Wednesday, December 31, 2008
It's 10:30 and we just got back from a wonderful New Year's Eve party at Marsha's home. Marsha, (of Marsha's Music Together fame,) is the most amazing person. Children love her, including my own. Nourit couldn't wait to go to her party, eat, sing and dance, which is just what we did. (Okay, we ate, sang, and lounged on couches and car seats, but Nourit grabbed Marsha from behind and danced with her a bit!) I have been such a grouch for the past few months of 2008 that I couldn't imagine having fun at a party with two girls after 6pm. It was a relaxed and fun time, though, and the best part was singing along to piano and guitar - and I'm not talking about a Wii Rock Band.
So in an hour and a half, we'll say goodbye to 2008. Hopefully Nourit will be sleeping by then (she's on her third or fourth book with her dad right now) and so will I. For the past few years at Christmas, many friends send letters outlining their activities from the past year. We've done that, too, the past year or so. This year, I had no such inclination. It's not that it was a terrible year - it was just fatiguing. And I'm too tired to look backward. So forward it is - into 2009!
Although I love lists, I've refrained from listing any New Year's Resolutions for quite awhile. I guess I just don't want to be disappointed when I can't even make it out of the gate on any of them. This year, however, I'm so in need of a change -a change in my energy level, a change in my mental state, a change in my attitude - that I just want to write down all the things I'm looking forward to revamping as a sort of hopeful gesture. I know our circumstances aren't about to change much. It's going to be another busy, frantic year, just trying to make deadlines, making sure the babies are taken care of properly, and making ends meet. So here is a list I will publish for all the world to see (or at least my dad), and hopefully it will make me a little more accountable, or serve as a reminder to be hopeful and forward-looking, at the very least.
1) Pray without ceasing. And try to snatch some quiet time whenever possible. This one is a continuation of, well, my entire life's aim. I wrote about it in a season of expectancy this past year, but the quiet time always seems to elude me. I have no problem praying continually. The problem is my prayer is more like a constant drone. With two little girls, a job, and a husband who is busy, time is at a premium. If I can be successful at this one thing, I think it will a) contribute to success at the rest of my list, and b) be directly from God.
2) Go slow. er. I always feel like there is too much to do to slow down. The reality is, there is too much to do. If I go slow, though, and spend more time and attention on the project at hand, then maybe the things that go un-done will end up not mattering quite so much. If it's the housework that goes undone, though, I'm not sure I will be able to function. So now it's time to look for a new cleaning person.
I'll have to refrain from scheduling too much, as well, which is difficult. I really have cut way back on as much as possible, at the expense of things I really enjoy. It's hard to cut back on visiting friends and making playdates, though, because I need the support (and commiseration) of other moms, and Nourit is definitely at a social stage in her life. But when I have to go from bible study to work, and I'm yelling at Nourit to get going, something has to give.
3) Play the piano and listen to more music. This has gone the way of my yoga practicing intentions as well. I need to exercise to feel whole. I also need to make music to feel whole. Unfortunately, those things get short shrift and it's always, "Later, later." Later hasn't arrived yet. I may have to work out a time once or twice a week to have the babysitter stay so I can start working out my fingers again and remember what it is that I'd like to do in this lifetime.
4) Love my husband more. I love my husband more than the day I married him. But all the things I vowed when we were first married to always do; kiss him passionately every day, always make him my ally and be his ally, put him first before our kids; all these things have gone by the wayside in the midst of our "life." We spend so much time, energy, and affection on our children that sometimes, there's not a whole lot left to give to each other. We did make an attempt at date night this past quarter, and have one planned for next Friday, so we've got a start!
5) Criticize and judge less. Not to sound selfish, but I mean this about myself. I'm probably the most self-reflective person you'll meet. You may not know it though, because even though I'm the first to recognize my faults, it doesn't necessarily mean I'm good at correcting them. I think, though, that if I can love myself a little more, give myself a break, and try to really see myself as God sees me, then I'll be less prone to hold others to this impossible yard-stick I wield.
I think five is enough for now. There are a few others, like 'Send Christmas Cards Next Year', or 'Take a Family Picture,' or 'Finish Knitting Hats for the Girls.' But that will be another list, for another post. A more fun post. In the meantime, here's to an ambitious 2009!
Friday, December 26, 2008
Here's me with a potent cup of Gluhwein in my hand at Christkindlemarkt. Finally, a year where I'm not pregnant or breastfeeding and I can imbibe. Oh, wait. I guess I'm still breastfeeding...well, Avi enjoyed it, too.
Going to visit Santa at the market was priceless. Nourit was talking the talk for days before. "I'm gonna go see Santa. I'm gonna sit on his lap, and give him a kiss, and tell him I want a bell for Christmas. I looooove Santa." The moment she walked in and saw him, she froze, turned to me, and buried her head in my legs. Granted, the Santa was no more than 25 years old and a little creepy. Avi definitely didn't care for the Santa experience, either. But, Nourit was happy to eat the free candy cane!
Amazingly, with Mike on crutches and me pushing two little ones in the big stroller, we took a bus downtown in the middle of all the slush and snow, braved the cold and ice, and ate sausage and sauerkraut, potato pancakes, and candied nuts and Stollen. Yum, yum!
One of Nourit's favorite poses these days.
