Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New York!

Last week we went back to New York for Thanksgiving to be with my parents. Although I have taken both of them back to the city before, this was the first time we really stayed more than a few days. We usually go in the summer and quickly head to the Berkshires to get out of NY where it is so hot. We stayed put this time, especially since it was the complete opposite of hot. It was the coldest wind my kids have ever felt. It was actually quite fun and a refreshing change, as long as you didn't have to stay outside for too long.

I had some activities planned for us, and I was excited because a few of them were things I loved as a kid. What I didn't plan was how sentimental it would feel to be doing all these nostalgic visits with Twig. We went to visit my best childhood friend for Thanksgiving. Our parents are close so we decided to share the holiday with them. Hand and hand, my little girl and I walked from our house down to my friend's house as I had done countless times as a child. When we arrived at the house I had that familiar feeling I did when I entered each time before. Not much has changed there, and as always we entered through the back door. A few things had been rearranged but the only big obvious change was that we had all multiplied. There were our two husbands, and then each of us now have two children. Our older girls are around the same age and our youngest are only a few months apart as well. It all felt so comfortable. The kids had a great time, and I felt this New York part of me that often, feels under nourished in Los Angeles, click right into place back at home, this time with my kids in tow.

The other adventure I went on with my very appreciative 5 year old was to see "Annie" on Broadway." It was something I wanted to do with her since her birthday, and we weren't able to get tickets over the summer. This time we planned well in advance and got two great orchestra seats. She was so disappointed over the summer  that we couldn't go that I kept this one a secret until it actually happened. She is so in love with the music, the movie, and even a bad local production, that she sat still for the entire two hours, that I knew she would appreciate a real deal show.

As a child this was my favorite musical, and I went to many. I remember the Broadway show very well. The show was such a big part of growing up for me. I performed "Tomorrow" for 300 senior citizens when I was barely 4. I think I did the show at least 3 times, and remember all the lyrics to this day. It was emotional to hear her belting out the songs the first time, but taking her to the show I knew would step it up a notch. I took her in from our house in Queens on the subway to Times Square. The train stop practically ended right under the theater, so when we walked up the steps it was the first thing she saw. She asked if we were going and I said "Surprise!"

She sat through it all on the edge of the plastic booster they provided. There was only one point during the Hooverville song where she asked if I could fast forward it. I explained it was live theater, and she seemed engrossed enough that she didn't mind. At intermission she asked if it was the end of the movie. Again I explained the live theater part, she then expressed her excitement that it wasn't over. At one point as I watched her watch the show, I thought to myself, "She loves this, and I am glad that she is happy in the audience, unlike me who felt an overwhelming need to be in the show." I kid you not, two seconds later she turns to me and says, "Mommy, I want to be in the show, can I please?" So it begins!

At the end during the bows, I explained to her that we clap as a "thank you" to the actors who worked hard to give us a show. She clapped for every cast member and as "Annie" came out, I explained that if you really love what someone did you can give a standing ovation. I have never seen a little kid jump to her feet so quickly. She clapped with so much enthusiasm that I teared up watching her. It was a very happy night!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake!

If you come into my house on any given afternoon, you might enter to the smell of muffins in the oven. The muffins will then go to the cooling rack before piling in a jar, before being distributed between snack plates, lunch bags, and out to friends. Today muffins, but tomorrow could be cupcakes or cookies. One might ask how I manage to find the time to bake while running after two small children, and the answer is this: it's a necessity.

This year I have had the pleasure of becoming new friends with another mom at Twig's school who shares the same hobby (the nice way of saying healthy addiction.) Together we have discovered why we love to bake. It allows us to have control over something creative in our lives. In the daily mix of early morning wake ups, school drop off and pick-ups, after school activities and little time left for me, I feel like this is an area where I can decide how I want something to look and what I want it to taste like and most times if I get the chemistry of it down the outcome is foolproof.

I recently heard someone say that outcomes are so important for adults but that small children (I am assuming under the age of 3 because my 5 your old wouldn't stand for unfinished business) don't need to complete things to feel they have accomplished a task. Well, I stand with my five year old on this. It bothers me when I can't check enough of my list off. I like the "end of an errand" feeling. When most days I don't dictate how much I get done, I know that at least what I do get done will taste pleasing, even to the most unappreciative group of young-ins.

After I finished writing this, I took a batch of muffins out of the oven. The only people eating them today will be me, along with my words. They were as bland as could be. I couldn't figure it out until I saw on the counter the measuring cup still filled with sugar. Perhaps, a little more focus would be handy when baking. Always room for improvement!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


With Thanksgiving coming up there is so much focus on being thankful. I feel like gratitude is the single most important gift I can give my children. Taking inventory every day is something I do before I go to bed each night when I write at least five things I am grateful for, even if one of those things is "I'm going to sleep now." Every day at dinner time we say what we are thankful for and the list usually includes our families, friends, school, and some random statements like "this dinner, or gymnastics". Whenever  I think that I might be slighting my children by not giving them much in the way of religion, I think about gratitude. In a way I feel like that simple pause to think about people and things that we have in our lives is something that will serve them well on a personal and spiritual level.

My daughter comes home with drawings from school of Pilgrims and Native Americans. She learns poems about fat turkeys and has art projects with feathers. She learned the Pledge of Allegiance, and before Veteran's Day she came home with an American Flag that she painted with a poem about American pride. I also remember a lot of these things from school growing up, but I don't know how much of it I agree with, or how much I actually absorbed. I thought maybe my child wasn't getting enough of the gratitude at school and then yesterday I saw some of the work she brought home and changed my tune. She is getting a perfect balance of the political stuff (which she can question when she gets old enough). mixed with the good moral rich, sensitive, critical thinking stuff that will prepare her well for the real world.

