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Thoughts, experiences, and helpful tips on raising a toddler.

Baby J is almost 18 months old. And we're getting a real taste of the difference between Baby J and Toddler J. Though both so cute and cuddly, Baby J just went with the flow, and Toddler J challenges everything. Things are becoming more and more of a battle, brushing teeth, changing diapers, clothes, shoes, etc. I know he is not alone in this, but this is the start of the terrible twos. I'm a little nervous about it because his older sister's terrible twos were just that.

But of course, two year olds are so adorable. They are learning to speak, becoming more agile. They are so cute and funny sometimes in how they interpret the world around them. We recently watched a video of his sister when she was 2 (when she first saw her baby brother), and I reallized how much I'd forgotten about how adorable she was! They freely show their emotions. Not just the frustration and anger ones, but also the joy and excitement. It brings me so much joy to see him so happy and bursting with life. And I'll never forget how excited his sister was when, at two years old, she woke up on Christmas morning and saw her princess castle from Santa.

Baby J seems to enjoy becoming more of an active participant in the family. He is learning to communicate with words about what he wants. Instead of just wailing "uuuuhh!" and pointing at what he wants, he now says "me!" and points. I think he learned that pronoun from his sister. But it makes sense. He tries to use words when he can, like "milk" or naming a specific toy that he wants.

He can answer some of my simple questions. Like "Where is Daddy?". He mumbles in toddlerese "in the room" and points down the hall. He likes to "pick" things, like flowers, or even clothes to wear. He holds it up and says "Pick!". He is getting really good at saying "book" and bringing a book to us when he wants us to read. It never stops at once through, though. I can read these books with my eyes shut, and sometimes do, or looking away at something else. Then he takes my face in his hands and makes me look back at his book. He does that some other times, too, and just start "talking" to me in full sentences, which I usually don't understand. It's really cute.

He takes great pleasure in tormenting his sister, but isn't that par for the course? She is tempted, and resists most of the time, to push him out of the way or smack him because of it. She is transitioning from a toddler into a little girl. I am noticing that she is becoming more deliberate about her actions and seems to be able to control her emotions sometimes when there is something at stake.

For instance, whenever we leave a place that is lots of fun, like the beach or a kids indoor play area, she gets really upset and doesn't want to leave. Sometimes there have even been full blown tantrums. Part of the reason is because she is so tired from a busy day of playing. But I tell her that if she would like to come again, she needs to be compliant when I say it's time to leave. And that has been the motivation for most things. If she brushes her teeth nicely without crying or complaining, she gets books read to her at bedtime. If she turns off the iPAD when I say its time, she can play with it another time. If she doesn't cry or complain when its time to turn off the TV, she knows she can watch her favorite show again sometime. Of course she has had to learn these things the hard way. And those were some serious hurtles. But now she knows how the system works, and she plays as a good team member.

A little different than toddler motivation. I know lots of parents, and I'm guilty of it too, just have to say "Good bye" and walk away in order to get their toddler to leave a play area. And last resort is to simply pick them up and walk out. With a toddler being small enough, that works. Not as easy with a 3 year old. But engraining it in her head that she must leave the place nicely without crying or complaining has worked well with getting her to leave places. It is still really hard for her, and she is still upset, but at least it is a controlled upset. Not like a terrible two tantrum, which is the worst I've ever experienced.

When Baby Bel was around 2 years old, mostly in months right before she turned 2, things were really difficult for me. Part of the problem was that I was very pregnant and couldn't really just pick her up and walk out. Her brother was born just after she turned 2. She would have these intense tantrums all of a sudden over something that appeared minute to me, but apparently very important to her. Sometimes I didn't even know what it was about because she lacked the verbal skills to tell me. She would start screaming and crying (really loud) and be unconsolable for about 15 minutes straight.

It would happen anywhere. It happened at the OB's office one time because we had to go after I was done seeing the doctor and she didn't want to go yet because she wanted to sit and color at the doctor's office. It happened one time at JC Penney's because she wanted to look at jewelry but I didn't let her. It happened one time at the zoo, and I have no idea why. And it happened many other times, at home and other public places.

Each time it happened, she wouldn't let me hold her or talk to her. She would be screaming and crying so loud, she wouldn't be able to listen to me. But after 15 minutes of that, she would get up, hug me, and be able to carry on peacefully with whatever we had to do. I still don't understand why it was like that. I used joke with my husband and say she was going through Pon farr, which is when Vulcans go through a phase where they get aggressive and crazy.

But I have spoke to other moms who never had any such experience. So I think the "terrible twos" are different for every child. I'll keep you posted as Baby J unfolds his curtain of suprises. But with the terrible twos behind her, his big sister has become such a helpful and responsible big sister. She has always been pretty tidy and organized with her things, but it is even getting better. Last night, without being told or anything, she cleaned up all the papers and crayons she was using in the dining room, and even turned off the light. She helps me look after her brother and often prevents him from doing unsafe things or from ruining something. Like today, she stopped him from throwing my cell phone into a mail slot and the garbage while I was shipping a package at the UPS store. Even the clerk was impressed by that.

