Inhaler Update

Friday, 6 May 2011 05:00
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I just thought I’d toss out a little inhaler update.

Niko has asthma. We use an inhaler 2-3 times a day, 2 puffs, with a spacer, and a dose of claritin in the morning because he also has allergies.

We had serious, severe problems getting Niko to calm down and cooperate with the inhaler/spacer at first. We mitigated these problems in part by giving him M&Ms after each dose and praising him for specific behavior: sitting still; being calm; cooperating; breathing in and out; etc. His initial spacer had a small sized mask, and when we got a refill of the medication we also got a new spacer and mask. The new one’s medium sized and fits him better, and we let him play with the old one with the small mask. He carries it around and “doses” his toys… his trains, his baby doll, his cars.

We give him the first dose almost immediately after waking up. Actually, our routine is like this:

  • I eventually drag myself out of bed, and go to the bathroom and brush my teeth.
  • Niko starts clamoring for his vitamins, which are gummi vitamins. I give them to him. He does a little dance.
  • I dose him with claritin while he’s sitting on his changing pad, still in his pyjamas. If he spills, it’s on his jammies which are going in the hamper.
  • I change his diaper and get him dressed.
  • We go into the living room and sit on the couch together. He sits on my lap, I give him one puff and count slowly to 30 while encouraging him to breathe in, then give him praise and M&Ms.
  • He runs off and plays a bit, or sometimes brings me a book to read, and then I call him back and we repeat the dosing.
  • We read a book together, and then I sort out the breakfast situation.

I don’t like to give treatments closer than 4 hours apart, so his next treatment is either right before his nap or right after he wakes up, and then if he gets another one it’s before bed. If he gets too much albuterol he gets hand tremors and is a little bit hyperactive and his heart races a bit. The same thing happens to me when I have too much albuterol; it’s a collection of known side effects. His inhaler doesn’t have a little thing that counts down how many doses are left, and it became VERY clear that we’d run out of doses prior to our refill, when his first treatment with the new inhaler left him tremulous. But he soon adjusted.

Niko knows roughly when it’s time for his treatments, and he will remind me that it’s time for one. He thinks the spacer looks a bit like a train, so he’ll say “tootoot! *heavy breathing noise* myom myom” and point to where we keep it. He doesn’t always want M&Ms now; sometimes he takes a dose and then wanders off to play, not super interested in the reward. He does put up a fuss sometimes, but calms down pretty quickly once the mask is on his face and we’re counting to 30 again.

My ultimate hope is that his lungs improve and we’re able to get him to a point where he doesn’t need daily medication. Statistically, with treatment, 50% of childhood asthma cases resolve; so my hopes are pretty realistic here. I also realize how lucky we are that his asthma is relatively minor. In retrospect, I probably had asthma from a pretty young age, but it’s cough-variant asthma and not the more common wheezing asthma that everyone recognizes. It’s caught much more often now, people know more about it, but untreated asthma really messes up lungs. I absolutely don’t want Niko to have to live with that.

I’m going to call our pediatrician at the end of the month and see if she wants to discuss his treatment. He’s doing better than he was, but seems to have plateaued. He gets a little grunty sometimes, and has a cough when he over exerts himself (or it’s really cold, or he’s been screaming/crying). I’m optimistic, though!

Mirrored from Now Showing!.


Thursday, 5 May 2011 05:05
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Wednesdays are busy days. The following things happen on Wednesdays:

  • I strip the bed, make it with new linens, and wash, dry, and put away the old ones
  • Nesko works until 10 pm
  • I tutor in the evening
  • Nesko’s mom and sometimes dad take Niko for the day, until I’m back home
  • Sometimes, a friend comes over and we do a cooking lesson
  • I try to get caught up on house work and lesson plans for tutoring
  • I just got a copy of “A Game of Thrones” and am re-reading it, so a lot of other stuff isn’t getting done

Niko totally knows when Wednesdays are, and he bounces around saying “bye bye! Bye bye baba! Beep beep car! Vrrrooom car! Green car! Baba! Bye bye! Baba? Bye! Bye bye! Baba! MOOOOOOOOOOVE.”

I generally get back from tutoring around 7:30pm, ring up my in-laws to let them know I’m home, and then they bring Niko by at some point later… sometimes pretty much immediately, sometimes later. Today was a bit on the late side, but not at all bad, so I was a little surprised to see him draped boa-like over my sister-in-law’s shoulder, sound asleep. He was already jammied up, because I pack pyjamas with him and they usually change him before sending him home, but I could totally have changed his clothing without waking him up.

Hell, I was able to lie him down in bed, unsnap his jacket, maneuver one arm out of the sleeve, lift him partially up, get the other arm up, and roll him around to get the jacket out from under him, without waking him up. I was even able to leave the room without him waking, and that’s generally the one thing that sets off his wake up alarm.

It’s like they drugged him. (spoiler: they did not drug him)

He’s been having some sleep problems lately… restless, nightmares, thrashing around. He’s also been chewing on stuff and jamming spoons into the back of his mouth to gnaw on them. Two year molars? Oh yeah, I see you comin’. I am sure you will be boulder-like, and possibly weirdly shaped or supernumerary. That’s just how we roll.

Mirrored from Now Showing!.

Growth Spurts

Wednesday, 4 May 2011 05:27
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Around the time of Niko’s 2nd birthday, I informed people that he was in size 3T clothing. This was not quite true, but it was close to true. His shirts were getting snug and his pants were getting a bit tight around the waist (although the legs were still on the long side). People ignored me, and got him size 2T clothing which we had to return/exchange for 3T. The 3T stuff was slightly big on him for a few days and then, last Friday, I went to get him dressed and had to discard virtually every shirt in his dresser because he had a growth spurt INCLUDING HIS HEAD, and shirts that were a bit tight but still wearable just the day before suddenly no longer fit over his melon. He had only one clean 3T shirt, and it was one he’d rejected wearing SEVERAL TIMES. I had to force him into it, which was a bit dicey, but once it was on him he looked down and saw it had a guitar on it, and started putting his fingers on the frets like he’s seen his tata do, which is even cuter than it sounds. (I’d shown it to him while offering it, I don’t know why he didn’t realize there was a guitar on it until he was looking at it upside down, but whatever.) (PS: thanks Target for putting toddler t-shirts on sale, we bought a bunch this weekend.)

So all of his 18mo (! I know. It was sized kind of big.), 24mo, and 2T shirts are in a bag, waiting to be labeled and boxed. His 2T pants still fit him, because he spurted upwards and is thinner than he was before, so his pants aren’t snug any more (and are still too long). He’s got some 3T jeans we put a generous cuff on, as well. Can I just say I love the sansabelt system thing a lot of toddler pants have? With the elastic band on either side of the inside waist, with the button holes and button, and you can snug the pants in tighter? BRILLIANT.