The snow has been wonderful this December, except when we need to drive in it. But we have done our best to take advantage and play. One day, after a heavy snow, I put Avi in the Moby wrap and pulled Nourit on the sled to run errands on campus. The stroller never would have made it through the snow, so it worked out perfectly. And I got a work out, too! I can't count how many people asked for a ride!
Christmas Eve, our church was closed, so we went the the 4pm service at Holy Trinity. It was a welcome change from all the work and headaches of the past quarter to focus on Christ's birth and God's gift of love to us. We sang carols, lit candles, and recalibrated ourselves for an hour. Then, we braved the cold (okay, I wasn't so brave, and despite the recalibration, was swearing under my breath at the cold) and went to Chinatown for dinner, in the tradition of the Jews and the Lews.
The girls are definitely getting more and more interested in each other. Of course, there is still sibling rivalry, but I'm getting glimpses of better days ahead!
Christmas morning!! Although Nourit was ready to start the day at 3:30 am, we began opening our stockings at around 8:30. She could hardly contain her excitement over the organic fruit leather and the new toothbrushes. We could have stopped there and she would have been perfectly content. In 10 years, though, I'm guessing it won't be so easy!
Avi, of course, just wanted to eat the wrapping paper.
This gift from Auntie Michelle was the hit of the day.
Crazy Forts has taken over our home.
Easy to please, Avi has a great time with mama's pajamas. No fancy gifts for her!
So the festivities are over (for a day, at least.) Nourit's birthday has passed, the snow is gone, and Mike is back to working on his piece. Today, with the weather almost up to 60 degrees, I took the girls out for a walk in the rain. Avi stayed snug and dry in the stroller, while Nourit splashed happily through every single puddle on the Midway. If she gets sick, I'll feel terrible. But she was really very happy just walking in the rain, splashing as much as she could.
Today, I took Nourit to the ice-skating rink for the first time. I put her new double blade skates on and out we went to the rink. The weather was perfect. Not too cold. I was so proud of her. From the moment we stepped on the rink, she had no hesitation. She would fall, but would laugh and get right back up. I skated behind her for the first little while, holding both of her hands in mine, and keeping her steady with my body. But then she broke away, preferring to hold onto the side and skate more independently. She expected to go fast, "like rabbits" she said earlier in the day. At the rink, she kept observing how fast everyone was skating. I told her she had to go slowly before she could go fast. I think she accepted that because she didn't seem to get frustrated. After awhile, we went home.
This morning, Nourit helped Mike bake her 3rd birthday cake. It was the cake she requested, chocolate with raspberry. As always, Mike did an amazing job, spending an entire day on his creation. Because we've been so reticent to plan anything this break, we hadn't invited anyone for a party. Nourit was expecting alot of kids to be here on her birthday, I guess because that's been her experience of birthdays thus far. Not wanting to disappoint, (and not wanting to eat the cake all by ourselves!) we invited our neighbors who were still in town (Emma and her mom, Scarlett and her parents and Nana, Kyla and the gang), and her good little friends that we hadn't seen in awhile (Claire and Jacob, and my dear friend, Viola). We had quite a houseful at 4:30 pm! Lots of little ones, lots of chocolate cake, and lots of joy in Nourit's eyes.
And for all our family members who called to wish Nourit a Happy Birthday? Although she put her hands over her ears and wouldn't talk to you on the real phone, I did overhear her calling each of you and talking to you on her new play cell phone. She said she loves you.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Oh, Avi. You are such a small person, but make such an impact on us. Sometimes destructive, sometimes painful, but always with a smile!
This week, Avi's favorite pastime is pulling every single book, CD, tupperware, whatever, off the shelves. I'm kind of getting sick of picking up the same books 5 times a day.
Avi, who also puts anything that's not nailed down into her mouth, recently started to attempt to pick the hair around Mike's belly button and put it in her mouth. I am happy to report she was not successful in that one.
Speaking of eating, she insists on ignoring the signs we've taught her for 'food' and 'more' (and I know she knows them!) and resorts to screeching like a banshee if you don't give her food fast enough. Gone are the days of snacking on something sugary/salty/non-nutritious in front of her.
To read more about Avi's recent risque behavior, check out my recent blog on Chicago Mom's Blog, 'Take Your Hand Off My Breast.'
Monday, December 15, 2008
Nourit is all about the things she'll do 'when she's bigger.' She'll wear earrings like mama when she's bigger. She'll like to eat mushrooms when she's bigger. This morning, she hopped up from playing on the floor and jumped up on the piano bench shouting, "There's an ant!" It wasn't an ant, but a HUGE centipede, which I quickly smooshed with a paper towel. Fascinated, Nourit asked if I'd killed it. When I nodded affirmatively she excitedly said, "When I'm bigger, I can kill one, too!"
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Dr. Suess: "Sad Dad Bad Had - Dad is sad. Very, very sad. He had a bad day. Oh, what a bad day dad had."
Jill Murphy: "Because I want 5 minutes peace from all of you!"
Mo Willems: "Where's KNUFFLE BUNNY?" (Insert DODO. 10 x per day.)
Ian Falconer: "Olivia (Nourit), time for your you-know-what!" But Olivia's (Nourit's) not tired.
