The annual post-Christmas purge

We remind our family every year that we don’t want a lot of presents. We don’t do gifts between adults anymore, and the kids usually just get exactly what they need in terms of fresh, age-appropriate toys. We also encourage the gifting of used/previously loved items to cut back on waste. This year was a big improvement on years past, and I’m thankful we’ve been able to convince everyone to reduce a little. However, bringing new things into the house – regardless of how reasonable the amount – still requires drastic space-making action on our part. We live in a 1000 sq foot home with no basement (the basement is currently a rented apartment), and we like to keep our living space looking tidy and as minimalistic as possible. Clutter stresses me out. To make our job that much more emotionally intense, my wife’s childhood home is being sold and she had to bring home anything she didn’t want her dad to take to the dump. We now have boxes of stuff, including her grandmother’s good china set, to store. So every day since Christmas, my wife and I have been on a purging and organizing rampage.

This year I’ve sold a couple of dozen things on Facebook Marketplace (which paid for a nice date night!), and we made a trip to Ikea to improve Avery’s arts and crafts storage now that she’s into all sorts of colouring utensils, scissors, and paints. My wife also made a couple of wooden drawers to fit under the bookshelves and TV stand – shallow spaces we’d been unable to find baskets for.

While we were at it, we went through Avery’s closet (something we do about 4 times a year) and packed away outgrown things for baby #2, and brought out some of the bigger hand-me-down clothes we had in bins. Every time we work on tidying or organizing Avery’s room now we think about how it’ll work for two kids to share the space. It’s going to take some demolition of the lath and plaster walls and usurping of the crawl space (where we currently store about 12 large rubbermaid bins of stuff we HAVEN’T been able to purge yet) just to fit two beds in there. We have sold off family heirlooms and artwork that we don’t have wall space for and countless other sentimental and/or useful items over the years, and it’s only going to get more cut-throat when we need to take over that crawlspace to expand the kids’ room. We’re going to have to live like real minimalists…

My little introvert at Christmas

Avery’s an introvert. And I’m not just saying that because I want her to be one because I’m one and I think introverts are great. Lately she has been asking to step away when social gatherings or playdates get too boisterous. We had a friend over today with her two high strung kids and Avery sat in the corner doing a puzzle while the siblings fought and screamed at each other and cried to their mother (not a great example for us to witness as we plan to have another child, btw… feeling some mixed feelings now…) Anyway, Avery was watching them out of the corner of her eye while she played by herself. Then eventually she cuddled up on my lap and continued to watch them. Then she asked if she could go up to her room to play with toys.

I totally support her need to step away. Some family members think she’s being antisocial (story of her young life…), but I think it’s really healthy that she can recognize when she needs some alone time and can act on that need rather than getting overwhelmed and emotional. As we enter a week full of Christmas festivities, I’m going to do my best to ensure she has the opportunity for a quiet reprieve. I feel so defensive of her budding introversion… I don’t know why its seen as some kind of social weakness ☹️

Happy holidays to all, and may you get the opportunity to recharge your batteries in whatever form that takes.

Our no-more-naps update

Even though Avery’s only 27 months old, we dropped her last remaining nap of the day about a month ago. She had been fighting naps and bedtimes like a kid who legitimately wasn’t tired. When we dropped the nap she coped well, staying alert and relatively happy until 7pm, and then would fall asleep happily at bedtime in 15 minutes. It was a really good solution.

But then she got sick. She has been sick with one bug or another for at least 2 weeks now, and she has been NEEDING that extra sleep. The problem is, [after we weaned from breastfeeding to sleep] it took nap training with lots of tears to get her to accept that naps happened in her bed at a certain time. I knew when we dropped the nap that we wouldn’t be able to easily go back to the way it was… So instead of a scheduled nap when she got home from daycare, she has been crashing while doing whatever we’re doing (watching a movie during quiet time, going on a stroller walk, or even colouring on the floor). Sometimes she crashes at 2pm, sometimes at 4pm. Interestingly, even an hour long nap at 4pm hasn’t been messing up bedtime – she has been begging to go to bed at 7pm. It’s clearly because of being sick. I wish I could get her to sleep earlier in the day (and in her bed), but we’re just rolling with it right now. I assume that after the holidays when our days are back to normal and she’s no longer sick, she’ll stop crashing in the late afternoon and be fine without naps again.

Mother-daughter Date Night at the Walk-in Clinic

Avery was doing better since the really-crummy-super-sick-weekend-from-hell. But suddenly yesterday I realized she was dehydrated. She didn’t have to pee in the morning (or through the night), so I figured she’d pee when she got to daycare. But when I picked her up from daycare I learned that she hadn’t peed yet, and hadn’t wanted to drink water. She wasn’t eating. In the afternoon she fell asleep with her head on my knee while we were colouring on the floor together. Then she slept on me for an hour and woke up groggy and listless. I couldn’t get her to drink water. I couldn’t get her to eat. So we packed a bag and went to the after-hours walk-in clinic when it opened at 6pm.

