Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Mommy: Grinch or Spirit Master?

The holiday season brings so many wonderful things, but also a great deal of craziness!  I like to start the holiday season by decorating on December 1st.  This is also the day we cut down our tree and put it up.  I am a stickler for staying with tradition, so it did not matter to me that we had a three hour birthday party on the 1st.  I was determined to fit everything in.  Nonetheless, someone should have reminded me that not only do I have an exuberant almost four year old, but also a very mobile, curious, almost ten month old.  Let me sum up December 1st this year:  INSANE.  We rushed to get ready for the birthday party, went to the party, went home to get Hubby's truck, drove to the Christmas tree farm, searched for a tree in the cold, finally found a suitable one, cut it down, dragged it out, went home, moved toys, furniture, etc., to make room, ran the vacuum, had T Bear watch Mad Man so Hubby and I could carry it up the stairs and into the house, secured it, began decorating, and then we had to take a break.  Exhausting.  Hubby went hunting.  I got Mad Man to sleep, put a movie in for the Bear and breathed a little.  Three days later the tree was finally finished. Although, several ornaments were broken in the process and are still waiting to be repaired.

Decorating the house has been a slow process.  Clearly, I did not help put the decorations away last year, since I was the size of a house and became out of breath with the slightest exertion.  I wish I had.  We still haven't located all of the decorations, but on the bright side I found some of my missing Halloween decorations in our search.  Our Elf on the shelf, Eli, was missing completely.  After many discussions and a grid search of the house Hubby, who was convinced that Eli was in a drawer somewhere, finally researched the basement and located one final Christmas box and lo and behold Eli was in there!  Note to self: never let Hubby be in charge of putting decorations away again.  After several days of slow going decorating - while chasing around the Mad Man, the house is decorated.  So now that the house is decorated, although my favorite singing lamppost, singing snowman, and singing Bing Crosby are yet to make it to the living room, we can have fun.  Wrong.  Think again.

This season it seems that Mommy has become synonymous with kill joy.  T Bear is beyond excited.  Okay maybe starting the celebration December first is a bit much for a three year old, but hey she was fine with it last year.  So I find myself saying, "Honey you need to calm down."  "Calm down please."  "I know you are excited, but I need you to calm down."  "Okay.  Time out for three minutes, you are not listening."  "You need to calm down."  The poor kid just wants to dance around, chase the dog, and throw her Christmas ball around the house.  What is the problem with that?

Another problem: I like to keep the house somewhat picked up, especially considering the amount of real estates our oh so fat tree takes up.  So I have to be the pick up police constantly.  Then there is Santa.  So the day of the holiday kick off parade (Thanksgiving weekend) it was freezing and we watched anyway, but there was no way I was going to have these munchkins wait in the long line to see Santa.  So, I promised we would come back.  Meltdown number one.  Then we went to see a free movie.  I think it is a cool event for kids to do, and it was supposed to be Santa Claus is Coming to Town, much to my dismay Jack Frost came on the screen instead.  Not appropriate.  So Mean Mommy distracts and promises more fun if we leave, minor meltdown but T cooperates and leaves.  Then there is the lighting of the tree ceremony.  Well, I should have checked the weather, because under any normal circumstances I would not have taken my kids out in twenty eight degree frigid temperatures; I did not check the weather so off we went.  So we get to Main Street and see the reindeer, peek at the alpacas and head to Ruffino's to have dinner.  At this point it is clear that we will miss the actual tree lighting.  Oh well.  After we eat, we head back out, me thinking we will just look at some stuff while we head back to the van, my excited T Bear thinking this is when the fun begins. So meltdown again when Mean Mommy says, "No we are not going to see Santa tonight", once again super long line and freezing temps.  Then she spotted the horse and wagon ride and desperately wanted to go on it. Me thinking about poor Mad Man freezing, not to mention T and the rest of us, and said no.  Well the waterworks began and I was reminded by my mother that she is three and wants to do something fun and that all she hears is me saying no.  Point taken.  So I offer to go on the ride.  I mean how long can it be?  Well, we find the spot and of course the line is ridiculous.  We are all freezing, so I distract her and promise fun another time.  She complies and we go home.  Now I am feeling a ton of guilt over squashing her fun.

When exactly will we have holiday fun?  This really gets my mind racing.  What is the point of doing all of these things?  Aren't I doing them to bring enjoyment to my babies?  Well, we have several more holiday events planned and my goal is to not be grinchy mommy but be the fun mommy I envision.  Wish me luck.

High:  Experiencing the wonder and excitement of the holiday season with my babies.
Low:  Forgetting to stop and ENJOY all of the wonder and excitement of the holiday season.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Month of Thanks

I've heard of people doing this but I have never tried myself, so here goes.  This month I am going to be mindful every day and focus on the things I am thankful for.  Here is a compilation of all the things I was thankful for this month, some are frivolous, some heartfelt, but all truthful.  Honestly, if I could do this every single day of the year my overall perspective would probably be much more positive - something to keep in mind and strive for!

1.  Savoring the last piece of birthday cake (after witnessing the most astronomical meltdown I have seen courtesy of T Bear).

2.  The way a great hair cut can make you feel beautiful.

3.  Watching Mad Man light up when he sees his big sister come down stairs in the morning.

4.  Seeing the love my T Bear has for her Mima and Poppi.

5.  The Penguin warehouse sale.  Amazing:  we bought forty three books and only paid seventy two dollars!

6.  Cable TV. After trying to downsize our cable bill we have given in and have cable again.  I love to unwind to my favorite shows:  Revenge, Parenthood, and Castle are definitely at the top of the list.

