One of those days…

We started night weaning Avery again last night and it was a LONG night. Not too much crying, but she just couldn’t get herself back to sleep without nursing. It was a cranky start to the day at 3am.

I put Avery down for an early nap, but she couldn’t stay sleeping without me by her side. So she napped for an hour (her usual is 2.5 hours). She woke cranky. She also needed help getting her digestive system to clear out, so I gave her a little grab’n’go packet of pureed prunes and I turned my back to get her the rest of her lunch. When I turned back toward her, I saw brown sludge EVERYWHERE. She had squeezed the packet over her head. It covered her clothes, her hair, the chair, and the floor.

While I was cleaning that up I noticed a puddle under fridge. I traced it to a litre of maple sap that froze solid, broke the mason jar it was in, and then thawed in our stupid fridge (it was likely not the fridge’s fault – Avery likes to push the temperature change buttons that are stupidly placed at toddler height on the outside of the fridge.).

So I started sopping up a litre of sugar water from the fridge and floor while Avery screamed and screamed as I pulled her back from climbing in the sticky, wet mess.

In my haste to rinse out towels and cloths and get back to the growing puddle, I knocked an extra big beer bottle off the counter that I had removed from the fridge to wash off. The bottle hit my ankle bone on its way to the ground. The lid popped off and foamy beer went everywhere. My ankle was throbbing and quickly swelling up.

Avery was still screaming, probably because I was swearing and showing a level of frustration that she has never seen in me before. I continued to try to mop up sap AND beer from all over the kitchen while she screamed and tried to climb up my legs.

I then attempted to place the broken mason jar in the garbage and it broke more, slicing my finger. Now I’m bleeding, my ankle is throbbing, and I’m still trying to rinse cloths and wash the sticky off the floor as Avery tries to walk through it, still screaming.

Finally, I quit trying. I took both of our sticky wet socks off, poured myself the remaining beer from the burst open bottle, put Moana on, and sat on the couch with Avery until she calmed down enough for me to start dealing with the rest of the mess.

At some point I’ll get out the mop and properly clean the floors of the prunes, sap, and beer. Maybe. Maybe we’ll live with sticky floors forever.

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Adventures in Toddler Discipline: Setting Boundaries

Avery has started standing and jumping on the furniture as a way of testing boundaries. We have told her that she needs to sit or lay down when she’s on the couch or the chairs, because she could fall and get hurt from standing and jumping. She wants to see just how far we’ll go to enforce this rule, and she needs to test us every single day in case we’ve changed the rule from the day before.

Avery: stands on couch

Me: please sit on your bum when you’re on the couch.

Avery: smirks, stays standing.

Me: Can you sit down on your own, or do you need me to help you get off the couch?

Avery: still smirking, starts stomping her feet.

Me: You’re showing me that you need help to get down. Lifts her onto the floor.

Avery: kicking and crying. Runs to the next piece of furniture, climbs up, and stands on it.

Me: Sit or I’ll help you down.

Avery: stomps and cries.

Me: lifts her down.

Avery: runs to the next chair, stands on it.

Me: lifts her down.

Avery: screams.

Me: pulls hair out in frustration.

Finally out of furniture to climb on, she gives up and runs off to play with something more appropriate. It is unclear who won.

If you’re interested in how we devise our game plan for dealing with boundary testing behaviour like this, I highly recommend two books: The Soul of Discipline and No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame.

I recommend both of these books, but No Bad Kids is a quicker read with very easy to follow ideas for actually responding to your kid’s behaviour in real time. The Soul of Discipline gets more into theory of misbehaviour and discipline.

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame

The Soul of Discipline: The Simplicity Parenting Approach to Warm, Firm, and Calm Guidance- From Toddlers to Teens

Full disclosure: These are affiliate links, but I have not yet been accepted into Amazon’s Affiliate Program. I need to drive 3 sales in order for my blog to be considered for this program. If you’re interested in either of these books, purchasing through the links provided here will help me to qualify for the affiliate program. Belonging to the Amazon Affiliate Program will allow me to earn a very small commission from Amazon sales made through the affiliate links I provide on my blog.