Just as I was in the middle of writing this, she came home from school with a worksheet that has pictures of kids posing as Pilgrims back in the day. Each picture has a comment under it stating what the child is grateful for and then a question. "I am grateful for my family" followed by, "Are you grateful for your family?", then the option of "yes" or "no." I looked for the statement about being grateful we stole this country from the poor Native Americans, but I didn't see it. I'm glad they left that out since that can not be answered quite so easily.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


As I went to put my daughters clothes away while she was at school yesterday, I noticed her pet fish lying upside-down among the plastic gems that decorate the bowl. We had an idea this was coming as I had found him (Dorothy was a Beta so he is a boy) a few times in funny positions down near the gems. I had called the pet store and they said he was getting old. They congratulated us for keeping him alive as long as we did because we had him almost a year and a half. I informed Twig that Dorothy was sick and that it was a possibility that she might die soon. That was a few weeks ago, and it seemed everytime Dorothy floated funny Twig would tap the bowl and Dorothy would swim around again. When I went in yesterday it was clear her swimming was over.

We got this fish for her for sleeping through the night without calling out. She earned her because she wanted company in her room. Dorothy was the first pet we ever had here as a family. Every Sunday Twig and I cleaned out her bowl. I would carefully move the fish to a cup and then empty the bowl then She would scrub the bowl. I would fill it, she would add the solution and the gems and then I would put the fish back in. This was her first introduction to responsibility and chores. Every morning it was her job to feed Dorothy and most days she didn't need any reminders.

Yesterday when I found Dorothy, I thought to get rid of her right away. It was a strange feeling being around death. Even in such a tiny creature, something felt odd about the spirit of it gone yet its body was lying limp in front of me. I quickly realized that it wasn't my fish to get rid of, and that my daughter needs to process this loss. It reminded me of when I never came home from England to go to my Grandmothers funeral and to this day I don't think I fully accepted she was gone. This was a very obvious remedy to that. Keep her in the bowl until after school.

As I left the house to get her at dismissal, I felt a wave of nerves through my stomach. I began rehearsing in my head how I would let her know. I let her play with her friends and dilly dally a bit before we walked home. When we got close to our door, I told her we needed to talk. She thought she had done something wrong and asked if it was good or bad. I said it wasn't good but it wasn't anything she did. I told her Dorothy died today and that I left her in her bowl if she wanted to see her. We walked in together and I watched her stand with her face close up to the bowl. She tapped it once, twice, waited, and then jiggled the bowl a bit. She did this a few times, and then I realized she wasn't convinced Dorothy wasn't going to swim. She repeated this as my eyes began to well. When she realized the fish was still she sobbed, her hand still on the bowl she had trouble catching her breath. I took her in my arms and my tears fell down my cheeks as hers fell down my chest. I held her and fought every urge to try to say anything to her. I though about telling her how lucky we were to have her this long or that we could get a new fish. Instead of trying to help her feel better I decided to just help her just "feel."

She did take this much harder than I expected but she really did process the loss. She went through her steps of grief and asked if we could keep her in a cup so she could still see her from time to time. I told her we couldn't but instead we drew a picture and wrote Dorothy a love note. I gave her a choice to bury Dorothy or send her to meet her family in the ocean by flushing down the toilet. We said goodbye to him and transferred him from one bowl to another. Before I flushed I asked to take a good look so she could always remember what he looked like. I reminded her that even though he is gone he will never disappear in your mind or heart.

Time does heal, and for children perhaps much less time is needed. She asked for a lizard this morning.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Peek Into The Future

This week Twig had a dentist appointment. It was the first one since she turned 5, so they took some X-rays. She was brave and patient while they took the pictures. I stood behind and when I came back in, the X-rays of her teeth were displayed on a giant monitor. I couldn't believe my eyes. Right above her teeth were her adult teeth hovering, waiting for their time to come down.

I stood staring. They were right there and I began to imagine what her face would look like with them. It was mostly exciting but also a little sad to realize that her beautiful little teeth will all fall out. Yet another reminder of how fleeting this time is. This face of hers will not stay like this very long, and that the next phase is just around the corner.

There are some phases that I will gladly welcome the end of, but so many are so sweet, and yet so temporary. I took my boy to the grocery store the other day and a woman cooed over him and then said, "Enjoy him now because you will lose him to a woman one day." I had never thought of it like that. I certainly don't think my mother-in law thinks she lost her son to me. She went on to say that boys you have to let go of, but girls you can have forever. I don't know if this woman was in her right mind, but some of this kind of resonated with me. I am pretty sure my mom is closer with the grandchildren she has from my sister and me, than my brother's son. It not intentional but it just sort of works that way. I think about the nights that I get to sleep beside my little girl. We cuddle, snuggle, tell stories and giggle. I can see doing this for years to come. Not so with my boy.

This year has been full of big firsts for all of us in this family. New school, new friends, new home, new job, new teeth. I continue to remain as present as possible, but that sneak peak ahead was wild. I hope those new set of teeth grow into the same sweet heart of a girl I have, and that we get to be one of those few mother daughter teams that have a friendship that lasts a lifetime.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

My Children This Week

I still get weekly updates from Baby Center, the website I joined when I was pregnant over 5 years ago. It sent me little updates filling me in on what size my baby was. It started with a sesame seed and ended with a watermelon which turned out to be my 7 1/2 pound daughter. The emails kept coming once she arrived to keep me informed about what to expect week by week. I now get one called "your big kid" and your "17 month old week one."

This week it told me that I need to stay consistent with the discipline I give my 5 year old. That if my change my tune from one day to the next she won't know what rules to follow and what rules she can test. It has some tips on helping her be more articulate and table manners for a restaurant. For my son this week it recommends giving him opportunities to climb. It discuss the future potty training topic, and is your child ready to lose the morning nap.

Here is what they don't tell me in the weekly updates. I keep looking but it never seems to cover these specific topics. My daughter is going to come home from a full day of school and regress from an amazing Kindergarten student back to a three year old the minute I open the front door. Maybe she will wait until after she has a snack, but most likey it won't be long. She works all day to keep it together at school and be "good" that when she comes home she collapses in a mix of meltdown and fit sobs. Not pretty! She also has learned to refine her manipulation tools this week. She explains that if she doesn't get an ice cream like other kids after school she will feel left out. This is where I fail on my consistent discipline. Some days I say "too bad" and that we cant always have what everyone else has, but other days I am a straight up sucker for her and get her an over priced frozen piece of junk on a stick. I don't want to her to feel left out.

