Friday, September 30, 2011

Six Word Fridays: How to…

How to keep my kids entertained.



Apps galore for some iPad fun
She learns to count, spell, write
And she’s out of my hair.



Having Number One entertain Number Two
Good reason to have two kids
Until they both scream for attention.




Join us for Melissa's Six Word Fridays. Today’s topic: " How To ".

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Deja vu

DejaVu1Both in the four-month range. Let’s play who’s this baby?

Parenting is hard work. Sometimes we just got to have a little fun. Even Especially if it’s at our kids’ expense.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Poop - a humbling experience

We had a really good weekend. Little Miss pooped in the potty! Finally.
Yes, that’s what parenthood does to you. One day you’re writing a thesis paper on Zora Neale Hurston and the next, you’re making unapologetic announcements on the blog about your daughter’s bowel movement. But that’s how it is folks.

We’re celebrating on our end (haha, get it? get it?) because we didn’t think this day would ever come. We were spoiled by our Little Miss, who had hit all of her other milestones with relative ease that we thought nothing of potty training. In fact, we didn’t think about it at all. We figured she’d just wake up one day and decide against diapers and that would be the end of it. So we didn’t do our due diligence. We didn’t read up on training. Nor did we think we needed to.

After all, she pretty much led her own changes. One day she’s in a crib. The next, she’s in a big girl bed - her choice. She was fearless. She slept through the night. She loves veggies. Our toddler was an easy kid. Naturally we took credit and congratulated ourselves for that. Surely we were doing something right. And surely when it came to potty training, it would be a breeze too.  


When we introduced the potty, she would use it only when she felt like it, and she refused to be anywhere near a bathroom for bowel movements.  I thought staying home with me while I was on maternity leave would help with the training, except I was never consistent, and without a plan, she never made much progress. 

I recently found out that her preschool’s three-year-old class would not accept her in the classroom unless she’s fully potty-trained; that’s when I panicked. I only had three months to get her trained! I thought I tried everything - stickers, M&M’s, even punishment for going in her diaper. Nothing worked. 

I had to accept that I could no longer just wing it; I needed help. That's when I carefully selected a book on potty training, read it cover to cover and realized that I was going about it all wrong! I followed the advice, changed my tactics and soon, she started to come around. 

When I decided one day that she would forego diapers and pull-ups and just use underwear that she picked out herself, she made it through the entire day without a single accident. Not only that, on that same day, she also announced unexpectedly that she was going to “read some books and poopoo in the potty.” That was the part I thought I’d have to struggle with for the next few months but to my amazement, that was exactly what she did! I guess when she’s ready, she’s ready.

We celebrated by introducing Star Wars, the movie, to her. This entire time, she has only seen them as characters from her ABC book, but what a treat it was for her to see them as live action heroes (and villains)! I loved seeing her face light up as she named each character and spaceship as they zoomed across the screen. It was better than M&M’s. 

She has gone several times since then and had not had an accident. But this is still new to us, so it may be too soon to tell if she’s fully trained. However, we’re just thrilled we’ve made more progress in the last two weeks than we have in months. All because we sucked it up, stopped thinking miracles would occur just because they had before and sought help.

It’s a humbling experience. I suppose that could be said of both potty training and parenting. We’ve learned that just because we’re ready doesn’t mean our kids are. We’ve been lucky with Little Miss' easy transitions because she was ready for a change long before we were, and so we were never met with a challenge. Now that we have, we had to put aside our ego and assumptions and work hard for the results we wanted.

I think the most important lesson we’ve learned from this is that just when we think it’s safe to feel confident, even smug, about our role as parents, there will always be something that will smack us on the head and bring us back down to earth. 

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What was your most difficult parenting challenge? What were your kids' hardest transition(s)? Have you ever felt like you could rest on your laurels as a parent?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Timing is everything - My 9/11 story

September 10, 2001, 8:15 am
The immigration officer didn’t even ask for the stack of photo albums we brought to prove that we’re legitimately and happily married. Just a couple of cursory questions and voila! I was approved for my green card. Newly minted almost-American, just one step away from my citizenship.

