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Tuesday, September 10th, 2013
The smell of fall invokes motivating emotions in me. On the east coast it is the smell of football season, leaves changing, school starting. It always makes me want to recharge my batteries, clean my house, get a new haircut, find new recipes, exercise more. In other words, that smell inspires me to reset all my buttons and start anew. Except, now I live in LA where leaves don’t change and fall doesn’t kick in until November. Emmett doesn’t go to school and Fia’s didn’t start until this week.
From afar, I’ve been watching all the fanfare of the first day of school. Friends posting on Facebook, their kids posing with lunchboxes and backpacks. I craved that fall feeling, but it just wasn’t happening. Instead, I’ve been battling 100-degree heat in a non air-conditioned house. I’ve been exhausting the options on entertaining my kids while trying to retain my sanity. I’ve been full of anticipation for days, weeks–even months–about Fia starting a new school and our family getting a new schedule down.
Hers is a 5-day a week Montessori program. The hours are 9-2:30 with no nap. You can pick your kid up at 1 if you want to nap them, but for me, that falls right when Emmett is napping. So I opted for the 2:30-3 pm pick up and plan to put her to bed early. I am crossing my fingers that she will still nap on the weekends. That’s our time when she, Phil and I all climb in bed together. It is heaven. (Em naps in his crib still. Soon, he’ll join us.) Trying to figure out the schedule has created a running puzzle in my mind. I just wanted to get it underway already.
So finally, finally today was our turn.
Last night I set my alarm for the first time since having kids. Just in case for some strange reason we overslept. Last night Fia and I picked out her clothes. We made her lunch. Phil put some stickers in her lunchbox as a surprise. I booked a sitter to watch Emmett so we could take her together. We woke to fog and a slight chill. It will burn off and heat up, but it was an auspicious beginning.
I’ve written before about how she sometimes resists change and transitions. But we’ve been talking about how great this school is for weeks. She kept saying how excited she was on the drive. Then we parked and she said, “Mama, hold me.” My heart dropped. Here it comes. The sobs, the wails, the heartache that penetrates to my core. Phil and I held our breath.
To my relief, as we walked into the courtyard, she jumped out of my arms and went running to her classroom. She shook hands with her new teachers. They showed her where to hang up her jacket, where to put her lunch box, where to keep her snacks. She followed them around with all the glee and giddiness of a preschooler.
I now know I’ve been more anxious than anyone. No surprise. Aren’t we always?
After about 30 minutes watching, Phil and I decided to leave. We hugged her goodbye, she hugged us back, and that was it. Except, I couldn’t just leave. I went back and peeked inside. She was happily playing at a table with her teacher.
Back in the car Phil said, “It’s crazy–growing up. And that it’s our job to make them independent of us.” I nodded. It is bittersweet, but more sweet.
Now I sit, alone, at one of my favorite cafes. I was ravenous and ordered a huge breakfast. My body exhaled. Fall has officially begun, and I feel it, even if the temperature and the air tell a different story. Even if summer shorts are worn in place of fall flannels. It feels good. Really good.
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anticipation of first day of school, fall, first day of school, football season, leaves changing, Los angeles preschool, Montessori, nap, napping, preschool | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read
Saturday, August 24th, 2013
I’ve said it before, but I think I’m going to be saying this for a long, long time. I can’t grasp how the male species has survived. This, after having a boy. An 18-month old boy. A boy who has turned from tame to terror. Albeit, a remarkably happy terrorist.
My friends with boys just laugh it off. They are already in this club and have accepted what it means to have birthed a Y chromosome. For those of us who have girls, it is a rude awakening.
Fia was a wild child. I used to joke she was “like a boy.” I still hear moms saying that about their daughters. Baaahhaaaa. Not even close.
Fia has tons of energy and is still full of spunk. But she isn’t stupid. She didn’t climb up on counters and reach for butcher knives. I wouldn’t turn my back for 3.3 seconds only to find her dangling from a bar. Or climbing in the dryer. Or crawling in a drawer. Or, Or, Or…I could go on and on.
It seems each day I am reaching a new level of madness. It is making me feel like I no longer have control of my house. We are moving and our current place is really hard to childproof. But we are here for 3 more deadly months. Who knows what this tornadic force will do next? I can’t even make supper anymore without him nearly losing a limb. Hello? Calvary? Anyone there?
The thing is, he has about the best temperament of any child I’ve met. He giggles in his sleep and sings in his highchair. And as, um, “active” as he is, he will sit for 30 minutes and page through books. At least he used to do all these things. I’m scared I’m losing that part of him. I’m scared he’s turning into a gorilla.
So what to do? He is starting to get angry when his needs aren’t instantly met. He gets frustrated if he can’t figure out a toy and sends it hurtling across the room. Yesterday I turned my back for 1.3 seconds. He had a glass I had just set down, dumped the water out and as I screamed, “NOOO” he looked at me with that mischievous grin and sent it crashing in a million pieces on the floor. He has discovered that pulling hair makes Fia cry. He thinks “finished” with his food means throwing it all on the ground. “Emmett—NOOOOOO!!!!!” is becoming the dominant phrase in our house.
