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Friday, 01 March 2013 10:37

Learning About My Daughters

I have had so many moments in my parenting journey where I've fought and fought with something only to discover I was missing something 'key'.  In a lot of these cases, I realize that I could have saved myself a lot of frustration if I had simply discovered this 'key' thing earlier. Like the time when Clara was only an infant and we tried swaddling and cuddling and rocking her for days and days of fussing and crying only to discover that whas she really wanted was to be put down so she could stretch out!

When Clara was about the same age that Audrey is now, she went through a stage where she became increasingly fussy. I was thrown because she had previously been a rather contented baby, and suddenly she seemed discontent all the time.  It took me a couple of weeks to discover that she was BORED. My baby had grown to the point where sitting in her high chair and watching me rummage around the kitchen was no longer enough for her - she needed more stimulation. 

A few days ago, Audrey started doing the same thing.  Luckily I caught on a little bit quicker this time, and after only a few days of checking her mouth for signs of teeth - I started setting her up with more toys and stimulation. 

What is this, Mum?

It feels nice...

Does it taste yummy...?

This has been a valuable discovery for me, since she is now much more happy sitting in her high chair or bouncy chair for longer periods of time.  She has also finally gotten old enough that she enjoys watching Clara run around and play for longer periods of time.

About Clara, I've discovered that her stubbornness has waned. After weeks of watching way too much TV, and feeling somewhat sick and too lazy and tired to fight this too hard, I tried saying 'No' one day. This was predictably followed by a tantrum, however the tantrum only lasted for a few minutes and then Clara wandered off to play with her toys.  

What? 

I actually won an argument with this girl??? 

So, for my own future reference, I've discovered that even if I'm feeling completely exhausted (as I still do, with this not-quite-sick-feeling threatening to last into its third week...), I probably don't need to expect a battle of epic proportions to get Clara to obey.  

These are exciting revelations for me - parenting is, at least in some ways, getting a bit easier for the moment. :)

Published in Blog
Monday, 11 February 2013 11:04

Beginning the Room-Sharing Process

Our house technically has 3 upstairs bedrooms. One is the Master bedroom, the other two were initially smaller bedrooms, but the way our house is situated on the lot means the back bedroom is closest to the garage - so a previous owner chopped a big hole in the wall and put in patio doors so that there was closer access to a backyard deck as well as to the garage.

So, our 3rd bedroom is actually our entrance room now, which really is great because if it weren't, we would have to walk all the way around the house and yard to get to our garage.

Unfortunately, it leaves us with only one small (7 by 10 foot) bedroom for the girls, which they will have to share until we either move out of this house, or until one (or both) of them is brave enough to move into one of our downstairs bedrooms which are a long walk away from our bedroom upstairs. 

ANYWAY...

Here's the back story:

When Clara was about 6 months old, we moved her from the bassinet in our bedroom to her crib in the other room. By 6 months, this was WAAAY too late for us for a couple of reasons. 1, she was starting to hit the top of the bassinet with her head every time she kicked her feet. 2, As time went on, I became more and more terrified of something happening to her if I moved her across the hall - I was really becoming consumed by terror, and was often unable to sleep at night because of the ridiculous thoughts that constantly haunted me. When we finally moved her into the crib, I slept soundly for the first night in weeks, and I realized that I had been neglecting to 'cut a cord' that needed to be cut (for me) - she was ready and old enough to be distanced a little bit more from me, and I needed to let that happen. 

Audrey's story has been different than Clara's in a lot of ways. Most importantly, Audrey is not yet sleeping through the night where Clara was at about 6 weeks. This meant that Clara was happily sleeping all night long in the bassinet and all we had to change was the location, and the transition was really easy and fast.

This was my plan:

I had hoped to have Audrey sleeping through the night, and in her bassinet, before we tried to move her into Clara's room, but it was starting to look as though this might not happen on its own before Audrey is too big for the bassinet. 

