2.5 Years with Amalia

Last Friday, Amalia turned two and a half. When I told her that she’s two and a half now, she responded with: No mommy, I’m two. On my birthday I gonna be three. And that’s my child, in a nutshell. Literal AF.

When I was picking out a photo for this post, Anel suggested this one. Even though it might not be the best or cutest picture of her, it shows exactly who she is. The girl spends more time in the air than on the ground and never stops moving. She is a ball of energy like nothing I’ve ever seen.

Her latest thing is playing make-believe. Whether she’s a doctor giving me a “check-up” or a mommy taking care of her baby, all of her pretend games feature her in a nurturing role, which is so beautiful to see as a mother. She is empathetic, sweet, and so loving towards the people she loves, whether pretend or in real life.

Even though she’s small, she’s a little comedienne. She cracks jokes that actually land and knows how to deliver. She still has a voracious love of reading whether it’s on her own or with one of us. And although she sometimes acts beyond her years, she still asks me to snuggle her multiple times a day.

She’s still incredibly shy with new people and almost always shuts down in big groups of people (#introvertstruggles) but she shines in smaller groups and with the people she knows. Her laughter is contagious, her hugs are tight, and her brilliant little mind never ceases to amaze me. I’ve learned to accept the shyness and have stopped trying to change it or force her to act in a way that makes her uncomfortable.

When she’s not feeling intimidated though, the child never stops talking. When I pick her up at school every night, it is a straight stream of consciousness until we get home. I need to record it one day because I’m often in stitches by the end.

As a mother, I’ve been working really hard to be more present with her and not rush through the day-to-day activities. It has made a big difference in our interactions and both of our moods.

HOW WE STOP MELTDOWNS

Amalia is a good kid. She listens when I tell her to do something, she cleans up her toys when she’s done playing, and she almost always says sorry, please, and thank you. 90% of the time. The other 10% she’s a sociopath like every 2-year-old. Her meltdowns are fewer and farther between these days as we encourage her to “use her words” and talk about her feelings more.

When she starts melting down, I sit down on the ground at her level, ask her to look me in the eye, and tell me what she’s feeling. She’ll say something like, I feel sad because I don’t want to go to school today. Then I’ll explain that I have to work so she has to go to school but I’ll come in and read a book to her before I leave. 9 times out of 10 that stops the meltdown before it even starts. One of her teachers taught us that trick and it’s very effective.

The advice I had gotten in the past was to just ignore meltdowns but now that she’s older and can express her feelings better, this works really well.

That said, that’s only when she’s sad. When she’s angry, it’s another story. We still use time-outs for discipline but find ourselves needing to use it less and less. Now just the threat of it often stops her in her tracks.

DROPPING HER NAP

I officially live in a napless home now. Please send your thoughts and prayers…

Amalia dropped her nap on weekends right before we moved and then dropped her nap on weekdays at daycare shortly after. Not having that break for a rest in the day was very tough at first but we’ve gotten used to it. At school, she lays down and reads books quietly when the other kids nap. At home, we’ll either read books or watch an hour of TV for what we call quiet time. If we don’t rest at all, she turns into a demon child but even though she doesn’t sleep, the rest makes a big difference in her day.

People always ask me how we knew she was ready to drop the nap. But the truth is, we didn’t have a choice. She just stopped sleeping! And believe me, we tried everything. These days, on the rare occasion that she does nap, it will only be for an hour and bedtime is a nightmare because she literally won’t fall asleep until after 10.

So apparently she’s getting enough good sleep at nighttime. At first, I was worried about her dropping it so early but she’s a happy kid who quite literally bounces off the walls all day long… not that we have a choice in the matter.

POTTY TRAINING

We were going to do the Oh Crap method after we moved but after talking to her daycare teachers about it, we’ve had a change of heart. Two of her teachers (who we adore) have been teaching 2-year-olds for 20+ years and both said that potty-training trends come and go but if we want it to be easiest on her and us, wait until she shows us that she’s ready. They swore that by the end of the school year, every kid in the class will be potty trained and that they help each other learn. And that if we wait, she is less likely to have regressions down the road.

We have her pee on the potty before her bath every night and most mornings she’ll do it when she wakes up too, but when we try to push her to do more than this, it ends up being a big fight. So our plan is to keep adding potty breaks into the day slowly, at her pace, until she feels ready to rip the bandaid.

I know that this goes against the current potty-training beliefs of most people but I think it’s going to work for us. Only time will tell!

