Tag Archives: family

{MINDFUL MONDAY} Mindful Moment #1: Labor Day Weekend in Pajaro Dunes

5 Sep

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Jane’s First Day of School

1 Sep

Yesterday was Jane’s first day of school.

At 2 years, 7 months, my little baby went off to preschool.

I thought there would be tears on somebody’s part:  mine or hers.  Or possibly both.

But instead, it was one of the best days we’ve shared so far.

Jane was giddy with excitement and couldn’t wait to get dressed, put on her little backpack and bound down the front stairs to clamber into the car seat she usually refuses to even go near.  When we arrived at the school parking lot, she nearly pulled my arm out of the socket trying to get me to “Hurry up!

So many people have asked whether I am sad, but it’s quite the opposite.

I’m happy.  Happy that the day went off without a hitch.  Happy that my little Jane was so excited about her first day of school.  Happy that my plan of preparing her for this day by reading countless books about going to school and watching re-runs of “going to school”-type television episodes seems to have worked.  Happy that I chose to stay at home when I did.  Happy that the past two months after I quit have been purposefully spent creating an atmosphere of love and happiness and security in our little nest.  Happy that she’s ready to fly.

And off she goes . . .

{Review} Big Basin: Our Family’s Big Adventure

16 Aug

Every family has that one story.

You know, like our dad friend who traveled with his four sick kids on a transatlantic flight and had to sit in a layered mess of spit-up, vomit and diarrhea for the entire flight while he tended to his brood single-handedly.

After today, if there was any doubt whether we’re really and truly a family, there isn’t any now.

The day started out nicely.

Low 70s, sunny skies, a cool breeze:  the perfect day for light hike and a picnic under the redwoods at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I drove, instead of Hubby, since the road through the mountains is so windy and I’m very prone to car sickness.  The drive was easy enough, though a bit long for my young ones.

When we finally arrived, Jane and Sam took to the forest, running around and exploring every nook and cranny:

It was difficult, but Jane managed harrowing escape from some trolls living under a bridge:

We looked for insects and I pointed out the various trees and plant growth along the path:

Upon spotting a rock covered in green moss, I asked: “What do you think that is?”

I think it smells like allergies,” Jane replied matter of factly.

After our picnic, we planned to stop for ice cream at the General Store.

Good thing we didn’t.

On our drive home, just as we had made it down the 45 minutes of winding road into the flatland of Saratoga proper, Jane yelled,

“Look at Sam!”

Hubby and I whirled around to see Jane pointing at her little brother who had fallen victim to the sway of the windy roads (and my speeding).  We stopped the car and then heard gurgling noises from Jane’s side.

Who knew that a 2.5 year old’s stomach had a two gallon capacity?

My only consolation:  Jane’s sympathetic reaction to Sam’s plight must mean that somehow – somewhere way down deep – she likes, and maybe even loves, her pest of a brother.

Luckily, it was only a short 15-minute straight shot home and I dunked them into the tub as soon as we arrived home.  Looking at their poor, pale little faces, I thought I would jump in, too, and play with them to make up for putting them through the day’s ordeal.

I stepped into the tub and felt the soap underfoot.

It must have fallen down from the soap dish and gotten a little soggy from the bath.  It squished between my toes, so I bent down to pick it up.

It wasn’t soap.  And there was a whole bathtub full of it.  Apparently, I was right – the misery of the car ride that Jane and Sam shared did indeed bring them closer together.  Minutes earlier while I was putting their soiled clothes into the washing machine, I had heard them curiously giggling together (instead of the usual clobbering and crying from Jane trying to drown her brother in the bath).  I now realize that the children were conspiring to seek revenge for my car-sickness-inducing driving through a cleverly crafted Simultaneous Number Two plot.

After everyone was cleaned up, I gave Jane a recap of the day, including the last two messy events, and asked her what kind of day she had.  “Was it a good day?”

She smiled quietly and said,”We had a big adventure.”

Details for your big adventure:

Happy Trails!