In addition to physically growing, he’s had a verbal spurt as well, and is now saying purple (burbuh), pink (bim!), green (geen), and sometimes brown (bowh). He’s putting together proto sentences, and likes to tell the same stories over and over. Like about the time we went on a birthday picnic for a baby’s birthday and there were a bunch of dogs, and one of them ATE HIS COOKIE, which made him furious and he jumped up and down and screamed and yelled until his cookie was replaced. He tells it like this:

Beebee. *makes ASL sign for “baby”* Wowow. *makes sniffing/snuffling noises and ASL sign for “dog”* nauny wowow. OH NO! myom myom! AAAAAH! AHHHHH! AHHHHH! *makes the ASL sign for “crying”*

Translation: “I saw a baby. There were dogs. Dogs bark and sniff people. A naughty dog ate my cookie. I was so mad I yelled! And I cried!”

He also, if you’re interested, STILL tells me The Tragic Yet Terrifying Story Of The Skien Of Yarn That Was Transformed Into A Ball Of Yarn Instead, complete with fake screams “AHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHH!” and signing “tears.” Only now he also grabs my ball of yarn and kisses it, runs off with it, and uses my crochet hook, forks, a knitting needle, etc to fiddle with the loose yarn and “crochet.”

He narrates what’s going on as it happens. For instance, my in-laws came to pick him up the other day and he slipped away from us and ran into the front yard. While herding him back to the car, he informed us that he was a naughty baby (this is, I want to note, not really terminology we use– it’s from a book he likes to read. He knows that “naughty” means “doing something you were told not to do,” but doesn’t really assign a value judgment to it. Because he’s two. It’s kind of helpful that he informs us when he’s being naughty.), that he was walking, that he was going to go for a ride in a green car, that it rained earlier and the cars got wet, that he was with Baba (grandma), and that we made a train (Baba in front, then Niko, then me behind).

We have a copy of Richard Scarry’s “Please And Thank You Book,” which has a cover featuring Tillie (later Hilda) Hippopotamus lowering her large bottom onto a tiny chair held by Lowly Worm. This cover cracks Niko’s shit up and that’s his second favorite story in the book (his first favorite story has cars and stop lights in it) and he tells what’s going on in the story. (she falls down. Boom. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.) It’s one of his current favorites, and he brings it to us all the time, commanding us to READA BOOK.

Niko knows that stop signs mean stop, and that red stoplights mean stop and green stoplights mean go, and yellow stoplights mean “uh oh” (be careful). This is very helpful when we are driving, and he tells us to stop or go as appropriate.

He can repeat numbers 1-10 if you say them and prompt him, and sometimes if you’re counting he’ll jump in with the next number, but not consistently. He can repeat the letters of the alphabet if you say them and prompt him. One of his favorite letters is W. “Dub Buh YUUUUUUUUU.” He’s taken to pointing to random letters (name brands on boxes and appliances, books, fridge letter magnets, etc) and saying what the letters are. He is usually right, and if you have a bunch of letters and ask him to point to specific ones he’s right about 75% of the time. However, if he doesn’t know a letter or doesn’t feel like playing, he just calls everything “E.”

He can consistently point to the colors red, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple, pink, brown, white, black, and grey, or indicate which of several items is the correct color. He groups like colored things together at times, even when they are very different… for instance, chunky wooden puzzle pieces and plastic fridge letter magnets.

The only body parts he NAMES consistently are “tummy” and “knee.” But he can point to head, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, chin, hair, chest, teeth, hands, fingers, arms, elbows, stomach, legs, knees, feet, toes on himself, another person, or a drawing when prompted to in either English or Serbian. I’ve heard him say “nose” and “toes” but he’s currently refusing to say either.

Nesko has an iPhone, and we downloaded some education apps for Niko (what… STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT). One of them is for shapes identification. Niko can identify square, rectangle, oval, circle, triangle, star, heart, crescent, and hexagon consistently until he gets bored and starts trying to move the shapes around or just going for the heart each time. He can name Oval consistently and likes saying the word. Shape names are something we’re going to start work on soon.

He can go up and down stairs using two feet, ie, not scooting or crawling. He can stacks blocks 10+ high and continues to jump with both feet off the ground… and jump in circles, and hop on one foot, and both walk and jump backwards. He can kick a ball, and actually connects most of the time he swings his foot. His latest trick is clambering up onto the couch and then lying down on his stomach with his feet towards the couch’s arm. He then scoots backwards, so his legs slide up the arm, then over and he’s balanced on his stomach on the arm of the couch, and then he lets himself slip down to the floor. TADA.

He likes looking through our photo album, which means I now have extra impetus to get more photos printed (I don’t think we’ve had photos printed in a year or so… we might have done a few around Christmas to give to our family), and also to take photos of Niko with various family members. He really likes looking at himself and people he knows, especially his baba. I want to put together basically a family photo album, and I’d especially love it if we could update it every year (or even more frequently) with him with me and Nesko, his grandparents on both sides, his aunts and uncles, etc. I’m really terrible at remembering to take photos, even though I manage to remember to bring our camera places, and since I’m usually the one taking the photos there’s very few photos of me.

He opens the fridge door. Constantly. He takes out cans of coke and mimes drinking them. He brings me cartons of eggs (which is foolish, because it sounds like he’s asking for eggs, right? But if I cook him some eggs, HE WILL NOT EAT THEM.) and cheese. We have a strap style latch for the fridge, but I would have serious problems getting it to work. FAIL. He uses tools to reach things he shouldn’t. He is very clever at problem solving and getting into stuff. However, he is still a toddler, so a sudden silence means either he’s working at being clever and getting into things OR he is eating something he shouldn’t be eating.

He’s picking up a lot of Serbian, and frequently what I thought was babble or just noisewords has turned out to be Serbian. He’s been using “tamo” (otamo) for “over there” and “wum” (ovamo) for “here” for a while now. Although he’s said Djedo (grandpa) in the past, he stopped saying it entirely except when in dire need, and now he says “dede” which is a bit easier for him to handle. He says “mene” when he wants to do something by himself or get out of our arms, which Nesko is certain is toddler talk for a Serbian phrase I forget which means “let me go.” He used to say “bava” (spava– sleep) when he was tired/getting ready for bed, but stopped. Nesko tells me that he still says it when with my in-laws. He speaks more Serbian with them than he does here (which, yes, is a cue for Nesko to start using it more at home… and for me not to slack off with my limited Serbian). He can follow directions in Serbian (get your hat, pick up your ball, give me that) but I don’t know if he knows any colors or numbers or letters in Serbian, although I do know that my father in law works with him on those and reads to him in Serbian.

ASL he’s picked up recently include: wind, moon, socks, shoes, cracker, fish, boat, water, drink, milk, juice (kind of), dirty, clean, and soap. I think there’s some more that I’m forgetting.

He still doesn’t consistently show a right or left preference, and when using markers or crayons or pens or chalk or whatever mostly holds them in his fist as opposed to the way one holds a pencil to write. That’s starting to change, though. He’s fairly deft with a fork or a spoon, although we don’t give him cereal with milk or soup with broth… that stuff tends to slide right off the spoon and frustrate him. If we gave it to him more frequently he’d probably get the hang of it quickly but I’m not that in love with another round of “mop up every surface after every meal.” He’s working on drinking from an open cup as well.

