Thursday, December 09, 2010
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
about the love that my daughters and I have for receiving mail and how happy the mail carrier makes us when he comes driving down our street.She does reviews and giveaways of mom- and kid-friendly products. One of her November posts made me smile: an Ergo baby carrier for kids! Or more specifically, for their dolls.
|Courtesy of ErgoBaby|
While I was busy reading reams of pregnancy and child development magazines about new research in baby development, attachment parenting and the nurturing needs of newborns, my mom and aunts were convinced that the long-since debunked advice they'd been given 30+ years ago was all that was needed to whip this new, needy (in their eyes) family member into shape.
Case in point: Ava preferred to be carried a lot as an infant (still does) and would cry a lot with my mom initially, who split caregiver duties with J. for most of the day when I went back to work after three months maternity leave.
My aunts, calling from across the country to check in on the new grandmother and new great-niece, could hear all the crying in the background, and told my mom that holding the baby would spoil her and to feed her rice cereal from birth (!) to make her sleep longer and cry less. "That's what the baby nurse told me when your cousin was born," she explained. Said cousin now being in his mid-30s.
Ahem. I was SO not cool with that and explained (diplomatically) what doctors have learned about the immaturity of the infant digestive system and I trusted my gut, which told me that Ava just needed to be held and interacted with, not left in a swing or crib for hours on end, which was the norm back in the day.
So I took a sling infant carrier I'd been using at home to my mom and had her try it. She called me at work hours later to say, "I've had her in this thing all morning and she hasn't said a peep! She's just as quiet and content, hanging here on my hip just looking around." Oh really. Imagine that. :-)
|Ava - 10 months|
We tried out several carriers after the Bjorn and the sling, finally discovering the Ergo. Ava at 10 months in the Ergo weighed much less than 20 pounds. J. and I loved that we could each use it it with minimal adjustment for each of us, rather than having to use separate carriers as we'd done up until then: one for his large frame and one for my smaller one.
|Dylan - 9 months, Ava - 3 years|
With Christmas just around the corner and Ava in need of a doll to replace one left somewhere while spending the weekend with my folks, I may spring for the Ergo Baby Carrier and a new doll for her. After all, it's never too early to teach kids how to be loving parents to their babies.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
While the kids napped in the back, we took turns scouring the rows of trees at a nearby nursery. Our main criteria? One that smells good and was full. As if reading our minds, there was a section labeled "very fragrant" and therein we found a lovely Noble fir. Fortunately for me, a guy who worked there told me, because despite a lifetime in the tree-loving Pacific Northwest, I only know a handful of tree types by name. Usually I just call them what they look like. As in, big tree, skinny tree, tree blocking my view, etc.
we made the short trek home and had it up decorated within a few hours, after stopping to eat dinner, get ready for work and school tomorrow, and finally getting the kids bathed, read to, and put to bed. And let me tell you: it smells like we're just a present and a reindeer short of Christmas in this camp!
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Although I spent my first couple years and many summers on my grandmother's farm in rural Louisiana and enjoy the open space, fresh food and other benefits of country living, I've grown up in a major metropolitan area and love it here.
The article is linked below and I pulled out summaries of the books mentioned, plus a few others mentioned by parents in Amazon.com reviews as good toddler reads. I’ll be checking the library and now Barnes and Noble NOOKkids online bookstore for them soon.
We’ve pretty much run through the many books in Ava’s library and are searching for new, more “mature” additions. To liven things up last summer, we started leaving off the last word in rhyming favorites like Goodnight Moon so that Ava could fill in the blank or elaborate.
Natasha: “Goodnight comb. And goodnight brush. Goodnight nobody. Goodnight…”
Ava: “Mush! Like oatmeal. I loooove oatmeal.”
Now she's memorized favorites like most of the Ezra Jack Keats books and the Paperback Princess (my personal favorite) and she "reads" them to us, word for word. It's still amazing to me, but not surprising I guess after I read this Wisconsin Council on Children and Families PDF that found:
...advances in neuroscience have helped crystallize earlier findings, bringing new clarity and understanding to the field of early childhood brain development. Children are born ready to learn. They cultivate 85 percent of their intellect, personality and skills by age five. The first months and years of life set the stage for lifelong development...
Research shows that the richness of a young child’s verbal interactions has a dramatic effect on vocabulary and school readiness, with differences correlated to socio-economic status. A watershed study on the topic found that by age 3, the observed cumulative vocabulary for children in professional families was 1,116 words; for working class families it was about 740, and for welfare families 525.Fascinating. And no parental pressure, right? ;-) But it just reinforces the approach I gravitated to with Ava and Dylan from the start: I talk to them using big words and concepts, even if they don't understand them now. It introduces them to new words, and in some cases, provides an opportunity to explain more advanced concepts in kid-friendly language.
