Empathy / Empatía

We were looking at this book for the umpteenth time today, and Chloe noticed something she had never done before.

Our conversation went like this:

– what are they doing?

– they’re running (that’s what’s happening at that point)

– no, what’s the boy holding?

– ah, that’s called a ribbon.

– the girl doesn’t like it.

And that’s how I learned that she can read facial expressions in simple drawings and possibly even put herself in someone’s shoes?

Hoy estábamos leyendo este cuento por enésima vez, cuando a Chloe le llamó la atención algo que nunca había notado.

Esta fue nuestra conversación:

– ¿Qué están haciendo?

– están corriendo

– No, ¿qué está cogiendo el niño?

– Ah, eso es un lazo.

– No le gusta a la niña.

Y así de simple ha sido darme cuenta de que entiende las expresiones faciales simplificadas de los cuentos, e incluso puede que sea capaz de ponerse en el lugar de otro!

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Kuoui

Chloe has recently had a “sound leap”, and the result is that she can now make some new sounds in her speech.

For example, she’s never really been able to say two consonants together – perfectly exemplified by the time she kept saying “I bake it, I bake it” and it turned out she was breaking it!!

But the nicest is her own name, that has evolved from Koi into Kuoui. Almost there!

Chloe acaba de dar un “salto fonético”, y de repente tiene sonidos nuevos al hablar.

Nunca ha podido pronunciar dos consonantes juntas – por ejemplo diciendo “baso” en vez de brazo, y ahora le sale “buaso”. El sonido “z” no lo saben hacer todavía 🙂

Lo mas gracioso es que su nombre ha pasado de ser Koi a Kuoui – ¡casi!

Schemas

Children go through so called schemas in their play. Basically they are various representations of the same concept, to master it physically before understanding it intellectually.

Some common ones are:

  • Trajectory: dropping items or oneself from up high.
  • Positioning: grouping or lining items. (Herr current one, look at the pictures!).
  • Enveloping: covering objects or oneself, wrapping, placing stuff in containers.
  • Rotating: spinning items or oneself, running in circles. (We’ve had a lot of this one!).
  • Enclosing: adding boundaries to areas or borders to pictures.
  • Transporting: moving objects from place to place, also in containers or bags. (At home we call this “having a picnic” as that’s her alleged reason for transporting toys!).
  • Connecting (and disconnecting): train tracks, blocks, and also taping or gluing.
  • Transforming: exploring the states of matter such as solid to liquid and back again.
  • Orienteering: positioning objects or oneself in different positions or angles such as upside down or sideways. (We certainly see a lot of downward dog around here! And how about the bottom picture with all the toys facing down?).

What schema is your little one following at the moment?

Teething / La Boca


A conversation we had today at baby massage has reminded me that I’ve never posted anything about teething!

Maybe I never was around babies much, or maybe the ones I did meet had laid-back parents, but from Spain I didn’t grow up with the idea that teething is something terrible and that it causes a myriad of nasty symptoms. So it was indeed a shock to see that in the UK, pretty much anything a baby does is blamed on teething!

Anything from drooling (the salivary glands starting to overproduce, in preparation for solids), to taking hands/toys to their mouth (that’s how they explore the world), to nappy rash, fever, bad sleep, crankiness.. you name it, it’s the teeth’s fault!

So it actually made me laugh when I found an old medical article (say 100 years old?) in which the leading cause of infant death was.. you guessed right! Teething 😬

As much as I’ve looked around, I haven’t found a single study that shows reliably any symptoms related to teething. Some show a couple of symptoms that happen just the day before a tooth comes through (and warns you that any fever should be evaluated, as it’s definitely not caused by teething).

To be fair, I don’t see a problem with blaming things, as long as you still allow your baby to chew on stuff, and as long as you don’t medicate unnecessarily (a pet peeve of mine if you wish).

In Chloe’s case, this is what I’ve noticed: for most teeth, nothing at all. Including having four molars out overnight with me having no idea. And for the four bottom incisors, which are really crammed and wonky, she had one-sided runny nose (see picture) and one night with slightly disturbed sleep.

Life Cycles / Ciclos de Vida

This year I wanted to introduce the concept of “growth” to Chloe. We bought a blue hyacinth about to bloom and within a few days the thing had grown like mad!

So she understood what it means, and she will tell you about how she used to be a baby and now she’s​ grown and all that.

Then I thought of taking it one step further, so we got some sunflower seeds and we planted them. For some reason, out of the 20-25 only 5 came out, and further to that one died when babá was left in charge of watering the plants while we were on a trip!

Today the moment had come to repot them into bigger pots so they can stretch their legs and hopefully grow to be as tall as me 😉

Eventually we will have flowers and will see how they become full of seeds too, completing the cycle. It may have taken a bit long for her to follow but I’ve been documenting with pictures and we will definitely do it again!

Next one on the list is her birthday gift from me: butterflies!

Este año quise introducirle el concepto de “crecer”, así que nos hicimos con un jacinto azul a punto de florecer, ¡y en unos días el bicho había crecido dos cuartas!

Con esto le quedó claro lo que significa, y a veces te cuenta que ella antes era un bebé y ahora ha crecido, y cosas así.

