My Bunny and other such narrative giants.

What he’s saying:

Absolutely everything. This child never stops talking! We were watching videos from last Christmas the other day and I had forgotten all the little sounds he used to make, and how good he was at communicating with us when he didn’t really have any words at all. He is experimenting a lot with verb tenses and having trouble with irregular verbs (as you would expect). We hear a lot of “I broked the garbage truck”.

He’s picked up a few of my verbal habits. He’ll say, “Don’t worry! Don’t worry!” if he’s starting to get worked up about something, and he’ll often tell me that “We’re making progress!” on something. He also says “Oh my goodness!” exactly like my little sister does, which is hilarious.

He’s finally started saying “Yeah” for yes, rather than “Hmmm”. We have my Dad to thank for that one, as he spent a lot of time trying to encourage E. to say ‘yes’ when he was staying with us for a few days.

When he’s really upset and recognizes he’s lost control of his emotions, he’ll come over and say, “I need a cuddle!”, which is entirely because of Q. working so hard with him this summer on ways to calm down when he becomes overwrought. It is so helpful that he now recognizes when this is happening, and will seek out the comfort he needs to allow him to process his feelings.

In general E.’s speech is very clear and he has very few adorable toddler mispronunciations. He correctly says ‘animal’, which amazes Q. and I given we both said ‘aminal’ until we were four. His little voice is so sweet, especially when it is singing. It’s less sweet when he’s getting a bit overwrought and about to become whiny as it goes up in both volume and pitch.

What made me laugh the other day was when he was playing with his garbage truck, and he told me it was going to visit his wooden farm to “collect the poo”. He drove the truck up, parked it, and then said, “Someone needs to climb the ladder.” He went over to his basket where his cars are stored, pulled out one of the little construction figures he has, and then made him climb the ladder to the loft to “get all the poo”.

What I’ve noticed:

I realized this month that running errands with him is now actually fun. I’ve spent two and a half years trying to avoid shopping with him in tow, but this month we’ve gone in search of new mittens, bought bulbs, and searched out presents for new babies. He regularly does the grocery shop on Friday afternoons with Q. after nursery school is over. He walks to the grocery store, sits in the cart and holds the shopping list, and then carries some of the groceries home. If the store we need to visit is far enough away that we have to take the subway or a streetcar (or both!) to get there, than the journey really does become the highlight of the trip. Yesterday I braved going downtown to get him a pair of mittens from a particular store that I knew would fit and last and which I couldn’t buy online because they wanted too high a minimum purchase to get free shipping. It takes an hour to get there when you walk at toddler speed, and requires a streetcar, a subway and another streetcar. E. had an absolute blast.

The other thing that’s stood out this month is how good his memory is. I’ve lost count of how many nursery rhymes and classic children’s songs he has memorized. Ever since we came back to Canada Q. has sung “Morningtown Ride” to E. every night before he goes to sleep. At lunch last week E. spontaneously started singing it to us and did both verses and the chorus, letter-perfect, with only the tiniest of help from his father when he got a bit stuck on one line. Q. then went and looked up the song and realized he’d been singing a few lines incorrectly. He tried to switch, but E. just fell about laughing every time Q. changed a word, so I guess we’re now stuck with Q.’s version!

I bought him a new puzzle this week because I’ve suspected for a while he’s really bored with the ones that have the pegs and the allotted spaces for the shapes. It was twelve pieces. We did it together once, and then he did it all by himself another four times that day. Whoops. Guess I’d better go and find some larger ones!

He is very sensitive to other people’s emotions, and often comes home from nursery school with stories of why one of the other children ended up crying. If we’re out and we hear a baby crying he’ll comment on it and then speculate as to why the baby might be crying. He usually guesses that the baby is hungry or the baby doesn’t want to be in the stroller/on the streetcar. Going through the separation anxiety with nursery school has meant that he has the vocabulary to talk about his own feelings, so I’m often told that “it’s hard to say goodbye” to something, whether that be Mummy, the park, the pancake at breakfast, or his garbage truck when it’s time to go to nursery school.

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Filed under (Pre)School Days, E.- the third year, Letters to E.

The twenty-fourth month

E’s two-year post is below this one, and will soon be password-protected. E-mail me if you missed it and would like access to see his pictures.

Dearest E.,

I’m a bit late with this letter, but I wanted to make sure that I wrote it to capture all the excitement of your final month before you turned two! You had your official two-year appointment early this month because you were going to be overseas by the time of your birthday. You were 35″ tall (75th percentile) and 25.5 lb (25th percentile). This was the first time you were measured standing up, which accounts for the fact that your official measurements show you haven’t grown since 18 months (and indeed, might have even gone backwards by half an inch). You’re still a long and lean toddler, and I think you had a growth spurt after the appointment, so you might still be closer to the 90th percentile in height which is where you’ve normally been. This was the month where you had your first haircut! It was really only a trim to tidy up around your ears and to deal with the cowlick and would-be mullet at the back, but I had no intention of trying to do it myself. Given we were about to go away and you had a birthday party coming up, we figured it was a good time. I got my hair cut at the same time, and you were very interested in sitting up in the chair next to me. You took it all in your stride and didn’t mind the scissors or being sprayed with the water bottle. “We have eight year olds who can’t behave that well!” said the hairdresser to me when you were finished. Because we didn’t touch the front at all the haircut didn’t make a huge difference to how you looked, but your Daddy and I are both convinced that your hair is already growing in thicker as a result.

The biggest change this month was in your speech. You already had a large vocabulary, but this was the month where you really started to make full sentences with verbs and even some pronouns. By the end of the month you were coming out with some great sentences: “Grandpa play with big train and Ee-mi play with little train”; “Daddy come outside now too”; “Two people are on couch having seep [sleep]”. When you refer to yourself your name now has two syllables. You can count to fourteen, although you need me to repeat each  number after you say it to act as a prompt for the next one. You can sing “Itsy-bitsy spider” and “Head and Shoulders”, as well as do the actions.  And I am finally, finally “Mummy”, rather than “Mama” or just “Ma!”.