A Twilight Anniversary

19 May

After receiving an Edward and Bella calendar for Valentine’s Day (which prompted me to buy my own gift), I thought that the Twilight gifting was over . . . but, here is what happened on the morning of our anniversary:

Me:  (sleeping soundly)

Hubby & Jane:  (trying to muffle their activities downstairs)

Hubby:  Happy Anniversary!  (brings hot tea, a small gift-wrapped present and Jane to me in bed)

Me:  Happy Anniversary (ooh, what’s that pretty little package?!)

Jane:  (before I can get it unwrapped, flings it across the room, then shouts in random TV character voice) You’ll never find that again!  Ha ha ha HA.

Me:  Where is it?!  Where did you throw my present?!

Jane:  (brings me the half-unwrapped gift)

Me:  (What could it be, what could it be?!  I frantically open the present)  A palm-sized book on Edward Cullen?

Hubby:  That’s the last of the Twilight presents, I promise.

Jane:  Happy Grocery!

Me:  You mean “anniversary.”

Jane:  Happy Grocery!

Hubby:  Hey, yeah, what do we need at the store?  Do you want to go grocery shopping this morning?

Me:  (closing my eyes and trying to get back to sleep while visions of grocery lists and teenage vampires dance in my head)

A Happy Day for Mothers

8 May

You could say that becoming a mother of two in a span of less than 1.5 years has thrown me for a bit of a loop.  The contrast between life before kids and life after two under two is ever so stark and has me loving, hating and laughing at the differences between now and then.  What do I mean?  Well, consider my definitions of happiness before and after children.

Happiness Before Children Was

  1. Being able to sleep the day away and wake up in time for dinner.
  2. The whole complicated getting ready ritual, which could take up to two hours before a night out.
  3. Being able to spend 1.5 hours at the gym to finish my entire cardio and weights routine every day.
  4. Leisurely browsing through Gourmet magazine for recipes and then strolling down the grocery aisles deciding whether to buy imported or domestic mustard.
  5. Spending entire days canvassing every mall and boutique in a 100 mile radius to fashion the perfect outfit.
  6. Conquering my hunger and successfully adhering to my strict diet of steamed vegetables and boiled egg whites.
  7. Zipping around town in my fancy sports coupe with red leather seats.
  8. Watching movies on our large flat screen in the peace and quiet of the living room.
  9. Planning nights out with the girls and ideas for dates.
  10. Being with family.

Happiness After Kids Is

  1. One uninterrupted night of sleep every two weeks.
  2. A shower without any little people underfoot and using a separate shampoo and conditioner.
  3. Running after the kids – even if it means getting dirty and sweaty before heading to the office.
  4. Correctly guessing what Jane might agree to eat today – and luckily finding the ingredients in the back of the refrigerator.
  5. Finding something without dirty handprints and dried baby food on it to squeeze into that makes me look not totally offensive.
  6. Watching my children stuff their cheeks full of food like little squirrels who will be hibernating for the longest winter in history.
  7. Driving around in my comfy, crumb-filled car with my two sleeping babies in the backseat.
  8. Watching 10 minutes of 30 Rock on the tiny tube in the family room between the time the kids go down and falling asleep.
  9. Planning kids’ birthday parties and playdates.
  10. Being a family.

All in all, I suppose that whatever happiness happens to mean at any given moment, to be happy is happiness enough for me.

What makes you happy about life after becoming a mom?

Hope you are having a Happy Mother’s Day!

The Perfect Baby Name

6 May

While we’re on the subject of names . . .

Why is it that people are so afraid to ask about your family plans before you have children, but feel they can ask you absolutely anything after you’ve popped one out?

To preemptively silence those who might feel the urge to ask whether we plan to have more kids, I can confirm that while management has not made a final decision on whether to shut the baby factory’s doors for good, it faces significant quality control concerns with issuing too many new models back to back.  Additionally, design and manufacturing processes have been significantly stalled by a rambunctious 2-year old and a 1-year old who’s decided to skip walking and go straight to running.

How do I feel about management’s decision?  Well, the thought of not having more opportunities to pick out baby names is a bit sad.

