One half

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I know, I know, it’s been so long. Again. It’s really hard to find the time for everything that I do. I’m crazy about keeping memories safe. So, not only do I run around with my camera all day (okay, I’m not THAT bad anymore), but I also keep various journals. Each child has a “A thought a day” journal for the first year of life, a baby milestone journal, and a regular journal. Then I also have this blog. I take much joy (and some pride) in all the videos I create (0-6mo highlights, A Year of Bliss–which is 1 yr highlights, Quirks, and more). I have hundreds of gigabytes of footage that needs to be used, saved, and triple saved. Moving, copying, burning, writing, and all of that only revolving around my children/my family just takes so much time, leaving me with little time for myself, to write my novels, my other blogs, and take care of many other things I’m involved in. You really begin to appreciate time as a gift of life.

IMG_8923Okay, let’s summarize that paragraph: I. have. no. time. And everything I do takes me longer to complete. A 2 yr old. A 6mo old. Got it? Good. Let’s move on.

I recently went back through my blog, saving old posts from over a year ago until now, and I read some of what I had written. I’m surprised and impressed with how detailed I outlined all of Savina’s progress, and it made me feel almost guilty, almost like I failed (remember: crazy about keeping memories safe), because I haven’t been doing this for Kimiko, and because I haven’t continued doing this for Savina, although for Savina that is okay, because she’s now at an age where these milestones, these changes, don’t happen as rapidly anymore. I don’t have the time to outline every one of Kimiko’s little milestones in such great detail as I did for Savina when she was that little. I do pay much attention to Kimiko’s development, but for some reason I’m not storing what I learn about her in the same way as I did with Savina. Is it because I have gone through it and experienced it already once before, so it doesn’t have the same impact? Or is it, maybe, because there is no room currently within me to store these little things? Perhaps a bit of both.

IMG_8937What I have noticed about Kimiko, however, is that she seems to do everything earlier and for a shorter period of time than Savina. Let me explain. Savina went through each of her phases for a week or more, whereas Kimiko seems to explore certain skills for only a few days and then moves on. For example, Savina went through a tongue discovery phase, where she stuck out her tongue nearly permanently (it was wicked adorable) for about a week. (see pictures of her doing that in this post.) Kimiko also went through such a phase, but it was only for a couple of days before she moved on. I don’t believe I have too many images of her sticking her tongue out (in part because I don’t live with the camera in my pocket or hand anymore). Kimiko’s tongue phase happened a month or more earlier than Savina’s. As another example, Savina went through a long growling phase–I have the cutest videos of her growling. Koko’s growling lasted a day or two, and then she moved on. Kimiko rolled over 2 months earlier than Savina did, and it’s futile to put her on her back, as 95% of the time she’ll end up on her belly. Savina learned to roll later (tummy to back at about 5.5mo, back to tummy around 8mo), and she didn’t utilize this skill much, probably because come 7mo old she discovered walking (assisted), and maybe because until Savina could walk unassisted, she preferred to stay in one place for the most part–mostly sitting. IMG_8942Another thing Kimiko has done earlier than Savina was making sounds like “bababa,” but she stopped saying “bababa” a while ago, moving on to new things soon after discovering those letters, whereas Savina didn’t say “baba” until she was about 7 months old, but kept saying it for a long time. I find this pattern truly intriguing.

I’d like to briefly touch on the adjustment to having two children, especially as close together in age as they are. Savina loves Kimiko very much, which makes it both easier and challenging at the same time. Easier because she is more accepting of Koko taking more of my attention still, and challenging because she gets a little over-zealous with her sometimes, when it comes to play and showing affection. At the same time, Savina does display her jealousy–and she’s jealous a lot. These days, the sentence “What’s Sina doinnnn?” (meaning: What is Savina doing?) is a common one that I hear many times a day. Every time my attention shifts away from Savina, be it to tend to Koko, or to some task, or anything other than my Savinababy, she asks, “What’s Sina doinnnn?” It’s her way of taking my attention back. Okay, it doesn’t happen every time, but quite often–more than not.

IMG_8950Adjusting to two was hard when Kimiko was still an infant, but now I’d almost want to say, in some way it’s easier having two than just having the one. Now you wonder, why would she say that? Isn’t it more work to look after two, especially when one is not yet independent? Yes and no. Yes, it is hard to juggle them sometimes. Yes, it is hard to keep Koko safe from Savina’s inability to measure her own strength. Yes, it is hard to balance my focus and attention. Yes, it is hard to make Savina understand sometimes. But. It is easier because each of my children has taught me important lessons on parenting, because each of my children has shown me a better path, an easier path, a healthier path, both psychologically and emotionally. When Savina was born, and as she grew up, she made me a better person, with a more positive outlook on life. When I got pregnant with Kimiko, and as I grew bigger, life became difficult and stressful, as I was so restricted in what I could do physically and in how much energy I had. When Kimiko was born, she again made me a better person yet. I have learned so much through raising Koko (and mind you, she’s only 6.5 months old). IMG_8971Having the two is easier on many levels. It is easier because they can entertain each other, but that’s not even the main point. It is easier because when Savina pushes my buttons, Kimiko pulls them back out. It is easier because through Koko I have learned how to help Savina heal from all the stresses and emotional hurts she has experienced in her life so far. It is easier because through interaction with Koko and Kimiko just being another factor in her life, Savina has learned and is learning to be patient, to be respectful of others’ feelings, to be empathetic, and most importantly to be more independent. It is easier because Savina is helping Mommy, whereas with Savina there was no older child to help Mommy.

