Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Compromised Principles

One of the biggest differences in my life since having a second child is how many things I give in to.  It almost makes me laugh now to think of the stuff I used to be really stern about and the rules I made Zoe follow before when it was just her. (Then I think of how funny that must have been for my Mom to watch, since she had SEVEN of us!)  The most obvious example is her fashion sense.  Not that I needed her to be completely color coordinated, but I definitely wanted her to look cute and put together, and it didn't take long at all for that to change.  Now I don't care if she wears seven layers of clothes or neon stripes with red and green polka dots, so long as her body is covered by some sort of fabric.  I did make her put on some pants the other day because she was wearing a dress that was a size too small and her tights kept falling down, so she was running around on the playground with her (underwear covered) butt hanging out.  She didn't seem to care but I had to explain to her that it was inappropriate and that she had to put some pants on before we went to the party we were expected at that evening.  Mind you, this didn't happen until the afternoon, so I let her waltz around like that for the better half of a day. 

Another thing I've had to relax about is strange food combination requests, ie: pickles for breakfast (still holding strong on that one, actually) and Cheerios mixed in with yogurt.  I don't know why, but the thought of mixing those two things together just makes me gag and whenever she would ask for it, I would literally say "I will give them to you in separate bowls and you can do whatever crazy thing you want with them, but I'll have no part in that because it's weird and gross."  (Think I could stand to lighten up a little or what?)  Sure enough the other day, she asked and I was trying to get Owen's breakfast ready too and we were probably trying to get out the door to go somewhere so I made the (very) conscious decision to say "You know, what? Fine."  I mean, come on.  Really.  Who cares?  If nothing else, it's one less dish to wash, right?

Zoe has noticed this deflated conviction in her mother for sure because whenever she can, she tries to sneak in a request I would normally say no to, just to see what I'll say.  I know she's testing the waters because she has this certain look on her face that's saying "Is she tired enough to let me get away with this?" and a tone of voice that's not quite certain and very sneaky.  Lots of times, she gets away with it and I don't notice until it's too late.  She, very often gets more "treats" than she's technically allowed in a day because I'll have completely forgotten about a cookie or piece of candy she'd had earlier in the day.  Once in a while I'll forget how many shows she's watched and she'll get one extra...stuff like that.  The other day, though I had to laugh because she came bounding out of her first gymnastics class (which was SO fun!  For me AND her!) and, before I even mentioned the potty she said "Mommy I don't HAVE to go poop." Yeah, right.  Or, a few weeks ago when we were about to get in the car to go somewhere, I asked if she had to use the potty and she said "No......Mommy?  Would it be okay if I peed in my carseat?"  Now, not even I'M tired or distracted enough to fall for that one.

Anyway, we didn't get a chance to do too many projects last week since we were busy having fun with Daddy, but we got the ball rolling a bit again today...actually, the other day Zoe got Nathan involved in a project!  I was so happy to come down the stairs and see the two of them working away with the craft stuff.  Nathan made Zoe the cutest necklace that she wore all day long.  I'm really bummed that I completely forgot to take a picture since she's totally dismantled it now.  That day, we were celebrating my birthday so they made this great picture for me:
Today, I made this cool letter out of a wire hanger, embroidery floss and some beads.  I want to make one for each of us, but I think it'll be hard to get the floss to stay on the "O" and "S"...we'll see...
And, just because I'm so excited that Spring is coming and we'll be able to start digging in our community garden plot soon, I thought I'd show off how well our little seedlings are doing!  Yay, homegrown veggies!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Black Market Baby

Owen and I were sitting in the kids' room today, keeping Zoe company while she played with her dolls.  All of the sudden, she announced that she was going to get her baby out "ezACKly" like I got Owen out.  I was curious to know how she pictured that happening, having my own memory of thinking babies came out of your belly button when I was her age, so I asked her how the whole thing was going to go down.  She went into the other room for a bit, and came back cradling and rocking her baby, and we had the following conversation:

Zoe:  "Say 'Congratulations!'".
Me:  "Congratulations!  Your baby is perfect!"
Zoe:   in a sweet soft voice and with a slight smile on her face "Thank you....You can have her someday."
Me:  "Oh no, she's YOUR baby."
Zoe:  still in the sweet voice and same look on her face, still rocking the baby "It's ok, you can buy her."
Me:   admittedly a bit disturbed "I can buy her?"
Zoe:  same voice and look and still with the gentle rocking "Yeah, you can buy her at the store by King Soopers (our grocery store)."