What was happening, I think, was that I had become too lazy to put Audrey back in her bassinet after her first feeding every night because I was only partly awake when I picked her up - I don't have to get up to reach her in the bassinet. Then, she would sleep in our bed and 'snack' all night long. We used the Baby Wise method with Clara, and if what they say is true (it all worked well for Clara), then Audrey will be less likely to sleep through the night if she isn't getting 'full' feedings and becomes used to 'snacking' at night. This makes sense to me, and the only reason I haven't tried harder to fix this situation is truly laziness on my part - because I really appreciated how everything went with Clara.  I won't lie, I also like the cuddle time with Audrey - Clara wasn't really a fan of cuddling... 

So I hoped that if I had to actually get up to feed Audrey, maybe I wouldn't be too asleep to put her back in her crib and after awhile her eating would regulate and maybe she would even start sleeping through the night sooner.  Since this wasn't happening with her sleeping in our room, I figured we might as well move her straight to her crib and start getting both girls used to the new sleeping arrangment.

We started on Friday night.

Friday evening started with a couple hours of back-and-forth between the girls: Audrey would fuss and wake Clara, then Clara would fuss or talk or yell and wake Audrey, etc. Finally we brought Audrey downstairs with us where we were watching the movie 'Hugo' to wait for Clara to fall asleep properly, and fed Audrey for the last time around 10:30.  Then she slept in her crib until about 2, and at that point I just brought her into bed with us and fell asleep.

Saturday night was really good -  both girls fell asleep shortly after 8pm and Audrey slept until midnight when she woke up hungry. After feeding her, I put her back into her crib and she slept again until about 3:30.  Then I fell asleep feeding her and she was in our bed for the rest of the night.

Last night wasn't so great again - the girls took turns keeping each other up until we brough Audrey downstairs to give Clara some peace. Then we put Audrey in the crib at about 11, but when she started fussing shortly after midnight, she ended up in our bed for the rest of the night.

I had taken the opportunity to clean the bassinet bedding with Audrey moving to the crib, and it's still kind of disassembled. I was hoping it would motivate me to keep up with moving Audrey into the crib, but it might actually mean she's spending more time in our bed.  Possibly a backwards move???

Has anyone else had to move an infant into a toddler's bedroom for nights? What age did you do it, and how did it work? Any advice?

Published in Blog
Friday, 08 February 2013 09:40

Sisters and Pictures and Updates

Tuesday morning started like any other Tuesday morning - Clara refused to get dressed.  Most days I don't worry too much about it, unless she will be going out or we will be having company.  Tuesdays, however, are a 'going out' day for Clara - I teach piano in the evenings, and Brian's parents routinely take her to their house for supper and the evening on Tuesdays each week.

Toddler psychology lesson (for me and my toddler, anyway) - ignore her request to not get dressed and make a big deal out of dressing her sister. :)

I had purchased a couple of matching t-shirts for the girls over the weekend, and I pulled one of these out to dress Audrey in.  Then, I made a big deal out of it and how adorable it was and blah, blah... suddenly Clara had jumped off her bed - pushed it toward her dresser (because standing on her bed is the only way she can see into her t-shirt drawer) and peered into her t-shirt drawer saying "I want that one!".  I knew she was pointing to the matching shirt, and I felt pretty smug about having co-erced her into getting dressed.  It was also an excuse to have the girls dressed alike. :)

I posted a few days ago about the dSLR camera that Brian had borrowed from work, and on Tuesday - my last day with it - I took a few more photos of the girls.

Clara was trying to get Audrey to hold the play fork.

Clara has this constant need to hug her sister - it's adorable, but I'm always nervous for Audrey's neck!

Tuesday was also our first full day of having the 'gummy' (soother) under her pillow while she was awake.  Except for one little melt-down when she cried for about 6 seconds about not being able to have it, she has been really good about not having it.  I just need to remind her occasionally, and she will either place it on her bed herself, or if she was going to get it, she will happily continue playing without it. She did tell me today, however, that we needed to buy new ones - so I think she might be under the impression that keeping her gummy under her pillow is just temporary until we get some back-up gummies. 

