Thursday, August 29, 2013

Good Evening

Been a bit busy lately.

I've thought about not blogging (again!).

I even tried not doing it for a few weeks.  It really wasn't hard.  I've just been so busy.

The thing is that I have all these ideas that I want to share.  But not the time to share them.  And do you really NEED to see the latest thing I've made or hear the latest thing I've been doing?  No.  But maybe you want to???  Am I just feeding a need in myself to 'show off' or is there a relevant purpose for this writing thing?  And really, does it need to have a relevant purpose?  I do tend to want everything to have some deeper meaning, some higher purpose in my life.  Would it perhaps be okay for my blog to just be because I like writing and sharing, and not for any other purpose?  These are just some of the rambling thoughts my brain has been trying to work through, between study and house and preschooler!

So I'm still here.  I guess at the moment I figure that sometimes I just like to write.  And sometimes I just like to share things and my blog is somewhere to feel like I've done that.  Even if it doesn't get read much, at least I feel like I got a chance to 'put it out there.'  I don't have time to do more than that, but that I can do and get enjoyment from.  So as long as it isn't taking over my life, then I think that's okay.

It's the time factor that's a bit of a bother at present.  And always.  I guess that's life for a human being.  Trapped by time.

The primary reason you haven't been hearing from me much lately is that I usually blog in the evening.  After the boy is in bed and the house is (relatively) tidy.  But I've been trying this amazing new thing lately.  It's called "going to bed earlier" and I am finding that I really like it!  Amazing.  Been trying to convince myself to do this for absolutely ages.  I think the reason it's working now though (other than how exhausted I feel) is that I'm not getting attached to activities in the evening.  After Munchkin goes to bed, I do the little things (meat from freezer, feed/move guinea pigs, make yoghurt, etc) then I do my back exercises.  Then, quite a few nights I've just gotten ready for bed.  So my main blogging time has been commandeered by exercise and sleep.  Neither of which are bad.  Both of which I need more than I need to blog (at least most of the time - every now and then I might have a burning need to communicate in written form such as tonight!).

Next week I start my second paper for the semester.  That means very little free time, even to study, when Munchkin is at I will be in class more.  I'm trying madly to work on a 50% loaded assignment.  I have piles and piles of books.  And screeds of thoughts.  But not much coherence.  It's a different kind of essay to my standard education ones, which therefore means more research and more time (can't just pull some old references out from a few years back and throw them in!).  I'm making progress, but it's slow.  Too slow.  Really wanted it done by now.  Oh well, might be a few really early mornings in a couple of weeks time!  On the bright side, next week I am NOT going on placement (I would have been if I hadn't changed providers - an extra paper is WAY better for my stress levels!).

I've got a partly constructed delux guinea pig hutch in my garage.  Again, making slow progress.  Need it out of the way.  It is irritating me.  Takes up a lot of room without any useful purpose (unless you can count perching the empty washing basket on one end as useful!).  Made some good progress when the essay was not last week!  I'm getting SO much better at keeping wood lined up neatly, cutting straight (with the help of my mitre box!), and not making big foo-pahs.  Love looking at it and seeing how nicely it is built and knowing that this is showing my increased skill.  But there's still so much to do.

This weekend is planting time in the Big Garden.  We've got loads of seedlings ready to go.  Not grown by me. I figured I had enough to do so someone else could have that job.

The tuis will probably be fighting over the kowhai tree and singing their hearts out in between.  Such a beautiful sound to garden to.  My Munchkin will be happy as a borer in a beam, digging away with his big dump truck and digger.  And I will be happy too.  I like time outside, and I like thinking about tomatoes for summer!


Our Table

This is our dining table:

Littered with stickers.

There are butterflies, trucks, diggers, and stars.

There are lumpy ones, and shiny ones, and even a few partial ones.

Lots and lots of stickers.

And I wouldn't have it any other way!

While the lumpiness does sometimes drive me nuts when trying to use my mouse,

and it doesn't exactly look 'pretty' in a house-proud sense of the word,

I still wouldn't change it.

No way.

My son put those stickers there.

And however inconvenient they may be, I love him.

I love having him in my life. I love his laughter, and his impish grins. I love watching him turn the couch squabs into trampolines or doors for his car.  I love listening to him brrm cars all over the window seat.  I love helping him make playdough roads, or snails, or whatever weird shape happens to form in my hands.

And a few stickers are a small price to pay.

He's not allowed to put them anywhere else (other than his sticker book, which is almost overflowing!).  But the dining table is fairly well worn already, so a few stickers aren't going to hurt too much.  Especially if he has his way and manages to peel them all off again (oh, that's right, that would be why there are some partial stickers on the table - sometimes stickers just don't want to be peeled!).

Stickers.  Just a small reminder that a small person lives here and that I'm really rather glad he does!


