Friday, April 29, 2011

Six Word Fridays: Last

TLittleMissInfantCryingThree-day-old Little Miss (Big Sister) strapped in for the inaugural trip home from the hospital.

Baby Thumper is on her way
Four more weeks, here to stay
Little Sister, Big Sister, sweet sisters
Sharing secrets and happily ever afters.

But first the crying and fussing
Tiny and needy, wanting and waiting
Night feedings and countless diaper changes
Demands overwhelm - we're birds in cages.

But that's OK, she's our last
One more go; time flies fast
Before we know, we will miss
The joys and pangs of newborness.

Our last baby, last infant scent
Last toothless grin, last little innocent;
We'll relish every moment with her
And Big Sister, the feisty toddler.

Four of us, finally complete together.

This is a Six Word Fridays post with the prompt: Last. Thank you Melissa for hosting this wonderful series.

Also, check out my other blog, justinewrites.com, and see what my doppelganger is up to. Looks like she has an addictive new hobby and can’t wait to share it with you!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Our eggs-cellent adventure

DyedEggs
For someone who’s basically “winging” a holiday from Google searches and dim recollection of past visits to people’s homes on Easter Sunday, the holiday turned out, well... let’s just say it could’ve been worse. Perhaps I’m exaggerating a tad bit, but there were valuable lessons I learned while trying to adopt a holiday that I myself have never experienced in my childhood. Since I tend to conveniently forget details (and thus doomed to repeat the mistakes of my past), here are my notes to self for next time…

1. On the night before Easter, trying to get the child to go to sleep by promising chocolate-filled eggs from the Easter bunny the next day only means she will wake up demanding chocolate and refusing breakfast until the egg hunt is over and her belly is laced with the loot she proudly hoists around the house. Breakfast of champions?


FoundOnethe sweet egg hunter

2. Toddler and chocolate - only adorable for the first hour when they so sweetly ask for them and do everything as they’re told. Until the sugar kicks in and then it’s like feeding the Gremlins past midnight. Not so cute and cuddly anymore.

Poutythe gremlin


3. While unpacking around the house, I found my fondue set and thought, why not an Easter fondue? And that’s what we did. I even procured hot capicola ham and Genoa salami for the meal, bucking and following tradition at once. But on a day where candy is consumed by the fistfuls, ingesting rich and cheesy fondue may not have been the best idea. Now I keep suspiciously eyeing myself in the mirror, wondering where the sugar and cheese will manifest themselves. I’m hoping the baby is taking care of all the extras (a.k.a. wishful thinking).

FondueImpatiencelittle miss impatient

4. Just because I don’t think it’s an important holiday doesn’t mean others share the same sentiment - do not put off grocery shopping at specialty food stores until the day of the holiday as chances are, these mom-and-pop places will be closed for business. I had to drive to three different places before I finally found one that was open that day - so much for living in a big city like Chicago.



Fonduecheesy holiday


5. Prepare more Easter eggs - I didn’t realize adults delight in the dyeing of the eggs as much as kids do. In fact, my daughter showed less enthusiasm than the adults around the table. She was more interested in feeding her voracious appetite for chocolates, finding ways to manipulate more out of us!


DyeInProgressdye eggs dye! 

6. I still don’t get the appeal of Cadbury Creme Eggs and Peeps. To me, they’re two of the most overrated Easter candies and therefore were completely left out of our house. We did indulge in other eggs-citing (oh come on, how could I resist?) treats though but mostly, we stuffed Little Miss’ basket with other cutesy things so she would overlook the lack of candy. As for the basket, I figured it really doesn’t matter with toddlers – it’s what’s in it that counts. With that in mind, I found a random basket around the house and decorated it with leftover ribbon from her first birthday – if there were Peeps in the basket, they would probably have said “cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap”. Another reason why they weren't.



BasketGoodiesher favorite thing in the basket? why, chocolate of course!


7. Surround yourself with loved ones. No “don’t” here. Just a “do”. With my mom and My Guy’s brother at the table too, it was lovely to have people we care about enjoying this holiday with us. It was a great day for togetherness as we welcome spring and all we hoped it would bring - love, life and even laughter.



