Navigating the sticky, jam-covered road of life.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's been a tough few weeks with Sunshine, on top of a tough few months.  She's turning 4 on Friday.  Sometimes it sounds like she's turning 14.  We try very hard to speak with kindness in our home.  I'll be the first to admit that I'm not perfect, but we try very hard.  That's why it's so hard to hear the incredibly sarcastic tone that currently comes out of my daughter's mouth.  

We give her a "do over".  She gets a chance to try saying what she wants to say another way, in another tone of voice.  She almost always gets it right the second time.  I really just wish she would say it nicely the first time.  All in all, this is not a bad problem to have.  We're working on it, and she's getting better.  I think my problem with this is that I don't know where she's picking it up.  Is it us?  We really do try to speak kindly.  I don't think she's hearing it at school.  It's not the Montessori way.  

Maybe my biggest problem with this is that it seems like a little preview of Ms. Sunshine, the Teenage Years.  And it scares the hell out of me.   

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I thought I had a while before this happened...

Several days ago, Sunshine and I were waiting in line to say good morning to her teacher.  Along the way we pass a lunchbox featuring some music group.  I wasn't sure who it was.  

Sunshine:  Look Mommy, It's the Jonas Brothers.
Mommy:  Who are the Jonas Brothers?
Sunshine:  SSSHHHH, Mommy.  You're embarrassing me.  

I think I stood there with a look of shocked surprise on my face.  I still don't know who the Jonas Brothers are.  

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ahhh...The Wonders of Walmart

So it's been pretty quiet here.  On Saturday, Sunshine and I left for a bit while Daddy watched the Notre Dame game.  That's generally a safe decision, especially if it looks like the Irish might play down to their opponent.  It saves me from having to explain to Sunshine why she shouldn't yell at the TV or repeat the colorful new language that she's learned.  

We needed some groceries, and I thought we'd head to Walmart.   I'm generally not a fan of Walmart.  The stores are dirty, the help is lacking.  But the economy being what it is....Walmart is far cheaper.  Anyways, it's also a good place to kill a little time.

We had the best time together.  Ladybug was napping, so she didn't join us.  We got there, and spend almost 30 minutes swinging in the garden center.  She laid her head on my lap, and we spent that time just talking about what we were seeing.  Then we moved on to the fish.  We looked at every tank.  Then it was on to the clearance aisle.  We'd spent almost an hour there by the time we hit the toy section.  She loved it.  Just Mommy and Sunshine time.  I got a lesson on what accessories princesses need.  She showed me how almost every toy within her reach worked.  She rode a bike.  And she talked to me.   We talked about everything.

Sunshine has been fairly quiet lately.  She clams up a lot, especially since school has started.  But just walking with her in Walmart, she really opened up.  She talked about everything.  Her friends at her old school.  Her friends at her new school.  Her teacher.  Colors.  Her favorite food.  We spent 20 mintues talking about what kind of candles she'd like on her birthday cake.  She was a totally different kid.  I'm thinking that it was the one-on-one time that sparked it.  We don't get much of that lately, and it's so incredibly important.  I need to keep reminding myself of that.  We killed so much time just talking to each other at Walmart that the game was over by the time we got home.  Talk about a Win-Win situation.  

Monday, September 15, 2008

For the Love of God, Why Octopus?

So after an incredibly busy Sunday, the family sat down to dinner at one of our favorite Cuban joints.  The black bean quesadilla is out of this world, but the Hubby is crazy about the paella.  You know the dish; rice, chicken, andouille sausage, lots of squid, shrimp, and octopus.  Small, but whole, octopus.  Sunshine has been sharing this dish with her Daddy for a while now.  It's still unnerving to see her pop one of these whole octopi in her mouth.  This from the kid who won't really touch chicken.  All in all, it's kind of neat.  Until we're standing in front of the Octopus exhibit at the Aquarium and she tells everyone how good it tastes when you eat it.  

Friday, September 12, 2008

Protecting the Nurslings and Their Mommies

I'm angry.  I'm appalled.  Anyone who has ever nursed a little one, or followed Her Bad Mother's saga, has come across people who think that breastfeeding an infant belongs in the bathroom or beneath a filthy airline blanket.  How unbelievably archaic.  How unbelievably sad.  

I nursed both of my little nurslings for more than a year.  Sunshine was 16 months old when she decided she was ready to stop nursing.  Ladybug was closer to 13 months old.  I couldn't get either of them to even look at a bottle.  I loved nursing my kiddos.  I am so proud of myself for getting through that difficult beginning to nursing (read thrush).  I am so proud of my husband for being so incredibly supportive of me.  For me, it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.  They were my constant companions, and I'm proud to say that I nursed them in public, in private, on a plane, and in a car (while the car was stopped, of course).

 Having said that, I usually did try to find a quiet place.  FYI, Nordstrom's has some of the nicest rooms for this.  But that's not always possible.  Babies are unpredictable, and you can't always be in a private place.  My little nurslings couldn't stand to be covered up.  So there goes the blanket.  I think I showed more skin trying to keep the blanket on and the child latched.   I think every mother tries to be discreet.  No one is waving their breast around saying, "Look at me, I'm nursing."  

