26 months and counting

Ok, that is quite enough time for those photos to hang out at the top of my blog. Moving on!

So. Two year-olds. Can we talk about how hilarious they are? Because my god.

Hanging with my short friend. She's a ham for the camera.

My dad commented recently that Lucy seemed a lot grumpier and he didn’t know why. I said, “Well. She’s two.” I mean, that pretty much sums it up right there. She is agonizingly TWO about everything. The tantrums are epic, and the drama is high. But on the flip side, her good moods are so much more fun now that she has this huge (and I do mean HUGE) personality.

There are so many times I think, “Oh man, that’s adorable, I should write it down because she’s going to outgrow this soon and I know I’ll forget it.”

Lucy dinosaur ROOOOARRR!!
Case in point: the way she roars and says, “I monstah!” Yes, baby, you’re a monster.

When I tell Lucy that it’s time to do something she doesn’t want to do – like, say, take a bath or a nap – she’ll shake her head and say, “No nap! I happy!” Basically, “I happy” is her way of saying “I’m all good.” Although it has yet to work on me (sorry, kiddo, you still gotta take a nap), I love the way she says it.

And as terrible as this is, I have a hard time not laughing when she realizes it isn’t working and she starts to cry. “No naaaaaaap! I haaaaaaaappy!” Yes, you seem delighted. Now goodnight.

She also invented “the fall-down game,” in which someone counts to three and then she faceplants on purpose. Fortunately she only attempts this on soft surfaces like my bed. It could end badly on the hardwoods.


(I love the way her hair sort of fans out when she falls.)

Her imagination has exploded in the last couple of weeks and she now tells me the backstory on all of her toys and what they’re doing. She tells me how her panda bear is sleepy and needs to go night-night, then she tucks him in with a pillow and a blanket.

Unfortunately, sometimes her imaginary play acts out when I’m not paying attention. She’s been working on potty training at daycare (more on that subject some other time), so a lot of her playtime involves talk about poop and pee and potties and diapers. Last week, she decided that her Brobee (from Yo Gabba Gabba) doll needed to use the potty while I was unloading groceries. From what I can tell, she sat Brobee on the potty and then let go… yeah. She came running down the hall to the kitchen, screaming, “Oh no! Bwobee wet! Bwobee wet!” There was a trail of water from Brobee that led straight back to the toilet. Awesome. Brobee needed to take a “special bath” in the washing machine with some Oxy Clean after that. Yuck.

It’s a lot funnier when she holds up her Barbie doll and says, “Bahbie pooped! I change her diapuh!” And then she demands a folded kleenex for a makeshift Barbie diaper. That’s pretty awesome. Although poor Barbie has a history of having bathroom-related incidents at our house.

Lucy apparently wants to potty train her friends. (Poor Barbie.)

Barbie’s having a rough time, man.

She still remains one of the easiest children to feed I’ve ever encountered. Catie is such an insanely picky eater and always has been. (Catie refuses to eat sandwiches, y’all. Sandwiches. WTF?) Lucy, on the other hand, will eat most anything that you put in front of her. The other day when we got up, I asked her what she wanted for breakfast. She went to the pantry and pulled out a can of green peas.

Me: “You want peas for breakfast?”
Her: “YAH!”

Lucy asked for green peas for breakfast. And she's eating them. #weirdo

Whatever, man, she ate them. No complaints here.

Chris and I took the kids to see “Despicable Me 2” a few weeks ago, and we’ve had a running joke since then that Lucy talks a lot like a minion. There’s a decipherable word here and there, but mostly a lot of gibberish. It seems like most toddlers have their own unique dialect, and it just takes a while to tune your ear to understand them. But either way, Lucy is pretty good at getting her point across, even when we don’t pick up on every word she’s saying.

I told her to show me a sad face. This is what I got.

