Talking to your baby/toddler

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/why-baby-talk-is-good-for-your-baby/2014/01/13/60d8bf8e-7889-11e3-b1c5-739e63e9c9a7_story.html

It is very encouraging to find articles like these, because there are several instances where I have full-blown conversations with my daughter (mostly on my end) and people look at me and think I am crazy. But here you have it! Proof that thank to those conversations, I am helping Emma develop her vocabulary. I have a tendency of always breaking up words for her because I want to encourage her to learn to pronounce them correctly so we can communicate better – There are several instances where I have to guess what she is trying to say because so many words she says sound the same and she gets frustrated when I don’t guess right. When I finally guess the word, we practice the pronunciation a number of times so that it is easier to differentiate the words and understand her. If we repeat a word a couple of times and she is still having trouble pronouncing it correctly, we drop it and move on to other things. I might bring it up another day and she will repeat it again until she pretty much perfects it. Fortunately, she loves doing this – It’s like a game to her, so I definitely take advantage of the fact that learning for her is fun. Besides, she will always be my little confidant so I need her to be able to chat it up with me.

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A Saturday with Emma

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Before having Emma, the weekends were days were I went out with my husband and/or friends, slept late and pretty much did whatever I wanted, which sometimes meant doing nothing. Now that I am a mom, I need to go to sleep early and wake up early because sleep has suddenly become invaluable and hard to come by. If I am lucky, I might get 30 minutes in the day when I can just sit and do nothing and that, to me, is priceless. Nowadays my weekends consist mainly of toddler related activities, which is not too bad, considering the fact that I practically get be a kid again without the need to explain myself.

On Saturday, I took Emma to ballet class in the morning. Surprisingly, she did really well in class –  I did not have to intervene and/or help at all, which has been the norm ever since she started the class. As soon as we got home I put her to sleep because we were going to have a long day. We were celebrating one of her friend’s birthdays later in the day –  I wanted her to enjoy herself  and frankly I did not want to deal with a tired toddler. I found a play for kids in the city called “Frog Prince” and I thought it would be a great to take Emma and the birthday girl (Ellie) to since Emma loves the movie The Princess and the Frog and Ellie loves princesses. The play had mixed reviews but my thoughts were “For a 2-year-old, it should be fine.” We went there and Ellie and Emma got seats in the front (All the seats up front were for the kids) and Isa (Ellie’s mom) and I went to sit in the back. This only lasted 5 minutes as I had to come back and sit next to Emma because she was searching for me. When the play started, the princess came out with a black piece of fabric on her head. My first thought was that this was pretty creepy and sure enough Emma was terrified. She didn’t scream or cry but immediately jumped on me and grabbed me, putting her back to the stage. The play was terrible, the frog did things that were disgusting and unnecessary –  like spitting (not on the audience – thank God!) and licking his hands – and the story didn’t really flow or make sense. However, Ellie loved it and although Emma  was scared, she participated in all the activities they had (dancing, going up on stage). I guess that is the only plus I would give the play, that the kids were able to participate; the older kids were totally into it. At the end of the play, I asked Emma if she wanted to take a picture with the princess and she said yes –  I am not sure why she agreed, because as you can see, she looked terrified.

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After the play we went to a restaurant called Max Brenner – this was my first time there –I loved the atmosphere and wish I could have tried all the desserts they offered…  Emma got to draw a bit with Ellie and even though they both got the same set of crayons,  they were fighting over them and saying what seems to be every toddler’s favorite word –  “mine!” The food was delicious, Ellie fell asleep midway and although Emma was also tired she fought it off because she was waiting for dessert (Ellie woke up right before dessert – she must have smelled the chocolate). For dessert we shared some fondue and Emma got to roast some marshmallows for the first time! I also ordered a hot chocolate for her, which was delicious – I will definitely be going back for that!
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Before we left, Ellie and Emma got a goodie bag with various chocolate goodies – one of which was a huge toy syringe filled with milk chocolate – Talk about chocolate overload. I can’t wait to go back, however, I will try to only go a few times per year –  as we both love chocolate it can be dangerously addictive and like any parent knows, Toddler + chocolate = hyperactive kid.

