m i a o w

–YOU KNOW YOU KNEAD IT–

Tag: Parenting (Page 1 of 14)

And repeat, and repeat

Here I am again. At the other end (hopefully) of a non-posting period which inevitably indicates I am finding life too frenetic or demanding to get near my computer for anything other than work. My frustration builds accordingly. I don’t know what I would do without my iPhone, which I use to take photos that then jog my brain about what has been going on.

The past ten days have seen a camping trip, a sailing adventure, a diagnosis of a herniated disc (mine), some sort of leg injury (M’s), and Small Z surfing the waves of some major developmental curve (a polite way of saying that she has been having tantrums, using longer and longer words, having broken sleep and is usually attached to me like glue with no one else being good enough).

My sanity appears to be hinging on the amount of sleep I get. Let me put it this way. If Small Z does not have a daytime nap, we are ruined. I tend to have a powernap while she goes to sleep and this gets me sanely through the rest of the day. Without this and with the addition of a grumpy two-year-old, things can get dire. This pregnancy is NOT like the last. I am not fit and it is starting to bite. Last time I was either walking for at least 30 minutes a day, riding an exercise bike or doing yoga. This time? Nothing. And my walking is now limited by my freaky back thing.

The back thing would have made a post on its own if I had any time to do it. I don’t. I apparently have a herniated L5 disc that is causing numbness in my left calf, foot and big toe. Hardly any pain though, so it’s easy to be a little blase. I am supposed to avoid bending, lifting and twisting – the three things that I seem to spend the most time doing. Half the time if feels like I am wading through things on the floor that need to be picked up. Small Z has been mostly tolerant of my refusal to carry her around, but has become increasingly clingy – demanding that I ‘feed’ her and giving me lots of kisses. She has grown up in a big developmental spurt over the past month and has started coming out with crazy things:

I will drink the Milky Way through a lightning straw and eat the cloud with a thunder spoon.

That number should not be eleven it should be one-teen.

She has also become a rhyming goddess, egged on by M and I, and our love of our latest favourite kids book Down The Back of The Chair by Margaret Mahy and Polly Dunbar. She is obsessed with conger eels ‘It feels UNREAL to be a conger eel!’ and a fish she saw in a picture called a Moon Wrasse.

Anyway, with all this going on, I have no time to do a thing for myself. I do not get the opportunity to blog – and this is what I find most frustrating of all. My brain is so mushy that I really rely on my posts to remind me of what I’ve been up to. I feel like experiences and memories are slipping through my fingers because I’m just too tired to post them. It is 10.30pm right now, Small Z would not sleep until 9.10pm and I know I should have slept then as well but I just NEEDED A POCKET OF TIME!! The only use my computer has had in the past week has been for work. Any intermittent Facebook comments I might make are done via my iPhone….

So yeah. I’m fried. Things are hard. The hour is late. I am an itchy and irritated Minke Whale. M has said that I can have Tuesdays as mental health days – and I did this yesterday – but I had so much administrative crud to get through that I didn’t get a chance to write ANYTHING here. Gah. Double gah to the gah. How am I going to fit a second baby into this swirl and leave my sanity intact!?

The first of many

Gulp. Last night I made Small Z’s lunch for the first time in preparation for the next day. Got out what she was going to wear in the morning. Checked her bag of spare clothes that she had helped me pack, and took out the various face-washers, toys and socks she had added. I felt the future sort of unrolling in front of me – years of making lunches and getting it all together. It wasn’t so bad…

Today was her first day at ‘Two Group’. This is the group at the Montessori preschool that is for kids aged between two-and-a-half and three years old. It’s like a transition to their three-year-old kindergarten. And whereas mainstream three-year-old kindergarten is (I think) maybe three hours twice a week, the one at this place is either four mornings a week (three hour mornings) or two full days. So I thought that it would only be fair to Small Z to have the chance to do the ‘transition’ semester before launching into it next year.