She still doesn’t sleep through the night, but we’ve gotten things down to a manageable form of torture: I get Lucy settled to sleep in her own bed, and later, when I go to bed, I take an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack and a sippy cup of milk in it. Sometime around 4 a.m. or so, Lucy comes into my room and climbs into bed with me. (I can’t pick her up right now because I’m not supposed to lift anything heavier than 5 pounds for the first month post-surgery, so I put a step-stool next to my bed, and she can boost herself up with that). She snuggles up against me and I give her the cup of milk from the lunch bag, she drinks it down, and we both go back to sleep until my alarm goes off. It’s certainly not ideal, I would love it if she would just stay in her own bed all night, but for now, it works ok.

Side note: for the past few weeks, Chris has been spending more nights at my house than not, so it’s now become a total non-event for the kids to wake up with him here. When Lucy comes in during the night, she snuggles up in between us like it’s nothing. I have to say, waking up and finding her with her little arm across his neck and both of them quietly sleeping away? Kind of kills me with how sweet it is.

Me and my Lucy girl

So, even though she has her moments of being aggravating as all hell, she’s still pretty awesome. I think I might keep her around.

sleep coaching a toddler

I met with the sleep coach a week ago, and I’ve been meaning to sit down and write about it ever since then, but I was too exhausted to actually implement any of the suggestions she gave me, and too exhausted to write about it, because, you know, my kid doesn’t sleep and that makes me tired. (Catch-22, anyone?)

Anyway, before I met with Pam from First Daze and Nightzzz, she sent me a questionnaire to detail Lucy’s history, so she could figure out where we were going wrong, and how to implement a solution that would work for us.

One of her questions was to list the things I had already tried. And I realized that this is a really long list.

This is what I sent her:

1.) Implementing a set/predictable bedtime routine that allows her to gradually calm down & get sleepy.

2.) When I suspected teething, I tried giving her either Motrin or Tylenol at bedtime.

3.) Trying the “cry it out” method. This doesn’t work because she gets so distressed that she makes herself vomit.

4.) Letting her sleep with me. This doesn’t work for a few reasons, but primarily because she wakes so frequently and is such a restless sleeper that neither of us was getting any rest.

5.) Moving her from a crib to a big-girl bed. This was probably a bad idea in hindsight, but it worked really well for my first daughter. Of course, the crib broke when I was moving it, & I cannot justify shelling out more money for a new crib that will likely only get a few months’ use. So we’re committed to the bed now. (It has a guard rail so she can’t fall out.)

6.) Trying the method of sitting next to her bed as she fell asleep, then over time gradually sitting closer and closer to the door as she fell asleep. Now I sit in the hall, but if she can’t see me as she falls asleep, she gets up and comes looking for me.

7.) Trying the “Supernanny technique” of not saying a word or giving her any feedback at all (neither positive nor negative), just simply picking her up and putting her back in the bed every time she got up. I did this for WEEKS. It never worked.

8.) I’ve given her Benadryl. Terrible, I know. And it had no effect whatsoever.

9.) A few weeks ago, out of desperation (because friends & pediatrician both recommended it), I took her off the bottle cold turkey & now only give her sippy cups.

That’s a lot of stuff, right? I also had to write out logs for at least 48 hours and make notes of when Lucy slept, how often she woke up, what I did to get her back to sleep, how much she eats during the day, etc. I left a notepad on my nightstand and scribbled down the times when Lucy woke up.

Normally, when I wake up in the morning, if you asked me how many times Lucy was up during the night, I would have no idea, because it all sort of blurs together. Seeing it all written out made me realize exactly why I’ve been so tired. Like the night that she woke me up 6 times. Let me repeat that: SIX. TIMES. And that’s not unusual! I mean, newborns wake you up less than that, right?

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So, we came up with a plan, and I’m tackling it now.

1. Lucy has had eczema since she was a tiny baby. I normally put cortisone cream on it, and that keeps it sort of in check, but she scratches an awful lot (mainly her hands and feet). One of the ideas that Pam mentioned is that perhaps she sleeps so restlessly because her skin is itching. (Why that never occurred to me, I don’t know.) So I took Lucy to a dermatologist last week, and we got a new cream for her eczema (which I can already tell is helping), as well as a prescription antihistamine that is specifically designed to deal with itching. (I got excited when the dermatologist told me that the antihistamine “may make her a bit groggy.” Reality: it makes her slightly groggy. Mostly it makes her meaner than a damn snake.)

