Sunday, March 30, 2008

My kids are great (part 2)

Amelia (aka Mia)... what can I say about her? She is simply amazing. To think that Kenny and I considered stopping at one child. We both assumed that since Jackson was SUCH a good baby, toddler etc. that we would end up with a devil child to put balance into the world. We had friends that reminded us ALL the time that Jackson was an abnormally good baby and we would be in for it with our second. I am so glad that we completed our family with this wonderful little girl.

Amelia was a little harder as a baby, but ANY baby would be tough when you have a toddler to deal with. She was a NORMAL baby. I wouldn't say that she was particularly fussy or colicky. She spit up ALL the time, but it didn't seem to hurt her disposition too much. She gave me fits by not gaining weight quickly enough, but I was lucky to have a great lactation consultant who, coincidentally, is married to our pediatrician. Between monitoring the amount of milk she was getting from me and getting reassurance from the dr that she was just a skinny kid by nature, I made it through those worries just fine. Even being a little skinny mini, she reached physical milestones very early. She rolled over before she was three months old. She crawled at five months. She took her first steps at nine months. She was definitely getting adequate nutrition!


Fast forward to my skinny mini two-year-old.... She is smart as a whip. People tell me it is because she is the second child. I honestly think she is very smart. I know that her early talking is a result of exposure to her brother, but how quickly she learns new things is all her. Just yesterday I was reading a book to her and pointed out that one of the characters was juggling (it wasn't written in the story, just animated that way). Today when we were reading the same book she pointed out that the Lion was juggling. I know... that is pretty normal, but I am a proud mommy. I'll let you know if she points to a different juggler and identifies the activity--then you can be impressed.

Amelia has a real sparkle to her. Often it shows up as that mischievous gleam in her eye when she is doing something that she isn't supposed to be doing. Other times I see it in her goofy sense of humor. She loves to make silly faces and talk in a funny voice.

Like her brother, she loves music. Just this morning, I heard her on the monitor waking up singing . I then recognized that she was singing her favorite song from Stroller Strides-- "Alligator, Alligator...can be your friend, can be your friend...whoo!" The other day I was talking about how it was someone's birthday and she started singing "happy birthday."

I always thought that Jackson was a talkative kid, but Amelia puts him to shame. Now granted, Jackson was only saying a few words by the time he was two, so it isn't a fair comparison, but I don't remember him narrating his life as much as she does. While her vocabulary is huge, her pronunciation still has a way to go. My favorite is how she replaces her "s's" with "h's." She loves the song, "We Are the Dinosaurs" on the Laurie Berkner cd. She says, "Momma, I hinging Dinohaurs!" It is SO cute!

BOTH my kids are developing really cute personalities. And how can you NOT admit how CUTE they are?? ;-)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My kids are great (part 1)

It's not such a creative title, but I thought I would take some time and describe what is going on with Jackson and Amelia so family and friends can keep up with them.

I'll start with Jackson.


He is really a great kid. He is everything a four-year-old should be: inquisitive, rambunctious and silly. He loves music and Star Wars. He loves building things. His favorite thing to play with (at least today) is his Magnatiles. They are plastic tiles that are magnatized and attach to each other. He makes space ships and houses. This is what he plays with when he is supposed to be taking a nap. He hasn't slept during nap time in months. I still act as if he does. I read a book and put him down. Almost immediately, I hear him play with those tiles or Legos.

Jackson seems to be liked by adults. He learns adults' names quickly and uses them in conversation. He doesn't lack in the conversation department--afterall, he is his mother's son :-) I get compliments all the time from my friends at Stroller Strides how well-mannered he is and how good he is with the smaller kids. One of the cutest things he does is go around to all the moms and ask them if they want to go to coffee with us. He is my little social coordinator. He is a Mommy Jr. I am so proud.

Speaking of the smaller kids... they just LOVE him. Many of the younger kids at Stroller Strides cal his name when they see him. They follow him around after class like the Pied Piper. And he eats it up. He is the instigator of many of the play that they do. Luckily, he is pretty well-behaved. I put more responsibility on him because he is in a position of role model. What he does, the little ones do. I honestly think he enjoys that role.