I had grand intentions to bake cookies, and get started on a kind of 'home-school' curriculum for Clara - just a basic one for toddlers that I found online. It mostly involves learning letters and numbers and singing little kiddy songs.  I wanted some sort of structure to our play times together and something I could plan for - but when I got up in the morning all of that suddenly seemed like too much work.  

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 11:51

What Am I Going To Do With This Girl...?

* Don't forget to check out my Green Line Diaper Giveaway!!! *

Some days I feel as though my love for my daughters is purely functional. I 'love' them by feeding them and clothing them, and making sure their needs are met over the course of each day.

Lately, I have felt a surge of emotion almost every time I look at these little girls. Audrey is at my favourite baby age - still completely dependent, but old enough to react to us and start showing a distinct personality.

I seriously need to learn how to use a better camera... I think the bunny is teaching her some kind of martial art...

And Clara... well, Clara is becoming more and more her own unique little person. I love her so intensely and every once in awhile it hits me like a brick wall.  I remember moments growing up when I would catch my Dad looking at me with this funny gleam in his eyes, and I could tell he was fighting back tears. I know what those moments were, now - they were moments of such overwhelming love and emotion that he had to blink back tears. 

Clara is also becoming more and more - each day - like me. She is spunky and stubborn, and talks constantly - about everything. We hear her chatting to herself for hours after she goes to bed, to her stuffies, going over and over the events of the day. She is adorable. 

She is also a pain in the butt. 

The other night we had friends over, and I had made this incredibly yummy looking (it was amazing) fruit pizza for dessert.  Clara had decided to eat no supper at all, and so one of us - I can't remember if it was Brian or I - told her that she needed to eat at least a few bites of supper before she could have dessert.  She refused.  I got out a smaller bowl and pulled out just a few items from her plate and said she had to eat 'only this'.

Again, she refused. 

Then we had a battle of epic proportions - she would take a bite, but then spit it out again and cry.  In the end she could have gotten away with only eating one small piece of mushroom, but she refused to even do that much. I really wanted her to be able to eat the fruit pizza... 

I sent her to her room twice, only to let her out again for a 'second chance' (I really wanted to indulge her, so I did everything I could to help her).  At the end of our battle, she was sitting on my lap refusing to swallow OR spit out a piece of food, but demanding her soother which I refused until the food was no longer in her mouth.  After about 10 minutes I fished the food out of her mouth with my fingers and she was sent to bed with no dessert.

It was unbelievable how much a fight she put up. Her stubbornness is a little bit terrifying sometimes.

She's also hilarious and has me in stitches most of the time with the things she says... 

The other day I wrapped a gift for a friend, and showed Clara what I was doing.  I told her that when my friend showed up, Clara should bring her the gift we had wrapped for her.  Then when my friend showed up, she seemed to have forgotten about the gift until I said "Clara, what did Mommy say you should bring her?" and Clara said to my friend "I give you a necklace!"

I guess it's time we need to stop showing or telling her anything we want kept secret.

This afternoon she stuck her tongue out and slowly moved in to lick my face. I saw her coming and said "What are you doing? Don't lick me!" To which she replied "I have to lick you!" 

What?

Toddlers are so weird...

Published in Blog
Sunday, 20 January 2013 22:25

Constipation in Toddlers

Clara has been constipated pretty much her entire life.  I remember going into the doctor's office when she was an infant, asking the doctor if it was normal that she would go 3-4 days between poops. Then, she would have what we referred to as a 'poop day' where she would be going pretty much constantly all day long.  Luckily her diapers were pretty good at containment... Audrey's are not, but that's another story entirely.

I was informed that it is in fact normal for some children to only poop every few days and that there was nothing to be concerned about. 

