Keeping The Peace in the Far East

 

Today we had a little girl over to play. As she was leaving, we suggested that she might like to give Hugo a kiss good bye. Stella, meanwhile, objected. Quite vociferously. “NO HE’S MUY BRUDDER!!” And brothers are not for sharing, and certainly not for kissing by other small children. 

(Okay. So. Dead. Because, ADORABLE.)

And mostly this is how their relationship goes, Stella and Hugo. He is captivated by everything and anything she does because she’s a big kid and he so desperately wants to be a big kid. Plus she’s the sweetest, and quite honestly, I’m captivated too. She loves her brudder, and is quite sure that he is HER baby, and “Mama, wet me howld him, wet me touch him, wet me kiss him, why he sweeping? AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH, *screams* oh, wook! He’s awake! Goodie. Wet me hold him, okay? OKAY?”

So, most of the time things are peachy, if slightly over touchy and under nap-y, in our sibling relationship. 

But, curve ball: Hugo has just learnt how to use his hands. (Believe me, my salad bowl never saw it coming.)

So now, instead of one-sided wrestle-snuggle-fests, Hugo is an active participant, throwing out the odd scratchy hand, or grabbing a little side of face, or a handful of hair.  

And Stella gets UPSET, dismayed that her beloved brother would actually scratch her face or pull her hair, or otherwise inflict bodily harm. She doesn’t get that these are not calculated acts of violence, but rather nearly random movements by a person barely in control of his body. 

So, to keep peace in the far East, I always make a thing of telling Hugo to be gentle, or give him a light scolding for hurting his sister, or ask that he apologise. But other than that, I’m quite clearly out of my depth here.

 

How do I protect my girl’s feelings while getting her to simmer down just a bit about the whole HE PULWED MUY HAIR! stuff, because geeze, he's just a baby!

 

Suggestions? Please?

(Also, please note, these pictures are not staged. I just simply can not keep this child away from her brother, period then end. And okay, one more thing, I kind of love that.) 

 

A master stroke of parenting genius. Or Something.

So, this morning. This morning I fed one kid. Bathed one kid. Got the little kid dressed. Made breakfast. Fed myself and the other kid. Showered. Got myself dressed (makeup!!!!) Put the little kid down for a nap. Made the mis en place for dinner. Got the big kid dressed, hair done, teeth brushed, medicine taken. Packed snacks and school bags. Cut up some fruit for later. Picked up some toys, and wiped down some surfaces. Nursed the baby, then off in a taxi by 8:30 for school drop off. 

 

No tears were shed (well, a few baby tears, because come on, let’s be real here), no threats uttered, no shouty mummy moments endured. We got out the door and got to school on time like we’ve been doing this our whole lives. 

 

And I mean, it’s not a big deal, right? It’s just a mother caring for her children, meeting their daily needs with a reasonable degree of calm. Millions of mothers do this day in and day out. Feed the kids, get them dressed, and off to school.

 

But for me it feels like a master stroke of parenting genius.

 

Last time around I had such a hard time coping with the daily demands of a colicky, sleepless newborn, while transitioning into my new role as an at home mother in a new country in a new language. I never felt in control of our days. I really worried about doing it all again, but this time with a high-need big kid in the mix. 

 

But here I am, handling mornings, or taking both kids to lunch in a restaurant, or walking through the mall carrying one kid in the sling, and one on my hip and feeling like, yes. I am doing this. I’m competent and confident in basic childcare. My children are happy, And I’m happy. And I’m doing this. And it’s totally major.

 

(Please note, while we can successfully get through the morning or eat lunch in a restaurant, this is not a bragpost. My beds are always unmade, I haven’t vacuumed in donkey’s years, my email inbox is about to explode, there are toys everywhere, and I have yet to leave the house with an adequately stocked diaper bag. So.?) 

Nesting. Digitally.

I think I'm nesting.

But not in the way that is typical. I mean, our little nursery corner remains decidedly empty. I have not actually bought any of the tiny little onsies I've wish listed for our little boy. Our closets are a jumble of disorganisation and our windows are covered in fingerprints. 

But! My computer? Undergoing a major reorginisation. I'm cleaning up my photo archives and finally putting together a picture book of Stella's first year.

And, like wasn't she the most beautiful newborn you ever saw?

Those little fingers! I can see them still in her big girl hands. 


You guys! I'm getting SO excited to do this all over again. 

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Remembrances in Colics Past

I was recently scrolling through my Instagram feed where I happened upon a picture of Shannon's new baby Hudson. I had seen that look before, I though. THAT is the colic look. I'd recognise it anywhere, because I had a colic baby.

 

Colic babies have a look, you see. Their eyes narrow, glazed over as if retreating from this cold, bright world. Their faces are pinched in a three-month-long wince. You only need look into a colic baby's eyes to tell if it will be a good day or a bad one. A colic baby's face betrays all.

