Dear Poppy,

Today you are two. And oh, you are so two. The twoiest two who ever twoed. 

When your older brother was two, I would smugly tell people how much I loved age two. I didn't know what people were talking about when they referred to the Terrible Twos. Two was my favourite. 

The universe responded appropriately by sending me you.

You with your full-body tantrums, your high-pitched screaming, your floppy rag doll maneuver, your belly laugh, your feelings (which may well be the biggest feelings I've ever witnessed) and your deep, unwavering love. You are intense, baby girl. And I love it.

We were out walking last week and we ran into a neighbour we haven't seen in a while. He commented on how big you've grown and then he said, "she has one volume setting, hey?" This is not our next door neighbour, Pops. He lives a few houses down. But it's true. You have one volume setting: loud. You say things and you feel things on the highest level.

You love your big brother more than anything. When he's upset, you drop whatever you're doing to hug him and say, "hey bud, hey bud, you okay?" When he goes to school, you spend the day asking me when we can go pick him up, "jacket? Shoes? Let's GO GET GRADY!" Your biggest delight in life is when Grady lets you play with his Lego, even though your main goal is breaking all the things.

You love to eat food and try new things. It's impossible for anyone to eat unless you're also eating because you glom onto whoever has food and do a little eyebrow wiggle and say, "try it? try it? try it?" until they give you some. Your favourite foods are cheesy pasta, pizza, yogurt (goat!), apple sauce (appie shosh!), blueberries, and blackberries. Last weekend you were having a tough day and you kept asking for blackberries so we just kept handing them to you until you'd managed to inhale $6 worth of blackberries in one day. The diapers that followed were...not my favourite. You're still allergic to peanuts and eggs but your allergist is hopeful that you'll grow out of the egg allergy and he gives you about a 20% chance of growing out of the peanut allergy. You've managed to go a full year (*knocks on wood furiously*) without a serious allergic reaction. 

You are an amazing singer and dancer. You sing all day long and as soon as you hear music, your hips start to wiggle and soon the music is moving through your entire body. Your favourite songs to sing are The Wheels on the Bus and The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Your favourite music to dance to is Death from Above and anything by the Swedish metal band Avatar. I couldn't make that up, Poppy. I really couldn't. When your uncle played Hail to the Apocalypse for us, you danced so intensely and enthusiastically that he recorded you and showed the band. You're part of the Swedish metal scene, baby. Your father and I are so proud. 

After you were born, you and I had about an hour together before the nurse told your dad, in that calm but firm nurse voice that everyone knows to obey without question, to please pick you up off my chest. The next thing I remember, our quiet birthing room went from four people to what felt like 20 people. One person was putting another IV in my hand, someone else was holding a clipboard with consent forms in front of my other hand, there was a lot of shouting and a lot of blood. They wheeled me out of the room, away from you, and as I stared up at the flourescent lights, I felt terror like I've never felt before. Every cell in my body felt like ice. I was passing in and out of consciousness but every instinct in my body was telling me to get up off the stretcher and get back to you. It was the closest I've ever felt to being an animal. 

I woke up after surgery in the recovery room, howling for my baby. The nurses were so kind. One stood by my bed and held my hand until I was cleared to go back to my room. They wheeled me to the maternity ward and into our room and I was terrified at what I would find. Would you be hysterical, crying inconsolably because you'd been separated from your mom so soon after you were born? Would you be hysterical once I held you because you didn't know me? (Listen, typing this now I realize it doesn't sound reasonable but you have to remember, I had not slept in days and I was still woozy from the anesthetic.) They wheeled me into our room and you were curled up, sleeping peacefully on your dad's chest. You slept on his chest for three hours while I was in surgery, without a peep. As soon as I saw you I started to shake and cry. Your dad put you in my arms and a wave of relief washed over me. You were in my heart for so long, before I was even pregnant, and now you were in my arms and I knew everything would be okay.

That feeling has persisted. Through sleepless nights and temper tantrums and hospital visits. You are in my heart, and in my arms, and we're going to be okay. 

Happy second birthday, Penelope Bloom, Poppy Doodle Bug, Pops, The Biscuit, our little Honey Badger. We lub you a lot.  


Birthday Cake Smash without the Cake

Penelope's first birthday is next week (I know).

When Grady turned one, we did a DIY cake smash photo shoot with him. He hated it. The photos are priceless and I want the same for Pops.

Penelope cannot eat cake. She can't eat much of anything right now. The foods she's been introduced to that she doesn't react to, and that she'll actually eat, include: raw cucumber, cooked apple, blueberries, pureed spinach. We can't have a cucumber smash photo shoot. 

I realize in the grand scheme of things, this is not a tragedy. Penelope can't have a birthday cake smash photo shoot for her first birthday. It's not the end of the world. But I feel sad for her (mainly because of her food restrictions, not because she won't have adorable first birthday cake smash photos like her brother). 

So! Did you do a first birthday photo shoot that featured something other than food? The only thing I can think of is a bunch of balloons but I'd love to consider other ideas. 


She Just Kept Jumping

Let me set the scene for you. The scene of my nightmare.

Poppy was happily jumping in her Jolly Jumper. We've got one that is basically just a harness that hangs from a large spring. We hang it in the doorway of our closet because then she's jumping on carpet and can get more traction (and therefore more bounce) than when she's jumping in the hallway on the hardwood floor.

So! Poppy is happily bouncing and chattering away. I am folding laundry and listening to podcasts and glancing over periodically to make sure she's still happy.

