I cannot believe Asha is already 18 months old. On one hand, I still think of her as being a baby while on the other, she is doing so much she did not before. In some ways, I feel relieved because at least, she is becoming a little more independent. Plus, it took her so long to sleep through the night etc. that I really do not regret not getting up twice a night for 11 months. But she seems so much older now and I cannot believe it.
She is a little too good in this area. She climbs up on the dining table chairs routinely and has fallen off more than once. She got a concussion while playing with Giggs. Thankfully there was no internal bleeding though it did lead to a 5-hour ER visit and a lot of throwing up. She runs everywhere and will not hold anyone's hand. She is trying to walk down stairs now instead of crawling backwards as she used to do. Asha loves activity and so she goes to the parks and swings a lot. Otherwise, a sure cure for ennui is letting her play in the backyard. We used to take her for walks but it became nearly impossible because she refuses to hold our hand and goes up to stranger's cars or up their sidewalks. So we only go to the backyard now - never the front. She is now able to put on her shoes by herself - though she occasionally gets it on the wrong foot. Unfortunately, she has been trying to climb out of the crib but fortunately, she is not tall enough yet. I really do not want to transition her to a toddler bed till she is at least 26-28 months.
Verbal Skills and Comprehension
This is the area where I worry about Asha. But in the past 2 months, she has been picking up words and using them within context. Here are some of her favorites: please (said as peas), hi, bye, mommy, daddy, Giggs, eat, up, hot, mine and home. In addition, on occasion, she will say morning, night, baby (I am trying to introduce her to the idea of the baby), out, pretty and hello. She says her name (according to her, it is Aga) and that of her favorite tv show character - a little boy called Calliou. In the past few days, she has even started saying a few phrases like "Hi Daddy" and "Bye Mommy" and her current favorite "Eat please". I was so worried about her that I got her tested but the specialist said that they look for at least 15 words at this age and since she has more than that, there is no cause for concern. Plus, her comprehension skills are fine - she knows and obeys 2-step commands without gestures and knows the names of most household objects. That helped me a little though I am still a little concerned.
This one is tricky - it changes so much. At present, she sleeps from 9pm-6am and then takes an hour-long nap during the day. I don't think this is enough sleep because she also routinely takes one catnap in the car when I drop her off to daycare. But she seems happy with this. I have tried moving her bedtime to 8:30pm but she invariably gets up at 5:30am and that is too early for me. I have been trying to keep her in her crib till at least 6:15am but that is hit or miss as she tends to shout Mommy or Daddy so loudly that it renders sleep/relaxation moot. Though I get up with her most mornings, Gregg has found he cannot sleep in either. We have a ritual - I help her out of the crib and she cuddles with me in the glider for a couple of minutes. Then I let her down and she runs out to our bedroom, stands next to our bed and screams "Daddy" until Gregg lifts her into bed. Then she cuddles with him and plays on our bed for about 10 minutes till he gets up and carries her to her changing table and then I change her diaper. I have tried shutting our bedroom door to let Gregg sleep but then she simply knocks and cries till he opens it. So it is a 6am wake time for us all.
Technology!! She is clearly her mother's daughter in her love of Apple products - iPhones, iPods, iPads etc. As long as she is given one of those, tantrums end in a jiffy. The problem is that I do not believe in rewarding tantrums. So, she only gets to play with the iPod if she has been good. Sometimes, Gregg lets her watch her cartoon on his iPod while he watches sports. However, she can unlock them all. She also operates the tv like a pro - using one remote to turn it on and another to change channels, volume etc.
Her favorite toys remain things that make noises, sing or light up. Still no interest in dolls. I have been trying to get her interested as people said it would help her adjust to the new baby but she takes them and swings them by their hair!!! Not a good start. Her concentration span for books seems to have decreased too, so we are trying to read to her more but in shorter bursts. Her favorite books now are ones that come with musical buttons on the side which you can press during the story. She also has a book of songs where you can press buttons to hear the song and it comes with little sticks that act like drums when you strike the book with it. She loves that book. She also loves playing with household objects - forks, spoons, bowls, blankets etc. In fact, we prevent her from entering the kitchen now precisely because she got into every drawer in there (breaking the supposedly child-proof locks we installed).