More later....

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bad Mommy Moments...

Every time I have a "bad mommy" moment, I should just watch Supernanny to make myself feel better. Holy cow... some of these parents should have never had children. Some of those people are just in over their heads, but others seem to let their kids parent themselves. I don't know if they are just lazy or if they don't care. They call the Supernanny when they have lost control. Thank goodness we have a grip on things enough to avoid Supernanny.

However, I had a pretty bad mommy moment at Target yesterday. I felt HORRIBLE about what happened. Ironically, we were shopping for a reward chart for Jackson. I was looking at poster board and pens and Jackson was wandering around near me. Amelia was in the cart and not happy about it. When I was ready to go, I looked around me. I was annoyed because he wasn't right behind me looking at the stickers. In the corner of my eye I saw a little boy with a yellow shirt over by the shampoo with an adult. As I am looking/calling for Jackson I started panicking and wondering if Jackson was with the wrong adult. I headed toward the area I thought I saw his yellow shirt. I then saw the uniformed security guard walking with him toward me. I scolded him for walking away from me. He started to cry and I realized that he was pretty scared. Man, I suck. I knelt down and hugged him for a while. I felt bad for scolding him. I told him later that the reason I was so mad at him for not following the rules was because I was scared that I had lost him. I told him that he is my most precious thing in the world and that I NEVER want to lose him.

I know it will not be the last time that I deserve the "bad mommy moment" award (it definitely was not the first). I just have to keep loving them and letting them know how much I love them. I have tried to use yesterday's scare as a learning experience. Right now, I am just counting my blessings that nothing bad happened to him...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

a mini mommy brag...

I used to giggle at moms who bragged about their kids doing every day things. BUT... these every day things are HUGE to a four-year-old and therefore huge for his mother. This weekend, Jackson mastered counting to 100! Earlier this week he could do it, but I had to help him remember the factors of ten. Tonight he counted to 100 without a single hint. Yeah!!! I am so proud and you should see his face. He is pretty proud of himself.

I think I'll try to teach him something like this every week. What a great feeling for both of us.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lessons for my children: Hospitality

There are two German teenagers' rucksacks in Jackson's room right now. They recently graduated from high school and are traveling the world before "university." Kenny met Florian at the ski bike festival in Durango. He was interning for Devin Lenz, who I met last year and is a great guy (he let me ride one of his ski bikes all day). Kenny made the off-hand comment while they were ski-biking, "hey, if you are ever in San Diego you have a place to stay." I am not sure if Kenny realized that Europeans take that as more than being polite and will take you up on it. Less than a month later, he and his buddy are flopping at our place.

It makes me feel good. These guys are just kids. If Jackson is ever traveling through Europe someday, I hope he runs into people who take him in like we have these two "boys." [as a side note--- I am feeling incredibly old when I refer to 18-year-olds as 'boys,' but Kenny and I dated in college a year before they were born.] I hope that Jackson remembers how his parents opened their homes to people and fed them and lent them our snorkel equipment to enjoy the San Diego ocean.

It is a shame that I had slight pause about letting complete strangers in my home around my children. On one hand, it is my job to protect them and make sure that they are never in harm's way and we really didn't know these guys. On the other hand, I wish we could completely trust everyone we come across. It turns out that they are completely harmless. The worst thing that they have done is left a sandwich in their bag that Buddy got a hold of and made quite a mess. I had to take Jackson to school this morning, leaving them alone in our home. When I returned, they had left for the day and all was well. The laptop, iPod and other easy-to-swipe items were all here.

I have found myself lately thinking about what I do and what lesson it might teach my children. I am nowhere near perfect and I want them to learn from my imperfection. I want them to become good people by learning from my mistakes as much as from following my lead. Luckily, in this case they can learn that hospitality is a good thing.

Monday, March 17, 2008

My baby girl is TWO...

I feel like I am entering a new stage of our lives. I don't have babies any more. As soon as Amelia potty trains, it is official. Part of me is excited for all the things we can do as a family (skiing, hiking, biking etc.) but part of me will miss my babies.