This month had one big difference in it from all of the others: about halfway through I got on a plane to fly to the UK where we’ll be spending the rest of the spring and the summer, and you stayed at home with your Daddy. I’m not going to lie- I think this separation was much harder on me than it was on you! I was absolutely dreading it, and the night I put you to bed after your birthday party and had to kiss you for the last time and walk out of your room was one of my worst nights as a parent. I cried a lot. Your Daddy told me that when you woke up you wanted to see me, like you usually do if Daddy is the one to go into your room first, but he was able to distract you by saying that Grannie was waiting downstairs to play with you. And that was it- you were fine! You had your Grannie and your Grandpa with you for the first couple of days, then two days just with Daddy, and then your other Grandpa arrived and he stayed with you and Daddy until it was time for you to go to the airport.

You and Grandpa had a blast! You’ve always, always loved him and thought he was great fun, and he thinks you are quite possibly the best thing on the planet, so I expected it would work out well. We spent a fair amount of time skyping in my evenings (your late afternoons after your nap), and I could see how much fun you and Grandpa were having and how silly you were being. Your Grandpa would tell me all the things you had been up to that day, and what you’d eaten, and how well you’d napped. You’d hang out for around five or ten minutes before you would start asking to say “Bye-bye, Mummy” so you and Grandpa could go play some more or go back to the park! You were given some more train pieces for your set (tracks and cars) at your birthday party, and you and Grandpa played with those every single day. Grandpa is quite a fan of trains, so he was very impressed with your new additions. I was so glad your Grandpa was able to come and stay. It meant your Daddy could get all the work done that he needed to do for the end of the academic year. Plus I think it was very special for you to have that chance to spend all that time with your Grandpa.

I missed you very very much, however, and I was so excited on the day you were going to arrive that I woke up twenty minutes before my alarm (and my alarm was set for 4 a.m.!). It seemed to take forever before you and your Daddy appeared at the airport, partly because I’d taken a very early bus in case something went wrong, and partly because your plane was delayed. I cried as soon as I saw you in the airport, and when your Daddy gave you to me, you just went limp and curled up on my shoulder like you never wanted to let me go.

You had a slightly rough introduction to our life in the UK. Not only was your plane delayed, but our bus took an hour longer than expected from the airport because an accident had closed the motorway and we had a new driver who kept loudly announcing to everyone, “This is my first time driving this route. I normally go to Gatwick. I don’t know these roads at all.” To make matters worse, about halfway through the bus ride you got motion sick. We think it was because you were happily engaged in drawing with your markers at the time, or that’s what your Daddy suspects given he used to get motion sick when he was a little guy. We managed to keep the bus clean and get you tidied up and into some spare clothes. You were so tired by that point (you hadn’t slept very well on the plane) that you passed out in my lap. But then we only had another fifteen minutes to go before it was time to get off the bus. Once we managed to get you home you had a nice time exploring the flat, right up until dinner when you tried to get down from the chair by yourself and face-planted right onto the floor because you were so clumsy from being over-tired and jet-lagged. You cut your lips and gums and were bleeding profusely. Your Daddy and I both felt terrible, especially the next day when you had a huge fat lip, but you were fine and before too long you were back to your normal cheerful self. That first night you went to sleep at 7:30 and woke up at 10 thinking you’d had a lovely nap, and it was well past 2 a.m. before we got you asleep again. But that was the worst of the jet lag and things have been getting progressively better.

You’ve adjusted fairly well to being over in the UK. We still haven’t quite managed to get you back on to your old routine – you’re sleeping later in the mornings and going to bed later at night – but that works for us, since there’s no rush to get out the door at any particular point and it’s probably unrealistic to expect you to go to bed any earlier given how long the days are here. There’s a blind for your room, but it doesn’t keep all the light out. We have had some problems at bedtime. It’s not surprising you’re experiencing some separation anxiety, given all the changes you’ve been through in such a short time. We’ve managed to avoid having to start sitting in your room while you fall asleep (we did that for two nights before deciding it was a habit we just weren’t willing to allow), and we’re able to just stick our heads in to say hello a few times, and tell you that we’re just in the next room if you call out. We’re leaving your door part-way open, and you have your new Schleich crocodile who sits on your chair to “keep Ee-mi comp-ny!” while you’re falling asleep. It is taking you a LONG time to fall asleep, which I think means you probably need a shorter nap, but your Daddy really needs that nap time to get some work done. Right now his strategy is to keep you super busy running around in the morning to make sure you’re ready for a nap. We also wake you up by 8 a.m., although the last few days you’ve been waking on your own around 7:30. I’m really hoping you can avoid making any major sleep changes while we’re in the UK, but we’ll roll with whatever you throw at us. Just please don’t drop your nap yet!

The day I left to fly to the UK we had your birthday party. Although this made organizing everything a bit hectic (this is a huge understatement), it worked out well on the day because it gave me something to focus on rather than just worrying about the flight and leaving you. Most of your toddler friends were able to come and lots of your relatives as well. You had a great time! We set up all of your toys, including your sand/water table filled with lentils that had been in the basement- it was a huge hit with the entire toddler set. We had your party in the morning (complete with the same chocolate and orange cupcakes I made last year given they were so tasty), and then after your nap you opened your presents. I think it’s safe to say that your absolute favourite present was the Bruder recycling truck from one of your little friends. You spent the entire rest of the day putting everything you could in there (including Berenice Bunny).

Your actual birthday was much quieter since it was just us three. I blew up some balloons, and put out your presents on the coffee table the night before. This turned out to be quite the miscalculation because as soon as you saw them you wanted to open them- you wouldn’t even take your sleepsack off first- and this meant your poor Daddy missed you opening them because he was in the kitchen making pancakes. I was really happy that you loved at first sight the wooden double-decker bus I’d found- I’d been sure it was the perfect present (and the perfect souvenir of our time in the UK) since I’d first seen it online a few months ago. After a pancake and sausage breakfast I went off to work. You and Daddy had a fun day, and then we all had a birthday dinner of schnitzel, which is still your favourite food, and brownies and ice cream for dessert.