Having two kids has really been a challenge for me. Some of it has been expected, and some unexpected. But I am still glad I have the opportunity to spend my days with them. When I woke up this morning (I still sleep with them), I just looked at them peacefully sleeping and thought about how God must feel about us. So much love at the same time as so much frustration. And so much wonder at watching them grow and learn. And so much hope that they will do good things in life.


17 Month Boy

At 17 months, baby J is now fully weaned, although he still likes to grab ahold with his hands to get to sleep. Similar to how his sister, still, but to a lesser extent, rubs my belly in order to get to sleep, or just for soothing.

He is getting more rambunctious and learning more words. He can count now. He counts along with his sister when she counts. His favorite song, which is sings all day long, every day, is "Look Down" from the Les Miserables soundtrack. He sings the one first few words of the song over and over. "Look down, look down. Don't look 'em in they eye." His big sister loved to listen to that song, so I guess it rubbed off onto him.

Weaning Baby J

Little boy blue is now 16 months old. The past few weeks, we have been weaning him from breastfeeding. He had still been nursing about 5-6 times a day, in the morning, afternoon, evening, before bed, and off and on throughout the night. I was able to drop the morning and afternoon feedings with a little fight, him crying and me distracting him with toys.

The evening feeding was a little tough to get rid of. That took Daddy's help to distract him. But after a couple of days, that feeding was dropped, too. Which is so nice because now we can actually focus on eating dinner in the evening.

Dropping the off and on throughout the night feeding was not as bad as I thought it would be. It only took a couple of nights as well. I just patted him, cuddled him close, and he eventually went back to sleep after a few minutes of crying. He actually sleeps much better through the night since he has stopped waking for for feedings.

The before bed feeding has been the hardest one to drop. We actually went a whole week without it, and completely nursing-free. And I thought we were completely done. But he hit his head on the concrete at the park and got a huge lump on his forehead last weekend. That night he got pretty desperate for breastfeeding, and so I gave in because I felt so bad for him. And so for the past few days, we've been down to that one last before bed feeding. I am continuing to try to drop it, so we'll see how he does as his head feels better.

Here is a picture of him painting sugar cookies with frosting with his big sister. He always wants to do whatever she's doing, and vice versa. They are inseparable. His new word of the week is "Bubbles!" And he can actually blow them himself, now. His favorite activity is playing outside. He just LOVES going outside. His favorite song is "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", which he does his best to sing along with. He is still so cute and cuddly, but getting bigger fast! Oh no, my baby is growing up :-(

15 Month Old Boy

Little J is now 15 months old and is learning to talk! He says "thank you" when I give him something. It's so cute, more like "tan tu". He says "no no no" all day long. But that is so cute too, he says "nyo nyo nyo". He can make monkey, dog, and cat sounds. He is starting to say "eye" and "nose". Sometimes it sounds like he is even trying to say his sister's name. And of course there "mamma" and "dadda".

He loves playing with blocks, cars, play kitchen, ball pit, and star wars action figures. Oh and he loves taking baths. 

First Hair Cut

She's enjoying her brother more and more. They are both enjoying each other. Now that he is 14 months old, he is able to play and interact with his big sister better and better. They walk around the house together. They love each other's company. Sharing and taking turns is getting a little better, too.

He's slowly learning words here and there. He says "up" as "bup", oddly the same as his sister did when she was first learning to talk. He can of course say "dada", "mama" when he's desperate (sleepy/tired). He tries to say his sister's name. He can say "book". I think one of his sister's first words was "ball". It's surprising that his isn't ball because he loves playing with balls. But I guess I'm always reading books to his sister as well as to him. So I guess it makes sense that it would be book.

He got his first hair cut a week ago. He did really well and sat mostly still. He was happy throughout it, so that was more than half the battle. It is such a cute cut. Makes him look like a real boy.

He is still pretty wobbly when he walks, especially when he is tired, even though he has been walking for about 3 months now. He started around 11 months old. He jumped with both feet off the ground for the first time yesterday. And sometimes he runs. He's a real daredevil, climbing on everything and walking everywhere.

It is so cute watching them play together. They are such a joy and keep me very busy. 

Ballerina Princess

Her 3rd birthday is approaching, next month. Wow, she grows up so quickly. She is still into princesses and loves to play dress up and make believe. Her speech has become a lot more advanced, she is starting to sound like a more grown up kid when she talks. We have to make sure we handle the back-talk properly so it doesn't get out of hand.

We took her to the Puyallup Fair last week. It was her first fair. She had lots of fun riding different rides, including her first roller coaster. But she still holds that in memory as being the scariest part of the fair. It was a small kids roller coaster, but she sat in the front seat and said she screamed when it went down the hill. But she didn't cry, and it didn't stop her from riding other rides. She also played some kiddie fair games and loves the little toys that she won. It was fun and a priceless experience for me to watch her experience the fair. 

Her new favorite thing to do is jump. She watched some kids do it at the mall play area and now loves to do it. If not at the mall, she jumps down a few stairs, off the couch onto a pile of pillows, and wherever she can make it work.

She has also started back up with her ballet class. She enjoys that so much, too. She has a few old friends in the class, so that makes it even more fun. I was amazed at how she is actually retaining some of what she learned and easily learns more, like "first position" and "passe". 


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