Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Look Who's Talking: 20 Months Old!

Holy Moly! Forest is 20 months old. That is 4 months away from being 2. TWO!!!! Two is a really big deal. Two is preschool and potty training and all sorts of other big kid transitions. I am soaking up what is left of Forest’s sweet babyhood, though I think it’s safe to say that the ‘terrible 2s’ have landed early at our house. Hello tantrums! Here is Forest to tell you a bit about what makes him smile and what makes him throw himself on the ground and scream bloody murder. 
Hey folks. How’s it going? I hope your summer is off to a good start. Mine began with a summer cold which was the pits but on the other hand I got to watch countless episodes of Sesame Street so it wasn’t all that bad. Elmo for the win! Speaking of Elmo, let’s get on with my monthly likes and dislikes spiel. 

1) Music class. 
This again??? Mom, give it up already. You didn’t marry my dad because of his dancing skills, and I’m afraid he’s passed his lackluster rhythm on to me. I’ll sing Old Macdonald all day long and I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy a bit of Raffi on Pandora, but sitting in a circle singing Kumbaya with a bunch of babies is just not my idea of a good time. 
And the worst part is that music class is in the same space as Studio Grow (see article 2 on my ‘likes’ list) so it’s absolute torture to sit in my mom’s lap during “lullaby time” when there is a perfectly good train set to be played with in the next room. 
2) Being sick. Especially when my mom insists we stay home so I can’t do fun things like go to swim class or hang out with my buds. However, I do like slurping down honey and also getting snot sucked out of my nose, not to mention the loads of TV I get to watch while being quarantined so being sick isn’t all bad. 
3)Wearing shoes. I'm a Cali boy at heart and much prefer to go through life barefooted than with shoes on my feet; even if those shoes look like Dinos and light up. Good try though, mom.  
I use any opportunity I have to discard my socks and shoes as we stroll around town, but unfortunately my mom and dad have been able to track down all missing footwear so far.

1) Drawing.  
While music is not my thing, I do like visual arts in all mediums. Markers, crayons, pens, paint, sidewalk chalk. It’s all good. 
And my parents are pretty stoked that they can take me to restaurants again and I’ll stay perfectly and quietly entertained the whole time. Win, win. 
2) Studio Grow. It’s like my play room times a million and there are so many toys that I can get by without having to share too much. I usually hit up the lego and train tables before taking a few turns on the roller coaster and exploring the 2 story play house. 

You can see why I’d rather spend my Monday mornings here than in the music room. Womp womp. 

3) Sesame Street. I still like Baby Einstein and, in a pinch, I will tolerate Daniel Tiger but I really prefer Sesame Street these days. Elmo is my homeboy. 
 4) Samson.  
He’s right up there with Elmo and we have a definite Bromance going on. Ok, so maybe it’s partly one sided but he’s coming around to my charms, especially since I’m so generous with the Cheerios. 
5) Hiding. It’s a hoot. My favorite spots to hide are the downstairs bathroom and behind the trees in our backyard. 
And when my mom searches frantically for me it's absolutely hilarious! 
 And when I'm hiding in the bathroom and open the drawers so that she can’t open the door to get to me: OMG too funny! Plus it gives me ample time to splash around in the toilet...Winning!

Alright guys, that’s me. See ya in a month.  In the meantime, feast your eyes on this:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer Colds

I breathed a huge sigh of relief when this winter's Cold/Flu season was over. Forest was hit hard his year. After going the first 13 months of his life without a sniffle to speak of, months 14-18 were riddled with both cold and flu viruses and the ear infections that so often follow in their wake. 

When Forest starting running a seemingly symptomless fever last Tuesday I thought perhaps he was finally cutting those two year molars that have had his hands constantly in his mouth for the past 2 months. When the fever went up to 102.5 Thursday morning, still without any symptoms, I feared it was an ear infection once again. It can be so confusing when teething and ear infections have essentially the same exact symptoms: crankiness, fever, refusal to eat or sleep. 

I felt a bit foolish when I brought him in to the doctor last Thursday after day 3 of significant fever and she took a look at his ears, nose, and throat and said they all looked perfectly fine. Hmmmmm. On Friday his fever dropped and his nose started running which leads us to think it was nothing more than a summer cold. 

His ears get really red when he runs a fever.