For my 17 month old they didn't tell me he would get a bruise on his head after he drags it on the floor in a fit of frustration. That when he doesn't get picked up at the precise moment he whines to be that he will flail his entire body like a wet fish out of water. They didn't tell me that he has the instinct to bite, hit, and head butt me when he gets upset. Most importantly they didn't mention that with his recent molars cutting into his gums that he will want to nurse around the clock. If I decide that I don't want to nurse him that I should be prepared for the neckline of every shirt I have to be ripped or stretched as he attemps to claim what is "his." Or that the transition from two naps to one is a bitch and that I will have no idea when to leave the house this week.

I don't know why they are sugar coating this all for me and making blanket statments like "pick your battles." This is a war zone here. There is no choice in which battle, it's coming at me from all sides. Good think I am so in love with my little enemies. They give kisses and draw me "i love you mommy" notes at school so I have more fight in me.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Doing "It"

Every so often I get the pang to go back to work, or start a new career. I get inspired -- maybe get as far as making a few calls or sending a few emails and then I try to play out the logistics in my mind of how it would all work. It can be done but it doesn't take me long to realize that it wouldn't be easy. Not impossible, just not easy.

I came across a friend's blog post recently where she said she asked the universe for a very specific request. She said she wasn't too into The Secret but wanted to put something out there that she wanted to manifest. She is a stay at home mom who occasionally works as a writer and performer. She hadn't really brought in much money since she had her son seven years ago and was ready to work. She knew she wanted a job that would still let her be around for her son about 80% of the time (I told you she was very specific).

With her list clear and her skills up to par she got exactly what she asked for. She now is writing and acting in a web series that is part time and exactly what she wanted. I began to formulate in my mind what that would be for me. I have a desire to still perform so I could go back into acting. I could increase my existing business as a personal trainer to more than a small handful of clients. I have an interest in getting certified to be a doula since I have gotten a lot out of assisting in bunch of my friends births. There are a few food ideas I want to market, as well as some theater for social change ideas.

Quickly I realize I have a lot of ideas. Then I realize to execute them it would require time and money. It would also require help for my one year old and probably help for my five year old too. That equals more money. The time part would take away from my kids which is something I don't want to sacrifice. The minute I think of missing a first word or a new step I get really bummed. I very quickly manifest what I already have, which is creative ways to spend time with my kids and still keep my sanity in check. The latter can be challenging at times but I think overall I manage okay.

As for my five year fantasy plan. It will all be there when my toddler goes to school one day. That will come up quicker than I want. This time with him is fleeting. He won't be little anymore by the time I check off things on my accomplishment list, but a career will be waiting when I am read. In any case I need to fine tune that list.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friendly Reminder

One of my best friends is about to have her third baby. She is strong woman and an excellent mother. When we were pregnant with our seconds together, she secretly confessed to me that she hoped it was another girl so she could justify a third and try for a boy. She manifested exactly that. Although not on purpose.

The hectic craziness that comes with a new little human entering your already chaotic household was not that far behind her when she realized her period was late by a few days. When she told me she was concerned, I didn't even really hear her because it just didn't seem possible. With each day that passed the magnitude of it was getting bigger and bigger. At that particular moment in time, she and her husband were not in the best emotional or financial position to add another member to the family. They lived in a cluttered two bedroom apartment. They were just coming out of the haze that comes with having a baby. Their second daughter had just turned one and they were looking for a new place to live, and a good night's sleep.

When a pregnancy test confirmed she was pregnant she texted me the picture of the stick. It was the complete opposite of the previous pregnancies. The first time, I knew she was trying -- she came to my house and we made small talk for a half an hour, while both of us were tip-toeing around the issue. I was afraid to ask her and she wasn't supposed to tell me because she promised her husband she wouldn't tell anyone. I just had to ask and we danced around the room overjoyed. The second time it was equally as exciting. This time, the only thing in common with the other two was that I was the only person other than her husband to know. They were in denial. Unsure what, if anything, to do about this.

She cried to our OB and he couldn't have been more understanding. He gave her different scenarios, dates at which decisions would need to be made, and a very objective stance. With time off or on her side, she went home to think about it. With each passing day the decision diminished because an attachment had grown. Even if they couldn't quite wrap their heads around a third child, they had a harder time wrapping their heads about not having it. Like many complicated situations it wouldn't be as simple as coming to a clear choice. When her testing for the health of the fetus came back the results were terrifying. There was a one in 34 chance of the baby having birth defects. She had to do her best to but a screeching pause on her attachments and wait for further testing. At this point I was so at odds about how this would play out and this baby wasn't even mine. It was all such a roller coaster of emotions.

They scheduled an amnio and then quickly paid an additional few hundred dollars to get a rush on the results. Amazing news came shortly after that the baby was healthy and that it was a boy. It was such a relief to hear he was healthy and everyone became quickly aware of how wanted he really was. Now as her last few weeks of what seemed like the fastest of all her pregnancies, the element of surprise is tarnished a little, but I don't think there are any complaints about that. There is nothing to shock her third time around. Yes, it will be more crazy and crowded trying to do anything. Her house will probably get that much messier and that much louder. They are about to go through another year of intense lack of sleep. They know the drill though. Her body will do some crazy things, and then her mind will think it needs to do some crazier things, and maybe third time around she can out-think it. If not, tissues will be available for the many tears that will fall.

When all settles and six months pass she will have a giggly smiley little guy who will sit on his own. He will then laugh, stand, walk and play. By his first birthday we will all marvel at how grateful we are that he is here. I will get my newborn fix through her as we are a two-and-through family, and believe you me, I have no interest in going through pregnancy, birth, or another lick of postpartum depression, but I am beyond words jealous of getting to have another littler person become just that before my very eyes.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Stress Mess

I usually don't want to admit this but -- I am stressed.

I don't know why I don't want to admit it, perhaps because it could be perceived as a sign of weakness, but I surrender. I am stressed! For me stress leads to having a short fuse, being tightly wound, getting pissy, being bitchy -- oh, it's just countless. Since life is short and feeling like you are trying to avert a car crash every other minute is not pleasant, I decided I wanted to do something about it. I can't afford the time or money to go to therapy, so I decided to look online for some tools.

I found a great website to help me with stress management. It's in twelve steps (how did twelve become the magic # for recovery?), and I'm giving it a go.

1) Acknowledge you have a problem.

I have a problem.