PlayingWithUncleT


BlurryFun uncle fun


* * *

How was your Easter? What did you do? Did you and/or your kids OD on candy too? What’s your favorite candy?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Six Word Fridays: Counting our blessings


It’s hard to focus on good
even on Good Friday, or especially?
When all I see is rain
When all I feel is cold

But the prompt, Counting Our Blessings
changed all that, I am grateful
Because now I see beyond gloom
I see what I already have
not what I wish I did.

No sunshine? No problem. I have
a toddler’s smile and her devotion
Twinkling eyes looking up at me.
She was sick with fever yesterday
but happy, healthy and mischievous today
The sunshine’s back in full form
Her radiance infects with exquisite joy!

Then there is this wonderful man
who’s put forth twice the effort
while I’ve been resting for two
to prepare our house for baby
a new place, a strange place
but with him here, it’s home.

 My mother lives with us now
She helps, she cares, she loves
and for that we’re so thankful
Still figuring things out with toddler
wondering how she’ll fare with newborn
She made me and raised me
She will be fine I know.

And then there are the pets
who often require much care and
not much do they give back
Sometimes I wonder why they’re here
Most times I love them although
I hardly have time to show.

So there, plenty of things around
to bring a smile, give cheer
yearning for the taste of warmth
How foolish, how silly of me
when all I need is here.



Happy Easter to you and yours. May you see and feel the blessings around you that day, and everyday.


This is a Six Word Fridays post with the prompt: Counting our blessings. Thank you Melissa for fine-tuning my perspective.


image source: Windshield by cesare g.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Coexisting

4491320937_13c3745d2f


I need to be honest here. Easter doesn’t mean anything to me. Growing up with a Hindu and an atheist parent in Malaysia, where Easter was celebrated quietly by Christians in their homes unlike the in-your-facedness of Christmas thanks to overzealous shopping malls, I had little idea what goes on during this event. I still don’t, other than the requisite egg-hunt, egg-shaped, pastel-colored candy and ham. There’s a bunny in there somewhere too, although I’m not sure how it figures into this whole thing.

I know the story about Jesus from my church-going days – how Good Friday and Easter are linked to his death and subsequent ascension into Heaven – but since I’m no longer religious, I hesitate to perpetuate a Bible story for my Little Miss, even though she goes to a Lutheran preschool, says her prayers before her meals at school, goes to church on Wednesdays with her little friends and occasionally breaks into a Bible song (which completely disarms me as I find myself singing along too). She will undoubtedly learn the “real” version of Easter from school, but I hope to find a way to celebrate without having to compromise my own beliefs in my own home.

Little Miss will be participating in an Easter egg hunt, and she has been coloring ducks, chicks and eggs all week in her class. I would really like to see all of this “work” culminate on a special day like Easter. And that is how two atheists, a Hindu, an agnostic and a toddler will gather around the table in celebration of the occasion with an elaborate brunch this Sunday. There would perhaps be some candy, an Easter basket and even an egg hunt for good measure. But no ham - we’re not fans.

However, should she someday ask me what Easter is all about, I think I will say it’s a celebration of spring. And should she counter with the story about Jesus, I will say that she may be right too. Then we’ll both sit on the couch, unwrap the Easter candy from the basket and greedily consume every morsel together; both peacefully coexisting with our own beliefs.

And both questioning at the same time…

 

* * *

What does Easter mean to you? How do you and your family celebrate Easter? How do you make Easter fun for the kids (apart from the candy overload, of course)? Is there an Easter-related family tradition that gets you excited each year? If so, please share. One last question: What’s the bunny got to do with it?

Image source: The Easter bunny was nice to me, too by justmalia.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Black hole and sun

On a day like this, the possibilities are endless

As you may know, we moved this past weekend. Of all the things I learned from this experience, this was the one that stood out for me: Establish Internet connection before moving. With my phone service in cellular black hole in my new home, rendering my smartphone dumber than a rock, I've been rather disconnected. Not to mention exhausted from the move. And now the unpacking.

But we did take a break on Sunday, when a fluke 75-degree weather swept Chicago by surprise. Naturally, after our dreadful hibernation, everyone and their mother (including mine) came out to play. Now that we live right next to a beach, we have no excuse to waste a perfectly nice day inside, especially if that excuse is a legitimate but unexciting one, like whittling away at the chaos that is our house to turn it into a home. Instead, we honored this incredible day by doing what it expected us to do - nothing. With a side of ice cream. Of course.


This little girl's idea of heaven? Being surrounded by swings, slides, beach, water and ice cream!
 

