Saturday, October 20, 2012

The one with the two year update!

Oh, faithful readers (are there any of you?) ... I apologize.  I'd like to say I haven't forgotten about this blog, but truth be told, I kind of have.  I suppose "forgot" isn't quite the word.  Life just gets in the way and I don't feel the need to update as often.

That being said, the little lemon that began this blog has turned two! 
That's right, the big two years old.

What can I say about two year old Charlotte?

Let's start with the physical.  She had her two year appointment on Monday (Oct 15) and is a "whopping" 25.4lbs and 33.5 inches tall!  Still my little pixie and I adore her.  She has all her teeth except her bottom two two-year molars.  Her hair is getting longer - it's almost time for a second hair cut - and still has curly bits.  Humid days are my favourite because her hair goes curl-crazy.  Her eyes are brown and she's wearing a size 5 shoe (possibly moving up soon).  She loves to dance and has been attempting to jump/hop.  She can go up and down stairs and can climb up and down easily on furniture.  We are working on potty training/learning and she's making some progress.  She is aware of her functions and will sometimes tell us if she needs to go but it's not always consistent and sometimes when she tells us she needs to go, nothing happens.  It'll all come in time, though, and we both agree that it will NOT happen until she's ready so why push it?

Charlotte continues to amaze me every single day.  At two years old, she currently knows the entire alphabet, what sounds all the letters make, how to spell "mom" and "dad', recognizes/reads the words "mommy", "daddy", and "Charlotte", knows all her shapes and colours, remembers the words to favourite songs, speaks in full sentences (averages about 6-8 words at a time), identifies countries on the globe, identifies planets, recognizes tunes and can identify them, and picks up new information SO quickly it's frightening.  Her current favourite game is "spelling" (she gives us a word and we spell it for her).  My favourite part about all of this?  We taught her NONE of it.  Exposed her to it?  Absolutely.  But she's the one who wants to play spelling, she's the one who wants to "do letters", she's the one who asks to play shapes.  You should have seen the look of sheer joy when she opened her birthday present from us and it was the Leapfrog Word Builder jet thing that goes on the fridge.  Crazy kid ... she just retains information like I've never seen.

She is still as sweet and empathetic as always.  She loves to hug all her dolls and animals.  She thinks the washer and dryer are friends.  She pushes two objects together and declares them "family".  She is very easy-going and loving.  She loves other children and really likes spending time with her cousins.  She has started to exhibit some typical two year old behaviour (whining and tantrums) but so far we're just ignoring the behaviour and acknowledging the positives.  No point in getting into power struggles.  She is extremely funny and KNOWS it.  She's always got a good joke for us  :)

We moved her into a toddler bed the weekend of her birthday party (Thanksgiving weekend) and she is doing fantastic!  She fell out once and got out once when she was down for a nap but wasn't tired.  Otherwise, she stays in the entire night (and nap time) and only gets out when one of us goes into her room to get her.  She loves her "big girl bed" and loves "crawlin' in and crawlin' out".  I'm kind of sad there's no more crib in our house but I'm so proud of my big girl. 

A few Charlotte favourites:
  • activity: watching the washer and dryer (we recently moved and now have front-loaders - excellent toddler entertainment!) and pushing her doll stroller around
  • song: Bruno Mars' "Marry You" (she knows almost all the words and we watch this video about a million times a day)
  • food: I think her current favourites are spaghetti and cauliflower (separately).  She is still not a picky eater and generally eats whatever we put in front of her.
  • book: she always wants to read from her book of Bible stories that Auntie Rochelle, Uncle Paul, Lucas, and Isla got her last year for her baptism
  • toy: currently, I'd say her doll stroller, her kitchen, or her letter magnets
And that's our girl in a nutshell!  Not a baby anymore ... I can't even believe it.
Hopefully I will update again before she turns three  ;)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The one with the car seat 101

As Charlotte nears two years old (side note - what the what?!), car seat questions seem to be popping up more and more.  We have made the decision to rear-face Charlotte as long as she fits in her seat which will likely be for a few more years yet.  Extended rear-facing isn't very common in our circle, it seems, so the fact that we didn't immediately turn her around when she turned one is puzzling.

There are few things that I am hardcore about when it comes to parenting.  I consider myself pretty easy-going, but car seat safety is the one thing that I think I'm "crazy" about.  If my daughter is in a vehicle, I am going to keep her as safe as I possibly can.  Every step up in a car seat is a step down in safety.  I am in no hurry to move her through the stages of car seats when all it does is make her less safe in the car.  So, with that, let's answer some commonly asked questions about our current car seat arrangements!