THE Cardigan

Some of my readers will know that I love to knit.

The thing is, I love to knit squares.

No adding, no decreasing, no slip stitch under or over, or counting stitches, or trying to work out what you did wrong.  No unpicking.  Never.

You can therefore imagine my absolute delight in being able to show you the results of a full year's worth of effort!

THIS is Munchkin's cardigan.

Knitted BY ME!

All of it.

Okay, so there were a few patches that required my mother-in-law's intervention, dedication, and unpicking skills!  I did, after all, get the pattern from her.

And she did sew it all together for me, and put the buttons on.  And post it back to us!

Don't you just LOVE the buttons?!  The wool colours were chosen simply from what was available when I bought - a lovely green and blue multi teamed with straight blue.
But the rest is mine!  I figured if I didn't get her to put it together, he might not get to wear it this winter.  And as he's a regular bean-pole, I was feeling a little worried that it might not fit for long.

Never fear, there's plenty of room still for growth.  I made the wrist cuffs double sized.  So at the moment they get doubled over, but later on they can be turned half down, or even worn without turning.  I am a genius!  Or at least sometimes I have moments of brilliance.  The other factor is that it's a raglan sleeve, which somehow means the body length ends up quite long (don't ask me for the specifics of how this works, I just know it worked really well in my favour this time round, as it's added even more length to the extra rows I'd included and comes right down over his pants like a good cardigan should!).

One proud knitter.

I am back to squares.  And very happy to stay there for some time.  Don't get me wrong, when I see my boy wearing his cardigan and people ask who knitted it, it gives me such satisfaction to be able to answer (for once!) that I DID (rather than having to say it was an op-shop find, or knitted by a grandparent).  BUT, the pearl knitting totally killed my left wrist.  And I really don't like reading patterns. I just don't think that's ever going to come naturally to me. I have a few other, smaller, projects in mind for the next year or two, but next winters woolys are going to be op-shopped.  Somehow I don't think my preschooler will mind!


Friday, August 9, 2013

Life in the Slow Lane

I'm feeling a bit behind on the eight ball lately.  Not that I actually know where that saying comes from, only that it is supposed to signify that I'm behind.  Not quite up with the play.  Not really in line with everyone else, ready for the game, focused, zoned in, or whatever it is!

Warning - rambling post.  Don't say I didn't tell you!

I'm tired.

Duh.  Like that's new news!  I've been tired for years.  Firstly, having chronic fatigue will do that to you.  The fact that I'm not a basket case on a daily basis is a major miracle of healing in my life.  That I can be a mother, or a student, or a wife (let alone ALL THREE AT ONCE) is amazing.  So I'm tired.  Big deal.

But I really am tired.  Very tired.  Bone weary tired.  Not my usual 'could have done with several more hours of sleep last night' kind of tired.  Trying to stay focused when driving kind of tired.  The sort of tired when you suddenly hear a small insistent voice from the backseat saying, "No, don't go home, go to feed the chickens!"  Opps.  We were nearly home.  I'd said we were going to feed the chickens, only then I got on automatic pilot.  Still haven't remembered to share that one with my dad.  He'd have a good laugh.  He used to try to take us to church instead of school fairly often if I remember correctly.  How embarrassing, I never thought I'd become like my father!  Not that being like him is a bad thing, he is an incredibly generous, loving dad!  But does go on autopilot when driving.  I did it again the other day too...ended up in completely the wrong lane at the lights, had to do a quick change (fortunately no one was in the other lane!) so I didn't have to do a major loop-de-loop to get to where I was supposed to be going.  The sad thing is that I had been thinking about the things I needed to print at church, and in the process forgot the turn off to church...ugh.

I finally figured out part of the tiredness.  Physio.  At least I hope I can attribute some of my exhaustion to that.  I'm having physio on my back after stuffing it up yet again.  The stuffing up is a frequent issue.  I've had physio once before, which did help but only the issue I went for (the specific pulled muscle).  As I've had problems with my back seizing since having Munchkin, I figured I really should do something about it.  After all, it means I never manage a catch up sleep (might have something to do with the levels of tiredness - three years of not getting a sleep in might do that to you!).  If I sleep longer than about 7hours (at a guess!), I get back pain. I just can't stay in bed.  It's like my lower back seizes up.  Used to be much worse, after three hours I'd be up pacing the hallway to get things mobile again.  As it's no longer that bad I've kind of gotten used to it.  But I still can't sleep long enough.  Munchkin was sick for two weeks, so two weeks of broken Mummy sleep.  Then Boyo snored for two weeks before that.  And has coughed since.  Equals very tired Mummy.  But I still can't stay asleep when I get the chance because of my confounded back.  So when I pulled it again, I took the recommendation of my (most fabulous!) hairdresser and went to her physio (who incidentally is also FABULOUS!).  We are able to look at the whole back through ACC as it all links together, although it is my upper back that gets the acute strains.  Turns out there's a patch in my upper back not working and a patch in my lower back, which puts pressure on the rest, resulting in ongoing pain, and the frequent pulling.  My upper back has been problematic for years (since my early twenties I think) but with a 17kg three year old, and shoulders trying to race each other to see who can touch the ground first (they slump majorly), it is getting worse and worse.  To the point that reaching in front of me hurts, reaching above my head hurts, carrying my son hurts, pushing the stroller hurts, you name it, it will probably hurt.  Hence the physio.  Enough is enough.  Time to get something sorted out.  I just wish I'd thought of it sooner...why is it that we allow things to get so bad gradually, to have something eat away at our quality of life like this and accept it as 'normal' and okay??!!!  NO MORE!  I am sick of having a sore back.  We don't have money for physio, even physio with ACC subsidies.  But I'm doing it anyway.  I just can't stand it any longer.  It's important, more important than a whole lot of other things.

