A new campground

I haven’t been writing much (well, at all) lately. My blog is abandoned, my NaNoWriMo novel from 2017 remains just over 50,000 words worth of unedited scenes, my journals are empty.

I hope the pendulum will swing back to writing at some stage, but honestly, the past few months have just been busy. We’ve been busy job-applying, organising, packing, moving, and now learning a new job. We’re still The Campground Family, but quite a different sort of a campground. It’s in a bigger town, a town we adore and have always wanted to return to. It’s right on an amazing walkway, and right on the beach. In the summer, it’s going to be wildly busy. We feel so lucky to be here.

And in the two-and-a-half weeks since we moved, I’ve found a new(ish) creative outlet.

You see, the view from our (salt-covered) lounge windows is this:

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And it takes us just a couple of minutes to get to this:

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And it’s on the west coast, so the sunsets are amazing:

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And they’re different every night:

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And The Campground Kid just loves running on the beach:

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And we love watching her and taking photos and enjoying being in this amazing place.

(And also organising a new house and learning a new job is intense, and taking photos is pretty easy to fit within the little snippets of free time that we find).

I miss writing. I miss having more time for me. I miss quite a few things, really. But I have a feeling that this wonderful place will play a part in pulling together the many various threads of my life so far into something like no other.

And even though it’s tiring and difficult at times, that feeling makes it all seem worthwhile.

(PS: if you like the pictures, feel free to follow along at http://www.instagram.com/pictureanywhere)

Looking in the mirror

(Today a wonderful Facebook group that I’m a part of hosted a five-minute writing challenge. The theme: the last time you looked in a mirror. I liked what I wrote, so I’m sharing it here, along with a couple of related stories.)

“PULL MY SLEEVES UP MAMA”
“Okay my dear, here you go”
As I pull pink flowery sleeves up to sweet chubby elbows, I catch a glimpse of a face that looks just like my mother’s. I see my messy bun. And I see my eyes rolling.

I realise that she, too, sees my eyes rolling.
She, too, sees through my false patience.
She, too, knows that her Mama feels overwhelmed by her big feelings and loud demands.

So I stop my eyes, mid-roll. I grab a big fluffy towel. “The towelosaurus is coming to get you! Rrrooooarrrr.”

Her giggles echo through the bathroom as I catch her into a big towelosaurus hug.

I’m not perfect, but we’re going to be okay.


Speaking of being imperfect, I’ve been finding the adjustment to our first winter for aaaaages quite difficult. I’m staying inside too much. Spending too much time online. And The Campground Kid is following my lead too much for my liking. She’s like a little mirror, and all too often she shines a light on all the habits that I’d rather keep in the dark.

So when my little homebody asked me to take her on a walk to the digger (we were having some work done on the park), of course I said yes.

She brought her teddy too.

We walked around the park. She climbed the digger. We ran down hills. I took photos.

It was simple and wonderful and exactly why we came home.

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Sometimes her little toddler mirror shines on the things I don’t want to admit. Other times it lights up the things I didn’t know she had noticed.

A few months ago, in an effort to encourage The Campground Kid to talk about her day, we started a little dinnertime routine. We take turns talking about times that we were happy/sad/scared/frustrated/excited. It’s new, so mostly Campground Papa and I take turns and The Campground Kid just gives her stock “What did you do today?” answer of “Played inside and outside!”

But the other day, in the middle of dinner, she turned to Campground Papa, and with a quizzical little face she asked “What made you happy today, Papa?”

And after he answered, she turned to me and said “Nice curry. Thanks, Mama!”

We may not be perfect, but we’re going to be okay.

Negotiations

The Campground Kid has recently started negotiating in a different way. It’s kinda hard to describe how it’s different, or why it even feels like a thing, but it’s totally lovely and hilarious.

The lovely-and-hilariousness may not come across in words, so you have to picture this little face saying all the following very earnestly and  sweetly, with a little tilt of the head.

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“It’s Saturday because I NEED to watch a video”

“No, because I’m only little so I need to do jumps, not tidy up.”

