Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Q's Kind Nums: Mealtime Mayhem

"It's a war of the hearts" ~ Sade

How I've begun to dread dinner on Guido Street! 'Tis the War of Wills. I realize that it's usually called a battle, but a battle is a one time thing. Around these here parts, it's an almost daily occurrence. And lately I feel like the stubbornness has reached its zenith (please tell me that this is the worst of it). Not only does Q not want what we're serving, he throws food off the table, climbs on top of it grinning maniacally, chucks torn up napkins at Z, and screams when we kick him out of the kitchen. Sounds fun, yes? And hopefully only slightly to the left of typical 3-year-old behavior.

I read some seemingly great advice on retreating from the battlefield and creating a healthier, happier atmosphere around mealtime. No more kind nums (or any snacks, for that matter) on demand. Scheduled sit-down snack times. Family meals of sharing food, eating what we like, and politely refusing what we do not like. T and I choose when and what we eat. Q (and Z) decide how much to eat of what's offered or to not eat at all. No pressure should mean that Q ultimately will feel empowered to decide for himself, learn to self-regulate with foods that make him feel well and avoid too much of what's not so good for him.

Being fed by his future wife (if only she were around for every meal)

So this is what we're trying now and it looks to be a lengthy learning process. But what these articles fail to address is the child who will throw food that's placed on the table across the room. How can I offer food family-style if it always ends up on the floor? At this point, we ask him to help clean up the food or he has to leave the kitchen. And he hates being forced out. We're getting pretty tired of the wasted food and the mess.

And later when he repeatedly tells me he's "really hungee, mama" and makes his eyes all huge and watery like Puss 'n Boots while begging for ice cream, I feel like my heart is ripping in half. I know I should stick to my guns, but why does it feel like torture? Perhaps because I am going against my maternal instinct to nourish my baby. As mothers, we provide. We feed. It's what we do. But ice cream isn't the ideal sustenance, and I know he needs to learn to eat at dinnertime so that he can fill up on food that will nourish him. But what if he asks for something semi-healthy, like the little spinach pizzas he likes, after dinnertime? This is when I don't know if I should be teaching him the importance of dinnertime and eating something of what's offered, or just feed him already because he's hungry and I don't want to deprive him. Ugh. We have a pediatrician appointment coming up, so I will certainly raise this issue with his doc.

It all comes down to another learning process that I must embrace along with my baby. Learning to relinquish some control and to trust my child completely. Getting over pushing my own eating agenda onto my kids. More than having them eating only the healthiest, all organic, sugar-free food, I want my kids to have a positive relationship with food. I want them to enjoy eating. I want mealtime to be fun for all of us.

Mamas and papas, how do you get your kids to sit down for dinner and eat what you've prepared? Do you make something separate for your picky eaters? I'd love to know what mealtime is like at your home.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mamasay Memories: 3 Years is a Lifetime

"Only the lonely (dum dum dum dumdy doo wah)" ~ Roy Orbison 

It's been a lonely three years without you, Mom.  So much has changed beyond you not being in our lives anymore. I've become a mother and somehow have managed to do it without calling you on a daily basis. I often wonder how different my life would be, how different Q's life would be with you in it since he is the one who has grown so much in your absence. 

But you make your presence known to us at random moments. Sometimes they seem opportune. Like when Q, Z, and I stopped to look at some balloons that evening while wandering on State Street in Santa Barbara. We were standing outside of one of your favorite stores, Coldwater Creek. I glanced up at the sign and immediately thought of you. I remembered when you had first started to lose a bit of weight, but we weren't sure why. You hadn't been diagnosed yet and we knew you weren't well, but we tried to embrace something positive in the situation and went shopping for some better fitting clothes. I had fun pretending I was Stacy London from What Not to Wear and you humored me. 

Q tugged on the balloons tied to the sale sign, watching them attempt to break free. Scared that they would break free and float up, up and away. One, two, three balloons, we counted. "Three balloons just like you're three years old, Q." Just like the three years you've been gone, Mom. 

I noticed the saleslady watching us and she looked annoyed. I told Q to be gentle to the balloons. It was almost closing time and the store was empty. After a few moments, she walked out and offered us the balloons. 

"Oh, only if you no longer need them." 

"We leave them out overnight and someone usually takes them anyway." 

She snipped them from the sign and handed them to Q. He was elated. As he stood there with his mouth hanging open, I told him to say thank you. He whispered it to her. 

"You're welcome. Enjoy them." 