Why didn't you turn her around when she turned one?  It's the law!
The current law in Nova Scotia states that children must be one year old and 22lbs before they can be turned around forward-facing.  New legislation in January 2012 also recommends that children must be walking sturdily before being turned forward.  This law is the minimum safety standard.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children rear-face until at least 2 years old and Child Safety Link here in NS recommends that toddlers remain rear-facing as long as possible according to the limits of your car seat.  So, yes, she is technically legally allowed to be turned forward-facing but it is not the safest option.  I'd be surprised if she has hit 25lbs at this point.  She's small.  Her car seat can rear-face up to 45lbs and will keep her harnessed until 65lbs, provided she does not outgrow the seat by height.  Many seats on the market now can easily rear-face children up to 4 years of age.

How is rear-facing safer?
Rear-facing for young children is safer because of the way the seat cradles them in the event of a crash.  I recently attended a car seat safety workshop where it was stated that the force felt from a crash at 50km/h is the same as being dropped out of a third story window.  As a family that is on the highway, driving 110km/h, VERY often, keeping Charlotte as safe as possible is priority.
When a child is rear-facing, their head and spine are cradled in the seat.  When a child is forward-facing, their body is harnessed tight but their head and spine are not protected.

The image above shows a forward-facing child and a rear-facing child at the same point of impact during a crash test.  Notice how the child forward-facing is thrown forward.  Now imagine the force of the crash on the child's spine.  Young children have large, heavy heads in relation to the rest of their bodies and their spines are not as developed as an adult's spine.  These factors combined with the force of a crash can SERIOUSLY injure or even kill a child even if they are strapped tightly into their seat.  Simply Googling "rear-facing vs forward-facing crash test" will bring up videos of crash tests where you can see the ways in which the seats restrain the child.  Rear-facing is the safer option.

But she's too tall!  Her legs are touching the back of the seat!
A child outgrows their rear-facing car seat when the top of their head is less than 1" away from the top of the shell of the car seat.  Legs have nothing to do with outgrowing a rear-facing seat.  A child's legs are allowed to touch the back of the seat.  Safety is not compromised in any way.  There are actually more reports of broken legs in forward-facing children as their legs are thrown forward in a crash and not cradled as they are in a rear-facing seat.
Most children do not sit with their legs straight out as adults do.  Watch a young child at play.  How are they sitting?  Most children sit with their legs tucked up.  The "lack" of leg room with a rear-facing seat is not an issue.  Most children will sit with their legs bent at the knee, cross-legged, stretch their legs up, or simply toss them over the sides of the seat.  Again, this is not a safety issue and does not compromise the safety of the child in the seat.  The purpose of keeping a child rear-facing is to protect the head and spine.  As one quite sombre catch-phrase goes: "broken leg, cast it - broken neck, casket".

Note how she bends up her knees.  This is a comfortable and natural position for her.  In fact, she often kicks the back seat with glee, exclaiming "kickin' seat!!" or she will push against the back of the seat to make her car seat "rock" (i.e. rebound - a totally normal and necessary feature of rear-facing) and she will laugh and laugh.  She enjoys the position and has never once complained.

Another thing to note about height is the height of the harness straps.  In a rear-facing seat, the harness straps should be AT or slightly BELOW the shoulders.  This keeps the straps nice and snug around the shoulders.  If the straps are above the shoulders, there is more room for the child to move up in the seat in the event of a crash and may be ejected from the seat.  A child has not outgrown a rear-facing seat if their shoulders are slightly above the harness slot.  This is correct usage of the seat.  The chest clip should be at nipple/armpit level to ensure that the straps stay put on the shoulders.  The chest clip is simply a place holder and will break in the event of a crash.  Keeping it at nipple/armpit level ensures that the straps stay in place and do their job.

But she can't see anything!  Wouldn't it be more enjoyable for her to see out the window?
She can see out the window.  She can see out the back window and both side windows and will often comment on the things she sees.  This is not an issue.  Besides, she doesn't know there's another option.  This is how she sits in the car and she doesn't know that she even has the option of facing forward.  What she does not know does not cause any problems!