Eeesh!  I'm not sure if this says more about my parenting or her imagination but I'm going with the latter.  Let's hope I haven't given her the impression that a) I wouldn't think twice about selling either of my children at any point, and/or b) babies are easily replaceable and can be found near your local supermarket.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Impermanence

"Everything flows and nothing abides, everything gives way and nothing stays fixed."   -Heraclitus

I've been drawn to Buddhist philosophy for a long time now, but like many people who are, I didn't really realize it was an actual practice.  I mean, I knew about Buddhism but never realized how much of the teachings I could relate to.  The thing I find most interesting and intriguing is that people from ALL religions can find something in a Buddhist practice that they can relate to or find comfort in.  You don't have to be a Buddhist to practice the teachings and if you ask me, you can't go wrong with treating everyone with "loving-kindness".

Anyway, the above quote encompasses one of the basic principles of a Buddhist practice, and I've had to remind myself of the concept a lot this week.  We had a great Spring Break together and we are sad that it's over but it couldn't last forever.  For one thing, as Nathan said today, if this was our life all the time we'd be in trouble.  Life is a big celebration for us when we are all together and we splurge WAY  too much.   So, although hanging out together 24/7 is a lot of fun, it's not easy on the wallet and since we're on a grad school budget (in other words, we are COMPLETELY broke), we think it's best that things go back to normal for a bit here.

Poor Owen has had a rough few days, though.  He caught a cold which ended up giving him an ear infection so he's been really uncomfortable.  I think that the antibiotics have finally kicked in, and hopefully the actual cold will start to calm down tomorrow so I'm crossing my fingers for a more manageable night tonight.  As if he (and I) didn't have a hard time getting rest at night as it is, when you add sore ears and congestion there's no hope for sleep.  This too shall pass....the cold/infection AND the sleepless young baby nights....

Anyway, here's a quick rundown of the last half of the week:

Wednesday afternoon, Zoe and I found some time to do a quick project, since Nathan took the day to get some work done at the library.  I found this cool yarn basket project and thought it would be a good fit for us.  Of course, as happens so often, Zoe started it and lost interest pretty quickly and Owen started getting really fussy so it wasn't exactly what I had pictured but still fun.  I'd like to try it again with some more colors and better timing with the kids.
The materials and setup



Mine before I realized I wanted to be a little less neat about it

That's better

Done...well, it had to be done anyway

Zoe's.  As you can see it was a big success.

My finished product
Thursday we went on a tour of the Hammond's Candy Factory in Denver.  It was a cool, short (free) tour of the factory and we had fun watching them make big candy canes and lollipops....then spent WAY too much money in the store afterwards....and I gave myself a stomachache...surprise surprise!
Woah candy!!!
On Friday, after a long night up with Owen (it was the night his ears started hurting, although I didn't know that until later in the day), I was really needing some cheering up so I decided to take Zoe for her first mani/pedi.  We were so excited, but the lady that did Zoe's nails did not find it as cute and fun as I did and was a total BITCH to Zoe.  Luckily, Zoe didn't really notice and was just pretty shy the whole time, whereas if she had had a fun person I think she would have loosened up and had a blast.  Anyway, she was excited with the outcome which was fun!

Saturday we went to a going away party for one of the first good friends I made here in Boulder.  I love her, Zoe loves her and we are going to miss her terribly.  We love you, Jenny!