 THE LOOK. Right here.

Every day at 5:30 PM, I'd go through the same routine: Draw the curtains; turn on the AC and cool down the bedroom; heat up my dinner and place it on the bedside table; put on the white noise (or, if it was a particularly bad day, the vacuum, which I can imagine made me pretty popular in my apartment building); change diaper; swaddle baby; prepare for the onslaught.  

 

It would start with some fussing, and then soon wails. Piercing, soul-crushing screams. The painful howls that continued until late in the evening, when my girl would eventually pass out, exhausted  but no more comfortable.

 

Everything you read about colic is inconclusive, and nothing is very helpful. No one knows what causes it, or how to stop it. Some say it's gastrointestinal, and a change in diet will do the trick (nope!!), or baby massage will help (nope!!!), or perhaps some bicycle legs (also, NO.) Others say it's neurological, the harbinger of migraines, or the sign of an underdeveloped nervous system (ummm, thanks for scaring the pants off of me, and also, so what? Make the crying stop, PLEASE!!!) 

 

Regardless of the cause, most of what you read on the subject of colic will tell you not to be too concerned, your baby is fine, the colic will stop, and if you can't hack the screams, just put your kid in the crib and walk away. They'll be fine. 

 

 

A colic parent knows this is ridiculous. Its not the screaming that is unbearable (though that's totally  and completely unpleasant). It's the fact that you know your child is in distress. Just look at the eyes of a colic baby, and you can see something hurts. Something. What though? The stomach? Maybe? Headache? Nervous system overload? Whatever it is, there. It's painful.

 

When your baby has colic, time takes on a unfamiliar quality. The hours leading up to the witching time stretch and expand, heavy with anxiety. The months that lay before you seem to extend into vast infinity. You lose hold of the concept that 

 

We went to enormous lengths to figure out colic. We researched gripe waters, teas, swaddling techniques, sleep requirements, dietary changes, allergies, reflux, and other colic-busting contraptions.  Though we never really did pin down the exact cause of our daughter's suffering, we did find one thing that would calm her: a hammock. We installed it in our tiny bedroom, and I would pass the evening hours bouncing and swinging my girl in the cool darkness. For months I was bound to my bedroom from the hours between 6 and 10 PM, which was sub-optimal to be sure, but certainly a infinitely better than spending those hours knowing my kid was hurting.  

 

I came to even enjoy that time. It developed into a solemn ritual, something that I could do for my child to make her feel better when nothing else seemed to make her happy.

 

Since those months that feel so long ago and also so recent, I've discovered some international colic treatments, like The Juju Band, which is a modern take on an ancient practice of belly binding. From what I gather, belly binding is super common in Haitian culture, used to keep the tummy warm, which is apparently helpful in relieving colic. We all know that I'm happy to glean parenting wisdom from any culture that's willing to offer it. I may just give the Juju Band a try next time 'round, not least because they come in adorable patterns.  (I mean, if there is a next time. I'm kind of terrified of the prospect of combining a colicky infant with a rather spirited toddler.)

 

This post was sponsored by the kind people at Juju Band. All opinions herein are mine alone. 

Bedtime, you are the scourge of humanity.

Can I just interrupt my regularly scheduled lush-green-vista-wanderlust-adventure-seaking-rice-fields-train-track-type programming to talk for a moment about bedtime. Because, bedtime, sometimes you're a real asshole.

 

(Also, let's just employ a little bit of cognitive dissonance here and disregard the great destruction and loss that just occurred here in Jakarta and pretend that my nightly woes are significant, okay?)

 

I always have these grand ideas about what I'll do with that luxurious time after my kid's in bed and the evening stretches out, unblemished and pure. I'll drink wine! I'll read a book! Maybe take a bath! Or paint my toenails.

 

And then bedtime comes and all of the light goes right out of me.

 

For the uninitiated, here's a typical evening in the EpB household:

 

Brush teeth, read stories, sing a song and into bed. It's 7:30.

 

My child lays her head on the pillow, for exactly seven seconds. Then this: Sing songs. Request cuddles. Change positions a million times. Hold hands. Cuddle. No cuddle. Blankie. No blankie. Sing more songs. Ramble incoherently. Demand that I pat-pat-pat her bottom. Sit up, start talking about friends, requiring  to know the exact location of every person with whom she's ever made acquaintance. Mama, where's Nannie? Mama, where's Abio? Mama, where's teacher? 

 

"Stella, it's sleeping time. No talking." 

 

Thirty seconds silence. Then, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle, Twinkle, *reaches over and beeps my nose* and then it's "Wheels on the Bus". 

 

"Stella. GO TO SLEEP!"

 

One minute silence.

