Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Do I explain Santa to my young one?

I was never a Santa fan. I just didn't understand why I was supposed to sit on a stranger's lap and in trust him with my deepest wishes.
Maybe I was born a true jaded New Yorker.
Plus at the tender age of 7 I caught my parents hiding presents under the tree with tags that said, "From Santa." It also didn't help they used the same wrapping paper as 'their' gifts. I was a big Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew fan.
Anyway, I don't want to pass on my opinion of Santa to my kid. My kid is fairly logical so Santa I know will bring many questions.
Right now, she just knows he's a man dressed in red and white. He rides a sled with reindeer. He has something to do with Christmas and gifts.  Oh and he was rescued by the fire department. Annual event here in NYC.
That's about it.
I figure I'm not going to play it big with Santa. Instead I plan to answer questions that arise and play it by ear.
I'm not sure if that's going to be my lasting approach but for now I think that seems to be the best approach for now.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Keeping the Christmas gifts a surprise even from DH

I like to surprise my husband with the kids' toys as much as I like to surprise the kids which means I sit with what is under the tree anticipating Christmas morning as much as the kids.
It's not easy though. Sometimes you get that one gift you know is going to knock their socks off and I can't share it with DH because I want to see his reaction as much as the kids'.
That's my Christmas present, the joy and reaction to the surprise breakfast with hot chocolate, the smile seeing something they didn't expect, the happiness handing out cookies to friends and families.

Monday, December 19, 2011

At what age do you stop talking about Christmas plans in front of the kids?

We are hitting this point where DD is aware of Christmas and everything associated with it here in the US. She doesn't understand who Santa is but knows of Santa and has seen Santa. 
She doesn't have a concept that Santa brings gifts. She says Mommy and Daddy bring presents.
She doesn't ask for much which we are so proud of.
We also think this is because we focus on Christmas being a time of giving and being extra kind to folks, family and of Jesus' birthday.
We don't inundate her with gifts and try to keep with the three kings rule in our home, 3 gifts representing the 3 kings gifts to the Holy Family. So far, we've kept it toy, books and clothes.
For us Christmas is more about being together and sharing joy than what's under the tree. Ok, it's also about the train. My daughter loves Daddy's train under the tree.
Even though it's not about the presents, Mommy and Daddy still need to negotiate the presents. So do we speak about it in front of them? The first few years we didn't see it as an issue but now I'm wondering if we are hitting the point where we should try to refrain from the conversations? 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The vicious cooking cycle

It's a vicious cycle.
I'm too tired to cook so I ask DH to cook.
He asks me what to cook.
I give him detailed instructions.
3 hours later, dinner is ready.  I love my husband but how does pasta take 3 hours? Fresh pasta doesn't take that long to make!
Bedtime routine is topsy-turvy. I'm hungry and grumpy. The kids are hungry and sleepy and grumpy.
We eat and complete a shortened bedtime routine.
Still exhausted, I come out to relax a bit before having to pump and spy the kitchen.
Nearly every pot and pan is used and sitting on the counter, stove or sink awaiting cleaning.
If I don't clean it now, breakfast time will be awful.
If I clean it now, I incur the wrath of the husband who says, "I thought you were too tired to cook. Why are you cleaning the kitchen?"
I also realize the moment I wipe the counters clean, DS will awake and I will not be able to pump.
Therefore, sometimes it's better to suck up the tired, cook and hope to have a reprieve while pumping.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Swaddled all day except for active period. Is that ok?

