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.
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.
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.
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).
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)
Photos by Julia Dags.