Potty training is still a relatively distant dream.

Mirrored from Now Showing!.

Our Big Adventure

Tuesday, 3 May 2011 15:01
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko and I went on a big adventure today!

Actually, for most of you, this will be like the most mundane thing you’ve ever read, and you’re going to give me the stink eye. “That’s your big adventure,” you’ll ask disdainfully. “I have five kids under the age of six, and I routinely take them to doctor’s visits, aquariums, and discount outlet malls.”

Niko and I played in the front yard.


I have an Anxiety disorder. It’s with me all the time. It’s like this… I don’t know… this film that colors the world and makes everything vaguely terrifying, except for the things that are acutely terrifying. It is so much easier to just stay in the house, y’know? We have a tiny front yard, and it’s gated, and Niko can’t open the front gate (yet). But there’s no gate keeping him out of the back, which is where we park, and which opens directly onto the alley that people drive stupidly fast down. Also, there’s lots of gravel, broken glass, and rusty screws out there. We know this for a fact because Nesko’s car got a tire punctured by a screw, through the sidewall, so he got all his tires replaced (it was past time) and then about a month later another screw punctured a brand new tire through the sidewall and needed to be replaced HOORAY.

I don’t want my two-year-old running back there, because he has NO CONCEPT of danger, or that cars can hit him and kill him. In fact, one of his favorite things to do while walking with someone is to pull away as soon as he gets to the street/alley, dart into the middle, and stand stock still while staring around wide eyed. Most of our streets are one-way residential streets with speed humps, but people still will RACE REALLY FAST in the spaces between the speed humps or else down the alleys (to make up for lost time?) and they generally treat stop signs  as more a suggestion for other people (lessor mortals, perhaps) and not, like, a hard and fast rule that applies to them.

So leaving the house kind of fills me with terror. Really basic stuff can seem insurmountable. What if he poops and needs to be changed? What if he throws up? (he has not thrown up in MONTHS. He has thrown up 4 times in HIS ENTIRE LIFE, and one time was because he was carsick and one time was because he coughed too hard. WHY DOES THIS FREAK ME OUT.) What if he falls over and breaks all his limbs? What if he runs out in front of a car? What if my pants split open? (THIS LAST IS A REAL DANGER. DO NOT LAUGH.) (OK, you can laugh a little.) What if he gets tired and needs to be carried home, but my collar bone injury is acting up and it causes searing pain to carry him and then my lower back goes out? What if wild dogs attack us? Or wolves? WHAT IF THERE ARE WOLVES.

So I decided to start small today.

I got out some sidewalk chalk. SO FAR SO GOOD. I got both Niko and myself dressed. RIGHT ON. I got a bubble blower gun thing we’d just purchased at Target, and found that you need a tiny screw driver to install the battery. I hid the toy so Niko wouldn’t see it and demand to play with it. I got the camera. I herded us outside.

Niko fell down the stairs.

OH NOES, right? It wasn’t that bad. Our front stairs have a bit where the final 4 stairs kind of turn a bit and the hand rail doesn’t go all the way down. Niko got distracted by a scooter the upstairs tennants left in the front hall, missed a step, wasn’t holding onto the rail, and tumbled right down and rolled across the floor. Then he popped right up.

“Out,” he said. “Out!”


We went out for about half an hour. I walked around in the grass with no shoes on (bliss!). Niko scribbled on the sidewalk, found his new best friend (a rock, named “rock.” he likes to give it kisses.), and drove a truck along a raised wooden walkway only to throw it over the edge, holler “OH NO TRUCK,” go retrieve it, and repeat the process… over and over and over again.

He also figured out how to take his jacket off.

Niko really hasn’t figured out how to take his clothing off, or put it on. If I’m taking his shirt off or putting it on, he moves his arms around and helps. He recently figured out how to do the easy parts of a zipper (getting it started is hard). But he doesn’t really dress or undress himself. Not even his shoes! Well, his old shoes that had crappy velcro, he could get those off. But these ones, he totally can’t. At all. His failure is hilarious, because he tries to take them off while standing up. The same with his socks. He stands up, his socks on his feet, and tugs at the toes of the socks until he goes off balance and then gets all angry that his socks made him fall over. So getting his jacket off is kind of a big deal, and also I think something most other kids learn when they are like 18 months old. :/

The problem, however, was two fold. 1) It’s early May, and still pretty chilly out. To put this into perspective, when I hosted an alternate prom my Senior year, it was in early May. We all went camping for 3 days and 2 nights. Somebody got frost bite. It wasn’t BAD, but you know. Frost bite. 2) He knew he was supposed to leave his jacket on.

So he’d run to the far corner of the yard (which isn’t very far), shrug off his jacket, give me A LOOK, then throw the jacket onto the ground and step all over it in triumph. It was like a dance of victory. Then, pretty soon, he’d get cold and say “brr, brr” and bring the jacket back to me and I’d help him put it on, and he’d run back to the far corner and strip it off and do a jig on it. Lather, rinse, repeat for like ten times.

As I tried to herd Niko inside, he gave me the slip and did a runner for the back. He made it out into the alley. I was able to grab him up and carry him inside with no real problems. We both survived the excursion, and he ate a good lunch and fell asleep (he’s been sleeping HORRIBLY recently, in part due to Nesko having a grueling work schedule and Niko not seeing him for days at a stretch). If I don’t freak out at the last minute, I’ll try taking him to an actual park on Wednesday. Heck, it’s Nesko’s late day (as in, he goes in late and stays late). Maybe we’ll go to the park as a family. There is a park right near Target, so we can go there and then maybe I can get some pants that aren’t ten years old and made of disintegrating fabric.


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All Talk

Wednesday, 27 April 2011 10:40
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko came bolting out of the bedroom the other day, clutching Nesko’s belt.

“I NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE DIT!” he hollered, then wrapped the belt around his neck. As an aside, you know all those warnings on things with strings and dangly bits that say to keep them away from toddlers? It’s because toddlers are actively suicidal and like to wrap things around their throats. Their survival instinct is basically nil.

I untangled him and brought the belt back to Nesko, who gave Niko a loving lecture about how that was HIS belt and HE NEEDED IT. Apparently “I need it” is a thing Nesko says a lot when Niko takes something of his. I say “bring that to me. Put it in my hand.” I give direction. Nesko gives a reason. “I need it.” And it’s a phrase that Niko loves.

He’s been carrying things around saying “I NEEEEEEEED IT” for a few days now, and when he wants something he’ll point and say “I NEED IT.” He’s also progressed to saying “I GOT IT” and “I NEED YOU. I NEEEEEEEEEEEE DYUUUUUUUUUUU.” Super adorbs? Yes.

He’s still saying “Oh my!” when something surprising (or fake surprising, like a car falling off the table when he’s pushed it off) happens. He looks for people and things saying “where (item/person)? Where cu be? I dunknow.” with a little shrug and hand flutter at “I dunknow.”

