I guessed you were a mother

“I guessed you were a mother”.  The statement took me by surprise.  I didn’t realise that people guessed others parental status or not.  I had been teaching and facilitating a course all week long and he was a student.  I wasn’t sure how to respond.  Firstly, what was I doing that made me appear mother-ish?  Was it some words I used, the way I taught (which apparently was very good), my demeanour, my pouchy tummy, my mumsy clothes? I didn’t ask.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the truth!

It got me thinking about how I have changed as an employee since becoming a mother.  Has it affected the way I work and how I work with people?  Over the years I have taken the Belbin team roles test to see how I best work within a team.  It’s a 360 degree feedback test, so I invited several people to respond to questions about me.  In the final report you receive analysis of your preferred way of working compared to how others perceive you.  It also provides a list of words that others describe me as.  I had taken the test PRE becoming a mother and POST becoming a mother.  Within a 1.5 year time period people had described me differently.  The word “Caring” become top of the list since becoming a mother, whereas before it was waaaaay down bottom of the list.  That surprised me.  The word “Impatient” had also appeared on my list whereas nobody had described me as that before becoming a mother. People perceived me as analytical both before and after – thank goodness that hadn’t changed seeing as being an analyst is actually my job!

So what does this all mean?  That I have probably changed in the way I work – whether it was associated with becoming a mother or not, I don’t know, but I reckon it’s likely true.


“This one mummy” says Aviana pulling at my purple top hanging in my closet.  I had asked her to pick out some clothes for me to wear.  Almost all the time I do this she will pick out a purple piece of clothing.  Why?  Because purple is Aviana’s favourite colour.  I don’t know why, but it just is.  If ever we need her to do something, if it is purple, that might just persuade her. For example:

Aviana – please eat your dinner…”NO!!!”…OK, how about you eat it from a purple Bowl? – “OK”.  

Aviana – please get dressed…”NO!!!”…OK, how about you put on this purple top and purple trousers? – “OK”.

According to Wikipedia, “The age when infants begin showing a preference for colour is about 12 weeks old.  Generally, children prefer the colours red/pink and bluee, and cool colors are preferred over warm colours.  Purple is a colour favoured more by girls than boys.  Colour perception of children 3-5 yrs of age is n indicator of their developmental stage.  Colour preferences tend to change as people age.”

From infancy, we develop learned paired associations with colour meanings and emotions.  These associations can elicit an automatic emotional response, thoughts and action without conscious awareness. One study explored colour preferences of young children and discovered that purple and pink showed significant gender difference, with girls rating purple and pink as a happy colour and boys rating it as an unhappy colour.  Red revealed a marginally significant gender difference, with girls rating red as unhappy and boys rating it happy.  Other colours -orange, yellow, black, white, blue and green revealed no significant gender differences. [1]

But what does a toddler’s favourite colour really mean? Here is an excellent post that explains it all.

You are welcome 🙂

[1] https://www.hindawi.com/journals/cdr/2012/975670/


Potty Training: Ready Set Go

Back in July last year I wrote about ‘The poop monster‘ where Aviana wanted to sit on the potty.  We decided several months later to try potty training at 22mths.  Aviana had shown a lot of interest so we bought a book called “Ready Set Go: A gentle parenting guide to calmer, quicker potty training” by Sarah Ockwell-Smith author of ‘gentle parenting’, we geeked up and decided to give it a go.  Half way though day 2 we realised Aviana wasn’t being herself and she actually fell sick so we decided to stop the potty training.  Since then there hasn’t really been a good time to start the potty training – work travels, vacations and a new school have delayed us starting.  But we finally planned it for the Presidents day weekend!

Ready, Set, Go focuses on the importance of readiness and the parents role to gently guide and the lead the way at a ‘mindful pace’, it’s the children who are in the driver’s seat.  The book is based on four principles:

Teamwork: Gentle potty training is based on the connection between parent and child

Compassion: gentle potty training is considerate of the child’s needs and feelings.  There is no punishment or chastising.