“How ’bout we read the dictionary just one time before I get my nappy changed?”…. “No,  okay, how about just TWO more times?”

“Okay, you go get your water. I will meet you on the couch for a story”

“I change nappy and then I go to the trampoline. Okay, it’s a DEAL.” *shake hands*

“Okay. How ’bout I have just one biscuit and then I watch Puffins?”

“Can I have just ONE story before we go to the office?”… “Can you read it one more time, Mama?”

“But I’m little because I don’t want to go to sleep”

“Can you please just cuddle for one more minute?”

“Okay Mama, how about you stay here and sleep and Papa comes to the lounge and reads me a story”

(way more of that last one, please, kid!)

She hasn’t quite landed on the meaning of “because” yet. But you can see all the pieces coming together and it’s amazing.  I mean, I know it’s just normal kid stuff and I only find it amazing because she’s my kid. But this is also my blog, so I can talk about what I want. And development of language and reasoning is one of my most favourite parts of watching this kid grow, so here we are.

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Sometimes, though, her “negotiations” are not so lovely and hilarious and it sounds a bit more like this (you don’t need to picture the sweet voice and head tilt anymore!):

“NO, I DON’T WANT QUIET TIME, I WANT LOOOOUD TIME.”

“BUT I LIKE IT MESSY”

“I DON’T WANT TO BRUSH MY TEETH EVERY DAY”

“ARGHHHHHHHHGAGHHHHHHHH”

I suppose, maybe, just maybe, we’re straying out of negotiation with these ones…?

Surprisingly enough, when we get into this zone, me reflecting her words back and saying “Okay, how about we brush your teeth just one time and then we go to bed?” doesn’t yield the greatest results.  Maybe it’s because I don’t have that cute face and head tilt down..?

Seriously, though, usually these reactions are because she’s usually over-tired or over-hungry or over-stimulated, and any form of negotiation is pretty much pointless.  So we mostly listen, support, soldier on, and ride it out as best we can.

(Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we stern-voice and eye-roll and grit-teeth and get frustrated. We do okay, but I don’t at all want to suggest we deal with all toddlerness with grace and goodwill.)

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The more this kid grows, the more excited I am for each next step. Not because I’ve heard three is easy (I’ve heard the opposite, in fact), and not because I want to get past this stage (it’s frustrating, for sure, but a big part of me is tempted to stay here forever – she’s hilarious and awesome and amazing), but because I just love seeing how that little mind works and seeing the milestones-that-I-never-realised-would-feel-like-milestones. I never ever thought I’d be so amazed by my kid weaselling out of tasks, but now that we’re here, my brain is all like “oh, LOOK at her figuring out logic and reason and how to make things happen”, and as completely ordinary as it is, I’m impressed.

 

The No Nap Kid

As I mentioned in my previous post, The Campground Kid has recently given up naps. To be fair, it wasn’t entirely her decision, but when her 1 hour of sleep in the middle of the day started leading to her fighting sleep until 9:30pm, and still getting up at the same time in the morning, we decided it was time to call it a day on sleeping in the day.

I was really worried about losing naps. After some pretty big nap struggles in her first year and a half, we were onto a pretty good daily nap routine. She liked naps. We liked to get a break. It was a win win. 

Until it wasn’t.

On a post about sleep, I couldn’t resist a picture of this sleeping cutie. Because 😍😍😍. (Also, this was before 6:30pm!!) (Also also, when does it become creepy to take pictures of your kid sleeping?)

When the time came to cut naps, we were all ready, it was easy, and it has been great. Now, instead of tossing and turning for an hour and a half, it’s into bed, one story, and she’s gone. At 6pm. Ish. 

It’s not all perfect, though. There are some not-so-great things about being a nap free time:

  • Not being able to drive anywhere in the afternoon without copious snacks and distraction techniques
  • Eating dinner at 5pm
  • 5:30pm meltdowns
  • There isn’t such a logical time for ME to have a nap on the weekend
  • Missing out on evening playground time
  • Having The Campground Kid at our weekly team meetings

But there are some great things too:

  • Evening yoga and/or walks
  • Easy bedtimes
  • Getting our kitchen tidy before the office closes at 8pm (usually)
  • Sometimes getting to have grown up dinner
  • Easy bedtimes
  • More time for writing and reading
  • More flexibility for playground time in the day
  • EASY BEDTIMES

And these great things definitely make up for the challenges.