Yeah, rear-facing is all well and good until you want to have someone sitting in the front seat!  Rear-facing takes up too much room!
Rear-facing infant seats (aka "bucket" seats) take up a ton of room, yes.  However, convertible car seats actually take up less room rear-facing than the buckets do!  In addition, as your child gets older, the seat no longer has to be at the 45 degree angle.  This angle for newborns is due to their inability to hold their heads well and sitting at a higher angle can cause their heads to flop forward and close their airway.
We currently have Charlotte at the 45 degree angle simply because that is what the manufacturer of her seat has recommended.  However, we have her in the middle and her seat does not touch either front seat.  I can push the passenger seat all the way back and recline it all the way down and it does not touch her car seat.

I hope this has answered any questions about our decision to rear-face Charlotte and about car seat use in general!  For more information about car seat safety and proper car seat usage, I highly recommend Child Safety Link and Atlantic Car Seat Safety.  There is a lot to know about proper car seat usage at all stages but once you know, it is information that can literally save your child's life.

Her seat was uninstalled due to switching it between cars and she LOVES sitting in it!  She asked to be buckled in, haha.  That is one happy little toddler in her car seat!

Monday, July 30, 2012

The one where Charlotte says funny things

Ah, my most favourite of ages ... the age of "kids say hilarious things".
A few Charlotte-isms to brighten your day!


Me:  "Okay Charlotte, when you're all done supper we'll go down and get you in the tub"
Charlotte: "One hour?"
Me: "One hour?  No..."
Charlotte:  "Two hours?  FIVE hours?"
Me:  "Five hours?!  No way, that's too long to be in the tub."
Charlotte:  "Three minutes?"
Me:  "Yes, that sounds like a much better idea"


Charlotte:  *covering herself with her blanket*  "Where's Charlotte?!"
Me:  *playing along*  "Where's Charlotte?"
Charlotte:  *still covered by the blanket*  "Under."
Me:  "You're under the blanket?"
Charlotte:  "Yeah."
(kinda defeats the purpose, kiddo!)


We are at a parade and a man with neck tattoos and full sleeves walks by.  Charlotte stares and you can almost smell the burning as she's trying so hard to process what she sees.  Finally, she blurts out:
"Painted!!  Man neck, painted!  Man arms, painted!"
I tell her yes, sort of, that the man has tattoos.  She breathes a huge sigh of relief and repeats "tattoos" as if she solved the world's greatest mystery.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The one with the importance of play

Charlotte loves to help me cook.  Every time she sees me get ready to cook, she starts to drag a chair over to the counter, saying "see!  see!"  Tonight we were going to make shepard's pie, so she dragged her chair over, and began to watch me peel potatoes.

Well, peeling potatoes is only interesting for a short while so after about two potatoes, she lost focus and started playing with the small bit of water in the dirty dishes in the sink.  I gently removed the dishes and started filling up the sink with warm water, a squirt of dish soap, and tossed in a couple of measuring cups.  The scene was set.

First, she spent some time scooping the bubbles and only the bubbles.  She would scoop them gently with one measuring cup and dump them into another.  She did this over and over until she made a hole in the bubbles and saw the water below the sudsy layer.

She stood at that sink for a half an hour while I continued to cook supper.  She scooped water.  She poured water from one cup to another, from a cup to the sink.  She slid her arms in all the way up to her elbow and said "cold, cold, BRR!"  She waved her hands around and watched the water swish.  She stuck her hands into the flowing tap.  She smooshed the suds in her hands and said "washing!"

As I watched her, the early childhood educator in me came out full force.  I watched my toddler completely engrossed in what some people would discourage - playing in the sink, making a mess, getting water everywhere.  Instead of scolding her, I encouraged her.  This was a prime learning opportunity and I was not about to squash it.  Learning?  What learning?

Well, let's see.  During the half hour of water play, Charlotte (19 months) said the following words (many times):
cold, cold, brr
oh no!
This play experience encouraged an explosion of language!  She had so much to say about what she was doing and had the opportunity to let the words flow freely.

