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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Potty training update... or lack thereof

Shortly after I posted my last blurb on potty training, Mira decided that she'd had enough.  Every time I would ask her if she wanted to go potty, she would say "no".  And I know better than to force her if she doesn't want to.  So I've decided to back off of the potty training.  Maybe she started getting discouraged or maybe she just got bored by the concept.  I suspect the latter.  Whatever her reasons, I'm happy to let her have them.  I'm not surprised at all.  I would have been stunned if she actually decided to potty train this early.  Maybe we'll try again in another 6 months or so.  Or if she shows renewed interest before that, then I'll take her lead.  Until then, I've left her potty out where she can explore it anytime she wants, but she seems to mostly be ignoring it.

I'm very much of the opinion that children can not be forced to potty train.  It is something that they have complete control over.  Until they decide that it's the right time for them, all a parent can do is provide a supportive environment and an encouraging attitude.  So that's where we stand.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mira needed a barrette.

Every now and then, Mira will bring me her bag of barrettes and insist that I put one after another into her hair until they are all crammed onto her head.  Who can resist that face?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pregnancy update - 24 weeks

Yesterday I had my 24 week prenatal checkup.  In the past month I have gained 4 pounds, so I'm still 2 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight.  The midwife said that 4 pounds per month is about what she would expect to see from here on out, given that I am toward the end of my second trimester.  At that rate, my total weight gain for this pregnancy will be right around 15 pounds, which would be great.  I'm well on my way to meeting my goal of gaining less than 20 pounds.  So that is good news.

More good news from my checkup: my blood pressure is down about 10 points, in both diastolic and systolic.  So that's really great.  Issues related to blood pressure are my biggest concern when it comes to having a healthy pregnancy and an intervention-free birth, so it's very much a relief to see those lower numbers.

Other than that, not much to say about the checkup, which is good.  We did listen to the baby's heart with the doppler.  It was good and strong at around 140 bpm.  I had Mira along again, and just like last time, she watched interestedly and quietly the whole time.

As for how I'm feeling... pretty good.  Only a few minor things that I can complain about.  I get really tired in the evenings still.  I have also been getting headaches, which I think I've figured out is from not eating enough protein.  I'm supposed to be getting 80g a day of protein, and for me that's just really hard to do.  I don't like really heavy meals, especially not during pregnancy when my reflux tends to act up.  The thing I crave most when pregnant is salad, which has like 2 measly grams of protein or something ridiculously low.    So I've started making myself a fruit smoothie with protein powder every day.  I've also started keeping raw unsalted nuts to snack on.  But it takes a lot of nuts to get to 80g.  Er... yeah.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gotta love the Muppets.

First, a little "History of the Muppets" lesson, for any who are unfamiliar:

And this is what me and my uber geek friends taught Mira to do over the weekend.

I figure it's a baby-geek right-of-passage.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mira's first night away from Mommy

Last night, Mira had a sleepover at my parents' house.  Before she left, as she was having a snack, we had this conversation:

I explained to her several times that she was going to play at Grandma and Grandpa's house and then she'd take a bath there and then go to sleep in a bed at Grandma and Grandpa's house and then when she woke up in the morning she would still be there and she could play some more before she came home to see me.  The first time I explained it to her, she just stared at me with her jaw hanging open, looking like she was thinking very hard about this situation.  The second time I explained it to her, she listened and then smiled at the end and nodded "yes".  By the third time I had told her what was going to happen, she was smiling and nodding all the way through and when I asked her at the end if she thought that it might be fun to spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa, she responded with an emphatic "Yeah!".

So I actually was fairly certain that she knew what was going to happen and felt comfortable with it.  Which did a lot to convince me that she was ready to have a sleep over without me.  The only thing I worried about at all was that she might have a hard time falling asleep or if she woke up in the night she might be upset about her unfamiliar surroundings.

That evening with her grandparents and aunt, she had a good dinner and made two trips to the park that backs up to my parents' house.  She went to bed a little later than normal, but had no trouble falling asleep on her own.  She slept all the way through the night and woke up at her normal time in the morning.  My mom said that she seemed disoriented when she woke up, but she calmed down fairly quickly and when my mom offered her the option of either going home to see Mommy or going back to the park, Mira chose the park.  Twice.