Anyone who even remotely suggested that I might want to take my child to a more appropriate place (read filthy, disgusting public restroom) was usually met with a withering stare and a don't mess with me attitude.  But what about the women who do need to nurse gasp in public, and don't have the energy to stand up for their rights?  For the rights of their hungry children?  Why does society see nursing as something shameful?  Why do so many nursing mothers feel like they have to take their precious children to absolutely appalling places to simply feed them?  THAT'S WHAT BREASTS ARE FOR, PEOPLE.  They are there to nourish babies.  I agree that they are also there to have a little fun with.  But their primary function is to nourish babies.  I will defend, with every fiber of my being, my right to feed my child where ever I want, whenever I want, in the manner I see fit.  

I am tired of hearing that nursing mothers are being asked to move because they might make someone else uncomfortable.  That they might offend someone else by doing something that is so natural.  I'm tired of hearing it compared to urinating in public.  I'm tired of hearing people say that nursing mothers are "sexually abusing" their children if they nurse them past six months of age.  So all those people who think that breastfeeding is gross or disgusting, and should take place in a bathroom can go straight to a Hell where nursing mothers are EVERYWHERE.  

I guess I've come to the conclusion that it's not my problem.  If someone is insecure or offended by the fact that I'm breastfeeding, it's not my problem.  It's theirs.  They need to deal with it.  If someone thinks that what I'm doing is shameful, it's not my problem.  Feeding my child is my problem.  And I will nurse them where and when I want.  They deserve nothing less than the best, and I can provide them with that.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Gone, Baby, Gone

Relief is coursing through my body.  It's gone.  Thank goodness it's gone.  It's been such a weight on our shoulders, and now it's finally gone.  Our beautiful home in Richmond, VA has been on the market for more than 8 months.  Yesterday it sold.  Closed.  Gone.  I can't even begin to express how good it feels.  

The saga of this home is so sad.  It was our dream home.  An incredible 1880's Queen Anne Victorian.  My husband and I love old homes.  And this was it.  A beautiful wrap around porch.  Turrets.  Everything was original; from the floors to the tile in the fireplaces.  The slate roof was original.  And that's what did it too us.  Caring for the slate roof of an incredibly old house is challenging at the best of times.  Caring for this house took everything out of us.  Selling it just about ripped our hearts out.  

Fast forward to January.  We're transferring to Atlanta, and the economy is tanking, and we need to sell our home.  The panic that set in was horrific.  We laid awake for so many nights worrying about how we were going to deal with selling this monstrosity.  My husband went ahead and moved, leaving the me, the girls, the dog and the cats to sell the house.  Three months of pure loneliness, interrupted by weekends of pure bliss.   Still no movement on the house.  Finally I couldn't stand it any longer and moved to Atlanta.  Still no movement on the house.  

I should mention that there was no air conditioning in the 1880s.  Our house was never retrofitted.  It would be sacrilege to tear apart the house to add the ductwork necessary for central air.  In Richmond, in the summer, it could be upwards of 90 degrees in the downstairs of the house.  Someone would be crazy to buy it.  We were crazy to buy it.  (I did manage to spend on very pregnant summer in that house though.  So if I can do it, pregnant no less, anyone can do it.)  

Well, months later, we finally got an offer.  It was lousy, and the seller wanted too much.  But I don't think we really cared.  We just needed it to be gone.  At this point, we can barely bring ourselves to look at even a photo of the house.  I know we're lucky.  There are so many people who can't sell their houses now.  Who have to just let it go. 

Now we can start to rebuild.  We've cut ties with Richmond.  We never have to look back.  It's over.  Last night we cracked a bottle of wine that we bought in Italy on our Honeymoon.  We toasted our new beginning.  The relief is overwhelming.  Not quite as overwhelming as the dread and anxiety that we felt while it was on the market.  But that's OK.  It's finally over!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

On Becoming Sisters...

We went to the Zoo yesterday.  It was Mei Lan's birthday, and Sunshine is absolutely crazy about Mei Lan.  Anyways, we didn't take a stroller.  That's always such a risk, because you never know who will need the rest time.  Ladybug was amazing.  She walked almost the entire time.  She adored watching the animals.  What was even more amazing was watching Sunshine and Ladybug together.  Daddy and I got to walk, holding each other's hands, no less, watching our two little girls holding hands.  They walked together, watched the animals together, laughed together.  I know it was fleeting.  They'll be back to arguing over the Elmo chair today.  But for just a little while, I saw them as I hope to see them when they are adults.  The way I see myself with my sisters.  I love being with my sisters, and I miss them terribly.  I am really enjoying watching Sunshine and Ladybug become sisters together.  

Friday, September 5, 2008

We're Speaking, Just Not The Same Language

I have been having the best time with Ladybug in the mornings.  I think she's really enjoying her alone time with Mommy.  She's been trying to communicate a lot with me.  I just not always getting it.  Around Sunshine, Ladybug just goes with the flow.  She's such an amazing easy kid, that I don't have many cues for her.  We've never really needed them.