When she was about eight months old, we started getting her to poop on the toilet, due to the excessive amount of warning she would give us about the soon-to-be-outgoing poop.  We also discovered that hovering over the toilet bowl seemed to make it easier for her to push, and because it seemed to stress her out, we wanted to make it as easy for her as possible.

It still stresses her out.

I need a solution.

We have talked to the doctor about it, and usually the advice we are given is 'give her lots of fiber'... 

Since her problem is minor, and seems to come and go - some days she is fine and some days not so much - I don't feel as though drastic medications or laxatives are necessary, and I realize that we may simply not be doing her any favors with our diet.

I have done a bit of online research about it, and have come up with a few things that we REALLY need to work on...

1. Our Diet

We eat too much white bread (my husband hates whole-wheat) and my daughter is a little bit obsessed with cheese - both of these things are not good for constipation, and grilled cheese is just too easy to make for a quick toddler lunch on a weekday.  Not to mention the amount of milk she drinks... 

I need better options - can anyone help me? I need good, healthy, quick and easy toddler lunch ideas to make sure she is getting enough fiber. 

We struggle to keep fresh fruit in the house, so some weeks we eat an excess of fruit and other weeks we have almost none at all.  I'm considering stocking a bunch of canned peaches and pears in the pantry as a back-up plan.  I still would like to try to keep fresh fruit in the house, but if we run out, I could use the canned stuff. 

I should also encourage Clara to eat oatmeal more frequently for breakfasts - because she does love it, she just typically likes cereal like cheerios better. 

2. WATER!!!

Another struggle I have is keeping her hydrated.  Not because she doesn't drink, but because I don't drink. I usually have 2-3 cups of coffee in the morning and tea in the evening and that's all the liquid I'll take in daily.  Every so often I start feeling like my tongue is so dry it's growing fuzz and desperately tank a glass of water or two, but as a general rule, my body is quite used to dehydration.  I don't do it on purpose, I just don't remember to keep hydrated properly, and so I often don't remember to make sure Clara stays hydrated either. 

Sometimes I feel as though I'm too absent minded for parenting...

I know that dairy products (like milk) can have the opposite effect on hydration, and can actually worsen constipation, but toddlers still need dairy, right? How much is good, and how much is too much? If Clara has a cup of yogurt, should we limit her milk intake as well? Is there a magic ratio of milk to water, that we can follow to make sure she's getting enough water to balance out the effects of any healthy 'constipators' she's taking in?

3. Exercise

We're nerds, and always have been.  We were the kids who, when given a choice between writing an essay and going to gym class - wrote an essay. "Boo Sports!" That's our motto... 

Not to say that I wouldn't love to be more active - I really would - I just have so many THOUSANDS of other things that I love doing, and wish I had more time to do, that I find much more enjoyable than exercise. So exercise falls to the bottom of my list - and never really happens.  This is not really good for me, and it's really not good for my daughters.  I blame my Dad somewhat for my lack of interest in sports - he showed no interest in anything sports related, and my interests very much reflect his in a lot of ways.  This makes it even more important for me to make sure I don't encourage inactivity in my own children because I realize that I can influence their habits by what I do myself.

So, I'm on the look-out for ways to get my daughter more active. When spring arrives, I think it will be much easier because then we will be able to get out of the house and walk, but lately we have had at most two days each week when the weather wasn't too cold to venture outside.  We live in a small house, so there isn't really room to run around, and I think my daughter is too young for things like 'Simon Says', but I might give that a try this week anyway.

I would love input and advice on this - how do you keep your children eating healthy? Have you ever dealt with constipation issues? How do you keep your child active indoors and in small spaces? 

Published in Blog

This week started out well - on Saturday we got out of the house despite the fact that we still weren't feeling entirely 'well'.  Audrey seemed almost 100% better though, and Clara was still showing no signs of illness, so we went to a local mall with a play area so she could run around a bit. 