2)Keep a hostility log.

Here is an abridged version:
- I feel rushed all the time.
- I never get to sit down except when my son is sleeping.
- My daughter doesn't like anything I feed her unless it has sugar on top.
- My husband gets to get in his car everyday on his own, drive it somewhere, and get out on his own and I am a little jealous.
- I take on way more than I should and don't like to, nor do I want  to say "no."
- My kids annoy me, and then I judge myself for that fact, because I also absolutely adore them and I keep forgetting those two feelings are not mutually exclusive.
- I have so much I want to do, and never get through a daily list because I keep adding to it.
- I try to tell myself "there is time" and "life is long" but come on now -- I hear "do it now" and "life is short" way more so it wins out.
- Very little is predictable these days, except that Miley Cyrus would do nude videos. I could have bet on that one.
- I don't want to overwhelm or over plan my daughter with activities after school but I want her to keep doing gymnastics and start learning Mandarin. Even though she is five and that is a lot, and yet because she is five, time is off the essence on the foreign language skills.
- My 15 month old wakes up before 6 am and that makes me start my day annoyed, not to mention, tired.
- There is too much good television these days to get to bed early and read and I miss reading. When I try I fall asleep, wake up when the book hits my face and then repeat that cycle a few more times.

3) Use your social network.

- Not posting it on Facebook but I am telling whoever reads this.

4) Interrupt the Anger Cycle

- Working on that currently.

5) Use Empathy

- Okay, I can always give someone else the benefit of the doubt. Just working on my speed at which I get there.

6) See the Humor

- Oh how I love this idea! Try to "catastrophize" the situation in your head. I don't usually have to try so hard and it doesn't often seem funny in the moment, but again I am going to work on my comedic timing.

7) Relax

- I resent whenever someone tells me to "chill" when I am in the heat of a matter, but I am calm right now so I will try to remember what this feels like when my blood begins to boil.

8) Build a Trust

- I like this one. Angry people can be cynical and can believe that others do things on purpose to annoy them. Building a trust is something I can wrap my head around along with number 5, I just need to work on my uptake. I like the idea of showing people that you are a person of integrity and keeping to your word. If people see that in me they are likely to follow my lead.

9) Listen Effectively

Improving active listening skills. When you can listen better to what someone say it is easier to find a resolution that doesn't involve anger. Okay so, that would mean being less distracted and I have lost my train of thought five times trying to write this sentence. I have had to wipe tears, open a pack of baby cookies, save my keyboard from sandy hands, what was I saying? Oh distraction. Maybe in a few years I will hear every word people are saying to me, but for now I will have to settle for #8 and trust that I heard the important parts.

10) Be Assertive

That's kind of my problem. The article makes a point of differentiating between assertive and aggressive but I sometimes think its a bit of a fine line. Aggression is about winning. Case and point: Charlie Sheen seemed pretty selfish to me and he was quite a self proclaimed "winner." When you are assertive you focus on balance and respect the needs of others. I don't know if every one else out there knows of the difference but its a good goal.

I read a story once about a father who taught his child to be more assertive by helping her hone her argument when she wanted something. When she whined he explained to her that it wasn't a compelling enough attempt. He instructed her on how to give a good reason for why it would benefit her to have a lollypop after eating a cupcake. If she made a good enough case I guess he would give in.
I am pretty sure I have this kid already in the making without my help, and I am not sure it's very attractive in a five year old, at least not when my case is stronger for not having a lollypop. I do think having enough confidence to clearly get a point across is crucial, and I want that for my kids and for me. Hope that makes sense and that is assertive enough. Wait...now imagine I said that in a strong voice with confidence.

11) Live Each Day as if it's Your Last

Life is Short. If you spend time getting pissed off, you are going to miss out on some of the joy. In my own personal case I can argue that because I am capable of allowing myself to feel the extreme emotions that come with my frustration I am also capable of feeling an extreme high that comes with joy. I know what it feels like to be overjoyed and alive and there unfortunately has to be the other side of that as well.

I do agree that letting anger get the best of me is a waste of time though. I do have too many things I want to do to let it get in the way. I think checks and balances are important. For example I need to balance my "Breaking Bad" habit with a bit of "Cupcake Wars" now and again, or it all gets way too heavy.

12) Forgive and Forget

Saying sorry is not my favorite thing in the world to do, but I learned very quickly with my daughter that I need to get over that. My mission with I am sorry is that there is really no good that can come from being defensive about our mistakes. If you hurt someone or do something wrong say "Sorry." I have said it to her quickly, nicely and effectively,when she notices my screw ups. Now I could only get this down with my husband I'd be in much better shape.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Peas Please

Celebrate Differences. That was said to me when I used to babysit for a family. The kids learned it at school because the kids came from different homes, liked different foods, and wore different clothes. Kids can be a bit too honest about their opinions so they learned to use the phrase to encourage kids to understand the concept of differences positively.

Kids can also be just plain mean. Now that I have a Kindergartner, I see how much an older kids' opinion means to her. When our neighbor, who is eight, has a friend over, Twig wants nothing more than to be in the mix. It isn't always appropriate or fair for an eight year old to have to play with a five year old, so at times it can get sticky. So it begins. I have tried to teach my daughter boundaries and to recognize when she needs space and when others around her need space. Everyone in this particular situation is sensitive to feelings and so we are all pretty respectful. School is a whole other situation though.  I somehow didn't anticipate other five year olds to be capable of hurting her feelings.

Right before the school year started, we took a trip to the East Coast. On one of the days there I met up with my friend Bridgett and her family. She has a daughter going into second grade and she told me how last year some of her daughter's friends made fun of her tuna sandwich because it smelled to them. Her daughter came home declaring she will never bring tuna with her to school again. Bridgett was so mad at these kids and wanted to remedy the situation so that her daughter would eat one of her favorite foods without shame but she didn't want to get involved. My heart sunk for her daughter and for mine because this kind of peer influence is in evadible.

