My poor little corner of the internet is looking dusty and neglected these days. Things have gotten in the way. I don’t know if I will ever write regularly again, I know enough to not commit to it. However, a little girl I know turned three earlier this month and we can’t just let that momentous occasion pass us by.
This past weekend we rented out the apartment complex’s clubhouse and threw her a Tangled themed birthday bash.
Lorelei started camp last week. Nothing real fancy, just four hours of playing in the sun and getting wet and making crafts and singing songs, etc, etc.
I bought her a penguin backpack for the occasion and from it’s arrival there were daily demands of “Wear pack bag! Wear pack bag!” (If you correct her and tell her it’s a backpack, I will cut you.) Every morning it’s packed full of diapers (don’t get me started), a change of clothes, another swimsuit, a polka dot beach towel and a lunch. It comes home full of wet swimsuits and dirty clothes. Empty lunchboxes. Tucked in among the wreckage is a new craft, a necklace or a painting. I don’t know what to do with all of these things, but I do know I’m not throwing them out.
She comes home tired and smelling of sweat and sunscreen. She tells me she missed mommy. But she asks to go back.
Stop growing up, kid.
Don’t let that innocent little face fool you, this child is out to destroy my sanity.
I admit that we have been really lucky the last almost six weeks – despite the stomach virus and the never-ending cold – Lorelei has adjusted to life with a newborn fairly well. And we have, too. That doesn’t mean, however, that we haven’t hit a few bumps along the way and trust me, they were some pretty big bumps.
Lorelei has become really attached to her baby toys – all the various rattles that she hasn’t even looked at in a year – and has even tried to claim any new toys we have received for Amélie as her own. There is one toy in particular, a stuffed pterodactyl rattle, that has been the source of a lot of stress for me. I try to clip it to Amélie’s swing when she is in it and it’s as if Lorelei has super-hearing because she will sense the tiniest rattling sound from it and yell, “Dinosaur!” and then promptly try to pull it off the swing. She is less attached to the other toys – a squeaky zebra and a zoo-themed playmat – but if Amélie is “playing” with them she will try to take them away. It is starting to drive me insane and she was being so bad the other week that I had to take the dinosaur away from her and say it was being put up for a week. It kind of sucks for poor Amélie since it is in fact her toy but I didn’t know what else to do.
She’s also started to throw tantrums again. Nothing nearing the Great Tantrum of Thanksgiving 2011, but some pretty bad ones. She will scream for what she wants, despite being reminded numerous times that she needs to ask nicely. When we tell her “No” – usually to the second piece of candy or the television before breakfast time – she screams and cries and throws herself on the floor. We’ve started giving her mini time-outs where she has to sit in her bed for a few minutes until she calms down. She almost never calms down but when she starts pathetically calling for me (or Brian) it’s hard to resist. It’s only made worse by the fact that she apologizes almost without prompting whenever we go through this process. Why can’t just learn not to do it in the first place?
Yesterday, however. Oh, yesterday was really great. And by great, I mean completely awful.
On Wednesdays for the past month, Brian had been teaching an ACT prep class which left me alone with the children for dinnertime and bedtime. I was lucky to have my friends come over and help me out, but it was still very stressful. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and was rejoicing in this being the last evening he would be gone for awhile. Lorelei was doing her best to be up in my goodies and testing my patience by doing things that she has repeatedly been told not to do and, up until last night, she never did. For example, try to climb the microwave cart.
I knew it was just her way of trying to get my attention, especially since it had been mostly focused on her sister – newborns are high demands, yo – but it was working my last nerve. I should have tried harder to get her out of the kitchen and distracted by something else while I finished dinner, but I didn’t have the energy for a fight and so I didn’t. Big mistake. I was taking the meatloaf out of the oven and Lorelei decided that was the perfect time to test to see how hot the oven racks really were.
