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Drum - Twenty months

At twenty months, Drum is mostly a joy. He still has some highly emotional moments, but I think part of that was related to some teething. Now that that's over (for now), he's in good spirits most of the time. In fact, he's really fun! He loves to explore what's around him, he loves to imitate his sister, and he has the sweetest laugh. 

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I was reading about Mo at this age, and she loved (and still loves) all people. Everyone is immediately her best friend. She'll talk to anyone, and will even crawl into someone's lap that she hardly knows. But Drum takes a little longer to warm up. Even with people he knows but doesn't see frequently. He's friendly, but shy. He prefers to hang close to me and smile at people from a distance. It's pretty cute. 

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Drum is still nursing, which is great, but it's getting a little ridiculous. He insists on having both of my boobs out and available, but he doesn't just get his fill and move on. He nurses, stops, looks around, does some gymnurstics, nurses a little more. It's fine when we're in the privacy of our home, but anywhere else and it's problemmatic. I admit I haven't really made an effort to change this habit though. He's (very probably) my last baby, and so I just let him nurse how he wants because it's the last time I'll be nursing a baby.

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He's been a pretty good eater. Turns out he doesn't really like vegetables. I know that's pretty common for kids, but as picky as Mo is, she likes most veggies. Drum is a good eater with most everything, but he'll eat all around the vegetables on his plate. He's still a good sleeper. With the Fourth of July on a Tuesday, we had about five days of late night fireworks, and he slept through it all like a champ. 

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Drum loves books now, especially those with flaps. His three current favorite books have fun flaps to open. He now likes to bring us a book (and say "book!") and then sit and read and open flaps and point at all the things he knows. It's awesome. He also likes balls and cars and his baby doll. He still loves to clean up and pick up.

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His talking is now pretty impressive. I think he's surpassed where Mo was at this age. I remember Mo's vocabulary exploding around 21 months, but reading her 20 month post, she was still pretty limited. Meanwhile, Bro's vocabulary has already started to explode. He's picking up new words all the time. No sentences yet, but it's crazy how he didn't have any words and now SO MANY!

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Lastly, daycare is going pretty well. He has been pulling hair and the teachers don't love it. I'm never sure how to respond when they tell me. Like, yep, he's not even two, that's what kids do. We're working on it at home, too. I always have the sense they want me to offer a solution, but all I can do is work on what's happening at home. I can't do anything about it when it happens at school. I'm sure they're just sharing information, but I always feel guilty I can't offer more than understanding. But they haven't mentioned it in a couple weeks, so maybe it's getting better.

I can't believe we're four months from TWO! I love how fun this age is and I love how much he loves me. I hope he always does.

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Teaching my kid to respect what others believe

Today I made Mo cry because I did a terrible job of explaining the importance of respecting others' beliefs. She goes to a Christian preschool and so she's learning a lot about God and Christianity. Some of it I take issue with and correct as straightup false (ie: that man walked the earth the same time as dinosaurs), but most of the time when she tells me about what she's learned, I just remind her that yes, that is what a lot of people believe but other people believe other things and it's all OK. I never make a big deal about it, but it's always part of the conversation, this idea that there is not one right thing to believe in.

However, today the conversation got a little more extreme. It started innocently enough:

Mo: Miss M told us that God made the whole world.
Me: Oh yeah? Cool. Like the people and the animals?
Mo: Yeah and even the trees and the flowers and seeds.
Mo: That's very cool. And that's what a lot of people believe, but not everybody.
Mo: But Miss M says the Bible is true.
Me: That's what Miss M believes and that's great, but other people believe other things and that's OK too.

But then I started talking about how she gets to believe whatever she wants, but she has to respect what other people believe too. And after 5 minutes of me fumbling through an explanation and her not exactly understanding and me at one point saying, "No honey, you don't get to tell people what to believe!" she suddenly welled up with tears and her voice broke as she tried to tell me something.