IMG_8994I must admit, I’m lucky to have given birth to a child who is very easy going compared to my first, although I do attribute that in part to all the things I was able to do with Kimiko that would have greatly helped with Savina, but I simply didn’t know about them with Savina, or didn’t understand them fully (e.g. lip-tie, chiropractor, AwP). My approach to parenting has changed over the last two years, but mostly in the past 4-5 months. I feel that this is the main reason I’m so laid back when Kimiko doesn’t do as I expect of her. What I mean is, for example, when Savina was little, she was a really bad sleeper (among other issues). She would often wake before we went to bed and be up for 1-3 hours, and I just couldn’t accept that. After many nights of this I began to get frustrated, exhausted, disappointed, despaired, sometimes even furious. Kimiko, on the other hand, sleeps wonderfully, but as the Wonder Weeks would have it, or teething would have it, she too wakes up occasionally either before we go to bed or as we’re in bed watching TV. How is it, then, that when Kimiko wakes up, I’m calm, collected, sometimes cheerful during her “up-time”? There is no frustration. I don’t get mad at her.IMG_8966 If we haven’t gone to bed yet, I sit with her, helping her fall asleep again. If we have gone to bed, I delight in her excitement of being up, while I pause what we’re watching, then continue watching while keeping Koko tummy to tummy with me, helping her to go back to sleep. I look back, and I wish I could have been this collected, calm, even delighted when Savina woke. Is it because it happened so frequently with her? Is it because it would take so much to get her back to sleep? No. The answer is simple: it’s because I have internalized the AwP-approach to parenting. It’s because I have eased up. I thought I was so upset with Savina because she was taking away from what little us-time I had with my husband every day, but now I have even less time with him, having two littles. So no, it wasn’t that, it couldn’t have been. I feel that it was my inability to relax over the situation. It was my constant struggle to figure out what the problem was. I don’t have that struggle anymore. I understand now.

IMG_9002And in my efforts to heal Savina’s emotional hurts, which I briefly mentioned earlier, I have begun Attachment Play. What emotional hurts does Savina have, you might wonder. I’m in no way perfect. While I know that getting mad and furious at your child is fruitless and damaging, I do occasionally, or rather did, raise my voice against her. There were situations I struggled. I never hit her, smacked her, or anything of the like, but getting mad at her is enough to scare her, and I have, admittedly, had my share of that with her. I hardly do anymore, because, as I said, I have internalized AwP, and I’m far more collected than I have ever been in my life thanks to that. But the damage, emotional damage, has been done. Add to that every-day toddler stress, which you cannot possibly prevent no matter how good a parent you are, and you have a toddler who needs your loving presence more than ever. Thus, I started Attachment Play. Google it, find and purchase Aletha Solter’s book–it will blow your mind. Some of it makes common sense, some of it you probably already do, but it just makes a huge difference knowing, being aware, and deliberately practicing it. I’m happy to say that since I started Attachment Play with Savina only about 3-4 weeks or so ago, the amount of tantrums I experience with her has reduced by at least 75%. That’s right, 75%. She still gets mad, and screams sometimes, and runs away, but boy, believe me when I say, it is nothing like it has been in the past. It is less severe, and just far less overall.

IMG_9050Two more things I’d like to say about Savina, and then I’ll wrap this post up. In the past, I have let Savina watch a short educational show on TV several times a week. Sometimes it was a show about baby signing, or potty training, and sometimes it was nursery rhymes. She proceeded to ask me for it nearly every morning, but often I would find her watching it with her thumb in her mouth. Sucking her thumb is her way of repressing her emotions. She’s not happy when you see her sucking her thumb. She’s either hungry, tired, upset, sad, jealous, or in some other way unhappy. So how come she wanted to see the show but then wasn’t happy to watch it, I wondered many days. Letting her watch gave me the opportunity to take care of things for 20 min. in the mornings, especially after Kimiko was born, but as Koko grew up I reduced Savina’s TV time from 3-5 days a week to maybe once or twice. When I changed Koko’s morninIMG_9069g nap location to the room we have our TV in, TV time for Savina pretty much disappeared, and she hardly ever asks for it. What she does ask a lot, however, is when I’m quickly doing something at the computer: “Want to see vidoooo.” She wants to watch a video of some sort. Most of the time, if I do let her watch a short 3-5 min. video, she will begin sucking her thumb after a while. Recently I discovered what was going on. Watching is a control pattern as much as sucking her thumb. If I asked her, “Are you bored?” sometimes she’d say yes, sometimes no. But if I asked her, “Do you want to do something else?” she’d usually say yes, and when I follow up by asking “What would you like to do?” she usually says play puzzle, or play play-dough, or whatever else she has in mind. So, in conclusion, she only wants to watch anything, ever, when she needs reconnection with me or Papa. If any of you have ever heard of or practiced AwP, you know what I’m talking IMG_9084about. I’m getting it, more and more. And I’m glad.

The second thing I’d like to mention is that Savina has, proudly, got her pleases and thank yous down, and now sometimes instead of saying “I want,” she politely asks, e.g. “Would like a cracker, please.” Clap clap. She’s still trying to grasp the concept of being quiet–all in good time.

So, I’m sorry this was such a long post. I’m happy I found the time to write this, and I’ll try to be more on top of Koko’s milestones. I do not have as many cute pictures of her with me in it, or catching cute or funny things on video, because she always stares at the camera, stopping whatever she was doing. She’s not as “camera-savvy” as Savina. She’s intrigued, but she won’t pose. So that’s to say, these moments happen, I just can’t eternalize them most of the time. This just came to mind as I was working on all the videos mentioned in the beginning of this post :)

Thanks for reading, and until next time.

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