Sandra Boynton: "We'reveryverybusyandwe'vegotalottodoandwehaven'tgotamomenttoexplain
Friday, December 5, 2008
A few weeks ago, I finally decided to cancel our Netflix subscription since a movie typically sits in our desk drawer for a month before we get a chance to watch it. I sent the last in a long line of bad picks back (we had a string of rather boring Spanish films) and canceled the membership online. Too late. The next day we received 'Cache' in our mailbox, a French psychological thriller starring Juliette Binoche that didn't sound remotely interesting to me. The last time I watched a French thriller, the babysitter ended up slaughtering everyone at the end. Gross.
'Cache' lay buried underneath a week's worth of unopened mail until I received a late notice from Netflix. I immediately dropped it into a mailbox and let them know it was on it's way. Then, it showed up back in my mailbox because I forgot to take it out of the original envelope (addressed to me, of course.) 'Cache' just wouldn't go away!
Last night, we put Nourit to bed 3 hours early since she was a crazed wild-child after no nap, and Mike's knee injury had exhausted him to the point he couldn't write anymore. And me, well, all I had waiting for me was a pile of dishes that could keep. So we sat down to watch this movie.
During the first five minutes, we rewound the dvd at least 3 times. The movie seemed to click to fast-forward mode at the same place and we thought I had sat on the remote or that Avi had kicked it. Finally, we figured out that what we were watching was a fast-forward of the movie the characters were watching. Good start.
The movie was interesting enough for me to stay awake, but as soon as blood was shed (about 3/4 of the way through) I was having second thoughts. The entire movie centered around this couple receiving threatening video tapes and pictures, and just after a character died, I was expecting to learn the sender's identity. We watched a final scene where I witnessed an entire conversation between two of the main characters while Mike saw only a group of people without any distinguishable characters. Then, right when I thought we'd find out who the perpetrator was, the credits rolled. Aaaaaaah!
I was confused and annoyed that it was not an obvious ending. Mike was perfectly accepting of the fact that there was no conclusion. We saw things the other didn't. Were we watching two different movies?
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Last night, I had the enviable task of snuggling with Nourit in the Ikea chair in her bedroom. Now that Mike is gone from the apartment most days, she stays up later to spend time snuggling with him and they end up having some pretty interesting conversations while I'm in the kitchen doing the dishes, or trying to put Avi to bed. But Mike injured his knee yesterday, rendering him unable to sink into the depths of the chair to snuggle, so the job fell to me.
As we were sitting there, I tried desperately to recall what it was like to hold her there as a baby. I tried to remember how she would look at me while she was nursing, or how she would pull on my long hair (something she still does.) I tried, but all I could come up with were images of photos we'd taken of her when she was an infant, or an articulation of those things - but not the actual memory. I remember in general that she was an easy baby, that I loved our time together when she was nursing, but I can't connect her babyhood looks and actions to her ever-emerging personality at 1 1/2, or 2, or now almost 3 years of age. There's a disconnect somehow. Why can't I recall something I was physically and emotional present for almost constantly?
I look at Avi and am so conscious of the fact that the baby I'm getting to know now might be a completely different little girl. How much of her tenacity in getting my attention, or getting mobile will translate into her character later on? Will I see as many smiles on her face at 3 years of age as I do now? How can I hold on to a moment or two of this evolving and growing person's life?
On a whim, I asked Nourit about memories during her, thus far, short life. Her answer made me laugh to myself, and although I doubt she really remembers things from her infancy, I still have to wonder if a little of it is true.
"Nourit, do you remember being a baby?"
"Yes, I cried because I wanted to eat big-girl food. I cried because I didn't want breastmilk, but I wanted big-girl food."
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
"I have to go to the potty, Mommy!" Nourit runs into the bathroom. I direct from the shower. I reach out and hand her the stepstool over the exersaucer so she can get onto the big potty. She puts her little potty on top, the one with the soccer ball picture on it. (She loves to say she's peeing on the soccer ball.) She starts to take her pajamas off, but it's hard for her while she's dancing the I've-got-to-go-now dance. I coach her through getting her feet out, and taking the tabs off her diaper. She's finally free and hops up onto the potty. Success! Next, I forcefully tell her she MUST get some toilet paper and wipe. The exersaucer is in the way of the sink, so luckily, there is a box of wipes in the bathroom within the reach of the shower and I toss her one for her hands. Probably not as sanitary as soap and water, but better than nothing. Especially considering what she did next.
Little naked girl is gone for a few minutes, baby is contendedly playing in the saucer. Little naked girl returns happily stating that she had helped herself to ONE chocolate chip. With such an emphasis on the word ONE, I know she has gotten more. I ask a leading question and she 'fesses up. "I got ONE for me, and ONE for Dodo," says the naked girl.
I think my shower turns out to be 15 minutes longer than usual with all management executed from behind the plastic curtain.
Friday, November 14, 2008
(If you want to read more, click here to see my post "Nobody Puts Baby in the Closet" on the Chicago Mom's Blog.)
