School is cool

October 28, 2010 at 11:47 pm (Family, Parenting, Pre School, Toddler)

I know I know it’s been a loooooong time since I’ve updated.  Sorry.  I’ve been slacking.  Also, I feel that with facebook, I tend to update a lot of what I would have blogged.

Anyway, since my last post, Alexis started school.  I was hesitant about putting her in school.  I know I’ve written about that in the past.  I’ve stayed home with her and loved being with her.  It was scary for me to think that someone else would be in charge of her for a few hours every day.  But, I also knew that she needed it.  She is very active and social and smart.  I knew that she needed more than just her and I every day.  And I needed it, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to keep her entertained, going out and doing errands was exhausting for me.  And, the fact that I was alone a lot of the time meant that I got no break at all.

I did quite a bit of researching before choosing a school for her.  I visited a lot of schools, some of them several times.  I wanted to put her in school 3 days a week.  After all my tours, I decided that the school I liked the best was a montessori school.  The first time I went to this school, I didn’t like it.  I didn’t like the structure and the routine.  Well, 6 months later I felt differently.  I felt that she needed some of that structure and that it was good.  It was more of a school than a daycare and that was important to me.  I was comfortable with the school and staff, I knew that she would learn there, and would benefit from it.  My only hesitation was that for her age group, it had to be 5 days a week.  The younger kids could go 3 days, but for her age they wanted them there 5 days because they have more of a routine and daily activities.  I felt that it was a trade off I was willing to make to have her in a school I thought was a good fit.

I decided to have her start at the beginning of the school year so that she would be starting with everyone else and learning the routine along with the rest of the class.  As her first day approached, I was definitely nervous.  Marc was out of town for most of her first week, so I was on my own.   The morning of her first day, I woke her up and got her dressed, I tried explaining as best I could to her that she was going to be going to school and she was going to play with her friends and that I would pick her up after her nap.  When we got there, she was fine, a little apprehensive but ok.  I walked her to her class and then told her that I was leaving and would be back after lunch.  She just looked at me a bit confused.  As I walked out I heard her yell, “mommy!” and then start crying.  I left, which was not easy, but I knew it was the best thing for her.  I called a little over an hour later and the teacher said she was doing ok.  She wasn’t crying but she didn’t want to play and didn’t want to eat.  When I went to pick her up she was very happy to see me and the teacher said she did ok the rest of the day but didn’t eat.

The rest of the first week was a gradual improvement.  She still cried at drop off but stopped shortly after and then had fun during the day and was happy.  By Thursday, no more crying, just a little whimpering, and Friday was, “bye, mommy!” I know I’m lucky, I know not all kids adjust that easily and I honestly don’t know how long I would have held out if she was hysterical every day.

Now that she’s been there for just over two months, I KNOW I made the right decision.  She loves school, she can’t wait to go every day, talks about everything she’s learned.  As for the learning, it’s more than I expected.  She is learning the continents and can recite them, she can spell her name, to name a couple things.  The other thing that’s great is that she has really learned to clean up after she’s done playing.  Most of the time, I need to remind her or at least start doing it myself, but other times, she does it herself.

And then there’s the other side of school, the 4 hours that I have every morning! It’s amazing.  At first I felt guilty being a stay at home mom, while my daughter was at school every morning.  It’s wonderful to be able to do things like go grocery shopping and run errands without dealing with a temper tantrum.  And, since I’m in grad school, it’s time for me to work on school work.  I love picking her up and she is so happy every day when she sees me.

So, I know I waited until I felt she was ready and until I was ready.  And when that time came, it was great and it was a perfect fit for us.

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The Leisure Time of a Mom

June 17, 2010 at 2:40 pm (Eating Out, Family, House, Marriage, Opinion, Parenting, Shopping, Sleep, Toddler, Uncategorized)

As I was catching up on my DVR last night, I came across an episode of Dr. Phil which was very interesting.   There was a study conducted by a sociologist at the University of Maryland which claims that moms have an extra 30-40 hours of leisure time a week!! HUH?  He counts things that I would not necessarily include in “leisure time”.  Things like waiting for a tow truck, going to the dentist, etc doesn’t that sound leisurely?  Normally I would think that leisure time involves a beach, a frozen drink, a cabana boy to bring me said drink, and someone trustworthy watching my daughter so that I can actually relax!!!!