How long do you keep your baby swaddled for?
I'm not talking about age wise. We figure we'll play it by ear like with our daughter. There came a point where she'd unswaddle herself and still stay asleep.  We figure it may be the same with #2.
I'm talking about during the day.
My son sleeps, eats, pees/poops and repeats with a few active moments.
I'm going to digress for a moment. Doesn't the above sentence make it sound like I have all the time in the freaking world? Seasoned parents know your kid may sleep 18 hours of the day but that does not mean whatsoever you have time to do basics such as shower.
Going back to the point, since he sleeps so much, he's swaddled most of the time.
DH and I started talking about this because DH wants him to be unswaddled more often mostly because his muslin swaddle holds in the most vicious toots you have ever smelled. I mean geez, how does his body produce that odor? He's 9 lbs! His stomach is the size of an egg! Come on now! I could only imagine what it would smell like if he was on formula.
My argument is that he sleeps better all comfy cozy and swaddled which gives me a longer period of time of uninterrupted sleep and more time for him to grow and develop during his slumber. Unswaddled equals shorter sleep bursts meaning I spend more time soothing back to slumber.
He even stays semi-swaddled when I wear him sometimes.
We keep him unswaddled during the active periods to explore and stretch.  I even keep him naked to allow him some nakey time because, heck, who doesn't like nakey time.
Just curious if folks keep their newborn swaddled most of the time.

Friday, December 16, 2011

So many cool things to try and see...

Tis the season for this mom to research and see what activities my child may be interested in.
Maybe it's because my dad was a big believer in this. Maybe it's because of what I read. All I know is that I'm a firm believer of allowing a child the opportunity to explore their interests. It allows for great learning experiences and as they get older, they can understand and hone what their true interests are.
At this tender age, learning comes from play and exploration. So DH and I try our best to give our kids as many opportunities to try, see and experience as much as possible.
I'm hitting this point though where it is getting tough. She still is exploring and so there are so many opportunities to try.
I'm big on allowing her free time so I don't overbook her. Still, there are so many things I'm wondering what to do.
She loves her music class. DH has asked we continue it so we plan to continue this class next semester.
It will be the dead of winter so I'd like a physical fitness type of activity to help keep the body limber and also to expend the energy that I know is being bottled up confined indoors. I was pretty much set on a sports exploration class but this evening I walk into my daughter's room to see her doing a tree pose. "Mama, look! I'm a tree. Remember when we did yoga? I want to do yoga with the teacher again."
She took a yoga class over the summer and loved it. So now I'm contemplating yoga for her.
Then I learn about a science exploration club that's starting up and I'm equally intrigued. My daughter has all these science based questions lately and our last experiment involving how a seed grows did not pan out as we had hoped. I have a brown thumb when it comes to plants. I nearly killed an aloe vera plant.
Now don't think I'm overbooking my kid and into rigid structure. I'm not. In fact all the activities my child has taken are staggered and both DH and I make it a point to have free time, quiet time and outdoor time daily as much as possible.
What's a mom to do though? You want your child to explore and experience as much as he/she can and yet balancing this with everything else in life is tricky. Not only am I balancing my to dos, I need to balance the to dos of my child while giving them positive leading by example. Juggle, juggle, juggle.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Baby Wipe Sample Giveaway

Seventh Generation is giving readers a chance to sample their Free & Clear Baby Wipes.

Simply sign up for their Rewards Program and you will receive not 1 but 2 samples: 1 for you and 1 for your friend.

Click here to sign up and receive your free samples.

My daughter has Bieber fever.

My daughter is a musical person. She always has been. Even in utero, she'd bop to the sounds of The Beatles. She was partial to 'Drive My Car'.
So attended her first concert at less than 4 months old.
So this shouldn't shock me that she expresses her opinion on music at such an early age.
She's selective of her music. She's loves her Justin Roberts whom she wanted her younger brother to be named after. She's passed on Raffi and other artists. She's started venturing into pop music now.
She's always been a fan of Queen and can now name several songs and requests them. She even sang Bicycle Race at a recent obstetrician appointment to the amusement of the doctor.
What I didn't expect was that she'd lean immediately to boy bands. I don't play his music but all of a sudden she's requesting Justin Bieber's 'Baby'. We're at the doctor's office and when it's time to pick a sticker she requests Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber stickers. My car window now proudly displays two stickers next to her seat. Is this her first 'poster'? By the way, I have never heard a Jonas Brothers' song. I think she's just attracted to the photo. And now my husband is singing the 'Baby' song. Get ready hubby, I foresee chaperoning to a boy band concert in your near future.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It will be fine