2. We had a “family meeting” (well, Lucy and I did, Catie was like, “this is boring,” and took off to play on her iPad) to discuss that our new friend the Sleep Lady is going to teach us how to help Lucy sleep at night. Hard to have a real discussion with a 20 month-old, and I don’t know how much of it she understood, but I’ve been repeating this theme a lot (learning to sleep in her own bed, etc.), and hoping that it’ll sink in.

3. I bought a My Tot Clock, which is blue at night, and turns yellow in the morning when it’s time to wake up. Lucy is a big fan of colors, so she took to this pretty quickly. When the clock turns blue (normally when we’re in bed reading books), she points at it and says, “Boo! Nigh-night!” Yes, baby, blue means that it’s night-night time.

4. In the vein of basic behavior/reward charts, I’ve created Lucy’s “sleep manners” chart. Obviously she isn’t old enough to read yet, so I googled some clip art to make it something she can understand visually.

Lucy sleep manners
(Click to enlarge.)

A lot of the things are easy, like putting on her pajamas and brushing her teeth – I help her with those, so they’re kind of automatic wins for her. (The idea being to kind of boost her up a little, rather than just, “Well, you sucked at everything yesterday, didn’t you?”) I also bought some smiley face and star stickers to decorate it when she accomplishes the items on her chart.

5. Using the “chair method” of sitting in a chair next to the bed while she falls asleep for 3 nights, by the door for the next 3, in the hall for the next 3, and finally out of sight (with lots of returns to check on her). I thought I was already doing this by sitting on the floor next to her & gradually moving out of her sight, but the chair does make it a bit more of an official, “this is where Mommy sits” spot.

6. Putting the baby gate in the doorway to her room. Several people suggested this to me, and I was very hesitant to try it, because I’m pretty sure that if Lucy was pissed off enough, she could throw herself against the gate and knock it down.

Pam said to phrase it so that it isn’t a punishment, and more like, “Since you keep popping up and forgetting to stay in your bed, this is going to remind you that you need to stay in your own room instead of running to get Mama every time you wake up.”

Again, not sure how much a 20 month-old is going to understand out of all of this, but the idea is just to keep repeating it and eventually it’ll sink in.

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So, it’s a lot to take in, but the good news? Last night, Lucy slept through the night for the first time in ages. I have no idea if it was just completely blind, dumb luck, and we’ll be back to waking up 6 times tonight, or if it’s the start of a new trend. Obviously I’m hoping for the latter, but bracing myself for the former.

New big-girl bedding is both Lucy and Catie-approved.

Keep your fingers crossed for us. I sure could use it.

Still sleepy

So, the big-girl bed transition for Lucy… God. I swear this child is going to be the death of me.

On the upside, she doesn’t climb out of the bed or anything. She goes to bed easily. As long as she has her Yo Gabba Gabba dolls to cuddle with (specifically Muno and Foofa, I don’t know why they’re the chosen ones, but whatever), she settles down and goes to sleep when I put her in the bed.

But she still wakes up at least 2 or 3 times demanding the bottle. She doesn’t climb out of the bed, she just sits up and screams until I come to her. (I’ve started packing a mini-cooler with an ice pack & a couple of bottles to leave in my bedroom, so at least I don’t have to run downstairs to the fridge. Small things, I guess.)

Bedtime prerequisites: bottle & Yo Gabba Gabba dolls.

I took the advice of y’all who suggested an extra bedtime snack. She usually has some fruit before bed (usually blueberries or grapes or whatever fresh fruit I happen to have in the house), but the idea of extra protein hadn’t occurred to me. So I’ve been giving her whatever I can entice her with – leftover rotisserie chicken, bologna, cheese, etc. – and I’ve tried adding more simple carbs (usually Ritz crackers or something similar) to see if maybe it would keep her full longer. So far, it hasn’t helped.