She has never ever shown any interest in the oven and has, in fact, run out of the kitchen the second I go to open it. This is usually without my prompting her and she will say, “Oven hot!” Last night, however, must have been a special occasion. She went to grab it and almost instantly fell on the floor and started crying in pain. Poor little girl. I felt so bad for her because it obviously hurt her a lot and the only thing that calmed her down and got us through the night was watching half of her new movie while Nick fed her dinner to her.
And right at this moment, we are having a nap strike which makes me want to put my head through a wall. At least the littlest one is asleep, right?
I asked Brian this morning if we could have more babies. I got a pretty enthusiastic “YES!” from him.
There are just some moments that are so completely perfect that I can easily forget all the moments that have been bad. I can forget my frustration with Lorelei’s tantrums and refusal to eat. I can forget the several hour long nursing sessions with Amélie in the middle of the night.
The weather has been particularly nice the last few days and we took advantage of the warmer temperatures to sit on our porch in the late afternoon sun.
Today’s photo of the day (for all the entries go here)
Small housekeeping note: Because of my lack of smartphone I have decided not to do every photo challenge. It’s just not convenient to tote my big ole’ honkin’ DSLR with me everywhere. Also, I plan on writing a real post tomorrow. Enjoy your evening everyone!
I must have done something right. Despite all my fears that Lorelei was behind in her speech, the last few months have made me realize that I have absolutely nothing to worry about. Sometimes I even (guiltily) wish for the days when she wasn’t that vocal because OH EM GEE that kid does not stop talking from the time she wakes up until the time she goes to bed – except of course when she decides to scream about something, but that’s another story for another day.
Sometime over the summer, Lorelei learned her numbers from one to ten. It took a little while for her to not skip random numbers but once she did it was a quick jump from that to reading numbers when she saw them on a page (or on a building or on the side of a truck). After numbers we tackled colors. And then shapes. Now we’re on to the alphabet. She’s actually gotten pretty good at recognizing letters, too.
Now, we have added the alphabet song to our repertoire (along with the classics such as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and “Poker Face”). Behold!
According to Lorelei Jane, Age 2
Step One: Crusts must be removed from the sandwich and consumed separately.
Step Two: Sandwich must be cut into small bite-sized squares. If the parental unit dares to give larger portions – for example, a sandwich cut into quarters – as much of it will be shoved into the mouth as possible just to make a point. This travesty will never happen again.
Step Three: Each tiny sandwich square must be pulled apart, as they are eaten.
Step Four: Put one side of the sandwich into mouth. Immediately after that, put in the other. They are absolutely, positively not allowed to enter the mouth at the same time.
The last six months have been extremely difficult in this household when it comes to food. There are a few major issues that we – and I – have really struggled with. Let’s start with the one that is the most
fun uncomfortable to talk about:
Issue One: Breastfeeding
Subtitle: Yes, I’m going to talk about my boobs.
I was one of those people. Lorelei was breastfed until she was twenty (maybe twenty-one) months old. It wasn’t a conscious decision. When she was born, I didn’t set out to breastfeed long-term. By the time she was two days old, I was really hoping that I would manage to do it at all. And then I set the goal of one year. One year was a perfectly respectable amount of time, I told myself. The year-mark came and went. While no one was pressuring me to quit breastfeeding, I did get the occasional question about when I was planning on weaning her. Again, I was not out to make any sort of statement so my standard reply was, “She doesn’t seem ready yet.”
On and on it went. Eighteen months came and went. While I still think that she wasn’t ready at that point, it became clear to me that I wasn’t ready yet either. Breastfeeding had become something of a crutch for me. It was an easy way to soothe her, an easy way to put her to sleep for a nap or for bed. It was an easy way for me to feel like she was getting enough to eat. Honestly, the only reason I finally weaned her was because I got myself knocked up again and – although perfectly normal and safe to continue breastfeeding through pregnancy – I had zero interest in that and I knew that it was finally time for the both of us to give up our crutch.
Issue Two: No Separate Meals
I was strongly opposed to the notion of making Lorelei meals – dinner in particular – that were different from the one we were eating. The only time I would make an exception was if I was making something I deemed to difficult for her to eat – think creamy soups and really spicy foods. I firmly believe that giving your child tasteless meals of the average “kid-friendly” variety was the surest way to raise a picky eater. So, she ate what we ate. Unfortunately, this lead to issue number three…
Issue Three: Is She Eating Enough?