7.  The past nine months with Mad Man.  He is the sweetest, most cuddly little man around.

8.  Watching T Bear play with her grandma.  She absolutely loves it!  Especially being the boss!!

9.  So thankful for the love and support of family and that we waited until we were ready to start a family!

10.  Dance.  I know the love and passion I have for the art of dance and I love that T Bear is enjoying her first true introduction to dance.

11.  Thankful for the country we live in.  Especially thankful for the men and women who have served and are serving our country.  So much admiration for these brave, selfless individuals.

12.  The Fly Creek Cider Mill.  So much fun.  Feeding the ducks, sampling yummy products, and of course the apples and cider.  Bonus:  Mad Man ate an apple!  T Bear tried blueberry jam!

13.  One word:  Mama!  Mad Man uttered this today for the first time.  There is nothing like the sound of your baby saying your name!  Especially since it is his first word!

14.  Watching Mad Man cruise along the couch for the first time!

15.  Listening to T Bear "read" a story; she is so animated, creative, and most definitely humorous!

16.  Having a pediatrician I trust and feel comfortable with.  She listens to me and doesn't judge (even when I tell her Mad Man is STILL sleeping with me).  Love her!

17.  Kindness.  I love the feeling you get when you do something nice for someone and they so did not expect it and vice versa.

18.  Arts and crafts.  I try to do something creative with T at least once a week and she loves it (generally).  This week we are making turkeys with a kit I bought.  It is so awesome to see how her mind works, and to see her exploring her creative side.

19. A clean house.  At this stage of the game this is a rare commodity, but I do love an organized, freshly dusted and vacuumed home.

20.  Pictures.  I am obsessed with taking pictures and then ordering them from Snapfish.  I am definitely documenting every little moment.  Honestly, pictures help me feel like I am capturing moments in time that are flying by.  If you could see my living room walls you would see how I have covered them with photos.  Love it!

21.  Shopping.  I LOVE shopping.  I so enjoy buying gifts for people (especially my little angels!); it is so much fun!  (Somehow, I don't think Hubby agrees!)

22.   Thanksgiving dinner.  Seriously, does it get any better than an elaborate turkey dinner?

23.   My Stets!  The only time I get to go back to sleep is when my sister is visiting!  That extra hour of sleep is AMAZING!  So is she!

24.   Santa parade!  In spite of the frigid temp, and the flakes in the air, we ventured out to the parade and T loved it!  Mad Man didn't really know what was going on, but he was a trooper none the less!

25.   Seeing how much my babies love their Auntie!  We only get to see each other about once a month due to geography, but they adore her!  T gets really upset when she leaves.

26.   Nap time.  Although T gave up napping, during Mad Man's naps I can get stuff done on the computer, and can color uninterrupted with T Bear (even with Mad Man asleep in my arms)!

27.   Mickey Mouse.  T Bear still loves him and Mad Man gets super excited whenever he sees him!

28.  The sweetness that T shows Mad Man.  Granted this sweetness is not exactly a consistent occurrence, but when it does occur it is truly beautiful.  Today, he was trying to stand on his own and she put her arms around him and helped him.  They were just standing there in an embrace.  Aah.

29.  Friends that you can pick up with the same place you left off.  I find maintaining friendships challenging with two little ones, so I am especially grateful for those friends that you know will be there for you and vice versa.

30.  The anticipation building for the holidays!  T Bear is beyond excited now; I can only imagine what this month will bring!

High:  Focusing on the good that life has to bring.
Low:  Realizing that the rest of the year I do not always focus on the positive.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Look Back At T Bear Age Two

In an attempt to organize my computer files I came across a file titled "T's Dailies".  This was a document I created for the grandmother's when I (reluctantly) returned to work.  T had just turned two and we had such a special time together.  It was way too difficult to give up my time with her, but we were very fortunate to have the grandmother's watch her.  As I am on the precipice of having to return to work again, finding this document brought back all of the emotions I had almost two years ago.

This is what life looked like for T at age two.  Here is the document which I foolishly believed would help me have some control over her day!

First and foremost we are so grateful to have you watching T for us.  This is a big adjustment for all of us and having you with T is helping immensely.  I have put together an itinerary that should help you know how our day usually goes.  I hope it helps!  T really seems to thrive on her routine – and she has come to expect it – so hopefully this will keep things as stable as possible for her.

Waking Up

            T usually wakes up between 7:30 and 8:30.  If she wakes up before 7:30 she will probably need some tender loving care.  If she wakes up crying then she needs to be held or rocked, or may even want to lay in my bed (if she isn’t there already!).  She wakes up very slowly…she is not usually raring to go right away – she likes some quiet time and snuggling.  We have also been watching the Disney channel in my bed for about half an hour after she wakes up – with her binky in, just snuggling. 
            Then I change her diaper, leave her binky and carry her downstairs.


            T likes to eat breakfast on the couch, with a blanket on, watching Mickey Mouse.  Generally, I give her either a waffle or a Pop Tart (broken into four pieces), on a plate.  She also gets a sippy cup of milk.  On the side table I have a bowl of cereal (usually Cheerios or Lucky Charms) – when she asks for them I give the bowl to her, but I like her to start with the waffle or Pop Tart.  When she seems to have lost interest in the waffle or Pop Tart, I start feeding her prunes.  She usually eats them well – pretty quickly too!  She will let you know when she is done (she usually throws any toys that she has on the floor one at a time – to make sure she has all of them with her!!); then she climbs down herself.

