Soother Fairy

When you talk about soothers with new moms, the subject can get very heated. Some believe that sucking is the best way to soothe a baby, and therefore a soother is the only thing that makes sense. Others believe it causes all sorts of problems, from dependence, insecurity to things like bad teeth.

IMG_7701When I was pregnant with Tristan, I swore up and down that he’d never have a soother. I wasn’t going to have one of those kids who had a soother in his mouth all the time. Then, just before he was born, my mom bought me a couple, “just in case”. I was actually pretty angry, as I’d made my anti-soother stance clear. However, I put them in a drawer, determined never to use them.

When Tristan was two weeks old, the colic began. My angel was replaced by a non-stop screaming demon. We tried everything to get him to stop crying. I read books, blogs, watched helpful DVDs. All the experts said that sucking helped to soothe babies. And he was too little to suck his thumb.

BEFORE

BEFORE

I think he was about 4 weeks old the first time I put a soother in his mouth, and I actually cried a little. I felt like I had failed him already. But it worked. When he was upset, sleepy, angry, whatever – just pop that baby in his mouth and he’d suck on it happily.

AFTER

AFTER

 

He was just over a year old when we made the soother-only-at-bedtime rule, and that worked pretty well. Occasionally if he was very upset he’d get it during the day, but mostly it stayed in the crib.

The main trouble was that sometimes he’d lose it in the night. We had to put up bumpers in his crib to keep the soother from falling on the floor. Even that wasn’t good enough – invariably it would fall down the edge of the mattress. Soon we had two soothers in the crib, then three. Anything to keep from having to get up in the night and hunt them down.

0R4A3611-001Then came the switch to the big boy bed. That brought a whole new level of  problems, because now the soother could fall down between the headboard and the mattress, and the only way to retrieve it was to move the whole bed. We needed a bevy of emergency backup soothers on the bookshelf, so if he lost one in the night we could grab a spare, pop it in his mouth, and go back to bed.

pod_4That worked okay until the last few months. Tristan has become not so much of a soother-sucker as a soother-chewer. When it’s in his mouth, he’s holding onto it and chewing on the rubber piece. Which turns the sanity-saving pacifier into a sanity-degrading choking hazard. We’ve had to buy 4 new soothers in the last 3 months; he chews holes in them faster than I can keep track of them.

A few days ago I had to throw out two of the remaining three soothers, leaving only one. Which means when he loses it in the night, I have to turn on the light and hunt that sucker down. This on top of getting up 3-4 times a night with a sick Cora. So I decided enough is enough. Enter the soother fairy.

fairyThis magical creature is related to the tooth fairy, but instead of taking teeth she takes soothers. In exchange, she leaves a toy. I got the idea from a friend, and it worked well for her little guy. So Tristan and I have been talking about the soother fairy for a while, and finally he decided he was old enough to leave his soother out for her.

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The note, the soother, and a cookie for the fairy.

After talking about it, telling stories about it, and making a plan, it was decided we’d write her a note today, and ask for a puzzle in exchange. So it should have come as no surprise that today Tristan came down with a head cold. Surely not the best time to attempt soother removal. However, he was keen to get the new puzzle. (“Maybe the yoother fairy will bring a BIG puzzle!”)  We wrote the note, but by the time I put him to bed he was pretty miserable. I lay down with him, but he just tossed and turned and kept bringing his hand to his mouth, as if to tug on the missing soother. After a full hour of this he started to whimper, murmuring that he wasn’t a big boy yet. Finally he broke down and asked for it, and I gave in. I guess we’ll try for the puzzle another day,  when he’s feeling better. In the mean time, I guess I just have to be resigned to a few soother-retrieval trips every night. Sigh…

To be continued, hopefully soon.

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Friday Fives: Funny Phrases

Now that Tristan is talking so much, it’s hard to remember what it was like before he was verbal. He’s always been hilarious, and talking just adds a whole other layer of funniness to him. Here’s a few of his most recent gems.

  1. The other day he held out a kinderegg and said, “Mommy, open it.” We’re working on saying please, so I said, “Excuse me? Is there a better way to ask that?” So he chucked it hard at my leg and said, “Open it UP!”
  2. Nathan and I were discussing pregnancy, and I mentioned peeing on a stick (no, we’re not pregnant nor will we be trying!). About 2 minutes later, after the conversation had moved on, Tristan said, “Pee on a stick? That sounds awful!”
  3. I was asking what he wanted for breakfast, and said, “You have two options, cereal or waffles.” He considered it, then said, “How about THREE options?”
  4. Still on the option topic, it was time to clean up and I said he had the option to pick up his puzzles or put away his cars. He lay down on the toy chest and said, “Those aren’t good options. They bad options. They mean options. I have no options.”
  5. Apparently he listens too closely to me, because after doing an inadequate job of washing his hands the other day, he said, “Good enough. That means not perfect, but all that I feel like doing.”