I'm reluctant to share this because God always said to do your actions silently but this is the place I jot down my feelings and thoughts so here it goes.
I'm a human being. I juggle more than I probably should but still less than others. I just want to live my life and try my best to use the gifts I've been given to show others God's love for us.
Breastfeeding is a really big deal for me. I'm strongly passionate about it. It's one of the hardest things you can do but the rewards not only through your children but also for yourself are immeasurable. It is an emotional journey. It's a physical journey. It's a lonely journey. It is a blessing that I have been able to nourish myself and my children through this gift of nursing. 
It's not for all and that's ok. The world would be boring if we all followed and felt the same.
My journey continues and I'm so very grateful every day for my ability to nurse. Some days are good. Some days are hard. I keep my head up and I look back on the highs and lows with pride.
I'm still in the early nursing stages with #2. During this time, there are multiple growth spurts to contend with and my body constantly fluctuates to try to accommodate his needs.
I'm also pumping to stash for when I return to the office which brings another emotional component to nursing.
With all the emotional and physical highs and lows breastfeeding brings me, you'd think I'm nuts when I tell you that I'm also trying to increase my milk production so I can pump for someone I don't know.
I won't go into details. I just heard the call and without hesitation, I knew I had to try. So far I haven't been able to provide much but I'm still trying and hope my small contribution helps. 
I bring this up not to say, "Hey look what she's doing!" I share it here because even though I'm going through a 'Am I making enough during this spurt?' emotional roller coaster, I knew in my heart, I will be able to provide for my son and have some for other babies in need. It's a strange feeling. I'm still nervous but I know it will be fine. As my husband says, "God will provide." It will work out. It will fine.
I hope others feel that not just about breastfeeding but about other things. It's not a boastful feeling but a feeling of comfort. You teeter. Every now and then you feel the hesitation and apprehension but there is a voice that says it will be fine. And it will be fine.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Time waits for no person

DH and I are big fans of giving our children as many opportunities to experience life outdoors. We aren't big outdoorsy folks. We are city kids. Outdoorsy means going outside of the apartment, exploring the parks, playgrounds, the subways, the transit system, the museums, the events around us.
We think rain or shine, a daily dose of the outside is healthy and important to growth and development.
Problem is DH and I have a time management deficiency, him more so than me. For me, my OCD and anal retentive tendencies are helpful and a hinderance. For DH, I think he's just a rebel and doesn't believe 'Time waits for no one."
So you can only imagine the agita I get when we have to go somewhere with a time restrictions. Because of this, I try to plan things in the later morning or early afternoon. I'd include late afternoon but naps, witching hours and bedtime routines prohibit this.
My anal retentive self realizes that I'm really slow go getting out of the house so just as my grandfather taught me, the night before, I pack my bags as much as possible and prepare my outfit and develop a loose plan to get myself out of the house as close to on time as possible.
This drives my husband nuts as he says I should relax while I can. I try to explain that if I do this now, I'll be less stressed later. He doesn't get it. (Honey, it's like the dishes. If I do them after dinner, then in the morning, breakfast time goes smoother.)
With a newborn and a preschooler (who is in the "I can do it" stage), preparation is imperative for a smooth and semi-timely exodus.
We needed to get to a show that started at 1pm. I told my husband we needed to be there by 12:45p. {Usually I give myself 30 minutes for family functions & doctor appointments and 15 for miscellaneous events.)
We finally were packed and in the car at………………..

Lord knows how we are going to manage when school starts.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Why can't I look on the lighter side of things?