In case I could avoid any unnecessary hurt feelings I gave my daughter a little chat about celebrating differences. I told her that not everyone knows this though, and so there might be someone who comments on what she brings to lunch. She loves peas and has been part of her daily lunches since I can remember. I have tried giving her other options but she requests them as her first choice. I can't really complain much about a kid asking for a green vegetable so it's a win win. I explained to her that some kids bring carrots and even though she doesn't like them, she would never comment about someone else's food. Apparently, not everyone gave this speech to their children. Sure enough, she makes a new friend. The friend sits next to her at lunch, comments on how she doesn't like peas. The next day makes a disgusted face about peas. The next day says, "Peas again?!"

Twig tells me that she asked her not say anything and explains that it hurts her feelings. I am proud of her, but it doesn't really work. The girl keeps acting shocked that Twig keeps bringing them. Finally last Thursday, she asks for seaweed in her lunch instead. I didn't ask why, and instead just asked more about her day. Eventually she told me the girl commented again. I explained that after you tell someone how you feel you then have to ignore them. I also said that she doesn't have to sit next to her, and that she could take this as an opportunity to make friend's with a new girl from class. She liked the idea and and with that I kissed her good night. I got to the door and she said "Mommy, I would like peas please!"

That day she reported back to me that she ignored the girl and pretended not to hear her. She said "Mommy, I did hear her but she didn't thinks I did." This went on for two more days at which point I emailed the teacher just to fill her in that maybe a blanket message about comments could be useful and she agreed. The next day Twig came home so happy to report that her "friend" didn't say anything. Maybe the teacher's speech had something to do with it, but I would like to think Twig handled it all very well on her own.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Date With A Boy

There are many articles out there about spacing between children and what age difference is best for siblings. I had it in my head we would do three in a half years and well, you can plan all you want but things have a way of working out all right in the end. I have a friend who had kids fifteen months apart and then another who had them eight years a part. Everyone finds some of it extremely challenging and other elements of the gap to be easy. My children are three years and ten months apart and it has worked out pretty well so far.

This week I see the beauty in how my daughter being off at school allows me time alone with my boy. Last year she went to preschool and although I had that time with him it wasn't quite as relaxed. The first week she was in class I was busy running errands for her and the house. By Friday I realized he needed some fun just for him. I got in the car with a few ideas but no plan in particular. I started driving and thought of Travel Town. Twig loved it when she was his age so I had a feeling he would too. It was perfect. Not a huge place made it completely manageable for his age. There were trains to climb, a bunch of old cars, miniature trains, and a train he could ride around on.

He started walking in the last month so the feeling of freedom he had was so apparant on his smiling face. I knew he would have fun but I didn't really anticipate how much. The fact that he is boy seems to factor in so early. He was toddling around the whole place pointing to each train and saying "car." He isn't entirely wrong. He was jumping up and down in his seat on the train ride he was so excited. He got to run the length of every train inside and out. It was truly our first exciting mother/son date. I beamed watching him. I think we will be frequent passengers there from now on. All aboard!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First Day

The set up for the first day of school was huge. She has been singing songs about going off to Kindergarden since last winter. It seemed the second half of preschool was all about preparing her for this year (making sure she knew her letters, numbers, had good social skills and an interest in learning). When we sat down with her teacher she told us that she was "beyond ready." Academically and socially-speaking, she was a great candidate for Kindergarden. The only thing they couldn't exactly help us out with was separation anxiety -- and well, that is the area with which we need some help.

She seemed so excited when we talked about Kindergarten.We live right near the school so she got very familiar with the yard. We went to all the appropriate pre-Kindergarten events. She would proudly tell anyone who asked where she would be going to school and when, but as the day approached she had more and more questions. At the picnic that the school put together to introduce the new children to the teachers she had a look of terror in her eyes. They gave out popsicles at the end and so she asked that I pick her up when the popsicles came out. I explained that was what they did as a welcome but they wouldn't be having them every day. Then I made the mistake of telling her that the teachers had told me that after lunch they don't do any academics and that it will be all fun stuff in the afternoon. To that she asked what do they do the rest of the day then. On the fly I said just fun learning but sitting down and that they might get to run around a bit after lunch. I feel like I keep just having to spin everything positively because anything is fuel for her fear right now.

The build up to this day has been huge even for me, so I can imagine the whole thing to be daunting to her. I cannot believe my baby is off, all on her own, in elementary school. The morning began with her waking up with tears. She said she didn't want to go. When it was time to leave she clung to the furniture and I would pry her from one piece and she would run into another room and glue herself to another chair. I finally got her out at which point I just needed to get her there. We walked over with her stomach more full of butterflies than food. She picked out a dress with her favorite colors, blue and green. She wore her brand new purple back pack. She had her hair in a pretty little braid. She had tears running down her face.

The teacher Mrs. French was nice but not overly sweet. She was even a bit matter of fact which I think I appreciate now. She invited the parents in with the disclaimer that it would only be for today, and tomorrow drop off is at the door. The kids were to sit on the rainbow rug and we were to stand around them. Read: parents stand around the kids and me because she wasn't quite ready to let go of me. We listened to some details about the year and then a story was read called "The Kissing Hand" about a raccoon who gets a kiss from his mother to last him his whole first day of new school. We all then kissed our children's hands and began to say goodbye. The whole thing was very sweet and emotional. She then clung to me and when the teacher's assistant saw her crying she came up to us. She asked if she was having a hard time (duh). I locked eyes with her at the moment, nodded, and my eyes began to fill. I had held it in as long as I could and just couldn't anymore. Actually I wasn't aware of how hard it was for me until someone recognized we were struggling. I quickly asked the woman to take her and fled. It was not the way I wanted to say goodbye but I did not want her to see me cry.

I asked Twig this morning to find someone who was sad or lonely and to be nice to them to help them through this first day. I didn't see anyone as upset as she was, so I am hoping some of the other kids got the same advice. As I left I saw another mother tearing into a tissue. She shared an extra with me. I think I will wait a good ten years to share with my daughter that the mom's were crying outside. I wonder what she is doing right now and I pray that she has stopped crying. If not I researched home schooling options as a back up plan. I'm kidding. Mostly.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Sick Day

Warning: This post is not for those with a weak stomach and/or a vivid imagination. Especially those who might be experiencing nausea of any severity.