Finally, today we celebrated my birthday!  Okay, it's not until the end of April, but we are going to be in Boston celebrating my brother Ivan and my new sister-in-law Sandy then, so we did it early.  I've been wanting to go to one of those places where you paint pottery and they glaze it for you so we went out to breakfast and then went and did that.  It was really fun, but Nathan had to forgo painting himself so he could entertain both kids.  I was really grateful because I was able to take my time and relax a bit.  Can't wait to see the finished products!
"Come on, Zoe I just want a picture of us having fun doing this!"  Oh well.

Zoe took this
All in all a great, full week with Daddy...now, back to the grind!  I'll end with a couple pictures of Owen, only because he's so darn cute AND 6 months old today!  Way to go, buddy!
Prune face

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hitting the Wall

I'm not quite there yet, but am definitely on the verge of changing my approach to this whole "sleeping" thing...or, in our case this whole "NOT-sleeping" thing.  I can honestly say that I've been able to stay fairly positive about it all so far, but along with that (and I promise it's not that I've been in denial or suppressing bad feelings/attitudes) has for sure been a hope that it will all turn around any day.  I always find that it's so much easier to take things in stride and stay relaxed if I put the effort into looking on the bright side, or at the very least, not focus on the negative.  I try to live my life this way in general, and have been really putting it to the test when it comes to my nighttime parenting these days.  Sometimes though....sometimes....I just don't have the energy, or things get to "that point" or a combination of those and I have a day like today where I apologized to Zoe at least 4 times for being grouchy, gorged on chocolate chips and cookie dough and called my Mommy.  I almost hesitate to even talk about it because I'm not looking for advice.  I read books and talked to other parents about sleep stuff so much when Zoe was a baby, and have done a little more of that this time around, so I know what my options are.  I know about and understand all the approaches and different theories and I know how I feel about all of them.  I know about crying it out, and I know about attachment parenting and I know that my own personal philosophy is floating around in bits and pieces somewhere in the middle of all that.  Which is basically to say that I don't really know how the hell I feel like handling this and I don't want another person or book to tell me what worked for them or what studies show is best.  I just want to sulk about it and vent about it and get through this time with as much positivity as I can muster, all the while staying truthful about how fucking hard it is. 

On days like this I try to focus on little things that make me smile.  Since my life right now is pretty much all about the kids, these are usually things that they've done or said.  For instance, the other day we went to the Nature and Science Museum in Denver (where I unknowingly dressed Owen and I in matching stripes.  You know how much I love that.  I realized it after hearing at least two old ladies say "Oh look--they're matching!  Grrrr). Among all the other cool stuff, we checked out the pirate exhibit they have going on right now.  It's not that great an exhibit, and Zoe was pretty freaked out the whole time and kept her eyes shut while we whisked our way through but it made for a lot of conversation on the subject in the car on the way home.  At one point, she was asking what happened to the people that had been on the sunken pirate ship which was the subject of the exhibition.  I didn't have the heart (guts) to tell her that most of them died, so I said that they probably just swam away (pathetic, I know).  She was pretty sure, though, that they couldn't have because they had hats on.  So, then I said "Well, you know what?  There were probably little boats in case of an emergency" and she immediately said "For the hats?"  Ha!  I just love her imagination and am always so happy when I catch a glimpse of what goes through her head. 

Then, yesterday we had an awesome day together and with some friends of ours.  We went to Idaho Springs to swim in the hot springs there, and it was pretty much a perfect day.  We swam for a while and then went out to lunch.  After lunch, Owen and I took a nap in the car (aaahhhh) while Zoe and Nathan went back to the pool to swim a little more.  When Owen woke up, I took him inside to check on them, only to find that Nathan had taught Zoe how to swim by herself using one of those floating noodles!  She just gets more and more brave and confident and, not only was I so proud and happy for her, but was so glad that Nathan got to be the one to be there for it.  (Ok, ok I was a little jealous, but only a little!)  He's had to miss out on a lot of stuff the past couple of years because he's been working so hard and I can only imagine how hard that is for him, so I can push my jealousy aside and let him have this one.  :-)