One hour to do whatever you want

My wife was at work on Friday (a no-daycare day) and away working on her family cottage rebuild on Saturday, and two back to back days as a solo parent had me itching for some freedom. Avery has also been incredibly glued to me lately – I can’t leave her side while she naps or sleeps at night or she wakes and freaks out. (We’re working on it….). So anyway, we decided to do an hour each of our own thing yesterday. My wife had a bath. I thought I’d go to my favourite coffee shop and blog a bit. But my favourite coffee shop was closed. And the next coffee shop I went to was closing in 20 minutes. So I stopped at the nearest convenience store, bought a chocolate bar, and then parked in a nearby park and ate my chocolate bar with just enough time to write this and head home again. It was sad. It was lonely. It was poorly planned. And it made me realize I haven’t quite kicked my sugar habit…..

Next weekend we’re going to have to up it to 2 hours so I can actually go somewhere and settle in and drink a coffee.

What would you do if you had an hour or two of YOU TIME?

The Prophetic Name

As I’ve talked about before, my wife wants a second child and I’m prepared to make it happen for her even though I feel content with one, because she hesitantly obliged me when I wanted the first one.

I had been on the fence about #2. Even though we aren’t planning to try for #2 for a few years, I was already feeling seriously nervous about surviving another round of baby years. The sleep deprivation really scarred me.

But then a name came to me. A perfect name that I loved the instant it popped into my head. I knew it had to be the name of our second child. Because I couldn’t get it out of my head, I told my wife the name and she instantly loved it. It’s the name.

Aspen Bay.

Slightly hipster? Maybe. But it goes so well with Avery May. And I’m a tree person. And yes, it’s a somewhat gendered name, but I somehow know that our second child will be another girl. Go ahead and laugh, but our donor seems to only produce girls. And never doubt the intuition of a mother.

So anyway, we’ll be holding onto this name for a few years, and only time will tell if we will end up using it. But having this name now makes me feel like we’re missing a family member who is yet to come… When I look at Avery I see her with a younger sister. I can picture her hollering “Aspen!” down the hall. It feels like a prophetic name.

The flu and death strike against me in tandem

Nobody in my family died from the flu – thank goodness. This post is about the flu that my daughter contracted (as well as every other kid in her daycare, literally). It’s also about the death of my grandmother, and the spread of said flu to everyone in my family as we gathered over our loss.

First, let me say something about my grandmother (because I’m going to get whiney and focused on my own problems soon). She was an amazing woman. She lived to be 95, and was more or less healthy up until the end. She liked to do adventurous things on her birthdays. When she turned 92, she rode on the back of my uncle’s motorcycle to Port Dover for the annual Friday the 13th motorcycle rally. When she turned 94, she did the CN Tower walk (leaning backwards, in a harness, over the edge of the CN Tower, 1168 feet above the ground), and on her 95th birthday she went zip lining at Canada’s longest series of zip lines. My grandmother was the only grandparent I came out to, and she was always incredibly supportive of my sexual orientation and loved my wife. She was also my only grandparent who lived long enough to meet my daughter. She will be missed, but when I think about her now I don’t feel sad – I feel happy for her that she had such an amazing, adventure-filled life, and I feel lucky to have been related to such an amazing woman.

Now on to how the flu attacked my entire family. It’s unknown whether my wife or my daughter caught it first, but Avery’s symptoms only revealed themselves when I was visiting my grieving family on Thursday through Saturday. My parents were hoping I could help sort through my grandmother’s apartment, but Avery became absolutely miserable, tired, lots of snot and a cough, not interested in eating, had diarrhea, and a fever. I stayed alone with her at my mom’s completely un-baby-proofed house (wine glasses, crystal decanters, poisonous plants, a hot fireplace, and an open stairwell all within toddler limits). It was exhausting. My heart always breaks for my baby when she’s sick, and it was exhausting to have to keep saying no to the things she couldn’t get into when the resulting tantrums were equal parts angry and pitifully sick sounding.