We waited in the packed waiting room for 2 hours, and super-mom over here forgot to bring any toys and had a nearly-dead cell phone battery. Luckily Avery had brought along a doll whom she pretended was the real patient for the doctor we were going to see.

When we first arrived, it was standing room only. I held her and rocked for almost half an hour, and although she is SOOO much heavier than she used to be, it took me back to those long nights rocking her for hours in her room when she wouldn’t sleep detached from me.

When we finally got chairs, she sat next to me reading a reader’s digest magazine… It was adorable. She also cuddled with me quietly, sang quiet little songs, played with the little hands of her doll, and watched Planet Earth on the waiting room TV. She was such an ANGEL for the entire 2 hour wait. When we finally got called in to see the doctor, it was 8pm (which is after bedtime). We then had to wait another 15 minutes for the doctor to come in. She just sat on my lap and talked about how “baby” (her doll) was sick and needed a cuddle. But she was also happy. We chatted about going home and watching tv in bed together, and although she did keep asking to go home, she never once melted down when I said we couldn’t go home yet.

The doctor was absolutely lovely and great with kids. She told us she was looking for butterflies in Avery’s ears, and then had to listen to her tummy to determine what colour “medicine” she needed… After ascertaining that Avery’s favourite colour is yellow, of course we were prescribed yellow “medicine” (Gatorade…).

Anyway, after all that we were sent home with a recommendation to try icecream and Gatorade to get her hydrated. The doctor did validate me for my decision to bring her in, though, and said I was right to follow my instincts. She was dehydrated, and we needed to remedy that immediately. Thank goodness it didn’t require a trip to the ER. Turns out, Avery loves Gatorade. She drank so much of it last night that she had three pees in her potty through the night. Shes still tired and has no appetite, but I’m making chocolate pudding for her to have when she gets home from daycare and we’ll just cuddle, watch movies, and drink yellow Gatorade until she feels better.

I kept telling her how much I LOVED spending the evening with her in that waiting room, and I had fun going on a 9pm icecream run with her. When we got home, my wife asked her how the trip to the doctor went, and Avery said, “it was fun!”

Parenting win.

Still having fun after 2 hours of waiting ❤️

“mommy’s my favourite” and anyone else is chopped liver

Sometimes I wish I could be straight JUST because it would be easy to fall back on gender roles to explain away inequities in my relationship. The big issue right now is my wife being second favourite to our daughter. Actually, third favourite – she says “mommy’s my favourite, Albus [the cat] is my favourite buddy.” My wife has been met with avoidant behaviour from our daughter the last month or so. She gets home from work and Avery cringes and hits her if she goes in for a hug, and becomes INSANELY clingy to me. It’s really hard, and really sad. Can’t imagine how hard and sad it is for my wife.

But in hetero relationships, we’ve heard that it’s common for the kids to want nothing to do with the dads for a good long time. It’s easy when it’s a matter of moms versus dads. Women are so often primary caregivers, and men are socialized to not care if their kids go to their mother for every booboo and request. It’s what’s normal.

I think what’s happening with my wife and daughter IS normal, to an extent, but it’s hard to see it that way when our daughter wants one mom so much more than the other mom. We’re both moms – but our roles are as different as any opposite-sex couple out there.

Our daughter’s diblings (donor siblings)

We had our donor’s family over for dinner recently. Their two kids are 8 years and 18 months, and Avery has a budding friendship with both of them; especially the older one, who seriously loves Avery (seriously – she says it all the time, and hugs the daylights out of her, and it’s the sweetest thing ever).

We feel so incredibly lucky to have this positive relationship with our donor and his whole family. Although we’ve decided to have another baby so that Avery will have an actual sibling, it’s feels good to know she has other kids out there her age who she can be connected to in a special way. It’s different from a friendship, and it’s definitely not a sibling relationship. It’s just a unique relationship that not all kids get to experience.

5 little updates to make up for 5 missing #blogtober posts

Oh boy am I ever behind on my #blogtober daily blog challenge. Maybe I’ll try again in December.

Here’s what we’ve been up to.

  • We went to the pumpkin patch with our donor’s family. The kids all played together and the adults had a great time catching up. We still feel so lucky at how our relationship with our donor turned out.
  • We carved pumpkins and Avery was so into it. She loves crafty things, and helped us design and draw the pumpkin faces, she washed and dried the pumpkins with care, and just sat quietly watching while we did the cutting.
  • We had our first overnight away from Avery. We got a hotel at a resort near my mom’s farm and my mom took care of Avery while my wife and I got away for our 10 year dating anniversary.
  • My wife is away on her first business trip since Avery was born. It’s just two days and she put her foot down and demanded to be home for Halloween. Family first. She was so sad to be leaving us for just two days. Avery cried when she realized her Mo wasn’t here this morning (she left at 4am to catch her flight).
  • I finished Avery’s Halloween costume. She requested to dress up as a cat. We are raising a tiny cat person. I’m proud.