Friday, 11 July 2014

a tantrum-free day

This weekend we're heading off to Pembroke to see a dear friend's ordination to the priesthood. While we wouldn't want to miss this event it also means preparing for another road trip with two little ones in this summer that has already been crazy busy. Just thinking about it makes me tired. 

Tiring? Yes. But cute? Double yes.
When my mother-in-law told me that they were going up to the same area a day earlier than us and offered to take Isaac with them and meet us there my first reaction was discomfort. Isaac has never been away from us, with the exception of the night after Kateri was born. He's certainly never been on a road trip without us. Then I began to see the idea in sort of a rose-coloured shimmery haze. I could pack for the trip without Isaac there flinging clothes around and trying to put on our deodorant. We would have a relatively peaceful car ride, with only Kateri who's guaranteed to sleep for at least a couple of hours of the trip. It would only be one night away with his beloved Nana and Papa, and Isaac is no clingy child. With lots of people around and lots to do he'd hardly miss us. I could have a tantrum-free day.

You see, lately Isaac's toddlerishness has really been getting to me. I always knew that toddlers had tantrums, the "terrible twos" and all that, but I think I had some vague idea that if you were a good parent and dealt with tantrums properly the phase wouldn't last all that long. 

Classic "cheese" face.
If anyone reading this hasn't had much contact with toddlers, my vague idea was wrong. Isaac has been a tantrum-thrower for about a year and a half now, and it seems that there's no end in sight. I'm pretty sure this is actually just normal. We don't reward his tantrums, give in to him, or bribe him (except when we're really desperate..hey, we're not perfect!) but the simple fact remains that he is not yet able to control his emotions. Sometimes his tantrums are him putting on a show trying to get what he wants, but most of the time he just genuinely loses it. For a long time I thought that this was just the age he was at, and it is, but part of it is that we've just got a very passionate little fellow on our hands. He screams when he's excited, he screams when he's upset, and he gets upset and excited often. "Exuberant" my mom calls him, and I would have to agree.

He is getting better at obeying, and better at self-control, but I find that as he learns more I expect more from him. He used to rarely obey me, he just didn't have the impulse control. It was frustrating sometimes, but understandable. Now when he doesn't obey me or follow rules but I know that he can it can really bother me. I don't like dealing with tantrums. I'm a non-confrontational person so a battle of wills with my toddler is just exhausting. The sheer noise grates on me on a physical level.

I wrote awhile ago about it not being personal with toddlers. I think lately I've started taking it personally again. And, really, it's all about pride: "No child of mine is going to be rough with his cousins. No child of mine is going to whine to watch more tv. No child of mine is going to refuse to eat his vegetables. No child of mine is going to continually snatch toys from his sister." Why not? Am I so much better than the parents who have gone before me and struggled with these same issues? And even if I were a perfect parent does it follow that my child is going to be calm and self-controlled at the age of two? No, no and no. Of course, these behaviors are problems and we are working on them, but they will take time. And in the meantime, if I stop taking it personally and worrying about my pride I can deal with them much more calmly and consistently. 

Anyway, you can see how the prospect of a tantrum-free day was appealing. Even so, last night and this morning I was all in a flutter packing Isaac's bag and wondering if my baby was going to be okay without me. Sean and I did not find it easy letting him go. We have more separation anxiety than he does. We even talked about cancelling last night, but couldn't think of any good reasons. Isaac was excited to go with Papa to see Eowyn (the dog) the chickens at Sarah and Jason's house and wasn't the least upset leaving today. We know he's in very good hands and will have lots to keep him occupied. 

So Isaac is off on his adventure with Nana and Papa. The house is strangely silent without him. I miss him, but am also enjoying a little break. A little break, a little perspective, a chance to miss that little man and remember how much light he brings to our lives. And a chance for some quality time with Kateri. Our little miss is growing! Now that she's 7 months it seems like her first birthday is just around the corner and soon she'll be walking and talking and tagging along after her older brother just like I used to do. She's sitting up by herself (only falling occasionally) and grabbing everything within reach and sticking it in her mouth. She loves food, but has lately been insisting on feeding herself. She grabs the spoon as it's heading towards her mouth and sticks it in. I'm not sure how much she actually eats since most of her food seems to end up on her face, hands and clothes. She's our happy girl. I look at her and say, "You'll never have tantrums, right?" And then I laugh...and cry...
Little Miss Bright Eyes!
(Photo cred in this post goes to Sarah and Jason Gould

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day to all women: those who are mothers, those who will become mothers and those whose motherhood is spiritual.