Not only did the experience encourage her language development and help increase her vocabulary but she also learned about a whole slew of concepts:

force -- she felt the difference in the water flow when I turned the faucet on full blast vs having the faucet gently drip water into the sink
temperature -- she noticed the temperature of the water ("warm!") and played around with the concept when she said the water was cold ("cold, cold, brr")
wet/dry -- the kid was soaked by the end of it  ;)
space -- she filled her measuring cups and dumped them; she moved the bubbles and noticed the water underneath; she swished water around and watched it ebb and flow
size -- she noticed the size of the tea towel that she put into the sink near the end of the experience and shouted "big!"; she looked at a mountain of bubbles and said "tall"
density -- as she squished the bubbles in her hands, she experimented with the density of the suds; she also explored this concept as she deliberately scooped ONLY the bubbles when she first began to play
weight -- she filled her measuring cup and said "heavy"
relationships -- as she played in the sink, she made many mentions to "Gram" - she often sits and bathes in the sink at her Gram and Grampie's house
emotions -- throughout the play experience, she exclaimed "happy!  happy!  fun!"
self-control -- she wanted the faucet on all the time but I could not leave it on the entire time or the sink would overflow - she played on despite this - she also kept the water in the sink quite well

All this from playing in the sink?  You bet!
Sometimes those things that you think are messy, annoying, frustrating, inappropriate, a pain-in-the-neck, or purposefully meant to drive you nuts are the things your babies really need the most.  Let them play.  Let them learn!  Trust their abilities to learn and let them explore their world.  Messes only last moments; lessons last a lifetime.

"Be careful what you teach; it might interfere with what they are learning"
~Magda Gerber

Monday, March 19, 2012

The one with the even longer overdue update

Well, here we are for my semi-annual update. I certainly didn't intend for this blog to fall so far behind, but (no offense to my lovely readers) it's kind of low on the priority list. However, since I have a spare moment or two right now, I figured I would update! Hooray! Aren't you thrilled?

Life is busy and wonderful these days!
Charlotte turned 17 months on the 14th and she is beyond amazing.

She has exploded with words since the last blog update and she's coming up with more and more of them every day. She probably has about 30-40 words, a couple of two-word utterances, and has added "thank you" to her sign repertoire. She recognizes all of her colours, can distinguish between shades, and will name them when asked (or when not asked - she LOVES pointing out colours). She can also recognize and say all of the letters in the alphabet. Right now, these are two of her favourite activities. If you want to keep her busy for a while, just ask her to go get all the blue magnets off the fridge or read her "LMNO Peas" by Keith Baker and she will be happy as a clam. It's gotten to the point now where she no longer cares about what things are but rather what colour they are.

Oooh, letters!

She has 12 teeth now and is only missing her four canines and her two year molars. We had her weighed about a month and a half ago and she FINALLY hit 20lbs! She was 20lbs 4oz to be exact, haha (although she was wearing her clothes, so that most likely accounts for the 4oz). She's still a teeny little thing but she fits well into her 18 month clothing. She's in a size 4-4.5 shoe. She's graduated to a booster seat at the table and no longer eats off a high chair tray. Her hair has grown quite a bit in the last two months and we can now put it up into adorable little pigtails :)

She still loves loves loves her books but has started to branch out into some new activities. She's discovered how awesome balls are and loves to throw them. She also enjoys playing with her kitchen set and her building blocks. She enjoys colouring and we keep a piece of paper taped to the coffee table with her little box of crayons so she can colour as she pleases. She's also started loving to dress up. She wants to wear her outdoor gear ALL THE TIME. If her hat is anywhere nearby, she wants it on. She wants to wear her coat around. She loves her scarf. She runs around wearing her shoes. I think it's time we invest in a tickle trunk!

She's hit full-on toddlerhood but she doesn't really act like a toddler. She doesn't throw tantrums and if she does have an outburst, she's very easy to talk to and calm down. She really seems to get it and we're able to explain things to her and reason with her. She's kind, sweet, and very easy-going. She signs "thank you" without prompting. She pets Maggie softly and gently. She is so very pleasant and I adore her more and more every day. She has a great sense of humour and her little giggles are music to my ears! She's so funny and when I tell her she's a little turkey, she runs around saying "turkey turkey turkey turkey!"

Aside from Charlotte and her awesomeness, life has been good. We took a trip in January to go to Calgary to visit Rochelle, Paul, Lucas, and Isla for the babies' baptism and to Winnipeg to visit friends and family. It was a very short but wonderful trip. It was so nice to see everyone and it made me want to get back to Winnipeg as soon as possible! I wish we could have stayed longer (or, ya know, move back..........).