Forest has not gone a stretch of more than 2 weeks without a visit to the doctor since January and I feel like I am soooo not that Mom who over-reacts about illnesses or injuries, but I'm starting to reevaluate myself! 

And to make this particular doctor's visit not only pointless but counterproductive, while the Doctor was giving me the spiel about how to treat a fever, Forest was playing around under the exam table. He stood up suddenly and whacked his head against the top of the table and instantly started howling and vomitting. The doctor kept on talking away about fevers and I was like 'um...he's vomiting after whacking his head...are you not concerned about this?', to which she responded that vomiting immediately is fine, it's when they continue to vomit hours after that you have to be concerned. But she gave me a pamphlet on head injuries for good measure. 

So basically for the past week we have been home bound and haven't been doing much of anything except having Sesame Street marathons, coloring time and eating popsicles in the backyard.Which is fine, but doesn't give me much time/energy/inspiration for blogging. 

I'm crossing my fingers and praying that baby boy stays healthy for a stretch. I read that toddlers can get up to 12 colds per year, each lasting 7-10 days. That's almost a third of the year. I believe it after the past few months! I'm assuming he's picking these colds up at the gym daycare, but really it could be anywhere. I have never been a germophobe but I am starting to be now! It's the total pits to be home bound with an energetic toddler who just wants to go out and play. Here's to a healthy rest of the summer!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Water Baby

During the long and painful process of narrowing down a name for Forest, I originally was smitten with the name ‘River’ for a boy. Jonathan ordained it too ‘out there’ but mentioned he liked the idea of a nature name, so we compromised with ‘Forest’. And while I have no namer’s remorse, I can’t help but think that our son would have made an excellent ‘River’. 

For one thing, he’s likely to move about his whole life rather than staying rooted in one place. And for another, this kid is obsessed with water. He gravitates to it like nothing I have ever seen. Sure I see loads of toddlers who enjoy splashing around, but Forest’s entire face beams when he’s in the water and you can hear his gleeful shrieks for miles. 
I am really worried about the drought in California for many reasons, but a big downer personally is that we can’t in good conscience fill a baby pool for him everyday. He is in weekly swim lessons and we often take him to the pool at our gym on warm weekends and plan to do that a lot as the temperatures start to rise. 

Also, I don’t know how long this will last with drought restrictions, but a couple of the community parks here have splash pads which are PERFECT for toddlers because they can splash around without the whole possibility of drowning thing. There is a really great one 5 minutes down the road from us at Rancho Park and it is Forest's version of heaven.

Seriously. I have never seen him happier or more in his element. He actually stayed in one area of a park for over 20 minutes which I’m pretty sure has never happened before. 

We also have an inflatable baby pool which we use sparingly and try to share with his baby buddies so we can justify the water usage on especially hot days. Of course, Forest is totally obsessed. 

I have a feeling he is gonna have a very good summer full of water play! Happy summertime everybody!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Timehop Ramblings

It was two years ago  that we found out our precious baby was a boy. The emotions were running high that day and I still remember them all clearly, even that small flutter of disappointment that we weren’t having a girl. It seems preposterous now. Now that we know and love a child who is in every way possible ALL boy. I could never want or imagine it any other way.
I know without question that God gave us a child who is not perfect, but who is perfect for us. Who challenges and refines me and fills my heart to the brim with unfiltered joy. Who makes me cry out for the Lord’s help and mercy and patience to rain down on me as I fumble through this motherhood thing. 
Through Forest, I have been stretched and worn down to the studs. Stay at home mom-ing is at once a blessing I am grateful for and a trial I am often left feeling completely unequipped to handle. It is everything and yet nothing like I expected. It equally fills me up and drains me dry. It is both humbling and rewarding like no other job I have ever had. 

I know it’s precisely what I am supposed to be doing at this point in my life and have total peace about ‘retiring’ to fill my days with play dates and singing the ABCs and unwinding after a long day with an episode of Sesame Street.  I am so blessed that Jonathan’s job affords me the opportunity to be a Stay at Home Mom and beyond that- that Jonathan is such an involved and caring husband and father. He gives Forest his baths and puts him to bed every night. He makes sure to make it home for dinner and we squeeze in a trip to the park before bathtime each night. 

Most days I am so psyched that this is my life and I feel like I need someone to pinch me to ensure that my good ‘luck’ is real. Of course I have days where I feel physically worn down from the constant chasing and guiding and never-sitting-down-ness that is life with a toddler. 