Finally, to add to the arsenal against parental negativity, I captured on camera probably the most powerful weapon tonight:
video 
 If this kid can manage a belly laugh like that after being tired and fussy for at least an hour, then I can move past the negativity and enjoy my family and the beautiful Colorado weather....wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Distracted

I have started this post 3 times already.  First, I wanted to write about how much easier this baby stuff is the second time around but in the middle of writing it, Zoe woke up and wanted me to sit in her room while she tried to fall asleep and I totally lost my train of thought.  Actually it would be much more accurate to say that she wanted me to sit in her room while she tried to come up with reasons for her NOT to go to sleep.  (ie "Mommy, can I sleep in your bed?....Why not?  Please?  Please?....Yes Mommy...YES Mommy....Mommy, my hair is really hot...yes it is, Mommy it's really hot....Can I just sit in the chair with you for a few minutes?....Mommy?...")  Then as I was leaving her room (not because she was asleep but because she was requesting Daddy's presence), the baby woke up so I had to go get HIM back to sleep.  Then I started to write a story about a funny thing Zoe said the other day and.....I...just....couldn't think of how to start it.  I was about to log off and call it a day but decided to write about all of THAT because isn't the fact that I'm totally distracted and can't form a thought to save my life just as valid a moment than a well thought out and clearly articulated one?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Stage Parents

Today is officially the first day of Spring Break--hooray!  It started off with a bang as our little family had a fantastic day, soaking up the time together as well as the most beautiful weather we've had in months.  Most notably though, we took Zoe to see her first play.  A local children's theatre (The Peanut Butter Players) has been performing a kid-version (shortened and performed entirely by kids) of Annie and a friend of ours was taking her little girl, who is a good friend of Zoe's.  We decided to buy tickets too, and check it out...and we were so glad we did.  Zoe was pretty psyched to go and brought along quite a few accessories, all with a very specific purpose.  She wore some shades (of course), wrapped a buddy in a blanket, packed a backpack and purse full of things she plans to bring to our vacation in The Cape this summer (don't worry, I don't get it either), and her valentine heart box with pieces of pine cone in case her backpack got hungry.  It was all so important that when her friend Nina asked if she could play with the stuff in her backpack, Zoe said "No, we can't cuz that's my stuff for The Cape."
Headed to the show!
After we got the tickets from the box office, we were seated by a little girl who introduced herself and informed us that she would be playing Miss Hannigan.  She waited a few seconds to witness our reaction at being seated by the ACTUAL ACTRESS playing Miss Hannigan and, clearly a little thrown by our mere friendliness, proceeded to show us to our seats at "Table 1".  Our table was one of maybe 10 buffet tables covered with plastic red and white checkered tablecloths (they serve a sack lunch after the show) and we immediately felt overdressed in our jeans and sweatshirts.  Not at all disappointed, though we settled into our seats and waited for the show to begin.
Nina and Zoe waiting patiently for the show to start
Right before the show started, the kids in the audience were invited to sit on the floor right up front, and they all clamored up happily as the lights dimmed.  The show was full of sweetly singing kids ranging in age from 7 to about 12 and while they all had nice voices and full personalities, the performances were charmingly stiff and self-conscious.  Our kids were completely sucked in the entire time, and Nathan and I ate it up.  We both admitted to getting choked up a few times and I even got chills during the closing number.  If you know us, that's probably not at all surprising since it's no secret that we are COMPLETE SAPS.  I couldn't help but notice that we reacted this way to a kids show that didn't have anyone we know in it.  Imagine what will happen if one or both of our kids decides to do this kind of thing when the time comes...I can only promise that I will NOT be one of those Mom's mouthing the words with tears streaming down my face, reminding my child to smile...other than that I guarantee nothing.

For the rest of the day, the songs have been predictably running through our heads and Zoe has been trying to work out the lyrics to "Tomorrow" ("The tunnel comes out, tomorrow...").  Couldn't have been a more perfect theatre experience if you ask me.