I have a problem.
I think I'm too literal.
Why can't I look on the lighter side of things?
My husband is good at joking and making light of things. I need to be more like that. 
I think I've always been like that. It toughens me up which is helpful at times but at others, I come off harsh.
For example, it makes me a good person to turn to when your in your twenties and your friends are drunk out of their gourd and one falls ill and you need to go to the hospital and someone needs to be the representative that explain symptoms to the hospital staff.
It's bad when someone needs some empathetic response. 
I think I have good empathy for the most part. I'm just not good at understanding how folks say they feel terrible and can't eat because they can't do anything for so and so. For me, yes you can feel for the person but why feel terrible? Does that help the situation? Does not sleeping or eating because of it make things better for said person? You can do something if you want to. You can pray. 
Because I feel this way, when folks say to me, "I feel bad for so and so." I don't give the response that most folks want. If you are close to me and you say that, my automatic response is, "Do you think so and so wants you to feel bad for them?" They probably don't mean that literally but my response is literal. I need to hold my tongue. Why can't a be more empathetic in this situation?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Enter and Entertain are two different words

Passing a 'No Tresspassing' sign, I remarked to DH that DD said it meant "Do Not Enter". My daughter added, "Yes." and proceeded to sing "Let Me Entertain You" from Gypsy with new lyrics, "Do Not Enter-tain you."
It made me realize how kids learn new words. It also made me ask, how do I explain what 'entertain' means?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'm a thrill killer and I don't mean to.

I realize that I can be a thrill killer for the folks around me. I'm a dork and I like to read up as much as I can about topics that I'm interested in. Therefore when someone says, "Did you know?" I'm the one that usually adds an obscure fact. I don't do this to show off but because I think I'm truly adding something of interest to the conversation. Unfortunately, it probably comes off as being Miss Know-it-All.
The worst of this is that fact that I do this way too much with my husband. He said to me, "I hate that you always have a 'better way' to do something." This statement made me feel awful. I don't want him to think I have a better way. I don't. I just thought this might be easier or would be interesting to try or make his life easier later on. (Remember, I'm a big fan of more work preparing now equals easier later.)
So I'm making this effort now not to offer a 'tip' or 'trick' and simply smile and support my husband when he tells me he is researching something or trying something. I'm trying not to involuntarily offer book recommendations or suggestions. I'm trying to wait until he asks. It hasn't been easy though especially when I see he gets frustrated or he says things that contradict what he said before. "You know everything. How do I do this?"
This whole thrill killer is a psychological issue I have. Chinese mothers have a tendency to show love by not complementing your achievements but offer how you could have done something better. It's the classic, you only got an A-? stereotype. That's why with my kids I don't offer them a better solution. I actively try to allow them the opportunity to discover their own solution and only offer assistance when asked. Why then am I not like that with my husband? Is it because his disorganization drives me mad? Is it because his crazed inability to multi-task effects me in the long run? Is it that I fear this trait I'm not keen on may pass on to my children? Is it that my children who are sponges will see his crazies and consider this normal and may emulate?
I have no clue but I don't want him to ever feel like I'm not proud of him or believe in his accomplishments and therefore am making an effort to not be a thrill killer to him.
Not sure how I'm going to survive but I will.

Friday, December 09, 2011

We Go Duck

During a playmate with one of her best buddies, DD asked him and his mom if they wanted to play Duck, Duck Goose. I swelled with pride. Yes folks, we hit the age where we are starting to learn cooperative gaming and she's initiating it with her friends. I love it.
So we are still learning the basic concepts but my friend and I think we found something awesome within Duck, Duck Goose. Sure the kids are learning to take turns and choosing skills and getting exercise but as parents, we also get to sit and sort of relax while our kids chase each other and are within proximity that we know what they are doing.
See, our kids seem to enjoy picking each other as 'Goose'. There really isn't much anticipation for us parents especially since both kids enjoyed telling us that 'so & so is Goose.' So we sat in the circle and had a typical mom conversation (adult talk adult talk, kid interruptus, engage kid, adult talk, repeat) while our kids ran around us giggling and repeating choosing each other.
Oh and if you haven't heard Justin Robert's 'We Go Duck' from his recent album, Jungle Gym, you should. It's one of DD's favorites.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Instilling the love of books on today's electronic era