This is also for her to establish her own little routine and social network before her world is invaded by the impending Pikelet. So yeah. We whizzed off this morning and arrived there at 9.30am. We put her photograph above her very own hook for her very own backpack, hung up her ‘spare clothes’ bag and then I said,

“See you later Boo – I’m going shopping and I’ll be back at snack time.”

“See you later Mama,” she said.

And I left. Going all the way to another room about twenty metres away and plugging in my laptop. Yeah. So I’m a pussy. I’ve never left her anywhere before and I wanted to be close by if she freaked out. The staff there didn’t raise an eyebrow, and said people often sit in the staffroom for the first few times, or in their car with a book.

I headed back in almost two hours later and heard her before I saw her, narrating her lunch as she sat at a small table, eating the cheese from between two slices of bread. I knelt down beside her and suggested she eat the bread as well. I turned to have a word to the teacher and Small Z came around behind me and gave me a hug. I am so relieved it went well. She didn’t want to leave!

First day at preschool

A little hard won pocket of time

The amount of space on this site I have dedicated to lamenting my lack of sleep and the non-sleeping practices of Small Z would write the novel that I will never get around to finishing. This is not a lament post [cue: boggling eyes]. This is a VICTORY post.

Obviously I have to include a teeny lament bit in order to emphasis my win, so… For the past few months, OK, let’s just say this year, Small Z’s bedtime has become more and more haphazard. This was in line with her equally haphazard daytime nap. Sometimes the nap would be at midday, sometimes at 2pm. If it was the latter, she would not then sleep at night until after 9pm. That would inevitably mean she would wake after 8am, which in turn would mean she would have a late nap and etcetera etcetera.

On reflection I’m surprised that at some point she didn’t travel around the clock in it’s entirety and become completely nocturnal for a few weeks. A month or so ago I was really reaching the end of the line. I would spend ages getting her to sleep in the day, catnap then myself, and that was it. I would have to go to bed at night when she went to bed, because I’d be too exhausted to stay up any later than 9.30pm myself.

I started to worry about what was going to happen when Pikelet was born. How the hell was I going to dedicate the fucking endless endless swathes of time to getting Small Z to sleep while juggling a newborn (a newborn that will be a fantastic sleeper…right? RIGHT? …but still). My small Brain worked on this slowly. I posted to the forum I lurk on and was told that by that time she might not be having a daytime nap anymore (quelle horreur!) – to sit her in front of Play School instead – and (most useful of all) – to CHILL THE HELL OUT, because how could I possibly anticipate the un-anticipatable? Ah.

I ceased wasting my time agonising about what might happen and just focused on trying to gain some sanity. I tried to set a bedtime each night in the hope that regardless of the nap-factor, getting put in bed at the same time every night might finally kick her bodyclock into sleep time. To do this, I gave her an old-school alarm clock and it became her job to turn the alarm off every night at 7pm – and this signified getting-ready-for-bed-time.

For a week we tried this. It didn’t really work. She was very happy to turn off the alarm, but then it was all, “Make one last card with me Mama!” “No! It’s TIME FOR BED.” “Make one last card with me Dadda.” “This is the last card, Small Z. Then it’s bed.” The last card would be made. She would then start sc-reeeeming for the next ‘last’ card. [Bangs head hard on wall.]

In conjunction with this lack of progress I began to find that on the days of nap-drought, I could get her to bed early. Mostly. And with this realisation came that I might save myself a lot of time in the day trying to get her to nap. And with this realisation came the really important one – that when the alarm clock went off, it should not just be ‘time to get ready for bed’, it should be a series of steps in the same order, that happen Every. Single. Night. Right?

(Belatedly, of course, I realise that my parents spent my childhood chanting Hands – face – teeth – wee’s – BED for probably precisely this reason. Sigh. Whatever.) So I sat down Small Z at a time when she was amenable and started drawing a Bedtime Map. We drew the alarm clock at seven o’clock with a red alarm button, we drew TEETH and a toothbrush – we drew the potty with WEE in it – we drew the PYJAMAS – we drew TWO BOOKS and then we drew EYES THAT WERE SHUT, CLOSED and DREAMING.