I couldn't help but think that was your doing, Mom. What seemed like a simple gesture became something of a small miracle in my eyes. When I told T about it later, he came to the same conclusion on his own. You were there with us for a moment on that perfect evening in Santa Barbara. The day after I melted down and wondered if it was even worth it to take my two small children on such a trip. But of course it was. 

Q was afraid that he would lose the balloons, so I tied them, two red and one pink, to the stroller. And we floated down the street.

Perhaps I've grown more in your absence than I give myself credit for. We hold tight to your memories and they lift us up when we need it most. Someday I want Q to know that it's okay to let a balloon go sometimes. We can enjoy its splendor even from afar.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Nod to Nostalgia

"I reminisce for a spell, or shall I say think back . . . " ~ Pete Rock & CL Smooth

I love the little tricks the world plays on your brain to take you back in time. As I was driving across the Bay Bridge yesterday morning, the sun hit my face and cast its light on the city just so and there I was -- suddenly a kid again, hanging with my grandma in Noe Valley, strolling on 24th Street. A time of easy warmth and comfort. Just for a moment.

This occasionally happens when I'm driving. You know? Sort of paying attention but sort of not. Letting my mind drift back in time a bit. The way the cityscape looks one particular afternoon. It reminds me of being in Milan 12 years ago and giggling with two of my best friends over red wine and the best pizza we ever had the pleasure of stuffing into our mouths. 

And of course music does this for me regularly. I was sadder than I expected to be upon hearing of Whitney Houston's passing. I mean, she was an incredible talent, but I wasn't her number one fan or anything. Still, I thought back to listening to The Bodyguard soundtrack when I was in high school and attempting to belt out her songs in the safety of my bedroom. My little haven. The place where I danced with abandon and sang as if I could.

Or when I see a childhood friend's teenage daughter posting on Facebook about how she's "trouble" and I reminisce on our own forays into trouble as youths (who am I, Officer Krupke? Shout out to Tuesday's New Girl!). One being our girl group that we first called "Resistible Rockers", then "Irresistible Rockers" after our parents clued us in, and then, ultimately, "Trouble". Mind you, we weren't actually a band nor we were very deviant. We just choreographed dance routines together. "Ridiculous" would have been more appropriate.

So, I wanted to say thank you, nostalgia, for letting me escape. You seem to tap into my brain when I most need the respite. When I'm drowning in mama-doubt. When my neck is tense with fear about my future career. When I'm feeling less than. And when I could use a good laugh.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mooning Over You: Zoe's 5 Month Day

"Moon river, wider than a mile, I'm crossing you in style some day" ~ Johnny Mercer

My lovely ZoZo, it has been a beautiful 5 months with you. You came to us on a full moon and every month when the moon waxes to roundness I'm reminded of you. How much you've bathed us in your bright light. Your eyes twinkling like the stars. Your full-bodied giggles. Your excitement for every new discovery. You're entering one of my favorite ages. These next few months. So much yet to discover.

Even though you're not a fan of tummy time, you've started rolling from your tummy to your back. You grunt as you attempt to roll from your back toward your favorite owl toy. It's incredible to watch, especially since your big bro was content to be stationary for so long. You're already pulling all of the toys dangling over your bouncy chair and look so proud when we praise you for making the froggy play music. You still are fascinated with fingers and hands. But you're very favorite thing is to watch Quincy dance and sing his made-up songs to you. He waves your hands back and forth and you laugh and laugh.

You're developing some stranger anxiety, especially just after you've woken up from a nap. You cling to me koala-style, which doesn't bother me one bit. I know this phase will be over quickly. Plus, we now have some tricks to get you to smile.  Even if you're a bit fussy, tossing you in the air grants us open-mouthed grins. We have had conversations consisting entirely of raspberries and other such spitty sounds just to see you smile.

Little red riding hood. (Can you spot big bro's hand?)

As you've just gotten over a particularly nasty cold, you're sleeping through the night again. And I mean the entire night. As in from 7:30 to 6:15 the other night, and you probably would've gone longer but I awoke in a panic and rushed into your room to check on you and of course woke you up. Keep on keepin' on, baby girl. 

I look forward to many more moons with you and I love you more by the minute. Zoe, it's your 5 month day. Happy 5 month day, Zoe!