He picked up “read the book” a while ago, and he’ll present books to us with the command “reada book!”, but has also progressed to “baby read book.” He says that when he’s sitting by himself perusing a book, either describing what’s going on in the pictures or else saying nonsense words because he’s “reading” the text.

One of his favorite books is “Babies” by Gyo Fujikawa. It’s about, you know, babies. There’s a 2 page spread of babies tearing up the pea patch (so to speak) with the line “sometimes they are naughty.” One of the naughty babies is dumping a glass of water on the floor, and the picture has always entranced Niko. He used to scold the baby (“No! Nenene! Wawa. Noooooo! no wawa.”) and now that he’s a bit more verbal he refers to all spills as  naughty, or “nauny.” Which was kind of hilarious yesterday when, while admonishing him to be careful as he practiced drinking from a cup, I knocked over a full glass of lemonade and became “nauny mama. OH NO.” He also refers to his own behavior as “nauny” when he’s doing something we’ve told him he shouldn’t do, like fiddle with my ball of yarn (which, yes, he still screams at and fake cries at sometimes, possibly more as a joke/reminisce than anything else) or throw shoes.

He’s saying “purple” and “green” now, to the best of his toddler abilities, but still refuses to say “pink.” We’re working on that, and on brown, white, and black. He can repeat numbers one through ten, but doesn’t say them on his own or say what number comes after a spoken number. He refers to ABC books as “AyebeeZHEEEE” books and can identify all the vowels with a 90% success rate where “identify” is “point them in a mixed group,” and can pick out some consonants as well.

He does a lot of babbling/mumbling/baby talk that’s salted with both English and Serbian words and phrases. I’m understanding more and more of what he says.   He’ll pack a “real” word, or group of words, inside of toddlerbabble, like he’s got to pad out the sentence a bit, but it’s getting easier to understand what he says, and what he means.  It’s pretty cool.



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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko’s had a minor vocab explosion lately, both spoken and signed.

One of the things he’s picked up has been the sign for crying.

He still narrates long stories about how the ball of yarn I have freaked his shit out, including fake screaming and then a Very Sad Face with the sign for crying. He also signs crying when I sing “3 Little Kittens” to him. “…and they began to cry” I sing, and he draws tears on his face.


Mirrored from Now Showing!.

brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Yesterday, everything was just kind of off except for Niko’s nap which was actually a good one (although he was restless and kept crying out– and even crying– while sleeping. Poor kiddo.)

The epitome of out-of-synch-ness was when I was on-line checking email really quickly (I’m expecting an email) and I heard faint rustling that I did not investigate. FOOL! Soon after that I heard an ominous quiet. You know that clichéd line “it’s quiet…. TOO QUIET”? Well, sometimes it’s true that a sudden silence has a thick and ominous presence to it. Birds stop singing in the trees. Dogs are too afraid to bark. The house stops settling. The people upstairs pick up the cd player that’s been playing the same song on repeat for the past five days and flick it off, to better hear the approaching doom. Everything was quiet. And then I heard a cheerful “yeeeeAAAHHHH!” and I knew I had to investigate.

Niko had gotten hold of a bag of goldfish crackers that I swear to GOD I had put up very high out of his reach, dumped them on the living room floor, and was stomping his feet up and down on them as though he were marching in place, grinding them into the carpet. And entire package. Like he was trying to make wine out of them. A fine, dry, cheddary wine.

Q: Why would you do that?

A: Because I’m a toddler!

I made several stabs at cleaning up the living room, but each time I did something Niko undid it. A lot of it was excited “OH HEY I FORGOT I HAD THIS TOY/BOOK MUST INVESTIGATE” fun times, some of it was just good-natured dumping stuff back on the floor fun. He did pick up something like 45% of this wooden train stuff on his own and put it in a bin, which is a plus.

Yesterday, at nap time, Niko was so tired he threw a tantrum about being tired… while lying in bed, ready for a nap. That’s some tiredness right there.

Sometimes the little stuff threatens to overwhelm me. Like, on the one hand, it’s just a packet of goldfish. On the other hand, was I being neglectful? He had enough time to go into the kitchen, grab them, go into the living room, dump them, and start grinding away. What if it had been a knife? And then there’s the fact that money’s been really incredibly tight lately because he was an unexpected car emergency that needed to be fixed right away (as opposed to the car emergencies that need to be fixed, but we can put them off for a bit) that took an unexpected chunk out of our income and now grocery money is tight… tight enough that dumping $5 worth of food on the floor and grinding it into dust kind of hurts. I mean, we haven’t been buying bread lately because it’s about $5 a loaf, and I can make (mediocre) bread for so much cheaper with ingredients I already have on hand, so… yeah. I know this situation won’t last forever, but there’s a higher level of frustration with food waste right now than there normally is.

Then other times with Niko are super great. Most of the times with him are super great. The other night, Nesko and I sat on the couch and Niko rocketed between us for hugs and cuddles, dashing between the two of us to beep our noses while saying “ONK! ONNNNNK!” And it all evens out, you know?

But seriously. An entire packet of gold fish crackers.

Glad I didn’t get the enormous jumbo box.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

When you hear that someone has a freezer full of cookies, you might think “Oh! It’s Girl Scouts Cookie Season!” or maybe “Ah! Holiday Cookie Mailing Prep!”

In my case the answer is much more… farcical.

Nesko was on full baby toddler patrol on Saturday while I did some work in the office. Things got very quiet outside, beyond the closed door, but I figured they were playing trains or reading or playing a game on Nesko’s phone. Then, a few minutes later, I heard little not-quite-crying sounds and scratching at the door.

If Niko was looking for me, that must mean that Nesko’s in the bathroom, I thought. Time to take a break from work and start toddlerwork! I opened the door and… was not pleased by what I saw standing, grinning, in front of me.

Niko had gotten into the fridge and was standing at the door clutching a carton of eggs, a packet of raspberries, and some shredded mozzarella cheese to his chest. “Baby myom myom?” he asked hopefully. “eat! eat! baby myom myom. MMMMMM!”

Apparently he was hungry.

Toddlers need to be fed. WHO KNEW? I gathered the fridge goods from him and went into the kitchen so I could check out the eggs. I could tell that one was cracked, right away, so I slapped it into a bowl to make scrambled eggs out of. I looked over the carton, found a few more cracked but not leaking ones… and then saw the other carton of eggs on the floor.

In all, we lost 10 eggs to toddler-based attrition. I slapped five of them in a bowl before realizing that 1) that was too many eggs for Niko to eat (duh) 2) also: he asks for eggs but then doesn’t eat them 3) nobody else is hungry. I slipped the rest of the eggs into 1/2 cup sized containers with snap on lids and stashed everything in the fridge. Then, on Sunday, I made cookies to use up the single-serve broken eggs.