Being informed: gentle potty training is based on scientific knowledge and is as evidence-based as possible

No rewards: gentle potty training is achieved without chocolate candies, stickers or heaped-on praise.

Sounds ideal?  She doesn’t promise that your child will be dry in a week, but that it will be stress free.  And our experience has been just that thus far.

Pre P-Day (AKA Potty-Day)

The book explains the importance of talking to your child about what it is going to happen – no surprises – before you actually begin the potty training.  We taught Aviana the correct words for her body parts and encouraged her to come into the toilet with us to pee and poop.  We explained what it all meant and why we were doing it.  We did this over a period of months.  The day before P-Day I took Aviana to pick out her own underwear (even though the first time we did potty training we had bought a whole bunch, we still let her pick her own).  She picked out Moana underwear – of course the most expensive ones! We bought two different types of potties.  One that was a mini version of a toilet (Summer Infant Potty My Size) and one which converted into a step stool (Munchkin Arm and Hammer multi stage potty).  We also bought a toilet seat converter (Baby bjorn potty seat).  We had options!  The other thing we did include potty training proofing our furniture.  We used puppy training pads and waterproof picnic blankets on the sofas.  We removed some of the rugs to make it easier because we have hardwood floors so there was no worries about her peeing on the floor.  The night before we told Aviana we were going to throw away her pull ups and she was going to wear her new underwear.


We chose a long weekend to start so on the saturday morning we got Aviana up and made her throw her pull ups away (but not her night time nappies/diapers because she we aren’t ready yet to throw those away!).  She was excited to start potty training.  On day 1 the book says the child should not wear any underwear and must go bare bottom for at least a day to allow the focus on feeling what happens when they do go and not go in the potty.   The book highlights the importance of the parents confidence.  This time around I felt very confident Aviana was ready and could do this.  We asked Aviana to tell us where she wanted the potty in her play room.  She put it in a certain place and was happy about that.

The hard but good thing about this potty training method is no rewards.  It states that if your child is ready, there is no need for a reward, ever.  In addition it calls for not heaping on the superficial praise, rather provide effort based, specific and descriptive praise.  Eg. “I guess you didn’t need to poo after all, but sitting there waiting for a poo to come was a great idea” or “I saw that you took yourself to the potty when you need to pee; that made me really proud that you listened to your body” or “wow that’s a big poo.  I can see some of the corn you had for dinner yesterday in it: can you?”  admittedly it’s hard to not use excessive praise because really I was genuinely excited when Aviana did get her pee and poop in the potty!  So yes, we did give her some well dones…but used these types of praise and statements as well.  It effectively ‘normalised’ her actions.

Of course the book also describes what to do when the child does have an accident….stay absolutely calm!!!! OK easier said than done.  But being prepared for accidents made it easier to stay clam as well as understanding how normal it is to have accidents frequently.  Especially in the first few days being part of the process.  “Next time you will know to go a bit earlier and we will get it in the potty!” Inviting the child to clean up their accident without talking about it being a mess or dirty to prevent shame.  I actually found this to be relatively helpful and keep me calm.

The book is a little confusing on to how much you remind/prompt your child to go to the potty.  It makes it sound really easy like your child will always sit on the potty whenever you suggest it’s time.  Aviana really DID NOT want to sit on the potty whenever we suggested it, and we can’t force her to sit on it or even bribe her.  So for example, the book suggests prompting/reminding every hour or 20 minutes after a large drink.  It was really hard to get the balance right.  But we had to trust the process and not bug her by telling her every 5 minutes she should go.  It was also our duty to spot when she wanted to go but perhaps wasn’t thinking about going so we could help her get to the potty.  She definitely has a little potty dance.

We decided to not put a diaper/pull up on for naps because she has been waking up from her naps dry for quite some time now.  She was a trooper and did not wet the bed!  Winner!