This Mother's Day I'm trying to think of it as a day to be grateful for my motherhood. I'm so blessed that God has entrusted me with this wonderful husband and these two miraculous little souls.

I don't need a day of the world revolving around me in order to feel loved. I don't need the slave labour of my family in order to feel blessed.

This Mother's Day I'm trying to remember that motherhood is a gift, that I have in no way earned. It is my life, and I love it. Yes, it is a challenging life of service, but so is the life of every Christian.

I'm trying to remember the sacrifices that my own mom made to raise me. I'm trying to remember all of the friends, aunts, and grandmothers who are helping me mother my own children. I have so much to learn from all these women in my life.

I'm trying to remember our Blessed Mother: the woman whose "yes" made the salvation of the world possible. The woman who is still teaching me to say "yes" to God everyday.

God has given so much, and I am so grateful.

Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

the second time around

I've been pondering the differences between having one child to look after and now having two, and I have to say that I think I like having two better. Obviously, I love both my kids and the thought of life without either of them is unimaginable. What I mean, though, is that personally I like the way that my day is filled better with two kids than I did with one.

I'll admit that I was terrified at the thought of having to look after a newborn as well as my never-sit-still-for-more-than-a-few-minutes toddler. I thought of what it was like when Isaac was a newborn: hours of nursing, then hours of trying to get him to nap when he got a little older. It seemed impossible that I could do that while also looking after an active toddler, who I still didn't feel was safe to leave alone for ten minutes while I took a shower (I shower in the evenings...I do shower, I promise). I tried not to worry too much because I knew that lots of people do it and that I would find a way to make it work when the time came.

And those first couple of weeks alone with the kiddos were tough. The postpartum hormones were still raging, I was still physically recovering and sleep deprived. It took me awhile to find a new rhythm and figure out how I could meet both their needs, and to realize that I didn't have to feel guilty for dividing my attention between them.

brand new baby sister
But now...I love it! It's still tiring and chaotic, as I think any life with little ones tends to be, but I love that my days are a little more full. There are more tasks that need immediate attention. This may not sound like a perk, but one of the difficulties that I found with just one child is that you have time, but it's difficult to use that time productively. It's hard to start any task that you can't wrap up quickly or leave for a few minutes if some meltdown or other "emergency" calls you. It's also difficult to do anything unless your toddler can somehow "help", unless you enjoy working with a crying child attached to your leg. So what do you do in those unusable moments? Instead of doing something that you actually want to do, you settle for taking a "scroll" on facebook or looking up symptoms online because those minuscule red dots on baby's cheeks could be something serious. Anyway, I find that in this case having less time is actually better.

Isaac makes sure she has lots of toys to play with.
I also find that when Kateri is fussy, it's not as frustrating to deal with (note: I'm not talking about a screaming baby, which is difficult to deal with in any circumstances). When Isaac was a baby and he needed to be held and bounced or walked around it was frustrating because there was nothing else I could do. I just had to stare at my messy house, shift that heavy child from one arm to another and wait for Sean to get home. Now, when Kateri is fussy I can at least keep Isaac out of trouble. I can talk to him and take part in his pretending. I've even stood beside him and read to him while comforting Kateri.

One of my favourite things about having two has to be watching the sibling love grow. When I get Kateri up from a nap Isaac will greet her: "It's Teri! She's 'wake!" and come over to give her a hug and otherwise maul her. He loves to put his finger in her little fist for her to hold, and now that she's actually starting to grab at him, he thinks it's pretty funny. Kateri smiles when Isaac approaches her (not sure why; there's risk of injury every time) and she gets all excited watching him jumping or running around. They are entertainment for each other. When you only have one, you, the parent, are their only source of amusement. When Kateri gets older, I know that I'm going to have to do a lot of refereeing between them, but at least they won't be hanging off my ankles all day.

