Four…and a bit

Monsieur is proudly telling people that he is four now. This has been a big milestone in his eyes and we have been hearing many tales of “When I was three, I couldn’t xyz; but now that I’m four, I can!” One day when a friend was visiting he came out and announced “We’re going to the railway playground”. By “we”, he meant himself, his friend (3 1/2 yrs old) and his friend’s brother (2 yrs old). When I pointed out that they needed a parent to go with them he declared “But I’m FOUR!!!” Apparently four is the age at which you can take yourself, and your friends, to the playground!

So where are things at with him now (since it’s been a year…)

Sleep: Continues brilliantly. I am still indebted to sleep school and the support structure they gave us. Even now, if he has a bad dream or is having trouble going to sleep, he will ask me to tap him. It amazes me how long-reaching and positive the effects have been, especially considering how scared I was of ruining our relationship and “breaking” our beautiful boy. He continues to be an early riser, but at the much more civilised time of 6am or thereabouts. Sometimes 7-7:30 on the weekends, and 5am when staying at someone else’s house! Many months ago we decided that the rule on weekends was “not before 7”. So even if we hear him awake and singing, we won’t go into him until after 7 am. Sometimes he’ll go back to sleep, sometimes he’ll chatter and sing until we go in, which can be up to an hour. But he won’t get out of bed. At all. It has been so bizarre. We switched him to a single bed last September, and I was ready for the prolonged bedtimes as he realised he had freedom to get in and out of bed. But no, nothing. He won’t get out of bed until we open the door in the morning. He just won’t. Until…this week. A couple of days ago for the first time he got out of bed and opened the door himself. Now we’re not allowed to open the door until he’s up. It still catches me by surprise how quickly these things can change and bam! you’re in a new phase.

Oh and naps are long gone. They tapered out last July, and now only happen if he’s really tired, but usually to the detriment of his bedtime, so it’s not something we encourage.

Food: Monsieur loves baking with me and tasting all the ingredients. Tonight we had tacos and he made his own for the first time; he made soft tacos with cheese, meat and sour cream, and loved it! He doesn’t like crunchy things, so salads are not popular with him, but he’ll eat all veggies cooked. I did have a moment yesterday of wondering how he was our son, when I suggested going to Koko Black to get a chocolate teddy pop and he responded “Oh, no. I don’t have time for that today”. No time for chocolate?! At the place where the manager invariably gives him extra chocolate??!! He later explained that he’d already had a treat that day when they had fairy bread and icy poles at kinder so he had had enough treats. Well, that blew my mind! May he always keep such awareness of his body and what it needs and doesn’t need. At 37, I still can’t do that enough. He did receive an insane amount of chocolate at Easter this year, but he paced himself. We left the chocolate in his room and the only rule was that he had to wait until after a meal to eat chocolate. His bowl of chocolate lasted over a month. I don’t think I ever showed such restraint as a child!

Banana and yoghurt are still a favourite meal; we always have to have bananas and yoghurt on hand, and cheese. He loves the mini babybel cheeses that you peel the wax off.

Language: He talks so much and tells such involved stories now. He still sings all the time, but now he has words to his songs. He’ll just make up little ditties about what he is doing at that moment. I love listening to them, but am almost never able to capture it on video.When I try to recall the songs later, they just slip away.

The constant “why” has well and truly hit home. Sometimes there seems to be a genuine question behind it, but sometimes it seems like he asks it automatically. We have started reminding him to ask a “full” question so that he will stop and think about what it is he is trying to ask. Sometimes the “why” questions can get frustrating, but usually when it feels like a cycle rather than a search of knowledge. I do feel my general knowledge is woefully inadequate to meet the needs of a curious child. Oh boy, is it inadequate. R is so much better at explaining the why of things, and at explaining the meaning of words.

I think that the last couple of regular mispronunciations have vanished – I haven’t heard a “pasghetti” or “washingshashamine” out of his mouth for some time. There are some new words that he has difficulty with at first, but he keeps practicing until he can pronounce them correctly. It is definitely hard to be objective though as his mum; sometimes he’ll say something and I notice another adult having a bit of trouble understanding him, but it was very clear to me. I think that sometimes he doesn’t finish his words clearly enough, but I know his speech patterns, so my brain fills in any missing pieces from his speech. However, he is good at repeating things more clearly when someone indicates that they haven’t understood him.