But the physio is taking a physical toll (or at least I think it is).  I feel tired in ways I haven't for years, not since having fatigue.  I think perhaps it is that the physio is asking muscles in my back (and butt and thighs!) to do things they have not done in years (seriously, I wonder if the ones in my thighs have ever worked at all they hurt so much from a simple exercise!).  Plus there's the weekly push, shove, and massage to get vertebra to move independently and muscles to either loosen up or wake up.  Then, to top it all off, I have exercises.  Six simple exercises that look like they'd be a breeze.  Do not be fooled.  Physio exercises are anything but!  I have to think so hard my brain feels like it might explode.  I have to tighten muscles I didn't know I owned, remember to breathe, and count all at the same time!  Talk about multi-tasking.  I've learnt that I cannot do this while my son is around.  For some strange reason he seems to think that a parent on the floor equals a great climbing opportunity (I blame his father for this!).  So I do them in the evening.  They make me so hot.  Yet they are just stretches.  Nothing fast, nothing strenuous, just simple tighten and stretch!  But because they are muscles that I have under used for like, forever, this is seriously hard work.  I wonder how many calories I'm burning, 'cos I certainly burn up!

I now also have some amazing hot pink tape on my back.  I'll get a photo sometime if I remember to ask Boyo.  I thought it would be awful.  But I love my tape!  It's helping me pull my shoulders up and back without it hurting like crazy.  It's early days still to see how much change we can create here, but I'm really hopeful that the physio has a great combination of strategies to get the best results.  But so far it's not really helping my sleep.  Maybe one day a week?  If I don't over do things and hurt my back again (did that twice in the past two weeks), and definitely not getting better sleep the night after physio (note to self: next week, take panadol before bed on Tuesday so you don't spend the night wriggling and annoying yourself and your husband!).  But it is gradually starting to feel a bit better.

These days, my favourite past-time has been sitting in my chair, footrest up, hot water bottle (or two!) behind my back, blanket over my knees, knitting in my hands.  Hopefully something good to watch too.  The heat therapy on my back is great.  Better than a bath much easier!  But my knitting is behind on the eightball too.

I missed the deadline.  Not through any real fault of my own.  I didn't see the article in the paper.  They moved the Packing Party two weeks earlier.  Need to get things into the containers earlier to make room in the shared warehouse for Samaritan Purse's shoe boxes apparently.  They did tell everyone last year.  But I never actually GET to the party, only arriving afterwards to drop off my blanket as my son was always asleep then. I was SO looking forward to getting to go this year!  And I missed it.  Gutted.

I don't mind so much about the blanket.  It's not finished anyway.  I'm honestly not sure if I'll ever manage a whole blanket a year again.  They increased the size you see.  A whole extra row.  9 extra squares.  Doesn't sound like much, does it?  But it is so much more.  I could just (only just) finish a 56 square blanket in a year.  It was just hard enough to really motivate me to make it.  But 63?  Too much.  I am feeling very blah about the whole thing.  My blanket would have been finished in time if it wasn't for those last 9 squares.  I'm on about 5 of the 9 now.  It's really sad.  I had been carefully trying to get it all pieced together and I'm still late.

The lovely coordinator for Operation Cover Up gave me contact details for a lady looking for things for an orphanage in China to do in December, so my blanket might yet end up there instead...I guess it doesn't really matter.  I like Operation Mobilisation's one as I've seen footage of what they do and the difference a blanket can make, but I guess as long as someone is going to be blessed by it somewhere that's all that really matters.  I've got wool there for another one for next year, just not sure how I'm meant to get one finished...or if I'm going to try.  Maybe it is time to slow down?  Not worry so much about it?  I'm not sure.  I just love the knitting.  And there's something about watching a blanket take shape under my fingers that I cannot explain.  It brings me so much satisfaction and quiet delight.  I don't want to miss out on that.  I like having a deadline, just not one I don't think I can achieve.