This afternoon, we soaked up the sun at our playground and brought out our kite since it was a little windy out.  We admittedly weren't very successful but we had a lot of fun trying!  Spring is in the air, for sure--yay!







Thursday, March 17, 2011

Boys and Girls

Before I write this, I want to say that I am aware that I'm generalizing and feeding into stereotypes.  Mine is the first heart to melt when a boy breastfeeds a doll or proudly wears a pink tutu, and I love to see little girls playing with trucks and wearing blue.  However, I don't think you can ignore the fact that in general, boys and girls are different.  I have to admit that I am "guilty" of encouraging and nurturing Zoe's interest in dolls and all things "girl" probably more than any interest towards "boy" things (although never discouraging), but I myself was a doll playing, dress wearing little girl at ALL TIMES and as parents, we most definitely pass along to our kids the things we enjoyed when we were young so how can I resist?  Nathan loves football, and so of course Zoe does too, so it can go both ways.  I'll be interested to see what kinds of games Owen tends to gravitate to as he gets older. 

Anyway, I've really gotten a kick out of noticing these differences lately.  My friend Gretchen was over the other day and we were letting Zoe and her son Hunter (consequently the breastfeeding, pink tutu wearing little boy in my life right now) run around in the front of my apartment.  We had drawn hopscotch on the sidewalk and were letting them play the game however they wanted.  I ended up drawing a second one because they couldn't agree on how to play.  Zoe was trying to carefully go through each number and say them out loud in order and Hunter just wanted to barrel on through.  After keeping to themselves for a couple minutes, Hunter started barreling through both and Zoe would get frustrated and go to try the other one and start to carefully start from the beginning again, only to be interrupted by Hunter's version of the game  They went back and forth like that for a while and Gretchen and I just had to laugh because it was such a stereotypical boy/girl conflict. 

Although I really think that a lot of the gender roles we fight so hard against are here to stay no matter how hard we try, I am relieved to be bringing up my kids in a much more accepting world than it was 50 years ago. We have SO much farther to go, obviously, but I am amazed to think about how different life was for women, really not that long ago.  It's not hard for me to find friends with similar views in this respect and I'm so grateful for that.  I want my kids to grow up thinking it would be strange to assume ANYONE is less deserving than anyone else and that just because someone looks different than they do, makes different choices, has different viewpoints and different ways of life doesn't mean they are better or worse than the next person.  I hope Zoe can always keep and pass on to her brother the ability to see and appreciate people for who they are, not judge them by how they are different from her.  One of my neighbors, (who is raising two kids with her partner) was playing with Zoe on the playground one day.  She came over to tell me that Zoe had asked her where the "other Mommy" was.  We had never talked about the fact that the kids have two Mommies, because I don't think it's anything that needs to be pointed out or "explained" and she doesn't think that it's weird.  Here's hoping we, as a society can continue to make strides forward and guide our kids towards a life of kindness and compassion.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Opameal