Things I Forgot: Introducing Food

You’d think I would have this down. After all, I only just had a Tristan two and a bit years before Cora. I thought that kid number 2 would be so much easier than number 1, because after all, I’ve just been through it all. And in some ways, that’s true. And in some ways, it’s so very much not.

It’s astonishing how much I forgot between Tristan and Cora. So much more than I could put in a single blog post. And that’s why I’m making a new category: Things I Forgot.

Cora is now 6 months old, and has been very interested in food for almost 2 months. About 5 weeks ago, she launched herself across my lap and managed to fall with her lips wrapped around my apple core. She latched onto it so strongly that I had to break it to get it out of her mouth. So it was with great anticipation that we finally started to offer her real food.  And, as she discovers the joys of eating, I find that I’m rediscovering much about it.

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  1. Some babies need help swallowing. At first Cora spat everything out, but kept opening her mouth for food, and cried when we gave up and took it away. But finally she grabbed the spoon and held it in her mouth, and was able to finally swallow. After all, babies have had a nipple in their mouth every time they’ve swallowed so far, makes sense they’d need help learning to swallow with nothing between their lips.
    Tristan never had this problem, but it was something that Nathan and I had read about. 
    Yet with Cora, it took us nearly 2 weeks to figure out that was her problem. She’s eating like a pro now.
  2. Kids are MESSY. I know this seems obvious, but Tristan is such a good eater now, I forgot how messy they are when they’re new. It’s not just a matter of food all over the face. It’s hands in the bowl, food in the hair, food on every bit of clothing, food between chubby fingers, food ground into the high chair, food somehow on the inside of my glasses. Cora’s laundry needs have suddenly more than doubled.
  3. Cora HATES getting her hands and face washed. Tristan was exactly the same, but I didn’t remember that until she started howling. You’d think I was trying to cram the washcloth down her throat or something.
  4. The change in poop. Breastfed baby poop is not that unpleasant. It’s liquid, so it doesn’t need to be rinsed out of cloth diapers, it’s a pleasing yellow colour, and it doesn’t really stink. But introduce a little banana and oatmeal into the diet and that all changes. The weeks of transition, as their little bellies get used to digesting other food, are particularly gross. I remember blogging about some of Tristan’s diaper catastrophes, but I’d forgotten just how awful it gets. Don’t worry, no poop photos yet. But I don’t promise there won’t be any diaper haikus.

 

The Blog, Mark 2

This poor blog has been cruelly neglected the last year or so. Of course, I have a pretty good excuse – getting pregnant, moving, having a baby. But life seems to be settling down into something approaching a routine, and I find myself keen to give this another go. I started this blog when Tristan was 6 months old, and as Cora is rapidly approaching this landmark age, it seems timely.

So, now T is for Two. Twice the cuteness, twice the fun, twice the lack of sleep. Speaking of sleep, I hear Cora stirring, so I’d best hit publish fast, before this languishes in draft form for another month. More posts to come soon, I hope, in the mean time, here’s Cora.

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Tristan at two

(Can we just pretend this was posted before Christmas, when I wrote it? Somehow the posting got missed in the pre-Christmas madness.)

IMG_1345On November 21st, Tristan turned two. It was a low-key affair, as we had just got home from Texas, and it was the middle of the week. I had intended to write this post and get it out on his birthday, before the chaos of his party. You know how it is, somehow things kept cropping up.

It’s amazing that my sweet baby is so very far from being a baby now. Two short years, two long years – so much has happened. I started to write that he’s becoming a real little person, but that’s not accurate. He’s been a real little person since day one, and his personality, while developing, hasn’t undergone any radical changes. He’s still a deep thinker, a watcher, a careful observer of the world around him. He’s quicker to laugh now, and is generally sunny and cheerful most of the time. His easygoing nature is one of the reasons he charms everybody around him.

IMG_1325Big changes lately include – talking! The rate this kid is picking up words in incredible. In the last 3 months, he’s gone from having a vocabulary of about 15 words, to having several hundred, and picking up new words and phrases daily. Pronunciation is still a bit of a struggle – often we have to interpret for him – but it beats the heck of out sign language. It’s so interesting to hear him talk quietly while playing – we’re finally getting a hint of what his inner world is like.

Tristan is still an animal lover, and enjoys his stuffies immensely. They have conversations with him, with us, and each other, mostly consisting of hi and bye bye. He is so empathetic with his animals that he won’t eat animal crackers, because biting them gives the animals boo boos. Nor would he eat his halloween donut with the cat on it. We had to make his cake a train, rather than an owl or cat, for fear he wouldn’t eat it!