So Mira came home around lunch time.  She was exhausted from all her playing and hungry because she was too busy having fun to stop for food.  She had a big lunch and is now crashed out in her crib.  While she was eating her lunch, I asked her if she had a fun time with Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Katelyn, and she said "yeah".  I asked her if she liked spending the night there and got another "yeah".  So I think she enjoyed herself and would be up for doing it again sometime in the future.  She loves her grandparents and Aunt Katelyn so much.  She asks about them all the time and can't wait to see them again.  I've learned that, when we are going over to their house, I can't tell her more than about 20 minutes in advance because she just can't take the waiting if she knows we will be seeing them.  (Literally, she will stand at the door saying "go go" and if I tell her it's not quite time yet, the tears start welling up in her sad little eyes.  It's the definition of 'heartbreakingly cute'.)

I'm so glad that she loves them so much and feels so comfortable in their care.  Especially since it's likely going to be necessary for her to spend the night with them when I go into labor.  Knowing that she can spend the night with them takes a load off my mind.

As for how Brian and I enjoyed our time off: we had a leisurely dinner out with friends, all hanging out at our house afterward playing games and chatting.  Then in the morning, Brian and I got to sleep in together, getting up whenever we felt like it.  Something we haven't been able to both do together in nearly 2 years.  It was wonderful.  Did I miss Mira?  Actually, not too much.  But I was happy to have her home when she got here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mira expresses her sense of humor.

Me: I love you so much.  Especially your ribs.

Mira: (giggling)

Me: (tickling) I just can't help it.  I love your ribs so much I have to tickle them.

Mira: Go!

Me: Did you just tell me to go away and stop tickling?

Mira: Go!

Me: Well, I'm not gonna.  Besides, if I went away, you'd just follow me.

Mira: Yeah....


Mira has taken to yelling "mama" at the top of her lungs every second of every car ride. It's a lot like this:

Monday, September 20, 2010

More on potty training.

Just a quick blurb to say that, 5 days after Mira's first potty success, she has had another.  Ever since she peed in her potty last week, I've been letting Mira sit on her potty several times a day.  Usually we sit on the potty when she first wakes up in the morning, right before and after nap, just before her bath at night, and then any other time that I need to go to the bathroom during the day she comes with me.

When we sit on the potty, I go with her and we do things to keep her sitting on the potty longer.  (Without distraction, she'd just sit on the potty for 2 seconds then jump back up again.)  I will sit her on her potty and then use the big toilet myself.  I wash my hands and run the water a little extra.  I read a book to her while she's sitting there.  That's usually about all she can stand and at the end of the story she'll run off to do something else.  And then I have to chase her down to make her wash her hands and get on a diaper.

It's quite a lot of work.  And after 5 days, I was starting to get discouraged and think that maybe we had done this whole thing too early and I should just let up and forget about it for a couple months.  But I was still keeping the mood light with her: asking her if she wanted to try to pee in the potty before taking her in there, brushing it off if she said that she didn't want to try, thanking her for trying to go in the potty when she did, saying "oh well, maybe next time" if she tried but didn't go, etc.  But in my head, every time we'd go in the bathroom and sit on her potty with no results, doubt crept one inch further into my mind.

The one thing that kept me going is that usually, when she'd sit on the potty, I could *see* her straining to go.  She *wants* to go in the potty.  I think she just forgets to save it for the potty and not go in her diaper.

But then last night, before her bath she peed in her potty for the second time.  So now my resolve is renewed to keep up with letting her try several times a day.

Both times she's successfully gone in the potty, it was just before bath.  I wonder if that means anything.  Maybe it's because she has just eaten dinner (and drank milk)?  Maybe it's because we started sitting on the potty at that time of day 2 weeks ago so she's gotten used to it being in her routine?  Maybe it's because she is thinking about getting into the bath with all that water?

Friday, September 17, 2010

A day with Aunt Lindsey

A couple nights ago, I had a terrible headache that kept me up all night.  The next morning my headache was still going and I was completely non-functional.  Brian had some meetings scheduled that he couldn't get out of, so he asked his wonderful sister Lindsey if she could watch Mira for the day.  Apparently, Mira had a great day with her aunt.  They went to the park and Lindsey got some great pictures of Mira playing.

I was worried that Mira might have a hard time napping in a strange house, but apparently I needn't have worried because, after reading some books to settle down, she took a nice long nap for her aunt.  When Mira came home that afternoon, she was happy to see me, but seemed to have had a really fun day and wasn't upset at all about spending the day away from me, as long as she was with someone she knew and trusted.  Which is great.  And I'm glad to know that she is more flexible about napping than I had expected.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Adventures in potty training.