I have also found myself a new job that I start on March 30! I am leaving the field of Early childhood education (somewhat) and am venturing in a new(ish) direction. I will be coordinating and facilitating child and family programs at the local Military Family Resource Centre. I will be making more money and working less hours which is SO unbelievably important to me so I have more time to spend with my daughter. I am terrified, nervous, and very very excited. It allows me to use my ECE diploma and skills but I will no longer be working as a front line ECE. I knew working directly on the floor was not something I wanted to do or could handle once I had my own children and spending the last six months working back in the field has solidified the conclusion that this is no longer the career for me. I love my work as an ECE but it's MUCH too physically and emotionally demanding for me at this point in my life. I know my limits. I'm very excited to start something new and see where it takes me! And, incidentally, my first day is my Daddy's birthday so it must be meant to be :)

That's all the news on our end these days! We're all really looking forward to summer coming and simply spending more time together as a growing family :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The one with the LOOOOONG overdue update!

I know, I know! I swear I didn't intend for Charlotte to turn one and then the blog suddenly stops. Things have just been busy - nothing special, really, but just life.

We had a wonderful Christmas and even though I only had two days off work (four days total since Christmas was on a weekend) we still managed to see both of our families and have our own Christmas time. It was busy and a bit stressful but we made it work. Charlotte was very excited about Christmas morning. She didn't really know what was going on but she danced around and ate cinnamon buns in the living room and got new toys, so she was happy. She was absolutely enamored with snowmen and Christmas trees and I'm a bit sad that the season is over. Granted, she was the same way with pumpkins around Hallowe'en so I'm sure she'll find something new to obsess over ;)

She turned 15 months yesterday and continues to amaze me. She still doesn't talk much but she understands so much and picks things up so quickly that it's almost scary. She points a lot and she'll point to something if you ask her (i.e. "Charlotte, where's your humidifier?"). She currently signs "more", "all done", "sing", "milk", "I love you", and "toilet". She knows what a horse, cow, sheep, cat, dog, duck, lion, and Santa say. When she asks to sing, she will choose songs herself (for example, she'll smack her lips together if she wants "Pop Goes The Weasel" or will say "E-I-O" if she wants "Old MacDonald"). She recognizes letters (has a fondness for "O" and will walk around, carrying her "O" magnets going "Ooooo") and can recognize some colours. Her comprehension is outstanding and I often forget just how young she actually is.

She's still teeny and probably always will be. I'm not sure how big she is, but I imagine she's hit 20lbs by now. She just went through a growth spurt and finally fits into the 18month clothing she owns. She has 11 teeth - four front, three bottom, two top molars, and two bottom molars. Her hair is growing longer and her curls are adorable. She's started to change her looks and I get told she looks a lot more like me now. It's nice to hear :) I did birth her, after all...

She still loves her books and reading is still one of her favourite activities. She got a kitchen for Christmas from Santa and has been enjoying "cooking" there and feeding us her concoctions. She also got a lion from Santa and LOVES it. She runs around the house, hugging it, and saying "roar!" She has a couple of dolls and enjoys feeding them, brushing their hair, and patting their backs. She just loves pointing at things and figuring out what things are. Right now her current obsessions are the ladybugs on her blanket and Maggie's toy mice. I can't quite tell if she likes the mice or hates the mice, but she'll walk around the house with a toy mouse in each hand, following Maggie, attempting to give them to the cat. If she sees a cat toy on the floor, she points at it and kind of yells. Maybe she's mad that Maggie doesn't clean up after herself.

She has little traits that make me chuckle. She likes to put her cup in the cup holder of her high chair tray when she's done taking a drink. If it doesn't fit, she puts it on the table. When she's eating snack, she'll put something (a cracker, a piece of fruit) back in the bowl before taking something else to nibble on. She's developing her little personality more and more every day and she's certainly a character!

She's still doing great with her eating and sleeping habits. We've finally, FINALLY, rid ourselves of bottles! Hooray! She's doing perfectly fine without them and doesn't seem to miss them one bit. She's eating three meals and two snacks a day and, usually, sleeps 10-11 hours at night. She has one after-lunch nap that is usually 2 hours on average, but can sometimes be as short as an hour and a half or as long as today where she slept for FOUR hours. Nutty. It's usually 2, 2.5 hours though. She doesn't eat as much in one sitting as she used to (which makes sense, because she's not growing as rapidly as she was in her first year) but she still eats well. She still loves all her usual favourites: pasta, meats, potatoes, corn, peas, english muffins, toast, crackers, grapes, bananas, blueberries, waffles, etc. There's not really a whole lot she won't eat as a whole - somedays she'd rather have one thing over another, but as a whole she eats a really well-balanced diet and loves her healthy foods.

She's just the light of our lives. She has a very sweet, caring, pleasant personality and is so very easy-going. Charlotte, we love you!

I promise to update again before she turns 2 ;)