Munchkin is always my willing helper when blankets are out - not the wool scraps in his hair - he decided to pretend it was snow or something!
Deciding where to put's all crocheted together now, except for a narrow strip down each side that I'm currently knitting - those extra 9 squares.
My life in the slow lane is going to have to pick up some next week.  I start a very large assignment.  Off to the library I will go, laptop ready to take copious notes.  Need to get it done before my second paper starts.  And before I have to work on that extra assignment that links to my RPL (recognition of prior learning - aka cross credits).  I started the bigger guinea pig hutch.  There's a bit of frame in the garage.  Lying on it's side.  I haven't forgotten about it, but you might be forgiven for thinking I had.  I just lack the motivation to do it.  I'm tired.  Tired of trying to get things done, of pushing to achieve, of using my willpower to get my body to keep moving.  That's part of the issue at present.  I'm not just incredibly tired physically, but I'm emotionally tired too.  It's been a long haul.  I feel like I'm a marathon runner, at that point in the race where it feels like it will never end, where the lactic acid starts doing awful things to their muscles (not that I would know, I have never run nor ever intend to run a marathon!) that point where you can't see the finish line, although you know it must be there somewhere.  You've come so far, you just want to sit down, have a rest.  But you can't.  The race isn't over yet.  You must keep going.  One foot in front of the other.  If I keep going, surely at some point some adrenaline will kick in again?  When I see the finish line?  When someone cheers?  Surely there will be some energy for the final lap, the last stretch?  We're halfway there.  Halfway through studies, I'm telling myself it's natural to feel tired.  It's been a long four years.  But we've got to keep going.  Half a degree's not much good to me.  I need the whole one.  I can do this.

But in the meantime, I think I might go to bed.  Soon.  After some heat therapy.  And tomorrow?  Tomorrow is Saturday.  Saturday Family Day!  We are watching a movie.  I'll try and remember to take photos (didn't take the camera on our outing last week).  Tonight I am not putting the washing away, or sorting photos, or doing filing, or doing ANYTHING other than resting (okay, so this blog post might not typically be classed as resting, but it is processing, and that's helpful and not overly strenuous so that's okay!).  Tomorrow I'm not going to get up to much either.  I will probably have a half hour nap when Munchkin has his 'rest' in his room...he usually just brmms his cars around, having discovered the joys of no day sleeps he is loath to really rest, but it's enough for Mummy to have a nap so I'm okay with that - I've had at least three this past week I think - that's got to be a record!

What are you getting up to on the weekend?  I hope is is a peaceful one.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Late Bloomer

It's winter.  Most flowers are hibernating, waiting for spring.  Of course there are the stalwarts.  The paperwhites and jonquils, the daphne, and the violets.  But these are winter flowers.  They are MEANT to flower now.

But this little beauty?

It seems to have forgotten that roses aren't meant to flower in winter.

While the rest of it's bush is a leafless thorny bramble, this little beauty decided to open it's face to the wintery world.

As it's right beside our front door, I got front seat viewing.  Beautiful.


Flying Visits

We've had a few quick visits lately.

They never last long.

But we invariably stop what we are doing to ohh and ahhh.  After all, something this gorgeous deserves our attention and admiration!



I want to help Munchkin become a terrific person.

What decent parent doesn’t want that for their child??!!

One way we’re doing this, is trying to teach him some helpful skills.  Things like looking after his belongings, being kind to others, being polite and thankful, and caring for himself.  Habits of a lifetime.  The sort of things that people frequently wish their flatmate or spouse had been taught (grin!).  General, “how to live with other people and be a clean human being” type things.

In my family, we had a rule that you always had to put something away when you finished playing with it (BEFORE you were allowed to get out anything else).  This has been helpful in adult life, remembering to tidy up a bit as I go along.  I am a pretty messy person by nature.  I get carried away in creativity.  My mother frequently says she doesn’t know how I make so many dishes.  Well, I do.  I cook.  Not just dinner, sometimes lunch or breakfast too.  I’m one of those people who inevitably leave the kitchen with flour on their face, legs, (or in my case) bum (because I wipe my hands there – one of these days I’m going to get myself some wrap around chef-style aprons – I used them in my days at Subway and must say that someone like me who always wipes hands on the back of the legs, often unconsciously and despite my efforts otherwise, aprons like that are FAB!).  But, while I might make a lot of dishes, I do rinse them.  I try not to leave things in the sink (Boyo HATES it, and to be honest, so do I – it’s awful when you want to use the sink and it’s full of yucky, dirty dishes!).  I like to go to bed with a tidy house…though I’m trying not to worry too much about it so I don’t spend hours before bed putting everything away! 

