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Jun 30, 2010

Living in a car seat...

It's funny how having a baby for the second time is a very different experience for me than with Daniel. I guess this must the "experienced mom" syndrome! It's very clear when I look at my activity schedule this time vs. last. Charlotte and I go out a lot!
Some of these activities are inevitable, result of having an older child. We need to pick him up at daycare every day, we go to the park or other kid-friendly places during the weekend. With a toddler around, we have to go out and entertain him before it's too late!
But also, I am choosing to do more myself too. I have found these excellent mom and baby yoga and fitness classes (Blossom Birth for yoga, Baby Boot Camp for fitness). I also want to enjoy the nice summer weather and go out for walks, meet friends or attend events at Daniel's school, which I usually don't get to do when I work full time. In short: I like to go out a lot this time.
And since Charlotte comes along with me, she ends up spending a lot of time in her car seat (which is also used for a stroller)

Charlotte has gotten used to sleeping in her car seat, which is probably the best use of the time for her. Now that she is more awake during the day, I try to let her play at home while she is alert, and I will time my activities for when she is supposed to sleep. This works out pretty well... except that Charlotte isn't learning to sleep in her bed much during the day. It makes it more difficult for her to fall asleep by herself in the rare instances when we are at home for nap time. Also, Charlotte has already started to dislike being in the car seat. When she isn't ready to sleep, she must find it difficult to be strapped in a small space, right when she wants to try to move. And she has experienced this frustration often enough already to complain when I put her in her car seat.

If she doesn't learn to fall asleep in her bed, at least I am hoping she is learning to be flexible and to appreciate being on the go to discover new things. For instance, it turns out that she loves watching the trees during my Baby Boot Camp class, something I wouldn't have thought of exposing her to, weren't it for this class. I hope she finds some type of benefit in our packed activity schedule.

I will only be on maternity leave for a few more weeks. After this, things will settle down anyways, as Charlotte will be attending daycare. There, she will be able to play with all the baby toys, and sleep in her crib, but she won't be going out much any more. So she should enjoy my activities while they last, right?

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Jun 27, 2010

Bye-bye diapers!

This week has been a good week for Daniel. At almost 2.5, he has achieved 2 big milestones: stopping to use the pacifier all together and getting rid of diapers during the day. We are very excited he is eager to move on and become a big boy despite seeing his little sister being able to keep her diapers and pacifier.

Potty training hasn't been that difficult after all. We had thought it would happen earlier this year, when Daniel started to show interest in the potty. However, once his curiosity faded out, he resisted trying for a while. With all the other changes happening in the family, we didn't insist at the time. But when we realized that Daniel was doing so well getting used to life with a baby sister in the new house, we tried again. The process took about a month from there.

The motivation was being able to wear big boy underwear featuring his favorite characters (and for some reason, he insisted on finding Bob The Builder underwear, which turned out to be challenging. But thanks to online search engines, I was able to find a small retailer selling them). He would be allowed to wear them for a few minutes each time he used the potty. This was fun for a while. We still went through a little back and forth when the new underwear became less exciting and when Daniel realized that wearing diapers had its advantages (after a few accidents). However, we persisted, and tried to reinforce the progress. After a while, using the potty became a routine and Daniel even started telling us in advance when he had to go. He has now been wearing underwear all day for a week. We still had a couple of accidents, but he doesn't seem to be discouraged. So I count it as a success! Almost done with diapers!

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Bye-bye pacifier!

This week has been a good week for Daniel. At almost 2.5, he has achieved 2 big milestones: stopping to use the pacifier all together and getting rid of diapers during the day. We are very excited he is eager to move on and become a big boy despite seeing his little sister being able to keep her diapers and pacifier.

Isn't he so much cuter without the pacifier?
(disclaimer: photo to the left was taken 9 months ago)

Letting the pacifier go took a while. After several attempts at getting rid of the pacifier last year, we had managed to make some progress earlier this year, when Daniel accepted to not use the pacifier during the day. It was such a great milestone for us. That said, he would still want to use the pacifier for sleeping. This meant that the pacifier was still around, and he was able to "trick us" into using it during the day from time to time. For instance, he would claim that he was tired at 7:30 pm and wanted to go to bed with his pacifier. (his usual bedtime is usually around 9pm). 10 minutes later, he would have had the rest he needed, and he would get up, leaving the pacifier in the bed. This opened the door to a lot of grey area situations, and some frustrations.

