Posts Tagged ‘The Mommy Gig’

October 17, 2017

Unicorn Sandwhich

Yesterday when picking Alexis up from daycare she immediately wanted to be held, burring her head into the crook of my neck. I felt the warmth radiating from her and just knew she had a fever. The thermometer at home confirmed: 102.4. She would be staying home today. Daycare rules.

What ever was brewing last night seems to have blown over. She slept reasonably well, all things considered and her fever is gone. She’s energetic, and her usual happy self. The only indication that she may not be feeling well was a reduced appetite. She eat only a few bites of her morning cereal when she can normally eat a bowl and a half. A few hours later she was asking for gold fish like a champ.

Since my little tropper seemed to be doing so much, but had to stay home anyway, I was looking for ways to make our impromptu Mommy and Me day a little more special. After all, big sister just had a bunch of them, and she got go to the movie theater!

One of my ideas: Unicorn Sandwhiches. Sprinkles have about 2-3g of sugar per teaspoon, depending on the brand. A pinch can be estimated to be, what, a 1/16 a teaspoon? Not enough for the added sugar to disrupted a vulnerable stomach, but enough to add a bit of excitement.

Alexis eat about 3/4ths of her sandwich. Not as much as I was expecting, but she loved the sprinkles and asked if we could have more Unicorn Sandwiches on the next home day.

August 8, 2017

Mommy & Me Days

With Nicole’s Kindergarten right around the corner, and the baby’s due date in the not to distant future, I’ve been thinking a lot about how best to ensure each child gets the individual attention he or she needs.

This spring Nicole wasn’t eating her school lunches. I told her if she eat at least two bites of everything on her plate every day for a week, I’d pick her up for lunch the next Monday and we’d go to a restaurant. Just the two of us. That was all the motivation she needed. She was super excited and eat like a champ, even the vegetable, often eating more than the stated minimum.

A few weeks later the elementary schools were all out on break for the spring holiday. Daycare attendance was surprisingly light as a lot of parents decided to keep both kids home, rather than just the school age child. The more I think about it, the more this creates a nice opportunity for a Mommy & Me day.

The kids are at different developmental stages. Nicole loves to play with beads, and make necklaces and bracelets. That’s hard to do on home days with a little sister around who sometimes puts things in her mouth. Alexis’ attention span for coloring is roughly ten minutes, where Nicole can go on for hours. Nicole is old enough to sit quietly through a movie at the theater. Alexis, not so much. The usual result of these differences is the older child is relegated to the activities the younger child.

If Nicole’s school is out, but Alexis’ is still in session, that doesn’t have to be the case. The opposite is also true, and Alexis will have the opportunity to have the big doll house and kitchen all to herself. We can spend time reading just the books she enjoys, and she won’t have to wait for Nicole’s longer chapter books to be finished.

To put this philosophy to the test, Domingo and I decided to enroll Nicole part time in her final week of preschool. She’ll get two special home days with Mommy before starting kindergarten. We’ll go to the movies, pick out her new school bag and lunch box, and generally do whatever she wants to do. Next month Alexis will get the same treatment.

My first mother’s day in silicon valley was a gut punch. Nicole’s daycare hosted a special brunch for all the moms. I had only been working for a short period of time, and knew I was pregnant and would be taking a rather generous maternity leave. I didn’t feel comfortable taking the day off to attend. Nicole’s teachers assured me it wouldn’t be a big deal for me to skip the brunch, and seeing as she was just shy of two years old I knew she wouldn’t remember one way or the other. Logging on to facebook that afternoon I noticed a picture of story time following the brunch on the preschool’s class’ page. Out of the sixteen person class my child was the only one sitting on the floor. I was the only parent who didn’t attend.

Part of the reason I wanted to start my own business was to have the flexibility in my schedule so I could spend more time with the kids, and be the kind of parent I wanted to be.

I find it ironic how sometimes things can backfire on you.

