Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Taken for Granted Sometimes is a Good Thing

My favorite thing about being a mom is that my daughter takes me for granted.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, someone had posted on the message board I frequent a question asking for the best thing about being a stay at home mom. Someone responded in the way above and it resonated so true for me.

Mo has just started to develop an attachment to Bry. When he's working she often asks when he is coming home and often says "I sad. I miss my dad." She will tell anyone who asks that "Daddy works" and often in the morning she tells him, "Dad, get a shower. You go to work." She stops whatever she is doing the moment he walks in the door to welcome him home. Often yelling before the keys have even been removed from the lock, "Hi Dad! I miss you".
I have never gotten that from her.
To Mo, I am her constant. I don't leave in the morning. I don't even know if Mo thinks I shower? I'm usually the first face she sees when she wakes up and the last voice she hears before nap time. I'm always around. I provide the routine and structure. I give out most of the rewards and conversely, most of the punishments. When she needs a hug, or band aid or cup of juice, it's mommy she finds.
It's me at music class or the library or the grocery store pushing the huge ass shopping cart with the car in the front. It's me who can understand "Mo-ese" and translate to whomever she is speaking. It's me who changes yet another dirty diaper, or spilled sippy of milk or grass stained jean. When we go to the park, it's "Mommy" that Mo calls out and my eyes she looks to meet.
By taking me for granted, I know Mo feels safe and secure. She has her own little world where I am always available for her and only her, (okay, she has to share me with her sister.) Right now, this is my role in our family. I'm the one who stays home and is with the kids all the time.
She expects me to always be around. I guess you could say, she takes me for granted.
Do you know what?
That's okay with me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


This year I feel so very blessed,
To have a home that is a mess.
The turkey's been eaten and food packed away,
It's almost time for the next holiday.
It's amazing how quickly the time goes by,
It seriously seems like a blink of an eye.
We shared the holiday with family so dear,
And won't do it again for another year.
A house filled with family makes me smile,
Even if they're here for a short while.

Last year we started a new traditon the night before Thanksgiving. We did it again this year, but this time with two helpers.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lunchtime with the Union

I have mentioned before that Mo's has a crazy imagination and an affinity for the Philadelphia Union soccer team. Anyone who knows me in real life, knows that I'm a little silly and it appears that this trait has been passed down to my child.

As she picked up a banana from the fruit bowl, the following occurred:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Story Time

I don't remember if it was Bryan or I that started making up stories for Mo before she goes to sleep, but now it has become a ritual. The teacher in me is saying "Self- you know how important it is to read books aloud to your child. Phonemic awareness can begin this early!" The mom in me squashes that voice when I hear Mo say "Pretil Please! Pretil Please! Story?"
Just like any kid (or adult for that matter) Mo is egocentric. She thinks the world revolves around her and so she loves her bedtime stories because she is the main character. I have found myself telling her stories about playing soccer with the kids in the neighborhood. She really likes that one, especially as she scores the GOOOOOAAALLLL at the end! There have been stories about finding one blue flower after walking in the forest with Maeve for days and days and days. I have made hot air balloons land in our backyard and then fly off taking the whole family to the Phillies game, and have made Mo fly down to see Mickey Mouse in Disneyworld by herself and return home the same day in time for dinner. Mo sometimes will stop me and say "No, no, no Mom. I want a soccer story today." or she'll say "I think a Princess one." I keep hoping that these stories are sending her off to a happy and blissful slumber.
I also am now able to threaten losing "the story" if she doesn't go for her nap or starts misbehaving. I have taken it away once..kind of, when she refused to lay down for her nap. As I closed the door immediately I heard sobs of "No mommy. I sorry. I want my story please! I sorry. I sorry. I sorry." broke my heart. I did go back in and she apologized immediately. Now the act of me walking to the door during those nap time feuds is enough motivation. She loves these stories enough to climb into bed when "I not tired mom" just to listen to them.
Two has been a difficult year. She refuses to use the potty and sometimes her temper tantrums leave me wondering if I should laugh or cry. These bedtime moments, however are completely the best parenting moments I have had thus far. Watching her face as I make up the details and the smile when I say "And they lived happily ever after, the end!"
Who would have thought that the moments before nap time and bedtime could be so magical?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Peek into the Future