General Development: We seem to be in a period of sudden growth again in his abilities and confidence. All year we’ve been periodically trying to get him interested in getting himself dressed/undressed, and wiping his bottom. Suddenly, in the past week, he’s doing both, as well as getting himself up out of bed. It never rains but it pours; even in developmental growth! He can’t get his tops on or off, but pants, socks, shoes and jackets he has worked out. Kinder has been great for that; clearly the teachers have been teaching him some tricks to help.

And yes, he started kinder this year. Talk about a change. He has just blossomed. He is so happy there; even asking to stay in after kinder care just so he can be there longer! Given that he is there 8:30-2:45 five days a week already, this really impressed me. He has made some great friends there, and we’re seeing him gaining so much confidence and interest in trying more and more things. He can write his name now, and the other day he wrote “Papa” on a piece of paper, completely unprompted. He can also read or recognise the names of all his kinder classmates – there is a tray of stones at the door, each with a name on it. When the children arrive, they have to find their stone and place it in the bowl to show that they’ve arrived. Monsieur will check out the bowl and tell me who has arrived and who isn’t at kinder yet.  He always looks for his best friend’s name first, and is sad if she’s ever not there.

He also started swimming lessons in second term. During the summer he was making great progress with his confidence and ability in the water, and started asking when he would be going to swimming lessons. He kept asking periodically in February and March, so finally in April we started swimming lessons for him. He absolutely loves it, and even participated in their swimathon a couple of weeks ago. He was so proud, and happy to get extra time in the pool. He is also regularly asking us to take him to the local pool on weekends. His water baby tendencies have definitely emerged.

As well as being a complete water baby, like his mumma, he is also a complete cat boy. We have whole mornings where most of our conversation is in meows and purrs! He’ll follow me around, just like a cat, and smooch against my legs, and snuggle into my lap whenever possible. It is pretty adorable. He has declared that Shakti is his cat and Jai is Mummy and Daddy’s cat, “because Jai doesn’t like me”. True enough. Jai tolerates him, sometimes, but Shakti loves him. She always comes in for storytime, and loves to hang out with him and his friends. For a jumpy kitty, she really does like to be in amongst all the kids.

Monsieur is really coming into his own. He knows what he likes and wants, and knows what he doesn’t like. He has decided this year that he doesn’t want his hair cut; he says that the hair hurts when it is cut. He wants his hair long and he even combs it when I tell him that he has to comb and look after his hair properly if he wants it long. From the boy who hates having his hair washed or combed, that is a big thing. He has remained adamant that pink is his favourite colour, telling me earlier this year when I asked him his favourite colour,  “Pink! It’s still pink. It’s going to be pink forever!”  I have overheard him standing up for his love of pink a few times now, and it makes my heart so happy to hear him so firm in himself in the face of opposition. Yet, he is so quick to mimic actions, behaviours and words of other children. He only has to see or hear something once and he’ll be trying it for months. Or weeks at the least. It’s strange to see how he can be so sure of himself in some regards yet so susceptible to others’ influence in other ways. It’s painful to watch when he picks up a behaviour that is just not him, but he’s decided that it’s cool because that’s what so-and-so does. I can really see how much influence a peer group can have on a child, and sometimes it’s scary to think about. We are so lucky that his kinder class is such a lovely group.

Favourites: Trains remain a firm favourite. We recently stayed with friends who had an enviable train set in their house; he was very happy to sit there for ages playing with the trains! We went to the Sandringham Train Expo in March and spent all day there; even getting to know some of the exhibitors who commented that we were *still* there. He was entranced by all the model railways. Whilst in Brisbane last week, we took him to The Workshop Rails Museum in Ipswich; he told me he didn’t ever want to leave that sort of place.