I made four batches of cookies: 4 dozen peanut butter cookies, 7 dozen chocolate fudge with pecan cookies, 7 dozen chocolate chip with pecan cookies, and 7 dozen very disappointing sugar cookies (do you have a good sugar cookie recipe? Hook me up.). Most of these cookies are now hanging out in our freezer so they don’t go bad or stale, and every time I open the freezer I get a little “oh is it Christmas?” feeling.

It doesn’t help that it snowed last night. There is snow on the ground. THE HELL.

Apparently it’s Christmas in April. Let me know if you’re coming by for cookies, hot cocoa, and caroling. Also, Egg Nog is now being sold in stores to celebrate Easter so we can have that Christmas stand-by as well.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I needed Niko to do something the other day (come over to me, I think) and he wasn’t responding to me calling his name and saying “come here” in both English and Serbian. He was just not listening! He was very busy doing something else (probably playing with trains).

I tossed out a counting to three threat and was STUNNED when it worked.

And has continued to work something like 95% of the time.

I phrase it like this:

Nikola, I am going to count to three. If you don’t come here/get in bed/drop that/etc I am going to come over there and get you. One… (long pause), Two….(long pause), Three!

Sometimes I use the “threat” “I’ll do something you don’t like” (which, really, is me going over there and getting him). I did that the other day when I was on a step ladder while he was in another room, and then suddenly he was RIGHT UP BEHIND ME and not getting down and slightly pushing me off balance and I couldn’t get down with him right there. I am not sure what I would have done if he hadn’t done as I directed and climbed down, but once he was down I got down and then I let him climb up and down the ladder to his heart’s content (it’s only got two steps).

I think a big part of why this works is that it:

  • Tells him clearly what I want him to do
  • Gives him an ultimatum (if he doesn’t come here on his own, I will get him and bring him here)
  • Gives him a CHOICE (he can come on his own OR I will get him, but there is the same ultimate result)
  • Gives him time (until I count to three) to transition from what he’s doing to what I want him to do

Sometimes I’ll give him a second chance, if he was super into something and didn’t have enough time to wind down, and I’ll count to three slowly again.

But most of the time it works. And it makes all of our lives much easier.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

We went to a spring-y party some friends of ours hosted over the weekend, which included a fish release in a pond/canned goods party, brunch, and egg dying. And lots of babies/toddlers. We left before the egg dying because we live about an hour away from them and had to get up very early to make it to the fish release and the egg dying kicked off riiiiiight around nap time. So we scooted on out of there. It was fun, but there was one issue.

One parent brought her two kids, one of whom was getting over a cold and was mobile and putting EVERYTHING into her mouth and sucking/chewing on it (which is, you know, developmentally appropriate) including Niko’s toys. And her infant child sat in a seat and hacked and gagged and snotted and coughed wetly, spreading germs into the air.

Dude. If your kids are sick, please fucking keep them home.

Niko’s been out of sorts and hair-trigger tantrum-y the past few days, and yesterday and today he’s had this croupy phlegmy cough (which involves coughing so hard he can’t breathe, making a face, chewing, and swallowing whatever he just horked up. AWESOME.). He isn’t running a fever (yet) but he seems on the cusp of illness.

And last time he had a lung-involved cold? He stayed sick for a really long time. Because he has asthma. Because this shit settles in his lungs.

So, thanks parent who decided bringing your actively sick kids to a social function was a good idea. Now my kid’s getting sick, and he’s going to be gasping and wheezing for weeks, miserable and unable to breathe.


On the other hand, Niko had a blast dumping a bucket of minnows into a pond, played on a brand new playground, played with a bunch of kids at the playground, ran around a jogging trail, ate a bunch of really fresh fruit, and played with a bunch of little kids and practiced sharing toys. He totally didn’t mind that someone else was slobbering all over his beloved Thomas And Friends water squirty tub toy trains, although he got a little possessive over a pink princess ride-on toy. Because, you know. Car. Vroom.

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brigid: Two adults and a child, wearing gas masks, peer into a pram. (parenting)

Oh yeah, I was going to do this every Monday, right? Ha ha!

What I’ve made this weekend includes:

  • A foot and a half of crocheted scarf
  • A pot of chicken stock
  • Barbecued pulled chicken
  • 2 half-sized lasagnas, in the freezer
  • 3 dishes of breaded chicken tenders, in the freezer
  • A huge mess in the kitchen
  • A lot of clean dishes
  • A clean bathroom

I still need to strain the stock, then let it sit in the fridge and have the fat solidify, and then tomorrow or the next day I’ll turn it into soup. Or start turning it into soup. I’m not sure which yet.

I have a recipe for sugar cookies I’m sitting on (just didn’t have the time today) and I need to actually post stuff to my recipe blog. It’s pretty time consuming to do that, though. And I have cold feet for some freakish reason. I DON’T EVEN KNOW.

We went to a fish release/easter egg coloring party on Saturday but left before the egg coloring because we had to get up waaaaay too early to get to the fish release (it was about an hour away) and Niko was crashing from lack of nap. He’s at that awkward stage where he no longer just sacks out wherever, whenever but he still needs a nap or we all suffer. On the plus side, he interacted with a BUNCH of babies and toddlers and walked the full length of a trail circuiting a soccer field. Well, he RAN RAN RAN until he ran out of steam and then he jogged, and then he walked. He’s so hilarious: he yells “RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN” while running.

Speaking of crochet and running, Niko is getting used to the ball of yarn. He calls it “mama ball” and pats it gingerly, and also fiddles with the length of yarn leading to my active crochet work, and tugs on what I’m working on. HELPFUL LIKE A CAT. He also calls it “not tootoot” and reminds me of when it USED to be a train (when it was in skein form) and tells me The Very Sad Story Of The Ball Of Yarn That Used To Be A Train. It goes like this:

Oh yeah! Tootoot! Mwah! Tootoot! TOOOOOTOOOOOT! Oh no! Not tootoot! BALL! Mama ball! AHHHH AHHH AHHH AHHH AHHH!

Yes, he includes screaming in the story. And signs tears coming out of his eyes/down his face. Because the transformation into ball of yarn SCARED HIM and made him cry.

This morning, Nesko wouldn’t let him have a second dose of (chewable, gummy) vitamins. Niko had a full on tantrum. This is, in general, rare for him. He’s stubborn, but he bounces back from being denied stuff. No, this was just TERRIBLE. The worst thing EVER. No vitamins? HOW CRUEL. Nesko told Niko that if he ate more vitamins, his tummy would hurt. Bleah! Bah! Bad!

I cuddled Niko in the living room until he calmed down and drank some milk and ate something. And then he told me what had just happened. “No myomyom. No! Nenene! Tata myomyom NO. NOOOOOOOO. Bah. Bleeeeeeyeh. No myom myom!” And then he made the sign for crying again. Because he cried.

