Friday, March 27, 2009

Month 25: Chili Night

Last night was perfect.

Daniel had a good day at school and was happy and playful when we picked him up. We grabbed a few nerf footballs and played at the park for a few minutes before heading home and starting dinner. I changed out of work clothes and into a comfy skirt, tank top, fluffy pink slippers and my treasured purple apron.

Dinner was roasted potato wedges, steamed broccoli and vegetarian chili... and it was a hit. There's nothing like the feeling of sitting around the dinner table together, laughing and eating, with Frank Sinatra serenading us all the while. The night got darker but our home only got cozier and happier.

Fernando devoured his plate, commenting about how amazing the chili was and he couldn't believe there wasn't any meat. Daniel absolutely blew us away with the sheer quantity of food he ate... a full bowl of chili and a plate of potato wedges, dipped in ketchup. He was very focused on his food, and kept eating long after we were done, showing off his mad spoon skills.

Last night, like after most meals involving red sauce, Daniel was transferred directly from high chair to shower, where one of us is waiting to bathe with him. After his shower, a cookie, a good teeth-brushing, and some soft pajamas, it was bedtime.

Daniel pulled all his pillows, blankets and animals on the floor and insisted we read on the ground. We laid on our bellies and read book after book... searching for the balloon in "Goodnight Gorilla" and acting out all the moves of "Fish Kisses". After turning out the lights, we laid on the pillow pile in the dark, singing "Swing Low" and "Sumo's Farm" more times than I can count.

As he grew sleepier, he became more affectionate. Feeling for my face in the dark and kissing my cheek over and over, Daniel laid his head on my head, giggling and saying "mama pillow".

3 Cans of Amy's Organic Chili = $7.00.
6 Red New Potatoes = $2.00.
2 Crowns of Broccoli = $3.00.
1 Pitcher of Iced Tea = $0.50
3 Chocolate Chip Cookies = $1.00

Chili Night with the Family... Priceless.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Month 25: New Classroom Anxiety

Daniel transitioned last week to his new room at school - "The Clapping Clams" ... and while there is always some anxiety associated with a change in his daily routine... new teacher... new friends... this transition has been worse than we expected.

We noticed some changes in his behavior at home that began the day he started in the new room...

1) He doesn't want to go to school. He puts on the brakes as we approach the door and has to be coaxed and/or left kicking and screaming. He ends up happy, but this initial resistance bugs me.

2) He has developed sleep issues... basically extreme resistance to sleeping at home. He will play for up to two hours alone in his room before he "gives in" and goes to sleep. I can't tell if he's scared to sleep or just has excess energy. Either way, it's presenting a problem as he is so exhausted each morning I have to drag him out of bed.

3) We've noticed a sharp increase in aggressive behaviors at home - with us, but also verbally towards the cats (he likes to discipline them?) and, strangely enough, towards his toys.

4) He is very sassy now with his words - the "no!" has drastically increased in the past week.

I know he's two, and undergoing a transition, but the timing is bothering me. I suppose it's a parent's perogative to investigate these kinds of changes, so I I have a conference with the teacher tomorrow see if she can explain any of this, or has any insight that might be helpful.

We shall see.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Month 24: My 2-Year-Old Son

I finally understand parenting: Just when I feel confident, in a nice little routine, and capable in my disciplinary role, life changes.

The proverbial rug gets pulled out.

Having a 2-year-old son is a whole new ballgame - a new level of energy, a new level of conversation, a new level of discipline, and a new level of "just how dirty can one kid get".

Daniel is developing independence right and left and is constantly looking for ways to exert it. He learned the phrases "this way" and "that way" and when in the car or stroller, he now feels compelled to tell us which way to go at every intersection. He knows how to get to all of his favorite parks, and loves the thrill of us taking his suggestion, and turning a specific way. On the flip side, if we pass a park without turning in, he loses his cool and bawls "thhhaaaaaaaat waaaaaaayyy peeeeease!"