As for co-sleeping, I would TOTALLY let her sleep in the bed with me. It’s a king-size bed and I’m the only one in it, so it’s not like I’m hurting for space. But she cannot seem to sleep with me. One night I tried it, and she squirmed and thrashed around for nearly an hour, then finally she sat up crying and screamed, “Nigh-niiiiiiight!!!” She was exhausted but couldn’t get comfortable in my bed. I said, “You want to go back to Lucy’s bed?” And she said, “Yah!” So I took her back to her bed and she was asleep in about 20 seconds.

To be fair, Lucy has never been a co-sleeper. I wanted her to be. When she was a tiny newborn and Dave was sleeping down the hall in the guest room and I was all alone with her, I desperately wanted her in the bed with me so I wouldn’t feel so lonely and isolated. But she couldn’t sleep there. Every time I moved, it woke her. She couldn’t even sleep in the pack & play next to my bed. She was in her crib in the nursery with an air filter for white noise by the time she was 6 weeks old.

Oh, I also tried taking the girls to the playground after daycare in the evening to see if maybe a little evening fresh air would help her sleep better. Or if, at the very least, she might burn enough energy to really exhaust herself. No luck there either.

As for the bottle issue? Ok. Yes, I know that she’s 16 months old and should be weaned off the bottle now. I know this. Catie was off the bottle by the time she was 14 months old. But with Lucy… no. I don’t have the internal resources to wage that battle. She doesn’t get the bottle during the day at daycare, because they don’t give bottles once the kids move up to the toddler room. And she’s adjusted fine to that. But when I go pick her up, I better have a bottle with me or she is going to FREAK THE EVER-LOVING HELL OUT for the entire drive home.

The bottle is her comfort thing. And you know what? It’s FINE. I don’t care. I don’t have the energy for this fight. I can almost guarantee you that she won’t still be asking for the bottle by the time she’s in elementary school. So for now, I don’t really give a crap about the bottles. She can keep them as long as she wants.

So… yeah. Meanwhile I’m still being woken up multiple times a night and I feel like death.

This too shall pass, right? I mean, eventually? She has to sleep through the night SOMEDAY, doesn’t she? (Please say yes.)

in dire need of Mr. Sandman

Ok, this might make me a terrible person, but I’m going to complain about my baby here for a minute.

Back before I got pregnant with Lucy, I used to joke that Catie had such horrible sleep habits as a baby, that God owed me a good sleeper on the second kid.

You know what? GOD STILL OWES ME. Only I don’t want more babies, so maybe He can make it up to me another way. A million dollars and a weekend spa retreat would be a good start.

Lucy's big grin
Don’t even try to act like you’re all sweet and innocent here, missy.

Back in January, I let Lucy cry it out a few times, and it seemed to work. We had a few blissful months at the beginning of the year where Lucy slept great. We eventually settled into a pretty predictable routine – I’d put her down around 8 or 8:30, then she’d wake up around 10:30 or 11 for what I call her “bonus bottle” before she’d settle down to sleep for the night.

I’m not sure exactly when it all changed, but it was a couple of months ago. She started freaking out when I put her down and waking up several times a night. At the advice of our pediatrician (who gave me a good long lecture about how learning to self-soothe is a skill that has to be taught), I managed to bust out some CIO techniques again to get her to go to bed without screaming.

The problem is, she’ll go to sleep with no problem. But she wakes up every 3 hours or so, screaming, “Mama! BAH!!” (Translation: Bottle!). And I don’t know what to do about that. It’s not like she’s up for very long. She sucks down her bottle and goes straight back to sleep. But the sleep interruptions are KILLING me.

I’ve tried out a few different theories. Is she teething? I tried some baby Motrin at bedtime. Didn’t help. Is she waking up because she peed and it feels uncomfortable in her (cheap, Target generic) diapers? I invested in some expensive Huggies Overnights. While they do help with leaks, it hasn’t helped with her sleep at all.