Recently, though, we had an opportunity to get rid of pacifiers all together. Daniel started chewing on them so much, that several of them got distorted within a few days of each other. We had to throw some pacifiers away and this was an opportunity for a long discussion about the pacifiers' journey from the garbage bag into the garbage truck, etc... We also warned that, if all 6 current pacifiers got distorted, we wouldn't buy a new pacifier. This would be the end.

For some reason, the story he told his teachers at daycare was that a ladybug had taken his pacifiers away. And from that moment, he didn't even want to use a pacifier for naptime at school (we had brought a good one as a replacement). Daniel still insisted in using a pacifier for night time at home. We let him do it for a few more days. But after a night when I had to get up in the middle of the night to help him find the pacifier he had lost, I decided to force the transition. Surprisingly enough, we didn't get a lot of pushback when we suggested Daniel to try falling asleep without a pacifier. He just claimed he didn't want to go to sleep yet, and somehow managed to stay awake and fit until about 10pm. He was probably trying to avoid having to deal with the new reality as long as possible. But once he was in bed, there was very little protest and he fell asleep shortly after. The next morning, he was very proud to be pacifier-free like a big boy, with 2 good (un-chewed) pacifiers to spare! We are relieved, and I hope this means no more getting up in the middle of the night to find a lost pacifier!

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Jun 18, 2010

Processing the new routine with the baby

Daniel has been doing really well with his new sister. He doesn't show much jealousy, and is trying to help her when he feels she needs it (which is every time she cries even just a little...) although his response is often more aggressive than it should be - we are working on it! I mentioned the other day how understanding life stages seems to help a lot.
Our routine has inevitably changed, though. While Daniel is doing well adapting, he is still processing the change. Yesterday's role play was telling.

When Charlotte was born, we were told it would be a good idea for Daniel to also get a present... since the new sister would be getting many. Given that Daniel seemed to be interested in babies, we gave him a doll, his first doll (he is a guy after all). He was very excited at first, like he is with any new present. However, the interest didn't last long and the doll spent the last 6 weeks on the shelf. However, this changed yesterday.

All of a sudden, Daniel played a scenario with her that replicated our new morning routine. Often, Daniel hears Charlotte crying in the early morning, when he is about to wake up. He usually gets up pretty quickly after that and finds me nursing her in the bed. I tell him to wait until I am done nursing and burping before we can all have breakfast and get ready for school.

Well, yesterday, that's exactly what he did. He pretended he was nursing and burping the baby in his bed. While doing that, he clearly told me to wait until we could all eat. Then, we pretended to have breakfast. To my surprise, he even continued the play by bringing the baby to school and having her say Good Bye, something that must be hard on him right now since I am staying at home.

Very interesting play. Our routine has changed after all. And while he doesn't seem to be affected too much, he has noticed. Hopefully, he can continue to use role play with the new doll to help process the changes, so that he is still easy-going even with the new sister

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Jun 17, 2010

Awareness of trilingualism

For the last several weeks, we had visitors in our home: the grand-parents on both sides, one couple right after the other. This means that our house has been immersed in German and French more than usual. Not sure if this is coincidence or if this new environment triggered new developments in Daniel's language abilities. In any case, he has shown interesting progress in the last few weeks.
First, his active vocabulary in both languages has increased a lot. For a long time, he has understood French and German quite well, but he has mostly spoken in English. Now, he still mostly speaks in English (and even repeats what we tell him in French or German in his own mother tongue). But he also started to incorporate more French and German words in his sentences. In most cases, the sentences are a mix-up of languages, though. He still far from mastering complex sentence structures in French or German to communicate his thoughts in one of these languages only. I hope that this is progress, though, even if it means that he now speaks broken English with us. I still think that when immersed in a 100%-English environment he can keep his English language intact.