 

 "Merry Cripmas, Olivia. Merry Cripmas Ian, Merry Cripmas William, Merry Cripmas Julian, etc etc etc).

 

(Repeat for a hour).

 

Then, I lose my mind, storm out of the room, and my child produces some serious murder screams.

 

 

I come back because I'm a soft, lily-livered human.

 

I lie down next to my banshee, and eventually I fall asleep. Then she pokes me in the eyes. "WAKE UP, MAMA."

 

This goes on for all of eternity. 

 

Exhausted or rested, quiet time or crazy-baby time, early bedtime or late bedtime, it's a two-hour-bedtime. Every time.

 

All of which is to say, I have no idea what I'm doing. I don't know how to make my kid go to bed within a reasonable time frame. She's always been like this, from the time she was about two weeks old. 

 

Still, I take solace in two things: One, I no longer have to do this four times a day (three naps plus bedtime =how did I ever survive infancy?) And two, when I text my husband that a particularly terrible bedtime can only be endured with a bottle of whiskey, he takes me seriously. 

 

  


Linking up here.
Also, Top Baby Blogs has been reset, so I'd love it if you could vote now! A vote for us will really count now, and your support really matters to me! I have big dreams for this little blog, you know, and whatever, my 2.5 year-old is still my baby.
Click on the image below. And THANKS!

 

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Two-Year-Olds and Traveling Nirvana

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There is a point in a child's life, somewhere between the emergence of mobility and the traversal of the two-year mark where airplane travel ceases to be terrible. Friends, we've reached that point.

 

This trip across the ocean was positively pleasant. I watched a whole movie! An entire one! From start to finish. Granted it took me two hours to get through the first 20 minutes, but I finished it! Right to the credits!

 

And my child slept. A solid three hours or so! It was bliss. An answer to my prayers, a realization of a dream, a fantasy come true.

 

There were, shall we say, a few episodes, wherein my lovely daughter expressed her great displeasure at the injustice of having to wear a seat belt. And she refused to consume anything that wash a ka-ka ilchk (cup of milk) or anana (banana). And one of these aforementioned rage incidents involved a wrath attack in which it was revealed that Mr. Chef was correct in insinuating that I was psyho-crazed-bonkers to consider allowing my child on an airplane diaper-free and newly potty trained. 

 

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

 

I watched other mothers bounce and rock their very awake and over-stimulated infants in a battle for sleep impossible to win. There were women who were repeatedly  kicked in the face as their newly mobile child executed yet another arched-back swan dive in an attempt to escape and run through the curtains and into business class, shrieking all the way, while their husbands dozed unaware beside them. Weeeeeeeeeeehehehehheheheh! 

 

And I thought ladies, man. I've been there. I totally get it. It sucks so hard. But just you wait, ladies, in a few months you'll be able to rot your child's mind on TV and iPad and you two will enjoy a whole entire movie and that will make you endlessly happy.

 

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Easy

We got up at 4:30 this morning. Though, we had been awake since three. Restless tossing and scratching drove off drowsiness. I lay on the cot in her room, while she scratched and turned, sat up and stared for a while, then pitched her body towards the mattress, with no relief.

She clapped her hands when I lifted her out of her crib. Pointing to her chest and said, Mama? Funny joke, monkey.

I was tired like a hangover, and my stomach sour from three cups of coffee. But we did the dishes, and swept the floor and talked to our people on skype. 

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Nap time came with white sheets and open curtains.

In the kitchen I closed my notebook, to do lists postponed. We'll make it easy today, I told my girl. 

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We left piles of laundry on the couch and crumbs on the floor. We put out pans of water, whisks and measuring cups. We blew bubbles on the balcony, and waved to the big girls below. We ordered pizza and ate in front of the TV. My girl climbed into my lap and pressed her cheek into mine. She demanded my last piece of crust, and got it. Then she held out her last piece for me to bite, and said, "appy!"

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-Just Write.

-Counting Down to Mothers Day

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Toy Manufactures, This Is A Terrible Product

Dear manufactures of bathtub crayons:

I blame you for this:

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And this:

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And this:

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And this:

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And also for crayon on non-paper surfaces varied and sundry, including the dish drainer, plates, the couch, walls manifold and various, floors, windows, cats, novels, and of course, my baby.

I also blame you for a nervous breakdown (mine) and powerful frustration (my child's); mixed messages are difficult to interpret when you are one.

Thank you very much.

Jerks.

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XO, 

Me.