At one point, I looked over to check on her and my brain took a comically long time to take in what was happening. My first thought was "why is Poppy jumping in mud?" My second thought was "where did the mud come from?" And then the realization hit that Poppy was not jumping in mud. She was jumping in poop. On my cream-coloured bedroom carpet.

My brain finally processed the scene and I managed a strangled "holy shit" as I leapt toward her (tangent: nicely done with the apt curse, brain). Poppy looked up at me in surprise and kept happily jumping. When Poppy is in her Jolly Jumper, she has one job to do. She takes her jumping very seriously. So I'm panicking, pleading with her to hold still while I evaluate the scene, and she's in her happy place, jumping in her poop puddle with a giant, shit-eating (too much?) grin on her face.

If you are not familiar with baby poop, let me try to explain this without getting too graphic. We're not talking about solid poop. Poppy has started eating some solid food but her diet is still mainly breastmilk. Her poop is the consistency of peanut butter. Sometimes the velocity of her poop is such that it shoots out the leg holes of her diapers. In a perfect world, she's wearing clothes to help stem the flow and contain the splatter. We do not live in a perfect world. Poppy's bum was covered only by her diaper and her Jolly Jumper harness.

Have you ever put a honey badger baby in or taken one out of a Jolly Jumper harness? It's difficult. It requires complicated maneuvering even when the honey badger baby is not covered in poop and you are not throwing up in your mouth a little bit. I ended up disconnecting the Jolly Jumper harness from the spring and carried the entire thing, with Poppy still trying to jump, directly to the tub.

So I'm hosing Poppy off in the tub when I hear Wolfgang, our sweet but dumb dog, creep into the bedroom. I can't leave Poppy in a tub full of water. I can't take her with me because she's still covered in poop but now she's also dripping wet. No one else is home with me. I tried calling Wolfgang. I tried yelling at Wolfgang. I tried praying. But nothing worked.

I finished giving Poppy her bath. I cleaned the Jolly Jumper harness. I steam-cleaned the carpet. I scrubbed the tub, sink, and every surface I touched during the poopocalypse with disinfectant. I brushed Wolfgang's teeth. I put on a load of poop laundry.

And then I found a pile of dog vomit. Wolfgang had thrown up the baby poop he ate.

And then I burned it all down.

By the time Shawn got home from work (with takeout sushi in hand because I had warned him that something had gone down that had required hours of deep cleaning in place of dinner prep) I was a husk of a woman. "She just kept jumping," was all I could manage to mutter as I washed my hands for the four hundredth time that day.

I can laugh about it now but when teenage Poppy refuses to take out the garbage or unload the dishwasher, you better believe I'll be bringing up the day I cleaned her poop (both fresh and regurgitated) off every surface in our house.

Conquering Teething Pain and Getting More Sleep with Boiron

Poppy is not what you would call a "good sleeper." That term is so inapplicable to her that I can't even type the whole sentence with a straight face. Poppy is hilarious and loving and engaging and a thousand other fabulous things, but a good sleeper she is not.

I know that babies aren't designed to sleep for long stretches of time. They have tiny tummies that need filling and emotions that need soothing. I don't expect to put Poppy down at 7pm, say "peace out!" and not see her again until 7am. I did, however, expect that by 10 months old our sleep situation wouldn't be quite so tenuous.

Last week as I ran Grady to his classroom (because we missed his teacher) (because we missed the bell), clutching a howling, pyjama-clad Poppy to my chest, sprinting up the stairs to try to make it to his classroom before the second bell so he wouldn't have to go to the office for a late slip, I passed one of the other kindergarten moms. This mom always seems so calm when I see her at pickup and drop off; I have never seen her sprint; I have never seen her pyjamas. (Three things no one at Grady's school can say about me.) She gave me a kind smile and as I ran past she called, "it gets better!"

Her kindness and her message stuck with me. Does it get better? Or can I make it better? Or, maybe more accurately when dealing with a honey badger baby, how can I try to make it better? How can we get more sleep so our days don't feel like unmanageable chaos as we run from one thing to another, always arriving late and dishevelled?

The answer for us, in our current sleep-deprived state, is Boiron. Poppy's already fragile sleep situation was becoming more and more fragmented with her teething pain. Boiron Camilia is a  homeopathic medicine that relieves the symptoms of teething.

Developed specifically for babies and toddlers ages 1 to 30 months, Camilia is made with sterile water and contains no sugar, no colouring and no preservatives. Camilia relieves pain, restlessness, irritability and diarrhea due to teething.

Poppy's teething pain is always worse at bedtime when she doesn't have her big brother or her toys to distract her. Her peevishness and inability to settle, combined with our anxiety about how little sleep we're getting, made evenings in our house miserable. Camilia helps Poppy settle down to sleep because we're relieving her discomfort before it becomes rage-inducing pain. As soon as I see Poppy's signals (rosy cheeks, drool trail down her chin, chewing her fist) I give her a dose of Camilia and it quickly soothes her.

I trust Boiron to provide safe, homeopathic remedies for my family (we've used their Children's Coryzalia on Grady's colds for years). Boiron was founded in France in 1932 and has been established in Canada for 25 years. Their website provides a wealth of information on different homeopathic remedies and an extensive FAQ section. They also provide a transparent glimpse at their manufacturing process for curious minds. The Boiron Group is a global leader in homeopathy because of their steadfast commitment to research and development and they're a hero in our household because now we're all getting more sleep.

This post is part of the and Boiron Canada #BoironBaby sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.