I was thinking that I'd wait to try potty training with Mira until after baby #2 arrived.  I had several reasons for this.  1) Mira's still pretty young.  Even when the baby is born, she'll likely not even have had her second birthday yet.  It seems awfully early to potty train.  2) She's not talking much yet, so she currently has no way of communicating to me that she needs to go to the restroom.  3) I had heard that the introduction of a new sibling can be such a shock to the older child that they regress back away from recent achievements, including potty training.  I don't want to have to potty train twice.  4) Tying in to #3, I want to keep things as familiar for her as possible during the transition from being an only child to being a sister.  I figure the more things that stay the same for her, the less disconcerting the whole experience will be for her.

A couple months ago when I took Mira in for her 18-month checkup, the doctor asked about my potty training plans, and I told him everything in the previous paragraph.  He seemed to agree with my assessment, but he suggested that I go ahead and get a little potty for her to play with and get familiar with.  It was also around this time that I noticed that Mira was starting to want to be dry.  When she had a wet/dirty diaper, she would come up to me saying "ah ah ah" and pointing at the diaper.  Every time that happened, I tried to encourage it by praising her and thanking her for telling me.  I was really excited to see this development, because it's one of the most important milestones to hit before attempting potty training.

So a couple weeks ago, I took her to the store to pick out her "big girl potty".  I found a couple that would work as a little stand-alone floor potty or the top could come off to make a little seat on top of a big toilet, and then I let her pick which one she liked better.  I brought the new potty home for her, put it together, and explained what it was for.  I kept the tone very light, saying things like, "Whenever you are ready..." and "If you want to...".     At this point I was still thinking that we'd wait to "officially" potty train until after baby #2 arrived, but there was no harm in warming her up to the idea in advance.  

Well, she really liked the potty and for about a week I just let her play with it however she wanted, sitting on it while still clothed, putting the seat on and off, taking the pot in and out, pulling out the TP dispenser and spinning it around.  Then about a week ago, Brian and I started letting her sit on the potty naked right before her bath every night.  She thought that was interesting, but nothing much happened... until last night.

I was getting Mira ready for her bath and, as is our routine now, I undressed her and sat her naked on the potty.  About then, I realized I needed to go, too.  So I did my business on the big toilet right next to her and as I did, I explained that Mommy was going pee-pee in the potty and if she wanted to she could go pee-pee in her potty, too.  I finished up, washed my hands, and started putting toothpaste on Mira's toothbrush.  (To keep her sitting on the potty a little bit longer, I had been brushing her teeth while she sat on the potty.)  Well, I turned around with her toothbrush and SHE WAS PEEING.  IN THE POTTY. 

I tried not to make too big a commotion, but I still wanted to congratulate her, so I said in a happy tone, "Oh good, you're peeing in the potty like a big girl."  Then I showed her how to wipe with TP and let her stand up and turn around to admire her accomplishment.  She seemed pleased with herself.  We said "yay" and clapped our hands.  Then I showed her as I took the pot out and dumped it into the toilet, flushed it down, washed out the pot, and put the potty back together.  She immediately sat back down on the potty and signed "more".  I then had to explain how Mommy can't make the pee come.  I've also had to explain how Mommy can't make another airplane fly over, the rain start or stop, Daddy come home from work, Mira's hiccups come back, the traffic light turn green, the dog bark again, the sun come back up, more butterflies come, or another train go by.  Part of me loves how she thinks I'm omnipotent, but man are those big shoes to fill.  

So now that we've had a big success, I'm rethinking my plan to wait until after baby #2 arrives to potty train Mira.  I don't want to ruin any momentum.  And if she's ready, then I should take her lead.  So I guess I'm thinking now that maybe we should attempt some potty training, but just at a really relaxed pace.  First thing is I really need to find and teach her a sign for potty so that she can tell me if she wants to go.  I think I'll also start letting her sit naked on the potty every time I go to the bathroom.  I'm in there frequently, what with the pregnancy, and she's always in there with me anyway, might as well make something constructive of that time.  But I'm certainly not ready to do anything drastic yet, like put her in training pants.  One success is not a pattern.  Maybe I'll reconsider training pants when she's having multiple successes a day for several days in a row.  But that may be a while.  I'm honestly really surprised that she peed in the potty even once, given her age, so I'm still not expecting any huge changes any time soon.  