33 weeks pregnant. And please pardon the Windy City hair.

p.s. Tiny snippet from our weekend: Pointing at where her heart is, I placed my finger against Little Miss' Sesame Street t-shirt (the one you see above) and said, "This is your heart," but she promptly corrected me - "No, mommy, this is not my heart. This is Cookie Monster."

And suddenly all the stress and exhaustion melted away. At least for five minutes. Kids can be useful like that.


* * *

How was your weekend? Did you get a nice weather surprise too? If so, what did you do? Do you take breaks in the midst of involved projects or do you forge ahead until it's done before allowing yourself a breather? Have you ever said no to ice cream?  


Another p.s.: If you haven't already, check out what my interwebs alter ego has to say about kids and language acquisition and weigh in with your own experience.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Remembering for two

She takes my hand as we walk towards our car at the preschool parking lot and says, “Wemember my painting flew away and fell on the street with all the cars? Wemember, mommy?”

I recall with a smile. “Yes, I remember.”

She had insisted on holding on to her preschool project on a particularly windy day but alas, the gusts were too much for a two-year-old, displacing her piece of art from her hand and onto the busy street. What surprised me was finding it, tire-marked but relatively intact, in her personal cubby the next day. A kind soul had picked it up and handed it to the school. What a wonderful, faith-restoring gesture.

While the incident itself is stuff of warm fuzzies, it was her asking me to “wemember” that made a gentle impression on my soul. Of all the things she has learned to say, “remember” resonates most with me these days. Today is the last day we will be here in this house. While I’m excited for our new beginning as a growing family, I’m also feeling rather nostalgic. This is our first family home after all. A place of firsts.

As I think about all those moments that occurred here, I want to turn to my daughter and say,

Remember when we first brought you home? It was a chilly, gloomy November day, and you looked so tiny and frail in your vibrant orange car seat.

Remember when you first smiled at me from the changing table (good poop perhaps?) at exactly six weeks after we brought you home? That’s when I knew that, despite the new-mama frenzy and amidst the fears, everything will be all right.

Remember the nights we spent together with you nuzzled against me as the sound of your happy suckling fills the space around us? When you looked up at me, I couldn’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else. Or anyone else.

Remember the giggles that only your daddy knew (and still knows) how to conjure from the depths of your belly? He always made you laugh best. You would shriek, “daddy!” the moment you heard him at the door, followed by a fervent request, “upside down?”, hoping for circus stunts that only he could manage (and I could hardly stomach).

Remember all those warm-weather days on the back porch? We would do everything outside -  bubbles, meals, plane-sightings and water (you always loved playing with water) - to make up for the days of a long winter’s hibernation.

Remember when I fed you your first meal of rice and curry by hand? It was a moment I’d been waiting for since you were born - one that mirrors my own childhood, when my mom used to feed me in the same manner. (You liked it, by the way, and have preferred spicy flavors over any others since).

Remember the walks we took outside the house in search of the first signs of spring and banner planes that would turn around by us to head back to Wrigley Field? The time when our dog, Kirby, was not blind? When we shopped for and brought home your first Christmas tree? And second? And the presents that you were excited to open? The trips we took to explore places that were often new to us, but more importantly, the homecoming that followed? The time you held our family together? One of the biggest snowstorms of the century that had us all staying home on our first ever “snow day”? The first card we made together for your daddy for Valentine’s day? When you demanded a baby sister after we told you about the growing baby in my tummy? When you first said “wemember”?

I know it’s impossible for me to capture every wonderful, hallmark moment here. Or in my brain for that matter. These are but fleeting impressions on your always-absorbing mind, your ever-expanding capacity to learn, to process, to recall. Even then, your experience of these firsts will be lost to you as new memories inevitably replace the old.

And perhaps that’s why these words are here. So that you will know what life was like before you could remember. Before this next chapter of our lives, there was another. And oh what sweet remembrance for those of us who can.

Because you were there.

 

1stHouseCollage

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A label belongs on a can, not a parent

familybed2 Recently I read a post, “Breastfeeding = Breastfeeding”, that had me hooked from the first line: “You look like a breastfeeder.” The author took offense to that but more importantly, she went on to show that there isn’t and shouldn’t be a distinction between those who breastfeed and those who don’t. Not all breastfeeders are baby wearing, cloth diapering, organic eating mothers just as not all moms who provide formula only feed their kids junk food, lots of TV and make their kids cry it out in bed.