I was fast asleep when I heard "Mama" and knew something was up. Either the bed was wet or she was sick. I felt her head and immediately knew that the following day's plans were all about to change. It was a beautiful day in early July, so a fever seemed out of place, but it was very much making itself known. Illness after illness seems to roll into each other when you have more than one child. I think we get a reprieve of maybe two weeks tops.

So after canceling camp, gymnastics and a get-together, I settled in for a nice long day at home. First we started with a wash cloth and then set up shop in front of the TV (a perk of being sick is the TV can stay on all day if it makes her feel better). With her lethargic in front of what will be the first of many "Curious George" episodes of the day, I made it my mission to keep my little one from getting too close, and getting too bored. I took him out to the yard, kept him fed, strolled him around the pool in his trike -- anything to keep his day some what normal. When he napped she was either watching TV or sleeping as well, so in some ways it was more manageable than the two of them pulling on me at the exact same time like most mornings.

I was welcoming this change of pace in some ways. Nothing like a sick day to make you realize that you have been moving too fast. Slow living shouldn't come at the cost of your kid's health, so I already appreciated the lesson I got from this day. It was still only the morning and although I like this slowing down idea, I might need some spark to my day. I sat down to give Twig a sip of water to make sure she was hydrated and she laid her head back down on my lap. It only took a few minutes for the excitement to kick in. That sought-after spark had arrived. She began to throw up. She was on her back so first she drenched herself, then the suede pillow and then the shag rug. I sat her up and she just kept going. At this point I aimed her over me and said, "Throw up on mommy, on my lap, on mommy." She is very good at listening to directions and the more specific the better. As horrible as it would be to have a pool of vomit between my legs it would not be as hard to clean up as on the furniture. After all I am an expert at protecting furniture from her vomit (Crate and Barrel couch). So after getting covered from the waist down, I grabbed her and turned the shower on. We both recovered only to have it happen again, this time in a bowl though.

It was a rough couple of days home, but she recovered. Of course it has moved now to the baby, but at least now I know what I am dealing with: as long as we stay off the carpet and the couch, we should be fine.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Oh The Places She Will Go!

Preschool graduation: it seemed to come up on me really fast.

Wasn't I just pregnant, scheduling a hospital tour? I just planned her first birthday in the park and now she is having her fifth (and planning it herself). I've now officially entered the time warp that parents speak of, and it is really weird! My baby will head of to kindergarten in a few months and suddenly I'm clutching a box of tissues trying to process how my baby turned into kid.

We almost didn't send her to this preschool. Originally I had signed her up for a different preschool and a few months before it started I got an email saying they were relocating and the commute would have been horrible. I was crushed, and in a city like LA not knowing in April where your child will attend preschool in the fall is like showing up to the party a day late. I felt completely unprepared and knew it wasn't easy to get a spot anywhere.

We ended up full circle back at the school that I had been aware of since she was born. It sits in a beautiful park near our house that she and I have gone to since she was born. I started teaching stroller workouts there, then we would play there and we have even had every birthday party to date at this park. I knew about the school and had even applied when she was one (I thought I was in the early planning club then) but then got a call saying it was for people in that area only. One day at the park I noticed a sign saying they had opened it up to non-residents and so I called. I signed her up right then and there. It worked out perfectly. It was close to home, she knew the space well and despite the fact that we knew it would be a tough adjustment for her she stood a great chance of success somewhere at least a little familiar.

Preschool was amazing for all of us. It gave her a huge amount of confidence, independence and her social life sky rocketed. The first few weeks were rocky. She cried every day when we dropped her off. I often joined in on the tears once back in my car alone. I sometimes even got calls to pick her up a little early. I knew progress was being made though when I came to get her early after one of those phone calls and walked in to find her all dressed up in dress up clothes laughing with a group of girls. That was the first moment I saw her as a child. Not as my child, not my baby, but herself. She was giggling, talking and navigating through a game with no adult interaction. I had never before seen this child but I liked her and I was proud to be associated with her and honored to actually be related to her. When she saw me she had this embarrassed smirk because she was caught having fun and didn't want to leave. I left her there and came back later with the other parents for pickup. From that day on I never got a call to come early. She loved it there and felt at home, safe, and very welcome.

She experienced everything from music and baking to reading and problem solving. She got on well with her peers, and soared with accomplishments. The first year at the teachers meetings we were told she could improve her speech a bit and that she still had some separation anxiety issues. This year they had nothing to say that needed work. She had really grown there from a toddler to a kid. Articulate as ever, yesterday we passed a hotel that was circular and she said that it was "really very unique." Every so often she will still mispronounce words. She will say she wants to go for "shushi"and I don't have it in me to correct her. She dances that fine line between a very innocent little girl who still asks a lot of questions to a kid who can do it all herself and knows all the answers.

Her first experience at school has taught me about how wonderful other people can be for your child. Of course the social factor for her, but also the teachers. She had three lovely, sensitive, intuitive women who I trusted with my heart and who never once let me down. Together we turned out a success of an experience and I am beaming ear to ear with pride (with a whole lot of tears running down my face).

Monday, July 1, 2013


A few months back my close friend had us over one afternoon. It was like most afternoons in that we often are at each other's house. Our girls were playing in one room, and our babies were crawling around at our feet. We often spend afternoons chatting away while the kiddos play, we feed them together and then get them home for bed. This afternoon was different though. The normal talk turned serious right away. She said she had to talk to me. My first thought was, "What have I done?" and the second was, "Oh no, you aren't pregnant again are you?" The latter would only be phrased with such negativity for those who celebrate the end of pregnancy forever like she and I have. As big as either one of those who have been they are nothing compared to what she had to tell me.

Over three years ago I met my friend at a pizza place not to far from our homes. We sat with our husbands and daughters. The guys hit it off, our then toddler daughters were instant giggling buddies, and she and I began a friendship that has been one of the most important in my adult life. All of us are inseparable. They had moved from London two weeks before, and didn't know very many people with kids. I had been just that day saying to my husband that I wished I knew more people with kids near our house and then I met them. We spent days together at the park, pool, each other's houses, and nights and weekends we would go out from time to time as well.