We were finding that Munchkin’s toys were getting more and more messy and taking over more and more of our personal space.  Having a small living area, I guess we really notice when there’s a lot of toys out.  Invariably you trip all over them, or can’t find a vacant seat.  We have always picked up his toys after he goes to bed, but I guess I was concerned that this is teaching him that other people (namely, his parents!) should pick up after his mess.  So we’ve instigated a new rule recently.  Munchkin must pick up his cars before bed.  If he doesn’t, he will have them confiscated.  We use that word: confiscated.  A pretty big word for a three year old, especially considering it hadn’t previously been part of our vocab.  But it’s the right word.  We do of course combine it with explaining that this means he won’t be allowed to play with them tomorrow, that they will be put away.  And we help him pack up.  He’s a pretty cooperative player at present.  He hates doing things like tidying on his own.  That’s okay, I don’t mind helping when he’s this young.  I just hate doing it all for him.  So he has to pick up his cars before bed.  I think there were two times in the first week or so that he didn’t want to or refused.  Before this, we’d have harangued and hassled him, had big arguments, and more.  And still ended up doing it ourselves, after having to calm down the screaming child.  But now?  Now, he just gets reminded of the consequences.  Sometimes a few times, but then there’s always the “this is your last warning…”  If he chooses not to pack up, he loses his cars.  As his cars are very precious, this has worked incredibly well.  I hadn’t worried about packing up other toys as there’s not the same incentive.  I figured if I can get my three year old to pack up one area of the bomb-site that is our lounge, that’s okay.  Besides, on an average day they are the most likely thing to have created the biggest mess.  Grin. 

But an interesting thing is happening.  Now, when I say we have to pack up, he hardly ever complains.  He still wants to do it with me (Boyo is usually finishing up dishes still as he does that while I bath and put Munchy to bed).  BUT, if I say that Mr Crocodile or the wooden train need to go back to the office, Munchkin will cart them back there (all his toys are in a cupboard or on a shelf in the office, except some puzzles in a cupboard in the lounge, and his cars/car mat/garage).  He is faster at doing it.  He hardly ever pulls the “my arms are too sore!” (seriously, for awhile there his arms would suddenly get REALLY short!) or “I can’t!” or “You do it!” moves on me.  Hardly ever.  Wow.  It took probably two weeks of being really relentless about it.  The cars had to go on top of the kitchen cupboard and stay there for the whole day twice in a few days I think.  And it was HARD.  He would cry, he would carry on.  It was frustrating.  All the reasons we’d not done it before, all the reasons we’d given up and just done it ourselves (after all, I can pack up so much faster and tidier than my son anyway!).  But it is WORTH IT.  We are helping him be responsible for his own behaviour and his own belongings.  We are helping him set up patterns that he will carry on (largely unconsciously) into his adult life.

Combined with this, we are also saying that Munchkin now has to hang up his bib after a meal (his special eating bib to catch things like spaghetti sauce!).  It goes on one of his little chairs at his table.  And he has to take his plate to the bench.  If there’s rubbish, he might (but not always yet) get asked to put it in the rubbish bin, or food scraps.  I want him to learn about looking after the environment, so he’s learning that we have containers for chicken food, for worm food, and then for the rubbish truck.  Just like he’s learning that we have different washing baskets – one for woollen clothes and one for the others.  He has to put his clothes in the washing basket before bed too.  Again, it was hard establishing the habit, and sometimes I still do it myself, but mostly I get him to do it and he’s great at it!  He’s cottoned on to what a woollen top looks like really quickly and again he’s doing it so much faster than the first week or two and with very little fuss, even when tired.  I figure this is a necessary precursor to him doing his own washing!

I think one of the tricks with all these little chores, all these little things that get him tidying up after himself, is that we do them at the same time, in a similar way, every night.  Every single day.  (Okay, not quite, we have very occasionally forgotten but I’m trying to just make it routine).  He knows now that after dinner, he has to put up his bib and then he’s allowed to get a few cars to play with at the table while we finish eating and I run his bath.  Then after his bath, we pack up the lounge quickly, then get to dance to Daddy’s music.  If we take too long packing up, we don’t get to dance.  Plus the cars will still get confiscated if not packed up.  Then we read books, then he puts his washing in the baskets, brushes his teeth, goes to the toilet, and goes to bed.  It’s as much as part of our routine as Mummy cuddles and prayers are.  I’m really enjoying it.  And I’m really enjoying the pride I feel as I watch my boy tidy up after himself.


Sometimes, you have to resort to a little BBC.

Blackmail, bribery, and corruption.

I have been initiated into the world of BBC by my husband’s family (though of course I have been practicing it for years, just without knowing it had a designated title!).  It has taken a long time for me to remember the actual words for BBC, but I’ve been quite adept at using it regardless! 