I am a stay at home mom.  Relaxing right?  No need to wake up early, get dressed, schlep my daughter to school, sit in traffic, work, then do it all backwards?  My “job” is taking care of my 2 year old.  I am on call all the time.  It does not end.  The time that I can sneak away to check emails is peppered with calls of “Mommy!!!” or little hands on the keyboard.  Maybe I can check emails or facebook from my iphone right?  Well, as soon as she sees me pull that out, she wants to play with it – so out of my hands it goes.  Getting her dressed is a battle, getting myself dressed is done with one ear constantly making sure I don’t hear any crashes or screaming from the other room where she’s playing.  Driving in a car included listening to Mickey or Laurie Berkner, don’t get me wrong, I love Laurie but I really do miss driving along singing to MY music! Then there are the books strewn around the back of my car which she wants.  I go shopping!! that’s leisure right?  Pushing a stroller through a mall at warp speed.  if I’m lucky I can avert her eyes to something else while we pass the Disney Store or Build A Bear otherwise the screaming ensues and invariably we walk out with a new Mickey “thing” or a new bear.   IF I get to shop for myself it’s while entertaining her with stickers, snacks, or my iphone.  making sure she doesn’t grab things off racks, this is all if she’s in a good mood.  If she’s not is a good mood – all bets are off.  I will normally just have to hightail it out of the mall while she is screaming and trying to imitate houdini and escape from her stroller.   I also get to eat out – yay!? No leisurely lunch for me anymore.  Hurrying to order for me and for Alexis.  Keeping her entertained with crayons or whatever until the food arrives.  First getting her food ready, making sure it’s not too hot, cutting things into toddler sized pieces.  Then I scarf down my food with half my attention on her, my mommy reflexes always on edge ready to jump and prevent any spills or splashes, or if it’s a really fun lunch – anything from being launched.  Ok she’s done eating, let’s get the check, clean her off and go.  That was so relaxing!!!!

Back home.  Play time again.  This is where I can maybe jump on the computer again with the “mommy!” cries in the background or the little hands on the keyboard.  Then it’s naptime.  Ahhhhh.  Nap time.  Time for me to relax!!!! Wait – what’s that I hear?  Oh she doesn’t want to sleep.  She’s wants up.  But she’s so tired, why won’t she just fall asleep!!??!!  Ok so an hour later of tears, bribes, rocking, singing, and sometimes driving in a car she is asleep.  Ok, now I can relax.  But I’m so terrified of waking her that I need to  make sure that any TV I watch is so low that I almost need to read lips.  And I really do need to get around to the laundry and washing the dishes, and oh yeah maybe catch up on a tv show also.  No matter what I’m doing I am always listening to the monitor and therefore my “leisure time” is always tempered with the knowledge that at best she will sleep for 3 hours, but more than likely it will be 2 hours.

She’s up.  This is usually the most difficult part of the day.  From the time she wakes up from her nap until bedtime.  She still wants to play but is usually more cranky than the pre-nap hours.  I have to figure out what’s for dinner and try to cook while keeping her away from anything that could be dangerous in the kitchen.  When Marc is in town he will come home right before dinner time so then there are 2 of us.  When he’s home he will handle her bath after dinner while I clean up the kitchen and table.  If he’s not home, then it’s all me.  Then bedtime.  This is unpredictable.  She can be a great sleeper and go right to sleep, but then there are other nights where it’s a battle of wills and could take up to an hour to fall asleep.  An hour much like nap time, she doesn’t just lie there contentedly listening to music when she doesn’t want to be there.  Most of the time she falls asleep with no problem, but every few months there is a phase, it lasts anywhere from 10 days – 2 weeks where it’s every night that she cries and does not want to sleep.  Last night, I was alone with her and by the time she fell asleep it was 9:20.  Usually I don’t eat dinner with her, I wait until she’s asleep.  So last night, I found myself having a PB&J at 9:30.  Then trying to straighten up the house.  And, hey maybe a shower.  That’s leisure right?  Yeah I’m laughing too.  The shower with the monitor on the bathroom counter.  Then and only then can I relax finally.  Again, always with the monitor and always listening.  So, I stay up late because it’s the only quiet time I get just for me.