We had been idly talking about getting Clara's hair cut sometime soon, but hadn't made a specific plan.  As we walked past Chatters in the mall, I stopped to ask if they were set up to cut toddlers' hair (had stylists who were used to a wiggly toddler). Turns out they were, and it would be cheap, and they had an opening in about half an hour so we decided to shop a bit more and then come back.  

I explained to Clara very carefully what was going to happen, and she didn't protest too much until we got her into the chair.  It was probably just a little bit too daunting, so they had her sit on my lap and we both wore capes. I think the hardest part for her was how she couldn't reach her arms up to her face to put Bo's paw on her nose, but after awhile we gave up on the cape and decided to deal with hair on her sweater. I wish I'd taken pictures, but at the time it was enough to juggle a toddler! In the end, the stylist said she had done really well for a first-timer and she was given a sucker.  We had also promised her ice cream afterward.

I didn't take deliberate before and after photos either - I wish I had - but in the above picture, you can kind of see how her hair is starting to get in her eyes. She also has a bit of that toddler mullet thing going on also.

You can't see it, but they trimmed her hair at the front a bit so now it isn't in her eyes, and they chopped it straight across the back about an inch or maybe less past her earlobes.  It looks so much better.  She still gets that crazy mat of hair at the back of her head, though. 

This week I also braved leaving the house - without a car - with both girls for the first time.  The weather went up to positive temperatures, so I strapped Audrey to me with a baby carrier and wore the only thing I own that will fit over both of us - a huge Billabong bunnyhug (that's what we call hoodies in this part of the world). I had met a woman who lives only a few blocks away who has a daughter about Clara's age and we finally found a time to get the girls together for a playdate. Clara was so excited, and she talked about the little girl for the rest of the day. It was so great to get out of the house too! 

This morning Clara seemed to wake up too early, and then she started coughing.  She actually cuddled with me in bed for over an hour which she NEVER does. So, I've set up the portable DVD player in our room so she can curl up on our bed and watch in there. I hope she's not getting the flu now that the rest of us are all getting better...

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 08 January 2013 21:50

She's Trying To Tell Us Something...

"You're really cute, but I have no idea what you're saying!!!" - Marlin (Clown Fish) from the movie Finding Nemo

Actually, what Clara says is becoming clearer and clearer.  She has me just about in stitches with the things she says sometimes.

The other night Brian and I were talking quietly in bed - ok, I was talking to Brian - and I hear "Mommy... go to sleep!" from the other room.

She has also taken to narrating her life. "Big Poop! I push it out of mine bum?" Yup. You did, kid. I'm going to remember you said that too, and tell the story at your Graduation party... or wedding... or something.

At the end of the day, she will sometimes prattle on about what she has done that day as she's getting ready for bed "I peed! And went for a walk! And watched Nemo! And I pooped!"

Last night I heard her yelling at Brian "No, Daddy! Don't! Brush! My! Hair!... NOOO!!! Daddy!!!" She was alone in her room, she had been tucked into bed already.  I don't know what she was doing, acting out a scenario with her dolls? I guess she doesn't like her hair brushed... or her dolls don't...

The other day we overheard her playing with her dolls by their little cradle, and she was definitely talking to them.

"Time to sleep? You go to nap?" The obvious Clara voice

"I don't like to nap!" The high-pitched dolly voice

"Ok! No nap!" The Clara voice. I didn't look, but I bet she was trying to tell us something... 

She's obviously a much better Mommy than I am, and won't make her dolls do things they don't want to.  Like nap. Or have their hair brushed. 

Published in Blog
Thursday, 03 January 2013 21:25

My Wild Child

This is my wild child, who obviously dislikes having her hair brushed. Obviously we (at least occasionally) oblige. 

For the most part, Clara is actually a mostly well-behaved child. She sits fairly well in church for at least 20 minutes or so, as long as we have a few quiet toys for her, or a colouring book.  She takes decent care of her toys, and doesn't rip books.  She has been instructed that stickers only go on paper and skin (who hasn't wanted the occasional sticker on their nose or forehead?) and rarely do I find them anywhere else - even after she has had unsupervised access to stickers. We have had a couple colouring-on-the-wall incidents, but she hadn't been told before the first time, and it was at least three months between the two incidents, so she could have forgotten... 