I have days where Forest’s asthma keeps us both up at night and I am mean and impatient from lack of sleep. I have many moments when I calculate how much I would sacrifice for a weekend of binge watching television and reading a book by a pool without a single responsibility in the world. I think that has to be pretty normal, right? To fantasize about what you would do if you just had a day or two where your own appetites and interests and circadian rhythms ruled the day once more? 

These little snippets of reverie occur to me from time to time. But what was probably the most telling thing was when I met an Au pair at the neighborhood park and I was telling Jonathan about what a great experience this must be for her. She gets to live in beautiful Northern California for a year or two and in exchange she only has one kid to watch and gets to do things like take him to Music Together or the park before putting him down for a two hour nap. Doesn’t that sound great? 

And as the words were coming out of my mouth it hit me that I was essentially describing my own life. The one I often gripe about and stress over and feel tapped out because of. The point of this rambling is just to say: I know I am fortunate. I prayed and prayed for this job and though I was woefully unprepared, God granted me what I asked of him. 
He didn’t give me exactly what I wanted, exactly when I wanted it, but true to form, He gave me what I needed, when I needed it and through that he has taught me to give up control. To stop closing my heart by filling my mind with expectations. To keep both my mind and my heart open so that when His will is presented to me, I have the spirit to accept and appreciate it. 

Thank you Lord, for Forest. For his fearlessness which causes my heart to race. For his will-fullness that reveals his strong and intelligent spirit. For his rough and tumbleness that has me in the best shape of my life. For his kisses that he randomly plants on my lips throughout the day that make my knees weak with love. For his sweet voice that calls me 'Momma' as I put him down for a nap. For his naps! Thank you Lord for the privilege of being his mother. 
Please bring peace to those whose journey to motherhood is still ongoing and who long for a toddler to chase until they collapse at the end of the day from total exhaustion. Who just want a child to love without restraint. Who would do it all- the morning sickness, the stretchmarks, the sleepless nights, the skipped naps, the sick and restless days, the time outs, the dirty floors, the constant pile of dishes in the sink and the dejected looking dog on the couch- just for a sweet little voice calling them ‘momma’. 

I know those women waiting on a baby (or saying goodbye to one they conceived) will look at my list of complaints and label them blessings. And when I feel tapped out at the end of the day, as if I don’t have one more ounce of patience to dole out, it is them I try to think of. It is them and it is myself during  my own 3 year long wait. It’s those aching women that I reflect on to try to muster up the strength for one more moment of humility and grace. 

I far too often fail at this and lose my cool or perspective. And each time I dare to feel sorry for myself for an instant or call my situation unfair for a millisecond- I shudder as I remember how profoundly I longed and how consistently I prayed for exactly this type of moment. It bears reminding. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

19 Month Summary

I touched on it in his guest post, but I truly feel like Forest has changed more in the past 4 weeks than in any other month of his life. I guess I didn’t expect that since they grow and change so quickly in the first year. But between 18 and 19 months he truly has shed most of his babyness and is all toddler/little boy. That’s true in the good and bad ways. 

In the good ways he is becoming much more independent. He will usually play by himself for 45 minutes to 1.5 hours in the mornings which allows me to get laundry or cleaning done while also enjoying a cuppa. 
He is verbalizing so much and every day makes strides in his ability to communicate his wants and frustrations with us. 

I feel like this has lessened the amount of tantrums he has, but at the same time, his new tantrums are much more passionate. When he starts to lose his temper, it is really hard to distract him or take his mind off what is upsetting him. And it’s no longer just crying but rather full body-thrashing episodes. 

When this happens, I try to ensure that he’s in a safe place and just let him have a fit. The most worrisome part is that he starts to throw anything in his vicinity which I can't allow to happen, especially if there are other babies present.  Once he’s calmed down I try to talk him through it and reassure him.

For the most part I try to avoid his triggers (tiredness, hunger, looking at my iPhone, keeping him confined for long periods, or the toy aisle at Target) but sometimes it just can’t be avoided. I was so afraid of experiencing his first full-on public temper tantrum, but now that it’s happened (cracker aisle in Safeway) I don’t get very fussed about it and try my darndest to just keep going about my business. So if you see a momma in the grocery store who seems blissfully unaware that her 19 month old is having a knock-down drag-out screaming fit right in front of her, pat her on the back and tell her she’s doing a good job.   