We recently put away the bassinet and got out the crib. Isaac thinks it's a great place to play.
I know also that this time around I'm more confident as a mother. I'm enjoying the experience more now that I'm used to the sacrifices involved and less worried over every little thing. Becoming a parent is an overwhelming experience. Suddenly there is a little person in your life who needs you every minute of every day. There is no time off and no vacations (yes, you can take a vacation from your kids, but you're still their parent the whole time). Before Isaac was born I didn't have much experience with kids and I spent a lot of time when he was a baby researching everything from milestones to proper diet. While the information I found was useful it was also often confusing and stressful.

This time I've hardly done any research. We are gradually figuring out what kind of parenting works for us and how we want to raise our family, and I'm finding that no amount of research can substitute for the real life experience. I've learned that:

Every baby is different. some sleep better than others, some are naturally more content. They are all beautiful and lovable, but some are easier than other. Kateri sleeps better than Isaac did and I haven't done anything differently. Having an unhappy baby does not make you a bad parent and having an angel baby (like Kateri) does not make you a particularly good parent.

I've learned that even the most content baby will have his fussy hours, days, weeks. It does not necessarily mean that something's wrong or that there's something you should be doing differently. With Isaac I felt like I had to have the answer to every little cry (because a mother is supposed to know exactly what her baby's crying for every time...ya right!). This time I'm trying to be a little more relaxed about it.

I've learned that trying to put a baby on a schedule stresses me out. I'm not saying that schedules are bad for babies, I'm just saying that they don't work for me. Babies are constantly changing, going through growth spurts, teething, etc. so trying to factor all that into a schedule is not worth it for me. Also, most babies fall into, if not a schedule, at least a pattern when they're a few months old. I prefer watching for this pattern than trying to create one of my own.

I've learned that I'd rather endure quite a bit of sleep deprivation than do "cry it out" sleep training. Again, I'm not trying to judge. I know we're all just doing the best we can for our families, and I don't believe that that has to be the same for every family. But for me, the guilt of listening to those cries is not worth the few extra hours of sleep.

I've learned that in a family love doesn't just go from parent to child it goes in all directions. Now that Kateri is here I do have less time for Isaac. But he has a whole new person in his life to love and be loved by. I think it's well worth it.

The point is that now I know. Before Isaac was born these were things that I had read about, now they're things that I've experienced, and I'm finding that that is making my Baby #2  experience much less anxiety-filled. It also helps that Kateri is such an easy-going baby. Sometimes when she's fussy it's because I'm holding her when she'd rather be stretching out on the floor. How's that for low-maintenance? I'm not trying to brag because I take no credit for her sweetness. If I'd had her first and then Isaac, it might have been a bit of a shock. I probably would have wondered about him "What's wrong with this baby who won't sleep and needs so much attention?" I say this because I know that having two kids is not going to be more enjoyable than having one for everyone. These are definitely the types of things that can vary greatly from situation to situation and that is perfectly okay. I'm just sharing my experience and saying how wonderful it can be to have two.

The fact that every child is different is part of what makes having kids so exciting. Who knows who that little person will be? When I get frustrated with my kids I try to remind myself that these particular souls were entrusted to me at this particular time by God for a reason. Whatever the reason may be, it was God's decision and I guess He knows what He's doing.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

toddler tales

A blog post has been brewing inside me for the last few weeks and I thought I'd use it to give you a glimpse into the exasperating, but often hilarious life with a toddler and a baby.

1. "What y'doing Mommy?"

Over the past few months Isaac has become quite the talker. He now uses almost full sentences and though he can still be hard to understand sometimes he's pretty good at getting his point across one way or another. A while ago I discovered that if he was in a different room I could ask him what he was doing and he would usually tell. So while changing Kateri's diaper or nursing her I'll call out, "What are you doing, Isaac?" and he'll respond with something like, "Isaac push buttons" (meaning he's banging on the computer keyboard--not allowed, by the way) or "Table--Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, Angel" (meaning he was up on the kitchen table, where he's not supposed to be, looking at the nativity set). At least he's honest, right?