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Small Style, Potty Style

We've been rocking the potty training look around here, so high fashion toddler outfits are not really happening. In fact, today I was all, HOLY SMOKERS, everything is in the wash, (PEEEE PEEE) and I have no energy and no photos and it's raining and maybe this week Small Style is not going to happen. BUT, my girl chose this outfit all on her own. White shirt, rockin socks, cute bow, and big girl underwear, the latter she is like totally stoked about, btw. (Aside: let's talk about the fact that my child and I spend about 10 minutes straight yesterday going over her very astute observation that SHE was wearing underwear and I was wearing underwear TOO and let's just pull down our pants one more time to be sure that we are indeed BOTH wearing big girl underwear and doesn't that just blow the mind?!?!?!??!!!! Also, we had to do a lot of admiring ourselves in the mirror with big girl underwear on.)

Basically my kid loves underware, but peeing in the potty, not so much. You can read all about that here. Where you'll also find details about my FIRST EVER GIVEAWAY wherein I gain validation as a grown up big kid blogger. Look at my grown up big kid blogger underpants, everyone!!)

Small Style Potty Style

Anyway, potty training. Here's what is appropriate, fashion-wise: Long sleeved shirt. Loose fitting. You want to be compensating for body heat lost to the bare bottom and bare legs, so keep those arms covered, mamas!. Socks (well, better baby legs, because we did have an incident involving wet footprints all over the hallway but don't tell my husband because he might have a germaphobic break and insist on bathroom slippers for all everywhere). Finally, a bow, because, people, we might be potty training, but we still need to look cute.

{Yes, this shirt was covered in pen marks and random black smudges five minutes after these photos were taken, thanks for asing. Also this outift lasted about 30 minutes total. See above mentioned laudry pile which is slowly smothering me, that is all the end.}

Okay. That's what's going on here. Please expect continued mention of pee-pee and poo-poo and bum-bums and OMG PLEASE SOMEONE COMMIT ME; A MENTAL INSTITUTION SOUNDS PRETTY GOOD RIGHT ABOUT NOW WHERE THERE IS NO PEE ON THE FLOOR AND I DO NOT HAVE TO MAKE DINNER.

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Also, everything is peachy.  

The Chef has a day off tomorrow. Praise be.

Stella Wore:

Top & Socks: Polarn O. Pyret

Pants: NONE

Bow: Adorn Me Girl

And remember, if you want to hear more about pee-pee and poo-poo, please do check out my superawesomeexcitingforme giveaway.

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Stella says CHEESE and THANKS!

 

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What to Expect When You're Expecting Your Child to Pee-Pee In The Potty

I am a good, Mother Earth fearing hippie, and like a good hippie, I cloth diaper.  And let’s be honest, it’s no biggie, the whole cloth thing, but it is a bit gross with the liquids and the solids and the occasional pee-pee pants and the stinky stinky wet bag, so I wanted to be done by the time my girl was two. Also, like any good hippie, I'm receptive to diaper-free baby shenanigans and isn't early potty learning like some sort of parental badge of honour? Right? It's like the way into hippie heaven or something, isn’t it? 

Maybe. But it one thing I do know is that that toilet training is super disgusting. Like, hey-can-we-just-go-back-to-diapering-until-you’re-old-enough-to-understand-logic-and-reasoning kind of disgusting. 

 

The amount of pee I have wiped off the floors, well I just can’t even think of a witty simile that would convey the volumes and the breadth of the OMG SO MUCH PEE-PEE. And, you guys, today there was an incident involving solid waste and the balcony floor and that's all I'm going to say about that except for one last thing which is holy h to the double hockey sticks, why does no one tell you about this??!?!?!@?

 

And, the worst part is about the whole toilet training thing? It’s not working. 

 

My girl alternates between thinking that the potty is the seat of the ninth circle of hell, and thinking that the potty is a fantastic tool with which to garner my attention. She’s figured out that sitting on the potty is a super awesome way to get me to read books to her and play babies all the livelong day. I’m washing dishes? Gaga!  I‘m tidying up? *signs diapers* I’m cooking her lunch? *throws a potty sign*.

What to ExpectNoting to see here. No really. There's nothing to see here. She's not going potty. No way. But read a book AND play babies? A++ Gold star awesome.



So you see, there’s pee-pee and poop on my floor, and my child thinks that potty time is play time, and actual play time is pee-pee on the floor time. 

 

Basically, I thought that I was failing at parenting. Again.

 

Until I looked up potty training in What to Expect, The Second Year. And they told me, in reassuring tones, that actually there is no associated cognitive or developmental benefit to potty training early. No gains, no smarts, no promise of future achievement and gold star hippiedom. They said that most toddlers don’t train fully until well after their second birthday, and that it’s a long process. One that all kids go though, so no biggie, chill the eff out, lady, and you doing fine. So is your kid.

 

 

I took a great deal of comfort in this. Because my OCD Natural Parenting crazysauce nonsense usually turns me towards those Attachment Parenting-type tomes that tell me I need to drop everything and tend to my kid 100 percent of the time and if I don’t do it just right, and if there are any tears involved whatsoever, I’ll ruin the relationship and my kid will end up with Attachment Disorder. 