I emphasised the order to her. That night I carried the map with us and she had great fun following each picture. She was in bed with EYES THAT WERE SHUT, CLOSED AND (presumably) DREAMING before 7pm. I had no witnesses, but it truly happened. I was worried that it might not happen on the days when she did take a daytime nap, but now, a week on – I’m not so worried, as there have been no daytime naps. This is not the torture I thought it would be.

Yes, she is a skankfest by about 4pm, but as long as I can go outside, if we’ve been inside, or go inside if we’ve been out – or just generally change her environment to give her a boost through to 5pm, which is now dinner time – I can get her down before 7pm and have – OH MY GOD – two or so hours to MYSELF!!!

Yes, she has tried to diverge from the Bedtime Map routine. No, I have not let her do it in another order or procrastinate. Yes, I have sat with her and given her a bottle of milk after the alarm has gone off when she was particularly cranky. The key factor is that she is so tired by 6pm (which is actually the time I now have to set the alarm to go off) that the awful, elongated getting-her-to-sleep torture is no longer. It’s two books, lights out and then she listens to a few audiobook short stories as she conks out.

I feel like I have such a short gap before being thrown back into new-baby-land that this is just an oasis. I’m more than sure it won’t last, but while it does? It’s HEAVEN.

The Magical Bedtime Map

To decode:
Up the top left hand corner is the alarm clock with a big number 7 to the right to emphasise the bed TIME. Then there is TEETH and a toothbrush next to it. Then there is the potty (ours is duck-shaped) with yellow WEE in it (we like realism) and a nappy. To the right of the potty is Small Z’s striped sleep sack PYJAMAS and in the bottom left hand corner are TWO BOOKS… and last of all CLOSED SLEEPY EYES…
(Yes, Small Z’s contribution was drawing liberally all over everything, which is why I have decoded it, both for you and for the future me…)

The 2.5 Kid

Small Z recently became two-and-a-half. As of the last two days she is officially out of nappies. None during the day, and none at night. The guru was right. And from this minute? Due to our great pre-planning and forethought, that gives me about fifty-one days of nappy free existence…until the next two-and-a-half years click over. [eyeroll]

Small Z is a lot of fun. I have loved almost every ‘stage’, but just lately? She is such a companion for me, and one that makes me laugh hugely many times a day. With her nighttime routine still in place I am more often than not getting some couch-time before going to bed myself. This helps me to be a better person in daylight hours – when I manage to get myself to bed before 10pm.

We are still co-sleeping and I’m happy with this. I like that I am able to be there if she wakes with a fright. I love that I can hear the freaky little sleep-talking that she does. During the day I don’t notice, but when her little voice comes abruptly out of the quiet night, I can hear what a baby she still is. It only happens every so often, but last night it was:

“Penguin. Penguin. Penguin. PENGUIN!
Tom bought me a PENGUIN!!”

I did make an attempt a month or two back to get her into her own bed, mostly in preparation for the new babe. It didn’t really work out, and why would it? She isn’t ready. If I was her age and used to snuggling up to my mum every night, I don’t think I’d be that keen on being in another room alone in a bed. I decided to just see how things roll when the new one arrives and to work it out as we go along. There’s no point stressing over the utterly unpredictable.

Yes. There are meltdowns. Mostly hers. And usually due to sleep deprivation. I do try and have quiet time with her, in lieu of the no-napping. The other day I was so sore and exhausted that I just lay on the couch. She is so small, but so patient. She laid a ‘blanket’ over me and climbed up to lie next to me.

Tell-me-a-story about Moon-Sheep… After a few stories she played with some toys near my feet while I got a catnap in. She also unzips my boots at the end of the day, when it is hardest to reach my own ankles. Grateful doesn’t cover it.