I spent one night sitting upright with her to help her breathe. She was utterly miserable. Back home, my wife was just as sick, and had no one to take care of her.

On the day I left my mom’s house, myself, my mom, and my dad were all sick too. My wife was still so sick when I got home that she spent 3 hours holed up in bed while I continued to solo parent a sick toddler while I got progressively sicker. It sucked.

Yesterday we thought she MIGHT be starting to feel better, but she broke out in a full body rash that we feared was the measles. We took her to the doctor today and it turnes out it was a post-viral rash.

This is good news. It means the virus is gone, and she is on the mend and no longer contagious. Tomorrow she is going to daycare and my wife is going to work. I am going to take the morning off and sit on the couch with a pot of tea and fucking relax.

It’s going to be great.

Kids are dying from the flu in our town

It’s making the breaking news headlines today. Two children have so far been confirmed to have died of the flu, and both while in school.
*edit a week later to say that the first news article was misinformed – both children were taken from school to the emergency room where they passed away. One of the children (only 7 years old) had cerebral palsy, the other (12 years old) had no reported pre-existing condition to put them at higher risk.

My heart is absolutely breaking for the parents of these children. I know that kids die all over the world every day, and that is tragic, too, but I can’t bury my head in the sand and avoid thinking about these deaths. They’re happening in my town. My small-to-midsized town where we know our neighbours and our community members.

The details of these deaths haven’t been released yet, but I am terrified and clinging extra tight to my also sick baby. At least two kids at Avery’s daycare have had the flu since last week. One was pulled out of school and taken to the emergcy room on Wednesday.

Avery has a yucky cold again, and she also has a stomach bug. I hadn’t thought it was the flu because she didn’t have a fever and she hadn’t vomited. I blamed her diarrhea on teething. But now I’m extra vigilant.

How could these kids have been well enough to be at school, and then just die, without even making it to the hospital? How can it come out of the blue like this? I’m so unsettled.

5 Awesome Baby Books for Raising a Socially Conscious Kid

I don’t know if these books are actually going to make your baby into a social justice warrior one day. Regardless, when I’m reading books to my baby, I do worry when they illustrate ancient gender roles, or when they are white washed. As a social justice warrior myself, it’s important to me to be able to read books to my baby that promote positive messaging about diversity, social justice, and just being a good person.

This is part 1 of a series of baby books I’m going to recommend. I figure that releasing 5 at a time makes the list easier to get through, and it also gives me a chance to hear YOUR recommendations and potentially add them to future lists.

For now, these are some of our favourites from our bookshelf. We’ve actually read them, so I can actually vouch for them. I love them, Avery loves them, and they have socially conscious messaging that support diversity and compassion for others.

Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.
Fuller disclosure: This is my first time trying out affiliate links, and my approval into Amazon’s affiliate program is still pending – I need to drive 3 sales in order for my website to be approved for the program. I won’t always make posts this link-heavy, but I’ve been wanting to publish this book list for a while, and I decided it was time to try my hand at bringing in a few pennies for the links I want to share anyway. I will still only post links for books/products that I really, really recommend.

Book List for Raising a Socially Conscious Kid: Part 1


5. The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf

The Story of Ferdinand

Notes: This is a cute little book about a young bull named Ferdinand. This book would have packed a more powerful social justice punch a decade ago when it was even more unacceptable for little boys to be interested in stereotypically feminine activities, but hypermasculinity is still rampant, and children and parents everywhere still need to be reminded that boys don’t have be stereotypical boys to be awesome. The reason why I like this book over others with similar messages (like My Princess Boy) is because Ferdinand is non-human, so there are no concerns about racial diversity. I also really liked the ultimate message of non-violence in this book.
Socially Conscious Message(s): boys don’t have to be masculine to be awesome; non-violence is awesome
Types of Diversity it Encompasses: gender expression (masculinity).
Board Book Available: No


4. Mama, Do You Love Me?, by Barbara M. Joosse

Mama, Do You Love Me?