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Today was one of those rare days with no agenda. Everyone seemed to sleep just a little longer, it was my morning off work and we had no music class to get to, no plans with friends, and nothing pressing to do. The weather looked to be a bit nicer than the last two days, too. Bliss! I bundled the girls up and got out the stroller. I knew Avi would fall asleep immediately - she's had this low-grade fever since yesterday and just wants to be still. Nourit wanted to go to 'campus' so off we headed. Sometimes she claims a word for her vocabulary and you think you know what she means, but then you realize later that her meaning and Webster's meaning are completely different. I'm still not sure what she meant by 'campus' because after we got on campus, she still wasn't convinced we were there. We went inside one of the buildings, but that wasn't where she wanted to be. We went to the pond. Still no good. So I suggested Bixler and she was happy to trade 'campus' for the playground. We had the entire place to ourselves and played for awhile. I coaxed her back to the stroller with the promise of a croissant (but only after we stopped by the bookstore to pick up something for a friend.) We took our Medici croissant and headed to the Winter Garden and sat at the foot of the statue of the 'nice man' and shared our chocolate-y treat. There was a group of young children out playing, and she wanted to run and play with them so badly. So we kind of ran and played parallel to them. It still makes me want to consider another preschool for her for the fall, if the French school doesn't pan out. I just don't know...
Monday, November 10, 2008
For all the times I complain that nothing has changed in the house I grew up in (same pictures on the wall, same knickknacks on the shelves) I was thankful for it this weekend. There's nothing better than a cozy home with a mom who wants to make sure you are warm enough, fed enough, and happy enough. I needed that this weekend. Avi has exhausted me, and my body finally said, "Enough!" After some rest on Thursday afternoon, I started to feel better by Friday.
We took a lovely walk on the last semi-warm day, and then made the obligatory run to the mall to pick up a few items. I WISH I had had my camera. In the middle of the sad little midwestern mall with 30% of the shops empty, is a row of cars with a handle for the parent to push their kid around. Totally kitschy and obnoxious. Nourit jumped in the biggest one, a fire engine with two seats, and my mom went to see just how much it cost. $5! (With a $1 refund upon return.) I said absolutely not, and Grandma put the money in anyway. I decided to set Avi in the front and from that moment, the look of pure joy never left the girls' faces. Avi was so excited, steering the big fire engine, while Nourit was in back completely enjoying the ride. Grandma pushed them all over Macy's while I looked for this and that (and never did find what I needed.) She said it was the best $4 she ever spent. If I could have looked into the future 18 years ago on one of those Saturdays I was hanging out at the mall with my friends, and seen this sight, I'm not sure I what I would have thought!
Friday night, though, between Avi and Nourit, I was awake from 12:15 until 6 am. At that point, I walked downstairs crying and handed Avi to my mom to watch so I could at least get an hour's sleep. She didn't wake me, and two hours later, I woke up and realized she'd never make it to work in time. She said it was just fine, called in late to work, then ended up taking the entire day off so I could get some more sleep. The next night, we made a deal, and I handed Avi to her at 3 am so I could get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. Four hours of sleep later, I felt like a newer woman than I've been in a long time.
I returned home full of plans for Avi, poor little creature. Operation Sleep Facilitation for Avi is now underway. Stay tuned for more details of our strategy. Or is that our tactic?
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
We just experienced a pivotal moment in history last night. Now that I’ve cried, cheered, and celebrated with my friends and neighbors, I want to write a little about where we were, where my baby girls were, November 4, 2008, to share with my future, grown-up girls.
Nourit and Avi were both sound asleep when ABC announced that
My girls slept while history was being made. They will grow up never knowing a
Never once in this election did race make an impact on my decision to vote for Obama. Obviously, I didn’t dismiss him as a candidate because he didn’t have the same skin color as I do, but I also didn’t cast my vote for him to change history by electing a black president. I simply voted for him because I thought he was the better person for the (incredibly difficult) job of getting our country back on track. After they announced his election, though, and after listening to numerous stories about how far we’ve come from just a generation ago by electing a black president, I stand amazed at how monumental this decision really is. It’s shocking to me how racist and divided our country has been, even recently. I can’t fathom bearing the same prejudices that were in place not even 100 years ago. I’m not completely naïve. I know that racism still accounts for so much injustice. The fact that it’s 2008, though, and that electing a president without white skin is this extraordinary – well, that’s amazes me. Thank God that my children will be even farther removed from useless prejudice.
I found John McCain’s concession to be wonderfully expressed. Where was this John McCain over the past few months? I found Barack Obama’s speech to be, as always, even and graceful, but sober, as well. He handed the victory back to us, and challenged us about the difficult days ahead. I feel like I do when there is house cleaning to be done: I just want to start immediately get the hard part over with. I’m sure it won’t be as simple as that. By the time my girls are old enough to read this and place it within their life experience, I hope, pray and believe that we will have become a better
Monday, November 3, 2008
I want to play hookie, to go running by the lake, or lay on the grass with my eyes closed, soaking in the sun's warmth. But I can't play hookie from my children. Perhaps they will play hookie with me...
Saturday, November 1, 2008
I don't know who was more excited for Halloween Friday morning, me or Nourit. Once we got her costume on, though, she executed her role as Fairy Princess quite effortlessly.Her baby dragon sister, cozy in her fleece costume, promptly fell asleep as soon as we put the stroller on the road. First, we went to Music Together class and did the Monster Mash with all the other adorably costumed kids. Avi even had a dragon boyfriend there. Next, we visited friends working on campus, passing out the last of the fall cookies we had made the day before. Then, we attempted a nap, but that ended soon after I heard "Happy Halloween, Mama!" about 10 times in a row over the monitor.