An equal favourite would be the TV show, Blaze and the Monster Machines, which we found completely by accident one day when browsing YouTube videos. We are fans of it too; great characters and it teaches STEM concepts in a way that is easy to understand without dumbing things down, which Monsieur will then refer to in everyday life. It was really made an impression on him. I do hope they continue this show. So far it has only had one season. He received a special package in the mail today from a lovely friend in America who bought the die-cast models of the characters for him as they are not available here. All day he has been playing games with these monster trucks, and tonight his favourite, Blaze, went to bed with him.

His love of books continues, and we have introduced him to Dr Seuss in the last couple of months. He loves “The Sneetches”, but we have read “Red Fish, Blue Fish” a fair amount too. He also has discovered Grug books, and loves all books by Mo Willems. Lynley Dodd books are on rotation too, with Scarface Claw being his first hero! He loves listening to audio books in the car and a friend just told me about the library’s audio book borrowing service so I will be checking that out in the next month or so.

He still loves to play hide and seek, and is getting better at hiding now. Sometimes, he won’t even sing to let us know where he is!

How am I feeling? I am so delighted that the transition to kinder has gone so well. It’s been a bit of a stressful year at home, so it has been really wonderful for him to have such stability and continuity at kinder. I was relieved that he settled in so well and so quickly. I really wasn’t sure what to expect or how he would be, going from being with me all the time to being in kinder five days a week. So many people asked me how I would be and warned me that I would miss him terribly. But it was the right time for both of us. He has relished having so much time with children his own age, and getting to do things that I wouldn’t necessarily get around to at home. I have relished having head space to do some of the things that I’ve been wanting to do. The first day, after putting him to bed I sat down and suddenly felt like I’d barely seen him all day, but apart from that one night, I haven’t really missed him. Maybe it would be different if I weren’t working, but last year it was so hard juggling work whilst looking after him and feeling constantly torn between him and all the things that needed doing. I felt like I was doing everything badly. Now I can focus on work when I go to work, I can focus on the house or organisational projects when I’m home and I can focus on Monsieur after I pick him up each day. At least, that’s how I see the next term panning out – as I mentioned, this year had a stressful start so this wonderful sounding lifestyle hasn’t actually worked out for longer than two weeks at any time, if that!

 

Savouring life, especially the little moments

It has been so long since my last post that I almost couldn’t log in!

This morning my life looks like what a lot of people imagine a mum’s life to be, while child is in school. It’s lovely. A moment to savour because I know it is fleeting and we don’t know what will be happening tomorrow (actually, I am 90% sure that I will be at work tomorrow, but life can be unpredicatable)

Four years into parenting and I cringe to think of more experienced parents reading this. I won’t know for a few more years how obvious, or naive I may sound. But I will write anyway because this is where I am right now.

So many people tell you to savour the moments. Your baby will not be a baby for very long. Before you know it your baby is a toddler, and then your toddler is a pre-schooler, and then your pre-schooler is heading off to kinder. I have been getting the message to savour time with my baby/toddler/child since day one. What people don’t tell you is to savour other things, which will be just as fleeting.

Savour the summer that you have new neighbours, beautiful weather, no wasps. The afternoons spent in their backyard, or yours, with two little boys playing, the summer days stretching out gloriously.

Savour the months of having a regular Thursday playdate/dinner; shared time, shared load.

Savour the months of living practically next to a favourite bookshop and yes, savour all the books bought. Don’t worry about the money spent on them because soon enough, life will change and suddenly you only make it to the bookshop once every three to four months, when you make a special effort.

Savour the day at the playground where you meet another parent and actually talk and bond, and probably never see each other again.

Savour any true conversations with other parents. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how well you click, life happens and can consistently block future conversations so savour them when they do happen.

Savour the day of playing hookey with your child and sharing a whimsical day together.

Especially savour the days or moments where you think, “I’ve got this. I’m good. Everything is fine”. You need to hold those moments in your mind on the other days, the so, so, so many other days, when everything is overwhelming and you decide by 10am that the new goal for the day is to get through it, all other goals (laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping) are to be dropped for that day.

Everyone tells you that your child will grow and change so quickly, but they neglect to mention that your life will also change rapidly along with your child. They do say that life will never be the same after having children (true, true, TRUE!) but they don’t say that your new normal (when you finally feel that you have one) will only last a few months at best. Then there will be change and then you will find a new new normal. Which will last for a few months. Then there will be change and…you get the gist.