Being apart meant that you bonded more with your Daddy. You’ve been pretty much in a consistent Mummy phase since you were old enough to express a preference, and I know it’s been hard on your Daddy to have you burst into tears if I leave the house, or to have you order him back out of the house whenever he came in after doing the shopping or when coming home from work. It’s definitely been easier on him to have things more balanced and to have you simply say “Bye-bye, Mummy! Go work library! Bike bike! Need heh-met!” when I get ready to go in the morning. But it was hard for me the first night you were here in the UK when you didn’t want me to sing you your lullabies but asked for Daddy to put you to bed instead. You seem to have evened everything out now and are very happy to just be with whichever parent is around.You were in the UK for less than a week when your birthday came around, but I think it was already clear you’re going to have a good time. You absolutely love the huge park with all the playground equipment, and you love riding around on your Daddy’s bike in your special seat (and you are very good to tell us that we all need our helmets if we’re riding our bikes). The patio and back garden of our flat is proving to be as popular as I had hoped, although the spring has been colder than expected. You like helping to feed the birds and visiting the farm in the next village. The next few months are going to be a big adventure, and your Daddy and I are so excited to share them with you.

Love you, my darling son, today and always,
Mummy

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Filed under E.- the second year, Letters to E.

The twenty-third month

Dearest E.,

I cannot believe that this is the last monthly letter I will write before your second birthday.  Where did that year go?! I remember when we took your official birthday picture last May. Your father and I both thought you looked so big and so grown up. Now when I look back at those pictures I still see so much of the baby you had been, especially when compared with the handsome little boy you are today.

This month feels like it absolutely flew by. You changed so much, often overnight. I should have realized that there were big cognitive and developmental leaps coming when right at the start of the month you woke up after your nap and suddenly had the concept of “three” when before your nap you’d only been able to recognize when there were “two” of something (usually people or animals in a car). At the beginning of the month you also suddenly grasped the idea of counting and could count to ten with a bit of prompting. A day or so later you didn’t need any prompting at all, and now you can count to twelve. You also recognize quite a few letters.

This month we had our second big Mummy and E. adventure when I took you to California to visit your aunties and uncle. To be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed before we left at the thought of taking you on two five-hour flights by myself. But I’m so glad we went! We had such a great time, and you are really turning into an incredible traveller. On our outbound journey the U.S. customs agents were protesting layoffs which meant that the line was incredibly long. You stood/walked next to me with no complaints for well over an hour even before we saw an agent. It probably helped that I just kept feeding you. You ate an entire goose sausage, a Lara bar, crackers, and most of an apple while we waited. I should have fed you the apple first as the customs agent freaked out when she saw that you had it (apparently we’re not meant to take apples into the U.S.), so I had to go into a second room and dispose of my contraband fruit (we also had to say goodbye to two oranges). After that wait security was a breeze. We got to our gate, I changed you into your pajamas, we boarded right on time, and then we waited…and waited…and waited for the other 98 passengers who were still trapped in customs. We only made it through because I was able to convince an agent to let us in early so I would have time to feed you dinner (and then it took so long I had to feed you dinner in the line). Almost everyone else was refused entry into the lineup until after the time their plane was meant to have departed.

We were lucky enough to end up with a row all to ourselves, and you spent a happy two hours looking out the window and watching the hustle and bustle in the airport, eating more food, and occasionally changing seats with me. We finally took off two hours and fifteen minutes later than scheduled. You stayed awake for a while but eventually fell asleep while reading the safety card that was in the seat pocket of the seat in front of us. You liked looking at the pictures of the airplanes, even the ones crashing into the mountains and the ocean! You slept for a couple of hours while I watched most of a film so there wasn’t much of the flight left by the time you woke up. This was a good thing as by that point it was very late and you were not pleased about being awake, but you managed to hold yourself together. Once we landed we were met by Aunties L. and C., we grabbed our bags, and then it was off in the Zipcar. It was well after midnight, California time, when we finally got you to bed, as when we first got back to the apartment you needed some time to explore and relax before you were willing to consider going to sleep (and even then you were only willing to sleep on the futon- you were not willing to sleep in the travel crib under any circumstances!).

The next couple of days were spent exploring the city. We went for some long walks with you happily checking out the scenery from the Ergo. You spent a lot of time in the Ergo on this trip and you loved it. I mastered the art of getting you on my back without any help, and you would happily chant “Er-GO!” when you knew we were about to head out the door. We spent a lot of time at a smallish park near where Auntie L. and Uncle A. live, and we visited your Auntie C’s workplace (you thought the shuffleboard table was the most fun). We saw sea lions (you LOVED them) and rode on a carousel. We ate fresh bread and cheese outside the market building while you watched all the street cars and light rail trains and cement mixers drive past. We took a ferry around the bay, although you didn’t find that as interesting as we had hoped. I think it was hard for you to realize that you were actually on the boat on the water; you preferred watching the boats from the dock. Generally in the late afternoons you were often pretty fragile since you hadn’t napped, or had only had a short catnap, so we’d spend them drawing (colouring pencils were a big hit) or reading (the same books over and over and over again). You loved getting your Auntie C. to draw you double decker buses with you in the window waving.

On the weekend we went to a farmer’s market where I bought you a balloon bunny. At first you were not at all impressed by this, but eventually you warmed to it and would happily carry it around. You were a big fan of the blueberry scones at the farmer’s market. In general you were a big fan of eating on this trip. You didn’t really want to sit still or eat big meals (I think  you were jetlagged for most of it so you weren’t hungry at your usual times), but you would eat almost non-stop when we were out. It was a constant stream of Lara bars, crackers, apples and other fruit, Cheerios and anything else easily portable. At times your aunties would get a bit worried about what you were (or weren’t) eating, and that was usually right around the time you’d start devouring cheese, or eat hummous by the spoonful, if they thought you weren’t getting enough protein, or you would eat an entire apple if they were commenting that you’d only eaten dairy or bread products that day. I’m not going to say you ate your usual balanced diet, but you certainly weren’t going hungry!