Day 1 the book expects most on the floor, not in the potty.  Well day 1 was awesome…Aviana had just 3 accidents, 7 pees and a poop in the potty.  Most of those she even took herself and didn’t need reminding.  It looks like she had remembered from her previous first start of potty training.  She knew just what to do.

We went to bed feeling pretty chuffed – may be it would be easier than we ever thought!

P-Day + 1

This was a little more of a stressful day.  Perhaps being stuck in doors for 2 days in a row didn’t help and we had used up most of the exciting new activities the previous day!  Never the less…we had several accidents.  One on the sofa that seemed to be purposeful, and of course she did it right in between the waterproof covers we had placed on the sofa!  We thought as it was going well in the morning to put her in underwear…that was when it felt like we were going backwards and maybe had introduced underwear too soon.   I was also starting to feel like I had a cold coming with a very runny nose. I was feeling disheartened, I worried we had blown it, until the last pee of the night she took herself and was perfect.

The book states a 60/40 floor/potty ratio for the second day…we were falling a little short on that ratio, but at least the poop was in the potty!

p-Day + 2

Chris went back to work, but I had the day off with Aviana for presidents day.  The third day is supposed to be another day inside close to the potty!  I really was beginning to go a bit stir crazy from being stuck indoors and I think Aviana was feeling the same.  I also started to get a fever with chills in the afternoon, it looked like my cold was turning into a sinus infection.  gross.  I turned to the help of my facebook mom group for ideas on keeping a toddler busy indoors and was reinvigorated to keep going with some fun things to do – we even baked some biscuits.

The book states to expect on day 3 a 50/50 floor-potty ratio.  In general, the day was much better than the previous with just 1 accident and 4 wees in the potty.  But no poop to be seen.  She was clearly a little constipated as she attempted to poo several times.  Aviana was doing awesome.  I however was feeling ROUGH and needed my bed!

p-Day + 3

I woke up feeling very sick after a rough night’s sleep.  I called in sick at work.  We sent Aviana into school with several changes of clothes and shoes.  Just as well because she came home with three sets of dirty clothes after her accidents, including a poop in the pants.  Whoops!  However, the teachers did say she had been taking herself to the potty on occasion.

p-Day + 4

Aviana woke up with a temperature and clearly had caught whatever I had.  So there we were both of us at home, ill.  Chris took the day off work to look after us both.  We thought potty training would go out of the window but overall she did really well.  We had a shower together and she pooped right at the end in the shower.  It was gross and we were rather surprised it seem to come from no where!  Luckily it didn’t get washed down the drain and was easy to clean up.

After several days of a temperature we took Aviana to urgent care and it turned out she had the flu….so I must have had the flu too.  But our symptoms weren’t so bad so I didn’t believe we had the flu, however, we both had the vaccine so we were probably fighting it.  Chris managed to avoid it completely!  So we survived the flu and potty training.

By Day 7 Aviana had managed her first day completely dry with no accidents!  The book suggests day 7-14 will be a 10/90 ratio of floor/potty, and will continue for a month or two with the odd accident common for the first year.

As soon as Aviana went back to school we worried she would regress, but she had just one poop accident on her day back….it is likely this will happen for a little while longer whilst she figures out the pooping thing and how comfortable she is pooping at school.

We have even left the house and taken our foldable potty seat (it’s a pink owl shape!) with us and she has peed in public toilets. Whoo hoo!!!

Night time potty training will come something up to a year later when Aviana is physically able to hold her pee through the night (around 3-4yrs old).  We won’t be in a rush to night time train and we decided we won’t be doing the method of waking her up in the middle of the night thing.  We will follow her lead on that.

Was it gentle potty training? Yes, absolutely.  Was it easy? Well it wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve done, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

We have to remember that our job isn’t over yet and she is still learning to understand her body, so it’s not over quite yet 🙂




2 years old

Last month Aviana turned two.  Wow.

