Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thank You, Thanksgiving: A Gratitude List

"So I want to stop and thank you, baby." ~ Marvin Gaye

This is almost a week overdue, but hey, such is my life lately . . .

Z enjoying a cold Marzen with Dad

Thanksgiving came at the perfect time this year. While it seemed to appear a bit faster than expected, I needed the reality check. In all honesty, I've been getting bogged down on the little hardships of adjusting to this new life every day. T and I have been exhausted, Q has been doing whatever it takes to make sure our eyes are on him, and Z has been, well, pretty angelic actually but of course she contributes to the exhaustion. So, thank goodness for Thanksgiving. A time to reflect on all that I have to be grateful for was much needed.

Q the piano prodigy at my grandfather's house on Tofurkey Day

1. I have two healthy, happy, beautiful children. What the hell is wrong with me? I should never complain about anything anymore.

2. I have a husband who loves me and our babies. He works hard and, even if I wish he were around more, he's doing it ultimately for all of our happiness and comfort. Thank you, lub!

3. I have an awesome extended family, many of whom live nearby, both blood relative and in laws.

4. I have thee best group of friends ever. Even if we don't get to see each other as often as we like, I know they are there if I ever need them and I love them like family.

5. I have a job when so many people don't at this time. I work with the most understanding, compassionate people who I am so lucky to have in my life. I miss them while I'm on maternity leave.

6. Because I have said job, I have enough decent clothes to last me through the season. Even if I would love some Frye boots but can't quite justify them.

7. Food. I'm so glad I have some. Thanks.

8. Wine. Just one glass will do. Thanks.

9. DVR. I dislike most commercials, especially at this time of year. And I get to watch my guilty pleasure shows while nursing Z after Q's tucked in with the limited time I have to "myself." Thanks.

Okay, this is starting to get silly. But I really am grateful for all of the above. I may be part of the 99% when it comes to finances, but I feel like part of the 1% when reflecting on the wealth of love in my life.

Thanks to those of you who are still reading. Hope everyone had a yummy and bountiful Thanksgiving in every way!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Review: Stop Reacting and Start Responding

"Where is my mind?" ~ The Pixies

Isn't it great how when you decide to implement some new parenting tactics your children present the very challenges you need to test them out? That was sarcasm, by the way. I feel like I'm losing my mind lately, what with Q's antics seemingly getting worse by the moment and my exhaustion from being tied to a newborn 24/7. Forget that new love, Jody Watley. I'm lookin' for a new mind, baby, a new mind.


A new parenting book crossed my path and I thought it was worth a review. Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be was written by parent educator and mother of two Sharon Silver, and hey, I'm all about becoming the parent I want to be! I found it refreshing that she admits her book includes some familiar parenting tips, but she gives a fresh perspective and re-frames them in a way that is easily accessible. And don't we busy parent folk all need some easy access when we've reached the very limits of our patience? I know that's where T and I have been lately. The book is divided into 15 thematic chapters around various issues that may arise, from "Frustration" to "Out in Public" to "Travel," with each of the 108 tips arranged accordingly within said chapters. Each tip also has a "Quick View" section at the end that summarizes the tip for -- you guessed it -- quick viewing. You can flip easily to a section and -- bam -- super simple referencing. Which is especially great for T who isn't a big reader (let's just say the last piece of literature he dove into was a Fantasy Football magazine).

Silver addresses her advice to parents of children who range in age from 1 to 10, and I found a great deal of helpful tips throughout for our almost 3 year old. There were definitely a few that I skimmed over since I didn't find them relevant to his maturity level or what we've been experiencing. Fortunately the author does specify younger vs. older children for certain tips. One of my favorites is #53. Mistakes ~ Tender Teaching which addresses how we can respond as parents to younger children who make mistakes and need to learn the right way to behave, which is oh so relevant to us right now. She helped me to realize that yelling about what Q shouldn't have done doesn't accomplish much -- it's much more effective to talk about what he should have done instead. And to use smaller words that he'll understand, which, hello, makes so much sense. He's only semi-verbal at this point, and when upset even less so.

I'm also looking forward to implementing tip #61."Freeze" ~ It's Not a Game Anymore that suggests using the word "freeze" in dangerous situations when you need your wild child to stop. Q has had a couple of close encounters with cars on the street and running after him with Z in her sling is no easy feat. So we played freeze dance for the first time the other day, as suggested by Silver, and now he understands what freeze means. Next time we play I'll tell him that "freeze" also works when mommy or daddy need him to make still like a popsicle to avoid danger.

But there were a couple of tips that I had a hard time making sense of. The suggestion to take a picture of your child when he's behaving well and one when he's behaving poorly to reference later, with the example of one when he's playing nicely with his sister and one when he's hitting his sister, seemed a bit crazy. Would I run to get my camera when Q is going all Rocky on Z? Um, no. And of course Q has been on a hitting streak lately. I searched through the book for something specific about hitting and didn't come up with much. I suppose some of her more general advice about focusing on what he should do instead could work to curb the slugfests, but I would have appreciated something more specific.

