Terrible twos?

Don’t let that sweet smile fool you . . .


. . . this little guy’s been putting me through the wringer for the last five weeks.  We’re still some months away from the two year mark, but why be terrible for JUST a year, when instead you can be terrible for a year-and-a-HALF?

So, other than terrible, how is Sir these days?

Large and in charge, he’s right around the three foot mark, and he’d chunked up to the 81st percentile in weight at his 18-month visit.  He’s now over half my height and a quarter of my weight (good thing I’m hitting the weights at the gym!).

Given his height, we went ahead and switched his car seat to front facing, since the rear-facing height limit on the seat we have is 36 inches.

We’re also preparing to transition him to a real bed.  For over a year, the Pack ‘n Play served as his resting place (we never used it for “play”), but he’s more or less at the height and weight limits for the device.  He (knock on wood) hasn’t tried to climb out yet, so I’m delaying the transition a bit, hoping to smooth out some of our current sleep issues first (meanwhile, his new mattress is airing out in our basement, but more on that in another post).

He shows no signs of slowing on the growth front, continuing to eat vigorously and enthusiastically at meal and snack times, in addition to three short nursing sessions a day.

Three out of four of his two-year molars came in over the last few weeks, but as far as I can tell, that final tooth might be awhile yet.

He’s still not talking, and frustration with not being able to communicate what he wants may be part of the current behavior issue, though I think it’s more about frustration at not getting his way.

Speaking of not getting his way, my efforts to include him in the kitchen (more on that in a later post) worked a bit too well.  I thought I had a monster on my hands before, but that was nothing compared to the fact that now EVERY time I am in the kitchen, even if I’m only doing something that will take a few minutes, he must drag a chair in and be involved.  And if the answer is, “No, it’s not time for the chair to be in the kitchen,” much screamage ensues.

As it does many other times throughout the day when I thwart his very strong little will.  Sigh.

I know “this too shall pass,” but all-in-all, this phase is making working outside the home look VERY attractive again.

The monster in my kitchen

I’ve been planning to write about finding my balance with where I am in life and being in a good place, but starting about a week ago, Gabriel turned some corner into a [hopefully short-lived] developmental stage known as “Horrible.”  I’m pretty sure it manifested before his fall, but I’m not positive, and I can’t help but wonder if he knocked a few screws loose.

Anyway, he’s been very clingy and needy, making it difficult for me to get much of anything done, but it’s been particularly frustrating in the kitchen.  Turns out, it’s rather difficult to chop vegetables with a large, sharp knife, and deal with hot pans on the stove-top and in the oven, when a fussy toddler is pulling on your legs, shirt, etc.  Not to mentioned dangerous.

I gave up before I started on a couple of evenings, too sapped from dealing with him earlier in the day and anticipating his antics to even try.  Leftovers to the rescue!

At my MIL’s suggestion, I tried putting him in his booster seat with some toys while I cooked (farinata, with a side of sweet potatoes and turnip greens, if you were wondering) last night, and it went surprisingly well.

Despite my misgivings about confining him like that, he actually seemed content to be sitting in the kitchen doing his own thing, playing and babbling with very little input from me, in contrast to the frantic whining and wrapping himself around my legs of previous afternoons.

Eventually, I plan to let him help more in the kitchen, but we’re not quite there yet.  Last week, I experimented with helping him stand on a chair and sift flour and stir the dry ingredients for raw apple cake.

It went well — flour more or less stayed in the bowl, he didn’t fall of the chair and crack his head on the tile flour, and he seemed to enjoy helping.  However, it required very close and constant supervision on my part, definitely not something I have time for every night.

If any of you have suggestions for occupying young toddlers while cooking and/or safe ways (easy and not TOO messy would be great, also) to involve toddlers in the kitchen, I’d love to  hear them.

Bloody onions!

A few weeks ago, Matthew started onions and leeks in flats, and they’ve been happily growing under the grow lights in the basement.  However, the lack of real sunlight and fresh air led to some mold growth on the top of the soil, so with outside temperatures in the 50s, he planned to get them outside for some good old-fashioned UV light.

I decided to help with this on Tuesday, so mid-morning, after Gabriel and I returned from the gym/kids’ room, we headed to the basement.  With no way to carry the seedling flat and a baby at the same time (well, there would have been a way, but it would have required going upstairs for the Ergo carrier), I opted for the “set Sir down in the basement with a toy, grab a seed tray, and dash outside and right back in before he could get into any trouble” option.

Now, while Sir’s usual stair method involves both hands and feet, he has recently started experimenting with standing up and holding a railing and/or adult’s hand.  With the hands and feet method, he navigates stairs pretty well over ninety percent of the time, but we [almost] always spot him from below, because he is given to slipping every now and then.