At two years old she surprises me every day.  She is going through a language explosion right now.  She says new words completely out of the blue so we have to be careful now about swearing!  One day she just randomly started counting to 20. She knows her abcs and can read some of the letters.  Again, randomly she started pointing out letters.  Suddenly I felt underprepared for her learning to read.  She speaks in 4 or 5 word sentences and has memorized many nursery rhymes – her favourite being twinkle twinkle little star and incey wincey spider.  She also knows all her colours – she impressed the doctor at around 21 mths with all her colour knowledge!

One of Aviana’s favourite hobbies is reading.  Some nights we can end up reading her 5 or 6 books before bed or even more if she is allowed to.   She is not picky over her books and will read them over and over so that she can memorise the story and join in the reading. One day she started recanting the Christmas story! Some of her favourite books are all her Julia Donaldson books, including the Gruffalo, and some recent favourites are ‘The Pout Pout Fish’ and Sparkle the Unicorn.





Aviana’s favourite toy is her kitchen (she calls it her kitchen disco – another good book BTW!) followed probably by duplo, play doh and stickers.  She is insanely good with stickers and is quite a perfectionist with them, they have to be just right.

Aviana likes to help us out in the kitchen – she has some steps so she can reach the surface, although she is still a little too short.  She rather enjoys making a cake and helping daddy with daddy pancakes.  She will also help load the dishwasher!



Aviana LOVES going to the Little gym, swinging around, roly polys, dancing around on the mats, just learning new gymnastic skills in general.


She also loves going to the zoo, playing in the park (particular the swings, she could swing easily for half an hour without stopping if she was allowed to).

Her favourite TV shows are pocoyo (narrated by Steven Fry and he is brilliant!) and baby bum….she can also be distracted with pretty much anything on the TV if she were allowed to be, which we discovered on our family trip back to the UK recently! (THANK YOU NETFLIX!!!!)

Things Aviana doesn’t like to do….in typical two year old fashion – get dressed, get undressed, have her hair dried with the hair dryer, going out in the cold, eat too many types of vegetables (she currently eats frozen peas, corn on the cob/sweetcorn/cucumber and raw carrots-kind of).  She is also quite shy and reserved until she knows a place and person.

Aviana sleeps from around 7.30 PM to around 6-7AM with the odd occasion beyond 7 (of course that’s the day we have to go to work), she naps for around 2 hours but can survive without a nap – bedtime is just ugly.  I would say overall she is a good sleeper and we are very lucky that she is easy going to get to sleep (thus far!)

She still has her last 4 molars to come through although I suspect she has been teething these for well over a month now, perhaps even longer than that.  She is not so great at brushing her teeth…it is the one thing that she has complete and utter control over.  Having said that, the dentist said her teeth are very good (particularly as she is thumb sucker).  I wish there was some easy way to get her teeth clean!!!!

Hmmmm what else can I say about this girl?  Her sense of humour is wicked, something definitely taught/inherited by Chris.  Sometimes it’s hard to not laugh when she does something she probably shouldn’t be doing because she does it in such a hilarious way!  This age is so much fun (minus the tantrums).


Photo credits to Max Turner

Changes in 2019

I don’t really make new years resolutions. I’m not a fan of them because I would almost certainly break them and get depressed at not keeping them.  Most of the time new years resolutions are all about things I think I should be doing ALL the time (like eating healthy, sleeping well, learn new things, do exercise, take care of myself…blah blah blah)  However, I do like to reflect on the past year and project to the next.  There are three things that I am both excited and nervous for in 2019.