Playtime after Breakfast

            During this time T usually likes to play on her own.  She goes around and takes out what she wants; she also watches some TV too.  This was usually the time when I would shower so she is used to entertaining herself for a while.  I think it is good for her to amuse herself – she gets to explore and be creative!  Keep her breakfast accessible to her so she can snack on it throughout the morning.  Keep encouraging her to drink milk too!
            Around 9:30 or later it is time to brush T’s teeth.  She stands on the stool while I brush her teeth (I usually sing “Brush brush brush your teeth every day and night brush them really good so you can have great teeth” – to the “Row, row, row your boat” tune).  Then I have T walk upstairs to get dressed.  I will try to have an outfit laid out for you – if not feel free to dig around in her dresser and closet!  Then I change her diaper and get her dressed, and then we walk downstairs – she climbs down backwards (go ahead of her and guide her bottom).


            I generally take T’s lead throughout the course of the day as far as playing goes.  I do try to make sure she engages in various types of play – creative, active, constructive, etc.  Climbing, squatting, walking, and running are all important for her to do.  If you think she has been sedentary for too long then ask her to play something else – she likes to do Mickey shapes or the other sorting toys – we throw the pieces and then she goes around and picks them up and brings them back to the toy.  She knows where her toys are and I am sure she will express to you what she wants to do!!
            At about 12:45 or 12:50 (depending on how many toys are out), T helps pick up her toys.  It is good for her to walk around and pick up her toys – plus it is teaching her to be responsible for her things!

            T eats her lunch at the table in her seat.  If you think she would eat better sometimes if front of the TV on the couch – go for it!  I try to give her some sort of carbohydrate, yogurt, and fruit.  Crackers, pretzels, graham crackers, yogurt, raisins, etc.  If she has drank most of her cup of milk then I give her juice or water.  Feel free to try anything you want.  I will try to keep the cabinets and fridge stocked!  I have attempted sandwiches with no luck, but our goal is to keep offering her all sorts of food.  Lunch usually lasts about half an hour – she will let you know when she is done! 


            At 1:00 T and I sit down to read for a while.  We rock downstairs and she picks which books she wants to read.  She usually lets me know when she wants to go upstairs, but if she doesn’t we go up around 1:15.  T walks up the stairs with me holding under her armpits, or she crawls/climbs (I just support her bottom).


            When we go upstairs I turn on the heater and the humidifier.  Then I change T’s diaper and she has her binky.  I take her shoes off and we talk quietly.  Then I turn on the noise machine and the monitor.  We rock in the rocker with a blanket on and I ask her what she wants me to sing.  Generally she falls asleep within five or ten minutes.  This may not work for you (as it does not work for Hubby).  Hubby puts her in the crib and lets her put herself to sleep.  I am sure this will be the hardest part of T’s day so you will have to determine what will work for her.
            Something else that sometimes works is rocking her for about fifteen minutes, and then if that is not working put her in her crib and go downstairs.  Leave her for about fifteen minutes and then go up and try again.  She does not like a lot of eye contact while she is going to sleep.   At this time I usually hold her close, but do not engage in conversation!
            If she wakes up before I get home and is happy let her play in her crib for a few minutes (again she wakes up slowly).  If not you may need to rock and snuggle for a few minutes and then head downstairs (leave the binky upstairs!).  She gets her vitamin at this time too (it is in the medicine cabinet – middle – fill it up to the 1).  She stands on her stool while I give it to her (with a tissue under her chin!).

C - the dog

            You can keep C locked in his room or you can let him be out.  He generally stays in his room, even with the gate open.  T likes to play with him, so if the gate is up make sure it is secured.  You won’t need to let him out at all – I never do during the day. 
            I will call when I am leaving the school, so if T is napping around then please let C out about 12 – 15 minutes after I call.


Wow that seems like a million years ago.  Her day is so different and it seems like her day has lost structure since then.  I am proud of how T Bear and I spent our days together.  It feels like I don't have as much organization now as I did then (maybe having two changes that!).  Let me say that this helicopter mommy does not like handing over her precious children to anyone, but I know I literally could not have gone back to work without my mother and mother-in-law.  That first day back at work was the worst day of my life, and I am certainly not looking forward to doing it again.  

High:  Having this document to remind me of how amazing our days were together!
Low:  Reliving the pain and angst I (and T) felt when I returned to work. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh How I Miss My Pregnancy Cravings

There are many things about pregnancy that I do not miss, but surprisingly there are a few I am missing.  One of which is the food cravings.  As previously established I am a picky eater.  I rarely eat beef, never eat pork, and never onions.  When I was pregnant with T Bear I was taken aback by my cravings.  Now it needs to be stated that I had morning sickness with both pregnancies - the kind that makes you feel nauseous 24/7 for five to five and a half months, all day long.  Once I figured out that stuffing my face generally kept the nausea at bay I indulged!!  Which accounts for the forty two and fifty pounds I gained respectively with each pregnancy.