BIG GIRL BED

After visiting a neighbor’s house with a big girl bed, Amalia wouldn’t drop it at home. For weeks, she would ask us when she could get a big girl bed so we said screw it and transitioned her crib into a toddler bed. I thought that the transition would be brutal and that she would now walk into our room in the middle of the night but so far (knock on wood) so good. It’s been about a month and she still hasn’t figured out that she can get out of bed before I come in to get her. And I plan to let her think that for as long as possible!

We’re moving her to a real big girl bed (aka a full-sized bed with rails) in the next month or two and I’ll write more details about the transition when that happens.

BEST MOMENTS

As always, the best moments are the small ones. They’re not the big adventures or the moments that you think will be important as a parent. They’re the silly things she says. The twinkle of her laugh. How she rubs her hands on my back when she gives me a hug. When she stops what she’s doing, looks me in the eyes and says, I love you so much, mama. When I am sad and she tells me it will be ok then asks if I want a Band-Aid. The way she dances with no hesitation every time her favorite songs start to play.

But after those moments, swimming with her in Florida last week was right up there. One of my favorite things she says is, this is so much fun which she said about 400 times in that pool.

WORST MOMENTS

After our move, Amalia had a very hard time going to sleep. She would tell me that she was scared in her new room and it broke my heart because of my history with a fear of the dark. We tried the cry-it-out method which would result in literally hours of crying. We tried to sit with her until she fell asleep but it would often be hours and if we moved she’d sit up and scream. This lasted for about a month or two. She wasn’t going to sleep until 9 or 10 every night, and bedtime was always a fight which was tough on everyone involved.

Eventually, we started talking to her more about her fears and showing her that there were no monsters in her room and that the shadows were her friends. We bought her a nightlight and agreed to leave the door open when we left the room. Those changes and the fact that she got used to the new house allowed us to get back on track.

But those nights were brutal. To hear your baby crying in fear is the worst feeling, and on top of it, Anel and I didn’t have our nights together so we wouldn’t see each other except for about 10 minutes/day when we were both exhausted. As all terrible phases with children go, when you’re in it you think it will never end. And it always does.

Now she’ll sleep fro 7:30pm-7:30am most nights and wake up jumping off the walls!

HER FAVORITE BOOKS

For Christmas, my mom gave her a bunch of classics like Goodnight Moon, Curious George, and Madeline. I thought that she would be too young for them but she can’t get enough (except for Goodnight Moon which scares her for some reason).

Curious George
Madeline
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Press Here
Girl Power 5-Minute Stories
– Literally anything with Thomas the Tank Engine
I am Sam I Am

HER FAVORITE TOYS

Train table– Anel bought her a train table on Facebook Marketplace after she fell in love with the one at our local library. It was originally $260 and he got it for $50. It’s in perfect condition! She will stand and play with it alone for over an hour which is a godsend.

My childhood dollhouse- My grandfather built me a dollhouse when I was her age and we pulled it out of my dad’s basement for her to play with at Christmas. She makes up little stories about the family living in the house the same way I used to. I often tear up watching her play with it because I know my grandfather would have been so happy to see it.

Kitchen set– She’s had this kitchen set for over a year but now that she’s more into make-believe, the kitchen gets quite a bit more action. She loves to cook me breakfast, lunch, or dinner and will cook meals and snacks for her baby dolls too.

Doctor kit– Whenever I stub my toe or cut my finger, Amalia immediately races for her doctor kit to give me a shot… A shot always seems to be the solution for some reason. She will give us check-ups on a regular basis, including Boots!

Paint sticks– We love to color together but she would get frustrated with dried-up markers and broken crayons. We discovered these paint sticks, a mix between a crayon, marker, and paint, and her coloring skills have really improved.

HER FAVORITE SHOWS

– Peppa Pig (Prime)
– Daniel Tiger (Prime)
– Doc McStuffins (Disney+)
– Paw Patrol (Prime)
– Super Wings (Netflix)
– Clifford the Big Red Dog
– How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Netflix)

Read Amalia’s one monthtwo monththree monthfour monthfive monthsix monthseven month, eight month, and nine month10 month11 month, one year, 18-month, and 2-year posts

Photos by Julia Dags.

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  1. Chelle said:

    I love reading your blog and following you and your adorable family on Instagram. Your daughter is so sweet! We have a four year old granddaughter living with us, so many of the things you post ring true in my ears often. While our children are long ago grown up, I am getting the opportunity to see our Camilla grow up and it’s so wonderful. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful things! Now, I’m off to go order some paint sticks!! ❤️

    1.27.20 · Reply
  2. Lindsey said:

    Love the update! I just sent it to my husband and said ‘our girl is back!’ since we followed you so closely during the first year – my son is 1mo younger than Amalia. Totally hear you on the ball of energy! His teachers keep telling us how active he is… You’re brave to take her out of the crib, I dread it! We have found that letting him turn off the light at night has helped with any fears, and I like your idea of keeping the door open.