Have I shared my latest terrible parenting? Nesko and I watch “The Venture Bros” with Niko in the room. He doesn’t pay attention to most non-train-having TV, but he likes this show and asks for more at the end. He dances to the theme music and beats out percussion on his little pink plastic chair.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

A friend of mine came over on Wednesday to teach me how to crochet and watch some old Highlander Season 1 episodes and gently (lovingly) mock them. Nesko had a potential job/training thing that morning, so he didn’t drop Niko off at his parents’ as is usual on Wednesdays, so Niko got to hang with my friend (who he really likes, so that’s always cool. He especially likes eating any food she is eating.) She brought with her a skein of yarn and Niko had fun playing with it, holding it, petting it, hugging it, kissing it, calling it a tootoot (because it’s long, like a train) and a mew mew (because it’s soft, like a kitty). He also patted it, then patted the rug, because the fibers feel pretty similar.

Then my friend started unskeining the skein and turning it into a ball.

And he freaked out.

He wouldn’t come near us on the couch. He said “no” a lot. He clutched his hands and made a fretful face. When we tried to encourage him to touch the ball he refused. If we offered it to him, he ran away.

This child does not deal with change well.

Today saw me crocheting and ripping the stitches out to start again (haha, ripping them out. I just, you know, pulled the end until it all unraveled) because I am one of those people who works really small– which is one reason knitting is such torment to me (the other reason is that I have a problem following spatial directions and telling left from right– this is an actual problem with my actual brain– so doing unfamiliar stuff like knitting throws me for a loop unless someone is showing me in a very specific way how to do it. I can cast on like nobody’s business but the next step? Uh. Yeah.) so part of what I’ve been doing is making my stitches larger so I’m not, you know, crocheting Kevlar. Anyway, Niko wouldn’t come near me most of the day when I was crocheting and kept calling the ball of yarn “no ball” and “tootoot ball” (because when it was a skein, it was a train, get it?) and running away if the ball got too close to him. By the evening (and Nesko’s return) Niko would sit on the couch next to me, and he kept talking about rolling the ball, but he wouldn’t touch it. He stopped running away if I offered it to him, though. He just stood there looking worried.

I don’t know what it is about change that freaks him out so much. I’m glad it isn’t worse than it is… he doesn’t freak out when I peel an orange or cut up an apple. But it still worries me. I mean, grass used to freak him out. Grass. The stuff that grows in the dirt and people walk and sit on (or don’t walk or sit on because OMGGRAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS). The first time it rained on him, and he was aware of rain, he could not cope. (He’d been out in rain, drizzle, as an infant but, you know, didn’t remember that or something.)

It maybe sounds like I keep this kid in a dim basement with nothing but three wooden blocks and a spoon for amusement. I swear, we go out! We do stuff! He is exposed to new things! Some of those new things just… really wig him out, I guess.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Today has been filled with rather more urine than I was expecting.

Apparently I live in a fantasy world where naked toddlers instinctively know how to use a toilet, I don’t even know. Niko is very willing to sit on his little potty, and even stand in front of it and hold his penis… or stand ON IT (it has a lid and makes a little step stool) and stand in front of the toilet while holding his penis, his back slightly arched to point his penis more carefully into the bowl (he has good form). But… nothing happens.

And then he’s running around the kitchen naked and peeing on his feet and saying “oh no!” and running away before I can usher him into the bathroom and the plethora of toilets in there. Yes, perhaps we should move his potty OUT of the bathroom and into the kitchen so it’s more available, but when he has free access to the potty he uses it as a small toy chest. This is behavior I wish to discourage. I’m sure you can imagine why.

The problem with peeing on a tile floor when one is a naked toddler, is that one will then step into the puddle of urine, slip, and fall. Into the urine. Sending it splashing around. This is not comfortable, and it also makes a mess.

Niko very gamely helped me clean up the urine with paper towels, and then I mopped up the floor with a damp rag. And then he peed again. On the floor. “OH NO! PEEPEE!”

Urine, unlike vomit, doesn’t phase me. Heck, I’m not even that wigged out by poop. It’s not the pleasantest thing in the world, but I grew up owning dogs and I spent a summer mucking out horse stalls as part of community service. It’s not that big a deal.

But I still wasn’t prepared for just how much urine there would be.

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Tuesday, 5 April 2011 01:23
brigid: Two adults and a child, wearing gas masks, peer into a pram. (parenting)

Niko added a new word to his repertoire: Yellow.

He’s resisted saying this word, although he recognizes it and points to things that are yellow. But he wouldn’t say it. Just like he rarely says “pink” or “purple,” although he’s said them in the past. Just like he usually won’t say “djedo” (grandpa), instead referring to my father-in-law as “not baba” (not grandma).

I broke it down for him, chirping out “yeh-yoh!” in my brightest, most exclamatory voice. “yeh! Yeh! Can you say “Yeh?” Yeh-yoh!”. He picked it up very quickly after that, after the word was given to him in sounds he could reproduce, after he was given permission to say it the word differently (no “L” to trip him up).

My father-in-law came over today to fix our heat (which was out all weekend– glad it’s been warmer lately). Due to the nature of our vintage building, our heater is in what used to be the pantry (OH GOD I WANT TO RECLAIM THAT SPACE AS A PANTRY), and the fridge is in the doorway of that pantry. He was entering and exiting through what used to be a window (there’s a door over it) leading into the pantry from the external stair well. Niko gets super excited when his djedo is behind the fridge, and dances around in the kitchen trying to peek between the fridge and the wall to see into the little room back there and spot my FIL. He doesn’t think he’s inside the fridge, he knows he’s behind it (although that would be HILARIOUS). He was dancing around today calling my attention, and telling me that djedo was there. And he said “djedo.” Like, two or three times. It came out more as “dedo,” but it was recognizable. He was so excited, and so eager to communicate, that he said it even though it wasn’t “right.”

And then he wouldn’t say it later, even when djedo was playing with him, and trying to coax him into saying it.

We showed off a bit, and Niko said “blue” and “red” and “orange” (he says it fine now, no hesitation) and I pushed things and tried to get him to say “purple.” He wouldn’t. My FIL says he saw Niko’s lips make the shape for “P” and then he stopped.

He’s a careful and hesitant child in a lot of ways. I mean, you know, sure he’ll throw himself off the couch or clamber to the top of a seven foot tall slide and go shooting down, but there are some risks he just doesn’t take until his feet are under him.

Nesko and I both have perfectionist traits and while that’s something people list as a positive thing, it can really hold a person back when it gets out of hand. Niko isn’t doing things he is able to do, because he isn’t doing them well enough. He isn’t saying words he is capable of saying, because he isn’t saying them well enough. But look at him, he’s saying “orange” now when previously he wasn’t because it was hard. And each time he says it, it sounds better. So I’m confident he’ll, you know, eventually say “purple.” But I’m anxious for him, and I’m worried that this will impact him later in life.

In the mean time, I’m delighting in the fact that he kept pointing to my feet all day, at my fuzzy yellow socks, and saying “yehyoh. Mama yehyoh.” and then he’d pat his chest, his orange shirt, and say “ouraaaaaannnn.” And then he’d smile, all proud.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Just a post for myself, both some things Niko is currently doing and some school readiness notes for myself. Brace yourselves for an upcoming post about how the Chicago Public Schools system works. (spoiler: not well.)