With T Bear I should have known that I was pregnant about a week before I did because food tasted so awesome to me.  I remember sitting down at eight o'clock with a huge plate of macaroni salad, potato salad, and pickles.  I continued enjoying those for a while; I also remember craving a Nerds rope during a dance recital (prior to the discovery that I was prego)!  Weird.  Then the nausea began and the cravings were even more strange.  Fast food was something I had not eaten probably since college, but I found myself ordering at Burger King and McDonald's.  Don't judge.  In the summer I had the usual cravings: pickles (oh those dill pickles were amazing),  and ice cream - the sweeter the better.  I could not drink enough sweet tea.  Also on the menu was a turkey sub with swiss cheese, mayo, pickles, olives, cucumbers, and salt and pepper - from Subway.  I also started to crave lasagna and baked ziti.  As the pregnancy progressed, so did my appetite.  Pizza was divine.  Spaghettios with franks = yum.  Cupcakes were amazing!  Oranges and orange juice were a must have on a daily basis.  My friends thought I was insane when I drank a huge glass of orange juice with the delicious pasta dinner they prepared for me.  I also found myself eating leeks in a soup a friend made for me - and I liked them!  I just went with it, no matter how strange or how gross.  

With Mad Man I was able to tell almost instantaneously that I was preggers because I literally dry heaved while making beef tacos.  As soon as I opened the meat package I was done.  The nausea set in pretty quickly and was way more intense than with T Bear.  My hubby loves to comment on how hard this pregnancy was (on him) which is when I oh so calmly remind him that I was the one with my head in the garbage can.  Men.  In the beginning there were only a few things I could eat, but they generally had to be salty.  Applebee's spinach and artichoke dip, roni rolls from one of my favorite restaurants Ruffino's (www.joeruffinos.com), and cheese popcorn come to mind.  Then it escalated to spaghetti and meatballs (I should have learned the first time but didn't that this meal always resulted in my head in the garbage can).  Another one of my daily must haves was chocolate soy milk, two Eggos, and punch.  Now this punch was a staple on a daily basis:  Hawaiian Punch, Sprite, and rainbow sherbert.  I know.  Tacos quickly became another essential (yes I even resorted to eating tacos from Taco Bell - again don't judge).  The strangest craving that took over was chili dogs.  Now up to this point in my life I had never tried a chili dog.  Then one fall day, Hubby, T Bear and I were at the Fly Creek Cider Mill (www.flycreekcidermill.com) and he ordered one for lunch.  I couldn't get enough of it and then continuously wanted one.  Ooh they tasted sooo good!

Like with each pregnancy the cravings were very different while I began nursing too.  With T Bear I could not get enough fruit.  With Mad Man I continued the beef cravings, and generally was hungry all day!

The magic is that some food tasted so amazing while I was pregnant, much more so than any food tastes now.  Let me say I enjoyed eating (minus the nausea).  I miss having that intense desire for food.

High:  The unbelievable taste sensations!
Low:  Chasing those sensations now (to no avail!)!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mad Man's Favorite Toys

 Mad Man is just entering the world of play.  Now it should be noted that he is inheriting a world of pink toys, but he doesn't seem to mind...yet!  Additionally, it seems he has formed a serious crush on both Minnie Mouse and Ariel.  Oh boy.  It is so interesting to see how he plays now, because at his age T Bear was confined to a cast and had to rely on me for entertainment.  Not Mad Man:  he is on the go!  He is so physical in his play; it is pretty amazing to see!  Also, every single toy gets gummed, right in the mouth (T did not do that at all)!  Let me say that the toys I have listed are age appropriate, but he generally prefers to get into T's toys which are sooo not safe for him!  I think he knows this innately! 

Here are a few of his favorites:
  • Cars and Trucks:  Does it get any more boyish than this? 
  • Balls:  Again I ponder...
  • Stacking Cups 
  • Playskool Busy Basics Form Fitter:  He hasn't grasped putting them in the correct slots, but certainly enjoys dumping them out, chewing on them, and banging them together!

  •  Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack:  Again, he loves to gum these!

  • Vtech Move and Crawl Ball

  • Fisher Price Laugh & Learn™ Fun With Friends™ Musical Table
  • Playskool Weebles Musical Treehouse

High:  Watching the wonder on Mad Man's face as he discovers something new!
Low:  Keeping up with him!

T Bear's Favorite Toys

My T Bear can play.  Seriously.  At the end of the day my living room looks like an actual storm has hit it!  Toys, books, stuffed animals, crayons, and other miscellaneous items cover the floor.  Sometimes she picks them up, sometimes she doesn't - not a battle I'm fighting at the moment!  I thoroughly enjoy watching her play; I think of it as a window into her mind.  I thought it might be fun to compile a list of her favorites.  Although her world is ever changing there are some things we can count on - she loves to play! 