I remember our first Halloween party at the new place. Nicole was three. The school was having a parade of costumes following a “trunk or treat” where a section of the parking lot was cordoned off and teachers waited with trunks full of candy to partition off to the kids. When Nicole saw Domingo and I standing in the crowd of parents during the parade she started crying and trying to hide behind her teacher. She thought we were coming to take her home before the trunk or treating (their version of trick or treating)! Today was the girls’ spring party at school. When I arrived the preschools were putting the final stickers on their bags for the Easter hunt. Alexis took one look at me and pancaked on the floor, afraid I had come to take her home before the hunt.

That’s parenting for you, I guess.

I never feel like a perfect mom. Often a good mom, rarely a great mom. I struggle sometimes, as do we all. But one of the things I’ve learned lately is that there are times when you cannot win. But at the end of the day, everything is always works out. As upset as the kids were to see me, they still had a great time at their parties once they realized we weren’t going home. Thinking back to that photo of the mother’s day celebration with Nicole sitting on the floor instead of in a lap, she had the biggest smile in the whole room. Kids are resilient. It’s time to try and let go of perfection and just be.

February 20, 2017

Mommy Naps

There are few things in life as perfect as a child sleeping in your arms. The way they snuggle into you as they find that perfect position, as though no matter how hard they try they can never be close enough. They way the go from squirmy to still as the sleepies take over and they drift of to sleep. The rhythmic breathing. The warmth of their little bodies. Tiny head resting in the crook of my neck. Fine baby hairs tickling my chin smelling of baby shampoo. Rocking a sleeping child is one of my favorite mommy moments.

This stage doesn’t last nearly long enough. Blink and it’s over.

I was caught off guard when it ended with Nicole. She was a feverish two and a half year old, used to napping in her bed but would take a “Mommy nap” whenever it was offered. This time she couldn’t get comfortable. I remember the way she cried when she couldn’t fall asleep until I lied her back down in her bed and sat next to her. I had had my last mommy nap with my first born, and never knew it.

So here we are with my youngest, two years and three months old. She’s not quite at the point of giving up naps, though she’s spent nap time in the crib waiting out the bunny clock before. Her nap days are numbered, as are her mommy naps. She’ll struggles to get comfortable in my lap, struggling to find a position where her feet don’t get squished against the cushions. But she still asks for Mommy naps, she still wants them, and I’m happy to oblidge. Who am I to say no?

I’m soaking in these moments while they last.

January 27, 2017

Violating my Parent Rules

Like with all my other time my pre-child never-ever-would-Is, I find myself once again eating my words.

Nicole’s pre-kindergarden class has started assigning homework. She’s occasionally had art projects to do at home, but now they’re giving her a few activity pages a week to help prepare her for kindergarden, which is now only a little over six months away.

I’ve been using it as an opportunity to praise process. We reiterate that it’s okay to not know the answer, and okay to get the answer wrong, but it’s not okay to not try. We also get big praise whenever we come up with a new strategy to solve a problem. When we started she was inclined to just say “I don’t know” and guess randomly. Now she only guesses randomly when she’s over tired and having troubles focusing. She knows to sing the alphabet song to see what comes next, or find a number line if she’s having troubles associating a number with it’s written form. She’s getting better at trying, and she’s enjoying the extra one-on-one Mommy time. Often when Mommy decides we’ve reached our homework limit for the night, it’s met with protests and requests for “just one more.”

We’ve found that her homework fits in nicely with our bedtime routine after bath and before story time. We ended up purchasing some additional activity books so we can keep doing “homework” on a more regular basis. I’m still worried about over doing it, and I don’t want to break the positive association she has with homework, so we keep it to just a few pages a days. Sometimes we’ll skip it all together if she seems overly tired to begin with.

So what does homework have to do with my never-ever-would-Is? Before kids I was aghast to learn how lax the late homework policies in grade school have become. When I was growing up, I’d be docked a whole letter grade for each day late. Here, you can turn it in months after the fact without much penalty. Never ever would I let me kids turn in their homework late. Never ever would I let them turn it in incomplete.

This never-ever-would-I lasted until week four. I picked up her homework late this week, so we didn’t start her official homework until Wednesday night. Nicole was in need of an earlier bedtime this week and really struggling to concentrate. I figured sleep was more important so we’d turn it in a day late. Then the next day I figured we’d turn it in incomplete.

Pre-kindergarden doesn’t count, right?