And I am especially hopeful about this because, in the last few days, Daniel has started to show awareness for the different languages he knows. He frequently stumbles upon a word he knows in 3 languages and says: "Papa says Schule, Mama says Ecole, Teachers [at daycare] say school" for instance. This is very encouraging to me. I think it makes it easier to teach him my language. When I repeat something he says in English with my own French words, he will hopefully find it less confusing now that he understands Mommy does things differently. I don't know if he ever felt discouraged or surprised when I didn't proactively acknowledge his English vocabulary in the past. But if it was the case, hopefully now he will know why.

I also hope that it will help him keep a clean distinction between English and the other languages, eventually. If he understands that English corresponds to what teachers say, he will hopefully put as little German and French as possible when speaking to them and other English speakers.

Given the recent visits from the grandparents, we are reinforcing for him the motivation to learn how Mommy and Daddy say things. We are explaining that other people in the family also say things like mom and dad (and they wouldn't always understand English!). Hopefully it will be motivating for him to continue to learn French and German, so that he continues on his slow-but-still-progressing learning curve.

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Jun 16, 2010

First smiles

Charlotte turned 7 weeks today, and she really started smiling. I think she is cute... but what do I know, I am biased!

In any case, she is already using her new ability as a good relationship-building tactic. When waking me up at 1:30am the other night without being hungry, she smiled at me for 5 minutes and made me forget that I was upset she had woken me up. Smart girl!

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Jun 9, 2010

Putting the pieces together

Before the baby was born, Daniel had been concerned about where the baby would sit in the car. He kept asking us regularly until we got the baby seat and showed him that this would be for the baby. At the same time, he was still very territorial about his own car seat: it was his and only his.
However, now that the baby is here, Daniel has been great at understanding that people do different things - and use different products- at different ages.

Putting all of this together, he was very proud to explain to me this morning that when Charlotte is older, she will take his car seat. It was not a question, it was a statement. And there was no jealousy involved, no regret. Daniel had put all the pieces together!
So, he got the concept right. Now let's see how he applies it when his sister starts playing with his old toys and developing more of a personality on her own.
To be continued!
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Jun 8, 2010

"When I big...", Toddler aspirations

I can't remember when exactly this trend started, but for the last few weeks our 2-year old has clearly been focused on understanding the concept of age and what people do at different life stages. It might have come as a natural progression in his learning, or maybe as a result of our recent move (and the implications of having to reset some of the rules about what mom & dad can do in the new house vs. him), or it was most likely triggered by the birth of our daughter 5 weeks ago.
In any case, Daniel currently spends his time talking about "when I [am] big, I will do xxx" and about what he did when he was a baby.
He clearly understands that he is on a growth path, away from the baby stage, towards becoming what mom and dad are, or more. Things Daniel wants to do when he is big include: being able to turn on the oven himself, drinking beer, burping babies and becoming an astronaut(!). Yes, good ambitions already. I think this helps him deal with some of the restrictions and rules we impose on him. Instead of seeing them as punishment against him, he now understands that it's a matter of age, and a temporary thing for him (even though it will take years). It's much easier to accept that he can't play with the fireplace for instance, knowing that eventually, "when he is big", he will be able to do it.

In parallel, Daniel likes to confirm that, when he was a baby, he also did the same things as his sister currently does. This includes feeding at mommy's breast, lounging in the bouncy chair, crying and even having tummy pains. Yes, he really wants to make sure he didn't miss out on any of the baby experience! So far, he seems to be doing really well in terms of not being jealous towards the new baby. We think that understanding he went through the same baby phase himself helps him accept that we currently treat the baby differently from him. As long as he knows he was able to enjoy the bouncy chair or to nurse in mommy's arms in the past, he isn't trying to do it now. On the contrary, he knows he is now big, which has a lot of great perks: playing with other fun toys, eating a variety of good food.

It's been very interesting to watch how important this concept of growing has become for Daniel. It's a daily topic right now. Hopefully, this will help him continue to learn and being inspired to do great things when he is big. He will need to be patient, though, because some of the ideals he aspires to are still a long way ahead!

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