The following are her go to's on a daily basis:
  • Vtech MobiGo:  Now I was against any sort of hand held electronic game, until I realized the educational benefits (and of course the quiet factor:  T will play this unaccompanied!)  It is great for car trips and restaurants (as long as the volume is kept down!)  There are many games to choose from and we have no complaints with the product!
  • Disney Princess Quintessential Castle:  Definitely a favorite from Christmas last year.  We got her the castle plus seven princess dolls.  She has really taken to playing with this every single day.  She doesn't always play with the princesses, but her animals hang out there, and her other smaller figurines.  Definitely worth the price.
  • Pretend Veterinarian (Battat Dalmatian Vet Kit):  We got this for T as a "gift" from her new baby brother when he was born.  Even in utero I knew that T Bear would love nature and animals and she certainly does.  This kit came with a small dalmatian puppy, and a bunch of vet tools.  T loves to examine us with the tools (even though she also has a pretend doctor kit - two actually!).  She spends a great deal of time and energy playing vet!  So cool!
  • Disney Figurines:  T probably has at least ten Disney Figure Sets.  We call them her breakable people - because yes they are breakable, and when she first started playing with them they often took flight off of things, so the name has helped us keep most of them in tact.  T loves to re-enact all of the movies she watches (and yes she watches A LOT of Disney movies) so these are perfect for her.
  • Books:  T has always loved books.  We used to read at least twice a day; since Mad Man that is considerably less - but she loves her books anyway.  She has started "reading" to us - telling us her version of the stories.  It is quite amusing.  We still read at least once a day, but not to the extent we did pre-Mad Man.  
  • Puzzles:  I am not talking easy puzzles here - she does 100+ piece puzzles on her own.  These are great for meal time.  She generally has a puzzle at the lunch table, and sometimes at the dinner table.  It is quite impressive to watch her go to work on these puzzles!  She starts with a face (of course most of her puzzles are Disney Princess!), and then works her way out!  Awesome.
  • Coloring:  T has taken quite an interest in coloring books.  She is quite good at staying in the lines, but also shows a great deal of creativity in her color choices!  We have finished front to back two different coloring books this month!  They are great because they are a cheap way to entertain!  They are also perfect for us, because I can color with T while Mad Man naps (yes, on my lap...still).
  • Stuffed Animals:  Wow, I never knew one little person could have so many stuffed animals.  She doesn't discriminate either - she has princesses, Disney characters, and pretty much every animal species imaginable.  She plays with them too - constantly.  She sleeps with them.  They have to come in the van with us wherever we go.  Her favorites change fairly regularly too!  I guess you can't go wrong with a stuffed animal - they are cuddly and cute!
  • Dress-Up:  Aah, the world of make believe for a preschooler.  T absolutely loves dressing up.  She particularly likes being a princess, but now (since watching The Wizard of Oz) she wants to be Dorothy, and (since watching Annie) she wants to be Annie.  Her dress-up trunk is full of choices, and I know will continue to grow as do her interests.  An added bonus is that it has aided in T's desire to dress herself - which we are still working on!
  • Candy Land:  By far her favorite board game!

High:  Having the privilege of watching my T Bear engage in imaginative, active play every day!
Low:  Keeping all of her toys organized!

Here are some pics of some of these toys (and where we purchased them!):

Disney Princess Figure Sets (www.disneystore.com)
Disney Princess Quintessential Castle
Disney Princess Quintessential Castle (www.target.com)

Battat Dalmatian Vet Kit (www.amazon.com)

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Naughty Ballerina Update

We survived parent observation day at T Bear's dance class.  Actually we did more than survive:  it was awesome!  I loved every second of it.  I can hardly believe the amount of pride I have for my naughty little ballerina!

Hubby, Mima, Mad Man, and I found a spot in the dance studio to witness the spectacle that is preschool age dance!  My good friend, Miss S (the owner of the studio) teaches the class and forewarned the little ones to behave and they sure did.  They were all good listeners and overall excellent participators. Awesome.

One of the funniest moments was when they laid on their tummies and did leg lifts.  My T Bear looked like she was going to fall asleep.  Laying with her little face on the floor she looked precious.  She later told me that she was so bored she was going to cry.  Where does she he this stuff from?  Yes I know we already established the apple tree connection.

It was also quite entertaining watching her pay attention, and then not pay attention, do what Miss S was doing and then not.  Aah the world of a three year old!  She seemed to be doing a good job - of course in this instance I will totally cop to being one of those moms who does not think her child does anything wrong!

The only glance of naughtiness that I witnessed was when they had to stand in line to wait their turn to go across the floor.  T Bear was focusing on jumping, and singing along to the songs to the mirror, and finding ways to entertain herself.  I found it to be adorable.  Hubby thought that she was probably annoying the other little ones with her singing; I disagree.  How could anyone not be totally entranced by my T Bear?  Now of course T was the first to say she had to go potty, which started the domino effect of at least half of the class heading to the potty!  Oops.

I mentioned to my hubby that she seemed to be behaving well - his response was that they always do when parents are observing.  No faith.  Miss S did confirm that this class was T Bear's best, which makes me believe she is over her naughty behavior (a mommy can dream can't she?).  Anyway you look at it, I was overwhelmed with pride.  My cheeks hurt from smiling and I snapped a ton of pictures and video clips.  I swallowed back tears as I watched these little miracles ballet walk across the studio.  It helped me to recognize that T is only three and that I might be a little unrealistic with my expectations.  She is not perfect; she is her own version of perfection and I adore her - naughtiness and all.

High:  Embracing the opportunity to see T Bear on her own in class.
Low:  The sweaty armpits and sleepless night anticipating parent observation!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Apple Tree

It has become a common phrase in our home - Apple...Tree.  My sister coined the phrase while referring to my T Bear and myself.  Yes she is like her mommy, and it is becoming more and more evident every day.  I relish in the idea, but also shudder.  Sometimes it is like looking in a mirror - and I do not always like what I see.

Of course I want my children to resemble me - I was just hoping that they would inherit only the good parts.  The phrase first caught on with our similar eating habits:  we are both extremely picky.  After T Bear turned one we thought her eating would be so much fun.  Wow were we wrong.  She started out okay - trying green beans, macaroni noodles, bread - the usual.  Then she decided against all that.  From about fifteen months until three and a half she ate pretty much the same thing every day:  cereal, pop tarts, waffles, pretzels, yogurt, strawberries, rice, crackers, ice cream, and Gold Fish.  Occasionally she would eat pizza crust.  That was about it.  Granted I am not counting cookies, candy, gummy fruit snacks, or popsicles.  Hubby loves to point out the similarities when I refuse to eat steak or venison, and I hate to admit it but I am a bit dramatic about it!  Okay, so we know where T gets that from.