Cafe visits are a necessity in the first year. A chance to interact with another adult! Caffeine! Or Chai! Or something sugary to pep you up after a long, multi-waking night. Then suddenly, your child is on the move and cafes are swapped for playgrounds and you dream of the days when you could sit, comatose, staring into your coffee while your baby was content in their pram.

The first year, if you are lucky enough to have a great mother’s group, consists of very regular contact with other mums, and maybe dads, who are sharing the same journey. Then people start returning to work, the catch-ups drop off and soon it is 1-3 times a year that you manage to all catch up together. I wish I’d savoured the early gatherings more, rather than assuming that they would go on for years.

So many things that I didn’t treasure enough at the time. I wanted them to continue, indefinitely and so was looking forward to the next times and not appreciating the current moment enough.

I enjoyed them, but there was always the thought, “This is great. We should do this more often, When can I pencil in the next time”. Disappointment followed on, as everyone’s lives are unpredictable. Children get sick. Work commitments change. Family commitments increase. Four months can pass in the blink of the eye.

It’s taken me four years,a lot of breaking points and a desire to be happier in myself to finally realise that I just need to appreciate each moment for what it is. No focusing on what it could become. Not focusing on when we can do this again. Just appreciating each moment for what it is, rather than what it could be

 

EDIT – 31 May, 2015. This post was started 10 days ago, when my morning looked like this:

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Oh so civilised

 

Then, just as I was finishing my chai, but not this post, I was called by Monsieur’s kinder to come and collect him. He had a fever and needed to come home. The rest of my day looked more like this:

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Sad boy needing lots of comfort

 

When I said that I was 90% sure I would be going to work the next day, I should have been betting on the 10% unknown. The next ten days saw a lot of:

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Lucky, Snuggle Doona, Mummy’s chair and TV (with Mummy sitting close all the time)

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Bed, Mummy, TV shows and cat

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Daytime naps and long night sleeps

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Bed, iPad, cat

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Efforts to get food into him were met with mixed reactions…

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Mmmm. decadent chocolate cookie sandwich and cacao smoothy!

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Banana smoothy – usually a favourite treat.

 

He will be going back to kinder tomorrow and I will be picking up where I left off ten days ago, savouring moments when they happen, because you never know what’s around the corner, and right now is my moment to finish and publish a post! (even though it’s not properly finished…!)

 

 

So much to say, so little brain power with which to speak

I need to build up my evening stamina. I can get through the day okay, but once Monsieur is in bed, all I want to do is collapse and I struggle to form a coherent thought.

So many posts rolling around in my head, just a small space of time and energy to pick one to do! It’s been about four months since the last update on Monsieur, and already there are things in the last update which I had forgotten about until rereading it five minutes ago. So let’s do that!

Sleep: Monsieur no longer has a daytime nap! And it is wonderful! We dropped it at the start of July – he was staying awake, hearing noises and wanting me in his room with him until 9-9:30, so we dropped the nap and all went back to normal. We are both loving all the extra time each day, and some days he will still have a short sleep, but I will go and wake him after 1-1.5 hours.

Food: Monsieur has recently decided that he does like some crunchy foods, after all. This would be after I ate chocolate covered caramel popcorn in his presence one day, confident that he would not want to try any because they were crunchy. The smell of chocolate clearly overcame his dislike of crunchy foods and he discovered a whole new universe!

Language: Monsieur talks all the time, telling elaborate stories about his trains. Everything is a train these days; we have the Shakti-train and Jai-train (our two cats), the car-train, the house-train…and it goes on. Today he told a complete story to one of his friends:

“Once upon a time, I wanted to go through the window. And The End!”

Lots of things are “usually”, as in “I usually go this way to Shakahari”. This he told me the other day, having been to Shakahari (a gorgeous restaurant in Carlton) exactly once in his life!