We did some driving down the coast to see the scenery (although you napped through most of it). Saturday night we had dinner out at a local spot that always has food trucks. We ordered you chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs, and they were a huge hit! You ate all seven and probably would have eaten more had they been available. Sunday we saw some more sights (you were very tolerant of this) and then went to see the redwoods. This was my favourite part of the trip and you had a great time too, running around along the paths telling me that we were there to “See big trees!” and then eventually falling asleep in the Ergo. There was still time in the late afternoon for a stop at the cafe, with tea and a scone for the adults and yet another apple for you. You loved all the statues of bears, especially the one that also had a big stick next to it. On the way home we made our only serious error in judgment the whole trip when we decided to queue up to drive down a really steep street. There was a bit of a line on the ascent, which meant we had to spend some time with our car on quite a steep angle. In retrospect, we really shouldn’t have done this with a toddler who was in a rear-facing carseat, as we were just about at the top when you were carsick. We think you must have been pressed up against your straps as a result of the angle of the car and given the size of your lunch and your snack there was just too much pressure. You were understandably very upset about this, but when we explained that we couldn’t change you that instant but we had to drive home first you were willing to be cheered up and you sat without complaint (other than occasionally bursting out with “Wet! WET!”) for the rest of the drive. You didn’t like being stripped off or having a bath but once you were dry and dressed again all was well.

On our last day your Auntie L. and I decided to take you to the zoo. This entailed a long train ride, which you loved. You also loved the zoo, although you and your auntie and I had quite different ideas about what was the most fun. “This isn’t exactly toddler-led learning” I said to your auntie as we dragged you away from running in and out of the pedestrian tunnels to go and see such boring things as giraffes and gorillas. We couldn’t help ourselves- we were excited to be at the zoo too! Your favourite parts of the zoo were the pedestrian tunnels, the wooden ramps leading up the lemur observation area, and the ride-on green tractor in the children’s farm area.  Fair enough: a lot of the animals were either  hiding or sleeping while we were there and I can see how that would be pretty boring for a toddler. You were a big fan of the otter, the snow leopard and the grizzly bears.

We had to wake you up very early to get to the airport on time the day we flew home. I suppose this was the start of getting you back onto Eastern Time, but you’d only just switched properly to Pacific Time a day or so earlier, and you hadn’t napped at the zoo the day before, so you were definitely not impressed. It didn’t take long before you were back to being your usual cheerful self, especially once I produced a sippy of milk. Once again you were a superstar in the airport and we spent the time before boarding watching other airplanes take off and land. The flight home was much busier so you were on my lap for the entire trip. I was so proud of you. You didn’t fuss or try to get down and run off once. You took a nap right after takeoff, and then once you’d woken up you were happy to spend the rest of the flight playing with your toys, eating, reading Go (yes, I packed it for the trip!), and looking at all the pictures we’d taken on my camera. Everyone around us commented on how relaxed and well behaved a traveller you were. Maybe you realize, just like your Daddy and I do, that nothing compares to the epic journey that is flying to see your Daddy’s relatives!

At the start of the month I was still keeping track of your new words.  They were still coming thick and fast, with at least two or three every day but often more. They were the usual eclectic mix of very common and highly useful words (“sleep”, “stair”, sad”, “cold”, “house”, “spoon”, “knife”, “hot”, “cook”), some rather specialized vocabulary (“carseat”, “sunbeam”, “rainbow”, “garbage”, “caboose”, “inukshuk”), plenty of food (“pineapple”, “dough”, “oil”, “pasta”, “cucumber”, “mayonnaise”, “avocado”, “cornbread”, “butter”, “almond”, “carrot”, “bean”, “omlette”, “food”, “egg”, “oatmeal”, “celery”, “ice cream”), and lots of different animals (“polar bear”, “wombat”, “cougar”, “baboon”, “boar”, “mole”). You were occasionally putting together a two-word phrase (“bubble bath”, “Hi Daddy”, “Old Bear”, “Goodnight Moon”, “clean up”), and you were trying to say your own name (“Heee” or “Eeee”).

About halfway through the month I wrote in my journal that I was just on the edge of no longer being able to keep track of all of your words.  Your vocabulary at that point was probably up around 160 words, and I kept finding myself having to add notes saying that you’d mastered a word a few days ago and I’d forgotten to write it down.  I also was struggling to remember all of your new words to tell your Daddy each night at supper. And then we went to visit your aunties and uncle and your language just exploded.  I think it was on the cusp of doing so anyway, but being surrounded by some very chatty relatives, having lots of stimulation, and hearing lots of adult conversation throughout your day probably helped encourage the leap. All of a sudden there was simply no way I could keep track of your words, let alone your two and three word phrases (“build tower”, “shut door”, “bus inside, truck outside”, “see big trees”). I swear your vocabulary must have doubled in the six days we were away. And then we came home again and you made another huge leap.  It was as if you suddenly realized that any sound we were making you could make too, as you started repeating back to us the last word or two in our sentences.  Your vocabulary exploded again.  You were coming out with words unprompted that we hadn’t even known you knew (“swan” is one that stands out). You understood that Mummy and Daddy used different words sometimes for the same things, and you could call them “rubber boots” and “gum boots”, and “teeter-totter” and “see-saw”, and “slide” and “slippery dip”. It is no exaggeration to say that you must have well over 400 words in your vocabulary now. One of them, finally, is “cat” rather than just “meow” (although your “meow” is now letter perfect). I’ve also graduated to being called “Mama” most of the time rather than just “Ma!” but I’m still waiting for “Mummy”.

All of this chatting has certainly made you seem older, but there have been other changes as well.  Your Daddy and I have both noticed significant improvements in your dexterity.  You use your spoon with flair, and you’re very competent with a fork (although you still prefer to eat with your hands and tend to reserve your fork for banging on the table when you’ve finished eating). We switched you over to using cups at the dinner table (we’d been a bit lazy about doing this earlier) and you took no time at all to become confident and skilled.  You’ve actually become a bit too confident now and we’re getting more spills than we did at the start of the month when the novelty of it meant you took each sip very seriously (although you do still tell me with great concentration “Two hands!” before you pick up your cup). You walk backwards and climb stairs with more confidence.  You’re still not much of a climber, but you’re becoming a bit more adventurous. You’re also showing a lot more awareness about bodily functions. You wake up dry most mornings, you tend to hold on and keep your diaper dry if we’re out and about for a couple of hours, and you want to have a dry diaper as soon as the one you’re wearing is even a little bit wet. I’m hoping we’re not going to miss this window of opportunity, since we don’t think it would be fair to try to introduce the potty right before we go overseas, but we’ll definitely be giving it a try over the summer.