This brings me to T Bear's flair for the dramatics.  T likes to be the center of attention; who can blame her? After all she is adorable, funny, smart, and quite accustomed to being adored, since she was an only child for three years and the only grandchild on one side and the youngest grandchild on the other side.  I can see her making her future friends watch her dance or sing or play (perhaps that is deja vu on my part). Poor Mad Man he is in for a long road of being his sister's main audience.  Luckily right now he thinks she is the greatest thing around.  Now I suppose some would say that I like attention.  True I was the captain of my safety patrol in sixth grade, a new student ambassador in eighth grade, captain of my cheerleading squad, and a dancer who loved performing on stage.  But does that make one an attention seeker?  As for the dramatics T Bear can throw the most elaborate fits.  She says things like "You are ruining me!" if I try to stop her from playing to get dressed.  If she doesn't want to do something believe me everyone around is made aware of it.  I presume that some would say I throw my own version of a fit on occasion.

T Bear has an unbelievable vocabulary and has since she started talking.  When she wakes up her mouth doesn't stop until she falls asleep thirteen hours later!  Some of the things that come out of her mouth are truly amazing.  She will say things like, "Now, come on honey" in the most condescending tone imaginable.  Most of the time I cannot help but giggle at some of the outrageous things she says.  Now when she plays with her princess dolls or her Disney figurines I hear myself coming out of her mouth.  She will say "You are going to time out.  You are not listening.  You need to be a good listener." or "That's enough." or "You need to sit down right now."  She repeatedly says "This is ridiculous." - just like Mommy.  She is hilarious.  Some of the cutest things she says are when she is telling stories and I can hear her try to mimic the way in which I tell her stories - so adorable.  Aah, out of the mouths of babes...you hear yourself in all your glory and at your worst.

Perhaps the funniest things she says are when she is pretending to be a mommy to her dolls.  This is when I first cringed at hearing myself come out of her mouth!  Truthfully I have found having a second child to be more challenging than the first, and clearly T Bear has picked up on that.  She will be walking her baby saying "Ah, my baby won't go to sleep.  I can't keep wrestling her."  Yup this has come out of my mouth numerous times while trying to get the Mad Man to sleep.  She also tells her baby it is "booby time" and proceeds to lift up her shirt and feed her baby.  She will look at me and say "What are we going to do with these babies?"  Now she has taken to telling me to be quiet because she has "finally" gotten her baby to sleep.  "Mommy, you need to be quiet.  WHISPER."  What a little mommy she is turning out to be.

Then there are all of the little things.  The similarities are endless especially in the realm of girly things - Disney princesses, dancing, the color pink, not liking to get our hands dirty (especially finger painting!), matching clothes, and the list goes on and on.  The poor little girl has even inherited my self diagnosed OCD.  Starting at an early age I would count all of her toys when putting them away - now she helps me!  She likes to line everything up and her toys always have to go back in the right place.  She gets very upset when Daddy picks up because he has no clue where anything goes and puts it wherever he wants; she notices believe me.  She even complains about it (gee, I wonder where she gets that from?).  Those around us say Apple...Tree constantly.  For a while T Bear was saying it too.  So funny.

The truth is I wouldn't have it any other way.  I am proud of my little apple.  In fact watching her makes me want to do better and be a better tree for her to emulate.  I wonder what the little Mad Man will be like...time will tell. 

High:  The pride I feel in looking at my mini-me.
Low:  The dismay of viewing my worst attributes in my mini-me.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Loving Fall

Being at home with two little ones (a three and a half year old and an eight month old) requires some creativity to get through the day!  Luckily for me fall inspires me - it always has.  Maybe it is the thought of pumpkins, costumes, apples, and warm sweaters; I don't know what it is but I love this time of year.  Getting to enjoy it with my babies makes it that much more amazing.  Following is a description of the things we have enjoyed this fall and hopefully will continue to enjoy fall after fall!  I am always trying to make new memories, and create traditions - here is how I am doing it!

     I love decorating for every holiday.  My rule is we can decorate on the first of every month.  So October 1st I brought out my extensive Halloween collection.  My T Bear loved every second of first taking all of the decorations out of the totes, but then deciding where each item should be displayed.  It was like watching a cuter version of myself on a decorating mission.  I have to say she did a great job (of course the OCD in me kicked in and I had to move a couple of things!!)

     We love going to local pumpkin patches or farm stands and picking out lots of pumpkins.  My T Bear takes great pride in choosing just the right pumpkins; the Mad Man loved feeling the texture of each pumpkin.  These excursions also offer excellent photo opportunities.  How cute are babies surrounded by vibrant orange colors?!  One of our favorite things to do is decorate pumpkins.  We paint them, put glitter on them, put stickers on them, glue cotton balls to them, draw on them, and of course carve them!   We also enjoy decorating foam and paper pumpkins.  I like to keep them to display year after year.  Let me say that T Bear's pumpkin faces look much more creative every year; hopefully the Mad Man will enjoy this as much as T and I do.  These arts and crafts activities provide hours of creativity, entertainment, and fun!