He has a few common sayings around his age and what it means to him; “Now I’m three….”  “When I was two, I….but now I’m three, I….” “….when I turned three”

“When I was two, I liked Buffy, but now I’m three, I like Legally Blonde”
“I liked trains when I turned three”

It was my birthday recently and he asked how old I was. I told him and he replied, “Wow! That’s so many olds! It’s so exciting!”

Favourites: Trains are still his favourites. We are taking him to another train expo this weekend – I’ve had it in the calendar for three months, just waiting!. He has been counting down the sleeps since last week.We plan on spending the whole day there and letting him watch trains to his heart’s content. He loves to play boom gate games, where we take turns being boom gates going up and down, and trains going past. It makes him very easy to entertain at times.

He started a game of “parcels” a couple of weeks ago – he’ll come up to R or I and say “Here’s a parcel for you” or “Here’s a package for you”, we unwrap it and exclaim over whatever it is (R is definitely more creative at making up things than I am) and then we give him one in return. It can go on for a very long time, and can be very amusing and engaging.

He has also developed a strong attachment for Snuggle Doona – a gorgeous soft doona that I bought for him, thinking it was a doona cover. Unfortunately it was a whole quilt, with a polyester inner which overheated him when used as a bed cover. However, I was right in thinking that he would love the feel of it and he has now adopted it as something to snuggle into and cart around the place along with Lucky, the cat.

He loves playing the piano and making up songs, many of which are sent to Shannon, our wonderful friend in New Zealand (whose stay is one of the many things I want to blog about). He is obsessed with the Legally Blonde the Musical soundtrack and loves to do the “bend and snap” routine.

He also loves riding his scooter whenever he gets a chance.

How am I feeling: I am really enjoying this time with Monsieur, and where he is at. I have just started working a couple of afternoons a week and I was worried about how he would go, as he is with me while I work. He is enjoying it though, and even told R yesterday that he was “into working now”. Yesterday he sat at the desk with me and asked what work he could do, so I asked him to highlight the numbers on some print-outs and tear up the documents as I finished scanning them. He was so proud of himself sitting up, helping Mummy work! In moments like that, I feel like I have a real little companion with me.

I am worrying about the effect my stress last year had on him. I see it manifest in little ways, but so heartbreakingly…like when he gets so anxious that a bus or tram will leave without us if we don’t get on it immediately. How he grabs my hand the moment he sees a green man at the traffic lights, and runs, telling me, “Come on, Mummy! We have to run! We’re going to miss it”. I don’t know how much is just him, his natural personality and how much of it he picked up from me last year. I’m trying to allow more time for him and for me, to do things calmly instead of in a mad rush. When I feel him get wound up, or me getting wound up, I take the time to stop and breathe and talk with him, even it it makes us late. Seeing myself reflected in him gives me a whole new perspective on what is important.

His enrolment forms for kinder arrived this week; it’s going to be a big adjustment for us both next year. I suspect that he will take it in his stride with more ease than I! He will be ready for more input, new input and the chance to play more with people his own age. I won’t exactly be lost as to what to do – I have a long list of projects that I look forward to delving into – but it will be strange to suddenly have so much time by myself after nearly four years of Monsieur being with me every day. We still have five months before that though, and I’m making the most of it.

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Morning snuggles with Snuggle Doona

 

 

 

Paleo Cranberry Orange Muffins

We have been getting lots of oranges in our fruit and veggie boxes recently, so I decided it was time to find some good orange muffin recipes. Two that I’ve tried are not worth repeating but this one was delicious! I will definitely be trying some more recipes from cookeatpaelo.com.

 
PALEO CRANBERRY ORANGE MUFFINS
 
GLUTEN FREE
 
INGREDIENTS
200 grams almond flour (about 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons)
3 eggs
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons ghee, melted
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/2 cup cranberries
 
METHOD
1. Preheat oven to 160°C/325°F and grease muffin tin.
2. Combine dry ingredients and orange zest in large bowl.
3. Combine wet ingredients in medium bowl.
4. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then fold in cranberries.
5. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
6. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden brown and toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.
7. Cool on wire rack.
 
SOURCE: http://cookeatpaleo.com/paleo-cranberry-orange-muffins/
 
M o r e   i n f o
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