Unfortunately, this has gotten him into the habit of "yelling" around the house, from room to room. He'll call out, "Mommy, stop!" as I walk into another room or, "Wait!" The other day I was in Isaac's room trying to put Kateri down for a nap (she often sleeps in there during the day since it's so dark and quiet). He noticed that I was gone and started yelling, "Mommy! What y'doing Mommy?". I try telling him to whisper but that only lasts for about 3 seconds before he's saying loudly "Mommy! Teri sleeping, Mommy." Arrgghhh. I have to remind myself that he's only two years old and really doesn't know any better at this point. Luckily, Kateri is still pretty easy to get to sleep, and at this rate she's really going to get used to falling asleep in a noisy environment.

2. Religious instruction

We're very blessed to have lots of help instructing our kids in the faith. Their Nana and Papa and Grandma will all help them to know Jesus as they grow up. Isaac can now do the sign of the cross (more or less), say the Our Father and Hail Mary and sing Salve Regina and Immaculate Mary in his own garbled way. However, a couple weeks ago we had a reminder that the more abstract aspects of faith still go way over his head.

My Mom was over for a visit. She said to Isaac, "Is Jesus in your heart? Is Jesus there in your heart?" touching his chest. Isaac looked down at his shirt then up at his Grandma and said, "That's Spiderman."

We tried explaining that Jesus was under his Spiderman shirt, inside of him, but I don't think he's quite there yet.

3. Craft time

Lately Isaac has been a little more into colouring and we finally got him a pair of little craft scissors, though I'm still afraid he'll find some way to mortally wound himself with them. Isaac loves his scissors. He'll cut paper, but what he really loves is to cut the things that he sees Mommy and Daddy cutting: cutting open packages, and snipping off tags. He once saw us cutting the bottoms off of some flower stems so now he thinks that flowers are for cutting. One day we were in the living room when Isaac noticed that his pants had drawstrings and then wandered into the other room. I didn't think anything of it, but a minute later when I went to go see what he was doing, he had already snipped his drawstrings off with his little scissors. Seriously, how sharp are they making those craft scissors these days? Fortunately, those drawstrings were decorative and not integral to the functioning of the pants.

4. Discipline

If anyone knows how to discipline a willful two-year-old could you please let me know? Actually never mind. I would probably get more answers to that question than I actually want. After all, there are no kids easier to discipline than other people's.

Isaac is not very sensitive, so no stern tone, or even raised voice, has the least effect on him. If anything, he thinks it's funny or exciting that he's getting an unusual reaction. He also treats being sent to his room for a time out like a big joke. What do you do with a kid like that? Wait till he gets older I guess.

5. Mirror Mirror

I often think how little kids are like mirrors, reflecting back the kind of behavior to which they are exposed. I'm sure some of Isaac's wildness is due to our laid back, but also messy and disorganized life. A while ago when Isaac was pretending to fix things with his play tools I noticed he would concentrate very hard on the object he was fixing, furrow his brow and say, "C'mon this!" which reminded me a lot of a certain husband when whatever he's working on is not cooperating.

On the other hand, after putting so much love into your little one, it's nice to see some of it start coming back out. For example, when we play mini-sticks together Isaac will say, "Good shot, Mommy!" and, of course, nothing is more charming than hearing him say, "I-uv-oo".

As much as this toddler phase can be exhausting, and frustrating I also find it utterly fascinating watching him learn and grow. I love that playing with him allows me to be a kid again. I love that I get to teach him about the world, and in return I get to see the world through his fresh, two-year-old eyes.

I realise that this post has mostly been about Isaac, so some of you may be wondering: what about Kateri? Well, she is doing splendidly! Those sweet little cheeks have rounded out into an adorable chubbiness. She is big for her age, though not nearly as big as her brother was, for which my back thanks her. She can hold her head up pretty well by now, and is starting to bat at her toys. She has her fussy times, but mostly it's pretty easy to convince her to show us her beautiful smile. And she sleeps! I can hardly believe it, but most nights she'll do a 5-7 hour stretch of sleep, wake up to eat for 10 minutes and then go right back to sleep for another few hours. Isaac never slept this well at this age and even now, most nights he's still up at least once.

Shoveling with Daddy.

It's a lot harder to do selfies with the big camera but we managed!