Food-wise you’ve been in and out of growth spurts this month. You now regularly eat more Cheerios at breakfast than I do. Breakfast is still your favourite meal of the day, and absolutely nothing makes you happier than being offered pancakes. We’ve discovered you love pesto pizza. Hold the cheese, hold the toppings- just keep the dough spread with kale or basil pesto coming! That’s about the only green thing you’ll eat these days, so I see a lot of pesto in our future. You’ve become very fond of raw carrot and I’ll often catch you taking a bite out of one if you’re standing on your chair in the kitchen helping me make dinner. It’s still a mystery each day what you’ll feel like eating- you’ll eat two apples a day for a week or so and then refuse them point blank- but you’re certainly still growing and you seem  happy and healthy so we trust you know what you’re doing. You’ve been absolutely devouring meat in the last week since we’ve been back home, maybe making up for the fact that you didn’t eat a lot of meat while we were away.

Your sleep for the first half of the month was amazing. The time change to daylight savings made all the difference. We let your bedtime slide a little bit later to 7:30 and suddenly you were sleeping until 7 or 7:30 every morning instead of waking up at 5:30 or even earlier. And you were still taking a great nap of two hours or more. It was utter bliss. Taking you to California definitely stirred things up. You decided on our first day there that under no circumstances were you willing to sleep in our travel crib. I really couldn’t argue with you-  you are too big for it. You were too big for it at Christmas, but you were happy enough to sleep in it then, so I figured it was worth another shot. Given we weren’t staying in a totally child-safe room, I didn’t feel I could leave you on the futon to fall asleep on your own, so we ended up getting into a routine where I lay next to you and sang lullabies while you rolled around and eventually fell asleep, usually holding on to my arm. You loved co-sleeping and the new routine. I missed having enough room in the bed as you seemed to manage to take up almost the entire bed every night. I never attempted to put you down for a nap the same way, so they were a bit hit and miss while we were travelling. You’d either grab a catnap in the Ergo or the car or power through and skip your nap entirely if the day was proving to be extra exciting (such as when we were at the zoo). By far the most interesting part of watching you fall asleep was learning that you put yourself to sleep every night by draping your bunny across your entire face so you can’t see anything. Apparently she is the ultimate eye mask! Coming home proved that yes, six nights of new behaviour was plenty of time to completely disrupt a routine that had worked for well over a year. You were not pleased at being expected to fall asleep on your own in a dark room with no lullabies or ever-present Mummy.  It didn’t take too long, however, before we were mostly back to the usual routine, although we’re still putting you in your crib with the promise that we’ll pop back in again in a minute or so to check on you. Once we’ve reappeared, checked in and then stepped out again you’re then happy enough to fall asleep on your own.

Your Grandma and Grandpa were visiting one weekend, so we seized the opportunity to go out for dinner. After we went out for dinner in January for your Daddy’s birthday we decided we should always take you to a restaurant if grandparents were in town, as that way there would be four people to entertain you, and if one parent had to take you for a walk the other parent wouldn’t be left alone at the table! You were so well behaved. We had a great table near the front windows and we set up the high chair so you could watch all the traffic passing by. You loved pointing out the buses and streetcars. You did some colouring, played with your little cars, and ate a substantial amount of dinner. I think you were in your high chair for well over an hour without getting the least bit antsy. It was an unqualified success! We also took you to one of the major museums in our city for the first time. You got tired and bored after an hour and a half or so but before that you’d been quite taken by the dinosaurs and you liked the bat cave so much we had to walk through it twice.

Your favourite books this month included Cars and Trucks and Things that Go (yet again- this month you’ve loved counting people, identifying all the exotic animals, finding double decker buses and so on- it’s been the best.book.purchase.ever), Peter Rabbit (an abridged board book version that you wanted read to you at naps and at night every single day this month), and the collected Adventures of Little Wombat, which is a book that drives both your Mummy and your Daddy crazy because a) the stories aren’t very good and b) the illustrations make it clear that the illustrator has never, ever been to Australia. While we were away you were absolutely obsessed with a library book called Wombat Walkabout your auntie picked out (which at least was illustrated in a believable fashion) but luckily it didn’t come home with us, as your Mummy didn’t like the fact that two of the pages didn’t scan properly (metre in children’s books is quite important to your parents- it is surprising how many bad children’s books are out there once you start reading them).

Your favourite things to do this month have included playing with your Playmobil bus and your ride-on fire/dump truck (usually at the same time), and getting us to build things out of your Megabloks, like a garage for your trucks or a house for the little wooden cat that belongs to your farm. Most of our mornings, after breakfast but before cleaning up the kitchen we read Go until you decide I need to build a house for the cat. Once I’ve built it to your exacting specifications (it needs a door and a window), the cat then goes in. “Seep”, you’ll tell me, as you lie the cat down. When the cat wakes up, if I ask you what he’s going to do next, he either jumps “Up up!” onto the top of the house, or he starts eating with a voracious “Num num!” Then it’s usually time for another sleep, and then another snack. I think you must be modelling the wooden cat’s behaviour after our cats!

At the end of the month we gave you a very special present- your first bike. Your great-grandfather and great-aunt had been giving you money for a “bike fund” at Christmas and on your first birthday, so we felt we could buy it whenever we thought you were ready- we didn’t think we had to wait until your birthday. We’ve bought you a Stri.der balance bike (in red, of course), and you have a blue and white helmet with airplanes on it. Your Daddy picked up the bike while we were away, assembled it, and hid it in a closet until your helmet arrived. We’d been talking about bikes for a while now, and you’ve loved seeing other children on bikes at the park. Whenever I asked you if you wanted a bike, you always said yes, and then said you wanted a red one. When the helmet arrived I opened the box up and tried to get you to try it on, but you wouldn’t go near it. That night after supper we got the bike out. The moment you saw it, you literally ran to where the helmet was, picked it up, and brought it over so we could put it on your head and adjust it. “Makes sense,” said your Daddy. “You knew there was no reason to wear it until the bike appeared.” That night you were so excited that right when  you were about to fall asleep you suddenly said, “Outside, bike, helmet, E., drive, bike, outside”, and then fell asleep! The next morning the first thing you said to me was, “Outside, bike”, and it was a struggle to convince you that you  had to get dressed and have breakfast first. I think you would have ridden it in your sleepsack if I’d let you! It’ll be a while yet before you’re really tearing up the sidewalks, but you’re already comfortable climbing on, steering, and backing up, and you’ve started to actually sit on the seat rather than just straddling the frame and walking.