Amelia is at SUCH a great age. Every day she says or does something that I wish I had the video camera. She amazes me with what she says all the time. She is speaking in complete sentences and has a wonderful sense of humor. She has a strong personality and is constantly fighting with her brother. I hope that means that she will be an outgoing, confident person later in life.

She had a good birthday, I think. We started it yesterday afternoon. She hadn't napped well at ALL, so we knew that we were risking an unpleasant evening, but she was actually really good. We went to My Kids' Clubhouse in Bonita and practically had the place to ourselves. Both Jackson and Amelia had a great time.

Jackson even climbed a rock wall!

We met Heather, Jeff and Piper and TGIFriday's for dinner. The girls entertained each other and the adults had good conversations. I wish I had brought in my camera, because Amelia wolfed down a large portion of ice cream in record time (she was supposed to be splitting it with Piper, but Piper declined). Amelia was a little amped after dinner and wanted to play, but we finally got her down around 8:30

This morning, she woke up a bit cranky. I think the night before was a bit stimulating. I put balloons in front of her door, tied to a Dora weight. That helped quite a bit.

However, she didn't take long to show us her "two-ness"

She unwrapped some gifts... (nice bed head! LOL)

And ended up having a great day...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Parenting is not an exact science...

I wrote this short essay for my book club after we read This I Believe. It is a collection of essays from the NPR series of the same name ( ). It is a short description of my basic belief in parenting that we don't have all the answers and we do the best we can.

"Parenting is Not an Exact Science"

The best advice I ever received for getting my babies to sleep was to do “whatever works.” So my oldest ended up sleeping in a swing, a car seat and eventually my bed for the first months of his life. This idea has seeped over into other aspects of parenting. When I had a three-year-old throwing a temper tantrum (he skipped his terrible two’s which made the three’s pretty tough), I would stick his binky in his mouth and thought to myself, “whatever works.” Parenting is hard enough and if I can find something to pacify my toddler, why not use it? He has since grown out of using his pacifier and the fact that I let him use it longer than the conventional norm has not hurt him in the long run. ‘Whatever works’… works for me.

If I were to write a parenting book today, I think I would title it, Parenting by the Seat of Your Pants. Sometimes “winging it” and listening to your instincts is the best thing to do and I wish that I would do it more often. I, along with so many well-intentioned mothers, over-think my decisions when it comes to my kids to the point of obsession. Do you know how long I researched car seats before settling on the two in my car? I stress about organic foods, hydrogenated oils, nitrates and now our water supply! I lost sleep over which pre-school to enroll my son. I have finally come to the realization that the rare trip through the drive-through is not going to hurt my kids and there are very few decisions I make today that will adversely affect them for the rest of their lives. I am pretty sure that I make decent choices for them every day. If one of them isn’t optimal, I am hoping that everything else will make up for it. By trusting my instincts and doing what I think is the right thing at the time; I am doing the best that I can. I find that the more relaxed I am with my parenting choices, the better mother I am. Whatever works, right?

I used to harshly judge people for their parenting choices before I had children. I was one of those single thirty-something’s that had opinions on child rearing that had absolutely no basis in reality. Some of the things that bothered me as a childless yuppie still stick with me today, however. I still have little patience for children running around a restaurant—but I don’t think I am alone in that one. Most of my judgments, on the other hand, have been thrown out the window. For example, my second child cured me of ever looking down on a mother with a dirty kid. It is not a matter of poor hygiene; some kids just make a mess. I tried to keep her clean and have changes of clothes etc., but I quickly realized that I am not that perfect mom and if my daughter gets black beans all over her dress, that is what Oxyclean is for.

As long as my children are happy, healthy, and reasonably well behaved, I must be doing something right. No matter what I do or how well adjusted they seem, I will always worry that I am doing the right thing by them. I have talked to so many moms like me who obsess and agonize over making the wrong choice and being a “bad mom.” My true belief is that anyone who worries about being a bad mom isn’t one. It is the ones who don’t care at all that are the bad ones….