The current weaning of Munchkin from his dummy has been one occasion where I have quite blatantly utilised BBC.

But this is something I did think long and hard about.  I wonder sometimes if we sweeten up our kids a bit too much these days.  Do we perhaps worry so much about fragile egos and young minds that we dumb down the messages we are meant to be teaching around self-responsibility and community responsiveness?  I just wonder…

I’m trying to find a balance.  It’s a hard thing to find, ever elusive.  Sometimes I think I’ve got it, then I begin to wonder again.  Am I being too hard on him?  After all, he’s only three.  Are my expectations around behaviour perhaps beyond the development and capability of a three year old?  Then I wonder the opposite.  Am I being too lenient?  Should I be expecting more of him?  Am I creating a self-centred little monster (help!)?

Well, I don’t think we are.  I guess time will tell.  I do hope that we manage to come out with a kid who knows his own worth, but also the worth of others.  I do hope he is polite and considerate, but also able to stand firmly for what he believes is right.  I do hope he knows how to get on with people, but also how to be alone. I hope he knows how to clean a house, show someone he loves them, listen to advice, and make up his own mind.  Arrghhh!  SO many things.  How can we possibly be sure to teach him ALL of that…without missing any, or emphasising one at the expense of another?!

Decisions.  Every day!  There are the big ones, like how will we get him out of nappies, or when should we start giving him an allowance or let him learn to drive.  But there’s also the multitude of every day little ones.  Should I make him put his clothes in the washing basket tonight, when he is just so terribly tired?  Would it hurt for Mummy to do it for him?  Just this once?  Just once this week?  Every second night?  All the time?  I am going with, sometimes I do it because it is easier, but most of the time I am trying to get him to do it…after all, I don’t get to have a rest from doing the washing just because I am tired! 

How much attitude do I let him get away with?  Screaming in my ear is seriously not cool.  He gets told so, then hoisted off to the bathroom to cool down.  But crying when he’s been genuinely hurt, should I really be saying, “shshsh, stop” or just cuddling and letting him cry?  I mean, I want him to know that it is okay to cry.  I just don’t want him to think he’s always going to get his own way because he stands there and screams!

One of the reasons we toilet trained early was that I didn’t want to give my son bribery or rewards for something that I figure is a natural part of life.  Going to the loo is normal.  That’s just what you do.  I figured that if we got to it before two and a half, we were more likely to get it sorted okay (I’ve been told that’s about when the littlies suddenly decide that they don’t care so much what Mum or Dad thinks and everything can become NO simply for the sake of it – in personal experience, we get the NO a whole lot more now, but it was still easier younger for us).  I guess I wanted to leave the sticker charts for something else.  So we just did toileting with a cool happy song, and lots of praise.  And he got it.  Well, the something else has come (the something else I was saving the sticker charts for).

We still have a dummy lurking round our house.  You might have read about my plans a few months back.  They are still in process.  I must admit that I just put it off.  I procrastinated till the cows came home, went out to the field, and came home again.  I just didn’t want to do it.  I didn’t want to traumatise my baby.  Now I know that people would mostly say kids get over it.  But I don’t know, I just wonder sometimes.  I think that sometimes we forget that a baby or a preschooler is a small human being.  A human being who lacks adult ability to control their emotions, to express their feelings, or to manipulate their world (at least to the extent they want to!).  My son is a terrific kid.  Munchkin is a happy chappy, friendly and helpful, kind and intelligent.  So he has a dummy.  His one vise.  Surely I could allow him one small vise?  After all, I have chocolate.  He depends on it.  He’s had it since he was a week old, for crying out loud (or maybe for not crying out loud!).  I didn’t want to upset him too much.  But I was also feeling well, a bit embarrassed.  My son is three.  I don’t particularly like seeing kids wandering around with dummies.  Not that my boy generally does, he usually only got his dummy at bedtime.  But I was feeling a bit like he should just be past this now, and what kind of mother was I, that I couldn’t get him off it, that I let him keep it, ra-de-ra-de-ra-de-ra!

I was talking with my mum about the dummy recently, about how we really need to do something about it, that it’s costing us money having to replace them every two weeks (to keep the bugs at bay), and he is old enough not to have one, etc, etc, etc…but that I just want sleep and am scared it will be disrupted when I take away the dummy.  After all, my boy has only just started to sleep through the night consistently, at age three.  The thought of nights of screaming has just been too much for this sleep deprived, studied-out Mummy!  Mum commented that I’d just have to decide what I wanted most.  Hmm.  That was a hard choice.  NOT.  Sleep, people, sleep.  My instant, automatic, gut response was that I not only want sleep, I NEED IT.  So the dummy stayed a bit longer.  Because it wasn’t really doing any harm, and we all needed as much consistent, peaceful repose as possible. 