 

PS, thanks a lot, Mr. Dr. Man who’s name rhymes with Mears.

 

The What to Expect series is down to Earth. It’s practical, sensible, and realistic. It respects the hippie fairy dust end of the parenting spectrum alongside the cry-it-outers. From breastfeeding to bottle feeding, it’s inclusive and non-judgmental. It’s informative and helpful.  And I like that. A lot.

 

Now, here’s something super exciting: YOU have the chance to win a pack of THREE What To Expect books, including What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and What to Expect: The First Year, and finally, What to Expect: The Second Year. Maybe you’re not expecting. Maybe you don’t have a baby or a one-year-old. Maybe you even have kids already. Still, enter. Cuz, your sister or friend or niece or co-worker may be expecting and if you win, you can re-gift these awesome books and you’ll look like a total hero.

 

Truth.

 

How to Enter

 

Visit the What To Expect and leave a comment below. Tell me you want to win. That’s it.

For additional entries, follow  What to Expect on Twitter or on Facebook. You can follow me on Twitter, like my Facebook page, follow me on Instagram, follow me on Bloglovin, or HelloCotton, or any other way there might be to creep on my internet presence. Just leave a separate comment below for each entry.

 

This giveaway is open to EVERYONE IN THE WORLD until Thursday, May 10th, at which point the party is over.

 

***Updated May 16th 2012*** 

Heyyyyyyy, mamanegi, YOU are officially a hero and you win. I'll be in touch soon.

 

Fine Print

I was not componsated for this post and the views herein where entirely my own. I was provided with the three above mentioned books for the purposes of this review. 

 

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Reasons Why Being Illiterate and Mute are Sub-Optimal When Raising A Child

Heyyyyyyy, let's lighten the mood up in here. I'm tired of feeling sorry for myself, and I thought that I could regail you with further tails about how parenting in a language in which you are unable to communicate is really sub-optimal. Are you down with that? Mkay. Good. 

And we're off.

So, you know when you get to that stage in toddler-hood when clothes breathe fire and pants in particular are the scourge of (mini)humankind? Yeah. We're there. Which is fine, I'm down with nakkie time at home, this dispite the fact that my child has yet to make the distinction between diaper and diaper-free, or between the floor and the potty. THough she can throw a mean potty sign with her baby fist. Oh, yes she can.

And also, apropos of something, I'm afriad of cutting my child's nails and they're abnormally long. And scratchy.

Anyway, nakkie baby, free bumming it, enjoying the fresh air, and springtime breezes, and weeeeeeeee, let's touch our bums (in a totally appropriate and non-weird way) with our exceptionally long fingernails, never mind the long red welts all over our backside.

I certainly didn't.

And then I dropped off my kid (diaper clad) at daycare without a thought in the world.

(...time passing...)

And later she came home. I undressed her for her bath. And the welts and scratches were still there. On her bum. It looked like she had met the business end of a cat-o-nine.

SHIZNATTT! Wasn't I just telling the daycare ladies in sing language how tired I was because my GD kid had been getting up at 4:45 am and not napping and I already look a sub-capable parent because I dress in cutoff jean shorts and I don't wear socks and my toe nails are chipped and do not own a designer bag or a floppy hat or potato sack dress like all the competent Japanese mothers omg they probably think I'm a bum spanker and baby miss-treater and I do not have the linguistic ability nor the charades skills to explain that actually, my kid just likes to be naked and her nails are too long.

So, the moral of this story is learn the GD language of the country in which you parent. I singed up for language lessons today. Truth.

 

 

 

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99/366 {Evenings on Vacation}

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A vacation with a one-year-old and a shared bed in a new room leads to a sleepless night and a missed nap and marching time means there's no time for a swim, so instead you take your tired baby to the buffet restaurant the moment it opens and fill a plate full of food she won't eat, and try as best you can to mop up the water she threw on the floor or intercept airborne cutlery, she's just too tired to behave, and then you abandon your beer, two sips in, and go back up to the hotel room, where you stay, lights off,  and alone, and peanut butter smeared on crackers become dinner, a can of beer from the minibar is your consolation prize for making it through in one piece. 

Still. There are no dishes, no toys to pick up at the end of the day, no meals to plan, no juggling more tasks than time. Alone in the room, there is the rise and fall of her breath. Its quiet, but for the tap tap tap of your keyboard. There is a baby asleep since six-thirty, and no responsibilities, and a good book, so you go to bed at nine, and then your husband comes back from dinner and and you sleep all together in a room with the ones you love most.

 

Just write.