Her vocabulary has always been her strength. She continues to love words and obsess over rhyming. She corrects us if we baby-talk her and says things like “Look at my ENORMOUS poo!” and “I have brought you this wire, mama, please don’t leave it there again.” and “I am looking at a par-tic-u-lar cloud.” Right.

Two days ago we were lying on the bed just around noon when she pressed herself against me:
“I love you, mama. I am so glad you came here.”
I gulped and tried to do a mental screenshot capture of the moment. She had never said that to me before. And was lucky I didn’t squish her alive and then eat her up like a raspberry marshmallow. It was one of those parenting moments, and I won’t lie. I lapped it up like a puppy.

And here’s the thing. I am both excited about the new babe, and mourning the loss of having Small Z as my little ‘only’. She is still so small. And yet I know that alongside a newborn, she is going to immediately become the Incredible Hulk.

I am sad that just as everything has got a easier (pregnancy woes aside) we are going to plunge back into the new baby haze and all the upside down crazy shit that goes along with it. Of course we will adapt and change to accommodate. But my focus will have to split, and I can’t help feeling a bit forlorn about that.

So I really feel like grabbing these next (almost) two months and making them special. It’s the last chance I’ll get [cue: me crossing my fingers for a great birth and healthy baby…] I am also trying remember things from this time, but basically, what you’re reading here is the only written stuff I have, so excuse me for a few minutes while I get a few things down for posterity…

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We have a lovely routine going where we make porridge together in the morning and share a kiwi-fruit. We are usually assisted by her favourite toy of the moment – a bee, a Tigger, a crocodile, a train…

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Despite her predilection for excellent diction, she still has a few words escape her, and often says; I need to find my zizzors.

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Current obsessions include bees, trains, sea creatures, the moon (of course), and worms. We got a book out from the library called Over in the Ocean in a Coral Reef and she has basically learnt it by heart. We had it in Collingwood a few weeks back at the time she went to the aquarium. This was recorded that night before we went to sleep…

Over in the Ocean – Aged 2.5

Over in the ocean on the sandy sea floor,
lived an old mother stingray and her little stingrays four.
Stir, said the mother. We stir, said the four.
So they stirred with their fins on the sandy floor.
Over in the ocean doing somersault tricks,
lived an old mother dolphin and her little dolphins six.
JUMP! Said the mother. We JUMP! said the six.
So they jumped and they played doing somersault tricks…
Over in the ocean their sea fan heaven,
lived a mother angelfish and her angelfish seven.
Graze, said the mother. We graze, said the seven.
So they lazed and they grazed in their sea fan heaven.
Over in the ocean drifting in a yellow line,
lived an old mother gruntfish and her little gruntfish nine…
(Much grunting…)
GRUNT! said the mama. We grunt, said the nine.
So they grunted in a yellow line.
Over in the ocean in their sea grass den,
lived an old father sea horse and his sea horses ten.
Flutter, said the father. We flutter, said the ten.
So they fluttered all around in their sea grass den…

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And the moons and the tigers persist. There was much joy when we discovered that Ligers actually do exist and weren’t something we had created merely for rhyming purposes. Who knew? This is some audio I recorded about three weeks ago, just as we woke up. Silvery Blue Moon Tiger Snackbox

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A large farting noise from Small Z.
Me: “Goodness. You are a stinker. What did your bum just say?”
She thought about it.
“It said… GO. TO. BED!!!!”
Me: “An excellent idea.”

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Her first ‘why’ question was about four months ago, as we were reading Possum Magic.
“What does ‘shrink’ mean?”
…and since then the questions tumble out like water. This morning it was colours while she was drawing with her pastels.
“What does green and yellow make? Ahhh. AVOCADO COLOUR!”

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There you go, Future Small Z. All those little snippets of the past five months or so that would otherwise be eaten by fatigue, the passing of time, or both. Of course, this is more for me than you… There are things I have already forgotten, and things I will remember later, but the most important thing is that there is a few bits and pieces here NOW. And a little part of me can relax and consider it captured in cyber-amber.

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