So the tantrums are about the worst of what we’re dealing with these days. Another issue is his possessiveness over toys (also a tantrum trigger). I know this is a phase and is totally normal, but he is sort of a brat right now. He has no concept of sharing or taking turns and will snipe any interesting toy out of the hands of a smaller babe. I try to correct him immediately but it’s taking awhile for him to get the message. I think this is something we definitely need to practice at home more. 

I tried the other day to use the words we use when he interacts with Sam:  ‘be soft, be gentle’ and he ended up petting his friend on the head. I guess that’s better than stealing his toy!   

Other than those two issues, he is listening much better and interacting a lot more. We have started implementing 'time out' by placing him in his pack n play in the guest room for 1.5 minutes (a minute per year old he is). At first I was positive it wasn't doing jack diddley but then after a week whenever I warn him that he will get a time out if he doesn't stop a certain behavior, 90% of the time he will stop. Breakthrough! 

The tricky part is that our little introvert doesn't actually mind time out too much. This morning when he was breaking a rule and I asked 'do you want a time out?', he went and walked himself over to his time out spot. This is a kid who has never climbed out of his crib but yet has climbed into it twice. Fine by me!

His social development has really gone into overdrive and his shyness is slowly getting better. He will give high 5s and fist bumps freely and says hi and bye right on cue. When we FaceTime though he clams up completely. I think my parents don’t believe me that he actually talks but when it’s just us at home he is a total chatterbox! 
Let’s get this summary going! 

Stats: I’m not sure how tall he is but I’m guessing just over 34.5 inches. He is weighing 28 lbs which means he gained 1.5 lbs in less than a month. He has officially outgrown all of his 12-18 Month clothes, is borderline too big for his 24 M clothes and is fitting perfectly into his 2T stuff.   

Favorite Toy: My parents sent him some pull back B. You cars and they are definitely his new favorites. 
He loves to put his stuffed animals on them for a ride. His friend Ryan also loaned him some Tonka cars and his Old Macdonald tractor as part of a toy swap and they are big hits!
Favorite Book: Potty by Leslie Patricelli. We are trying to get him interested in going potty. So far he loves the book but still shows no signs that he is ready for potty training. Sigh.

Favorite Food: I think yogurt has dethroned cheese as his favorite food. Boy is all about his dairy food group, just like his momma.   
Words: I feel like vocabulary and language is Forest’s biggest development right now. He has recently begun his vocabulary ‘explosion’ when toddlers are acquiring 2-3 new words a day. Its extremely hard to keep track of all his words now because he’s become a parrot and repeats most everything I say. 

I have tried keeping a list and in the past 4 weeks he has acquired more than 60 new words. So in a month he has almost *doubled* his vocabulary (I’m estimating 110-120 total). He is saying simple 2-3 word sentences so this is what we are working with him on the most. He mostly says ‘Bye-bye ____’. Bye Bye Daddy. Bye Bye Nana. Bye Bye Bryce. Bye Bye Sam, etc. Occasionally he will say little phrases like ‘sit down’, 'all day', 'good job', 'stop it', ‘milk cup’, ‘more cheese’ or 'go home' but most often he will say single words to communicate. 
He is starting to enunciate longer or more difficult words like ‘walrus’, ‘breakfast’ or ‘blackberries’. He is a little chatterbox when he’s with me and Jonathan but can still be a little shy around other people. I try to video as much of his verbal development as I can but he’s even a bit camera-shy so this doesn’t always work. 

His new words this month are too many to list but a few are: Yay, Kick, Elmo, Baa, Neigh, This, Home, Honk, Chalk, You, Me, Street, Heart, Oval, Moose, Crackers, Teeth, Bump (as in fist bump), Sit (which sounds like another word that I promise we have NOT taught him…), More, Haircut, Ok, Stomp, Shake, Hat, Colors, Banana, Walrus, Oops, Dino, Nana, Bus, Truck, Owl, Ice, Freeze, Bryce, Ride, Blocks, Five, Eight, Water, Bubbles, Books, Hop, Awesome, Walk, Alright etc etc. 