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We had a great time and fortunately, by the time we got home we were both exhausted. We ate a small dinner and went to sleep …

Valentine’s Day

Overall I think Valentine’s day is a great excuse to show your appreciation for those you love, although I do think that this should be done as often as possible. Having said that, I thought about spending Valentine’s day with my husband (only) because I know that Emma is too young to really remember. But knowing myself, I wouldn’t be able to bear the fact that I didn’t spend a Holiday with my daughter, so I chose to spend it with both (Yes, I know, am I am extremely attached to my daughter and I recognize that eventually Emma will choose not to spend a Holiday with us and I hope that I am emotionally prepared for that).

I also hate going out on Valentine’s day because restaurants are crowded and overpriced. I’ve done it in the past and I don’t think it’s worth it. Besides, since I wanted to celebrate it with Emma, I spared every couple who was trying to have a romantic evening my toddler’s tantrums and sporadic behavior and decided to stay home.

Valentine’s day –

In the morning we gave Emma some chocolates – which she can’t get enough of – and Monsters, Inc. stickers since she loves the movie. We opted not to give her toys since she already has more than enough. I also bought her friends some heart-shaped lollipops and her teachers some chocolates and told her that she should hand them out in appreciation for their friendship, to which she responded, “I’m going to eat them all.” I guess I would want to eat them too if I wasn’t and adult and hence so self-conscious about the calories. Since Emma is practicing the letter V and has a friend named Valentina, on our way to school I told her that Valentina and Valentine’s day started with the same letter so she kept saying that it was Valentine’s day like Valentina – I am sure that I managed to confuse her and she will probably call the day “Valentina day” from now on.

After work, I rushed to pick up Emma from school. When she came out, she showed me a heart that she made and told me that is was for me and daddy (Naturally, I took possession of it without my husband’s consent and took it to work this week so that I could constantly look at it and smile).
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After that I took Emma to Starbucks. I wanted us to sit down and have a cup of hot chocolate together since we are usually always running to catch the bus. She loved it and felt like a big girl, which is a big hit among toddlers.
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We then headed home to a home cooked dinner by my husband.

He made Emma her favorite – macaroni and cheese and we had some shrimp, salmon and steak with a side dish of mashed potatoes. Yum! Emma wanted all of us to sit at her table, which is tiny, so my husband and I were uncomfortable but these are the kind of things parents do for their kids…. I sat on a sheep chair that Emma has, Emma sat on her “art” chair and my husband was on the floor. At one point, Emma stopped eating, put her spoon down and walked away from the table only to go grab her Dora chair and bring it to her dad so he could also have a seat. Of course, this melted our hearts and there is no way my husband will say no to her now; not that he ever did before…

After dinner we watched Beauty and the Beast (movie night). Emma wanted the three of us to dance every time the music came on, which was actually great because we did a bit of exercise after having such a huge – but delicious – meal. My husband then gave me a paper bag and told me my gift was inside… I assumed it was chocolates, which I love, but was really surprised to find a ring! A couple of months ago, I bought some really trendy rings from H&M and I mentioned to him that I wished I had one of them in real gold, because it was simple and beautiful and would last me longer. Somehow he remembered I said this and got the ring made for me for Valentine’s day! I was definitely thrown off because for the past couple of years we have kept Valentine’s day low-key and unless we directly ask each other for a specific gift in advance, we just give each other thoughtful but small things. The best part of his gift was the card he gave both Emma and I. The card was very short and to the point – but what he wrote really touched my heart. I will definitely be saving it for Emma to keep when she is older.

We all had an amazing Valentine’s day – most of all because we spent it together. I couldn’t have had it any other way.

P.S. In honor of Valentine’s day I also cooked for my family (hubby, parents and siblings) on Sunday and made my first attempt at making lasagna. I followed a recipe and it turned out pretty good. It took a long time to make but it was Emma approved, which was worth the effort. However, I definitely don’t plan to make another one anytime soon. I also know that this post is very late, but having an active toddler, sometimes I just can’t find the time to do anything…

Snow

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I love living in New York, there are so many things/activities to do and places to visit but right now, I am beginning to feel a little envious of all my friends that moved from NY to warmer cities. When winter time starts, the first snowfall is always one that is awaited for. It adds to the Holiday spirit, it is a beautiful scene – a city covered in white – and kids are excited to go out and play. But by now, everyone is tired of it (except maybe kids). New York has already been hit with over 4 snow storms and honestly, we need a break. Yes, we are New Yorkers, but enough is enough.
The snow has not only accumulated but turned into ice, and the ice is now completed covered in snow. The condition of the streets and roads is extremely dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike and I hope everyone is extra careful and safe.
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1. I CANNOT believe public schools were open today. Emma’s daycare/school goes by the same schedule as public schools, so they were open and while I don’t think it is invaluable for Emma to go to school (she is only 2), I do think that if it is expected for children to go to school today, then I have no excuse not to get to work – And in this weather, it is pretty dangerous. Several people were slipping and falling all over the place.