Bry's cousin Kellie was married yesterday. She was a beautiful bride and every time I saw her new husband he was beaming. The reception gave Bry and I a chance for a night out- kids free.(Thanks Mom!) There's nothing quite like an open bar to make two grown-ups giddy.
Kellie is the oldest of three girls, all fairly close in age. Her two sisters served as her maid and matron of honor, and each took turns toasting the happy couple. As I listened to Jaime & Katy talk about growing up with their older sister, sharing stories of "borrowing" clothes and cars and make up, I got a little teary. Of course I couldn't help but think back to my own wedding day and the toast my sister gave as my maid of honor. Who else but Jeanna would quote Wedding Crashers in a wedding toast? My sister and I have always been close and I still consider her my best friend. When Bry and I were planning our wedding, there was no doubt who would be my maid of honor. It would be my little sister, of course!
I then thought of my own two girls. I know, they're both still in diapers and we should probably get Maeve off the boob, talking, and both through school before we worry about weddings, but for a moment as I watched the three sisters, I got a little emotional. I was thinking about the likelihood that in the future this scene will be ours.
I hope that someday I can be sitting at the table with the glass of champagne in my hand listening to Mo toast Maeve and her future spouse and vice versa. What stories will they tell? Will there be a tear in their eye as they see their sister off to wedded bliss? What will I be wearing? (Really, I wonder?)
There's something special about the relationship sisters have. It's like nothing in the world and I am so grateful for my own sister and that my girls have each other. Not only will they each others closets to share, but they will each other as playmates, companions, confidants, rivals, and allies. Mo and Maeve will be able to complain to each other about their parents and friends and school. They'll fight and if they're anything like Jeanna and I, make each other cry, but in the end, they'll hopefully consider each other their closest friend. I hope that when it's Mo or Maeve's big day, they'll be like me and think of no other person then their sister to stand beside them.

Sisters is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship. ~Margaret Mead

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What are we really saying?

I must confess.
I love(d) school.
I enjoy learning and reading and even writing.
I got my Masters in education a month and a half after Mo and have yet to really use the degree for monetary gains, however I do find myself reflecting a lot on the things I learned now as a parent.
I had a wonderful professor in graduate school who challenged me to think. She offered extensive opportunities to read viewpoints from across the spectrum in dealing with race, ethnicity, and gender. She was a tough grader but made her students push themselves. I liked her, I liked what she stood for, and I liked the way she made me excel.
I find myself often thinking about my gender studies now as a mom of two little girls. We debated in class the idea of nature versus nurture. How much does a parent affect their child in terms of identity? How much do they explicitly do? How much do they unknowingly push gender roles on their child?
Heavy, I know, but I find myself thinking about this often.
I have been told by quite a few people that "little girls are easy when they're younger, but a pain once they're in high school." Bry has even joked that once our girls hit their teens he's going to start drinking.
Why do teenage girls or rather my girls as teens already have a stigma attached?
They don't have to be difficult. They don't have to emotional, or do they? Will my girls succumb to peer pressure and think they're too fat or not pretty enough? What can I do to try and prevent them from becoming that girl?
I don't know but I sure as hell am going to try my best to raise strong, independent girls.
Bryan often tells Mo she's beautiful and I agree. However, I don't stop there. I tell her that she's strong and smart too and that she is capable of doing anything she wants as long as she works hard.
Will this make a difference in who she becomes?
I hope so.
I mentioned it before in this post about my feelings of conflict over whether I am being a good female role model for Mo & Maeve.
While I am still conflicted at times, I do realize that being home with them all the time gives me a really unique perspective. Raising little girls is difficult. I am first hand witness as they interact in different situations with a different types of people. I am trying to help navigate the world with them. They come in contact with a variety of messages throughout the day both from me and from their environment- media, peers, television. All these things play a part in molding their personalities.
Maeve is still too little, however I can see Mo's personality more. One she is comfortable she is outgoing. She plays and speaks and uses her manners as best as she can remember. She goes out of her way to talk to other kids and adults and often will make sure Maeve is okay too. I am proud and hopeful that I am giving her the right foundation for later in life. So that Mo will remain not only beautiful, but strong and smart and kind.
If my professor were to ask me today about the roles of nature versus nurture and the role of parents in child development, I would definitely posit that nurture plays a greater role then nature in determining success. I believe it's not my DNA that is hopefully creating a great kid, it's my daily interactions with her that make the bigger difference.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Snip, Snip, Snip!

I have been dragging my feet over cutting, well really trimming, Mo's hair. I was terrified that we would lose her curl if we cut off her ends. Today was the day! My mom was here with me and so I finally sucked it up and took her to the Kids Cuts salon.
When I brought up cutting her hair this morning, Mo yelled "NOOOO!" and then her response changed to "Ah, maybe tomorrow?". Instead of telling her, I decided to use the subtle art of distraction.
Me: Mo, do you want to go to Chick Fil A?
Mo: I love Chick! Grammie, get your coat, we're going to Chick Fil A!
We get in the car and Mo asks "Grammie, Do you like Chick?" They have a nice conversation about Chick while we drive to the salon. We pull into the parking lot and my mom says "Mo, Time to get your haircut!"
We both anticipate her screaming or yelling NO! Instead, she's says: "Yeah! I get haircut!"
She was awesome and in no more then ten minutes it was over!