That smile charms us every time

Our attempt to get a family picture. At least one of our children knows how to smile for the camera!
Note: if this post seems a little disjointed it's because it took me several weeks to write. Isaac is no longer napping which cuts back a lot on my blogging time. I finally decided that it would be better to just get it done than to spend anymore time fiddling with it. Anyway, here's hoping the next one doesn't take so long!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

introducing Kateri...and Merry Christmas!

It's hard to believe that our sweet babe is 4.5  weeks already. The time is flying by, though in some ways it already feels like she's been a part of  our family forever.

I know an update is long overdue. The postpartum rollercoaster has been too crazy and too exhausting for me to get to it until now, and even now I might just cheat by putting in a lot of pictures.

What a blessing it was that labour went so smoothly this time. I had some pre-labor contractions this time, but nothing like the weeks of contractions that kept me awake at night and left me completely exhausted that I had with Isaac. This time I woke up with mild contractions around 4am . I wasn't sure if it was the real thing but asked Sean to just wait awhile before going to work just in case. We kept waiting for the contractions to go away but instead they just kept coming and getting stronger. Around 11am we decided to call the midwife, by noon we were at the hospital and at 1:53pm Kateri Regina joined the world ex utero. With Isaac, I pushed for 2.5 hours, and then still needed a forceps delivery. Kateri was born after pushing through only 2 contractions! I was pretty amazed at how different it was. An easier labor has also meant an easier recovery, and though I'm still not 100% back to normal, I soon will be.

She was born so quickly that her face was a little bruised,
Sean took a week off work after Kateri was born and I took full advantage of it to rest and recover. Then my friend Caitlin came and stayed for almost a week to help out. I am so grateful to this wonderful friend and all the other people who have brought presents, clothes and food. Moms with new babies need support and I have felt very supported these past weeks.

As usual, everyone but Isaac is tired.
Isaac loves his baby sister; in fact, sometimes we have to protect her from the enthusiasm of his love. For the first couple weeks, when I had constant help with the kids Isaac had very little reaction to their being a new little person in the house. Now that it's down to just the three of us most of the time he's definitely been a little extra needy and temperamental. But after hearing some horror stories from friends of how upset their children got with the arrival of a new sibling, I think his reaction has been pretty mild.

Sibling love.
As for me, I'm still trying to figure out how to be a mom to two kids. Fortunately, Kateri is pretty easy going. Keep her fed and cuddled and she is happy. It now seems like it would be super easy if I only had her to look after (note: I certainly did not think it was "easy" when I only had Isaac. The first time around everything is and new and overwhelming and anything but easy). Right now, though, it's more challenging keeping Isaac entertained and safe when I also have to nurse/change/hold a baby. At first I would feel guilty a lot, like I was neglecting one or the other of them, but I'm slowly getting the hang of it and realizing that it may not be the worst thing in the world for either of them to have to share my attention. I also try to remember that a new baby is a gift, not just to the parents, but to the siblings as well. Isaac doesn't fully realize it now but (I hope) he'll be happy to have a sister to play with as she gets older.

Me and my babies!
Isn't she beautiful? I could just post picture after picture but I'll try and restrain myself.
Family picture at Kateri's baptism.

On another note: Merry Christmas!

Taken on Christmas Eve. She's already getting chubby!
It's been challenging, but really beautiful having a newborn baby around for Christmas this year. I've been too tired to do everything that I've wanted so Christmas has been pretty trimmed back this year. On one hand, it's a shame because this is the first year that Isaac is really old enough to have a clue what's going on (well, sort of anyway). I want to make it really special and fun for him. But, on the other hand, it's not really supposed to be about the presents, and the baking, and the decorations, right? We didn't get our tree until Christmas eve this year due to crazy ice storms and our own lack of organization, but we're thinking of making it a yearly tradition. First of all, the tree was free, and who can say no to that kind of bargain? It also made Christmas eve and Christmas day really special this year. The decorations were still fresh and intact (Isaac hadn't done any un-decorating yet) for the big day, which has been a great reminder to keep the focus on the main event.