We finally got ready to go to Claire's for trick-or-treating and a party. When we arrived, Mike, who had never been to Lisa and Nate's house, realized it was where our old friends Alison and Jonathan used to live. (Well, they rented the coach house adjacent to Lisa and Nate's house.) Claire and Nourit looked like little fairy-butterfly cousins, and once the rest of the kids showed up, we set out to trick-or-treat around the block. Surprisingly, Nourit and the other little girls took it all in stride when we approached some pretty scarily decorated houses. I guess their eyes were on the prize(s).
While we were out, we heard the rumor that Barack Obama was at the house across from our friends' house. Sure enough, when we wandered back, there were Secret Servicemen everywhere (but no sign of Senator Obama.) It was finally time to eat when the cry rose up that Obama was getting ready to leave his friend's house. I've never been one to be starstruck, and always feel rather uncomfortable gawking - after all, they are only people. But with the election only 4 days away, I was excited enough to line up next to the driveway and wait. That is, until I realized how hungry I was, and that there was an amazing plate of homemade Macaroni and Cheese a la the Barefoot Contessa. (That, and I had left Avi in Claire's crib upstairs, and I knew she'd be screaming.) So I went back inside, and of course, at that point Barack Obama came out of the house, drove right by Nourit and Mike waving the queen's wave, and went on his way. Of course, our camera battery had died an hour earlier. Following the sighting, Nourit allegedly said, "There's Obama. Where's my candy?"
Thursday, October 30, 2008
To make it more festive, we invited over our neighbors (and friends!) and had a cookie making and icing party. Abigail (3) and her mom, Kyla (almost 3) and her mom (and Baby Cole), and Scarlett (1.5) and her mom came over to help Nourit, Avi and I ice about a million cookies. (Danielle came over later, too, since she's got my vote for favorite non-blood related Auntie.)
Before our first guests arrived, (while we were busy getting the dishes clean from the night before!) Nourit started lining up stepstools in front of the chopping block where we usually roll out the dough. "We're gonna need alot of stepstools," she said, as she brought in all that she could round up, including the potty seat/step. We gently explained that that one stayed in the bathroom exclusively, then proceeded to clean the floor and her hands after we sent it back to the other side of the apartment.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Yesterday, we drove over after church (it's a little far for a walk with the stroller for us) and stopped in to drink some coffee and look around. Both of the owners were there and gave us such a warm welcome, explaining their coffee making process (with a Clover coffee machine, brewing coffee, not just espresso, 1 cup at a time), slicing samples of their wide variety of cheeses for us to try, and writing down our suggestions for market items. (I suggested dried egg whites, because I can never seem to find them for the cookie icing I want to try.)
Although the $8/bag of King Arthur flour** is a bit too expensive for us, we'll definitely go back for the deli. We took home two cheeses that we had with a baguette for dinner last night - delicious! And their selection of sandwiches looks amazing. I hope (and will suggest) they expand their baked good selection to include something chocolate-y and some flaky croissant. (If they put a little nib of chocolate on Mike's espresso plate, he would be very happy, too.)
The store is decorated with great old family pictures, most prominently the patriarchs of the Zaleski and Horvath families. Already, a week or two after opening, there were quite a few people in the store, drinking coffee, and milling around. One of the owners (the tall, blonde one) said the opening of the store happened just around the time his first baby was born, so he is looking forward to raising two "children", I guess!
One of the things that draws us to a place is the people. I love the small-town feel of knowing from whom I'm buying. I love to support store owners who are trying to provide the best quality item and good service to our neighborhood. The Z & H Market isn't perfect yet, but I'll be drawn back to watch it grow because of the personal welcome we received from the moment we arrived to the moment we left (squirrelly children notwithstanding!)
**Since posting this, the owners said they repriced the flour. They really, truly are interested in their clients needs/wishes! All the more reason to go back! (in addition to the cheese and coffee...)
Thursday, October 23, 2008
…she’s got to stop crying and fall asleep. I’ll give her 10 minutes. After 5, I get up and put my hand on her back. Ah, there she goes. Tiptoe back to bed. She wakes up, madder than before. Screaming like she’ll never be happy again. But she always smiles in the morning.
At some point, my maternal gut becomes a detached observer. “I wonder how long she’ll actually keep this up.” “Wow, that’s a new level of crying I haven’t heard.” “Is she going to do this when she’s 10?” All these thoughts while I’m hiding my head under the comforter, just to muffle the crying from the crib 5 feet away. I’ll give her 10 minutes.
4 minutes go by. At some point, the babies in the Romanian orphanage stopped crying. Why do I always think of that? I get up and she immediately grows quiet. She just wants my hand on her back. But I’m tired, and at some point, I need to get some sleep. I tiptoe back to bed. She screams a few more minutes until Mike comes in and picks her up from her crib. “Do you want to sleep with her in the bed?” No. But yes.
I love the feel of her little body so warm next to mine. I love feeling her breathe, knowing she is exactly where she wants to be – next to me. She falls asleep immediately. If only it were this way all the time. There would be no struggle to figure out the best sleep situation for her – for all of us. If she would just be content to lie in between us and sleep, we’d all be happy. But at some point, she stops sleeping and just wants to nurse nonstop. And I’m at the point where I need to sleep. Even a couple hours at a time.