1. The travel trailer adventures.

    EXCITING! Late last year we bought a 32’ travel trailer and a 4×4 truck to pull it. The idea is that we can go visit state and national parks and enjoy seeing America without taking the need to take a tent.  I am excited for all the cool places we are going to see.  We are hoping once we have de-winterized it that we will get out and visit somewhere new one weekend a month with a few longer trips anticipated for 2019.
    NERVOUS! We are going to have to learn how to drive the truck and travel trailer. YIKES. In the US you don’t need a license to pull a trailer, let alone a 32’ one. The only reason we would need a license is if we were using it for commercial purposes.  There aren’t really driving schools that will teach you how to drive it.  That terrifies me.  We haven’t moved it anywhere from the campsite yet.  People say the best idea is to just get out there and do it!
  • 2. Organisational changes at Work.
    • EXCITING! Traveling for work has its ups and downs because it often involves transatlantic travel over the weekends. The good news is however I do get to visit new and exciting places.  I need to embrace this as an exciting point!  My team is also doubling in size and I have applied for a new position (a promotion) within it so who knows what will happen there, but I want to think positively about it.
      NERVOUS. Organisational change brings on a lot of unknowns, but as well as organizationally changing my job description has changed a little bit which will bring new challenges.  I hope I quickly learn the new skills I need for this new job description.  I have a few courses already under my belt and I have a few more this year to take.  I also suspect there will be confusion and stress through this change not just for me, but others so we need to tough it out together – I am nervous that colleagues won’t and work will become less fun.  I really hope not.
  • 3. Toddler Development.
    • EXCITING! I am looking forward to Aviana becoming more independent and enjoying more quality time together, learning about her personality, hearing her talk endlessly (she talks A LOT to us!!) and potty training (bye bye nappies/diapers!).
      NERVOUS. Potty training. Haha yes, I am also nervous about that.  We did actually try potty training several months ago but Aviana fell ill on the second day, she just wasn’t rising to the challenge as we think she can.  She has proven that she knows exactly what to do on the potty by peeing and pooping on it on her own terms.  She also spent a few days at daycare successfully using the potty and staying dry just before we moved her to the new Montessori school.  So potty training will come soon hopefully.  I am also more nervous about dealing with toddler temper tantrums.  Admittedly I think she started these several months earlier than 2 and I feel a little more prepared on how to cope with them (How to talk to your child is a great book for helping in this area)…but I am nervous that there will be bigger ones on the way!

    What are you looking forward to in 2019?  What is making you feel nervous about 2019?

    Micro blog: The copy cat

    We quickly discovered that Aviana learns fast if she has someone to copy.  For example…we visited our local botanical gardens that has a giant sand play pit, the previous night it rained heavily so there was a lot of wet sand and big puddles.  Aviana freaked out about the texture of the wet sand (sticky, wet and dirty!), so she just stood there, not playing, just watching the world for quite sometime.  As soon as our friends joined us with their almost 2 year old daughter who has no such fears, Aviana immediately followed suit, she even sat in one of the sandy puddles, digging the dirt! It was quite an amazing transformation.

    We had tried on many occasions to get Aviana to wear her helmet when she rode on the back of my bike, but we failed and she was miserable if we forced her to wear it.  But as soon as she saw her friend wearing the exact same helmet, that was all it took, and Aviana has been happy to wear hers from since then. In fact she asks for it.

    This all good, really it is adorable to watch her learn in this way, but there is going to be the time when she copies others and we DON’T want her to follow suit!!!

    Micro blog: The poop monster

    Here’s another interesting development….Aviana wanted to sit on the toilet to poop.  She didn’t actually poop, but she sat there for a little while.  She also sat on the step stool and pretended to sit on the toilet to poop (in her diaper).  We have been asking her to tell us when she has pooped so she doesn’t sit in it for too long, and she decides to also tell us on occasion when she has peed.  Sometimes she gives us warning she’s pooping, and sometimes she has actually just farted, so we are some way off potty training!  But it made us think perhaps we should smarten up on potty training and get a potty for those moments when she asks to sit on the toilet.  I’m not in a hurry to potty train her, she’s got a way to go physically I believe. Apparently their bladders aren’t really big enough until around 2. But I literally have no clue on this subject, we should be prepared-time for some reading up!