Niko consistently names the colors “red” and “blue” (“weh” and “beeeyuuuu”) although sometimes he automatically adds “tar” (car) or “tootoo” (train) after the color name, because he’s usually talking about red cars or blue trains or whatever.

He sometimes says “pink” (“bih”), “purple” (“burrpuh”) and “orange” (“ourah”) but doesn’t seem comfortable saying the words.

He can identify red, blue, pink, orange, green, yellow, purple, black, and white. He will point to or fetch the appropriately colored item (block, car, sock) or shake his head no/yes to indicate what color something is (is the shirt green? no? yellow? no? red? no? orange? yes!).

He recently learned to say peekaboo (pee-ka-BOO) and is all about hiding and popping out now. He also plays peekaboo: he hides his face, and says “where da baby?” and “where da mama?” then “PEE KA BOO!”

He loves exclamations like A-HA!, dances when he sees a penguin (I guess that’s what penguins do? they dance?), picked up the word “wiggle” (WIIIGUH!), and apparently cheers himself on with the phrase “good job!” when he’s at my in-laws (it’s a phrase I use when he accomplishes something; I never hear him use it at home).

Nesko was in the bathroom the other day and Niko went looking for him. “Where tata? Where cu bee? (where could he be?)” At my in-laws, he phrases the same questions in Serbian. “To baba?”

He describes things by color (if he has the color name) and by descriptor. A truck is a “bit tah!” (big car). A toy car is a “baby tah!” “Beeyuuuuu baby tah!”

He also describes things by what they are NOT. The back of a book we have features photos of other books in the series: a book about a tractor, a bulldozer, and a fire engine. Niko is always excited to see these machines (flipping to the back cover is part of the story time experience with that book), and he is quick to point out that they are not trains, and are not cars.

He calls his pacifier, which we (Nesko and I, and Nesko’s family… basically every single person he encounters) consistently call a susula, a “nyu nyu.” He manages to make a sucking/suckling sound when saying that. Nesko’s able to replicate it, I’m not.

He calls Nesko’s mom “baba” and Nesko’s dad “not baba.” I think it’s because he has a hard time saying “djedo,” although he’s said it before when he fell in some snow and his hands got cold and wet. He was hesitant to start walking until he was comfortable doing so, confident that he wouldn’t fall over. I think he could have started walking weeks or more before he actually let go. New words seem to have the same caution. He can say “orange” and “purple” and “pink,” but he can’t say them well, so he doesn’t say them often… when, ironically, saying them more frequently would lead to saying them better. Obviously, I need to keep working with him on colors and encourage him to say these words.

He’s really starting to echo phrases we use (“good job,” “where could he be?”) as a way of conversing, but is also putting words together on his own… sometimes delightedly (“beyuuu tootoo. bih too too. Bih beyuuu tootoo!” (blue train. big train. big blue train.)). He likes certain verbal sounds (which reminds me of Crusty the Clown talking about funny words… “mukluk” is funny. Some words are just inherently funny; Niko agrees.) and picks up some words very quickly… pickle, wiggle, goofball.

He consistently recognizes the letter “o.” He can pick out lower case p, b, and d as being similar, and tends to call them all “b,” but will correct himself if prompted. He calls “m’s” myom myom because he eats M&Ms (myom myom is food). He recognizes other letters as being distinct shapes… He kept pointing to two Ys that were on the same item, in different fonts and colors.

His interest in counting consists mostly of tapping/pointing at things while I count aloud. If I ask him the color of something and he knows it but can’t/won’t say it, he does a similar tapping then nods when I name the color. So I’m hoping actual verbal counting comes soon, he’s just holding himself back. He “counts” on his own, tapping things and saying “dah dah dah” at each tap.

He calls circles and ovals “Ohhhhs.” I need to work with him on other shape names. He’s got a shapes puzzle I need to pull out so we can name shapes together.

I know there are parents who use flash cards. I’m not sure how interested Niko would be in flash cards. I’m thinking of making an alphabet book of our own… also thinking of working with Nesko to do one in Serbian, both in Latin and Cyrillic. It would be educational for me, that’s for sure. I practice counting 1-10 in both English and Serbian with Niko, but the words are only in English when we read counting books. I might do a Serbian counting book as well.

Niko got 3 wooden train sets for his birthday (spoiled much? yes. yes, he is.) and he’s been playing with them pretty much non stop. Two of them have bridges that involve a curved (not curved like a quarter circle, curved like a rocking S shape) track. These curved tracks frustrate him because they don’t lie FLAT, they need supports, they’re easily knocked over, etc. I put all four curved pieces away so he wouldn’t encounter them and get frustrated/angry/upset. He found them, dragged them back down, and… connected them into a sinuous shape, wedging blocks under them for support, and basically treated them like a roller coaster track for his trains. “Whee,” he said. “whee!” They’re still a frustrating thing because the way they are curved they don’t connect flat with the other pieces (one end connects with the normal flat track, the other end curves up into the air) so the trains can get hung up on the connectors. But he found a cool way to play with them anyway. He is good at solving problems.

Pre-K gifted program tests include questions about the days of the week, months of the year, and seasons. We haven’t touched on that at all. At all, at all.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I have short arms.

I mean, I’m short all over, so I don’t have a very long reach, and it’s not like my arms are INCREDIBLY short, but it’s hard to find shirts that fit. In general, unless I get 3/4 length sleeves, the cuffs come down to my knuckles.

My best friend calls me T-Rex, or “T” for short, and mocks me for having tiny, ineffectual T-Rex arms. Which is totally unfair because her name STARTS WITH A T so I can’t refer to her as “T” even though that is her initial, because she has cruelly decried MY nickname to be “T” because I have stumpy arms.

Sometimes I lie and tell people I’m called T-Rex because of my insatiable appetite for raw meat, and supernumerary teeth (NOTE: I actually have supernumerary teeth. Or had. They were pulled when I was younger. They did not grow back, like shark teeth do, THANK GOD). People… only believe me about half the time.

ANYWAY, Niko is 24 months old (TWO!!!!! HE IS TWWOOOOOOOO!) and 2T sized onesies are too short for him, and 2T pants are a bit snug around his tummy, and even though he’s got a tiny head 2T sized shirts sometimes get stuck on his melon, so we went out and got a bunch of 3T sized clothing.

The pants are all too long.

Little dude is in the 75th percentile for height, and his pants are too long.

“It’s like he’s got stumpy little legs or something,” I opined to my beloved husband.

“Oh,” he said. “He takes after me, then. And my dad. And my brothers. Long, lean torsos; short and stumpy legs. We are practically deformed. Sorry.”

I haven’t spent a great deal of time observing my male in-law’s physiques, but let me tell you, Nesko is nothing short of perfect. So I don’t accept the “deformed” rhetoric. But yeah, his very fine legs aren’t as long as they could be, and he does have a problem with shirts not being quite long enough.

Stumpy legs it is. My child has stumpy legs.