Lorelei has always been on the small size. We’re talking from birth. Her weight has always fallen in the 5-10th percentile. Nothing, really, that we should really be concerned about. As our pediatrician reminded us once or twice, neither of us are very large so it seems only natural that she would fall on the smaller end of the spectrum. That, however, does not stop me from feeling extremely paranoid about her gaining enough weight and getting enough to eat. Despite being told on multiple occasions to just provide dinner and then let her eat it or not, I couldn’t really get behind the whole “let her starve” advice. Knowing our luck – and Lorelei’s stubbornness – she would starve before she ate what we put in front of her.
Fortunately, we have found a few strategies that have helped us get over this first round in the great food war (I am sure there are many, many more to come). As I always say, I am not an expert. This is what has worked for us and if you are also in the midst of a food battle, let me tell you now that it will eventually end.
Strategy One: Dress it Up
Lorelei would not eat meat for the longest time. No chicken, no ground beef. Nothing. She even went off eggs for a while. We were at a loss as to how best to get her to eat any sort of protein – thank goodness for good old PB&J and beans (lots of beans) – until we realized she loved sauce. That girl loves Sweet Baby Ray’s. Your toddler might be a ranch dressing or a ketchup kid, but the concept is the same. Whether they like to dip – Lorelei would be more inclined to just lick the plate if we let her dip her own food – or they prefer the food coated in sauciness, dressed up food is always better. Eventually, they won’t need as much or any sauce at all to eat that delicious grilled salmon that you prepared for Christmas Eve dinner. We still keep an ample supply of BBQ sauce in the fridge for emergencies.
Strategy Two: Give Them a Choice
Despite my previous aversion to preparing separate meals, I have recognized the fact that she will not always want to eat what I have mind. Fortunately, we have reached a stage in her development where she knows the words for a lot of the foods we eat and I can offer her a choice. I stick to things that I’m also willing to make and want to eat for dinner. It requires that you have a certain amount of flexibility with your meal plan, but it can lead to a lot less screaming and crying.
Strategy Three: Preparation is Key
Just because they don’t want to eat that green bean doesn’t mean that they don’t like green beans at all. Lorelei likes her vegetables for the most part, but they have to be prepared the right way. For example, green beans will be consumed if they are roasted (fresh) or straight out of the freezer (frozen). Steamed or microwaved from frozen green beans, however, will be spit out immediately. It’s all about trial and error and finding what works and then adjusting your plans accordingly. Or, if all else fails, employ strategy one and throw some sauce on that veggie.
Strategy Four: Blend It
Does your toddler hate fruit? Leafy greens? Milk? Try throwing them all together in a blender and see if they’ll go for that. Lorelei’s favorite snack is a smoothie. Right now we make it with frozen strawberries, frozen spinach, whole milk yogurt, a scoop of applesauce for sweetness and a splash of milk to thin it out. Boom. Snack. And they’re eating vegetables. It doesn’t bother Lorelei (for some reason) that you can see chunks of green in the liquid but if it does bother your little one, try mixed berries, it will hide it better.
Strategy Five: Bribery
Ha. Okay. I know bribery is bad, but sometimes everything else has failed. It’s food she likes, it’s food she’s picked. We’ve tried saucing it up and yet she still won’t eat more than a bite. So we bribe her with a book. That’s right: we will whip out one of her many, many books (usually we even ask her which one she wants) and for each bite or couple of bites we will read the next page. She’s reading (yay!) and she is also eating her dinner. It’s my least favorite strategy and one I’m trying to employ as little as possible, but it works.
If you have stuck with me through this entire treatise on how to get your kid to eat, congratulations! Unfortunately, I don’t have a prize. However, what I would like to know is what has worked for you? I’m sure that there will be a day soon when everything changes and none of these will work, new ideas are always welcome.