I’m not going to lie- seeing you riding around the neighbourhood on your bike, pointing out everything you could see and telling me (in no uncertain terms) that you were not ready to go back to the house yet made me a little emotional. You seem to have become so big so fast this month.  I suppose that is how it ought to be since your second birthday really is just around the corner now, and your birthday party is even sooner. The weather is finally getting warmer, which means we’re spending more and more of our days outside at the park or just tootling around the neighbourhood. I’m trying to enjoy each and every minute, since this next month will see me heading overseas two weeks before you and your Daddy come to join me. And we’ll be celebrating your actual birthday in our rental home for the summer in the U.K.

Love you ever so much,
Mummy

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Filed under Blink and you'll miss it, E.- the second year, Letters to E., What were we thinking? (aka travelling with small children)

The twenty-second month

Dearest E.,

You, my darling son, are never at a loss for words these days! The language explosion that started last month has kept right on going.  According to my notes you added another 42 words to your vocabulary this month, again with some really interesting choices.  You now call both the cats by name.  You have also started saying “please”, although you usually need some prompting as to when it is most appropriate.  You’ve added a few more words that start with ‘b’ (book, baby, bang bang, bubble), some useful concepts (opposite, neat, new, dead, roll, home, light), some generally handy words (purple, rain, eye, nose, star), some favourite breakfasts (Cheerio, peanut butter), some more vehicle identifications (tow, double decker, cement mixer), and a whole slew of animals (octopus, zebra, crocodile, Peter (Rabbit), emu, goat, platypus, dog and “ribbet ribbet” for a frog).  If I wanted any further evidence that Cars and Trucks and Things that Go remained a truly essential part of your daily life, I need only look at you pointing out Goldbug on every page and saying “Gol-gol” every time you find him.

You’ve also started participating when I’m singing to you. If I sing “Old MacDonald” or “The Wheels on the Bus” and we come to a verse with an animal you know, you’ll make the noise when I get to the appropriate point in the song. This is especially fun when you’re in the bath. You also like to sing “Old MacDonald” when playing with your farm (which you still call E-I-E-I). You’ll line up the animals to make a train (complete with “choo-choo” noises) and then you’ll get me to sing the verses in the order of the animals with you making the sounds.

By far the neatest thing that happened this month with your language concerned numbers. Around the middle of the month you suddenly started to become interested in looking at the numbers found on the page in Cars and Trucks and Things that Go with the fire trucks and having me identify them. Then one day you were recognizing (and saying) “zero”. Then you wanted me to identify ALL of the numbers in the entire book. Then suddenly it clicked and you could identify 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9. 1 came a couple of days later. 8 remains an issue, partly because there aren’t any examples in Richard Scarry and you’re still not all that interested in looking at numbers in other books. And before the month was out you could say all of the numbers as well except for 8 and 5 (you often say four instead).

But it didn’t stop there. At a drop-in at the end of the month it became clear to me that you understood the concept of “two” when you went and found two forks from the toy kitchen, told me one was “yeh” (yellow) and the other one was “reh” (red) and then told me there were two of them! You repeated this with two knives, and when we were home that afternoon you spent a lot of time (completely without prompting) pointing out to me the examples where there were only two bunnies (or cats or dogs or groundhogs) in a vehicle in Richard Scarry. You will also tell me if there is only “wah” (one) bunny. And, since I’m writing this letter a couple of days late, I can add that you woke up from your afternoon nap today in a terrible state- crying inconsolably. When eventually you calmed down (after a snack and a trip outside to watch Daddy shovel snow on to the road so it could melt) you got out Richard Scarry (yet again) and then proceeded to show me that you now understand the concept of “three”. We spent a good solid ten minutes or so flipping through the book with me pointing to various cars and asking you how many animals were inside. If the answer was one, two, or three, you were letter perfect every time. This just blows my mind that these concepts could solidify so quickly. It certainly helps to explain why your sleep has been so disruptive this week!

Ah yes, sleep. I’m afraid your early rising continued this month, which has meant your Mummy and Daddy are feeling pretty worn out. We’re hoping the switch to daylight savings time might help us encourage you to sleep a bit longer in the mornings again. I think your record was getting up for the day at 4:53 one morning this week. But then you also have days where you sleep until well past 7:00. You also have a tendency to fall asleep almost as soon as we leave your room, only to wake up again twenty or thirty minutes later. Normally you’ll just talk to yourself for a while before going back to sleep but one night this month you woke up and started clapping. You applauded yourself for two or three minutes, then did a convincing R2D2 impression with lots of “Wah-ooo!” noises, and then immediately fell asleep again. I was laughing my head off downstairs listening to this.

Naps are equally hard to predict. Some days you only nap for ninety minutes, others you go down for a full three hours or even a little bit more. And the length of your nap doesn’t seem to reflect how much sleep you got (or didn’t get) the night before. You’ve also had the occasional night waking where you’ve needed us to come in and give you a cuddle and help you get resettled. All of this is quite unusual for you, and I would bet money it’s related to the leaps and bounds you’re making in your language. At least there has been absolutely no sign that you are thinking about dropping your nap, for which your Mummy and Daddy are truly grateful.