September 7, 2016

Cognitive Leaps

Tonight, as many nights, Nicole was playing with her foam letter bath toys in the bath tub. She’ll hold up a letter and ask “what letter is this?” After answering her, I’ll follow up with “what sound does it make?” or “what words begin with it?”

Tonight she handed me the E. I told her it was the first letter in the word “eh-eh-elephant” and asked her if she knew what it was.

“L!”

She’s made this mistake before, with the same letter and word. Last time I corrected her, which seemed too discouraging in retrospected. This time I found the L and held it next to the E. “Yes! The E makes the Eh sound and the L makes the Elle sound so it’s E-L-ephent, Eh-Elle-ephent.”

Seeing those two letters next to each other, something clicked in her for the first time. She suddenly understood the connection between a string of letters and the word they spelled. She wanted to spell and sound out the entire word. The letter set only has one instance of each letter so we spelled ‘Elphant’, followed by ‘Princes’. (Hey, it’s the process that’s important not the exact letter sequence, right?!)

I’m a proponent of free play, and not really comfortable with the notion of formal preschool at such a young age. The research that free play sparks curiosity really resonated with me because it echos the experience of my childhood. Yet here we are, studying phonics in the bath tub.

I don’t have as much confidence in this whole parenting thing as I’d like to believe. We’re in a highly competitive area academically speaking. Some of the other kids can already read and recognize words. I was afraid Nicole kindergarten significantly behind her peers. I didn’t want her teacher forming a negative impression of her ability. Impressions, deserved or not, can be difficult to change. So we started going over letters and numbers. I even signed her up for phonics and math class at her preschool, though not without some hesitation. Sometimes it feels like a giant waste of money. Sometimes I just wish other parents would relax. But most of all I wish I didn’t let the peer pressure get to me.

At least she seems to be enjoying her letters and numbers.

The girls are (on average) great eaters. As a 12 month old, Nicole could and would down an entire bag of winter squash by herself. We took her to sweet tomatoes, the all you can eat salad bar, where she once passed on frozen yogurt in favor of more peas. After Alexis was born we were home bound for a few months. When we finally returned to sweet tomatoes Nicole was skeptical of all the vegetable goodness before her. Pickled beets? No thank you, even though she couldn’t get enough of them before. Her favorite black olives? Pass.

It took a great deal of effort, and a few failed return trips, before Nicole began to eat well at sweet tomatoes again. Domingo and I figured the long absence had made the food seem foreign. We were determined not to make that mistake again. Healthy foods the kids eat well needed to remain front and center in our meal plan rotation.

On of the foods we wanted to encourage our kids to eat is fish. It’s great for brain development, and adds a bit of variety to their diets. We introduced it early and often. Saturday became fish night: Salmon (or “pink fish” as the kids call it), Tilapia (“butter fish”) or Mahi (“chicken fish”). And as predicted the kids continued to eat it well. We parents congratulated ourselves on a job well done.

That is, until a few weeks ago. Alexis started rejecting her fish out of the blue. Was it teething? we wondered. Unlikely, fish is pretty soft. Was she getting bored with it? Were the gaps between the types of fish too long?

More than likely, she was just going through a phase.

Looking back I if Nicole’s protest against Sweet Tomatoes was a similar phase. I remembered we stopped going around the time Alexis was born, but maybe we also stopped going because it was getting harder to get Nicole to eat her vegetables. Maybe my mommy brain glossed over that fact in an effort to feel more in control of the situation. Maybe I was only remembering what I wanted to remember. Confirmation bias is a beast. It makes you remember only what you want to remember, only what fits the narrative you tell yourself about the way the world works.

We’ve entered a rough patch of sleep with Alexis, just like we did when Nicole was this age. Like clockwork. There is no traffic here, so that couldn’t be it. Teething? No again. I want to believe I can fix it. I move the bed time forward, I move it backwards. I look for any sign that I’m on the right track. As a parent, I should be able to fix this, right? If she had a good night I’d look for things that might have contributed to it. That’s not the scientific process for a reason, but when you’re tired you’re not thinking about that. You’re wondering if wearing socks at night made your footsteps quieter and contributed to your child having a better night. The next thing you know you’re refusing to take off your socks. Ever. Can’t risk it.