Her favorite tv show is one called Calliou - on PBS. Her friend in daycare likes it and that is how she started watching it. It is about a 4 year old boy and she loves it!! I have multiple videos of her singing (or chanting or screaming) the tune and dancing to the opening song. However, this has triggered a new hassle for us. Till now, tv was not for her. But now, whenever she is bored or cranky, she will shout "Calliou" demanding her show. So we have had to institute new rules. First, no tv till she has been awake about an hour. I read somewhere that kids tend to wake up earlier if thy think they can watch tv immediately and we have enough issues with her sleep. Second, no more than a 15-20 minute segment at a time. We try to limit to 2-3 such segments/ day but I still worry that this is too much tv. How much tv do your kids watch - including your shows and theirs?
The truth is that Asha prefers running outside in the backyard or being physically active to playing with toys. She also needs an outing at least once a day - otherwise, she gets very fussy. I am considering joining Gymboree music classes for the summer since she loves to dance to any music. Any other suggestions? What do you do with your toddlers all day?
This has been very difficult lately. Asha seems to go through phases - sometimes she will try everything and sometimes, she refuses everything. For the past 3 weeks, she will only eat 3 things: oatmeal, yogurt and apple sauce. Yet, before that, she was eating everything from asparagus to aioli. I do not know what has caused this change but it is very difficult to deal with. She still likes bread but even rice and pasta is leading to tantrums. Bananas, her favorite fruit, have also been rejected. I am really concerned about nutrition - yogurt and apple sauce and oatmeal are not bad for you but some more fruit and definitely some vegetables are so necessary for her. Any suggestions on how to combat this? I have tried everything - hiding stuff in apple sauce or yogurt, pureeing, mashing, but if there is a whiff of a different taste, she refuses a single bite.
To make matters worse, even what she does eat is very time-consuming to make. For instance, the only bread she will eat is the home-made French loaves that Gregg makes. I bought a loaf of "artisan" freshly baked bread from the store and she rejected it. The only other food which she eats occasionally is rice and beans. I have been cutting vegetables into miniscule pieces and throwing it in and she will eat that. Problem is that she refuses to eat rice and beans unless I make it from scratch with dry beans and fresh (not frozen) vegetables. Canned beans are rejected. Of course, like all kids, she never rejects french fries. She will reject chicken nuggets (though she seems to like them generally) but never ever french fries. She also loves ice cream and we take her out to get ice cream once a week or every 10 days as a treat. We do not keep ice cream in the house anymore because I refuse to let Gregg have any since it makes her sad to not share. In fact, Asha far prefers eating off our plates than her own - one of my rituals with her on most mornings is to curl up on the couch, break a potato chip into teeny pieces, and then eat it very slowly while cuddling. And, yes, I am a bad mommy to introduce her to potato chips this early - but I love the cuddle time.
Well, Asha continues to be a determined person. She is friends with a 2 year old boy who is in daycare with her. The problem is that she wants to do everything he does and gets extremely frustrated if she cannot imitate him. In fact, this is the key problem with her - she wants to do stuff which are too advanced for her and gets very upset when she cannot; lots of her tantrums start that way.
She can be stubborn but finding language and our implementation of certain discipline techniques have helped. We have realized that you cannot simply take something from her hand or forbid her to do something. She prefers an explanation for everything - though she does not understand it, it calms her down.
On the other hand, she is very sociable and happy. Tantrums in public only happen if we are walking in the front yard. She loves watching people and since she learnt hi and bye, she says it to every stranger in the grocery store. Taking her out is not a problem - it is getting her back into the car that is the issue. We took her to a childrens' museum near our house. She loved it but spent the entire time going up to other children (even 5 year olds) and trying to play with them. Then when we tried to get her out of there, she completely lost it and kicked and screamed the whole time. She even threw herself on the sidewalk and cried. We ended up taking her out for burgers and fries and though she refused the burgers, the fries placated her.
On the whole, Asha is so demonstrative now. She gives us actual kisses (not the doggy licks anymore) and in a good mood, will hand out kisses like candy on Halloween. She can communicate when she is hungry or thirsty or wants help with something. It really makes things much easier. Running in the yard will cheer her up. I cannot believe how much she has grown and how much easier it has gotten. People say that each stage of a child's life is a challenge for the parents and I get that, but it is undeniable that being able to communicate with your child makes life easier. I love you more each day Asha - and each day I think it is impossible to love you more than I do.