2. I can almost count with my hands the number of people at my job today and this is an office that has over 100 people. I guess some people just couldn’t make it in or were smart enough to stay home.

3. I am already getting a headache and sneezing, which can only mean I am getting a cold. Yippee for me! – Once you become a mother, there is really no time for anything, let alone being sick.

The freezing temperatures that have prolonged don’t help and I am looking forward to Spring….

Running around

I never thought I would be one of those moms that is constantly running around with their child from activity to activity – Not only is it stressful, but I doubt I would be able to keep up. Having said that, Saturday was an exception for me; and as I’ve learned, Mommyhood is full of exceptions and firsts…

My Saturday –

From 8:30– 9 a.m. Emma had ballet class. I found a great deal from Amazon local that I couldn’t pass on. However, when I purchased the deal, I was unaware of the time the classes were held as it is a terrible time for both my daughter and I. Emma is extremely cranky in the morning, and justly so, since she has to wake up early from Monday-Friday and now Saturdays as well. As a result, we are always battling to get out of the house in the morning. She enjoys the class but I am actually looking forward for the 10 sessions I bought to end…
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From 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Emma had an art class at the Noguchi Museum. These classes are held only once a month and are very educational. This time the class was about textures. Emma was able to see sculptures in the museum and visually interpret/imagine their texture. She was then able to create her own collage. What she loved most was playing with the glue and I think she did a great job with her artwork. The collage is very abstract and I am actually considering putting it up on my wall – Yes, I am a proud mama!
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At 1:30 p.m. Emma had Ellie’s birthday party, whom she believes is her sister (Ever since I told Emma that her aunt Andrea was my sister, she is obsessed with sisters and brothers and asks me if her daddy is my brother and so on; on one of those occassions, she told me that Ellie was her sister).The theme of the party was Peppa Pig, which I thought was pretty original. Ellie’s mom is pretty crafty (she made Ellie’s shirt) and since I am a  crafter at heart, I love and appreciate her craftiness because it serves as inspiration for Emma’s future birthday parties.

During the first half of the party the kids got to run around in a matted playground. I was pushing Emma to venture out on her own but she was constantly looking for me – most likely because she was lacking sleep since she didn’t take a descent nap. She was also looking for Ellie the entire time. After half an hour she was a little more comfortable and played on her own so long as I was visible to her. The kids then had pizza, sang Happy Birthday and ate cake and although Emma had a long day, she had a great time.

When the party was over we had to wait for our ride in the freezing weather for around 30 minutes. We had to leave the place because there was another party booked and the space was limited. Naturally, I left Emma’s gloves and hat at home (I thought we were going to go from the place directly to the car). Since I also did not bring a hat or gloves for myself to give to her, I had to improvise.  The entire time we were waiting I held her hands to keep them warm and I opted to put a onesie on her head to cover her ears. However, I don’t think this helped much, as Emma had a fever on Sunday and had to miss school on Monday as she was still sick – Yes, I feel like a terrible mom. And so this will be added to the lists of things/moments in Mommyhood where in retrospect, I should have known better.
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Lessons learned –

1. In the winter, I should always carry a hat and gloves for Emma. My life is full of unexpected surprises (good and bad), so I should really know better.

2. Emma was exhausted (and I was stressed out trying to get to places on time), so unless necessary, avoid so many activities on the same day.

3.  Give up on the idea that I have as much energy as Emma. I need to drill this into my head, because I seem to always forget… Friday night should be an early bedtime for me as coffee doesn’t seem to have the same effect nowadays.