Oh, but it gets better. He yanked Phil’s prescription sunglasses off his face today and threw them across the room. As usual, we reacted. Phil yelled, “NO EMMETT! “YOU DO NOT DO THAT.” Emmett immediately burst into tears. Wailing. The word NO also equals meltdown. Or, in an act of animalistic defiance, he starts to eat his arm or foot. I am raising a gorilla, a canibal and a crybaby.
My sitter Michele just laughs. She has 5 kids, 4 of them boys. She said Emmett definitely ranks up there as a wild one, but at the end of the day she insists he’s simply “all boy.” She points to how fearless and fun his disposition is. I can’t entirely disagree. My pediatrician has said he is one of the more active babies she’s seen, but the fact that he does (or did??) sit and read and have quiet time made her think he just has a lot of energy to burn. My in-laws say he’s a normal, happy toddler. How can this be? “Normal” is making me pull out my hair. How does the male species justify their insane behavior as “normal???”
I know I’m probably painting a terrible picture of him and it sounds contradictory when I say he is almost always in a great mood. But these little snapshots happen throughout the day. What do I do? Should I start putting him in his crib for a timeout? I feel like he’s too little to “get it.” Am I being had? Will he begin to understand consequences and boundaries at 18 months? Fia is 3 1/2 and I honestly can’t remember when she had her first time out. But it definitely wasn’t this young. She was far tamer. To date, she’s probably had less than 7 time-outs.
When he turns 2, I’m planning on putting him in preschool 2 mornings a week. I think some structure will help. But that is still 6 months away. A lot can happen.Maybe I just need to embrace this chapter. Let it pass. Or maybe I should find a different preschool… one that will take him now.
Looking for advice, tips and a survival timeline. Please.
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babysitter, boy, boy energy, childproof, childproofing, daycare, hyperactive, preschool, sitter, structure, toddler, toddler boys, Y chromosome | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read, Newborn Care
Saturday, August 10th, 2013
Emmett is 18 months. He’s a super active and happy baby. He absolutely loves going to the playground–not only to slide, but to also be around other kids his age. He is definitely a people person. But the thing I’ve found with my second child is that I don’t reach out to moms who have kids his age. I formed my close mom friendships when I had Fia and I actually don’t want to seek out new ones. I love the ones I have. And the person I’m closest with lives nearby. So we always pal around, either with our kids or without.
The other reason I don’t go on more mom playdates with Emmett is I’m often working around both their schedules. She goes to school 3 times a week, so there is pick up and drop off. He naps in the afternoons. On Monday mornings I take Fia to gymnastics. On Wednesday mornings I take Em (this is the class with the neglectful nanny). In other words, I’m juggling too much to have dedicated playdates with Emmett. Plus, this fall it gets even more hectic because Fia is switching to Montessori. Which is a whole other dilemma.
Nevertheless, I have sitters a few days a week for a few hours. When he turns 2, as much as I love my sitters, I think he might enjoy being with kids his own age. Fia’s current preschool allows total flexibility in terms of days and hours. I could enroll him for as few as 2 mornings a week. My pediatrician says she recommends some form of socialization for tots, starting between 18 months and 2 years. Granted, he gets a lot of socialization and stimulation from Fia and her friends. He’s not sitting in a corner all day. But this would be in a semi-structured environment.
It’s a no brainer right? Except, for some ludicrous reason, I have guilt. As in, shouldn’t I be with him? Phil says absolutely not. Do what’s best for him and me. And this is a guy who didn’t go to any preschool– his mom waited until he was 5 for Kindergarten. He’s perfectly social and well adjusted. (Well, sort of.) But I think it was a different time back then. I think there were more stay-at-home moms and preschool was more like daycare. Because the reality is, I’m not with Em every hour of every day anyway. And the reality is he would enjoy it. And I would get my breather.
I guess it’s the perception I’m worried about. I felt judged when I enrolled Fia at 2 years old for 2 mornings a week (though I was hugely pregnant so that alone should have given me a free pass). Judgment by whom, I’m not sure. I just remember over-explaining it to anyone who asked. Which is also stupid since I generally don’t give a sh-t what others think of me.
At any rate, I’m curious to hear from the moms–especially those like me who don’t work full time outside the house, but need a break a few times a week. At this age, do you prefer sitters or preschool? And why? Pros? Cons? Fill me in.
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babysitter, daycare, judgmental moms, mom friends, nanny, play dates, preschool, sitters, socialization, toddler playground, toddler socialization | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips
Monday, August 5th, 2013
This is such a stupid dilemma I can’t believe it’s taking up brain-space. But here goes.
Fia is starting at a Montessori preschool in a few weeks. I know she will be sad leaving her current one. So my first question is: When to break the news to her? A week before? A day before? I once said it casually, as in, “Fia, you are going to a new school in the fall.” I didn’t think she would actually “get it.” I’m an idiot. My daughter is not. She immediately burst into tears. So I changed the subject. I didn’t want her obsessing months in advance. She tends to be a bit of a worrier and I don’t want her to have needless anxiety.