We are working with him on counting, and he’s doing pretty well though I’m sure it’s just rote memorization. He can say ‘one, two.’ And if you say ‘one’ he will answer with ‘two’, and if you say’1,2,3,4’ he will say ‘5’. However, if you ask him how many there are of something he will automatically say ‘2’ but if you correct him and say, ‘no, there are 3’ he will then say ‘two, two, two’ in a rhythm that makes it sound like he’s counting it out. So maybe he does have some numerical concept. Y’all know I think he’s a flippin genius so in my mind anything is possible!  

New skills: Hmmmm…I can’t think of much. I think because his language skills are overshadowing everything else. He climbed a rope ladder at the park so that was new.  
He is also beginning to ‘tidy up’ without prompting sometimes. We’ve started him with little chores like bringing his tray and plates/utensils to the sink after meal time and he really likes to help out. 

Other Observations: He loves to snuggle and adores his stuffed animals. 

He is also becoming much more affectionate towards us and will voluntarily offer kisses and hugs at bedtime and just because. He also will ask for fist ‘bumps’ from his friends. 
Forest loves to take things apart and put them back together. You can practically see the wheels in his head turning as he figures out how something works. He’s already very into mechanical things and loves building towers and playing with puzzles. I’m hoping this means he got some of those engineering genes from both sides of the family. 
Schedule: Of course, his schedule is still pretty wack-a-doo but after 19 months I’ve finally (mostly)accepted that. I try really hard not to compare his sleep patterns to other babies and just accept that we’ve done all we can in terms of sleep training and offering him plenty of opportunities for shut eye. Most days go something like this: 

Wakes up between 6:15-6:45, has breakfast at 7, lunch #1 at 11, nap at 12 (which lasts anywhere from 1-3 hours but normally around 1.5 hours), lunch #2 at 2/2:30, dinner at 5:30/6, bath at 6:45 and in bed by 7/7:15. 
My struggles: I feel like the month before last was really hard in almost a ‘darkest right before the sunrise’ kind of way. Everything with Forest felt like a struggle and I just felt like everything I tried to implement was ineffectual. Dressing him was a fight. Getting him to eat was a fight. Getting him to take a halfway decent nap was a fight. Taking him to the park was a nightmare because he just kept running off. 

Then suddenly it was as if the sun came up and slowly he has started responding to commands and holding our hands without a protest and eating and sleeping (a little) better. Plus he is just turning on the charm these days. 
His sweetness and cuteness make up for any frustration we might feel. We have started time out but haven’t had to use it much. He throws temper tantrums when we leave the park which is annoying and he’s also started stalling for bedtime and naptime (one more book…wait I need to hug daddy again…hold on let me ride Thomas for another minute, etc.). We are trying to be firm with this as I  know he’s only gonna get more adept at avoiding bedtime in the future. 

A really hard thing over the past few weeks has been Forest's health. He has been totally fine when he's awake but then has a chronic and constant cough at night/naptime which prevents anyone in the house from getting much rest. This has been going on for months so he is currently being treated for something known as 'cough-variant asthma'. 

Often in young kids and toddlers, asthma can present as a cough rather than wheezing and it's typically worst during the night. Forest has a rescue inhaler to use in the midst of an episode and an anti-inflammatory inhaler that he uses twice daily to help prevent the episodes from occuring in the first place. The assumption is that allergies are the culprit and cause his flare ups, though even a minor cold can make him hack all night long for weeks.  
About 3 weeks ago he had a random flare up so we started with his preventative inhaler. It worked magic and all was clear for 2 weeks. Then suddenly it came back with a vengence and Forest is up coughing all through the night (as are we) and his longest nap this week has been 40 minutes (though even that was disjointed) because he is just coughing too much to fall deeply asleep. 
We've kicked up the breathing treatments and are giving him a toddler dose of allergy medication which is making his nights much quieter though he still has at least 2 episodes per night- and the naps are just impossible. I hate having to load his body up with so much medicine but I don't know what the alternative is. I'm hopeful that we can start peeling back soon now that he seems to be stabilizing a bit. We meet with his doctor this week so hopefully we will have some answers and a plan for the next time this flares up again. 

So anyway, 2 asthma flare ups in 1 month is why I haven't been blogging nearly as much as I'd like. Hopefully I will have my quiet naptimes and well-rested baby back soon.

But besides health issues, this month has been a big improvement over last month and I’m feeling so confident that I’m actually even planning to fly by myself with him in 2 months. Eeeeeeek! Alright, this blog post is plenty long enough so I will end it here. Have a great day!