Since we won’t be using them anytime soon, I’ve decided to share these carefully handpicked monikers with you in case these lovely namesgo unused:

Girls

  1. Tuesday (my favorite, but made fun of by everyone; when I met a girl named Tuesday a year after Jane was born, I wished I had the guts to have fought for it)
  2. MaryJane (Hubby didn’t want our daughter to be named after marijuana and nixed this one)
  3. Mamie (Auntie Mame is one of my favorite characters of all time)
  4. Clementine (“Oh my darling, oh my darling!”)
  5. Mabel (“Everybody’s wild about Mabel, and Mabel’s wild about me!”)
  6. Piper (Hubby thought it was too flighty)
  7. Hattie (After a character in one of my favorite Cary Grant movies – it was a bit of a toss up between Hattie and the name we ended up choosing)

Boys

  1. Jack (Hubby and I decided on this name before we were even married or close to it, but when the time rolled around, turned out that we knew at least five Jacksons – not the same, but similar enough)
  2. Cieran (Hubby, who’s Irish – as in born and raised in Ireland, thought it was too Irish)
  3. Kellan (I insisted Kellan was an Irish name after numerous baby name websites told me it was, but Hubby didn’t buy it)
  4. Ronan (another name Hubby and I loved before we had kids, but over the years lost its appeal for an unknown reason)
  5. Emmet, Thomas and Samuel (family names)
  6. Beckett (Hubby thought it was too “trendy,” whatever that means)
  7. Wyatt (Hubby thought it was too American)

If none of those cut it, here are several other lists and resources to help you decide:

By the way, I’d loan you my 60,001 Best Baby Names book but I’m keeping it

. . .

as a resource for character names for my novels and short stories.  Gotcha!

*No guarantees that we won’t use one or more of these names in the event management ultimately decides to keep the shop open

7 Mistakes in 7 Days

13 Apr

Lest you become a hapless fool such as I, here are seven mistakes I made in the past week that you should not repeat yourself.

  1. Don’t serve your family soft, yellow lo mein noodles when you know that fly maggots have been dropping from the ceiling overhead. Especially when your children have the tendency to fling their noodles around the room and onto the floor.
  2. Don’t think that blue painter’s tape on the ceiling fan will seal said maggots away. It bubbles and you will have to re-tape the vents and feel the warm, squishy bodies under your fingertips.
  3. Don’t ask a woman whether her third baby is in her belly. Even if you’re a woman yourself.  Or a mom.  Or have your own baby blubber.  Or think there’s no mistaking she is at least six months pregnant so it’s safe to ask because nobody’s belly sticks out from an otherwise slender body in that round fashion.
  4. Don’t teach your toddler words like “boobies” or “poo-poo” unless you want to hear them in inappropriate phrases at inappropriate times. Like when Jane sang, “Old MacDonald had some boobies!  E-I-E-I-O!” at the store or announced my bathroom habits to our guests.
  5. Same goes for allowing your child to drink alcohol and learn the libations’ proper names. Or else your toddler might yell for all the neighbors to hear after her soccer game, “I need a beer!” or answer you like this in front of company.
  6. Don’t feed your infant from your own mouth. For one, it’s gross if anyone catches you as momma bird regurgitating for your baby chick.  And two, your giant 30-pound baby might put you in a headlock with his chubby little hands and viciously bite your face and tongue in a horrifically violent attempt to peck around for more food.
  7. Don’t take the childcare you receive from your family for granted. When you’ve had eight hours of sleep in three days and have to watch a toddler and a crawling infant on your own while trying to work from home, your family will save your life.  If I didn’t say it before:  Thanks, Mom.  Thanks, Dad.  Thanks, Hubby.

Leave a comment and share your embarrassing mistakes from the past week so I don’t feel like such a nincompoop!

    A Mother’s Love is the Best Love

    21 Feb

    I was contemplating the potential subject for my last Valentine’s Week post, when sitting here at my mom’s house, on my mom’s couch, with a stomach full of my mom’s cooking, it occurred to me that I have blogged about Valentine’s Day with Hubby and Valentine’s Day with the kids, but not about the person who I owe for giving me the ability to love (and of course, who I love):  my mom.