    I’ve almost certainly jinxed myself by talking about bedtime. But seriously, it’s life-changing. 

    As with a lot of parenting things, I questioned and I wondered about dropping naps. I didn’t know if I’d know the right time. I didn’t know how it would go. But when the time came, it was obvious. There was no question that we were all ready. It happened quickly and easily. In fact, this is how many parenting challenges have played out.

    Which means it’s going to be exactly the same with toilet training(/learning), right? 

    Right…?

     

    Our Big Campground Kid

    Today The Campground Kid told me she was “a big little puffling” (that’s a baby Puffin, by the way; she may or may not be totally obsessed with Puffin Rock on Netflix. But of all the kids’ shows to be obsessed with, it’s probably the best (in my opinion), so we just roll with it and answer to Mama and Papa Puffin and pretend to put fish in our bills and swim and fly.) A big little puffling, if you weren’t aware, is “not much big, but not much little either. And one day I’ll grow much much MUCH taller, but now I’m just a little bit big and a little bit little.” She’s not the clearest at making her point (yet), but she’s totally right.

    Two and a half (plus a little bit) is such an in between age. She’s just dropping her naps. She’s using full and complex sentences. She’s growing taller and her feet are huge. She’s almost entirely lost her baby chub and is getting longer and leaner. She’s vaguely contemplating toilet training. She’s starting to learn the ins and outs of social interactions. She talks to strangers (sometimes). She’s clever, and getting cleverer every day.

    But at the same time, she’s such a baby still. She loses her mind when she’s hungry or overtired and is impossible to understand. She definitely definitely hasn’t got emotional regulation figured out (then again, there are quite a number of adults who haven’t either!) She is still so needy. She throws tantrums. She needs so much help to exist in the world. These may sound negative all in a list like this, but I don’t intend them to be so. They are totally and absolutely normal for a two year old, and I recognise and appreciate that. I only mention these things because I find it such an interesting age. It’s not always an easy age, but it’s definitely one of my favourite ages so far. 

    And for a description of one of my favourite ages, and of my very favourite kid, I thought I’d share a few of her favourite things:

    • Puffin Rock. As mentioned earlier, Puffin Rock has 100% taken over from Peppa Pig as #1 favourite show. I’m not at all sad about this. I quite enjoy Peppa Pig, but Puffin Rock is just lovely. 
    • Helping in the office and the laundry. She’s not always helpful (today she tipped a box of labels out all over the office and poured pepper out all over the floor in the laundry), but she’s pretty good at getting paper from the printer and stamping and pressing the green button on the EFTPOS machine and passing keys and milk to people and other such important jobs.
    • Books. If there’s one thing she could never give up, it’s books. She goes for the “read one book over and over again” system, which can get tiresome, but I love how much she enjoys stories.
    • Her baby doll, usually called Baby, sometimes called Baba Boo. She goes through phases in her play, but at the moment she’s very much in a baby phase. My personal favourite is her tendency to ask “Baby want to see your room, Mama. Would that be okay?” Her favourite is probably taking Baby for a swim.
    • Macaroni Cheese. She eats quite well, in general, but she will scoff down cheesy pasta like there’s no tomorrow!
    • Birthdays. She brings me birthday gifts (usually stones or daisies) most days, she reads a Birthday Cake baking book over and over, she talks about her birthday party “in July”, and she loves to pick birthday presents. 
    • Jumping. She jumps when she’s excited. She jumps on the trampoline. She jumps off the couch arm onto bean bags. She jumps onto us and off us again. She jumps down stairs and around the garden and everywhere.

    This list is not exhaustive, and changes all the time. But, for now, it’s a pretty good little summary of what she’s like. She’s amazing, as all kids are amazing. But she’s our kid, so to us, she’s the most amazing! Thanks for indulging my parental pride!