The "please" battle is one we take seriously, and it's not as easy as it used to be. Somewhere along the way, Daniel acquired a bossy side and loves to order us around. It has it's place in play, but "more milk!" gets really old, really fast. Surprisingly, withholding the milk sometimes isn't always enough to encourage a polite approach. His stubborn side will kick in and he refuses to say please... he actually would prefer to NOT get milk than to stand down and be polite. Incredible.

At school it's a different story. (Aren't parents always the recipients of the testing?!) He is apparently polite and sweet at his preschool, and often acts as the classroom greeter at the end of the day, telling each parent "Bye! Have a good day!" on their way out. (When they told us this, we didn't believe it, but now he spouts "have a good day!" to everything in sight. Especially ducks.)

He has friends now, too. Not that he didn't before... but now he really knows, recognizes, asks for, and interacts really well with "his group" of comrades. Ava of course is still his preference, but he has a growing list of other buddies as well. On a side note, when we have families with kids over to the house for dinner, he used to have an atomic meltdown if I held another baby. Which was cause for concern, considering the impending adoption. That situation seems to be improving, however, and while Daniel isn't happy about me focusing on another child, he is more tolerant and apt to cooperate than before.

Perhaps my favorite part of having a 2-year-old son has been his newfound love of the dark. He runs around the house, turning off all the lights, then wants to play chase and hide and seek in the pitch black house. As you can imagine, many a bumps and bruises have happened this way, but so have hundreds of hilarious memories, shrieks of laughter, and moonlit rounds of "ring around the rosey" ("reegs"). And now when we pass through anything dark - be it highway tunnel or dimly lit hallway - Daniel's eyes get huge and with notable excitement in his voice he says... "Ooooo....daaark!! Play chase?!"

His vocabulary continues to astound me. But more than the quantity of words, I'm impressed by his ability to use them in context. Daniel forms complete sentences on a regular basis: "This is Daniel's seat" and "That is Dada's food". He will devote his full concentration to voicing a thought, even if it takes a few minutes to spit out: "The ladybug's going up the tree to see the monkey" (he still loves animal books, obviously).

The last major recent development has to do with his sleep patterns... and I am sticking to my earlier claim that Daniel IS his father in this area. He loves to stay up late and sleep in each morning: "More sleep, Mama. More sleep." We took off the front gate of his crib and it now takes a little longer for Daniel to fall asleep, as he's exploring exactly how far he's allowed to roam (not far!). I imagine this process will get a little easier once the novelty of nighttime freedom has worn off.

Wow! This turned into a novel. But while parenthood really has taken all kinds of unexpected turns, what hasn't changed is the crazy amount of love we feel for our baby boy. Stubborn and bossy though he can be, Daniel is our hearts' delight.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Month 24: Quick Trip to the Doctor

We always laugh that we'll NEVER learn when we should take Daniel to the doctor, and when he should stay home. This last trip, as you might have guessed, fell into the latter category. He is fine. Just a nasty cold.

But while we were there, we got some updated stats and answers to new questions.

Here we go...

1) Daniel weighs 33 pounds, 5 ounces. He is just over 36 inches tall. In both categories, he is finally out of the 99th percentile! (roughly 92% and 85%, respectively). Dr. Pham is sticking to his very early assessment that Daniel will be a very tall, big dude... a "big guy" :)

2) It's totally ok that Daniel has regressed in his potty training. We shouldn't force it, and need to remember that only 50% of boys are potty trained by the time they are 3.

3) Daniel's favorite habit of dragging his bedding onto the floor and sleeping there is nothing to worry about. As long as he's in his own room, he can sleep wherever he wants.

4) He doesn't need to go to the dentist yet, but we should be brushing him twice a day, not once. Oops.

5) Now that he's past 2, it's ok if he doesn't drink/eat much dairy or meat... as long as he's eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, the other categories can be very small.

That $15 co-pay might not have been necessary, but it's a pretty small price tag for peace of mind and a whole slew of answers!