Even sleep is not the same anymore.  I’m sure that all moms can attest to this.  Once you become a mom, you just don’t sleep as soundly because part of your subconscious is always listening to the monitor, ready to spring up at any moment.  Hopefully, she sleeps fitfully and fully through the night, but hey you never know.  She could wake up in the middle of the night and go right back to sleep or she may not.  I may bring her to bed with me because I’m too tired to fight this battle and then I have little feet kicking me and sleep is definitely compromised.  So, you see, even when I can do things “of leisure” it’s not really.  It’s always in little snippets and with a million other things floating around in my brain.

What about vacations or when I go out to dinner with a friend?  Well, not the same either.  Gone are the carefree days of really getting away.  Because, I am always thinking of Alexis and what she should be doing at the time or if she’s ok.  I will get calls and texts with updates and/or questions.  So, even those times when i do get away, my mind is not completely away.  I may not have a “job”, but I definitely work.  My job is a 24 hour a day one.  One that will be like this for as long as I can imagine.  So, please clarify your 30-40 hours of leisure time a week that I week, Mr. Sociologist, I’m not sure that you fully understand the job of a mom.

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Sharing an important post

June 10, 2010 at 9:33 am (Baby, Opinion, Parenting, Politics, Toddler)

I’ve been following this blog for a while now, having been directed to it by Matt Logelin’s blog.  At first the story was captivating, then heartbreaking, and I was truly invested in the lives of this woman, this mom, who so easily could have been me.

Now, she finds herself in an impossible situation.  One that should not EVER happen in this country.  A family should not have to put themselves in debt for health care.  I could never write about it as well as she can, so please take the time to read her most recent entry and then read her story.

The Spohrs Are Multiplying

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A post on readiness

April 21, 2010 at 11:00 am (Family, Opinion, Parenting, Toddler, Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

This age seems to come with a lot of judgment.  Yes, I know I’ve said that before, but now, at 2 years old there seems to be a whole new set of “things” that need to be accomplished in a certain time frame.  I am once again wondering who makes up these rules and why people care so much.  I am referring to: potty training, big kid bed, pacifier, and school.  One more lesson to add to my book of things I’ve learned as a mom: take their lead, trying to force things or push because other people do it, will backfire.  Oh, and other people see what you’re doing and why.

Potty Training.  I got Alexis a potty chair about 6 months ago and she uses it off and on.  She sometimes sits on it by herself and I always encourage it, sometimes she goes sometimes she just unspools the toilet paper roll.  I am pretty consistent about putting her on there a couple times a day and I praise her when she goes.  But, I know she’s not ready to really potty train.  She doesn’t tell me before she has to go and doesn’t really care if she walks around with a wet diaper.  I know that I could put her on the potty every 15 or 20 minutes and keep her in panties and claim she’s potty trained, but to me, that’s cheating.  In my opinion, real potty training is when they tell you they have to go, of course with reminders from us, but not constant timed trips to the bathroom.  That’s a good way of teaching them and helping them once they show signs of being ready, but its not being potty trained.  When she’s ready (hopefully soon) I’ll know it and it’ll be easy.

Big Kid Bed. This is one thing that I actually don’t want to do.  I want to keep her in a crib as long as I possibly can.  She’s a great sleeper so why mess with a good thing?  Well, safety.  At 36″ tall, it has now become unsafe for her to remain in her crib.  She has not yet attempted to escape, but she can hang over the top rail and she jumps on the mattress like its a trampoline.  And I hold my breath.  Since I’m not too keen on waiting until she falls out and gets potentially injured, we purchased a toddler bed.  I should mention that something happened about a week before the purchase, she started fighting us to go to sleep – crying, hysterical fits about being left alone and waking once or twice at night.  I figured, she’s sleeping like crap, can’t be any worse, let’s take her crib away!  We took the crib down, put the toddler bed together, along with pretty new sheets with butterflies and ladybugs on it.  Babyproofed her room so she couldn’t injure herself if she decided to wander in the middle of the night.  She loved the bed, climbed right in, covered herself and seemed content.  Success I thought!  Wrong.  When it came time to go to sleep, I sat with her because I figured it would take a couple nights to get used to it.  It took her a long time to fall asleep.  Then she proceeded to wake up 3 or 4 times at night (can’t remember).  Around 6am, I gave up and brought her to bed with us and she slept there.  Fast forward 4 nights later, now the sleeping is turning into hysterics.  I tried letting her cry it out, which I’ve never been a fan of but has worked successfully in the recent past after one night and not a lot of crying.  This did not work.  It took an hour the first night and it included banging on the walls and door and saying “owie”.   Middle of the night was no better.  I gave up after the 3rd time around 5am she came to bed with us.  The next night was no better, actually it was worse.  I couldn’t do it.  After an hour and no improvement and me totally stressed out.  I knew she was tired, she hadn’t napped that day, I threw in the towel.  We put the crib back up and I planned to take her to the dr the following day.  She slept in her crib but still slept horribly.  The next day at the dr I found out why – 2 back molars coming in, me not giving her enough motrin for her weight, ear pain, and ringworm rash on her ankle, I’m sure these things were messing with her sleep and making her uncomfortable and not herself.  She was trying to tell me, but didn’t know how.  So, the crib is still up, she’s not sleeping great yet, but better.  Once she returns to normal, then we will give the toddler bed another shot.