Well, today Ladybug was speaking loud and clear.  I just didn't read the signals.  We were shopping, and she kept trying to stick her hand in her diaper.  Now she doesn't normally do this in public.  First cue.  And she was whining.  Again, not a whiny kid.  I just thought she was a little hungry.  Second cue.  Turns out she was soaked.  Completely.  She tried so hard to tell me.  There she was, practically screaming that she was wet and uncomfortable.  Luckily we have every weekday morning to learn eachother's language.  I think it's going to be a great time.   

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I'm so proud...

You know... I never thought this would happen.  Deep down, I knew it would.  I just never thought it would happen so soon.  

Sunshine did something last night that absolutely astounded her Daddy and me.  She woke up on her own, got out of her bed in the pitch dark, opened the door to her bedroom, walked to the bathroom, and peed.  In the toilet.  It was fantastic.  Neither Daddy or I were sleeping well last night.  And we both woke up when we heard her feet hit the floor and her bedroom door open.  Daddy was already up (God Bless Him!), ready to send her back to bed.  She has always slept in her own bed, but over the last few months she has attempted to gain entry to our bed in the middle of the night.  Half asleep, but expecting an argument about wanting to sleep with Mommy and Daddy, I hear, "Daddy, I'm going potty."  In her most scathing, know-it-all voice.  It was potty, quick kiss and hug, and back to bed.

I'M SO PROUD.  She's been in panties at night all summer.  She's done so well.  Very few accidents.  Daddy and I take her to the bathroom right before we go to bed.  She almost always wakes up dry.  But she has never taken the initiative, in the pitch dark, in the middle of the night, to wake herself up and go potty.  What can I say?  My little girl is getting so big!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bringing me back to one of my worst parenting mistakes...

I guess I should preface this by owning up to one of my biggest parenting mistakes.  It happened a little more than a year ago.  Sunshine had just started school.  She was so proud of herself and happy to see me, and I so looked forward to that huge hug every day when I picked her up.  On maybe her third day, she had had an accident at school.  I saw her in a different outfit than what I had left her in.  The first words out of my mouth were, I am embarrassed to say, "Oh, Sunshine, you had an accident."  Not "Hi honey, I missed you so much."  Not "Did you have a great day at school today?"  The beautiful grin on her face disappeared, and I knew immediately that I had made a huge mistake.  It was a learning experience that hit me like a ton of bricks.  I will try my hardest to never again make my child feel that small.  Accidents happen.  They're part of life.

Combine really feeling like accidents happen, with the first few weeks of preschool.  You're desperately hoping/praying that your child really is ready.  You want to prove to the teacher that your child is indeed potty trained.  She was only 2.5 after all, and she'd regressed a bit after we'd had Ladybug.  I just really wanted her to be ready.  She was ready.  It's just that accidents happen.  The look on her face was enough to drive that home.  It's hard though, as a parent.  Never knowing when you might screw up.  

Today I saw someone make the same mistake that I made last year.  The first thing out of this mom's mouth was that her daughter had had an accident.  I cringed all over and it brought me right back to where I was a year ago.  I felt awful all over again.  I ran up to my daughter, gave her the biggest hug, and told her that I missed her terribly while she was at school.  

I wish I could tell parents everywhere that accidents happen.  It's not a big deal.  It doesn't necessarily mean that your child isn't ready for school; it's just that they had so much fun that they forgot to go.  Your immediate fear that your child isn't ready isn't worth making them feel small.  To a preschooler, feeling small is about the worst that they could possibly feel.  May I never make that  mistake again.  

Monday, September 1, 2008

Her First Girl Moment...I'm so proud

Not too long ago, Sunshine had her very first girly moment.  It surprised me, and it didn't.  She's always been one with a penchant for crowns, lip gloss, and princesses.  But this was so grown up that I couldn't help but smile to myself.

We'd been out shopping all day.  You know the kind of outlet mall shopping that is mind-numbingly painful for a 3 year old little girl who just wants to run.  But she was amazing.  I couldn't have asked for a better shopping buddy.  And at 3 pm, she found them.  The sparkly shoes to end all sparkly shoes.  Beautiful sparkly silver thongs, and she had to have them.  Being a responsible mom, I generally don't give into spur of the moment purchases, but like I said, she was fantastic.  We bought the shoes.

Brimming with pride, she put them on as soon as I whisked out my credit card.  She showed everyone these shoes.  Two stores later, she was hobbling.  You could tell her feet hurt so badly.  It was written all over her face.  But she wouldn't take them off.  Only 3 years old, and already prepared to suffer for fashion.  

Maybe it amazed me so much because I am the exact opposite.  If the shoes hurt, I don't wear them.  Sure I might walk around all summer in ugly Walmart flip flops, but you had better believe they are comfortable ugly flip flops.   I do believe that fashion is something we will butt heads on.  Especially tomorrow morning, when I break the news that she's not allowed to wear her beloved sparkly silver shoes to school anymore.  It will be the end of the world as we know it.