I was surprised (and relieved) that it was that easy.

September 11, 2001, 7:46 am. Approximately 24 hours later.
The first plane crashed into the World Trade Center.

I was at home that morning, barely awake for my 10 am shift at the restaurant when I received a phonecall from my then husband. He asked me to watch the news. And the horror unfolded before my eyes as I hugged myself on the couch in disbelief.

Later, my dad called from Malaysia, half a world away, asking if I was watching the news. I nodded, as if he could see. That was when the towers collapsed. I felt a cry lodged in my throat. And then I bawled. My dad understood; he hung up and left me to my grief.

The day after my green card interview. I couldn’t imagine what it would’ve been like for me had it been the day after the attack, rather than before. But that was the furthest thing from my mind then. Like millions around the world, I was shaken to the depths of my core.

I am lucky - I didn’t lose anyone that day. But I gained a new home country just 24 hours before. And maybe that’s why the event felt like it hit so close to home. Because I was home.

Yet I couldn’t fathom the smoldering images that burned my eyes. This wasn’t the America I signed up for. What was happening? The fire, the chaos, the ashes, the utter helplessness - that wasn’t supposed to be happening here. Not here. Not America.  

Suddenly tragedy was no longer just what happened to others in faraway places, in cities with hard-to-pronounce names. It could happen right here, on the soil that I, just 24 hours before, had newly and deliberately planted my roots.

September 10, 2011, 12:30 pm. Ten years later.
We drove two hours across state line to purchase a very specific vehicle that would meet our very particular needs. It has to be roomy but not too large for our urban streets; techie for my geek but not too complicated for me; family-friendly but still sporty enough for performance junkies like us; gorgeous but not flashy.

Not only would this be a departure from our manual, turbo-enhanced hatchback, but it would also be our first American car.

My Guy, the car enthusiast, who watched the sad demise of several classic American brands, has been really excited about the phoenix-like rise of the American motor industry that went from near or total bankruptcy to become worthy competitors of their Japanese, Korean and German counterparts.

I have to admit I was a little prejudiced at first; I didn’t trust his recommendations for us when he listed the American brands. But when I read the reviews and the specs for myself, I was sold. There’s never been a more exciting time to buy American.

So ten years to the day after my green card approval and on the eve of the 9/11 ten-year anniversary, it seemed poetic for us to go home with an American car. Just like New York who rose above the ashes, so did these American icons: Ford, Dodge, Chrysler, Cadillac.

When we pulled out of the lot with our new vehicle, we did so with our girls tucked safely in the back and our pride displayed boldly on the front, right next to the Dodge emblem.

As we rumbled confidently down the street, I couldn’t help but wonder, here we are with our American car and our American girls, but had my green card interview been scheduled the day after 9/11 and not the day before, would I still be here?

Dodge Journey

* * *

What’s your 9/11 story?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It’s not just me


The air is crisp; fall is just around the corner. It would seem that we’re not the only ones enjoying the temperate weather. Most windows in our courtyard building are open this evening, including ours.

For the first time, I hear a wailing baby. And not too far away, a defiant toddler punctures the crickets’ chorus with his dissent. These distressing sounds, once part of the urban symphony to which I’ve grown accustomed and which I’ve scarcely paid attention, snap me back into focus.

This time my ears are perked – they hone in on the anguished cries of children like preschoolers to bubbles. I don’t enjoy their misery, but I feel a sense of solidarity. Like we’re all in this together. Mothers. Fathers. Big kids. Little kids. Our homes may not be the same, but our dance is. Sometimes we glide effortlessly. Sometimes we flail and stumble.

As the curtains gently sway and lift to allow the outside air into my living room, swirling the piercing sounds of nearby children who aren’t mine around that of those who are mine, I breathe deeply and deliberately. Then I exhale, relieved. Assured.

It’s not just me.


* * *

Have you ever felt this way before?


image source: 107-0773_IMG by mtnbikrrrr.