Monday, October 20, 2008
What a welcoming party it was, right from our entrance into the the Kindercare building. We stepped into a room full of toys, yummy food, and stacks of LeapFrog products to try out (and take home!) After a few minutes of mingling, I left my oldest with her father and sat in on a discussion hosted by members of the Advisory Board for LeapFrog. They seemed genuinely interested in taking back suggestions from parents to their developers. I enjoyed hearing from other moms about their personal 'toy philosophy' and relating it to mine.
Back to the play room, we ate pizza, tried to carry on conversations in the midst of chasing after children, and collecting age-appropriate toys to bring home and try out. I noticed (too late) there was a face painter and an artist rendering exquisite designs on cheeks and on paper. That's okay - Nourit is still too small to be disappointed to have missed it. She enjoyed watching the older and more interesting Pink Girl get her face painted with swirls and sparkles.
I am definitely not accustomed to bringing home armfuls of toys, and I was floored by LeapFrog's generosity. I will certainly keep my eye on them as my girls get older and more interested in electronics. It will be good to have such a highly regarded educational option to consider when we get to that stage!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The quest for the right school. Preschool, that is. I have been dreading this day ever since I learned from my neighbor what a crazy city this is for getting your child into school. And it's not just once. It's finding the right preschool, and then making sure your name is on the list a year ahead just to be considered for a lottery; it's then making sure you can get into a good Kindergarten/Elementary school, which in turn doesn't guarantee you an automatic feed into a junior high and high school. Oh, no. You have to apply for each of those, as well.
Then, there are the choices. Because where we live, there is no way I'm sending my child to the school down the block. It's not a matter of elitism. It's a matter of her safety (and frankly, a desire for a nurturing and academically challenging atmosphere.) But we're not at academics quite yet. We're still at preschool. And there are alot of them, both private and public, in Hyde Park and downtown Chicago. I think at this point, we're leaning away from homeschooling because we'd have to hire someone else to do that for us!
So today we dove in and visited our dream school for Nourit - the Lycee Francais. We were quite surprised at what a warm and welcoming place it was. I guess we imagined an austere staff, and children who didn't smile. We felt quite the opposite, and are ready to apply before the December deadline. (Yes, that is for admission for Fall 2009. Welcome to Chicago, folks.) The idea of having Nourit immersed in French while she's at the best age for learning another language is our main reason for looking at this school. If she remained there throughout her entire school career, she would graduate with an excellent education under her belt, a year beyond most other schools academically. And growing up bilingual would help her learn other languages more easily, and give her a leg up for in our ever-shrinking global community. The pricetag, however, is (gulp) $13,100/year. For preschool. So obviously, we cannot send our child here unless we get an amazing (and it would have to be almost 100% amazing) discount. We'll still apply, though, because those little kids speaking French were so darn happy.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
She can also clap and wave. What a smart baby! (Makes up for all the fussiness, I guess!)
Monday, October 13, 2008
Thursday, we left the house with our wool sweaters, and returned in short sleeves. We kicked off the first day of our ecumenical mom's bible study, held at Hyde Park Alliance Church. 14 moms, 22 kids, and 5 caregivers arrived at 10am, and soon the church was filled with the excitement of the children having Sunday School on Thursday. The diverse group of moms met upstairs in the sanctuary, thankful for an hour and 45 minutes sans children to pray and talk together. We decided to study the Psalms, and will meet again every other Thursday. Nourit, who never admits to having a good time, said she really liked 'going to school.'
Friday morning, we caravaned with Amber/Kyla/Cole and headed to the 57th Street beach. Not 10 minutes after we arrived, our friends Joanna/Joshua/Peter (the initiator of our mom's study) and new friends Leslie/Eli/Micah, surprised us by coming to the beach, too. The kids splashed in the cold water and built sandcastles for a couple hours, while we tried to make sure noone ran into the water or the road, and all babies were happily fed and rocked. 4 moms, 8 kids. Not your average teenage trip to beach, but wonderful to be in the sun, nonetheless.
Avi contemplating the nutritive value of dirt.
When we got home, Nourit and I decided to get creative with the apples we picked last week. Nourit was too excited to nap and leave the baking to me, so she stayed up and we made our first yummy apple pie together. It really is easy! Alas, for two days in a row, little miss no-napper was so horrible by early evening that she went to bed more than 2 hours ahead of schedule.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
To hear my rant about grocery shopping in the year 2008, visit me here at Chicago Mom's Blog in To Market, To Market.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Now, here is my recipe. Without a Kitchenaid. With two toddlers.
Take a Micro-Hike Scones
8 oz Earth Balance buttery stick vege oil spread or other vegan margarine (do not use shortening) - But we're not vegan, so next time I'll probably just use butter.
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup organic light brown sugar - It definitely won't work if it's not organic.
2 tsp cinnamon - Clean out the coffee grinder so you can grind up the cinnamon sticks since the cinnamon bottle is bound to be EMPTY!
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda - If you don't have any in the pantry, try the open one from the fridge. Noone will ever know.
1 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats - What, exactly, makes them Old-Fashioned?
3/4 cup dried fruit, cut into small dice (any combinations: cranberries, apples, apricots, or other fruit) - We used apricots and dates this time around.
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds - I had to ask Mike if "Pepitos" were pumpkin seeds. Apparently they are. Hey, I used to have a 6th grade crush on a boy named Nick Pepito. Hmmm...Little Nicky Pumpkin Seed.