We have experienced so much together. If you have followed my blog in the past there are many posts written about our experiences together. We have gone through potty training, tantrums, first day of camp, first day of school, feeling left out, isolating others, competitive behavior, annoying behavior. We have been there for each other as friends and as mothers. We have managed to raise two beautiful girls who love each other as much as we love each other. The more I meet other parents the more I realize how rare a find like this is. We have gone through pregnancy, miscarriage, and pregnancy again. We looked after each other's daughters when we had our baby boys.  We went through the rough newborn phase together. Our daughters played together while we cried on each other's shoulders about sleep deprivation, adjusting to managing two kids, and whether life as we knew it before was over.

As it got easier we grew even tighter. Our boys now had playmates and they seemed as excited to see each other as our girls. We had a great routine going with carpooling to and from preschool each day. We discussed the future and visited where the girls would attend Kindergarten. We agreed that as much as they loved each other that it would be best to separate them. This was the plan at least, until it all changed that afternoon. My friend looked at me and said "We are moving back." I was in shock. This was too much for me to even comprehend. This wasn't possible, and how can we change this. She had been so happy here, they all had loved living in LA. Then came the tears first from me, then her, then an even bigger wave of sadness came over me like a kick in my stomach: I thought of the girls. It was a very defining moment as a mother. When something this big can affect me this way I could feel how monumental it would be for Twig. 

We decided to be honest with them straight away. It would have been too hard anyway to hide two grown women crying in the living room and pawn it off like nothing was wrong. We calmed ourselves enough to tell them and then prepared ourselves for the many questions to follow. It is now a few months later and the questions continue to roll in. The majority of them are about visiting each other though. They both have it all planned out, and we know they will see each other at Christmas time when they come back for a visit. That gives us a bit of time to start planning a visit to London. In no way, shape or form is this how any of us saw it all panning out, but there is clarity in one thing for sure, these girls have a bond for life. As their mothers we have a commitment to nurture that bond and although they are leaving, the friendship between us all isn't going anywhere.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


We made it! He made it! I made it!

The first year is behind us. It did not feel like it went quickly in the first few months but from six months on it seemed to fly by. I get a weekly update about what my baby is up to and suddenly I get one and it no longer says "baby." My little baby is now a toddler. This time is of course bittersweet. I read recently that the month of May is hard for children because it is the end of the year and if they are going on to a new school they keep hearing about all the changes but they can't really grasp what the change is or how it will affect them. There is so much hype around how they are getting bigger and they are moving on and in some ways they get excited but it can also cause them a great deal of anxiety.

Parents (me) go through this change as well. I cannot grasp that I now have a one year old and will soon have a five year old who will go off to kindergarten. I just felt that the first day of school was so far away. When I took the baby (pardon me, "toddler") to drop off Twig's kindergarten registration forms today the secretary mentioned that soon enough I'll be registering him too. Now I know that is kind of far away but I also now know how the speed of time passing seems to have changed dramatically. I don't know what it is to feel boredom, quiet, or down time anymore and when I am busy I never get the sense that anything is moving slowly. There are only four weeks left of preschool for my first baby and I feel she is just getting over the transition recently. She loves school, but goodbyes each morning are still a struggle.

Changes are not easy for everyone. They have always seemed especially hard for me. That being said I have had more practice then usual lately. We moved a month ago and it went much smoother than I thought. It was epic, moving an entire house with two small children underfoot. Both kids did really well too (except for the then baby getting sick the second night here -- that is always a picnic). The anticipation of the change is always harder than the actual day it arrives. I do get teary just thinking of preschool graduation day, cap and gowns, singing, goodbyes to teachers. Teary and my stomach is turning too. The first concept that will be difficult for her to grasp is that she will not be going back there after that last day. She will then have to adjust to starting in a summer camp. I'm sure she will just begin to get used to that right before that ends as well.

Having children has challenged me to navigate change more gracefully. Just like Twig I have to shift gears often now. I will miss her preschool, and her preschool friends. I will miss the things they help her with there that she won't have assistance with in kindergarten, like telling them what to eat from their lunch boxes first, and more one-on-one attention. I will miss that academics took a backseat to fun and that it will soon be the other way around for her. I look forward to her going to kindergarten to expand her knowledge, friends, and experiences. I look forward to her being able to walk to school from our new home, and I look forward to her having a sense of community more so than we have had from preschool.

As for my little and last baby, I will miss him falling asleep nursing. I will miss the curled up snuggle of a tiny baby. I will miss watching the transformation he made from half asleep to smiling to sitting up. I will miss his new baby smell. I am happy to part with the sleepless nights, the hormonal shifts I went through and the blowout diapers. I still get to marvel over newness with both of them on a daily basis. Twig is singing and making up songs, and he happily claps along. The older he gets the more I see the relationship between the two of them strengthening. They are much happier having each other to play with. On the day of his first birthday he stood up for the first time without holding on to anything. He had a huge smile on his face as he just stood there looking at all of us. There are still so many great firsts ahead for all of us. I am excited to share my days with my two wonders.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Enjoy Every Minute!

Every minute is not enjoyable though. I try to savor these moments but some of them I would like to hurry up and put behind me. The lack of sleep thing is insane and I have tried to find a solution to this issue for my now nine-month-old but nothing is sticking. I'm far less precious about it all this time around and yet he is not a quick study as far as sleep is concerned. I wish he could love it as much as the rest of us do. It's a pretty great thing when you get enough of it.

My amazing daughter isn't always so amazing either. She is a love, so smart and so sweet but wow, she can be annoying sometimes. I swear she woke up this morning as if she drank a can of Coke before she got out of bed. She was so loud and so jumpy. She was singing Jingle Bells while shaking both a maraca and bells. It was 8 a.m. on a Friday in February. I am not taking the baby to any baby classes like I did with her because clearly he is getting enough stimulation at home.

I am playing a constant game of catch-up these days which is better than a month ago when the list just kept piling up, but I still feel a bit overwhelmed. Twig is starting kindergarden in the fall and we are talking about the possibility of moving into a new house. When I look around this house I get hives thinking about how I would begin to pack it. I keep hearing my friend saying "one box at a time" which is true but at the rate I get things done right now we will get packed in time for her to start middle school.