We had a rough patch in the middle of the month when you had your first bout of croup. It started in the wee hours on a Sunday morning, and listening to you cough in your crib I thought it could be croup. You ended up spending the last few hours of the night sleeping propped up on my chest as I sat upright (and awake) in bed, just like we used to do when you were really tiny before we realized you had MSPI. But you were better in the morning and we consulted Dr. Google and Dr. Youtube and convinced ourselves it wasn’t croup. Wednesday I took you in to your paediatrician’s walk-in hours. We saw a medical student first and you were so outraged at being at the doctor’s that you worked yourself up into a frenzy. This made it incredibly easy for the doctor to diagnose you with croup when he arrived as your breathing had become laboured and strained for the first time since Monday morning from being so upset.  Your Mummy was mostly upset that she had been right but had allowed doubts to creep in from watching videos online. You didn’t need any further medical treatment, but it took well over a week before you were back to being your usual cheerful self.  You didn’t eat much for a few days and since you’ve always been a slender little guy I was a bit taken aback by just how skinny you’d become when we were getting you ready for your bath once you were recovering. Luckily you’ve been eating like it’s about to go out of style in the last week or so; I expect you’ll put all the weight you lost back on and then some.

Eating continues to be an adventure with you. We’re never entirely sure from one day to the next what you’ll want to eat. You’ve recently started eating plain cooked chicken again, which you haven’t touched for ages, and you are currently absolutely obsessed with tuna, demanding tuna sandwiches for lunch nearly every day. There was even a point where I didn’t bother with the bread but would just give you a bowl of tuna salad and a spoon before sitting back to watch you devour it. You love eating Cheerios for breakfast and occasionally have been known to eat more than I do. You still love pasta and most fruit; your favourites this month were oranges and green grapes along with that trusty standby: apples.  We had quite a funny encounter one morning when Daddy said he was going to make pancakes for breakfast and then he decided to make potato pancakes to use up a couple of cooked potatoes left over from dinner the night before. You were so excited to sit up in your chair since pancakes remain one of your all-time favourites. You speared a piece with your fork, stuck it in your mouth, started chewing, and then burst into tears and spat it out. It took us quite some time to figure out that you didn’t want anything else for breakfast, you wanted pancakes, but you didn’t want these weird pancakes. Eventually your Daddy made you your own normal pancake and you wolfed that down. We normally don’t cater to your whims- you just eat what we eat- but we both felt  you believed you’d been blindsided by what had ended up on your plate, and we were so impressed that you had a firm idea about what “pancakes” meant and would taste like that we were happy to comply.

We have one fewer companion at the table these days because you’ve stopped sitting your bunny up on her own chair at every meal.  You’ve also more or less stopped insisting on taking her with us when we leave the house (although she did come grocery shopping last week). She’s still very important to you though. I wouldn’t want to try to get you to go to sleep without her, and she still has many adventures every day. When we come downstairs in the morning you throw her down the stairs (or over the bannister) with a gleeful “Whee!”. Before breakfast she usually ends up taking a ride in the back of your big red ride-on fire/dump truck, sometimes with you climbing into the back as well. If we’re reading stories on the couch you always need to have her nearby and to be cuddling under a red blanket (luckily we have two so if the cats are using one there’s another one available for us). If we’re reading Richard Scarry your bunny loves to pretend to eat the carrot car whenever we see it. If we’re listening to music and I pick you up to dance with you, you’ll make sure to grab your bunny so you can make her dance (this consists of you holding on to her by her ears and then shaking her up and down). And if we’re all having a cuddle in the big bed on a weekend morning, you’ll hold your bunny up so we can give her a good morning kiss.

The cats still need some convincing, but they’re getting closer to agreeing that you’re an ok person to have around.  They no longer made a mad dash for the door if you come into our bed for a cuddle on the weekends, and they’ve even been known to sit still and purr when you pet them. In the middle of the month the three of you had a lot of fun with a ribbon that came from my box of Valentine’s Day chocolates. You really got the idea of dangling the ribbon and dragging it around to entice them to play with you, and you giggled the whole time they were chasing you.

The days are getting longer, the temperature is getting warmer, and the snow is starting to melt.  The snowmen that you built with your Daddy a couple of weeks ago (with the first truly sticky snow we’ve had all winter) are all looking rather bedraggled. Spring, I sincerely hope, is just around the corner. And that means it’s almost time for your birthday. This really does not seem possible. I’m glad we still have a couple of months before your third year begins. This month has been just fantastic. We’re really starting to have conversations now, and your Daddy and I love how chatty you’re becoming. It’s a wonderful age, and we look forward to each and every day (even if sometimes we wish you would sleep a little bit longer!).

Love you ever so much, my son.
Mummy

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Filed under E.- the second year, Letters to E.

The twenty-first month

Dearest E.,

I have just one word for you this month. No, wait, make that fifty-three. Because that’s how many new words you came up with this month! It was an incredible language explosion, especially when you consider that before this month started your entire vocabulary consisted of fifteen words, twelve animal and vehicle noises and eleven signs. It’s been so exciting for all three of us. Your Daddy and I love hearing the new words you come up almost every day, and you clearly are so proud of yourself and so pleased to be able to make yourself understood more easily. We were just starting to get some minor meltdowns related to you not being able to communicate to us what you wanted, and I suspect that gave you the impetus to start bringing out the words.

Your choices have been equally interesting. The first four words that appeared this month were all colours: “red”, “green”, “blue”, “yellow” and “orange” came a couple of days later. There was also a whole slew of words that start with ‘b’: “broom”, “bee”, “bunny”, “bus”, “ball”, “bag”, “brush”, “bread”, “bear”, “bath”, “bird”, “black” and “brown”. And you also came up with words for some of your favourite things: “sweep”, “sausage”, “tuna”, “snow”, “puffs”, “wheel”, “read”, “toast”, “airplane”.  Some new words have proved very useful: “wet”, “uh-oh”, “yummy”, “pull”, “dark”, “bye-bye”, “little” (especially when paired with “big”), “pants”, “shoes”, “night-night”. But some new words surprised us: “juice” (from a picture in a book as it’s almost never in the house), “umbrella”, “rock”, “tea”, “duck”, and “door”, especially since you still don’t have words, noises or signs for some things you love, like bananas, crackers, or hat. It has been a truly fascinating process watching what you’ve come up with. On days where you burst out with four or five new words by lunchtime I can’t wait for your Daddy to get home to tell him.