    A few things that we’re loving these days:

    Everywhere Babies book – he reads it every night – https://www.amazon.com/Everywhere-Babies-lap-board-book/dp/0547510748/ref=pd_sbs_14_1/146-8900482-3570032?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0547510748&pd_rd_r=a34e40a5-2d1c-4a14-815a-0bb68f2156b7&pd_rd_w=nHXIH&pd_rd_wg=3B5wq&pf_rd_p=bdd201df-734f-454e-883c-73b0d8ccd4c3&pf_rd_r=Z2SG50WBHXN4ZJH130Z1&psc=1&refRID=Z2SG50WBHXN4ZJH130Z1

    Airplane – https://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Price-Little-People-Together-Airplane/dp/B01N5OD0MM/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=little+people+airplane+toy&qid=1580139944&sr=8-2

    We really limit tv, and are only starting to let him watch a little when he’s sick or occasionally on Saturday mornings. He loves the Netflix Word Babies https://www.netflix.com/title/80063705 and I just discovered Blippi when I was looking for youtube videos of fire trucks https://youtu.be/CjbC9wAErts.

    Thanks for the update!

    1.27.20 · Reply
  3. Lillie said:

    This is so timely, as I’ve wanted to comment on your InstaStories about how grown up she is getting! She’s so verbal and her hair is getting so long. Mine are 15 and 18, so I enjoy other people’s toddlers (from a distance, lol). I think your teachers are absolutely correct about potty training! My kids did it all by themselves, and my daughter literally never had a single accident (day or night). I hate that for you that she dropped her naps. I was very insistent that mine have quiet time in their rooms every day until they started full-day school, and also on the weekends beyond that time. You’re doing a great job, Momma!!

    1.27.20 · Reply
  4. Betsy said:

    She is adorable – love reading the updates because our daughters are the same ago! FWIW, our daycare teacher advised us to skip the Oh Crap method with our daughter, because she thought forcing the issue would just create a power struggle. We waited and offered the potty every day and literally never had one success (she would sit for 5-10 minutes then just get up), but one day a week ago, she woke up, asked for underwear, and really hasn’t looked back. So grateful for the wise counsel for the daycare professionals who have been potty-training toddlers for decades. Good luck to y’all when the times comes!!

    1.27.20 · Reply
  5. Stephanie said:

    I take so much comfort in hearing about other toddlers dropping their nap early! Sometimes I feel like we’re the only ones. My daughter is a month younger than Amalia and hasn’t napped regularly since before Halloween. And she’s been in a big girl bed for about a month, so “quiet” time is not super quiet but at least she doesn’t come out of her room! It’s such a powerless feeling when they won’t sleep…especially since we’ve got baby #2 coming next month and I could really use a break! She doesn’t act overtired, but I’m not convinced she’s really ready to go nap-free since anytime we go somewhere in the car or stroller in the late afternoon, she falls asleep. But there’s no way to force them to nap.

    Other than that, this is such a fun age! I agree that the monologues they come up with are hilarious! And it’s so crazy to be able to have actual conversations. That is, when she’s not telling me “NO! I can’t!” or running away when it’s time to put on pjs, etc.

    Glad to hear things are going well overall with Amalia 🙂

    1.27.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I’m so happy you told me this. People always tell me that she dropped it too early but there is literally nothing I can do to get her to nap! Amalia never falls asleep in the car or stroller. That is amazing, I’m jealous!!

      1.29.20 · Reply
  6. Meg said:

    So sweet. Where are those jammies from?

    1.27.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thank you! They’re old from Hanna Andersson

      1.29.20 · Reply
  7. Ann Clark said:

    These photos and your messages make my heart sing and then melt!
    Amalia is so adorable and I just hope you will bring her out to visit your Mom at Channing House so all of us “grannies” can meet her in person. From what you say, she wouldn’t like a crowd of old people, but we could see her one at a time in our apartments or in Mary and Rob’s apartment, where it wouldn’t be so intimidating.
    Please do bring her here before she’s all grown up! I’ve been following her since her birth 2.5 years ago and just love her and you!
    With gratitude for your great blog and photos!
    Love, Ann (Huddle sister of your Mom and breakfast table companion)

    2.1.20 · Reply