     Apple picking has become an annual fall favorite for us.  There is something about feeling the crisp fall air on your skin and harvesting your own apples.  T Bear even tried to use one of the apple picking tools this year, which was a bit scary for me but she loved it.  We even opened our excursion to two of hubby's softball players this year, one of which had never done anything like that with her family.  I think this type of activity is what family is about: spending time together, having fun, and bonding.  After all most families have only eighteen fall seasons together (a friend of mine said this to me about summer vacation this year and it stuck - I plan on using this rationale for as long as I can!!).  Of course making apple bread. apple crisp, and apple pie is quite fun too.  T Bear is quite the blossoming baker (she is not an apple tree that way - check out the "Apple Tree" post and that will all make sense).

     I have never been one for playing in the leaves, it just didn't appeal to me, that was until I saw the exuberance on T Bear's face when she ran through the leaves in our yard.  Luckily for me we had several balmy fall days (because I truly do not enjoy cold temps).  T, Mad Man, and I spent quite a few afternoons outside playing with leaves.  T had a blast when I raked piles of leaves for her to jump into.  Mad Man loved feeling the leaves and crumpling them in his hands.  I thought my arms were going to fall off after raking them again and again, but it was so worth it to hear the giggles and see the pure joy on their faces.  Mad Man thought it was hilarious to see T Bear jumping in the leaves.  We even enjoyed just picking up leaves, checking them out, and making little piles with our hands.
     I stole this idea from somewhere (probably a parenting magazine) and made it my own.  We cut out a "B", for our last name, out of poster board and then glued leaves all over it.  It came out really cool.  I wanted to make them for the grandparents, but my preschool helper lost interest after one letter!  Oh well maybe next year!

     There is nothing like dressing up for Halloween.  It has been one of my favorite things to do for as long as I can remember.  This year T Bear vacillated between a few princesses, but finally decided on Ariel from Disney's The Little Mermaid.  I thought this would be so simple to find, boy was I wrong.  After several Internet searches and multiple phone calls to merchants I finally located all the parts to the costume - even the bright red wig!!  Mad Man was much easier, he is wearing a hand me down Nemo costume from Disney's Finding Nemo.  I squeeze as much as I can out of Halloween, like I do with everything I really like. So we will dress the kiddos up on our weekend excursion to The Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos, dress them for a Halloween party at Hartwick College, again for one at the Oneonta High School, and for the parade and trick or treating.  By the end of it hubby will have had beyond his fill of Halloween festivities and hopefully I will be satiated until next year!

Overall, I have realized that there is an abundance of things to do to entertain little ones, and that it doesn't really matter what you are doing as long as you are doing something together.  It sounds corny but it is true.  While trick or treating in one of the college dorms I saw this on one of the dorm doors and it really resonated with me:  "Don't count the days, make the days count".  Thank you for my new mantra!

High:  Seeing the happiness and hearing the laughter of my two precious babies!
Low:  Knowing that someday these babies will be "too old" to enjoy these simple pleasures with Mommy

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Naughty Ballerina

When I had my T Bear I didn't know if she would ever truly be able to do all of the things that other kids do because of her hip dysplasia.  Thankfully she can.  I remember my hubby and I talking to Dr. D (her ortho guy) and telling him that we wanted T Bear to dance like Mommy. We finally got the green light and signed her up!!  Of course her teacher is one of our closest friends, whom we love dearly, otherwise this helicopter mommy probably would not have gone for an independent class!!

I had visions of my bear pirouetting across the floor looking angelic. Leaping, gliding, twirling her way to become a prima ballerina. The night before her first class I was wrought with anxiety. Would she manage to make it through the whole class without a potty accident?  (She was newly potty trained.)  Would she be shy?  (She is rarely around other children - since I stay at home.) Would she volunteer to try new things?  I was so excited for her and so nervous.  This was the first thing she was doing by herself.  All of the other classes she had done were with me.  Now she was venturing out into the world alone.  I was so proud.

She looked the epitome of a little angel with her pink tutu, pink tights, pink ballet shoes, and two adorable buns. She was very excited.  Hubby and I brought her to class.  I walked her in.  She showed no trepidation and joined the other little ballerinas in a circle.  She sat in perfect first position on the floor watching the other girls and taking it all in.  Some little ones were crying, some were clinging to their mommies.  Not my T Bear, she was perfectly content to be on her own.  I was surprised and a bit taken back thinking that she would have needed her mommy a little bit more.  I snapped a few shots, choked back my tears, waved to my mini me and headed to the waiting room.  Hubby, Mad Man and I waited for the door to close and headed out. As we headed down the long staircase my stomach was in knots, and tears were streaming down my face. My baby was out on her own.  Really she wasn't a baby anymore - that much became clear that morning.  It was a little too much to take in.  Luckily hubby was with me and was able to comfort me as visions of kindergarten, high school graduation, and college dance through my scattered brain.

When we came to pick up our little love she was so excited to see us.  She wanted to fill us in on her new adventure.  We were elated.  She used the potty and had a blast.  Although she did inform us later that she was told to shush because she kept asking when the music would play!!  That seemed innocuous enough. Then came the next class.  With much less trepidation we dropped her off.  This time when we picked her up I asked how she did and my dear friend informed me that T Bear and three others did get spoken to. Basically they didn't want to listen and really only wanted to do their own thing.  Uh oh.  I was a bit surprised, although anyone I tell this story to is not shocked at all by my strong willed little angel.  I ensured my friend that I would be talking to the bear about her behavior.  Boy did I.  Through our lengthy discussions (probably too lengthy for a three year old) she informed me that she hit a girl after the girl hit her.  What??!!  I was enraged.  As the day progressed the story became more elaborate involving several incidents of preschool violence and retaliation.  That was when I had an inkling that I was being taken on an extensive imaginary ride!!  It turns out none of that happened and the incident was not a very big deal.  Still I was convinced that I would not allow this poor behavior to happen again.

