Tag Archives: toddler life

The Easter Egg Hunt

Last year we attempted to go to the local Easter egg hunt. We arrived a few minutes late because we didn’t know any better. The hunt was, of course, over. This year we were determined to do better and arrived 15 minutes before the hunt was due to begin…

9.45am

Now we just had to keep a 2-year-old from collecting any eggs until the siren sounded at 10am. Declan seemed to understand. 

9.52am

He was getting restless. Sneaking one foot over the line, edging forward on his bum, running away to try and enter from a different location…

9.56am

Now he was done. He wanted to go home. Kept trying to pull us away from the eggs and towards the car. “Mummy go home! Mummy go home now!” Cried when we told him he just had to wait a few more minutes. 

10.00am

No siren. 

10.01am

The siren sounded! Declan suddenly did not want to collect any eggs. He cried if we tried to lead him towards them. Absolutely refused to participate. 

10.03am

Most of the eggs had been collected by normal toddlers. We finally persuaded Declan to collect eggs by telling him they had chocolate inside. He collected 3 then stood around playing with a stick and staring at the mayhem. 


10.05am

The hunt was over. All the eggs collected. 

10.07am

Took a photo with the fire engine. 


10.08am

The end. 

100 Words

Declan reached 100 words today. (Realistically, he probably reached this number much sooner, since there are undoubtedly words that he uses at daycare that I haven’t heard yet.) It’s been a fascinating journey to experience. At his 15-month doctor appointment he had maybe five words. Now, at 19 months, he has at least 100. His speech has exploded with new words arriving almost every day. He knows colors, shapes, animals, vehicles… and SpongeBob, embarrassingly. (The full list of his first 100 words is below.)

100 words is a lot, but a long way from being enough for effective communication. This progression, and Declan’s frustration when he cannot make us understand what he wants, has me thinking a lot about language development and about how many words would be enough? 

I’ve followed the Nieder family blog/Facebook page for many years now. I discovered them long before I had a kid, long before we even thought that children might be in our future. I don’t remember how I found them and I don’t have any personal connections to their situation, but it’s a fascinating story to follow about a really amazing family. Maya – the daughter – has undiagnosed developmental delays that leave her mostly nonverbal (though her speech continues to increase). She uses an iPad with the app Speak For Yourself to communicate. The Nieder family tried a huge range of options to help her communicate before they discovered and adopted Speak for Yourself – and it’s been quite the battle. Maya doesn’t necessarily perform well during assessments (I can easily imagine this being true of Declan, or of almost any young child) and many professionals insisted that the Speak for Yourself app would be too complicated, too advanced, too many words. They wanted her to start with something simpler. With far, FAR fewer words. Maya’s mom, Dana (the author of the blog), has been a tireless and inspirational advocate for presuming competence and all the words all the time. Maya shouldn’t have to wait until she demonstrates she can use the words to be given access to them. One evaluator wanted to give Maya a device that would allow her to access to 32 words at a time. 32. Each set of 32 words would be themed (lunch, art, zoo, etc.) and would be predetermined by the evaluator. When I first read that post, many years ago, Dana had me convinced that 32 words at a time was unacceptable, but it’s only now – with Declan’s 100 words – that I realize just how unacceptable that would be. Can you imagine giving someone Declan’s 100 words – the words he has demonstrated that he knows – and asking them to communicate? No. That would be crazy. Or imagine that we selected the 32 words for him to access/learn on our recent trip to Yellowstone. We would have included hot spring, geyser, canyon, waterfall, bison, etc. Would we have included gravel, nails in the boardwalk, signpost, ground squirrel, or huge black raven? Almost definitely not, but those were the things he was interested in. 

The Speak for Yourself app has grown with Maya. Words are added as needed, as thought of, as they come up, and at Maya’s request. She isn’t limited by a set number of words that are available. It really is an incredible tool – and Maya is an incredible girl. I’m so happy I found them on Facebook and Dana’s posts mean so much more now that I’m a parent, too. 

Declan’s first 100 words:

  1. Daddy
  2. Mummy
  3. Tractor 
  4. More 
  5. Cracker 
  6. Please
  7. Thank you
  8. Farmer 
  9. Truck 
  10. Sleep 
  11. Milk
  12. Bottle
  13. Rag
  14. Kitty
  15. Dog
  16. Eat
  17. Jeep
  18. Star
  19. Wheel/Wheelbarrow
  20. Bumble bee
  21. Baby 
  22. Book
  23. Ball
  24. Shoes 
  25. Fish 
  26. Car
  27. Apple
  28. Banana
  29. No
  30. Stop 
  31. Blue 
  32. Orange 
  33. Yellow
  34. Fan
  35. Cheese 
  36. Teeth
  37. Up 
  38. Down 
  39. Put back/put it back 
  40. Bye 
  41. Night night
  42. Bird 
  43. Purple
  44. Bowl
  45. Bear
  46. Sponge Bob 
  47. Jello
  48. Brown 
  49. Hi/hello
  50. Turtle 
  51. Black 
  52. Red
  53. Bubbles 
  54. Bath
  55. Potato 
  56. Sheep
  57. Help 
  58. Giraffe 
  59. Nose 
  60. Eyes
  61. Push 
  62. Pull
  63. Green 
  64. Outside
  65. Home
  66. Jump 
  67. Spider
  68. Ketchup 
  69. Get out 
  70. Airplane
  71. Mouth
  72. Clock
  73. Picture
  74. Step 
  75. Chicken
  76. Duck
  77. Bear 
  78. Egg 
  79. White
  80. Pink
  81. Circle 
  82. Triangle 
  83. Hat
  84. Walk
  85. Run 
  86. Sock
  87. Hot 
  88. Flower
  89. Grandma 
  90. Bicycle 
  91. Axe 
  92. Rock
  93. Heart
  94. Strawberry
  95. What is it?
  96. Glasses
  97. Water
  98. Mouse 
  99. Spoon
  100. Fork 