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Speech development

Developmentally, Mira has been right on track with every milestone except one: talking.  At her 18-month checkup, I spoke in depth with Mira's pediatrician about her delayed speech.  Not really because I was worried about it, but because he kept asking me about it like maybe *he* was worried.  At the time of that appointment, Mira would say mama, dada, and baby, but only when prompted.  (Me: "Mira, say mama."  Mira: "Mama.")  The doctor said these words didn't count toward her vocabulary because she wasn't using them on her own to express herself but rather just to mimic me.  She would also say several sound effects like boom, wheeee, and vroom.  She would use those independently, but the doctor said that sound effects don't count as far as determining how many "true words" she has in her vocabulary.  So that meant that, according to his standards, Mira had zero words at 18 months.  The expectation for kids that age is 5 to 10 words.

I knew Mira was behind because all of her little friends at playgroup are starting to talk, and many of them are several months younger than her.  But I wan't concerned about it.  I knew that delayed speech runs in the family (both sides).  And Mira is excellent at communicating non-verbally, through gestures or using the few signs she knows.  But the doctor was concerned, mostly for her hearing.  He asked me about a dozen questions about whether or not she could hear: does she turn her head at noises, does she respond to her name, does she startle at loud noises, etc.  I answered all his questions and told him that I was SURE she could hear because she follows my directions and responds physically in appropriate ways when I speak to her.  After much reassuring on my part, her doctor finally said that if I was sure she could hear, then we'd wait and readdress the issue at her 2-year checkup.  If she still wasn't talking by then, then we'd proceed with hearing tests and maybe speech therapy.

Even after seeing the doctor's concern, I still felt pretty confident that any day Mira would decide that talking was cool.  BUT I was starting to get a little anxious for it to happen.  A bunch of Mira's friends are talking and when I see them having little toddler conversations with their mommies, (I'll admit it) I get jealous.  I want to be able to talk *with* Mira the way they talk *with* their children, rather than just talking *at* her.  So I thought, ok if she's not ready to verbalize yet, maybe I'll just teach her more sign language.  So I started teaching her a ton of new signs.  And sure enough, she responded.  If I asked her to try to say something verbally, she would just shake her head "no".  But when I'd show her a new sign, she would immediately attempt to imitate it.  She responded well to me showing her how to hold her hands and fingers so that she could more accurately create the signs.  So in the month or so since her 18-month checkup, we've both been learning lots of new signs.  Mira's sign vocabulary has gone from just 2 or 3 words, all the way up to nearly 20 words.

Now Mira is finally starting to explore more verbally.  She babbles much more than she ever used to, and now sometimes when I ask her to try saying a word out loud, she will smile really big, think about it for a long time, and then say the word.  And when she does say words, she says them clearly and accurately, not like most toddler speech, which requires mommy translation to understand, her words are well formed and precise.  Now I think that when I would ask her to say something and she would just shake her head "no" it was because she knew she couldn't vocalize it *properly*, and she'd rather not try until she knew she could do it right.  A perfectionist, just like her mommy.

So here's the question: Is is causal that Mira started talking more right after she started expanding her sign vocabulary, or is it just a coincidence?  I'm honestly not sure.  On one hand, verbal speech requires a certain physical and mental dexterity to accomplish.  You have to have an idea in your head of how to say something and then you have to get your lips and tongue to comply with that idea.  Until children have reached a certain developmental place, it simply won't be possible for them to accomplish speech.  Perhaps Mira wasn't in that place until recently.  On the other hand, part of me wonders if she hasn't been in that place for a while now, but opening up her vocabulary with sign language got her a taste of what communication is all about and gave her the little push she needed to use her newly developed but undiscovered verbal skills.

But one thing is for sure, in my mind: the theory that teaching kids sign will delay verbal speech... yeah, totally debunked, based on my experience.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Mira is going to be a great big sister.

Today Mira spent the afternoon taking care of Mr. Bear.

First, she changed his diaper 20 times, remembering to use wipes on his bottom each time.  Now THERE'S a thorough care-taker.

Then she fed him Cheerios and raisins, remembering to offer him sips of water in between bites.

After that, she put him into his stroller and took him on a 10-lap walk around the island in the kitchen.

Finally, she read him a story and put him down for a nap.  Mr. Bear must've been tired after all that activity because he went right to sleep.

I take absolutely no credit for any of this.  She decided to do each thing all on her own.  I've seen her do each of these activities with Mr. Bear before, but never in succession, taking him with her from one activity to the next.