I was thinking, right on, mama. While its focus is on breastfeeding (well, the site is irreverently titled “Leakyboobs” after all), the part that most resonated with me is where she eschews being labeled. She may wear her babies in a carrier and cosleep with them but she’s not comfortable with being labeled as an attachment parent as she isn’t a rigid follower of rules - she does what works best for her family.

Again, right on.

For the unenlightened, attachment parenting is coined by a noted American pediatrician, Dr. William Sears. Upon googling the phrase, you’d inevitably land on his page where he espouses “the seven attachment tools: The Baby B’s” (birthbonding, breastfeeding, babywearing, bedding close to baby, belief in the language value of your baby’s cry, beware of baby trainers and balance). As I was trying to learn more about this parenting style, I was completely turned off by the time I got to the 6th B on his list, “Beware of baby trainers":


Attachment parenting teaches you how to be discerning of advice, especially those rigid and extreme parenting styles that teach you to watch a clock or a schedule instead of your baby; you know, the cry-it-out crowd. This "convenience" parenting is a short-term gain, but a long-term loss, and is not a wise investment. These more restrained styles of parenting create a distance between you and your baby and keep you from becoming an expert in your child.

Well then.

Here’s what happened in our house: After months of being in my daughter’s room for at least two hours every night trying to lull her to sleep, we were exhausted and two steps away from the deep end. As parents with full-time careers, relinquishing most of our time to a toddler who fought sleep and thus didn’t sleep well did not make us happy parents. Ironically, the 7th Baby B’s of this parenting style, “Balance”, states, “In your zeal to give so much to your baby, it's easy to neglect the needs of yourself and your marriage. As you will learn the key to putting balance in your parenting is being appropriately responsive to your baby – knowing when to say "yes" and when to say "no," and having the wisdom to say "yes" to yourself when you need help.”

That help came in the form of sleep training. You know, the cry-it-out method. When we finally gave in to sleep training, she was 11 months old, and it was the best thing we ever did. For everyone. Now she doesn’t fight bedtime, falls asleep easily and stays asleep, and when she wakes in the morning, she chirps for us or willingly stays in bed until one of us goes into her bedroom to get her. The change in our lives was remarkable. Night and day. It gave us back the time we needed to nurture our relationship, pursue individual interests, and most importantly, rest.  

This isn’t just about us and our “convenience” - our daughter benefits from this too as she doesn’t need us to rub her back to fall asleep (we say goodnight, turn out the lights and leave the room while she’s awake), and when she wakes in the middle of the night, she is able to soothe herself back to sleep. In the mornings, she’s as happy as a clam from getting the rest she needs. In fact, now, everyone’s happy.

Obviously, from my own successful experience, Dr. Sears condescension’ of the “cry-it-out” crowd does not sit well with me. He may think he has it all figured it out, but really, what works for Family A doesn’t necessarily work for Family B. I don’t think parenting should be about a style. It should be about the child. It struck a nerve when I read the definition of attachment parenting on his site: “Attachment parenting is a style of caring for your infant that brings out the best in the baby and the best in the parents.” 

We are not an attachment parents by choice, but we also don’t disparage those who don’t share our decisions, which I would argue did bring out the best in our baby and in ourselves. Little Miss was rarely in a baby carrier, and I don’t sleep well with her next to me. Although I did breastfeed her until she was 13 months, I also pumped (so her dad could partake in the feeding/bonding process, which is important to us). She may not have been on my boob 24/7 because I worked full time, but I also made all of her food so she never tasted jarred food in her life. She gets her vaccines but I also opted out of and delayed a few. We try our best to feed her with hormone-free and preferably organic food but if we’d like to occasionally indulge in some hotdogs or McDonald’s French fries, then that’s what we’re going to do. So what kind of parent does that make me?

When I look at my daughter who’s happy, healthy and developing remarkably well, who’s independent, funny and fearless, who pouts and throws tantrums just like any two-year-olds, I don’t really care what kind of parent I’m supposed to be according to the “experts”. I’m just glad that I’m able to be exactly the kind of parent my baby needs to help her become this delightful little girl that she is.

So forgive me if I don’t really believe in a parenting style. I’m too busy being my daughter’s mom to worry about trying to fit myself into a mold.

 

Image source: http://www.theattachedparent.com/176/the-emotional-benefits-of-a-family-bed/

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