Which is why Ava was using the word "awesome" in the proper context at 18 months, and now describes her brother as "mischievous," and tells us when she's "frustrated." Sure, she also asked when we would see "Appetizer" again. "Do you mean 'Avatar'?" I asked. "Oh, right," she said with a smile. But she's clearly absorbing many of the words we use with her every day.
11 month old Dylan, who is not as engaged by books at this stage as Ava was, simply sits still for four to five pages before doing his baby Hulk impersonation: "Hulk no like book! Hulk throw book, find noise. Hulk like noise!"
I'm looking for more tactile titles for him. He's clearly absorbing the torrent of words too, focusing intently as we say the word for each facial feature he points to. But he is much more physically adept than Ava was at the same age. The following titles look promising for him and Ava.
City-centric reads: http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/005735.html
Also, Max Makes a Million by Maira Kalman
Friday, November 26, 2010
So this year, the word of the day was moderation. For the first time in many years, my eyes were not bigger than my stomach and I did not over-indulge. It made for a much more enjoyable evening to not have to lay on the couch moaning with a Pepto-Bismal-stained upper lip. I simply had two plates of small samples of everything I wanted and didn't eat any dessert since I was already full. Then I packed leftovers and the desserts to take home for the next day.
My parents and I made the rounds to different relatives, so I didn't see them on the actual day. But I did see my mom's brother and sister and my cousin, as well as my husband's family, where Ava and Dylan spent hours playing with a passel of cousins, leaving them giggly and worn out by the end of the night.
Altogether, despite the cold snap we are recovering from, it was a lovely day. So I am thankful for moderation and health for myself, for family and friends, for a happy, healthy husband and kids, for a job, especially one that I enjoy and that allows us to have food in our stomachs, clothes on our back, and a roof over our heads. Which is what I give thanks for every night.
I am well-educated, self-sufficient, healthy, and I live in a developed country, so there are innumerable things for which I'm thankful and I often preface some minor annoyance with "Caution: first world whine ahead..." to make clear that I know I've got a lot working in my favor when I wake up every day (waking up: something else to be thankful for!).
But I will be striving in the coming weeks to keep that 'attitude of gratitude' as some say, as we head into the next year.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I'm digging this thing more and more, even though the wi-fi isn't connecting again. I'll try it out at a public wi-fi this weekend.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I was off today and spent time hanging with the family and trying to stave off a cold that has made it's way from the kids to J. and finally to me (maybe). I also continued my quest to make my new Barnes and Noble Nook Color work.
|This is from my Nokia E71 cell phone camera.|
Seriously, I could hire a courtroom sketch artist and get a better image. SO frustrating.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Having mentioned before my wish for a particular e-book, I was excited to get my mitts on this new reader. My husband handed me the package with a perplexed look. "It's just another device to bury your face in. I don't get it, but if you like it, great."
"You'll see," I explained, reverently snapping the device into the leather cover. "It's the future of content access: newspapers, magazines, kids books, the web, and more!"
I excitedly booted up the machine, watched the introductory video, and tried to set it up by accessing the web. Over and over and over again. Seems the machine could see the wireless in our house (and about 10 others: that's so Seattle), but couldn't lock on.
Tech support was closed, so I turned to the internet. Nothing but glowing reviews and hands on demos. I spent a couple hours after putting the kids to bed tinkering with our routers, my cell and laptops (which could all get online through the wireless fine).
I tried again over lunch, finally reaching tech support who showed me how to hard reset the Nook. Still no dice.
One of the things I've missed tremendously since having kids is time to sit and read. I remember those weekends as DINKS (dual income, no kids) when we'd hole up watching TV while surfing the web or reading magazines. Or sitting in coffee shops for hours doing the same, minus TV. Man, that was 3.5 years, two kids and seemingly a lifetime ago.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
We spent the morning cleaning house while rocking out to some music, because it's always nice to come home from a trip and just unwind in a clean house. The music makes the time go faster and the kids think something super fun is going on and can't wait to get in on it.
Case in point? Ava: "Can I have a towel so I can clean?"
Me: "Absolutely! Here's a spray bottle, gloves and towels. I already swept. Can you do those spots on the floor while I do the bathroom and I'm mop when you're done?"
Ava: "Sure! I'm helping! I can do it myself!"
Yes you are and yes you do. Next up? Getting her brother in the act. Once he's walking, we should be able to get him in on the dryer unloading, as we did with Ava back when she was just over one.
After more window shopping than actual shopping with Dylan fast asleep as we wheeled the stroller through malls and down Robson, we found a nice outfit for me and finally hit the road back to the good old U.S.A. in the early evening.
