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Jul 30, 2010

Toddler dream: Can you be my friend?

Over the last week, we have had a lot of play dates and people visiting us. Daniel has always loved having friends and he did really well most of the time. He is usually very comfortable in any environment, old or new, and with other people, even people he doesn't know much yet. And most importantly, he LOVES having friends. Any friends. Really. To the point where he might be exposing himself to some disappointment.

Most of our play dates were with kids his age. He eagerly anticipated each of them, and talked about how he would share his toys with his friends and have a great time. When the play dates started, he was very excited, going right away to the other kid(s) and asking them: "do you want to play with me?", "Do you want my [insert Daniel's toy name here]?" Usually the other kids were a little more shy, so it took them longer to open up. I am not sure how Daniel experienced their initial skepticism. Watching the interaction, I felt a somewhat concerned that Daniel would feel rejected and disappointed. Fortunately, he didn't show much of a negative reaction (he kept repeating his questions until the other kid responded) and the rest of the play dates went really well.

We also had guests at our house, with kids age 6 and 9. This was an interesting set-up, a new dynamic for us. Daniel did really well as a host as well. Again, once he understood that kids were visiting, he was eagerly talking about how we would show them his toys and play with them. I tried to prepare him for the fact that these kids might not be excited about toys for 2-year olds. Fortunately, the 6-year old went along with most of his offers and played with him on several occasions. Daniel was so excited and kept talking about how fun it was to play together. At another time, Daniel invited the kids to watch a TV episode of Bob the Builder with him. He was so cute, asking (pleading) for them to come. Unfortunately, they were absorbed in an iPad game (that they had just discovered in our home) and didn't pay attention to Daniel. Once again, I expected some disappointment and felt so bad for him. I encouraged Daniel to go and watch TV by himself and maybe the kids would come later... And luckily the iPad quickly ran out of battery, so they ended up joining us. Daniel got so excited. He kept repeating "we are friends!" and bouncing on his seat.

So, yes, apparently, having friends is very important for Daniel. He needs the positive energy that comes from having friends. Lately, I read him a book about a bear who was looking for friends and got rejected by all kinds of other animals because he was different. The story was written in a funny tone, and it ended well (obviously). So I didn't think much of it... until I realized that Daniel (who I couldn't see because he was sitting on my lap) was sobbing. Poor him, he was really taken by the rejection experienced by the bear.

I recently wrote about my optimistic toddler. It's great to see his enthusiasm for everything. I know he is going to have to learn to deal with difficult experiences at some point, and I think that, when he realizes that making friends could take hard work (probably soon), it will be tough. I am already heart-broken just thinking about it. Good that he at least has a little sister now. In a few years, this should be a friend he can count on.

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Jul 29, 2010

Terrible 2s, Awesome 2s... The whole toddler package

We are back to a pretty challenging phase with Daniel: terrible 2s in full swing. We had a little bit of Terrible 2s earlier this year. It was quite short and consisted mostly in crying for a certain amount of time before calming down.

The new phase is more complicated. It still involves resistance to actions we ask from Daniel, and includes a lot of crying. The difference is that Daniel is much smarter in the way in tries to get to what he wants. Crying isn't just an outlet for his frustration. It's a thought-out negotiation tactic. If this doesn't work, Daniel tries other things to get our attention, such as hurting himself (or pretending to) on purpose. He also finds a lot of arguments to counter us when he disagrees, such as "cleaning up is too hard for me!" (yeah, right!). The score this time is a lot more even. He definitely knows how to test our limits!

I know it's normal, and we have to stay strong and realize that it will benefit him if we can communicate boundaries clearly. But I find it sometimes so sad that these crisis over-shadow other great experiences with Daniel. Usually, the crying/time-out happens at the end of the day, and it prevents us from finishing an otherwise great day on a positive note. What a pity!