You also have some truly fantastic noises and expressions these days. In addition to “uh-oh”, “bye-bye” and “night-night”, this month you mastered “whee!” to express glee (usually accompanied by you pitching your bunny down the stairs in imitation of when Daddy has her slide down the bannister). You use “awww” if you agree wholeheartedly with what we’re saying, and you have an “oooohh!” if something particularly tasty appears at the dinner table that never fails to make your Daddy and I start laughing. This month you learned to hoot like an owl, whinny like a horse, and tick-tock for a clock. You call your farm “E-i-e-i”. You had a song you liked to sing at the end of the month. It sounded like “Walky walky, up, up, up” and your father and I remain at a total loss to explain what it is that you’re saying. The closest match I can think of is a line from the “Sleeping Bunnies” song we learned at the drop-ins (“Wake up, sleeping bunnies, hop hop hop!”), but if I ask you if that’s what you are saying, you are very quick to tell me “no” (which still sounds like “ah!”).  You’re using “out” with enormous confidence, and some mornings if you feel we’ve been too slow to come and get you we’ll hear a chant of “Out out out. Up up up. Out out out. Up up up.” coming from your crib.

Ah yes, mornings. The one negative side to this explosion of language is it seems to coincide with some very early wakeups (sometimes even pre-5 a.m.). You’ve tended to be a child whose sleep gets disrupted by big developmental leaps. It doesn’t seem to affect your naps, which for the most part have been rock solid this month, lasting anywhere from two to over three hours. But it does mean you occasionally wake up in the night and can’t resettle, and more often than not you’re up for the day at a time when we’d really rather get a bit more shuteye. There was a week in the middle of the month where you stopped coming out with new words (probably because you were consolidating what you’d already learned), and  you did sleep later. Then the new words started up again, and so did the early mornings. “Dark! Dark!” you tell us when we come into your room and pull open the curtains.

This month also brought some real consolidation of your physical skills and some increased confidence. You can put together your Brio train track without assistance (although you do tend to get a bit frustrated around the fifth piece of track so we usually work as a team), and you’ve mastered the art of turning the train cars around to make sure the magnets line up. You’ve become much more confident on stairs. Early in the month you started crawling backwards down the big flight of stairs from the top floor, whereas before you used to ask to be picked up, and by the end of the month you were happy to go down them sitting down on your bum. Likewise with going up: as the month progressed you moved away from crawling up them to walking up them, and now you can climb the entire flight holding on to the bannister or to my hand. At the park you now walk up the stairs to the slide rather than crawl, and you’ve regained your confidence with the bigger curly slides. You love turning off light switches, and you’ll help me at night to switch off the light in your room, and to switch on your heater and your white noise machine. You’re really interacting with your relatives when we Skype, and you know who everyone is and what you normally do with them. If it’s your Australian Granny, you immediately start asking her to do the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Round and Round the Garden”, whereas if it’s your Canadian Grannie you start playing peek-a-boo.

You are very, very fond of your routines. For months now we’ve been tidying up your toys after dinner and before your bath and this month you’ve started putting them away unprompted once you’ve finished eating but your Daddy and I are still at the table. The first time you did this you busied yourself putting away every single Megablok, every truck, and every book. Then you put away the DVDs you’d been sorting into a big pile, and then you came over, signed that you were tired, and said “bath”. You then went and stood by the gate at the stairs! Your father and I just watched in amazement. Since then you’ve decided that we should also tidy up the toys before your nap. You make sure to put away everyone’s hats and mitts after we come in from an outing, and if we leave our coats on a chair you’ll drag them over to the closet and make it clear in no uncertain terms that we’re letting standards slip. I have a great video taken one Saturday morning where you unpacked a bag from the farmer’s market and sorted all of the potatoes and onions into two separate containers without me once suggesting you do so.

You have a great sense of humour. You absolutely love to hurl your bunny down the stairs shrieking “whee!”, although this does get a bit tiresome for Daddy and I when we’re trying to get you ready for bed and someone has to rescue the bunny. At mealtimes you’ll put your bunny on your chair and have her pretend to eat your dinner, then on my chair, and then finally sit her up on her chair. One day we were in the downstairs bathroom. You looked at the tub, looked at me, and signed “water”. “That’s right,” I said. “We put water in the tub. Can you say water?” You looked right at me, grinned, and said, “Bath”. I couldn’t argue with that!

Your all-time favourite toy right now is your train set. You absolutely love it and it comes out every day. We build Megablok towers and tunnels and overpasses for the trains. We had to get out the extra Megabloks we brought back from your Grannie and Grandpa’s house because we kept running out of materials. I think more track and more train cars will be an ideal birthday present (hard to believe it’s almost time to start thinking about that!). You also love your new xylophone and your farm. Everything else tends to get rotated around, but you usually have a couple of puzzles, an assortment of vehicles, some sort of building blocks (other than the Megabloks which are always out), and some sort of stacking/threading toy on your shelves. You love some of your books so much that this month I had to start enforcing the “we read a book five times and then you need to choose a new book” rule for my own sanity. You have some new favourites, particularly Dr. Seuss’ Amazing Alphabet Book. You have the board book and the ‘real’ book, and you’re definitely now more interested in the full version. You’ve also been very keen on books involving outer space. Whatever Next and The Way Back Home have been getting a lot of attention lately. You also love any books with counting in them, so Ten Little Ladybugs, Curious George’s One to Ten and Back Again, and Doggies have been selected quite regularly. Plus there are some old favourites that you are never tired of hearing: Llama llama Red Pajama, Cars and Trucks and Things that Go, Tons of Trucks, Fingers and Toes, The Greedy Python, I Went Walking,  and Goodnight Moon.  You love nursery rhymes too. We always sit on the couch under a blanket when we read, and if we start without your bunny you will hop down and run off to get her before we continue.  You are very busy these days so it is a lovely chance to get a cuddle.

This has been a great month. We’ve always loved seeing the new things you can do, and it’s been so interesting to watch how you develop, but the language jump has just been fantastic. We can’t wait to see what new words you’ll come up with next month!

love,
Mummy

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Filed under E.- the second year, Letters to E.