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Small Style Is the One Bright Spot on This Otherwise Insane Thursday

Do you ever have one of those days? A day wherein you think you’re off to a pretty good start, breakfasted and emailed, and a quick game of vroom-vroom cars before 8:30? And you congratulate yourself on your industriousness and general maternal awesomeness, and think yes, but we’d be more awesome if were were clean, so you run the water for a shower, undress yourself, undress your kid and then get surprised by a wayward (and airborne) poop. And while you’re cleaning that up, your kid pees on the floor. 

 

No biggie. 

 

You’re about to shower, so a little pee-pee won’t hurt anyone.

 

And then, once out of the shower, before you can get the diaper on, there’s pee again. And so it’s back in the shower for a rinse, and then a race against the pee-pee clock to re-diaper and re-dress. And then you happen upon a cat vom, and investigate further and discover that your kids pants, the ones you were just looking for, are under the bed, incrusted in feline vom.

 

And then back to your email to check on a brewing storm, where you try to not lose your mind because waiting for you in your inbox is a passport problem, so annoying and ridiculous and complicated that you just might come down with a brain aneurysm, and the trip to which you are looking forward with great expectancy, a trip to visit a fellow Small Styler which could ultimately result in the first ever DUO Small Style post in the history of Small Style, appears to be in grave danger. 

 

No? 

 

Just me?

 

Okay. Well, welcome to my Thursday.

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Thankfully Wednesday was much better. It involved bike rides in the snow. Pizza. And conversation with a wonderful real-life and tangible human friend whom I met through this blog. Stella also had a great time. Mostly because she was wearing the most adorable sweater in the history of knitted garments.

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And let me tell you, I’ve got my fingers crossed for Friday.

Stella Wore:

Shirt - Zutano 

Cardi - Bobo Choses 

Jeans - Baby Gap 

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I need to chop some onions.

I want to be able to do regular things. Like wash the breakfast dishes before noon. Or put on clothes. Or brush my teeth. Or dress my child. Or change her diaper. Or chop some onions for dinner. But these things, lately, have elicited such fervent protest, such maddening shouts, such heartbreaking tears, such hurtful looks accusing me of the greatest of betrayals, that I feel completely and utterly incapable.  No, I don’t really feel incapable. I just feel like I don’t know.

 

I need to take a shower so I give my girl the iPad. (But no screen time for babies under two. It will rot her brain. She won’t develop normally.) But I’m dirty, it's been three days.

 

I need to put my girl down and drain the spaghetti and take the squash out of the oven. She screams, prone on the kitchen floor, face covered in snot. (But don’t let your baby cry. It harms her self-esteem. It breaks her trust.) But this is hot. It’s dangerous. 

 

I just need five minutes to think. I need to write a grocery list. I need a moment of not being touched. (She craves your attention. You need to spend more time with her.) But I’m with my girl all day.

 

I need to do something. I need to vacuum. Or dust. Or pick up toys. Or make lunch. And she wants milkies. Again. Every twenty minutes. All day long. (Don’t offer, don’t refuse, that’s the right way to wean.) But if I didn’t refuse, we’d never eat lunch. The bathrooms would never be clean.

 

I need a good night’s sleep. She has black rings around her eyes. She’s tired. (Crying it out causes brain damage. And attachment disorder. And babies don’t cry unless they need something. You must pick her up.) She needs a nap. 

 

I read the books and visit the websites and everyone seems to know what not to do and how I’m harming my relationship with my child and how they’re an infinitely better parent than I am and if I only tired this or abandoned that it would all fall into place. You’re dooin it rong. But none of it makes sense. None of it works. They don’t tell you what to do when changing a diaper causes twenty minutes of inconsolable sobbing. 

 

So I hold her. She arches her back, tiny firsts push my chest away. Still, I hug her close and tell her, “You’re angry, arn’t you?”  I feel guilty. 

 

But I still need to take a shower and chop some onions for dinner. 

 

 

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Breaking the Rules for Small Style

Excuse me while I commit one of the worst faux pas known to Japan: shoes in the house.

 

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Hai, Shoes!


Japan has a shoe thing. There are outdoor shoes, indoor slippers, bathroom slippers, bare feet for tatami rooms. Some times you wear shoes (malls, train stations, etc). Sometimes you wear slippers (some doctors offices, some restaurants), and in some places, you go sock-footed (the drop-in play center, for example.) It's a bit difficult to keep straight. When you go to a friend's house, do you bring your own slippers (no! learned this one the hard way.) Do you wear slippers when you try on clothes at a store (yes! And also a protective face thing to keep make-up off the clothes which makes me very unlikely to want to try on clothing. Which, I guess is good, because then I won't buy things. But still kind of annoying, if you'll allow me a bit of judgmental snarkery in poor taste.)

 

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 You should probably know that my girl does not have a "lovie." Instead, she carries around a picture of me with my five best best best friends which was taken at one friend's wedding, many eons ago. Kids are weird, man. 