4 tbsp flaxseeds- These are so good for you. And your bum.
3/4 cup plain soy milk - Again, we're not vegan so I substituted buttermilk this time around.
Cut the buttery sticks or margarine into chunks and freeze for a minimum of 1 hr. This is a good way to teach your toddler how to use a knife. It's butter and you can use a butter knife. How much safer could it be?
In the bowl of a electric mixer, stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. Mix in the oats. Using the dough hook attachment on med-low speed, cut frozen margarine into dry ingredients until pea size chunks are left, 2-3 min. Scrape down the ingredients as needed as they creep up the sides of bowl. Since all we own is a dinky little hand mixer, we had to get creative. This is when we invited another two year old over to help. Believe it or not, 4 little hands in the dough gets it mixed up pretty thoroughly. And since a good deal of it goes in their mouths, it's the perfect recipe since no raw eggs are involved.
Briefly mix in the dried fruits, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds. Add soymilk (mixture will look soggy, but keep mixing until it reaches a thick, oatmeal-like consistency and isn't runny, about 1-2 min). Here we add buttermilk and keep mixing with little fingers. When they get tired. big fingers do the job just as well.
Scoop the dough onto a lightly floured surface; with hands, pull the dough together and roll to a thickness of 1 1/2 inches. Cut out scones with a 2 1/2 inch round cutter. The hard part here is making sure each toddler has access to a small cookie cutter, since they are much cooler than the big cookie cutters. I always thought bigger was better, but after witnessing the struggle to gain control over the smallest cutter, I have to revise my theory.
Transfer to a baking sheet lined with a parchment paper and bake for 25-28 min at 375 degrees. Scones will puff up and crack on the top. During this time, it is essential to put Abba or some other dance-able music on your I-Tunes. Somehow, a little twirling and head bopping make the scones puff up to perfection.
Cool completely. Yeah, right. They taste much better warm from the oven. (makes 9 or 10) or 13 or 20.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Maybe that was the problem. Jessica said she had eaten so much, but as soon as I picked her up, she threw herself sideways - her sign that she wants to nurse. I didn't think babies would eat when they were full. In fact, my neighbor and I just had that conversation when she told me her pediatrician thought she had overfed her newborn son. "That's crazy," I said. "You can't overfeed a breastfed baby." I'm wondering if maybe it was the formula, but she's had it a few times already now. Possibly the new food she was introduced to today? All three? A lingering bug? I don't know.
The poor thing vomited on Sunday evening, too, but I thought she was over whatever bug she had. I'm not used to a baby who pukes because Nourit never has. Oh, except the one time we went to Joy Yee's and she kept eating mushrooms. The next morning,I looked in her crib and there were all the baby mushrooms she had ingested the night before. "I burped!" she had cried happily. And we vowed never to let her eat so much Chinese food again.
So, Jessica is standing helplessly by while Avi is puking orange stuff all over me and the kitchen floor. But she suddenly springs into action, throws me a towel, and heads off to the nursery to get some new clothes for Avi. Uh-oh. Nourit's bed is all wet, and so are her pants and underwear. I FORGOT TO PUT A DIAPER ON HER! (Sometimes I feel like Dobby. Stupid, stupid Mommy! I mean, Dobby.) Jessica, bless her heart, was trying to get towels for me to bathe Avi, trying to clean Nourit up and put on a video for her, trying to change the sheets on the bunkbed, and trying to clean up the kitchen. She gets an A++ because she managed all of it.
And now my girls are both sound asleep, the laundry is almost finished, and I'm enjoying a cup of hot chocolate. Or rather, I'm drinking hot chocolate so I can stay awake and finish out the day. I hope my Avi starts feeling better. I feel so helpless with a sick child.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
No Hugs For You!
It's a Wonderful Life, But It's Just Not a Good Week
Enjoying Music in Chicago...But Just Not Often Enough
I'm Sorry...I Forgot
Cross Posted from Chicago Moms Blog
from August 27, 2008
It's almost 3 am, and Avi is finally asleep after an hour of pacing, bouncing, singing and trying to keep her from nursing on my arm. It's our third night of "sleep training", and since I really feel uncomfortable with that term, let me rephrase that: it's my third night of not nursing her every hour, on the hour; it's my third night of trying to figure out a compromise between what's best for my baby and what's best for me; it's my third night of wondering what kind of mother I want to be, and what kind of mother I actually am.
See, we had it somewhat easy with Nourit. Yes, she did nurse 2 or 3 times a night for the first year, but she also had stretches where she'd sleep for 6 or 7 hours at a time. In her own bed. She'd at least sleep for 4 hours at a time, but it recently dawned on me that Avi has not yet slept for more than 4 hours in a row in the last 7 months, and I think my current record is at 2 1/2.
I have been reevaluating my mothering choices ever since Avi was born.
It suddenly didn't make sense to me that such a small human being should sleep by herself, away from the warmth and comfort that she'd experienced for so long in my belly. It didn't make sense to ignore her cries for milk or comfort, since she was too young for conscious manipulation. All the natural parenting books and articles I had stumbled upon started to make more sense than the regimented, orderly parenting philosophies that I'd been exposed to originally. Even though Avi is not my first child, I feel like I'm learning so many new things the second time around. And I'm starting to question my choices for Nourit. Even tonight, as I closed her door, I felt like she was still such a little creature to be shut away by herself, in her own room. Yet, she has been sleeping soundly through the night and through naps since she was 1, and that's a healthy thing, right?