Lately, we have had an issue with bedtime. 

She goes to bed quite well, and we have a predictable routine for her.  We always warn her ahead of time that it will be bedtime in 'N' minutes, or at the end of a particular play period.  We have her change into jammies, brush her teeth, read a story, go potty, say goodnight to Audrey (who is hopefully napping peacefully in her bassinette at this time), prayer time, kisses goodnight and then lights out.  This is always the same, and she goes through these motions knowingly and with little struggle.

After the door closes is when it begins.

She tantrums.

She yells out "I have to pee!" and "I have to poop!" and "I don't want to nap!" all in the same breath. 

And cries, and cries, and cries...

We have NEVER gone soft on this point.  She has NEVER been allowed to get up after she has gone to bed, except to go straight to the potty and back, and even that we don't allow easily if we are quite sure she is just claiming to have to pee to get out of bed.  She has never had more storytime, or a nice happy chat time with Mommy or Daddy - we have remained no-nonsense at bedtime, and yet she persists. 

Why does she do this? Is this a phase she will eventually get through? It's been weeks already, and has only gotten worse. Should we simply continue as we have, and eventually the consistency will win over and she will stop tantruming? 

Has anyone else experienced this?

Published in Blog
Friday, 14 December 2012 14:03

A Toddler-Free Weekend!

Brian's parents have offered to take Clara for an entire weekend.  I think they are hoping to start a Christmas tradition for themselves to have time to do Christmas-y things like bake and decorate cookies with her, etc.  The reason they gave us was to give us a chance to get some Christmas shopping done, which is definitely more complicated with a toddler AND an infant in tow.

Shopping with Clara has always been pretty ok - when she was younger, we just had to stop to BF occasionally, and as she got older and started enjoying shopping it became a fun activity to do with her.  Now that we have to stop to BF inevitably every time we go shopping, and Clara is only so good at staying interested in shopping - not good enough to take a 30 minute break so her sister can eat - it's much harder to actually get anything accomplished.  Especially since we're really bad at planning and our Christmas shopping usually amounts to aimlessly wandering through malls asking each other these questions:

Who do we need to buy for again?

Which family gathering do we need that for?

Didn't you want to make them something?

What did we already order online? Did we actually order that, or did we just talk about ordering that? If we order it now, will it still come for Christmas... no... ok, what should we get instead?

Who do we need to buy for again?

Isn't that what we got him last year?

Do you think we have enough for Clara's stocking yet?

Go away! I want to get you something...

Do you want another Starbucks?

Who do we need to buy for again?

Now do we have enough for Clara's stocking???

Crap, we forgot about Audrey (as will be inevitable this year, or it will be someone else, it always happens - not that we don't love y'all, there are just too many people to remember!)

So today at about 5pm, my Mother-in-law is taking my daughter for a fun-filled weekend at Nana and Grandpa's and we get to have a weekend with only one child again.  I love my daughter dearly, so I feel a little bit guilty about being so excited about this.  I keep thinking about the possibilities - sleeping in past 8!!! We are going out for supper tonight and we won't have to worry about a toddler tantrum!!

Unfortunately this weekend is also the week of my piano recital, so I technically have to 'work' on Saturday.  That should be over by 3ish, though, and then it's Christmas shopping for us! I decided a few years ago (when I worked in retail) that it was a hilarious sort of irony that people would get so stressed over Christmas shopping - a time of year that was supposed to be 'the happiest'.  The only way to not let other people's moods get to me (because working in retail, often these people would take out their anger on me) was to secretly find it comical.  Ha! That woman just punched another person over a TOY!!! They're yelling 'It's Mine!', 'No, MINE!'  Really??? I hope I'm never one of those women, but the things we do for our children sometimes... Anyway, so I don't mind the crowds at Christmas, because I find them kind of funny.  Also, we spent a few weeks in Asia a few years ago as well where it was busier than Christmas shopping EVERYWHERE, and all the time, so Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve suddenly didn't seem that busy anymore in comparison.