All in all, it was another lovely Canadian getway and a nice low-key, laugh- and family-filled birthday weekend.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
As I wrote about the debacle at the time in a Facebook comment:
Jay-zuss. So. Poorly. Handled. By the teacher and the parents. Why isn't anyone thinking about the child, her feelings, and her classmates and what they're learning from this? About how deal with difference? (They've learned to push it away. In a really distracting and obtrusive way.)
About how to handle an uncomfortable situation without making someone feel bad? (They've learned a child's feelings don't matter. Only the adult's/teacher's.)
Why didn't the teacher just say "I'm feeling a little warm/dizzy. Let's open a window and the door and create a cross-breeze." Then she could broach the subject - delicately and discretely - with the parents later.
All kinds of teachable moments being missed in all this.At the time, reading about that girl left me totally worried about my little brown girl and her gorgeous hair and attendant hair products as we prepared to send her off to play school.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I'm currently sporting a long, relaxed hairdo down to my shoulder blades, courtesy of two semi-close together pregnancies and related hormones, and the retirement of my longtime stylist. She was originally from Canada where apparently the word "trim" means cut off an inch and a half, thereby negating efforts to grow it out.
I've written before about the process of managing Ava and Dylan's hair day to day. Now Dylan's trying to comb his 'fro just like dad.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
All in all, Ava's loving her class and classmates and comes home every school day to regale us with tales of all the great fun they had outside and who did what. I think the school and its play-based philosophy and diverse students and parents has been a great fit for her and us. We like what she's learning there and it matches and reinforces our family philosophies around independence, personal responsibility, fairness, kindness, politeness, friendship, and contributing wherever you are.
But it also reinforced our resolve to do whatever is required to raise Ava and Dylan to be productive members of society by hopefully modeling good behavior towards them and each other, and providing the guidance, structure and freedom in the correct balance to parent them successfully.
It reminded me of a great wee-hours discussion J. and I had over the summer precipitated by a news update on a local 10 y.o. gang-affiliated attempted robber and his sibling accomplices who robbed a 17 year old on a public transit bus. Egads. What happened (or didn't) in his 10 short years on the planet that led to the series of poor choices he made that day?
We had a wide ranging discussion about what we are trying to instill in our kids now to keep them on the straight and narrow. We want them to understand that there are consequences for negative actions, unlike the parent of an elementary school student taught by my friend, who informed her that they don't believe in consequences at their house. Huh. Wonder how that's going to work in the real world, seeing as how pretty much EVERYTHING there has consequences?
Topics we covered included how we can teach them to value themselves (so they'll know how to spot others who try to devalue them), dealing with and avoiding frien-emies, how we can demonstrate the value of persistence and hard work, how we can never demonstrate too much what positive, supportive love is so they don't go chasing some poor approximation of it, how to be leaders not followers, being and spotting a good friend, trusting their gut, standing up for what's right even when it's hard, sportsmanship when you're the star AND when you're not, dealing with peer pressure, being considerate of others, trying to live a moral and compassionate life: you know, the things that seem to have fallen out of vogue in some circles. That's a laundry list, and it's of course incomplete and we may not cover every item every week. Still, it's something to strive for. Which leads to another bullet on the list: setting and meeting goals.
Man, this parenting gig is tough but important work. But we're hoping that by doing the heavy-lifting on the front end and throughout their formative years, we won't see either kid in a news story like the one above years down the line.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
A California man (of course: the epitome of laid-back style) has come up with a new series of what it calls Crack of Noon Tours “for those who don’t consider themselves ‘morning people’.”
Always wanted to travel Europe but hate the frenzied pace of most tours? This company's guided trips in Italy and France are scheduled so that no activities start before noon.
According to the company, “We firmly believe that travel is enjoyed much more when one is rested and relaxed — not herded and rushed.”
|Dylan in his favorite sleeping pose|
Ava is definitely a night owl like me and Dylan is still sleeping quite a bit, so even though he goes down at 8pm-ish, with periodic and partial wake ups for a few sips of milk, he's out for about 11-12 hours.
That works fine for us, and on weekends, Ava occasionally wakes up around 7:30 am and creeps in to our room and quietly climbs in with us for another hour or two of sleep. It's a little snug, even in a king size, but the family bed can't be beat for snuggly wakeups on cold fall and winter mornings. And I think our schedule will work fine on a crack of noon tour.
Monday, November 15, 2010
As a lover of the French approach to many things, I was not surprised to learn that they take their school lunches for kids, even toddlers, as seriously as they do meals for adults. Check out this CBS News story on French School lunches.
We have been very intentional and fortunate with our kids' eating habits. We buy organic where we can (milk, fruit, some veggies), and in general, we have pretty good eating habits and rather than any hard rules, try to do all things in moderation.