I felt terrible and quickly tried to understand what she was saying: "Why do I have to believe what other people believe but they don't have to believe what I believe?"

Turns out she didn't quite grasp the meaning of "respect" for others' beliefs. She thought I was telling her that she had to follow their beliefs and believe in something different just because another person does, and that's exactly the opposite of what I was trying to teach her!


We talked about it more later and I think she gets it. Sort of. It's hard when your teachers are telling you this thing is TRUTH and not giving you the space to understand that not everyone thinks the same and those that believe differently are not inherently wrong, and then your mom is all "Respect other beliefs!" and you don't even understand what she's talking about.

Fortunately, I'm confident we'll have versions of this conversation a million times as my kids grow up, and even more imporantly, they'll witness their parents and other imporant people exemplify this ideal throughout their lives. Hopefully it won't always be this confusing.

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Drum - 19 months

My Drummy is so awesome lately! He still has meltdowns, and he still challenges me in ways I continually try to figure out, but he is mostly fun and curious and funny.

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He had his 18 months appointment recently and he's still healthy and tall! They tried to measure him standing up for the first time, but he was not very cooperative. The nurse recorded his numbers, but when the doctor came in she said, "It says he shrunk. I don't believe that." So they measured again the old fashioned way (two marks on the paper that covers the examination bed) and sure enough, he's in the >99th percentile. He got one shot, but for the second time in a row, he didn't shed a tear. He made a "what the hell?" face and then he was fine. Mo came with us, and they had fun goofing around the exam room. 

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We did swim lessons for the kids recently. Just a 6-week class of 30-minute sessions. Drum was fine about it, but I wouldn't say he loved them. The water was really cold though, and twice he didn't feel great, so I consider it a win that he got exposed to the idea and didn't lose his shit.

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He has so many words now, it's incredible. I swear he adds one a day! Maybe not that extreme, but I'm constantly saying, "What did you say??" and sure enough it's something new. He even has a couple two word phrases (did it, no more). I love his little voice, and it's amazing that three months ago he wasn't saying any words.

A couple weeks ago we went to Niagara Falls for a short vacation. It's a 5.5 hour drive (or 8.5 when you have two kids and need to stop a lot), so we had two mostly travel days and two fun-packed days at Niagara. I knew Drum would be fine, but I expected him to be a little bit of a challenge, especially when it came to sleeping in a hotel room with three other people. But he didn't so, so good! He slept (and even napped) like a champ - no issues at all (except in the car, he hardly slept on either long drive), and he was so well-behaved the whole time. We had a really great time, and I'm so thankful we were able to do it.

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The week after we returned, he started at a new daycare. After a lot of thinking and a lot of research, we moved him from an in-home daycare to a daycare center. The in-home was no longer the right fit for him, and our hope is that he thrives in a learning center environment. I dropped him off on this first day, and I was so nervous about how it would go, but he surprised me. He was interested in what was going on and even asked to be put down before I was ready to let go. He beelined for a vaccum and was playing happily when I left. They said his first day went great, but I guess when Mike picked him up he broke down a little. I guess just a release of emotion after a long day. When I dropped him off the next day, he rocked it again. He held on a little tighter this time, but no tears. However, the next two days he cried at drop off, and when I picked him up at the end of his last day he was crying pretty hard. I think it was just a long week of something new, and I think he'll do well there. They have a livestream camera so I've been peeking in on him. He seems fine all day - I see him play and eat and sleep (on a cot, which is amazing since he's only ever slept in a crib or pack 'n play!). I hope this is the right place for him.

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My babe is so sweet with me lately. He is such a snuggler and a hugger, he loves to give me kisses and hold my hand. Today we sat in the rocking chair while he rested on my chest and played with my hair for 15 minutes, and it's one of those moments you try to freeze in your memory so you can go back to it a million times. He's not quite as affectionate with anyone else, but we have a special love for each other.

He's my sweet baby boy!