IMG_2548Favorite toys at the moment are: his new trainset, all his stuffed animals, his mini-carnival tent (hide, hide!), and books. Gracious, how this kid loves to read. One of his first phrases was munmoretory! (One more story.) He wants stories first thing in the morning, after snack, before nap, after nap, before bed, and any time in between. Going to the library is one of his favorite outings. Though that may have something to do with the puppet theatre they have.

IMG_1361Hot wheels are also still in the top five, as is his fire engine. He’s also really gotten into puzzles, and has way more patience for them than I do. He also loves to bake and cook, and loves making cookies, cakes, muffins and helping out with cooking dinner. Also, a great way to get him to eat – if he knows he helped cook it, he’s way more likely to eat it. Which, I think, is not a newsflash as far as toddlers are concerned.

IMG_1327He’s also very intrigued with the baby in mummy’s tummy, and often comes over to point it out, say hello, give it a kiss, or even a toy. Several times a week I’m walking around with a hot wheels shoved under my shirt, or a stuffed penguin, so the baby can play with it. I’m very curious to see how he handles the actual arrival of little sis to the family.

I wish I could do him justice in a blog post, but it’s impossible to catch his sunny smile, his cute turn of phrase, and his daily changes in something as mundane as words on a screen. I just hope he knows how much he’s loved, and how much we’re enjoying watching him develop into the terrific toddler he’s becoming.

 

 

Destination Texas – End of Days

Sunrise – by Nathan

We had high hopes for Wednesday – Tristan really likes boats, so we wanted to take a harbour tour in Galveston. We checked the website, phoned the night before and listened to their hours/rates, and everything seemed to be a go. So that morning, Nathan went early to search for his Seaside Sparrows and Boat-tailed Grackle (both of which are supposed to be common), and came back skunked, but with plenty of time to make the boat. We decided at the last minute to phone again, and good thing we did. The boat was reserved for a school group, so no trip that day.

Enjoying the beach by our hotel

Instead we decided to go to the beach, but it turned out to be too cold and windy, and there was no playground, though we’d been told there was one. Finally, in desperation to do something fun with Tristan, we decided to take the ferry off the island to Port Bolivar. After a few wrong turns, we finally found it , and were pleased to discover that it was free!

Looking at dolphins on the ferry to the Bolivar Peninsula

Tristan enjoyed the ride very much, as did Nathan and I, mostly because there were lots of Bottlenose Dolphins galavanting in the bay. I’m not sure if Tristan was actually able see the dolphins, but he seemed to like practicing pointing at things. And he definitely liked getting the sea spray in his face.

Hi! 🙂

On the other side, we went for a short drive, again in search of the elusive sparrows. Nathan had his eyes in his scope the whole time, but Tristan was happy to run around in the sand again. I thought that here he was saying hi, but maybe he was trying to get our attention because he’d seen them.

Ugh – more birding. I’ll just collapse here.

Those gorillas are very interesting, but I’ll hang onto your hand just in case.

After a record 3-hour nap, Tristan got up just in time for dinner. We decided to try out the Rainforest Cafe – a jungle-themed restaurant with animatronic animals. Tristan was absolutely entranced with the moving gorillas and elephants, though he did like to hold hands when the storm came and everybody started making noise.

Jungle Boy

Sunrise – by Angie

Thursday morning, I got up early to enjoy the sunrise on the beach. Nathan then ran out for his final try at his two birds, and managed to bag the sparrow. The grackle, alas, never deigned to show his mighty boat tail.

Seaside Sparrow habitat at Galviston Island State Park

Enjoying a ride on the luggage trolly.

We then bid a mixed farewell to Galveston. It was a lovely town, but a lot of what we wanted to do was closed for the season, or just due to bad luck. We had one more destination left – just north of Houston was a park Nathan wanted to see, in order to see his last few hopeful lifers. We drove the morning and got to our hotel, right near the park, in time for T’s nap. Nathan decided to go scope out the park so that we’d know exactly where to go in the morning. Can you guess what happened? After his bad luck in Galveston, he managed to get all three lifers in the park in about 2 hours, during his “recon” mission. That brought his lifer count up to 12 – which was 3 fewer than he’d hoped for.

Hermann Park

That freed us up on Friday, our last full day, to do something fun with Tristan. We headed back into Houston to Hermann Park, which advertised a big playground, a train, and paddleboats. Tristan was very happy to run around in the park, despite the lack of other children. Seems they were all in school or something.

Fun times on the train in Houston

The train was a big hit, even more so than usual. He cried when we got off, and was only eventually consoled by lunch. We then took a ride on the paddleboat, which he wasn’t too sure about. But we eventually found a fountain to paddle by, and he loved playing “sprinkle face” – which basically entailed moving into the wind spray of the fountain until we all go sprinkled.