My MIL keeps asking me if my daughter can read yet. She asks this because I've told her numerous times that we moved towards fiction based stories versus board books and Priddy type word picture books.  I explain we do use the Priddy books but storylines, fiction, full sentences and sensory benefits of page turning of paper pages is currently my daughter's interest.
Right now she's at the stage where she identifies letters and sounds and has correlations. She also is in the stage where she memorized certain words. For example since she was 2.5 she's been able to spot the word Opposites. She will even spell it out. That's because one of her favorite books is an Opposites book.  She correlates letters with ideas or objects. For example, on the violin there are four strings, A, E, D and G. She will consistently say D and say it's a Daddy string.  She'll she a word on a sign and point out that's a Daddy word if a D is included. If it starts with a  letter, she'll say things or confuse the names of the letter with the pronunciation. For example, V is not V but 'Vuh'. I'm pretty impressed by that actually.
It makes me proud she's spelling and I know that part of the stage is memorization of words but we aren't pushing it. I like her to come to it herself.
This comes to some silly comments from her. As we were walking home the other day, we saw a few boxes in the trash pile by the grocery store. She stopped and spelled the word out from the box. "O A T M E A L. Garbage Box." As we passed a local playground that is closed for renovations she read, "N O T R E S S P A S S I N G. Do not enter. Danger." {That one was pretty darn close in my opinion.} 
I'm a big book researcher. I like to find books that incorporate my child's current interests. Sometimes the books are bit more advanced but I figure we can get a longer shelf life this way. Sometimes we go back to infant board books for spelling and story telling. {I love when my child makes up stories using board books or picture books. She always amazes me with the details she focuses on within the books.} I also like to read the book first not only to anticipate but to help with engaging or incorporating the story or book to something else we've discussed that may not be a primary topic within the book. {I know I'm a geek and a dork.}
Because I research and because her interests are varied at this age, I make a wishlist of books that I keep available to me, family and friends. 
I love surprise books too but my MIL is really really bad at picking out books for our kids. I'm not sure why but every other book she picks is just bad. Either the storyline is terrible, the grammar is less than desirable or it just is too young and doesn't hold her interest.  There was one particularly bad book she sent in October. She said it was a counting board book with a Halloween theme. Problem was there was not rhyme or reason for the counting. In fact some of the counting was incorrect.  At first when I read it, I thought my post pregnancy brain was making me miss the point of the book but my husband read it to my daughter later on and even said, "I have no idea what the point of that book was. The counting is off and there is no flow to the story."
So when my MIL said she wanted to go to the bookstore to get more books for our daughter, I sent her a list of books that may capture my child's interest. As I emailed her the list, I felt the daunting task my MIL and mom must feel with my high maintenance hands on approach to parenting my children. I kind of felt bad but also proud and strongly convicted in my beliefs.
1, I don't want them to waste their money on books we won't use and 2, my daughter will benefit more with books that are actually good.
If you asked me years ago if a child's book needed as much development time as an adult novel, I'd say no but now I realize they probably even need more time and thought. I've read a good helping of children's books and every sense is touched by a good book. 
Also books help children develop opinions and strengthens expression of their opinions. I love to hear why my child likes certain books. I can see her brain in motion as she thinks about why a certain book appeals to her. She doesn't just say 'Because'. She really thinks about it and gives you great answers, sometimes obvious and sometimes not so obvious.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

No Capes!

I love this onesie

I think it's 'super' appropriate for my son but I keep thinking of Edna Mode from The Incredibles.