Para complicarle un poco más la cosa, compramos unas semillas de girasol y las plantamos. De las 20-25 solo germinaron 5, y para rematarlo ¡una se secó cuando babá se quedó encargado de regar mientras estábamos de viaje!

Hoy ha llegado la hora de transplantarlas para que estiren las piernas y con suerte acaben más altas que yo 😉

En algún momento saldrán las flores, y de ellas las semillas, completando el ciclo. Está quizás tardando demasiado para que ella siga todo el proceso, pero hemos ido haciendo fotos, ¡y lo volveremos a hacer!

Lo siguiente en la lista es mi regalo de cumple: ¡mariposas!

Thief / Ladrona

Chloe seems to have a bittersweet relationship with my sister’s dog, Uva.

On the one hand, she goes crazy for her like you can see in the picture 😬 She loves walking her, feeding her, generally observing her (it does help that Uva is the most chilled out dog you can imagine, in spite of her horrible past like thousands of Spanish dogs).

On the other hand, yesterday we had an incident worth remembering. Chloe was having a really late dinner of ‘pan paté’ (paté on a cracker), and got distracted by Eurovision so her hand moved towards Uva. As expected, the latter thought it was a very nice offer and got advantage of it!

Chloe kept crying inconsolably even after I had explained it was a genuine misunderstanding and given her a new one. And once she calmed down, she kept reliving the story: ‘Uva quitao pan paté. Koi quería. Koi tiste. Mami dao otro pan paté’ (Uva took paté bread. Koi wanted. Koi sad. Mami gave another paté bread).

Even this morning she kept looking around to make sure she wasn’t there, and told us the story a few more times.

It’s difficult to evaluate what upsets kids the most, but I have found she needs to retell (or represent, more on that in another post) the stories that touch her the most, be it positive or negatively.

Chloe tiene una relación agridulce con Uva, la perra de mi hermana.

Por un lado se vuelve loca con ella como se ve en la foto 😬 Le encanta pasearla, darle de comer, observarla.. ayuda el que Uva sea la perra más mansa del mundo, a pesar de su macabro pasado como el de tantos miles de perros en España.

Por otro lado, ayer tuvimos un incidente digno de recordar. Chloe estaba cenando (súper tarde) ‘pan paté’ y como estaba distraída viendo Eurovisión se le fue la mano hacia Uva. La perra entendió que se lo estaba ofreciendo así que ¡aprovechó la ocasión!

Chloe tardó mucho en calmarse, a pesar de que le expliqué que había sido un malentendido y le dí un pan nuevo. Una vez tranquila, empezó a revivir la historia: ‘Uva quitao pan paté. Koi quería. Koi tiste. Mami dao otro pan paté’.

Incluso está mañana, después de asegurarse de que no estaba en la cocina, nos contó la jugada varias veces más.

En general es difícil juzgar qué situaciones afectan más a los niños, pero en su caso las más intensas, ya sea negativa o positivamente, las tiene que revivir (o representar, que es tema para otra entrada).

Mental Health

Maternal Mental Health week has just ended in the UK, and I have seen a few friends and acquaintances share their stories with the tag #maternalMHmatters

It’s probably about time I shared a bit of my story.

My pregnancy was probably the longest length of happy time in my life. I have struggled with depression on and off throughout my life and had my share of bad relationships too, so having found ‘the one’ and moving on to getting married and expecting a child (and the prospect of not going back to work for a while!) definitely helped.

We moved to a new area a few weeks before she was born, so I didn’t really know anyone. Family was, as usual, a couple of hours away by plane.

Chloe’s birth was not at all what I had hoped for, then we had a rough start to our breastfeeding journey, and I few days after she was born I was told that my grandma was dying.

I don’t think I was able to do anything apart from keeping her alive for the first few months. I mean, I did go out a bit and meet people, but I couldn’t do anything in the house for example – felt overwhelmed and paralyzed for a long time. 

Thankfully my husband took over the shopping and cooking duties, and we got a cleaner (best bit of advice from our NCT course!). He was also the one to sort out Chloe’s passport so we could travel to Spain. 

My HV wasn’t much help. She even stopped contacting me, even though she knew I was at risk of PND and what was going on.
I saw the GP a few times and we spoke about medication, but I have always tried to avoid any medication when I can, so I was referred to some online/phone service. Turned out to be useless as all they wanted me to do is to set my priorities in order and make appointments with myself to do my daily tasks (I mean, who on Earth has a newborn and can commit to showering every day at the same time?). It just felt like it absolutely didn’t apply to my situation.

After a few months I was able to face the birth again, so I went for some birth debrief sessions. I was also referred for treatment for PTSD. This really helped clear some of my major issues.

Here I have to thank a (then) total stranger that volunteered to look after Chloe for a couple of hours a week so I could get a break. It was perfect for me, as then I could go for my treatment without worry (we do parent similarly).

Eventually I started feeling more like myself, but with this came the need of having some ‘me time’ which was difficult with noone around to help.

I managed to find a gym with a crèche, which is not perfect but she was a bit older now so I made the compromise. Again, this helped.

And then toddlerhood hit 🙂 and I’m again overwhelmed and having anxiety here and there. Taking on too much, and not being ok if I’m not busy.. you get the picture.

So Chloe is going to start nursery three mornings a week from June, and here’s hoping that I can strike a balance then!