Sometimes things don't go as planned.
By k on 2/21/2015 06:58:00 PM
|No matter where we go,|
they just play in the dirt.
|Laurel: Much happier on the|
OUTSIDE of the Arch.
|Tigers. Everywhere in LA.|
By k on 2/17/2015 08:07:00 PM
Sometimes you want a little sunshine on your face and are willing to drive a thousand miles to get it.
By k on 2/11/2015 04:40:00 PM
|They experiment with many|
techniques. Sponges and craft
sticks are among their favorites.
We have a yelling problem here. I think part of it is we are just a very loud family. We like loud music. We shout at each other from upstairs when we need something. We talk very loudly at dinner, especially when we are excited. When we argue, we yell at each other. We yell swear words. And sometimes the kids just shout really, really loudly for no apparent reason. Rule #2 in our house is "no yelling" and we spend lots and lots of time talking about this one, brainstorming ways we can be quieter with our responses. But we never change our ways. Sometimes I wonder why I bother. We live on a loud street, we're hardly bothering the neighbors. Perhaps it's just in our nature and we should revise that rule.
|Marko builds letters.|
All members of the family deserve equal respect.
Behavior is motivated by needs.
Practicing to identify our needs so that we can ask for things directly from our loved ones is a great thing.
Everyone's needs matter. When someone is asking for something that they need, and it interferes with something someone else needs, compromise is required.
Everybody messes up, gets mad, says things they don't mean, acts out in inappropriate ways and can be otherwise unpleasant to others from time to time. The role of the family is to love unconditionally, speak up when someone's actions interfere or are hurtful, and to guide by example.
One of the greatest lessons we can learn from each other is how to recover, repair and heal from mistakes.
As parents, we have a responsibility to teach kindness, social norms and manners, self-care, tolerance and knowledge about the world.
We do this through modeling these behaviors ourselves. Like all the things that we as adults learn, some lessons take longer than others to learn. There's also a lot of gray areas that need to be explored.
By k on 2/04/2015 11:10:00 AM
By k on 1/24/2015 10:45:00 PM
|Playing chess. Sort of.|
Knock on wood, but M and I are still feeling ok. However, the other night I woke up at 2:00am craving oranges. I went downstairs, ate two of them and then crawled back into bed. I think my subconscious mind was trying to rally my immune system.
Our old-school pediatrician has sort of trained us to wait out all but the most serious illnesses, which I think is a pretty good thing, generally. But you may recall that Marko actually had a rather serious case of food poisoning last year, which causes me to go into somewhat of a panic whenever he gets more than a cold. He had to be hospitalized after many, many days of flu-like symptoms and trips to the doctor and emergency room. I would really prefer to never have to see that child get stuck with an IV ever again. Therefore, I have been laying awake listening to him breathe and then waking M up. "Was that a wheeze? Is he wheezing? Do you hear a rattle when he breathes??"
He's feeling much better now, though. The biggest challenge is keeping him occupied. There are only so many block towers you can build, so many wooden railroad tracks you can lay. Yesterday I let him go nuts in the kitchen. I gave him some old jars of spices that we don't really use and some measuring cups, and he spent a good long while sprinkling and stirring and shaking things up. It made a gigantic mess. Then he moved on to peeling garlic.
We got him some play food you can "chop" - it's held together by velcro and comes with a little wooden knife and cutting board. He was delighted to use this toy for a few weeks, but now desperately wants to use a real knife and chop real things. Like garlic. I'm going to set up a little Montessori work like this banana chopping one for him.
By k on 1/21/2015 10:17:00 AM
Every couple of months I do a phone interview for a research study and they ask me various things about what we eat and living situation and health and Marko's development. I never know how tall he is or how many teeth he has and the interviewer gets annoyed because they have to type a number into a screen so then I just guess. We are pretty terrible at that baby book type stuff. We don't have any pencil marks on a door frame, marking their height. I did not save a clipping of their first hair cuts. (Actually, come to think of it, I don't believe Marko has ever had a haircut.)
We've been holed up this week with winter colds, which has given us the opportunity to look at some old photos and videos. Marko will be 2 next week and is starting to talk a lot more.
"Meer, Mom!" - Come here, mom.
"Quiet!" - mostly shouted at Laurel when she is yelling
"Stop it." - when I wash his face
"Sit down here!" - when he wants us to play with him
The more time they spend together, the better they seem to get along. Laurel has been home from school a lot lately due to snow, winter breaks and being sick. It could also be a result of them both getting a little older. Marko wants to imitate Laurel, as little brothers do. If she's writing something, he is write there next to her, scribbling on his own piece of paper. They like to play with Legos together. Fights break out, but are quickly resolved.
Marko was the best sleeper ever until he turned about 18 months. Now he goes to sleep in his own bed, but only if one of us is in there, either rocking him or sitting in the chair next to his bed. He'll stay there until we go to sleep and then will wander into our room and climb in with us. He's the total opposite of Laurel in the morning. Laurel takes a good long while to wake up and is often grumpy and doesn't want to eat right away. Marko wakes up with a smile every morning around 6 or 6:30. "Good morning, mommy! Good morning, daddy!" He's super excited for coffee, to play with trains, to look out the window. Every single day is like this. My mood in the morning tends to be more like Laurel, but with Marko around, I'm a lot more cheerful and excited to start the day.