When we brought Avi home from the hospital, I brought her into bed with us so we would both get more sleep (something we were too afraid to do with Nourit because we thought we'd squish her.) I didn't have the luxury of naptime now, with a toddler to watch, and work to do. And with so many visitors, I didn't want Avi to cry and disturb them. Sure, they were family, but I never felt comfortable subjecting my in-laws to long bouts of a crying baby. Even after borrowing a friend's co-sleeper, she seemed to spend more time next to me nursing than actually sleeping. But my instincts told me she should be kept warm next to me, and allowed access to me at this crucial time of growth. Unfortunately, Mike and I sleep on a Full sized mattress, not even a Queen, so he was soon relegated to the couch.
And now, here we are. I am sleep-starved, Avi has started to wake up hourly, and I'm feeling rather incredulous about the claims of the women in the last two natural parenting books I've read. For instance, how is it possible that one gets more sleep when they have their infant next to them all night? In my case, I'm always semi-awake and sore from posturing around the child so she can nurse, and for some reason, the smaller they are, the more space they take up. We have moved her from the bed to a crib in our room. But over the past week or so, each hour, it seems, her little head pops up like a turtle as she looks desperately over the edge of her crib for her comfort source.
So, I suppose my compromise is to hold my little force of a baby through the crying, just so she doesn't feel abandoned. (Or, more to the point, so I don't feel that she feels abandoned.) I'm not sure how far memory reaches back, but I have so many memories of crying behind closed doors as a child (which I'm sure fueled my depression later on.) I thought this was normal, until I mentioned it to my childhood friend and she told me she doesn't ever remember crying like that. So I really want to be careful to listen to my children, whether infants or toddlers or school-aged, and not have them retreat behind closed doors to cry. Hopefully, little Avi's body will adjust, she'll eat more during the day, and sleep longer at night. And she'll grow and thrive, and not have a lingering sense of abandonment. Hopefully, too, Nourit isn't learning to be "detached" and destined for co-dependence issues later on in life. With the amount of love we lavish on her during the daytime, I doubt that will happen. But those thoughts do cross my mind.
Maybe soon I'll start getting more sleep, too (and not be on the computer at 4am!) Over the past three years, since getting pregnant with #1, I have been continually amazed at everything I didn't know; had never learned; was never taught; about the “natural” act of giving birth and parenting. Some things come more naturally than others, but there is so much that just isn’t clear. (I seriously wished there was a manual when I left the hospital with Nourit, but then I realized that there are actually hundreds of them. Unfortunately, they all give different advice.) Which path do I choose with regard to sleeping/feeding/clothing/etc? Which philosophy suits me and my child, and to what extent? What happens when I change my mind half-way through? Have I completely messed up my child at that point?? Why didn’t my mother tell me how to be a mother??? (Okay, do you see how I can work myself up at 3am?)
In reality, I do know the answer to all of these – there is no one answer. This is life, and life is different for every child, mother, parent. One thing that is the same for all of us, though, is that we all need more than 2 hours of sleep!!
Cross Posted from Chicago Moms Blog
from August 25,2008
Not long ago, I felt complete frustration about our beginning attempts at potty training. I wasn't mentally or emotionally ready for Nourit to begin potty training, and would have happily waited until she was 3, but I began it to combat her self-imposed constipation, or as we dubbed it, her 'praying to the poop god.' (This is a pose she would strike to hold it in; knees out, head back, hands pressed together in Namaste. It would last for days until she finally pooped.) Although we'd had the potty for almost a year, and she had had some good times on it, she was, at this point, completely against sitting on the potty. She would scream, kick, sob, and wet every pair of underpants I put on her in protest. It was not a good start, and I had begun to look in the Yellow Pages for Potty Boot Camp.
Then it started to click, and much faster than I expected. We put up a potty chart and it soon began to fill up with stickers. She hasn't stopped giving her toy dragon pretend suppositories, but she has started pooping on her own, and she has made it through a few days without accidents. (Although, she did end our last evening with guests peeing on the floor right in front of them. Oh, well!) Today was the pinnacle in potty training for us after an accident free foray out into the world and back home, wearing underwear. (Both of us, in fact!)
But now I'm afraid she's too good at using the potty. See, we ran out of cookies today.
After days of sheepishly feeding our child 6 or 7 cookies per day, 1 for every time she successfully used her potty (and of course, for every 1 she eats, we eat 2 or 3), we saw the last of the animals, and the end of the alphabet at about 6pm this evening. It was then necessary to break open the chocolate. (It's a good thing we buy it by the pound at Trader Joe's!)
A few months back, when we started promising a 'cookie and a sticker when you poop on the potty', we didn't forsee the day when she actually would do it. Many, many times. Being musicians, we even made up a whole song about it, so of course, that's her mantra now. I know as parents we should be strong enough to put an end to the cookie trail, but we're a little afraid. It's so nice having her run to the potty on her own. It's so nice not changing her diaper so much now. It's so nice not having the neighbors hear her scream bloody murder when we suggest potty time. So we're not ready to give up bribes just yet. I think we are just going to downgrade to chocolate chips...the really little ones...as soon as I can get to the store.