Overall, I found this book very helpful. I think I can continue to reference it for many years to come. I like that she speaks in simple terms, like she's a good friend sharing her wisdom with you over the phone. And like one should when receiving advice from a friend, you take what applies to you and your family and make it work. It also made me feel better to read that she doesn't think parents who feel they need some coaching are bad parents -- in fact they are great parents for wanting to be better.

I know I beat myself up a little too often regarding my parenting skills. But just like Q is learning how to behave in this crazy world, I'm learning how to be a mom every day. Z will be a toddler before we know it and I'm hoping to be a bit more prepared. This mom gig is my most important work and I want to study my craft. I want to be better. Hopefully Q and Z will want to be better, too.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Slings and Smiles: Zoe's 2 Month Day

"Won't you smile a while for me?" ~ Hall & Oates

You turned 2 months old on 11/11/11 and I'm running late, having had skipped your 1 month day post entirely, due to very minimal "me" time. But that's okay. You and your bro are sort of worth it.

I have taken on a whole new level of attachment parenting due to you, Z. You're happiest when held close, so you hide out for much of the day in your sling, stretching your neck to say hello to the world when it suits you. You like to fall asleep to the sound of Daddy's heartbeat. And while you start out in your bassinet next to our bed every night, you end up cuddled close to me. Yes, we're co-sleeping and that's what seems to be working best for everyone at the moment.

Peeking out from her sling
Can you tell she likes leopard print?

You started smiling a couple weeks ago, and getting you to grin has become my favorite activity. You do so with an open mouth and crinkled eyes and even attempt to laugh. You are trying so hard to communicate and even charmed the doc with your cooing. Yes, you will be a talker. I'm looking forward to lots of long chats with you, my love. But in the meantime, smiling will more than suffice.

Some say you look just like Q, while others say you're very much your own person. I see both in your various expressions and moods. I do know your personality is very much your own so far. You let us know when you're uncomfortable and you aren't thrilled when playtime ends abruptly. You are needier than your brother ever was, but I can tell you're going to be hitting some of those baby milestones a bit sooner than he did. I have a feeling you will be just as social as Q.

There's so much more to say and so little time to say it. Happy 2 Month Day, baby girl! You are the most fun.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Battling Big Brother Blues

"Brother, brother . . . war is not the answer" ~ Marvin Gaye

Q is a big brother now. How has he adapted to this new role? Pretty darn well, considering I expected the worst. He adores his baby sister and always wants her around. He loves to give her hugs and kisses. Which is awesome. Except when he uses the full weight of his body to do so. Still, awesome. He wants her to come along even when I tell him it's special mama and Q time. Clearly he loves Z with the weight of a thousand toddlers. That is his MO -- hug 'em till it hurts.

But he is definitely feeling the change in the household. He wants to sit on mama's lap and have mama do everything for him, even if three other people are offering to help. He wants both mama's and daddy's attention desperately, even if that means throwing toys and screaming like a maniac to do so. Somehow it's worse when both of us are home and I swear we rarely fawn over Z in front of Q. In fact, we typically go to him first if they're both fussing about something. He just knows that his world has shifted and that he isn't the center anymore.

When Q is asked about his baby sister, he lets them know, "baby cries." Sometimes he likes to mimic her cries at an even louder volume, which only amps up the baby more, and then we have a super fun headache-inducing situation. Or I have to feed her and despite my attempts to distract him with toys, snacks, or TV, he wants to sit on mama's lap which is near impossible. He has a meltdown. Z has a meltdown. Guess who melts down next!

Sometimes all is right with the world, though. Z naps through lunchtime and Q and I have a chance to chat and giggle together. Z is cozy in her sling while we play cars and trucks and things that go go go. I feed Z while Q plays quietly (well, not yelling at the top of his voice at least). He is happy with this new household for the most part. But I know it's a struggle. More like an adjustment of epic proportions. Oh, the transition!

I'm writing this mainly to remind myself that it's not just me and T who are challenged by adding another babe to the pack. Sure, I never have a moment to myself anymore, but I understand that it's only this season of our lives. Q's ability to understand what's happening is not quite at the same level. I'm sure it's not easy for him to see me with Z always attached, whether by boob or by carrier. He knows that she sleeps in our room every night and he has yet to insist upon spending the night there too (knock on wood). So, I'm trying to cut him some slack. I try to make special time for us. I try to follow all the advice I've read about helping your toddler adjust to the new baby. But there will always be those bad days along with the good and it's simply part of us growing as a family.

The lovely moments are worth every owie along the way.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

How 'Bout that Halloween

"Love is kind of crazy with a spooky little boy like you" ~ Dusty Springfield

Last night was Q's first proper Halloween. He got to hit the town when the sun went down and bother the neighbors for all of their "kind nums." He was in awe. I've never seen him so quiet. Even after a couple of days of rehearsing the whole trick-or-treat scenario, he didn't say trick-or-treat or thank you even once that we could hear. He just followed the throngs of costumed children to each door and waited his turn. Regardless of his silence, he had a blast and one neighbor even gave out his favorite fruit snacks -- the OG kind nums in Q's world.

Z stayed wrapped up in her carrier and snoozed, but on our way home I saw her peeking out with wide eyes at the dark night sky. "It's Halloween," I whispered to her. Her little ladybugy eyes shined up at me.

"More chocolate!" Q-bot demanded.