Marko loves taking bubble baths and reading books. He's really good at throwing a ball overhand. He loves dogs and is very good at approaching a dog in a calm way. We spend a lot of time walking around the city these days and he's very friendly. When we get on the city bus to take Laurel to school, he says hello and waves to everyone on it.
I think we are conscious of the differences of raising a boy and a girl. And while our boy is just as likely as the girl to dress up in a tutu or ask to have his toenails painted and we don't really have "boy" or "girl" toys, I do think that our own biases have an impact on how we react and discipline them. I find that I am way more vigilant in correcting Marko's behavior with other children, like if he hits or snatches a toy away. With Laurel, I prefer to see her retain her scrappiness. I don't want to extinguish all tendencies towards assertion, although I do think society still expects little girls (and grown women) to be quiet, polite and not ask for much.
Having a second child has been a wonderful experience for me. So many of the things I worried about with Laurel were just not even on my radar with Marko. One thing that helped was staying away from parenting websites and books for advice. I still love reading essays about parenting, especially from other women, but I'm no longer looking for validation for my choices or a way to "fix" things that are just normal parts of babies being babies, or the growing pains of me becoming a mom.
I had one c-section and one vaginal birth and found the recovery to be about the same. Also, birth was not an empowering experience for me. I just felt grateful to make it through alive and with a healthy baby. (And a good OB.)
I breastfed both of my kids for a little over a year, more or less on demand, although I was also working for a lot of that time. I pumped what I could and gave them formula when I didn't have enough. I worried a great deal about all things related to breastfeeding with Laurel and not so much with Marko. Weaning them was not hard and they had a bunch of teeth and were pretty much eating table food all the time by then.
I tried various cry it out and no-cry sleep training methods with both kids. Some were very effective at the time, others caused a great deal of anguish for all parties involved. Both kids ended up in our bed a lot. Laurel sleeps pretty well now and mostly stays in her bed all night. Marko not so much, but I see sleep as something that changes a lot with age and I'm sure before I know it, M and I will have that king bed to ourselves again.
I have been a graduate student mom, a part-time working mom, a stay-at-home mom and a full-time working mom. We have used a babysitter in our house and three different day care centers. I have had a schedule that I managed myself and also worked at a high school where I had to be there precisely at 7:00am and had no flexibility but had summers off and got out every day by 3. All were good and bad in their own ways. The kids were fine in pretty much all situations. What I figured out is that when I'm happy and healthy, the kids do better. You know how they say that with the oxygen masks on the airplane.
I cherish the bonds I formed with other first-time moms who were going through the same stuff, but I've got a lot more friends with older kids now and appreciate the wisdom and perspective they give me. But mainly, I've learned that you don't raise kids so much as you raise each other up. I'm growing because they challenge me to.
By k on 1/16/2015 12:34:00 PM
A year split in half, punctuated by a month-long nap. It was more pruning than growth. Necessary, though. Eleven years of marriage is symbolized by steel and it felt fitting enough that M bought us new wedding bands made of stainless steel. Laurel turned 5 and I became a five year veteran of motherhood. I did some of the best work of my life and then walked away from it. I'm sorry for not telling more stories here lately. Everything feels too complicated to share with a broad audience. That's not to say 2014 was a bad year. Quite the opposite. I have before never felt so consistently satiated in my marriage, my kids, my body, and in the day-to-day activities of life. Last year I did a journaling exercise from Susannah Conway. I did it again recently. (You can check out her workbook here, it's free to download.) I wrote "prioritize" as a guiding word at the beginning of 2014. When I looked back at the last 12 months or so, these words emerged to describe it: "Human. Savor. Slash & Burn." Prioritize feels very orderly compared to how the year actually went. But it feels like I landed in exactly the right spot.
By k on 12/31/2014 11:19:00 AM
When I was waiting for the bus today, somebody lit up a clove cigarette and suddenly I was 20 again and in my first apartment. You know those smells that evoke memories you have no reason to ever summon up purposefully? They aren't bad, they aren't good. Just inconsequential things you forget over time.
But when I smelled that cigarette, I could remember the exact shade and texture of the carpet (gray-blue, threadbare near the door). How many paces it was from the front door to the light switch on the other side of the living room and how unnerving it could be to walk in alone at night. The picture book that roommate gave me for Christmas. Drinking cheap beer out of red plastic cups and the sound the dial-up connection made when I logged on at night. It was always easier to get on after midnight.
We had friends over the other day. "Your house is very hygge," they said when they came in. They just went to Denmark, where it's even darker in the winter. I had never heard that word, but I fell in love with it immediately. My house is old and proud but sort of shabby. We try to keep it clean and uncluttered, but like my middle-aged self, it looks a lot better in soft light. It is cozy inside, though, especially welcoming in the winter with our boiler heat. Furniture is arranged to allow for intimate conversation, although not exactly by design. More like the kids push the couches together when they play. And always the smell of something cooking.
Hope you have some hygge in your life as we approach the darkest day.
By k on 12/18/2014 07:51:00 PM