Between nap schedule, carpool pick up, cooking meals, changing diapers, running errands and maybe just maybe some downtime at night to remember what my husband looks like, I have very little time to just be in the moment. Then someone will say "Enjoy every minute." In fact I think my mother said it this morning. If I really think about it I am maybe more present than I have ever been. I am watching every move my baby makes, I am there to listen and work out any emotional or physical trip-ups my daughter has, I am completely wiped by the end of every day and I can say most of it was still enjoyable. I get to watch two small people navigate through each day, steer them in a clear direction and help them brush themselves off when they encounter bumps along the way. I get greeted with smiles or kisses almost everytime I walk through the door, I snuggle them both down every night and take as many opportunities a day to inhale them when I hold them close. Every minute seems to fly by and when I embrace each of them it is apparent that they seem to be growing bigger in my arms, so I will heed the advice. I just hope I can remember it when they are driving me crazy.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


The title of this post is all I was able to write when I sat down last week or month. I am not sure when because I haven't gotten to do much lately at all. It is a new year though, or at least it started twenty some odd days ago. My last post said I had a 5 month old and I now have a 8 month old. It's been a whirlwind. We are all sleeping a bit more at night but daytime downtime for me was nil until this week. He has taken a 40+ minute nap for 4 days in a row -- that's good for him. If there was a giant wooden ark somewhere near me I would knock it because I really like this new change and hope it sticks.

I am still typing as fast as I can for fear he'll wake up. I am not the fastest typist, and didn't like typing class in junior high, but I can guarantee this is the fastest I have ever mastered the keyboard. I don't love to do anything fast. I am a stop and smell the roses kind of person, but apparently if you want to get anything done with children around you must move quickly. I wasn't quite fast enough when he was taking half hour naps to take a shower and eat a meal so writing here took a backseat. Lets see how long this one takes to get edited and published.

I know when I started this blog I only had my daughter and one of the first posts was about lowering my expectations of what I can get done. Two kids take it to a whole other level. I am overwhelmed, to say the least. There are days when I feel a bit wacky for trying to manage morning until night without any help, but then there are days like today when I wake up to a smiley boy and girl, and am grateful that I am with them to witness it all. 

My girl these days is reading. Holy Cannoli, that happened sooner than I thought possible. She loves gymnastics, all things sparkling, playing the piano and over-loving her baby brother. She no longer needs a pull-up at night, and learned how to ice skate with me over the holidays. She loves her little friends, playing dress up, and eating sweets. She has a crazy sense of humor along with a brooding sensitive side -- she uses words like "terrible", "available", "delicate" and" bummer" almost daily and is the best cuddler I have ever known. 

My boy these days is biting. Holy crap it hurts and when I try to be firm with him, he thinks its the funniest thing ever. He has the best smile ever and can soften my mood even faster than a Mister Softee cone would. He is delicious!! He took a long time to get the eating thing down. He has two teeth and although he can use them well on me, he hadn't taken to anything tasty. I was discouraged but now suddenly this month he devours food. He loves to pull himself up to standing, he sits up and can get in and out of that position easily but doesn't quite crawl. He rolls to get around and loves a good game a peek a boo. His soft whispy hair is now growing over the tops of his ears. His smile is so big that he even wrinkles his nose and squints his eyes as if he is trying to squeeze just a bit more joy out of every grin.
These tiny moments of time to myself has allowed me to take a bit of a breath. If he keeps napping here and there I can sit down and type out the details of my day to day with these little munchkins. If not then well thats the way it goes I suppose, but I never want to forget this time. I know how fleeting it is, and just like my boy, I want to get as much of the good stuff as I can. It's too amazing to not take in every little bit.

Friday, January 25, 2013

My Boy-5 Months/ My girl 4 years

Another month has passed. It was a pretty busy one between a visit from my whole family and little Bud's first cold which turned into croup. Not a lot of sleeping, but during the chaos more personality emerged which results in more of a blossoming love fest between my boy and me. Here is another quick list of the highlights of month five.

The way you laugh when we kiss you under your arms.
The weight of your head sinking into my neck when you fall asleep on me.
The smell of your sweet baby breath.
Your soft blond hair beginning to fill in around your head.
The way you look to see if your sister is in her car seat whenever I put you in the car.
How happy you are when she sings to you.
When she teaches you about how things work, and tells you about your feet, or trees, and how you have to be kind to people. You look up at her trying to take it all in.
The squeels and screams you let out when you are happy.
When I pick you up you reach right for my cheek to give me a huge open mouth version of a kiss.
You clutch my neck and hair with your little fingers and although it isn't very gentle I have decided you are trying to give me a hug.
I put you down on the wood floor and you scooched across it while simultaneously licking it as you go.
Still love to suck your toes, making it hard to change your diaper, but you look too happy for me to take them out of your mouth.
How you will smile at anyone and make friends wherever we go.
You sleep 8 to 9 hours a stretch at night now. Phew!
You still don't like napping in your crib so I rock you to sleep sometimes and your cheek ends up right by mine and it makes me want to freeze time forever just to stay cheek to cheek with you.

My sweet girl. At four she is a feisty one, but doesn't cease to impress me. I am in awe of her and can't believe she is already such a little person. When I look at her I feel confident that I am doing a sufficient job as a parent (most of the time). We have challenging days and clashes here and there, but she is growing and that can be painful for all involved. My Lovey you have my heart.

The way you wake up in the morning and hide under your covers with the flashlight waiting to surprise me each day.
How you love books and have begun to figure out how to piece together words to read.
You are so little and cute but with such a huge personality.
Your hairstyles: two braids, a crown, one braid coming down, two low ponytails, rainbow braids, one ponytail, just a clip on the side.
Your sweets obsession. You take after me there.
When you use the words "prefer" "mention" or "solution"
When I overheard you talking to your friend and when she asked you what violence was you answered her by saying "violence is when people are not nice to each other and not nice to the world, and that is not good"
You are aware of those less fortunate then you and often say"I care for them"
Your brother loves you and you love him. You like to play with him and sing to him, you are such a great big sister.
The way you snuggle with me, and on those occasions that we get to share a bed on vacations, you are the best sleep-hugger there is.
When you smother me with kisses.
When I look at you and see how much we resemble each other.
How loud your laugh is when something silly happens on "Curious George" you favorite show.
The way you make friends so easily.
How joyful your spirit is.

My love bugs I adore you both and not a day goes by without feeling grateful and proud to be your mother.