Sleeping Through the Night

When my daughter was born it was the happiest moment of my life, nonetheless, it also marked the beginning of many restless nights. Emma was not one of those babies that magically slept for 4 -6 hours a night. Nope, she woke up – what felt like – every 15 minutes. The fact that I breastfed her didn’t help. Although I can definitely attest that breastfeeding was a rewarding experience for both of us, it also meant that she was waking up for milk every 2 hours. Some nights she wouldn’t sleep at all, and naturally, I was exhausted in the morning. I felt like I was sleep deprived during the first 5 months of her life and honestly, I am not even sure how I managed to stay awake sometimes.

Emma’s sleep schedule gradually got better and by the time she was one, she was sleeping through the night. This was a huge victory for me, I was finally able to get a “good night sleep” again! And I slept well for about 1 year – More or less. But lately Emma has been waking up through the night. Last night she woke up and ran to our room to tell me a bee stung her (She has a very active imagination and loves animals so she imagines/pretends they are everywhere all the time). I brought her back to her room, told her that everything was fine and waited for her to go back to sleep. She woke up two other times calling for mommy and daddy, so we took turns and went to soothe her. The fourth time she woke up, she ran to our room again and I let her come in the bed with us – I had hoped that those restless days were over, but of course, I was wrong…

So once again, I am waking up 2 – 4 times per night and despite the fact that Emma goes back to sleep fairly quickly now, it still disrupts my sleep, especially when she is sharing the bed with us since she pretty much takes over.

Possible solutions to get Emma to sleep through the night again:
1. Place a blanket under her sheets to keep her warm
2. Darken her shades
3. Read a happy night-time story that doesn’t involve any eating (rather than little red riding hood – although she asks for it)
4. Give her a teddy bear to sleep with

Suggestions?

P.S. It amazes me how equipped we (women) are to be mothers – I would have never thought I could have as much patience, run on such little sleep, contain/control my crankiness and frustration and shower my daughter with love all at the same time.

Detaching

Today while dropping my daughter off at daycare there was another mom dropping her child off for the first time. Her daughter was crying hysterically and she (mom) looked extremely troubled. This reminded me of the first day I left my daughter to return to work and the first time I dropped her off at daycare….

For me, it was very difficult detaching myself from daughter, it still is. But with time, it has definitely gotten easier. For the first year and a half I left her at home with a nanny. I went back to work 1 month and a half after having her and it was very hard. The transition was more difficult for me because I did not want to let go of her. I wanted to be the first one she saw in the morning, the first one to hold her, bathe her, etc. I wanted to do everything for her, even though I couldn’t be there for most. I wanted to be able to spend time with her before leaving for work and I definitely felt guilty for having to leave her (even though it was necessary). I would tear up every time she would cry when I left, and if she didn’t cry, I would tear up because she didn’t – I was an emotional mess. I liked being able to have some separation from my daughter and a little time off, but 30 minutes would have been more than enough – One hour already felt like forever. However, I am very happy to report, that although I was at work for the majority of the week, I was the first one she smiled to, the first one she kissed, the first one she walked with and the first one she spoke to. So overall, I was very ecstatic and grateful that she waited to be with me to do all those things….

Daycare-

Emma’s nanny went on vacation for a week so I had no other option but to leave Emma in daycare. Dropping her off at the daycare was extremely difficult for both her and I. Since I usually left her home with the nanny and this day I took her with me early, she thought that we were having a day out together but was shocked when we entered the daycare into a completely new setting and I told her I had to leave. It was a new and unknown environment for her and she was a little frightened as she was with new kids and adults. She went from being the center of attention to sharing it with other kids and having a different set of adults taking care of her throughout the day. The first 3 days she cried hysterically every time I left her and would be a little upset when I picked her up. The last two days she stopped crying as much, and it was much better – I think it is because she accepted the fact that crying wouldn’t change things and she began familiarizing herself with the new faces. I dropped her off in this daycare sporadically when the nanny couldn’t make it and I couldn’t take off.

When Emma was 22 months old I decided it was time for her to go to daycare fulltime, I felt that she was ready to be more active and social. Fortunately, since she had already had the experience, the transition was pretty smooth compared to other kids. Prior to starting this new daycare, we looked at the classrooms together and during orientation Emma was placed in a room with the teachers while I was in another, which helped to ease the transition. I also picked her up earlier than usual during the first week so it wouldn’t be as hard on her and thankfully, she really liked her teachers and new friends. By the second week she was asking to go back to school and of course, I was very relieved.