Pacifier.  I know I said it would be gone by age 2, and it’s not.  See above for my reasons why.  I have prioritized.  The pacifier is not a big enough deal to me right now and I won’t do it before she moves to a toddler bed.  She mainly uses it for sleeping and the car only.  I keep one with me when we’re out for true emergencies.  I am just not willing to deal with the trauma that it will cause just yet.  It will be gone soon, but I’m not ready and I don’t think she is either.  It comforts her and helps her sleep, so what is the big deal?  Because other moms will judge me?  Oh well.  I’m sure it wouldn’t be the first time.

School.  I looked at schools.  I tried to like them.  Can’t do it, sorry.  I would LOVE to have a few hours  to myself a week, I really really would.  But I just could not see leaving her yet.  I’m a stay at home mom.  This is my job.  I am responsible for her education, entertainment, feeding, changing, etc and I don’t want to share that responsibility.  She gets one on one attention from me and would not get that at school and it really breaks my heart to think of her being upset or crying or scared and just being one of 10 kids in a class.  For the time being, she gets her socialization from the classes we go to and the playdates and the park and that will just have to be enough.  I’m thinking of starting her this fall when she’s 2.5, but I may change my mind and wait until she’s 3, we’ll see.  As for her speech which was slow at first, when I took her to the dr (not my usual one, a new one) this week for her sleep issues the dr mentioned how great her speech is.  So, even without school she has learned to speak just fine, it happened after she turned 2, it was like a faucet turned on.

For all the things she’s not ready for yet, there have been plenty that she is ready for.  She walked before her first birthday, she was jumping like a bunny way before kids are “supposed” to be able to jump.  She has excellent coordination and can walk a balance beam in gym class like kids older than her, can ride a tricycle.  She does puzzles meant for 3 year olds, counts to 20, spells her name, knows all the letters, etc.  She is also a fabulous eater, the list of foods she won’t eat is very short.  Loves fruits and veggies and is the opposite of picky.

So, for all the holier than thou moms out there, or the ones that feel the need to keep up with the Joneses, or be competitive, do what works for you.  And, especially, all the not yet parents who love to say “I would never” or “can you believe she still…”  I’m not talking about all mommies.  I know some whose kids have been ready and have done the above things already and I am so happy for them! (and a little jealous).  I think they should brag about it, but I can tell the difference between the moms who do it out of a sense of pride and those that do it to compete.  And if anyone is judging me for my choices, go right ahead.  I’m the mommy, I make the decisions.  She will only be little once and I am confident that she will not go to high school with a pacifier or a diaper and that she will be sleeping in a big bed soon enough.  So, judge away.  While you’re at it I can give you other things to be judgey about – I give my kid sweets, keep the tv on all day because I can’t stand quiet, I have no problem bribing her in a store with a toy or food so i can get some shopping done, oh yeah and she’s spoiled.  But, she’s happy and so am I and to me that’s what’s important.

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I admit it, I’m over protective

February 8, 2010 at 11:02 pm (Baby, Family, Friends, Opinion, Parenting, Toddler) (, , , )

But I would rather be over protective than under protective and regretful.  I just finished watching an episode of Oprah about child sex offenders.  These men all knew the children they molested.  Family members or close friends.  I don’t remember the exact statistic they said but I believe it was 90% of victims know their abuser.  People are sick and twisted, there is no question about that.

Being mom to a young daughter, unfortunately i think about these things.  She is innocent and does not know about evil people and cannot fathom that there are people who would want to hurt her.   Its my job to keep it that way.  No, I would not leave her with a babysitter who I did not know.  She was 18 months before I left her with anyone who was not family.  And even then it was because I had surgery and needed the help, but I was there with her most of the time.  And she was someone who came highly recommended from family.