Survival tips from the first year

Declan is now one year and a bit. He’s a ton of fun most of the time (some of the time he’s whiny and annoying and picky about food, but the fun times make up for all of that). He still only sleeps through the night occasionally and we’re definitely dealing with a nighttime-pacifier-addiction, but whatever. It’s handle-able (see #3 below).

I received a lot of advice while pregnant and during Declan’s first few months. Some advice was annoying, some might have been helpful but I wouldn’t know since I wasn’t in a place that I could hear it. However, a few tidbits were very valuable and will stick with me if I ever decide to be brave and have another baby, so I wanted to put them down on (virtual) paper and share them with you. So listen up (or don’t, see #6 below) – especially if you have not yet had a kid and think that you might in the future. Nothing will ever prepare you adequately for the chaos, but these tips might help. And thank you to the wonderful friends who shared these nuggets with me along with your reassuring stories.

  1. (While pregnant): spend your time napping, resting, watching Netflix, drinking tea, and generally sitting down and being lazy. Seriously, do it. I now have around 45 minutes to myself in the morning to get ready, pack lunch, tidy the kitchen from the previous night, and have a cup of tea. If I can manage to do it all and finish my tea before Declan wakes up, it is worthy of a small celebration. And that’s pretty much the only time I get to myself all day. Appreciate the opportunity to do nothing quietly while you have it.
  2. (While pregnant): Do not worry one tiny bit about labor. Worry about the weeks/months that come after labor and try not to worry about those too much, either, since there will be plenty of worry while they are happening. I cannot believe how much I stressed about the labor, and that was a mere blip in the roller coaster that was the first three months of Declan’s life. Labor will happen, it will hurt, you will bleed a lot, but then it will be over and you’ll have to deal with the nonstop seemingly-nonsensical whims of the tiny human that you just produced. Labor is nothing in comparison.
  3. Don’t expect that you will ever be well-rested again. Rather, expect that you will get used to functioning on much less sleep than before. It’s quite amazing how much I can now do on 2-3 hours of broken sleep. In my pre-kid days I thought that the baby would start sleeping through the night after a few months and everything would go back to normal. Not so. Nope. Apparently it’s a well-kept secret of parents everywhere that once you have kids you never sleep again. You just get used to it and increase your use of concealer and consumption of caffeine and wine accordingly.
  4. Teeth can play peek-a-boo for WEEKS before they finally emerge for good. Who knew that was a thing? I thought that once you saw swollen gums and felt the beginnings of a tooth that it would soon pop through and that would be that. Nope. Apparently teeth move forwards AND backwards. Declan’s top four teeth took seven weeks to fully commit to coming out. Seven. Some days we could feel them, some days we couldn’t. It was absurd. Now his molars are threatening to do the same thing. Teething sucks.
  5. If your baby goes to daycare, then get used to spending time at the doctor’s office. Colds, coughs, wheezing, ear infections, strange rashes, excessive screaming, vomiting, diarrhea, the works. Oh, and get used to catching half of the bugs, too. I’ve never had so many colds in one winter. But it’s all going to result in a strong immune system for the wee one, riiiiight?
  6. Don’t listen to the horror stories, don’t read the books if they are stressing you out, and most definitely do not Google things. Every experience is different. Your baby and your story are unique. Trust your instincts. Nothing I read in a book or online helped with Declan’s sleeping and the internet has never helped me determine whether or not a symptom needed a doctor visit. I trust a very small circle of people to give me advice when I ask for it (including the doctors, daycare ladies, and my sister), but mostly we muddle through by ourselves and I’ve somewhat learned to freak out less over every little thing.
  7. If you are kid-free and think you have a messy house – you don’t.
  8. If you plan to use disposable diapers – buy a diaper genie. They are brilliant.
  9. Don’t ever get comfortable. Just as you have one thing finally figured out, the next thing will jump up and hit you on the head. In the last six months we went from dealing with a helmet to nonstop ear infections to a terrible stomach bug to the beginnings of tantrums. There’s always something new.
  10. And finally, this one is just from me: Keep a stockpile of saltine crackers, Gatorade, Pedialyte, and soup in the house. You will thank me when the stomach bug hits the entire family and no one is capable of driving.

What advice stuck with you from the early days of parenthood?

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