Notes: This book makes the list solely because it celebrates a marginalized, vulnerable culture, Inuit culture. It’s refreshing to see representation of Inuit culture, and it helps me to keep my daughter’s book shelf full of diversity. We also love this book because it tells a beautiful story we can all relate to about the unconditional nature of a mother’s love. Here’s an excerpt to show some of the awesomeness of this book’s message. It’s dialogue between a child, who is testing the limits of their mother’s love, and the mother, who reassures the child that even if she is angry at the child (or scared), she will always love her child.

What if I turned into a polar bear and I was the meanest bear you ever saw and I had sharp , shiny teeth, and I chased you into your tent and you cried?

Then I would be very surprised and very scared. But still, inside the bear, you would be you, and I would love you.

The illustrations are also bright and colourful and really catch a baby’s eye.
Socially Conscious Message(s): teaches about an underrepresented culture, a parent’s love is the same across cultures
Types of Diversity it Encompasses: Racial/Cultural (not enough literature represents Indigenous cultures)
Board Book Available: Yes


3. What Does It Mean To Be Kind? by Rana DiOrio

What Does It Mean to Be Kind?

Notes: One of my favourite ways this book suggests to be kind is …”allowing yourself to make and learn from your mistakes”. This is such an important lesson for raising allies and social justice advocates, because being afraid of making mistakes is a huge barrier when trying to learn about others and do right by them. A note is about the illustrator’s attempt to represent diverse races: There is an attempt, but every character in the book is pretty light skinned, even the ones who I think are supposed to be Black. But the illustrator did take racial diversity into consideration.
Socially Conscious Message(s): celebrate differences, have empathy and compassion for others
Types of Diversity it Encompasses: racial (sort of…), visible disability (there is one wheelchair), gender (sort of – there are some gender-ambigious characters).
Board Book Available: No.


2. What Makes a Baby, by Cory Silverberg

What Makes a Baby

Notes: I bought this book when we first got pregnant. It is unbelievably inclusive. Like, you didn’t know a book could be so inclusive. It tells the story of how a baby is made by making reference to parts of the body that are required (i.e., egg, sperm, uterus), and does not make reference to gender (as in, there’s none of that “when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much” barf-inducing crap). I also love that all of the characters are various colours of the rainbow, from blue to green to brown. This book is effectively for everybody, from any ethnic background, from any family dynamic. Cory Silverberg also wrote a book called Sex Is a Funny word that I bought (I pre-ordered it because I love this author so much), but that’s for older kids.
Socially Conscious Message(s): families come in all forms, people come in all colours
Types of Diversity it Encompasses: race, gender, sexual orientation
Board book available: No


1. Counting on Community, by Innosanto Nagara

Counting on Community

Notes: An adorable little book with a strong social consciousness message. This book is a counting book (One stuffed piƱata, Two neighbour friends, Three urban farmers, etc.), but it’s far from your everyday baby’s counting book. The images and words will expose your baby to various cultures and ethnicities, and to pro-social ideas like protesting as a community, and pro-environmental ideas like raising backyard chickens (and ducks!). The words are simple and few and have a nice ring to them, and the images are colourful and interesting (but may be a bit complex for an infant’s brain to interpret). I love that we see our family in this book as the “urban farmers” and that we can see and imagine the friends that my baby will one day make on our street. Lovely book.
Socially Conscious Message(s): growing your own food (environmental), protest to make positive social change, participate in festivities, food and music of cultures besides our own.
Types of Diversity it Encompasses: racial/cultural
Board Book Available: Yes


What social consciousness raising books do you and your littles love?