I am mainly skeeved about diaper changes.  There are only a very very limited number of people who I feel need to be seeing her privates.  So even if it’s me changing her, I’m cautious about who is around, I don’t do it if there are people around who can look. Because, again, people are SICK.  I don’t like lap-sitting for the most part either, depends on the person, but again the number of people is very small.  It makes me uncomfortable.

I want  to raise her to be strong and have a voice and a mouth and be very familiar with the word NO (though she seems to have that one down pat).  Yes, I will teach her all about staying away from strangers, but there are a lot of non-strangers that can be worse.  I will have to find the balance between making her aware and cautious without making her fearful and nervous.

One of the most important things that I heard in the Oprah show was from one of the sex offenders he said (I’m paraphrasing) ‘if a child says they were molested, believe them, kids don’t lie about this’.  That really struck a nerve with me.  I can’t imagine ever not believing Alexis if she told me anything happened to her, but I know it happens.  People don’t want  to cause trouble in families or think the kids are looking for attention.  I know that if she ever told me anything like that, I would not be responsible for my actions towards the person.

I would rather question people and their intentions than be too trusting because you just never know.

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Is your kid perfect?

February 5, 2010 at 10:19 am (Baby, Friends, Opinion, Parenting, Toddler) (, , )

Because I know that mine is not.  Of course she is perfect in my eyes 🙂

I know she has her moments.  All kids do.  All adults do too! She is a toddler after all.  She has tantrums and meltdowns, issues sleeping, etc.  It’s normal.  When she was little, there were issues with feeding and crying and just general baby stuff.

I think its so important to have a good support system when these things arise.  People to talk to.  To vent your frustrations to.  That’s why I love being part of a message board filled with other mommies like me.  We can vent and share our frustrations and get help, or at least get sympathy.  It’s a place where I don’t feel like I should be judged because I know that I wouldn’t.

Why do I bring this up?  Because lately I’ve noticed something.  The “perfect kid” syndrome.  There are those moms (this also applies to facebook and real life) who like to pretend that everything is puppies and rainbows.  All we ever hear from them is bragging.  Bragging about how wonderful their kid is, or how he or she did such a cute thing the other day.  They will be the first ones  to jump on and offer advice from their vast experience of raising a perfect child(ren).   Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing wrong with bragging about your kids or sharing cute stories, but I really think that needs to be tempered with the reality that is parenthood.  Life, actually.   Kids are not always perfect, life is not always perfect.  It’s messy and full of potholes and surprises that come out of nowhere.  That’s why I love having people I know I can talk to and be open with and be frustrated.  The same people I can share good news with and cute pictures and funny stories.  It’s real.

So, for those who think that you will be judged or who feel like you can only share the good stuff, i encourage you to open up.  It’s cathartic to talk to others.  Who knows, someone may be able to have just  the rights words of wisdom.  Or someone may have been exactly where you are and they can say, “i understand”.  Believe me, by not venting, you’re not fooling anyone.  Because no one has that perfect  of a life, so everyone knows that you’re just trying to be someone you’re not.

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The diplomacy of kiddie parties

February 3, 2010 at 10:00 pm (Family, Friends, Toddler) ()

Alexis’ 2nd birthday is coming up, along with that comes the Birthday Party.   Last year was easy b/c I wanted to make it low key, no need to have a huge party for me, b/c she would not enjoy it.  This year is a different story.  I’m doing a bigger party, more friends, more theme-y, etc.  I’m pretty excited about everything.

Except the guest list.

The first wave was easy, my friends.  The ones I really like, whose company I enjoy.  Most have kids, but some don’t.  Those were a no-brainer.  Then there are the others.  The ones I feel I have to invite for a variety of reasons.  1. I was invited to their kids party so I feel it’s only right to return the invitation.  2. They are friends of friends I am inviting and it would be odd to invite a group of friends minus one.  It would be awkward and I don’t like to make people feel left out.   3. The ones I’m friends with out of obligation, you know the ones.  I’ve been friends with them for a long time, or the person I see often enough at social occasions but don’t really like and yet need to invite anyway.

I’m fortunate in that 95% of the people I’m inviting and genuinely people I want to invite, but then there are those few who I know I have to, so I will suck it up and do it.

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