Friday, February 10, 2012


"Ma Bell, I got the ill communication" ~ Beastie Boys feat. Q-Tip

One of the parents at Q's preschool invited me to post over at The Write On Project and I was happy to join them for a bit of new inspiration. They select a different topic every month and anyone can submit a blog post inspired by said topic. This month's topic? Communication. I thought, hey, I know a little something about that. I went to school for it after all.

So I took a trip back to UCSB.

Come visit, leave a comment, and submit your own post if you're so inclined!

Also, be sure to visit the awesome editors and creators of The Write On Project, Jared at Lick the Fridge and Mitchell at Thoughtful Pop!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Music to Make You Melt

"Soothing rhythms stoked the fire in my belly" ~ Esthero

Once again, I'm long overdue for a music post. And not for a lack of good tunes. Both T and I have come across some aural treats lately. It's just that I've been, ahem, distracted by other silly priorities. You know, like child-rearing and working. As always, when the stress becomes all-consuming, music offers the perfect escape. I think we could all use some warming up this winter in the form of heart-pumping tracks and cozy, fireside melodies. You know, a little something to thaw out to.

On the heart-pumping tip, here's M.I.A's new banger "Bad Girls". This video takes ghost riding the whip to the extreme and I love it.

Now for something a little dreamier. T and I have been listening to this track on the daily -- DJ Shadow featuring Little Dragon with "Scale It Back". I like how moments in the video parallel the lyrics, but really the video has nothing to do with the song. And how brilliant is the pairing of DJ Shadow with Little Dragon?

This artist I embarrassingly found when watching Gossip Girl. Yes, guilty pleasure #980. But Zee Avi is pretty amazing. Apparently she has a big following on YouTube under the name KokoKaina.

And for future reference, I'm beyond excited to peep this track since Andre 3000 is one of my favorites.

Stay warm...

Monday, February 06, 2012

An Argument for Impractical Mama Style

"I just don't belong here. Hey, look at that girl." ~ Esthero

So I've come to the conclusion that I will never fit in among the other preschool moms. When I was dropping Q off the other day, I saw three moms talking in a circle -- three who volunteer regularly for the school and who I'm sure are very nice ladies. A circle of black yoga pants, quilted vests, long-sleeve tees/exercise tops, their hair in ponytails. The parts of me that will always want to belong (thanks, middle school) and dress appropriately for an occasion (thanks, Dad) tell me I should be wearing this uniform. But now that I'm in my 30's and more or less comfortable with my style, I know that's just not me. I rarely exercise, so it would be misleading to wear such gear. But I'm sure this uniform is super practical since most moms spend the majority of their time running around, multitasking, and schlepping, which tends to cause a decent amount of sweating. No? Just me?

Anyway. I enjoy fashion too much to be practical. When I picked up a heap of clothing from the dry cleaners the other day, I was ecstatic. See, I usually wait much too long to take my things to the dry cleaner, so it's like rediscovering my wardrobe. Ooh, a silk blouse! Oh yay, my cashmere dress! And one of the main reasons I was excited to go back to work was the ability to wear these dry clean only garments with nary a grubby, 3-year-old hand or a spitting-up baby in sight.

Except I forgot about pumping. And getting distracted by work while pumping. And staining the aforementioned silk blouse while pumping and reading. I guess no matter where I am, I am still a mom who should dress more practically.

Hold up. Wait a minute. I am not succumbing that easily.

My Typical Mom Uniform

If one of the very few things I do for myself in this season of my life is getting dressed with some semblance of passion, then I say, yay mama! It's a part of me that I want to hold onto tightly. My interest in fashion doesn't have to change just because I'm chasing Q down the street with Z bouncing around in her Ergo. I find my version of workable mama style in slouchy cardigans, stretchy skinny jeans, and striped tees. My wedge boots don't even click-clack that loudly. I've never been a Nike girl, even in my hip-hop dancing days. And I'll take Alexander Wang over Lulu Lemon, thank you.

Now I'm not saying that I'm one of those super put-together ladies who looks like she stepped out of the pages of Vogue. One, I'm not willing to get up that early. Two, I'm just not that much of a perfectionist when it comes to my appearance. Three, I do hail from California where we tend to dress a bit more on the relaxed side. Also, I probably didn't take a shower that morning. A hasty application of concealer still reveals the dark circles under my eyes. I am still a mom after all.

But when you see me at the next preschool drop-off, please don't think me any less of a mom for not rocking washable knits. I'm boldly going forth in cashmere! Watch me hold my head up high. Watch me rack up dry cleaning bills at an alarming rate. Hey, I never said this move was a smart one. It's more about happiness.