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Drum - 18 months

My baby boy is a year and a half old (well, he will be in 3 days...I'm ahead of the game for once!), and he's been out twice as long as he was in. You guys, I love him so much. Anybody who ever worries they won't have the capacity to love a second child as much as the first, I can assure you, you will. I never worried about that, but I'm still amazed at how much I love him. And it's interesting how in most ways it's the same love I have for Mo, the love of a mother. But it's also different. I don't think because he's a boy and she's a girl, but because they are different children. I should write more about this sometime...

Drum teddy bear

Anyway, the biggest update is that Drum is talking much more! We had our initial assessment two months ago and at that time he had only just started using one word - mama - and he wasn't really imitating words yet, he wasn't signing anymore, and really only used gibberish and screaming to communicate. Last week we had our first in-home appointment with the child development specialist, and he was a different child. I almost felt guilty for having her come to the house because everything she read in the assessment was no longer true. He now has about 10 words (mama, dada, Mo, baby, yeah, no, mine, doggie, uh oh, hi), he'll try to repeat almost any one-syllable word and will often take a stab at more complex words, and he's started using a few signs again (more and all done, and he finally started using milk after a year of trying to teach him). He still gets easily agitated, but I've seen a big difference in that behavior since he's found his words a bit.

Drum horse

The other big news is that we have decided to change daycares. We have used the same in-home daycare since Mo was born, but it no longer feels like the right place for us. Mo had a good experience there for three years before going to preschool, and Drum has done fine there. I've mentioned that there is a caretaker there, Miss K, who Drum loves and who loves him. We adore her and even wish we could afford for her to be our nanny! But other than her, I've lost track of who even works there because there is so much turnover (it's an in-home daycare but the owner employs staff to provide most of the care on the other side of her duplex), and I'd be hard pressed to name more than 2-3 of the children. Communication has declined and we feel disconnected from what Drum does all day. We've wavered on whether or not to stay for about a year, but it's so much more affordable than any other place we've looked, so we just keep staying.

The tipping point, however, came when the owner questioned our approach to his behaviors. I won't go into detail so as not to badmouth someone who has done well by our kids for years, and I believe her intent was good, but it sat uncomfortably with me. She wasn't even talking about his tantrums, it was about typical 1-year old things like hitting, pulling hair, stealing toys. The child development specialist we met with affirmed that our approach is appropriate, so I don't think it's a matter of me being bull-headed about or blind to my child's imperfections. I don't think this daycare is bad for him, I just think he might do well in a different environment.

I explored several ideas - nanny shares, another in-home daycare, even staying at home or working part-time - but nothing was both financially realistic or logistically feasible. So we found a daycare center we like that isn't outrageously expensive. He'll stay where he is until mid-May, then we're going on a small vacation, and he'll start at the new place after Memorial Day. He'll be in a room with 1 to 2 year olds and a 1:8 teacher/child ratio. I hope being surrounded by his peers rather than children ranging from newborn to 5 years old will help. Plus this place has far more flexible hours, which will be helpful in the logistical nightmare our mornings and evenings sometimes are! 

As a result of the increase in cost for Drum's care, we had to make some other changes. We needed to cut other costs and increase our income a bit. So Mike is selling plasma several times a month and I'm looking for any small jobs I could do at odd hours (any ideas, please let me know!). And the bigger impact is that Mo will be staying home with me two days a week to save money on preschool. I telecommute twice a week, and it's not ideal to keep a child home while I do, but I'm fortunate that at the moment I have the ability to do so, and I think Mo will get into a routine on those days. If you have any suggestions for how to help a 4 year old keep herself busy, I'd love to hear them!