I started talking with Munchkin about how he needs to stop having a dummy soon.  In the process, I realised that expecting him to go for 3 weeks or something (the typical ‘break a habit’ length of time) without it in order to get a reward would be a bit much for a three year old.  He doesn’t really have a concept of next week.  He can, however, count.  So we amended it.  Ten sleeps, then he could get his truck.  We got out the truck.  Put it up on a high shelf where he could see it.  He saw, and immediately proclaimed that he would throw out the dummy.  He went to get it.  I stopped him!  I know my son well enough to realise that this new enthusiasm would wane considerably in the middle of the night, when the truck seems less exciting than the all-too-comforting and familiar dummy.  So our agreement was that he had to go to sleep for ten nights without his dummy.  We had a chart on the fridge.  I drew smiley faces for nights he did, and sad faces for nights he didn’t.  There’s one sad face, once he got the hang of it…and he can tell you exactly what it was for. 

The chart and empty box!

He did it!  We did it!  The first night was awful, screaming, crying, etc.  I gave in.  But next night told him I wasn’t giving in.  Crying, but not so much.  A few nights of taking FOREVER to go to sleep.  Then suddenly it clicked.  He is ready for this.  This is right, now is it.  He slept, without his dummy.  He even slept RIGHT THROUGH two nights without it!  Wahoo, amazing!  He has duly received his truck.  

Initial inspection with Daddy!

Right before getting sick, poor boy.  He spent two days just holding his truck.  It even came to bed one night (carefully removed later by Mummy so it didn’t get squashed by accident).  Even though he has been pretty sick, he’s only asked for it going to bed ONCE this week.  I am so proud of my boy! 

What to do when sick?  Watch borrowed Chuggington with the company of guinea pigs and truck of course!

Now we start phase two.  I presented Munchkin with his next reward.  A police van.  He is very taken with it.  He was determined that he would throw out his dummy.  I said we will, when he gets his police van.  But when he gets his police van he will no longer have a dummy any more.  My boy carefully took his police van, in it’s box, up to my parents to show them.  He very carefully explained that you can’t take it out of its box.  Not until he throws out his dummy.

Update:  I was all set to do another ten nights.  I had the chart on the fridge.  But then he started fussing at bedtime again…wanting the dummy, refusing to go to sleep.  I gave in.  Ugh.  Terrible.  DON’T DO IT, I said to myself.  All that work, to regress now! 

So I made the hard decision.  It is time to go cold-turkey.  I talked with Munchkin.  Told him we needed to throw out his dummy.  No more dummy.  Not ever.  But that he could then have his police truck.  Okay.  He agreed.  We went up to my parents (who graciously let us share their rubbish and recyling bins!) and Munchkin put it in the rubbish bin.  He then came home, got down his police van, requested help to open the box, and has played almost continuously with it since.  It has been carefully placed on his little table, next to his truck.  Pride of place.  All his other cars are in their container, but he’s allowed to leave those two out, provided they are on his table.  Last night was a bit of a mission.  I am VERY tired today.  My son doesn’t seem to have been so affected (how is it that they bounce back to easily, leaving their poor sleep-deprived parents feeling like they were run over by a truck??!!).  He went to sleep fine without the D.  But woke around 9:30.  Cried.  Quite a lot, but not as much as when he first had to learn to go to sleep without it.  I lay with him (and I admit it, I did dope him with our sleep remedy!).  I’d think he was almost asleep, and that I could go and get some sleep myself soon, only to have him wimper away again.  But he made it eventually.   Only to wake a couple of hours later and go through it all over again.  But less crying this time.  Then he woke again at four am and came to visit me.  No crying.  Just wide awake.  A Mummy cuddle later and he was happy enough to go back to sleep.  I don’t actually remember if he asked for his dummy or not then.  I was too tired.  Grin.  

It has opening doors, and NZ police colours (only, it is still left-hand drive, guess that part was too hard to change!).
Hoping that each night will successively get easier.  But the BBC, was it worth it?  You bet.  At least he feels like he got a good deal out of giving up his beloved dummy.  While he can’t exactly enjoy his police van during the night, he can at least have fun with it during the daytime!

Truck and police van - frequently inseparable.


Brolly Sheets

I would like to introduce you to a really nifty invention.  Well, it is if you have preschoolers at least!

Preschoolers who have those little accidents, who are trying to toilet train (or resisting being toilet trained, depending on their current frame of mind!).  Preschoolers who you WANT to be toilet trained, but who aren’t quite ‘there’ yet.  And if you’re like me, you just aren’t quite sure how to go about it all…

Munchkin toilet trained just fine during the day time.  He’s pretty brilliant with taking himself off to the loo, doing his business, flushing the toilet, washing his hands, etc.