    After becoming a mom myself, I have a new found respect and understanding for my mother, who not only raised and cared for me, but put up with and deftly managed my rebellious behavior and, at times (okay, most times), wayward personality.

    My bent toward misbehavior and a penchant for “the night life” started at the tender age of 3.

    My mom reports that as a toddler, I climbed up into my parents’ hutch, took down the wine goblets, filled them with water tinted with red food coloring, and then sipped my “wine.”

    In high school, I begged and pleaded to drive myself – and three boys – six hours to Reno to see Carlos Santana . . . in the middle of a blizzard . . . without chains or experience driving the winding roads through the Sierras .  She let me go, divulging to me later as an adult, that she had to let me go.

    “I handled you like a kite whipping in a furious storm:  keeping the line slack, instead of reeling you in too tightly, in case it became too taut and snapped altogether.  I would have lost you completely that way.”

    Looking back, she was probably right.  And she is definitely ingenious in terms of parenting.

    Jane is going through a seriously trying phase right now – waking up in the middle of the night screaming bloody murder when there is absolutely no reason for her to do so.  Refusing to eat food.  Refusing to get dressed.  Still wrestling with the idea of having a second child in the house since Sam was born nine months ago.

    So today, after suffering through several 3:00 a.m. bedtimes and refused naps, in addition to waking up in the middle of the night for Sam, I sought solace and comfort in the sanctuary of my childhood home.

    For a few hours, I relaxed like a child, with my mother bringing me bits of food here and there while I took up at my old desk to finish a work project in the peace and quiet.

    During a break, over heart-shaped lemon cakes, we got to talking about Jane and her rebellious behavior, and my mom reminded me of the kite analogy.  She added that children should be respected and treated as human beings, not silly creatures with lesser feelings or intelligence – attributes we tend to ascribe to the infant and toddler set based on their diminutive size and limited vocabularies.

    “Children are adults without experience.  They are intelligent beings, but have not yet had a lifetime of experiences to inform their decisions and influence their actions.  You have to explain to them, allow them to make decisions and exercise judgment on their own, and empower them.  How would you feel if there were people towering over you and continually telling you what to do and saying ‘No’ at every turn?”

    Again, ingenious parenting advice.  It makes a world of sense.  And I tried it this evening when Jane said, “I don’t like bedtime.”

    I explained to her how great it was to lie down in a bed and roll around with your stuffed animals.  That it feels so good to close your eyes at the end of the day when you’re tired.  And that it’s so nice to wake up in the morning feeling better after a good night’s sleep.

    At that point it seemed that the tactic was working.  Jane agreed, “That’s a good idea, Mommy.”

    Then I gave her a choice of reading a bedtime story or going straight to bed.  She stated defiantly, “I don’t like reading” (which is completely untrue) and chose to play with a balloon.  Okay, so that wasn’t a choice, but she was still engaged in a back and forth with me, so I didn’t scold her or take away the balloon.

    Instead, I tried a partial ignoring, partial distraction method (as recommended by my mother):  I read one of her favorite stories to her stuffed animal and talked to him, saying, “I love reading, don’t you?  Yes, we love reading.  Let’s read this book together.

    Jane nearly pounced on us and announced, “I love reading, too!”  So the three of us read together.

    When it was time to get into bed, Jane cried when I first put her down.  When I asked why she was crying, she explained that she wanted to read a specific nursery rhyme book.  I obliged because I had to reward her ability to express herself and engage in a two-way discussion.  She was surprised, but her tense rebellion quickly melted into an easy smile.  After reading the book she chose, she willingly complied when I put her in bed.

    Although, it took quite a bit little longer to get her down, Jane went to bed happy and on her own accord; and I was happy to not go through the typical bedtime struggle.

    As a mom, I now realize how much time, energy and effort my own mother put into raising me.  (As she reminds me, it wasn’t an easy task).  It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to be cognizant of the depth and breadth of the love that someone has bestowed upon you.  And in the past two years, I have found that it is an even greater happiness to become a source of that kind of love for someone else.

    Here’s to you, Mom.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

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