Maybe Nicole returned to vegetables, and Alexis to fish because that’s just their natural development. Maybe Nicole’s sleep improvements just happened to coincide with with the bunny clock. Kids are always changing. Maybe they were descend to get past all these difficulties in their own due time, and without any input from me. Maybe that’s the root of all these crazy parenting fads. Desperate parents trying anything they can think of, and then misinterpret natural developmental cycles as cause and effect?

Crazy thoughts from a sleep deprived parent.

Back before Alexis was born I had a fear that if I wasn’t careful the girls might think I had a favorite. I wasn’t afraid of loving them differently, just the appearance of it, and the possible ramifications on the girls’ confidence levels. That fear wasn’t helped by over hearing a conversation where two women were speculating on third’s possible favorites. Their go-to indicator to use: the number and type of photos of each child shared on social media. Apparently it’s not enough to judge moms based on how much their posting about their children in general, now we’re critiquing the rates she publishes about each child in comparison to the other. As much as I try not to get sucked into this kind of mommy wars pettiness it was a moment that’s kind of stuck with me. I have an Instagram account, a Facebook account and a blog. What if my posting became unbalanced on one of those platforms? Would the girls think I had a favorite the way these women thought other parents had favorites?

When Alexis was first born I took great pains to keep the number of photos between the two girls that I posted roughly even. You know, as could be drawn from a statistical random sample with zero bias. Totally normal, rational stuff.

After making the mistake of taking too few DSLR photos and too many iPhone photos of Nicole in her first year, I overcompensated. My DSLR was never far from reach, and it was the first device that I reached for. It wasn’t long before I had only handful of iphone photos of Alexis. Chasing after Nicole, on the other hand, necessitated using the iphone more than the big clunky DSLR. Given that I prefer to post my DSLR photos on facebook, and my iphone photos on Instagram, I soon found myself in a constant state of unbalance on both accounts. I found myself stalking Alexis with my iphone, hoping to take a cute photo so I could share the one of Nicole from a few days ago and vice versa.

That’s nuts. So nuts that even I see it. Extra especially nuts when you consider that the two kids have different personalities and different amounts of love for the camera. If I was happy with DSLR photos of Alexis capturing her newness, and iPhone photos of Nicole of her boundless energy, why wasn’t that enough?

As Alexis grew the personality differences between Nicole and her became even more apparent.

Nicole loves having her photo taken just as much now just as much as she loved it then at that age. She looks forward to photo day at school. Her school has a couple of different photographers come throughout the year. Nicole’s favorite is the one who does the vintage style photos, complete with movie star chair, sunglasses and boa. She always asks to see the photo of herself on my phone, and has Favorited her favorites. (I have no idea where this self confidence and love for the center of attention came from, but I love it!) Alexis? Not so much. On their last school photo day the photographer opted not to do sibling photos of the girls together because Alexis was protesting too much. Nicole was pretty upset when he made that call, and even cried a little herself. She wasn’t content with just photos of herself, she wanted some with baby sister too!

Alexis tolerates the camera better when I’m the person on the other side of it. She doesn’t mind a quick game of peak a boo with the camera. I’ve learned how to get a smile out of her by turning it into a game. Yet even with me she’s less inclined to enjoy getting dressed up or playing with props. I get short bursts of smiles and then she’s ready to move on to the next activity.

So I’m making a promise to myself, not to try and pretend both girls are exactly the same and not to worry that they aren’t. I love them for who they are, and shouldn’t try and jam them into the same mold. Let Nicole dominate my Instagram and Alexis my facebook. I will stop worrying about how that looks to others.

February 5, 2015

Nicolies

Nicole’s nickname at daycare is ‘Nicolie’, so I think of ‘Nicolies’ as the things she says or does.

I’ve been making an effort to blog less about Nicole these days in order to protect her privacy, but an article in The Atlantic reminded me why I started in the first place: so I will always be able to look back and remember. In that vein I thought I’d share some cute, but rather benign stories I hope I never forget.

Mommy I’m drawing!

While I was driving her home from daycare a few weeks ago she exclaimed happily from the back seat “Mommy, I’m drawing!” I responded with a casual “that’s nice, sweetie” without a glance. I knew those were dangerous words to ignore, but it’s not like we have any writing instruments back there and I needed to concentrate on driving.