Now to see if he also has stumpy arms and extra teeth.

Sorry, kid.

Puberty is going to kick your ass.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

My child is not a super genius.


I picked up the Goodnight Moon Board Game1 at the thrift store when Niko was still an infant because it was like 75 cents and had all the pieces. The age range is 2 1/2 and up, although that link says it’s ages TWO and up. We currently have all our board games in the bedroom, stacked up on a chair and on the windowsill (please don’t ask, it’s a foolish and boring story) and he saw the Goodnight Moon game’s box. He loves the book so he darted over to the box and tapped on it insistently with his finger. I figured that even though he isn’t 2 1/2 yet, he is obviously a super genius and so we could play the game together and he could thrill me with his superior matching skills.

Yeah, no. He’s too young for the game, although we did have fun looking at the pieces and the cards and the pictures on them.

The only board image he could match a card picture to was the fireplace, because he is weirdly obsessed with Clement Hurd’s fireplaces and goes to great lengths to point at them whenever we read Goodnight Moon… or The Runaway Bunny, which has a picture of Goodnight Moon‘s cover complete with fireplace on the back of it, and the little bunny and mother bunny cuddled in front of a fireplace at one point, too. So that’s one image out of six.



I mean, compared to other parenting blogs featuring 2 year olds, shouldn’t he be speaking in full sentences, tying his own shoes, preparing dinner, and counting to 100 (in five languages) by now? I mean, he IS two. Sure, he can jump with both feet off the ground, do push ups, and sing all 99 verses of 99 bottles of beer on the wall. But is that ENOUGH?

I’ll have to bust out some more flash cards or something.

At this rate he will NEVER get into a prestigious preschool, and the Ivy Leagues will be forever out of his reach.


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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)
  • Get your hands out of my underpants.
  • Please stop plucking at my thigh hairs.
  • Dirty clothing goes in the basket, not rubbed against your face.
  • No, you cannot have that cupcake; you already had one for breakfast.
  • MUST you rub your face against my bottom?
  • Oh boy! It’s time to poop! I am pooping! Poop is coming out of my butt and going into the potty! LIKE A BIG GIRL!
  • What do you mean you don’t want M&Ms? TAKE THE LURE.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

We have somehow managed to keep Niko alive for two years which, given our track record with house plants and hermit crabs, is amazing. Of course, babies/toddlers are a bit more vocal about needing food/water/sleep so a great deal of the credit goes to Niko himself.

Two years ago today I was doped up in a hospital bed sweating like crazy wondering (in a drug induced haze) why there was a hooting monkey in the room with me. Eventually I woke up and realized that the “hooting monkey” was an itty bitty baby, one that I could hold cradled in one arm while typing relatively normally.

Now that itty bitty baby is a 30 pound 2 year old who runs through the apartment while hollering RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN and GOOOOOOOOOOOOO GO GO GO GO GO GOOOOOOOOOOOOO. We got him a wooden train set for his birthday, and he’s been having an incredible time moving the trains around on it, disassembling it, putting all the pieces away, dumping the pieces back onto the floor, and then connecting the tracks and repeating the cycle.

"Niko plays with a wooden train on the dining room table"

Niko plays with his newest wooden train on the dining room table, after breakfast.

He has somehow managed not to learn any cusses (how? HOW?) and calls all letters EEEEEEEEEEEE or OHHHHH! He has a vibrant, cheerful personality and is always on the move. He has recently discovered toddlerface, so photos may never be the same.

"toddler face"

Niko pulls a toddler face for the camera.

He has a sense of humor, most recently evidenced by pretending to eat food by shoving it into his nose, ear, eye, or hair (I know I’m not supposed to encourage that, but it’s effing HILARIOUS, especially when he cracks himself up); he likes word play; he loves books (and falls asleep cuddled up with them sometimes); he loves music and applauds when people sing to him.

"Niko is surprised by the camera's flash"

Niko was surprised and delighted by the camera's flash last night.

He dances, a lot. He dances to the radio, he dances to people singing, he dances to his own singing. He makes up songs and sings them to himself while playing. He requests certain CDs. He throws his own dance party when Bach is played. He likes dancing with others, too, and likes being tossed around and tickled and turned upside down. He loves riding the train, and conquering the very tall slides at the park.

"Niko on a slide"

Niko on a slide taller than I am, watching trains come into the station a block away.

He was such a cautious toddler a year ago. I’m pretty certain he could have walked a month earlier than he actually did, but he was worried about tumbling down. That fear is gone now, and he throws himself at everything, running and jumping and climbing. He’s not entirely fearless, but he’s much more daring than I often feel comfortable with. He’s so bold. He’s so amazing.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

We’ve been having “issues” using Niko’s inhaler and spacer (with mask). He hasn’t been afraid of the spacer per se– he enjoyed carrying it around, calling it a train whistle, and pressing the mask briefly– briefly!– to his face. But he hated HATED hated us using it on him. I’m talking sobbing, flailing, clawing, back-arching, terror tantrums.

Last night, I asked Nesko to buy a package of M&Ms.

This morning, we used bribery.

Look. If you thought I was the kind of parent who was above bribery than I think you haven’t been reading this blog for very long. I will use any trick at all to make my life easier, including candy.

Sweet, delicious candy.

So we gave Niko his first dose early in the morning. Nesko sat with Niko in his lap and held him, I explained my way through the spacer/inhaler use, and then… 2 M&Ms! There was a struggle with the first use, but less of a struggle the second time. We dosed him again right before leaving the house to drop him off at Baba’s. He was reluctant at first, but the second dose? He was calm as anything. Patient. Compliant. The proud possessor of 2 M&Ms afterwards (although not for long, he quickly ate them).

My in-laws dropped him off (complete with a haircut/trim by my FIL, a man with 30 years’ experience cutting his sons’ and now his grandson’s hair), and we had some cuddle time and then I pulled out the spacer. He objected, not too strenuously, at first but when he saw the bag of M&Ms? Oh my yes. He cuddled in my lap and I put the mask on him and counted and demonstrated big inhales and he did everything I wanted him to do, as calm and patient as anything. I gave him much praise and 2 M&Ms after, and we read a short book, and then did the second dose. It went even easier than the first dose. Thank God.

I really hope that his ability to be bribed to use his spacer means we can also quickly and easily (and successfully!) incorporate bribery into potty training.

Anyway, after all that we read another book, then went to bed, where we read our traditional 2 books in bed… or tried to. He is having a love affair with a Richard Scarry book that has cars in it over a two-page spread, which means he ASKS for someone to read him the book but REALLY he just wants to keep turning the pages to that spread so he can look at the cars. Well. He is not allowed to do that all night. So I gave him fair warning I was going to turn the lights out on the count of three, did so, and didn’t force him to give up the book. He “read” the book with the lights out, then fell asleep with it on his face.

This is not the first time he’s fallen asleep with a book. Previously he feel asleep curled up with one.

Adorable? Yes. Nerdy? Oh hell yes. My child? Oh, definitely.

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