Presents! Not the main event, but still pretty fun.
It's fun to have a girl to dress up.
This year, I've been able to look at Kateri and marvel at the fact that Jesus too was once such a tiny baby, so precious, but so vulnerable. Out of love for us, he put himself in that position: not even able to hold his own head up. I keep thinking of how Mary must have gotten up in the night to nurse Him, changed His diapers, soothed His cries, held Him close and smelt that newborn smell. Having a baby is very--I don't know how to put it--earthy. There are a lot of bodily fluids involved. I read somewhere how much poop becomes part of your everyday conversations when you're a new parent, and it's so true! Thinking of Jesus as a newborn, just like my little Kateri, makes me realize how truly human Jesus was. It is almost unbelievable that God would do that for us, but true.

Wishing you all the blessings that our God-made-man has for you this Christmas season!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

pregnancy, birthday, and fall loveliness

Since my last post, I've started three different posts and haven't had time or energy to finish them.  I'm determined to actually get this one published.

Life lately has involved a lot of ups and downs. I'm feeling very large and pregnant. My back aches more or less most of the time and I really have to watch what I do or it can get a lot worse very quickly. Some days I've just felt too tired to do anything. I just found out that my iron is low so hopefully the supplements I'm taking will help with my energy levels a little.

The week leading up to Isaac's birthday was stressful and exhausting, even though the plan was to keep things as simple as possible. Isaac hasn't been sleeping the greatest and for some reason I was obsessing over making the perfect birthday cake. After a couple setbacks I finally finished it and was just able to enjoy my little man on his big day. In the morning we played with balloons, and made paper party hats while watching his favorite show in the whole wide world (a nature special on crocodiles). Then we went to the park and spent time in the backyard blowing bubbles. In the afternoon a few family members came over to celebrate with presents, pizza and cake. Simple as this was, it was more than enough to give Isaac the wonderful day he deserves. Fortunately, I was able to let go of the stress I'd been feeling and just enjoy the chance to spoil my little man (who is officially no longer a baby by the way! *sniff*).

Since then we've just been enjoying this gorgeous fall weather. I'm still tired and uncomfortable but I think that as my due date approaches (just over a month to go!) I'm better able to deal with it because I know that it will be over soon and I'll have a sweet little babe in my arms to show for it.

Our little gardener picked a cucumber, the only thing that grew in our too-shady garden this year.
The birthday boy. Where did the last two years go? Sometimes I feel like I signed up to have a baby and now, all of the sudden, I have to raise a child! I guess we'll just have to keep learning as we go along.
Checking out his new toys. A set of construction vehicles were among the favorites.
After quite the struggle, I was actually pretty pleased with how the cake turned out.
Isaac was already on sensory overload after opening presents so he wasn't too sure what to do when presented with his cake. He knows now. Whenever we talk about birthdays he always mentions, "cake" and goes "ffew" blowing out the imaginary candles.
Have I mentioned that this is the nicest October I can remember? We've been outside almost everyday with nothing but long sleeves or maybe a light jacket. (The pink and purple bike belongs to his cousin Lucia. He doesn't seem to mind the colours.)
We found this wagon at a yard sale and it was an instant hit. When Lucia climbed in Isaac started taking her for a ride all by himself.
I love our DSLR camera. We're no photographers but it was definitely worth the money.
With this lovely weather we've been spending a lot of evenings in the backyard and barbecuing supper. One of Isaac's favorite new pass times is digging in the garden with Daddy (Mommy's back isn't up for much digging).
And what better to dig for in a garden than worms? As you can see, he's thrilled to be holding his "big" worm. He always tries to feed animals (grass, rocks, whatever's handy) so he was happy when we told him that worms eat dirt, so now he can always feed the ones that he finds.

Part of what made Isaac's birthday stressful is that we're also doing some renovations (and by we I mean Sean is working while I try to keep Isaac from getting killed). We've been meaning to work on the kitchen since we moved here and we realized that if we don't get it done before the baby's born it might never happen. So Sean's been busy working on the cupboards and painting and there's nothing Isaac likes better than "helping" Daddy.
35 weeks! I definitely got bigger more quickly with this pregnancy but I don't think I'm quite as huge now as I was with Isaac. I guess I still have a month and some to grow.  It's been so long since I posted that I feel like I could keep writing and writing, but I think I'll sign off for now. We're very proud of our two year old and very excited to meet his little sister! Please keep our family in your prayers as we continue to get ready for baby.