    Speaking of poop, Aviana’s poop was blue on the 4th July.  It was so blue it stained her bottom blue.  We discovered she ate a muffin at daycare the day before that had a lot of blue food dye in it!! hahahahaha….so gross.

    Micro Blog: The wee bean pole

    As for recognizing Aviana as an IUGR baby, you really can’t tell anymore.  Yes she has skinny arms and legs, but she is definitely one of the taller kids in her class, but not the oldest.  On Monday she had her 18 month wellness check up.  She was 21lbs 6oz (31st percentile, up from the 25th!) and 32.5″ tall (69th percentile, up from 60th).  But she has been wearing 18-24mth old clothes for a while and has outgrown many of her 12-18mth clothes in length.  She can still wear 6-9 mth trousers, they are short, but still fit her waist!  In my IUGR support group i is believed that many IUGR babies catch up in size by the time they are 2 years old.  However, that is not necessarily the case for all types of IUGR (symmetric and micro premie babes), and sometimes it is very easy to spot the IUGR baby in the class.  Aviana is one of those who has caught up physically!!! Good growing little Miss A.

    Micro blog: The Hungry Caterpillar

    We are making a little bit of progress with Aviana’s food habits.  She actually ate a chicken nugget the other week! SHE ATE MEAT!!!! OK, so this type of chicken nugget is the kind which you can barely tell it’s actually chicken…but hey, it’s a win in my books! She eats any kind of fruit thankfully, but vegetables we are down to frozen peas and occasionally broccoli, but that’s it.  She still hates tomatoes, and gags on tomato sauce, but she has been willing to try new stuff, even if she has spat it out before.  So we just keep offering her whatever is the plate du jour in the Fenning house hold, praising her for trying new foods, and keeping it as relaxed as possible.  We know that she eats better when she is around other kids at daycare…sometimes, I wish I could be a fly on the wall whilst they eat their lunch!  On occasion we are sent videos of the class eating their lunch or snack.  I’m amazed at how quiet they actually are when they sit down for food together!  It’s the complete opposite of what you would imagine a toddler lunchtime to be like.  I reckon that must change as they get to the older classes because at the moment conversation isn’t exactly flowing at this age.  My lesson with food so far is not to stress over how much or what exactly she is eating and she seems to do ok, but honestly it’s really hard not to worry after IUGR.

    Micro blog: Little Miss Shy

    There was a moment in time when I thought Aviana was struggling with her shyness and wasn’t enjoying participating in group activities.  I wondered whether we should change daycare to some where more like a Montessori school.  Every photo or video we were sent from daycare, Aviana was either sat in the lap of the teacher, upset or on the otherside of the room by herself.  She had been in this class permanently for over 2 months, it wasn’t like it was so new.  But the daycare staff never thought much of it, Aviana just had her own way of having fun.  Aviana is very affectionate and loves her teacher cuddles.  I am very appreciative that the teacher’s reciprocate, although I was beginning to wonder if they spent too much time holding her or even spoiling her.

    I even wondered whether we should stop going to the little gym parent-child classes at the weekends.  Aviana would cling to us throughout the warm up and would scream, cry or refuse to do any of the skills or activities.  She was happiest playing away from other kids (and noisiness).  And then just as we were going to make an appointment to see the Montessori school…we suddenly got videos of Aviana integrating, participating, and smiling.  We went to the little gym for a birthday party one weekend and she came right of out of her shell.  She was showing off all the skills she had observed other kids doing.  Just yesterday Aviana not only participated in every single activity in the class, she joined in with the other kids (in her own way still!) and suddenly was happy to do all the daredevil stuff she had spent the past 6 months avoiding, and she wanted to do it over and over again!  An incredible change. I doubt she will be the attention seeking kind of kid, but this little step in self-confidence has been wonderful to see.