When I first moved here,  but I didn't grasp the profundity with which the shoe thing permeated daily life. When looking at apartments, we had to wear little plastic booties over our shoes. Once, a friend's young daughter came to visit. When it was home-time, she realized that she had forgotten something inside, and I suggested that she not bother taking off her shoes, just quickly run in and get it. She looked at me as though I'd suggested braised cat for dinner.

 

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There are those GD shoes again! Wut? Were you raised in a barn????!!?

 

Anyway. All this to say, I sometimes let my kid wear shoes in the house because she likes them, or because I like them, or because I don't want to have to wrestle her feet into slippers and face the wrath of flailing angry toddler arms and the shoes are already on and well. You know. Mostly its the third one.

Sorry, Japan. But, basically, I'm trying to avoid this:

 

Picnik collage

You'll notice that my child carefully and deliberately places her body on the floor before flailing around. Sensible little bunny, she is.

 

But, five seconds later, she gave me this, so I'm not too upset. Fair trade. 

 

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(Hmmmm....could I ramble more nonsense about nothing? Probably.)

 

Stella Wore

Dress: Baby Gap (gifted. Thanks Mum!)

Tights: Hippie Fairy Dust grocery store in Michigan (again, Thanks Mum! Look! They still fit!)

Illicit Outdoor shoes worn indoors: Livie and Luca

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Master of The Universe and Also Slides

Okay, sorry, excuse me a moment. It’s been awhile, I think, since I told you just how effing amazing my kid is. Seriously. So, indulge me here, will you.  

One wouldn’t really say that little S is given to corporeal risk. As an infant, she wouldn’t roll over until she was good and sure that she really really really could. It took seven months. She was sitting before she was rolling.

Stella took her first steps when she was just shy of a year, but then, for the next three months, she steadfastly refused to walk unassisted ever again. This, despite an intensive Walking For Pre-Walkers program instituted my father. She's careful and cautious and weary of bumps and bruises.

Stella has never even entertained the thought of climbing onto a surface that is higher than six inches off the ground. She would never dream of scaling the bookshelf or jumping out of her crib, or even stepping onto a raised surface without holding my hand. Still now at 19 months, she believes that she needs my assistance to get up on the couch, and my supervision to get down off my bed. She is like her mother: timid, hesitant, clumsy. Fairly the antithesis of sportive. 

But this weekend. This weekend she simultaneously amazed and scared the shit out of me. Perhaps it was the unseasonably warm weather, or the frenetic, late afternoon energy generated by half a million children in the playground. Or maybe it was the doughnut. And cake. And several sips of my double tall mocha. Whatever it was, Stella was fortified. She clambered up the steps of the play structure, alone, for the first time ever. 

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Feet firmly planted on the ground, I encouraged her to slide down the baby slide. She considered it a moment, and then shook her head no. Nononononononono and was off, ascending to the pinnacle, intent on planting her flag and bragging to the other toddlers about her feat of mountaineering genius. I watched, heart in my throat, as she eyed the windy, big kid slide. A gaggle of children was now forming behind her as Miss S debated her next course of action. I swear my heart stopped beating, as I pictured her losing her balance and tumbling down, shattering at once her brain and her confidence. And I may or may not have shrieked, “OMG SOMEONE HELP HER!!! to the clueless kids at her back who obviously had no idea what I was yelling in English, while I paced like a madwoman below, calmly (frantically) reassuring my kid that, “It’s okay! You’re fine! Just slide down!” Other parents looked on bemused, or slightly uninterested. 

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But then she did it. She sat. Then shoved off, and slid down. By herself. Like a big girl. She was so happy, she jumped down and clapped her hands and beamed. Positively glowed. And this was, perhaps, one of my proudest parenting moments. 

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All photos were taken, obviously, well before I started pooping my pants because MAH BAYBEE IS UP SO HIGH AND IS BREAKABLE AND WAH!

 

And now, blah blah blah something insightful and heartfelt about how we should let go of our kids and encourage them to explore and blah blah whatever blah MY KID IS SO BRAVE AND COOL AND FUNNY AND I LOVE HER! Now, how 'bout a vote, hey? Down here. Just click.

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Small Style, Hair Styles

There was a little bit of a hair situation going on in the EpB household. Toddler hair gone wrong. Major style. 

 

But before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s take a trip back in time and admire Miss S’s luscious, curly locks. 

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Dress - Tea Collection (Trying my very best not to order a million things from the sale going on right now but OMG SO HARD)

Adorabs, right?

 

And then it all went wrong. Because of sleep. Seriously, around here, everything comes back to zzzz. Around the time were were teaching Stella how to sleep better on her own, she developed a little self-soothing mechanism - twirling her hair around her finger and thumb. Which was fine when her hair was short, but as it grew this habit became problematic. 