Anyway, I'm excited, and I hope that doesn't make me a negligent mother.  I'll be toddler-free!!!

 

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 10:20

Clara's Birthday Celebrations

Last year we made a pretty big deal out of Clara's Birthday.  We made a list of people to invite - friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins - and we came up with over 100 people. We don't have room for this number of people anywhere in our house, and in Saskatchewan we certainly don't have the option of hosting people outdoors in December. So, we split our guest list in two - friends and family - and had two parties in one day. 

Our friends (the ones with kids 4 and under) came mid afternoon and we had cupcakes and a pinata.

This was Clara's reaction when all the ribbons were pulled - not happy. :(

Then, our family came in the evening - there were 50 or so people, maybe more and it was 'standing room only'.  We made a ton of snacks and appetizers, and asked parents to bring some also, and had more cupcakes.  The whole deal probably cost us between $100-200 for the pinata, candy, food and drinks.  We also spent a ton of time cleaning the house for the event - because trust me, our house is not usually that clean!

In about June of last year, it occurred to me that Clara was beginning to get a bit bored with the toys she had.  Now, I don't want my children to have a ton of toys - I read somewhere that the more toys a child has, the more likely they are to abuse them.  That makes sense to me, and I want to encourage my children to use their toys in different ways, and focus on just a few creative toys rather than have a ton of electronic toys that only do one thing each.  However, I think the toys Clara received at her Birthday began to be a bit young for her when she neared 18 months. Especially since she had gotten a TON of gifts for a 12-month-old between December 10th and 26th. And I thought - wouldn't a HALF Birthday be nice?  I kind of wished Clara had gotten half as many gifts in December, and that we would have had a good excuse to buy her a few toys in June.  I bought her a few anyway.

This year, there was no way I was going to be able to plan and host a party (or two) like we did last year.  I just don't have the energy this year, and I would still prefer she not get so many gifts in December.  We invited just our immediate families - our parents and brothers - over for cupcakes and coffee.  She still got a few gifts, but mostly books and stickers.  She also got a cool thermos/water bottle and a Dora pop-up tent.  Oh yeah, and an 'Ernie' (from Sesame Street) doll that she absolutely adores - I don't get it, but I wasn't really a Sesame Street kid.

We actually practiced blowing out candles in the afternoon, but she got a little spooked when everyone started singing to her.  Isn't that dress adorable, by the way???

It was actually really hard to get this picture, she kept running in and out of this tent so quickly I kept getting photos with a blurred Clara.

So, we had a pretty low key event, and Clara certainly had a good time.  I still want to plan her a big Birthday party, though.  She has a number of friends that are actually near to her age this year, and I think it would be fun to have a little party for them.  I also want to include our families - and there are a lot of people included in that list! I don't need to convince myself that having another party in June is still a good idea - I think it is - we could have it outside in the yard, the kids could run around and play and we could buy a bunch of canned pop and juice. It still wouldn't be cheap - buying snacks for 50+ people can add up, especially if you want to have a bit of fun with it.  It would be easier for me to not be around Christmas time, though, and it would require less house cleaning :)

I don't actually care if Clara gets gifts from other people on her half birthday - the point is, this is when WE will buy her Birthday gifts, which will help split the year up a little better.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you think a half birthday party is a good idea? Would you happily attend a half birthday party? Would you refuse to buy a gift, or would you treat it the same as any other birthday party?  If we do this, should we actually specify 'no gifts' for friends - would this somehow be more tactful? Or, do you think a half birthday is just plain weird? Like I said before, I don't need to convince myself - I think it's a good idea - but if everyone around us will think it's dumb, it will end up not being a very enjoyable event for Clara.

I really want opinions on this - honest opinions.

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