The next week came (and we are still unclear of what went down) and it seems that the bear was put in time out.  Ugh.  More chats about behavior and expectations.  The next week seemed to go well - no bad reports, no intricate stories, just a few trips to the potty (okay we are working on it!).  Maybe our naughty girl has learned her lesson.

I never thought dance class for a three year old would cause me to lose sleep.  I now have to worry about whether or not she will have a potty accident, be a good listener, be kind and courteous to others, stay out of time out, and have fun.  Wow.  The hardest part is not actually knowing what goes on in the class.  The realization that she is on her own is staggering.  This is the new phase in our lives - T Bear=Miss Independent.  Gone are the days of needing Mommy for every little thing.  I am not going to lie I already miss those days, although I am learning to embrace her growing up, simply because I have to.  We have parent observation week coming in a few weeks which will allow me a window into the class (I have already asked my hubby repeatedly to borrow his binoculars so that I may spy into the studio - but he will not comply).  I hope that my naughty ballerina will at least be on her best behavior that day!!

High = Knowing the sheer joy that dance will bring to my T Bear
Low = Realizing that I cannot control everything in the world (although I will continue to try!!)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Oh the places I've nursed

A mommy does what she has to do.  Looking back on my nursing experiences I am amazed (and a bit appalled) to realize all of the places I have nursed.  I do not claim to be modest.  I grew up as a dancer and was quite accustomed to wearing tights and a leotard.  Bikinis never bothered me.  I have even been known to walk around the house nude (pre-baby mostly!)  However, at my baby shower when I received a "hooter hider" I was a bit mortified.  I wasn't even sure how to wear it (to be honest I never quite got the hang of it).  Then I had my first baby:  a daughter, T Bear!  In the hospital, I was not reticent at all about displaying the boobs.  My sister-in-law even had to manhandle them to help me through those first few PAINFUL nursing sessions.  Thus began my nursing adventure.

T Bear did not like to be covered up while nursing.   So I went with it.  Week one: several friends were oh so traumatized by my uncovered chest, and my hubby's uncle was completely embarrassed by my nursing out in the open.  It didn't phase me.  Acquaintances would stop by and I would be hanging out boobs exposed trying to feed my munchkin.  Our first real public outing included a nursing session at an A&W, with several witnesses (especially an older gentleman who kept peeping).  Flash forward several months to vacation:  Virginia Beach.  This is perhaps the most gregarious sample of my nursing (that is until I had my son!).  While on vacay I had to nurse my screaming six month old on the public trolley, on the beach, and on the boardwalk.  Let me examine the evening nursing on the beach.  While attempting to calm my munchkin I quickly jot down to the beach and find a somewhat covered place to sit.  I plop down on the sand and begin nursing:  finally quiet.  As I catch my breath and look around I see that I am sitting in a public ashtray with my sundress (and therefore my partially exposed rear).  Oh well, at least the baby is getting what she needs.  The next night finds me in the same predicament:  screaming baby at 8:30 (normal parents would have been back at the hotel putting their little one to bed, not us - we are out walking back from dinner).  This time I think back to the disgusting episode of the previous evening and head farther down the beach toward the water.  I find stacks of lounge chairs and place myself comfortably on one of the stacks.  Aah quiet!  As I look around my eyes meet the eyes of a homeless and/or intoxicated man who was sleeping on those lovely lounge chairs.  He seems unaware of what I am doing, or that I am completely exposed and wobbles away.  After that incident nursing was fairly routine:  at home, in the car, on a plane...you know the usual, and this went on for fifteen months!

Three years later my son was born - the Mad Man.  Once again I began my nursing experiences exposing myself to anyone who dared enter the hospital room.  Not only did I have to contend with nursing an infant (and all the glory that goes hand in hand with that), but now I had to explain the nursing process to my T Bear who was less than thrilled; in fact she was disgusted and enraged that this new baby was latching on to her mommy like that.  She came around eventually.  In the process of nourishing this new life I nursed all over the place once again.  In fact, I was much more brazen with my nursing. The car became one of the most popular spots, out of sheer necessity (mostly due to the fact that the Mad Man screamed incessantly in the car).  Mind you I did not pull into private areas - wherever I parked was where I nursed.  A particular gas station seemed to become "our spot" for quite some time.  I can add several locations at this juncture:  in front of my sister's new boyfriend, the National Zoo, a bench in the Metro station, in the car surrounded by hubby's high school softball team, and a Target dressing room.  Then came vacation:  Wildwood, New Jersey.  Now we venture to nursing once again on the boardwalk (surrounded by people), under the boardwalk (this experience did not live up to the song!), on the beach, and outside a restaurant on a bench.  This is when I had to add public pumping to my repertoire!  At this point I was pumping once a day (thank God only once a day) to make rice cereal for the Mad Man.  I happened to choose around dinner time to do so.  I pumped on a bench, under the boardwalk, and in a restaurant - at the table, covering up with a receiving blanket.  Insane and honestly a bit gross.

As my nursing days seem to be dwindling I will miss all of the adventures I have had.  To me nursing is a profound bonding experience - one that I would not have missed for anything, even ogling eyes, gaping mouths, and disgusted sighs.

High:  bonding with my babies
Low:  embarrassment (obviously not on my part!!)