A little while later Nicole starts screaming something that sounds like “My Sock! My Sock!” She went through a phase of taking her socks and shoes off in the car, so I’m thinking she took them off again and accidentally dropped her sock. I tell her I will put her shoes and socks back on when we get home, but she starts crying harder “Sock! Sock! Sock!”

When we get to a red light I turn around and notice both her shoes are still on. That’s wierd. I glance up and my car door is covered in green CHALK. I did not even notice she had taken it from daycare.

chalk
Chalk. It’s toddler war paint, basically

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson about checking the contents of her hands before leaving school, but that would be a big ‘Nope’. A few days latter the green chalk was joined by it’s yellow brethren.

cardoor
Nicole’s artwork, a few weeks (and smudges) later
Wipers

Nothing says you’ve been in a drought too long than your two year old being fascinated by light rain, other than perhaps same said two year old being terrified of windshield wipers. We made this discovery last November during a rare day of rain. From then on every time it rains I warn Nicole that I have to turn on the wipers. She’d usually protest so one day I asked her if she could be brave.

“Yes, mommy.”
I’m going to count to three and turn the wipers on, ok? One… Two… THREE!
“Do again.”
One… Two… THREE!
“Do again, mommy!”

This continued throughout our entire drive. I kept remarking how brave she was and she kept asking for more wipers without so much as a whimper. We arrive at daycare, I stop the car, look back and see…

eyescovered
Nicole covering her eyes so she doesn’t have to see the wipers (after we parked the car, obviously. Momtographer may be obsessive, but not stupid!)

Hands covering the face the whole time. Since then she has also used Fuzzy Bunny (her toy for the car) to shield her eyes. My silly California girl prefers her sunshine.

Baby Necklace

Of course my favorite Nicolies right now is how she refers to her sister as “Baby Necklace.” Nicole adores her little sister… most of the time. She insists “Baby Necklace comes too” and that she’ll help change her diaper or feed her her bottle.

January 10, 2015

Finding Time

“You think you gave up all your free time when you go from no kids to one kid. When you have your second you realize how much free time you still had left.” – Paraphrased wisdom from a friend. I can’t remember who because my memory has turned to swiss cheese as of late.

I often feeling like the end of the day has arrived and I’ve gotten nothing done. I’m roughly halfway through my maternity leave, so time is ticking by. It’s time to get my act together.

After reading advice from happiness and productivity efforts I realized I needed to do several things: (1) Priorities, it’s not possible to do everything all the time; (2) Identify tasks I can do each day to start chipping away at my list; (3) recognize my limits so I don’t paralyze myself with frustration when I can’t do 2.

The first thing I read was to pick no more than five areas to focus on outside the day-to-day needs-to-get-done list. Since I’m out on leave I picked just four areas, leaving space for professional development when I return to work. In no particular order they are:

  • Alexis’ Development, particularly sleep It’s easier, (and tempting!), to get her to nap in the rock n’ play or bouncy seat, but I want to work on getting her to nap in the crib so we can have an easier transition than last time.
  • Quality Time with Nicki Nicki is doing very well with Alexis. She loves to help, whether it be by sitting by Alexis’ side during diaper changes, holding the bottle, or fetching the binky. I think prioritizing special Nicki/Daddy and Nicki/Mommy time is helping stave off any jealousy she might otherwise feel.
  • Getting a handle on our home. It’s a mess, and messes stress me out. We also want to move within the year, and the more picked up and organized we are the easier the move will be.
  • Photography (obviously).

Each day I set out with one or two goals in mind: a family photo (it’s harder than you might think), get Alexis to nap in the crib for more than 30 minutes, take Nicole to the park, etc. I strive for the sweet spot between reasonable-achievable and feeling-like-I-accomplished-something-big. It can take several attempts to get Alexis to fall asleep and stay asleep in the crib which can easily add up to an extra 90 minutes in my day. The park is a couple hour endeavour.

So far the new approach seems to be helping. I’m certainly taking more photos this time than last time, and Alexis has now had several good naps in the crib. I wish I was making more progress on the house, but I guess that’s why the experts recommend step 3.

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