Reminding my kid and family to say "May I" is hard

Learning manners and social skills is a fun parent responsibility. Not only do you feel like a nag and your own parent but your kids get to give you that "You are just a rule nazi" look that makes you feel even more like your own parent.
We started talking about the golden rule and how we need to treat others like we want to be treated. Part of this is to thank guests for coming over for a play date and also thanking hosts when we finish a play date. Problem is, I'm not sure she realizes the play date is really over. I don't think it's exclusive to my child either. I think kids this age are always on an adventure and so instead of thinking of things at an end, they think they are moving on to new and brighter things. I love this optimism and I want it to stay. It's a wonderful outlook on life.
Now I know there will be times when it's the 'end of the world' that we need to stop playing with Sally or Jimmy. I know there will be the meltdowns. Still I'm appreciating that my child transitions well and appears to be optimistic. I hope she continues to live with this as part of her personal philosophy.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Preschool powered train set

This year we decided to have a small Christmas tree. 1, we don't have the room for our usual behemoth and 2, it gives DD a chance to decorate her own personal tree. DD was ecstatic and started decorating the tree.  She's keen on the cranberry garland and silver bead garland. She even asked to make popcorn garland. I'd consider it except I fear our dog will eat it and in effect knock down the tree.
She picked out which ball ornaments to put on the tree and when I came back I noticed she placed 9 or more ornaments bunched together on the bottom branch of her tree. She's extremely proud of this jenga balance of ornaments.  It makes me smile and we've left it as is. It's actually pretty cool how all those ornaments balance so well.
Although I'd love to have the train around the tree this year, I'm leaning against it. Partly because of the room but also because it's slowly breaking more and more each year. I do plan to include a new train car to my husband's collection as a Christmas gift though and I'm eyeing a special preschool friendly train set that she can run and play with herself. Sure, I know she'll still want to use the electric powered car and be the conductor and engineer.  Who doesn't love that lever and the controls but I think it best to hold off a bit. Tomorrow I may change my mind though and beg my husband to set up his train. 

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Violin Lessons for a 3 year old brings agita to Mom

My daughter began taking violin exploration. I call it exploration because well, she's too young in my opinion to develop a true passion for an instrument. This is the perfect time to explore and learn and develop interests.
I've always known that an instrument lesson would be in her future. Ever since she was a wee one, she was interested in musical instruments. So far she's amassed a small band of instruments that includes hand bells, a clarinet, an acoustic guitar and a saxophone. We started with the violin as it's one of the first instruments a child can explore at her age and because she's been walking around with two paper towel holders or drum sticks and pretending to fiddle.
The classes are short one on one bursts which is the most a 3 year old can really handle. More importantly it's the most this mom can handle. We've only completed two classes but we've already had a meltdown that fell along the line of mortifying for mommy meltdown. As her instructor played her violin, she fell to the fall, covered her ears and started screaming and shouting that the violin hurts her ears. I contemplated a possible ear infection but honestly, there haven't been any other signs of an ear infection. I also know she has had sensory sensitivities but she's heard the violin in the proximity she was with the violin before.
Amazingly though she retained a lot. I asked her to explain the different parts of the violin to her dad and the procedure to care for her violin and recalled most if not all of the parts discussed and the procedure. She's still not keen on handling the violin in the rest position and I've had to resort to a little bribery to practice her chin rest exercises but I remind myself that she's only 3 and we are only exploring.
I'm quite proud of her though but wonder what her apprehensions are with picking up the violin. She seems to be more interested in putting it down on the table and explaining the parts than to actually play it.

My newborn can clear a room with his toots

I'm not comparing because that's one thing I made a point to try to avoid but I must say that I really was not expecting the brutal toots that are coming out of my newborn son. Holy moly! My husband said he fears for what smells may emanate from him during his pre-pubescent years but I fear for what might come out of him when he begins solids. Good grief.
With the swaddling, his diaper becomes a stink bomb waiting for the diaper changer to endure. I'm not sure why they are so stinky either. I know that the mother's diet effecting the baby is unsubstantiated but I can also understand how it's perpetuated. You grasp at what appears to be logical, what's ingested effects output. However if what a mother eats effects the output of the child, wouldn't I have a similar response to my input? Sure I have a more mature digestive system but there should be some correlation.
Right now I'm chalking up to immature digestive system and hope it clears itself up as his system matures.