Home Learning

Just pics!



It was very exciting to prepare for Marko's birthday. We lost about five cupcakes because I found little nibble bites in them...just one on each. I think it was a joint venture. 


Sick! (And Now Better)

Playing chess. Sort of.
Marko got some kind of wretched illness this last week. He was really sick for about 5 days. Laurel fled the scene and went to my parents' house. (School is closed for half of this week.) "I need to get away from all these sick people," she said. But really, I think she just wanted to go and be spoiled by grandparents. (Which I completely understand. I used to run down to my grandparents to escape my big sister responsibilities. My grandma would make me some Salada tea and give me a Nilla Wafer.)

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.


Marko at Nearly Two (and me after two babies!)

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.