A couple of nights ago, she woke up & started to fuss right as I was walking past her door. I crept in & saw that she had rolled over and banged into the railing of her crib. (Her crib doesn’t have a bumper – partly because the AAP says not to use them anymore, but mostly because the one from Catie’s bedding set ripped and I was too lazy to buy a replacement.) I rolled her back over and patted her until she went back to sleep.

So, I thought… Maybe the problem is that she’s just too big for her crib? It certainly makes sense, right? She’s only 16 months old, but she’s wearing a 2T (and a 3T in some things), so girlfriend is *big*.

I threw the question out on Facebook (is 16 months too young to move up to a regular bed?) and got lots of positive feedback from my friends & family. That helped me feel a little bit validated.

My parents had a spare twin-size bed in their attic, so yesterday, my dad and I got it down, hauled it to my house, disassembled the crib, and set up Lucy’s bed. (I’m not using the frame because I want it low enough where she can climb in & out herself. It’s just the mattress & box spring on the floor with a guard rail to keep her from falling out.)

When Lucy got home, she seemed to dig her new big-girl bed.

Lucy was very excited about her big-girl bed when she got home tonight.

And she went down for the night with no problem at all.

Tiny girl, big bed.

So, I thought, oh see? This is just perfect. We will all sleep blissfully well through the night from now on! Huzzah!

Then Lucy woke up basically every hour on the hour last night. She never tried to climb out of the bed, she just sat up and screamed. Over and over. All night.

My guess (because, really, all I have are guesses when it comes to this kid) is that she woke up and everything looked unfamiliar, and that’s why she freaked out. So maybe tonight will be better? Because I’m not putting the crib back together. I’m not. I refuse. I hate the crib, I’m so done with it.

Hopefully this phase will pass quickly, for my own sanity if nothing else.

And if anyone has advice on what to do with a child that seems to wake up “needing” a bottle every few hours (and believe me, it’s not that she doesn’t eat enough during the day because OMG she can out-eat her big sister any day), please let me know.

This week in Lucy-ness

So. Lucy. This freaking kid.

On Tuesday, I went to pick the girls up at daycare (Catie goes there for after school care), and the new daycare teacher mentioned that Lucy seemed kind of sleepy after she woke up from her nap and she felt a little warm. Which is a little weird for my normally hyperactive wild child.

[Side note about the new daycare teacher: she seems nice and all, but my favorite daycare teacher – the one who has taken care of both of my girls for the past 2.5 years, and who baby-sits them on a regular basis, and is the only person other than my parents who has kept both of my kids overnight? She got fired last week. Don’t even get me started on THAT, because it pisses me off to no end.]

We went to my parents’ house for dinner. Normally Lucy would be all over the place, making a mess of my mom’s kitchen cabinets, playing with some awful loud toy that’s been banned from my house, or demanding to go in the backyard to explore.

Instead, she lay down on the floor and tried to go to sleep. She had a fever and was obviously miserable.

Fever baby does not care that we're late this morning. (Poor girl.)

The next couple of nights were rough. She had me up basically every 30 minutes to an hour, and it was pretty clear that she felt awful.

Since I couldn’t send her to daycare with a fever, she spent Wednesday and Thursday at my parents’ house. Thank god they live nearby and can take over when I have a sick kiddo so I can still work.

By yesterday afternoon, she seemed fine when I went to my parents’ house to pick her up. I mean, other than being spoiled rotten by them.

Just drinkin' my "bah-bah," drivin' a plane. As you do. No big.

Since I had suffered through two miserable nights with her, my mom came over and spent the night to help out. She said that she would get up with the baby so I could actually function at work today.

Of course, since my mom was on standby, Lucy slept through the night. Little shit.

Long story short, I still don’t know what that was. Teething, a virus, some random WTF-itude to keep me on my toes.

I do know, however, that this kid might well be the death of me.

One of the 2 reasons I can never sleep late on weekends.

Rotten, I tell you. Just rotten.