 

On rough, restless nights, Stella would twist and twirl her hair until it encircled her fingers. In the mornings, I’d discover little hair rings, perfectly toddler sized, at the bottom of her crib. Or she’d wake screaming, her hair wound tightly round her thumb still affixed to her head, and cutting off the circulation in her little digits.

 

All that constant twirling and twiddling lead us to this point: 

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Outfit = Tea Collection

A very unfortunate undercut-type situation, plus a thin, scraggly mop on top. Delish.

 

Then Stella got sick last week. And this happened.

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That's a matted, horrific dreadlock going on right there. Dirty hippies have no place under my roof, mkay? (Just kidding. I'm kind of a dirty hippy myself.)

 

I remained in denial about the necessity of a haircut, despite Mr. Chef's insistence. (Oh mah gawd, my baybee the passage of time and milestones and growing up and tears and blah blah blah etc etc etc).

 

Anyway, we did it. It was way less dramatic than I had assumed it would be. And now my Bella B has a cute little angled bob with choppy baby bangs and I die of adorableness. 

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 Sweater - the old standby, Joe Fresh

 

And here are a few more, just so that you might fully appreciate the level of cuteness going on up in here:

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Vest - Baby Gap; Sweater Dress - Baby Gap; Leggings - Joe Fresh


I love it - the cut is still messy and random enough to be babyish, but we no longer have that ridiculous mid-nineties undercut thing going on. However, Mr. Chef, the primary advocate of said hair cut, remains unmoved. He is convinced that the previous two poor nights sleep can be attributed to insufficient hair for twirling purposes. 

 

To that I say, “WHATEVER!!! CUTENESS TRUMPS ALL THE THINGS.”

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Now I'm just praying that the curls will come back with the humidity. Please??

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Small Style, Boxcar Overall Style

It's a well known fact that cardboard boxes make the best toys. I need not expand on this fact any further, for you all know that it is a fundamental certitude of toddlerhood. 

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It is also a well-known fact that overalls are protocol for indoor cold winter boxcar days. We seem to have retired dresses and cute girly sweaters. We're all rough and tumble play clothes, which are totally major for our daily pre-dinner wrestling matches and hallway box car derbies.

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A further well-known fact of toddlerhood which is really apropos of nothing really except for the fact that the instrument in question was also delivered to our house in a brown cardboard box, but whatever, I've got you here so I may as well ask, is that toddlers need to be potty trained. And I'm thinking 19 months is the time to start. But I showed Stella her new potty, not like it was any biggie or anything, just like, heyyyyyyy, S, wanna see your rad new potty? I ordered it just for you! Like a present! She took one look at the majestic green throne and then shook her head "no" (please note that she learned this skill specifically for this exact instance and busted it out for the first time just to prove the fervour with which she disapproved of her new potty.) And then she signed "diaper." A lot. So, basically, I'm asking WTF???

 

Thoughts, Internet?

 

Stella Wore

Overalls: Tea Collection

Top: Joe Fresh

Bow: AdornMeGirl

 

Dividers little triangles

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Small Style, Christmas Crabby Style

I had grand ambitions for a Small Style post featuring a Stella fashion show in the marble-clad lobby of a five star hotel. We had a Christmas party to attend today. She had a pretty dress to wear. With just the right bow. And we were going to do matching mother-daughter patent leather mary janes. But poor wee S spiked a fever yesterday. At daycare, which is great, because I don't have the linguistic dexterity explain that apart from a runny nose, she really HAD been fine the whole day. 

I thought we'd make the most of it today, maybe enjoy some forbidden screen time and a Christmas movie. But I tell you, my wacko kid gets totally crazysauce when she's sick. Like, aren't kids supposed to snuggle and lie quietly under a blanket on the couch?

Not Stella. Real Talk: when she's sick, she's all: Over here! What's that! I touch this! Give me! Want! Pick me up! Put me down! Laughing hysterically! Give me! Give me! Touch that! Waahahahahahahah! Crying for no reason! AHahahahahahah. You're the funniest!  Running! Running! Wahhhahaha. Crying! Okay. I'm fine now. Excuse me, I must dink the cat water. And then put my hands in the toilet. Twice. And now I'll just cry a bit. And then throw cat kibble all over the living room. 

Keep in mind that I live in a 95 square meter apartment and am always about a meter away from my kid. And still she got up to so much trouble today. When she's sick she gets supercrazy super powers. Bonkers. I'm telling you.

Its a roller coaster, I tell you. I'm I the only one with such a crazy kiddo?

 

Needless to say, we didn't get any pretty Small Style pictures. So, instead, BEHOLD! A crappy and poorly executed knockoff Pinterest Christmas pictures and further proof that I use the holiday season as an excuse to torture my poor child.

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Stella Wore:

Pyjamas: Joe Fresh. From Last Year. Chosen for her by her Papa.

Forwny Face: Totally my fault. 

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