Well, write me down on the list of poor souls who hold out hope that feeding their baby solids will help them sleep better.  Owen is still sleeping pretty terribly, and while I'm still fairly positive teeth are to blame, I decided to eliminate the possibility that his belly is never quite satisfied and started to feed him some oatmeal (or, as Zoe calls it, "baby opameal"...love it) a couple weeks early (he'll be 6 months in 2 weeks!).  I think it's too early to tell if it's made a difference, but he seems to like it at least, and I'm excited to have moved on to a new stage.  I had been looking forward to showing Zoe how fun it can be to feed little babies their first foods, and she was really excited to be able to be the first one to feed him.  Anyway, I'm not holding my breath for any change in sleeping, because I don't think I've ever once heard of it making a difference.  Doesn't hurt to try, though right?  At least now while I'm scratching my head about why he might be waking up every hour I won't have that little voice in my head wondering if he might be a little hungry.
We had another great weekend with Nathan, which will be happening more and more now (YAY!)....went to a couple of museums on campus and to a park we hadn't been to before, although the weather was too windy to really enjoy it...
One night for dinner, we made scary spagetti.  It's possible I was the one most excited by it, and I didn't even have any since I'm a vegetarian.  Oh well!
Zoe and I spent some time doing some painting on the patio on one beautiful day...tried a couple of new things including painting coffee filters with a salad spinner.  The blog I got the idea from, TinkerLab, used paper plates, which would stay put better...after some experimenting I finally taped the filters down on the underside and it worked alright...we'll have to try again with something stronger and see if the paint spreads out differently...
Also, I came across the idea in a random craft book at the bookstore to turn plastic liter soda bottles into little windmills...another thing I think we'll experiment with, but for a first attempt it was fun...adds a little cheer to the patio for sure...
I found another way to use the scraps from those egg cartons from the other day...Zoe named him Satellite.
Finally, today Zoe spent a lot of time on our stoop giving out her beautiful things to people passing by.  Actually, she gave out a bunch the other day and wanted to give out the rest today.  She must have handed out 20 of them.  Every time she gave one away, she would come running back to me with the biggest grin on her face..it was so sweet.  I told her that she was probably brightening a lot of days for people and she was so proud.  After she gave them all out she asked me if we could go in and make more to give away!  What a sweetie pie.
Waiting for people to come
Have a nice day!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dork Patrol

I'm not a match-y match person.  I have been wearing Chuck Taylors for years now.  I love them.  When my husband got some and started to wear them more, I started to wear them less so we wouldn't be the "Chuck Taylor couple".  Zoe has a cute little pair and I try to make sure she and I don't wear them on the same day.  So, you can imagine my chagrin when it was pointed out to me in music class today that Zoe, Owen and I all had our Brooklyn shirts on.  Ugh!  I had no idea, and there I was stuck without a change of clothes!  So, today we were the "Brooklyn family", or the way I saw it the "Dork family".  Thankfully, I was able to laugh about it (while blushing a bit) and didn't change any of our shirts all day.
While getting ready to head out the door to music class, I found myself in the most bizarre situation.  It happens a lot when you are a Mom, of course, and the situations I find funniest are when I'm not really in a rush so am able to go along with whatever game Zoe has going.  Today, she had decided that her Dora backpack (pictured above--the only dork without a Brooklyn shirt) was actually her baby.  I walked down the stairs to find Zoe trying really, really hard to get a pair of shoes on the backpack.  I had to seriously and patiently tell her at least 5 times that the shoes wouldn't stay on because the backpack doesn't have feet.  When she finally accepted that, she moved onto trying to put a jacket on it.  So I had to tell her 5 times that the jacket wouldn't stay on because the backpack doesn't have arms.  When she finally accepted THAT she moved onto trying to put a hat onto it, and I had to tell her 5 times that the hat wouldn't stay on because the backpack doesn't have a head....I felt so bad for her, being totally shot down at every turn but she took it well.  The backpack came to music class with us and participated along with Zoe.  There's a time at the end of class where the teacher (my friend Emily) asks if there are any birthdays and we sing Happy Birthday to the kids who have birthdays in the month.  Zoe turned to me and said "My backpack's birthday was March 7th", to which I said "Well, bring her up there then!"  She did, and the whole class sang Happy Birthday to Zoe's backpack.

On the crafting front, I finally found a way to use a couple of empty egg cartons.  Every time I put one in the recycling I have this urge to save it.  It's one of those things that feels like it's begging to be used in some crafty way but nothing ever comes to mind.  Yesterday, though I gave Zoe the side that holds the eggs and she made up a game that involved filling the cups with popcorn and some fuzzy craft balls and I made the top into a monster...
Then, today we started some seeds in the cups.  We had a nice afternoon outside on our patio planting wildflowers and starting to think about Spring.....I know it's still going to get cold before it warms up for good but it just feels SO close now!

Happy soon-to-be Spring!