Overall, Daniel is still a lot of fun at this age. He understands and remembers so much, and he makes connections between things we discussed several days ago. He is also very social and plain cute. We recently had quite a few gatherings with friends. He was usually the one sharing his toys first and offering the other kids to play together. He deals really well with his little sister. He always keeps other people in mind and has a lot of empathy. Discussions with him are a lot of fun. So why does he have to sometimes turn around 180 degrees and become this terrible toddler from time to time?

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Jul 28, 2010

Happy 3-month birthday, Charlotte

Today, Charlotte turned 3 months. It's been 3 good months, but I am glad they are over. The next 3 months - and many months after that - should be a lot more fun.
Overall, Charlotte is a happy baby. She is only fussy when she is tired and can't fall asleep. But in most cases, she falls asleep easily. Other than that, she smiles a lot and likes to interact with us. Her latest achievements and interests include:
- loves to sit, propped, by herself

- loves to push on her legs and stand (with help)
- coos and tries to make a variety of sounds
- smiles and responds to communication
- tries to grab toys and holds them for a few seconds
- observes her environment with curiosity
- weighs over 15 pounds!

I can't wait to see how she develops in the next few months. To be continued...

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Jul 6, 2010

The optimistic toddler

Over the last few weeks, it has occurred to me that our 2 year old son has an optimistic view of the world. A couple of recent examples:

When looking at pictures of babies together with just their moms or with no parents at all, Daniel first asks where the missing parents are. He quickly adds: "But don't worry they are coming back." So cute that he always expects the parents to accompany the babies, and for him to be so confident parents are coming back.
When breaking or scratching a toy, Daniel's usual reaction is: "It's OK, the owie will go away" (because that's what we tell him when he hurts himself)
When spilling something on his T-shirt, he tells us: "it's OK, we can wash it."

I think it is normal and healthy at his age to be optimistic. We don't want to scare him by telling him stories of parents not coming back or by turning every issue to a negative event. That said, I know that eventually, Daniel will have to learn a harder reality, one where not everything ends with a positive note. Yes, sometimes people are not nice. Yes, sometimes things happen that can't be repaired. Yes, sometimes he does things that, although harmless, can upset parents.

I am wondering at what age he will need to learn these things and what his reaction will be. Has anyone had this experience already?
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Jul 4, 2010

Loving Tinyprints greeting cards

I mentioned earlier in the spring that my company, Tinyprints, had launched a new type of cards, customizable, unique Greeting Cards. I was already expecting these cards to be a life saver for me. That said, I hadn't really thought about the way I would use them beyond the typical birthday or anniversary cards.
The last couple of months have given me an opportunity to take advantage of the service to create personalized Thank You cards.

With all the presents we received following our baby's birth, I found a perfect opportunity to showcase our beautiful girl wearing the nice outfit that each person had given us. Each of our friends got a Thank You card specifically speaking to and showing how Charlotte was wearing the outfit. I got really good feedback about the cards.

Where I got the most fun, though, was preparing Thank You cards for the grand-parents. We were lucky to have both sets of grand-parents come to live with us for a few weeks each, to help with the transition. They were wonderful, playing with Daniel (and bringing him a lot of new presents), taking care of Charlotte and helping us settle into the new house. They deserved a special Thank You. So, I put together a collage of the best pictures we had taken during their stay, highlighting the key events. I had to use the template of a birthday card for it, but since I could customize all the text, it worked out perfectly.

Here is an example:
Tinyprints greeting card used for personalized Thank You card
The inside had a family photo with the grand-parents and kids. The back had a small picture of the baby smiling with the comment: See you soon.

And the cards got the exact effect I was hoping for. Right on the day they arrived, my mother-in-law emailed us with the comment: "This is the highlight of my week, so beautiful for me to brag about it. (I already showed it to my neighbours.) I am keeping the card as one of my treasures for the rest of my life!"(translated from German). My parents loved theirs too!
Yay! So glad the cards made our parents that happy. This was exactly the intent and we couldn't have done it with any other card.
Thank you, Tinyprints!

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