Okay, dilemma #2: This school will mean a lot more schlepping for me. She is at her current preschool 3 days a week. It is about 6 minutes away. They nap them there (which she loves because she gets to nap with all her friends then wake up and play). For that reason, she goes from 9-4. The new preschool gives you two options: you can pick them up at 1 or at 2:30. They don’t nap them. Either way it cuts into the middle of her typical nap time. Which isn’t a huge deal, except….I DON’T WANT TO LOSE THE NAP!
It’s a 15-minute drive home in which she’s likely to fall asleep then not go back down once we are at home.
But my bigger dilemma is what to do about Emmett. He takes a 2 1/2 hour nap everyday around noon-2:30 give or take an hour on either end. So his nap is going to fall smack dab in the middle of pickup time for Fia. Which means he will either have to be woken up from his nap, or he will fall asleep in the car to and from, thus, not having a proper nap. Which all leads to ME! Their naps are my sanity. It’s this great time when the house is all mine and I can patter around either doing productive things like writing this blog, or unproductive things like napping while they nap.
But even if I had to give up their naps during the week, the naps are a cherished time for us as a family on the weekends. We always do something fun in the morning, then when Emmett goes down, Phil, Fia, Wayne (the cat) and I crawl into our big king bed and snooze. It is heaven. By giving up naps during the week I’m worried that she won’t take them on the weekends either.
I don’t want to hire a sitter for an hour-long window of time 5 days a week. Not that I could find someone anyway. I can expand into a few bigger chunks of time to make it worth their while, but not everyday.
Phil suggested pushing Emmett’s nap to 1:30. That way I can take him with me to get Fia at 1 and they both get home by 1:30. However, pushing his nap is easier said than done. I know he will fall asleep in the car. And once he snoozes for even a few minutes, I can rarely transfer him without waking him up, thus losing the rest of the nap.
So what to do? I know, it’s a huge problem. I’m sure you have all followed the puzzle on this and are ready to give me advice. The overachievers may have even taken notes. I mean, if it’s keeping me up at night, surely it will keep you up too. Then we will all need more naps.
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babysitter, daycare, Montessori, naps, preschool, sitters, sleep training, toddler nap schedule | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips
Monday, May 20th, 2013
I don’t get it. When Fia is at home she is the most outgoing, funny, confident 3 1/2 year old. When we have her best friend Teddy over, she is just as gregarious. One on one or with just a few of her friends, she is great. But when I take her to her preschool, she gets clingy and doesn’t want to participate. Yet, the hour leading up to preschool it’s all she can talk about. How excited she is, how she loves to nap at school, etc. And once she is there, I’m told she warms up. Though the teachers say it does take awhile and they have to push her a bit.
If it were just school, I’d think maybe the place wasn’t the right fit for her. But it’s also gymnastics. And with our cleaning ladies. And babysitter.
For example, every Wednesday Sheny and Lucy come to our house at 8 a.m. They are warm and loving. Yet it is a struggle to get Fia to say “Good Morning.” We started prepping her.
“When Sheny and Lucy come, what are you going to say?” we ask.
“Good Morning!” Fia declares with enthusiasm.
Then they walk in and nothing. She puts her head down and clings to our leg. It is somewhat maddening.
In gymnastics she’s gotten better at participating after we kept encouraging her–and a few times bribing her with the promise of a yogurt covered pretzel. But still, at “drinking fountain time,” 8 boys and girls run giddily across the room, laughing with one another. Fia walks. Now granted, she walks with a little sassy sway in her and I kinda dig that she doesn’t have to run with the pack, but I just wonder sometimes what is going on in her mind. I don’t want to project anxiety on her, and maybe she just goes to the beat of her own drum, but still…I am left puzzled.
With our sitter Michele, whom she loves, Fia greets her happily. But then she always comes to me and asks, “When is Michele leaving?” The exception is when Michele brings her twins, Maci and Cruz. Then it’s happy chaos all around. But If I am putting her down for her nap and the twins aren’t here, it’s the last question she asks before she goes to sleep and the first when she wakes up.
“Is Michele gone? Did you tell her to go home?”
I suppose part of this is wanting to know “the plan” and what is up. I can imagine in the world of a toddler, you have no control, so you crave it on any level.
We did have a breakthrough last Wednesday. We prepped and practiced for Sheny and Lucy to arrive. When they did she perked up and said louder than her usual whisper, “Good Morning!” Then she hugged them. When they left the room, Fia was beaming. I said, “How did that make you feel?” She nodded her little head, while bouncing up and down with pride. “Really good mama, really good.”
So I feel like we take a few steps forward, then suddenly will revert and go backwards again. Maybe this is just part of normal toddler development. Maybe she’s just a little shy, or it takes her longer to warm up to someone. I don’t think she likes chaos and I know at her preschool, when the whole pack is out playing and being wild, she tends to shy away. Two weeks ago I showed up and she was the only kid inside, quietly coloring. All the others were outside. On some level it hurt my heart. But again, if she’s not sad or anxious, then it doesn’t matter, and I shouldn’t feel sad right?
What do you guys think? Any insight or advice?
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