Tristan concentrating very hard while watching “Cars” in the car.

After that, it was a long 4 hour drive back to San Antonio, where we would fly out the next morning. Tristan slept through much of it, then we kept him happy by watching some movies. We’d already finished Finding Nemo, we moved on to Cars, which turned out to be not as popular. What can I say, he’s the son of biologists, and so far Finding Nemo and Rio are his favorites.

Saturday was a day of many plane rides. We had a verrrry early morning, then 3 flights. Tristan, as always, was a champ, and managed to keep a smile on his face most of the time, by reminding himself that Gramma would be picking us up in Victoria (Bama Bama Bama!). So, all in all, a great trip, but we’re all glad to be home.

Nathan’s total Texas bird list: 155
Nathan’s lifers: 12
Angie’s lifers: 17

Destination Texas: Days 10 – 11

Monday dawned cool for the first time in our trip – we were shocked when we went outside to load the car and found that we needed to put on warmer clothes. Though we had less than two hours to Galveston, Tristan was quite grumpy during the car ride – I think he’s getting tired of all the time in the carseat. Because our rented car is a crossover/small SUV (Chevy Captiva), and because the carseat is a lower model than ours at home, it means that Tristan can’t see out the window very well, except for the sky. Also, the carseat is behind the passenger seat, instead of in the middle, so he really has no view. It must get pretty boring back there.

Fortunately Nathan planned ahead and found a playground half-way to Galveston, so we stopped there for a while. Then, when we finally arrived in town, we found our hotel had a heated indoor pool (thank goodness! The outside pool in McAllen had been somewhat too refreshing), so we enjoyed that before lunch. Fortunately, this hotel has a little sitting area, so there’s a half-wall partition between our bed and where his playpen is set up. It makes naps and bedtimes a little easier.

Background to next part – one of Tristan’s souvenirs is a barn owl that makes a hissing noise when you press his belly (apparently they don’t hoot, they hiss). Tristan can’t press the button by himself, but likes to hiss back at the owl when we do it for him. Today, when we put him down for his nap, he tossed and turned for a while. After a few minutes, we heard the owl hiss – he must have rolled over onto it. Then we heard him hissing back to it, and had to struggle not to laugh.

Recreation of the owl incident.

A moment later, the owl was still hissing, and we looked over towards the playpen. The barn owl was marching back and forth behind the partition, as Tristan hissed enthusiastically. It was utterly hilarious, and Nathan and I totally cracked up. We walked around to see Tristan standing up, holding the owl up, hissing and grinning and looking mighty pleased with himself. I wish we had a video of it – it was so funny that we had hysterics again just thinking about it later that night.

Sunset at the beach in front of our hotel

After his very delayed nap, we wandered out to the beach in front of the hotel, but it was getting dark by then. Tristan didn’t enjoy the beach as much, mostly because it was so cold. We did walk the nearby pier to check out the view, and mightily enjoyed watching the guy in front of us get soaked by a rogue wave.

Tristan waving goodbye to the toad sculpture

Tuesday morning was still cold – it seems the warm temps of last week were an unseasonably warm spell for Texas, so we’re lucky we had it at all. We decided to check out downtown, and some of the old houses in the area. We found a walking tour that highlights some of the oak sculptures of the neighbourhood. In 2008, Hurricane Ike devastated Galveston, and killed many of the old oaks in the town. In an attempt to create beauty from the devastation, many of the homeowners had the remaining stumps carved by local chainsaw artists. Tristan enjoyed finding the sculptures, especially the animal ones.

Herons sculpture

Squirrel sculpture

The curbs and sidewalks in Galveston leave much to be desired.

Unfortunately, the sidewalks seem not to have been repaired since the hurricane, so pushing him in the stroller was a challenge. It was a bit better on the main drag, where we went next to do a little souvenir shopping. We also found a chocolate shop/ice cream store, and despite the cold weather, had to enjoy a homemade apple pie ice cream cone.

In the afternoon we found a playground to run around in, then went out for our first (finally!) Texas BBQ dinner. Leon’s Finest Texas BBQ was indeed mighty fine – especially the North Carolina Chip BBQ. Even Tristan liked that one! We topped off the evening with a hilarious bath – for once he wanted water poured over his head, and he was signing “more” so vigorously that I was afraid he’d bruise his knuckles. We then got all cozy (dozy dozy!) and snuggled up together to watch some Finding Nemo. Tristan particularly liked the turtles. 🙂

Nathan’s Texas bird count: 130
Nathan’s lifers: 7
Angie’s lifers: 17