But night times?  Ugh.  A totally different scenario.  He is a VERY heavy wetter.  I means, seriously  HEAVY.  Like, three times as many nappy inserts as people said he’d need.  To the point he could hardly move.  Plus a ‘nappy pants’ cover over the top (the pyjama pants sort for older kids) to stop leaks in the top front.  Before that I was having to change him before I’d go to bed, and he’s still often be wet from bum to neck in the morning.  So you can probably understand my fear of night-time toilet training.  We don’t have a dryer.  We don’t even have our very useful conservatory any more.  We do have a mattress protector, but if he wets, we have to change the protector, the sheets, and somehow try and get the protector dry again before night.  Then there’s how hard it is to get the nappy cover down, the nappy unbuttoned, etc then put it all back on again afterwards in order to encourage getting up and going to the toilet mid-night, I’ve been very reluctant to even try nights.  He had a few nights months back where he was dry.  But I didn’t capitalise on the moment.  In retrospect, I’m sorry I didn’t.  I’m learning more and more as I continue this journey as a parent how important it can be to optimise the ‘moment.’  You know, that point in time where the kid seems to ‘get’ something or be on the verge of ‘getting it?’  Hmm.

He was going dry about 6 day sleeps out of 7.  Yes, my son still has a day sleep at three years old.  Or at least, he did.  This week he seems to have decided it is time.  Three nights of 1.5-2hrs to get to sleep, after busy days that should have worn him out, and we decided to try one day without sleep.  The preschool teachers agreed.  He was very proud of himself.  I expected a wiped out son.  He nearly fell asleep in the car on the way home.  But he made it through dinner and bath and bedtime without any undue tempers or otherwise.  And went to sleep in about five minutes.  Ahhh.  Today I thought he’d need one, seeing as he didn’t have one yesterday.  I duly put him to bed.  He did not sleep.  Mummy did.  We were up a few times last night – threw out the dummy in the big rubbish bin for the rubbish truck to come and take it to the rubbish tip yesterday!  Munchkin was quite happy with his decision during the day – he’s been threatening to do it for ages as he really desperately wanted the police van we’d bought him as BBC, but of course it is a VERY different matter in the middle of the night.  One cannot suck a police van to calm and soothe one-self, now can we??!!  So Mummy had to do.  Not that he sucked me, just lay all over me till he went back to sleep!  Anyway, today, Munchkin blatted round in his room (with his beloved police van!) while Mummy had a half-hour kip.  Thank God for small mercies.  And a trip out for a walk and hot drink with my mum this afternoon!
So back to the toilet training…

I was talking with friends about getting some Brolly Sheets.  One of them happened to see them on sale at Belly Beyond the following week.  We got two for $70 (free postage!).  Very happy.  (We had to sell a few things on Trademe to cover it!)

Here’s the basic idea:

It’s a sheet.  But it’s also a waterproof cover.  And an absorber.
All in one.
A nice looking, tidy, sheet-come-mattress-protector.
Easy to take away with you.  Munchkin took his to preschool this week instead of a nappy.
Easy to whip off the bed.  Wash in the machine.  Even throw in the dryer!

I thought about making an imitation myself.  But I so do not have the time.  Or inclination.  These are fabulous.  They have extra absorbency, which for us is really important.  The theory is that come spring, we can start working on nappy-free nights.  Hopefully the Brolly Sheet would absorb any accidents so we wouldn’t even need to change the top sheet.  Hopefully.  In the meantime, we are going to slowly stock up on Pull Ups.  Now that Treasures has seen the light and finally produced them in the Junior (biggest) size, we can use that as an option!  I think we’ll end up throwing out the old fabric nappies (which are hanging together almost by threads, they are so well-used) and using the pull-ups, together with getting him up when I go to bed for a quick toilet stop (IF I can without too many tears), making him go first thing when he gets up (gotten a bit slack with that lately and I suspect the nappy is often getting wet early morning).  Combine these with the safety net of the Brolly Sheet, and I’m hopeful we will make it through to nappy-free forever in the not-too-distant future!

With a Brolly Sheet duly installed on his bed, Munchkin is proud to now wear undies during day sleeps.  Haven’t had a wet since putting the Brolly Sheet on.  But it’s just the reassurance that IF he does (which will probably happen one day or another), all I have to do is whip off that Brolly Sheet, throw it in the wash, and put the other one on.  Done.  Amusingly, he likes to tuck his hands in under it, under his pillow.  Grin.

So there you go, if you’ve been worrying about getting your baby to go dry through the night, consider a BROLLY SHEET!

A friend first told me about these, raving about hers.  As she’s from the UK, I assumed they must be a UK thing, not having heard about them before.  But lo and behold, Brolly Sheets are a genuine KIWI INVENTION.  Wahoo.  Something fabulous that I can claim as our own.