Dad and Drum 2017

OK. Enough about child care! In other Drum news, he is still a super sleeper. He rather hates the part about putting on a fresh diaper and some pajamas, but once that's done, he's happy to be laid down and falls asleep easily. It's such a gift to have two good sleepers! He's still nursing, though it's becoming a bit of a problem. He wants to nurse any time he's bored or angry or basically just near me. I was never an on-demand nurser of Mo after infanthood, but it's a different story with Bro. Maybe because he's likely my last kid and I never want to miss a chance to nurse because I know soon he won't anymore, and maybe it's because he gets pissed if I try to say no and easier to just say yes, but I find myself pulling out the boob all the time for what is usually a quick snack. And then another quick snack, and another. But I think that's something we'll work on later!

Drum mad sad cry

We recently started swim class with both kids. We've had two classes and so far Drum seems to like it. He wasn't feeling great during the second class, but he still played along with the activities until the very end. The classes are only 30 minutes and only for six weeks, but we're glad to be able to do them. Most classes are SO expensive, but these are through our city's parks and rec department and much more affordable. Mo is confident in the water if she's in her puddle jumper, but Drum has had very little exposure so want to get him familiar.

Since the weather is warming up, we've been outside a lot and thank god. We were all going a little stir crazy, and fresh air helps everyone's sanity! Bro, like his sister, loves to play outdoors. He's a little more particular about staying tidy than Mo, but still enjoys the dirt and grass. And he loves the water spigot even if he does soak himself every single time. He still adores his mama. His safe space, as always, is in my arms. Lately he'll run up to me while I'm sitting and wrap his arms around my waist, or when I pick him he'll wrap around my neck. He gives the sweetest kisses, and we like to do a silly thing where we rub our foreheads together. 

It has been a really good couple months. Challenging and emotionally draining, but I feel like we're turning a corner - the language breakthrough, a little less drama with the tantrums, a new daycare on the horizon. And this deep love I have for my baby. I feel so lucky to be his mama.

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Trying to cherish the moment while also drowning in it

This is a difficult stage of life. And it is temporary. I remind myself of that often, and I try daily to remember how precious this time is. I don't for one moment want to wish it away because I want to hold onto my babies as they are forever. In fact, I drive myself a little crazy trying to cherish it all. I recently read Nora McInerny's book It's Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool too) and this was one of my favorite quotes regarding advice we get as parents:

Savor every moment. Are you savoring the moment? Every. Single. Moment should be savored. Savor it. This moment. The moment that just passed. This upcoming moment. It's going to pass you by before you know it. You missed it. You should have savored it but you were busy reading this book or wondering when the next episode of Property Brothers is going to be on. Property Brothers is always on. 

I'm savoring it OK! I savor so hard that sometimes I think I'm missing it by not just living in the moment. So I am in no hurry to rush through this stage, difficult as it is. But it's hard. It's damn hard.

Our kids need so much from us, and our jobs needs so much from us that there is nothing left for anything else. There is no social life, there is little time for family outside our small unit, there is no time or energy to maintain a house or any other adult responsibilities, and there is never enough money. We are maxed out every day, and it is not a matter of not wanting to ask for help. I ask for help - I shout it from the rooftops! But everyone else is also barely getting by. They can't help us just as we can't help them. 

We all live in our own little boxes - literally and figuratively - and we all struggle to do it all alone. It's senseless, but I haven't been able to figure out a way to change it. 

We have been exploring all kinds of options. One of us working part-time. One of us not working at all. Both of us working multiple jobs. Different child care situations. Living with relatives. Moving relatives in with us. Nothing we've explored is feasible. We just have to plod through each day, stretch every dollar, and wait for the stage where the kids are more independent and they can go to school for free.

It will get better. I know with certainty that when I look back on these years, I won't primarily remember the long, exhausting days, the daily dance to make a paycheck last until the next one, or the constant struggle to do all the things. I will remember fondly, and miss dearly, my sweet chubby-cheeked children, their laughter and their desire to always be close to me, fighting over a spot on my lap. 

I know this is temporary, I know what is important in life, and I very much know how much worse things coulde be. But I can't say it's always easy to enjoy the beautiful things when every day is a battle.

Mo and Drum 2017