Friday, 23 August 2013

My almost-two-year-old

Today I was reading old posts and it just blows me away how much our little man has grown up. It made me realize how he has become easier in some ways and harder in others.

Things that are easier:

1. He no longer has the compulsive need to open every cupboard, go through every box, and climb every climbable surface. He will still do these things, but not as insistently as he used to.

2. He can do more things by himself. He can climb up and down stairs by himself, get on and off couches and beds, etc. safely, so I'm less worried about him cracking his head open every time I turn around. He can also get down the stairs in front of our house by himself, leaving me with two hands free to get out the stroller.

Getting out blocks is now always accompanied by a request that we help him build a "house house house house!" In fact, he won't stop saying it until some one helps him.

3. He can communicate MUCH better. He's now at the point where he's constantly spewing new words. And, while it can still be a challenge to understand what he's saying (pronunciation is not his strong suit), his growing vocabulary is certainly helpful.

4. He can follow simple instructions. He can even do things that are actually helpful, like going to get a spoon, or putting something in the garbage. When we clean up his toys he actually puts things away in the right place and usually doesn't stop until all the toys are away. Sometimes his dedication is much greater than mine!

5. He can understand if/then statements: "If you put your blocks away, then we can go outside." You have no idea how helpful this is! The only problem is that he doesn't always agree with our if/then statements. In fact, sometimes they are the start of complete meltdowns.

Things that are harder:

1. His memory is getting very, very good. While this may be helpful in some ways, it also means that we have to be very careful what precedents we set. ONE time when we went for a walk I brought cookies in my purse for a snack for the way home. Ever since then, when we start the return journey from the store, or the playground I'm likely to hear a chorus of requests: "cookie! cookie! cookie!" Also whenever we drive by a field we hear neighs and moos from the backseat, because he wants to see a cow or a horse. We drive in the country a lot and often see farm animals, but we have yet to make him understand that there won't be horses or cows in every single field.

2. The tantrums are more intense and harder to deal with. We have a boy who's always had a mind of his own, but now that he's older it's harder to distract him, harder to make him forget when he's not getting his own way. The poor little guy just rails against a world that is not fair. I guess time is the only cure for that. The world will continue to be unfair, but his railings will become less violent. The most common trigger for a tantrum is his 3-year-old cousin Lucia (or Cia, as he has finally figured out how to say). It's not that he doesn't like her; in fact, he adores her and wants to go everywhere she goes--which is a bit of a problem, considering they live upstairs and have to go through our front hallway to go anywhere.

Chasing bubbles with Lucia; in other words: he's pretty much in heaven.

3. Drama drama drama. In the above paragraph I was talking about real tantrums, ones where he completely loses it and simply cannot control himself. However, there are also the less intense incidents when you can tell he's just practicing for his audition for the Stratford Festival. Like when he sees that his dad had stubbed his toe and he comes limping over, whimpering, to have his foot kissed. Or when he starts crying over not getting his way, and looks to see my reaction before gently lowering himself to the ground in his (wink wink) grief. The problem with this drama is that it can quite quickly turn into a real tantrum if I don't find some way of distracting him. Then the problem is finding a distraction that isn't rewarding the behaviour. I've never been a fan of excess drama in my life so these little displays, though often cute, usually just irritate me. I guess I just have to accept that they're a normal part of childhood.

Not impressed at having to share. Or maybe that's just the villainous look one has when one has just stolen a shovel from a baby.

When Isaac was born I couldn't imagine him walking and talking, yet here he is! Six months ago I couldn't imagine the time when he wouldn't be into everything all the time, and while I won't say that that stage is over quite yet, I can now see that it will have an end. I still can't imagine being able to walk down the street with him without having an iron grip on his wrist, but maybe by next summer? I often just want to cuddle him and tell him that he's still my baby, but at the same time I'm glad to see him growing up because pretty soon (3 months!) I'll have another baby on my hands. I wonder what Isaac will think of that!

In this picture he still looks like a baby, just a ginormous one.

(To my friend who just did a similar post about her almost-two-year-old: I'm not just copying you I swear haha! I actually had a draft of this written when I read yours.)