Despite my southern birth and family, we fry infrequently and when we cook soul food, we try to make it a bit healthier by using smoked turkey in place of pork, chicken and seafood in place of some of the pork and beef sausage, etc.
The fortunate part has been that the kids are pretty easy when it comes to food. Ava has the toddler standard 'no crusts' edict for sandwiches and over the past few months seems to have picked up the 'vegetables are yucky' mantra from some of the kids shows we let her watch. Athough she says it, she will still eat and request broccoli, carrots, edamame, sugar snap peas, corn and more.
With Ava, the bigger challenge is making sure she eats at all. Some days I'm sure she is subsisting on sunflower nut butter and jelly sandwiches (her school has a 'no nut products' rule), grapes and string cheese. Other days, she polishes off her meal, asks for more, and sneaks bites off my plate.
|Look what I found! Is Magic Shell a vegetable?|
Three weeks later, three more broke through within a day of each other! And as of last night, a canine tooth is poking through too. Amazingly, despite having five teeth erupt in such a short period of time, other than a runny nose, he's shown no discomfort or discontent, other than sticking his fingers in his mouth periodically. Having read about the teething-related misery of other toddlers, I know that once again we are incredibly fortunate with this little guy.
And as I've mentioned, even before teeth, he ate at will. Now, I think we can simply stop dicing everything into tiny slivers and instead give him slightly larger pieces for feeding himself. Next up: teaching him to use a spoon and fork.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
|Charging station. How cute and Jetsons-like is that? Also, my phone's camera still stinks. Or is covered in gauze.|
Our trek culminated in my group standing outside in the cold, in line again for the actual test drive of one of 13 cars. After 15 minutes of watching folks get out of line to go back to their cars for gloves, hats and jackets, I was among several people who finally gave up and left.
|Me and Dylan, 11 months (25 lbs.)! As close as we got to the Nissan Leaf.|
Saturday, November 13, 2010
There were very cool displays on women and African Americans in aviation history in particular that were educational and inspriring. But the place is very big, as is necessary for a structure housing full size jets and other airplanes on display. Even with a stroller, after a couple hours, the giant planes hanging from the ceiling and the faux air traffic control tower lost their allure and we hit the witching hour.
Ava lost her chicken when we told her something horribly unreasonable, like she couldn't keep hopping on and off the stroller while we maneuvered through the displays and had to sit down.
Judging by her face and the piercing wails that were disorienting bats in nearby caves, you'd think we told her we were selling her into an arranged marriage to a middle-aged desert prince. And at that point in the outing, that didn't seem like such a bad idea. Note the expression on Dylan, the tempermental teflon Don: his usual picture of calm. Together, they are the perfect balance.
But next time, we're taking snacks and water bottles for everyone, which was a last minute oversight. I usually take snacks everywhere. By the time we left, I felt like we'd walked the length of Boeing Air Field, which sits just outside the museum. Treats might have forestalled the meltdown at least until we got back to the car, where they both promptly fell asleep before we'd even left the parking lot.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Today, women make up about 20 percent of the U.S. military and though they have worked their way up through the ranks to high-ranking positions across all the branches of military, they still face challenges slightly different from most working mothers in particular. The Virginian-Pilot newspaper did a great article on a challenge that faces many new moms: how to breastfeed after returning to work. But as the article points out, "For military moms, there's extra duty: Breast-feeding."
For all those who serve, past and present, thank you.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
|Vern Yip: design super star|
* Stones, rocks, pebbles. Placed in bowls or in a ring around a vase, heaped in a small cairn or put singly in a special place of honor, the infinite variety and solid beauty of stones add grounding and stability to our homes.I may try that, but it turns out Ava has been doing this on her own in our carport using rocks from our driveway. It looks as if she's buried a small animal next to our door and stacked rocks up to keep the miniature scavengers away. When I ask her why, she simply says, "Because I like them." I guess you bond with life easily when you're still rather new to it.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
|Me and my Granny, age 99 in March 2006|
Still, I was annoyed (caution: first world complaint ahead) to wake up a couple days ago and discover a screw missing from my glasses, leaving me with one missing ear hook. Fortunately, I still had a previous pair with a weaker prescription to tide me over until I can get mine repaired or upgraded. But it reminded me that there are organizations that collect old glasses for those who don't have the luxury of first world complaining about things like missing eyeglass screws.
If you have a pair of old glasses taking up space, consider donating them to organizations that help those who can't afford them. It's environmentally friendly and a way to put your extraneous items to good use.
Also, if you havekids, get their eyes checked early. Sometimes kids are incorrectly diagnosed with learning disabilities when they really have vision problems.