Anyway, when I opened the side door that leads to the stairs down to the basement, Sir was on the second or third step (from the bottom), coming to see me.  He had been using the original [safe(r)] method, but right about the time I entered, he stood up straight on the step, all, “Look, Ma, no hands.”

After that, I’m not quite sure what happened — either he just lost his balance on his own, or I may, in my slight alarm at his position, have made a sudden move that led to the tumble.  Either way, the final result was a two or three step fall, ending on the concrete basement floor.  Not good.

I picked him up and checked his head, which seemed fine, and then attempted to check for equal and reactive pupils, when I noticed a decent bit of blood on both of us.  For a minute, I couldn’t determine the source of the blood.  I ruled out mouth (which was the culprit in a previous fall), head, and ears before discovering a good sized gash on his chin, right along his jaw bone.

I called Matthew for a phone consult on the use of steri-strips, which I applied with little success, contending with a crying, upset baby and a chin soaked with blood and drool.  With lunch and nap time fast approaching, I cleaned things up a bit more and slapped a bandage over the steri-strips.

We suspected that, especially with the location, the injury would need more than our first aid attempts, so I called and left a message for our pediatrician’s phone nurse.  Since the bleeding was more or less under control and Gabriel calmed down and ate lunch as usual, I decided to go ahead with his nap while waiting for the nurse’s return call.

The nurse suggested coming in to the office to see if they could glue the gash, cautioning that if the doctor determined that glue wouldn’t work, we would have to head to the ER for stitches anyway.  With the possibility of avoiding a much higher copay and the ER gauntlet, I took their last available appointment for the afternoon.

Long story short (well, still fairly long, but a bit shorter), the doctor used the glue-bond stuff, covered with a big, waterproof bandage to protect it from drool (because the glue needs to stay dry for the first 48 hours).  I admit to being dubious that it would hold, but now, over 48 hours later, it looks like we got off easy.

Still, the $25 doctor visit copay, not to mention the pain, tears, and angst (and the risk of a more serious injury) added significantly to the cost of this onion crop.  Needless to say, I’ve learned my lesson about leaving a toddler unattended, even for “just a second” — the onions weren’t worth the blood!

Help, my baby ate my broccoli

And my cauliflower.  Oh, and my broccoli romanesco?  Yep, that’s gone, too.

I realized recently that while I’ve posted somewhat regularly on Elimination Communication (a method/practice that I seriously question, especially given some recent reading, but more on that in a later post), I’ve been a bit remiss in writing about something that has been much more rewarding, more straightforward, and less fraught with questions and stress: Baby Led Weaning.

Gabriel started slowly with self-feeding, which is normal and natural.  I definitely had questions in the beginning, but other than referring to the Baby Led Weaning book, I just kind-of went with it, offering a variety of solid foods, practicing patience with his developing appetite and pincer grip, and resting easy knowing that he was still meeting most of his nutritional needs with breastfeeding.

And then somewhere in the last year (maybe the nine or ten month mark?), he just really took off, and he’s never looked back.  He eats proficiently with fingers and a fork, and we’re working on the spoon.  Overall, he’s become a fairly neat eater, though of course some meals lend themselves to being messy at this age.

My biggest ongoing challenge is how to vary the grains in his diet.  Pasta and bread are easy go-to foods, but I’d prefer he eat something other than wheat, wheat, wheat (and I’d prefer to avoid buying expensive wheat-free pasta and bread).  Millet, quinoa, rice, and other small grains don’t make particularly great finger food, nor can they easily be speared with a fork.  When those grains are on the menu, we often spoon-feed him the grain portion of the meal.

While his interest in a particular food can vary meal to meal (sometimes he’ll shun something one  night, only to gobble up the leftovers at lunch two days later), overall, he eats what we eat for meals: lots of veggies, various beans and grains, nuts and nut butters, eggs in various forms, fruit, tofu, tempeh, some cheese . . . .

Given our passion for delicious, high quality food, we couldn’t be happier.  Well, except for those times when all three of us are eyeing the last two pieces of roasted cauliflower.  Then we would be happier if there were more cauliflower in the oven.

Little gardener

Now that Gabriel’s walking, he’s ready to take a more active role in the garden.  I’ll let him take over the narration.  First, there’s horseback riding.

The best way to the garden is on horseback.  After that, the real work begins.  I oversee the gardening crew — they work hard, but sometimes need a little direction.

The amaranth looks good, but those fingerling potatoes aren’t going to dig themselves, Dada.  And what about the eggplant?  Your water break is over!

Mmm, this eggplant is just my size.

Oh no, looks like the bugs were getting to this one.

A little help over here, guys?  Some of these squash weigh more than me — this cart isn’t going to move itself!