The Final Product!

When we were finished, we did head to Chick Fil A for lunch!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Crazy Baby!

This little girl is getting quite brave recently! I've found her in all sorts of potentially troubling positions. Should I really be surprised though?

I find myself constantly saying "No Maevie!" "Be careful Maeve!" or "You can't climb on that Maeve". Even Mo has tried to intervene unsuccessfully. She is still wondering why Maeve would not sit still in Time-Out when Mo put her in it!
She is one crazy happy baby and I wouldn't want her any other way!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Hangover

The months of searching for the perfect costume led us to two absolutely adorable macaroni penguins. I only know they are macaroni penguins because a few people mentioned that to us in one of the few trick or treating outings we took part in this Halloween season.
To say we got our monies worth with the costumes would be an understatement.
First, we took part in the Boo at the Zoo event with our dear friends Ash & Chris and their kiddies. My sister Jeanna joined us as we went trick or treating amongst the monkeys, zebras, and of course, the penguins. Can you think of a better way to spend a Sunday then wearing an animal costume with the real animals?
The four kids really enjoyed themselves and I do believe the grown ups had fun too.

Our next outing in costume was actually pretty lame. Our town is quite small and the downtown, fairly weak. While some surrounding towns have flourishing monthly activities and Farmers' Markets, our town more or less whimpers. I noticed a flier in September posted in a few stores windows about the Halloween festivities. The flier promised trick or treating with the businesses, hayride, pumpkins, and a Halloween parade with awards for costumes. Awesome, I think. I spend the next few weeks pumping up the event to MO."And we'll get to go on a hayride, and get a pumpkin! You'll probably see a bunch of costumes too!" I tell her.
Activities were slated from 4-7. At 5 that day, Bry made it home early as I was getting the girls ready to walk down. Around 5:30 we load the girls into the double stroller and walk to downtown. We find one of the most anti climatic events of my life. It was so sad! I of course ever the optimist, grab Mo's fin and bring her into the first store. The few workers swoon over the penguin costume and give her a few pieces of candy. The next store- closed. The next one, Bry is unsure if it's open or closed so we skip it. We go into the local pizza place where we actually wait in line behind someone ordering their dinner, as Mo keeps yelling "Trick or Treat!".
A half hour later, we have made it through the few stores that are participating, discover the hayride is nothing more the truck pulling a U-Haul with hay on it, and notice the Halloween judging is still close to an hour away. Bry and I decide to buy pizza and call it a night.
We make up for that dismal affair when we wear our costumes for the third time. Ash told me last year about trick or treating at the Philadelphia Premium Outlets located a few miles from my parents house.
These outlets should seriously give pointers to my town. Not only did they have a list of participating stores (though placing them in alphabetically order instead of location order was strange), but in each window of those stores they had a jack o'lantern taped. Thus Mo & her buddy A were able to virtually navigate the outlets by themselves. (Props to the store CAbi for well planned goodie bags with lots of candy, coupons, and personalized ribbon and huge thumbs down to the Carter's Store. Seriously, it's a kids store. I cannot fathom which person in management thought it was a good idea NOT to particiapte.) After an hour, the cold weather had chilled us and their baskets were filled. What a great way to spend the Friday before Halloween!
Halloween was a great, long, beautiful day!
After waiting for Maeve to wake from her nap, my parents and Bry's mom came over. We had a nice lunch of pasta e fagioli and/or stew. We bundled the girls up in their costumes and off we went!
Mo totally got it this year. Maybe it was her age, or most likely she understood trick or treating because we had already taken part in it three times before the big day. She was a total pro- holding my hand, knocking on doors or ringing doorbells, yelling "Trick or Treat", and then more likely then not reaching into the candy bowls before the home owner could speak. She would comment to other kids passing by saying "Oh, nice pirate!" or "Ahhh, scary monster!" She was a hoot!
Maeve, in the meantime, spent the first part of our walking trip fastened into the stroller. I think she tolerated the costume well for two reasons. 1. It kept her warm. 2. She was too preoccupied with all the other kids to be bothered.
Eventually though, after a little over an hour, Mo hit her wall. She asked to go home and play with Pops.
Bry and I could have stayed out all day! We loved it, but all that walking combined with no nap, made one tired penguin!
By then Maeve was over the stroller too and wanted to be held. We walked our two little penguins back to our house, one on Bryan's shoulders, the other on my hip, as one filled plastic orange jack o'lantern sat in the double stroller seat.
We survived our first Halloween as parents of two!
Our respective parents headed home not long after we returned. Mo passed out in bed not soon as her head hit the pillow, and Maeve took her second nap of the day too.
Bry and I looked at each other as we sat on the couch and agreed, we were both exhausted too!

I think we are going to try and take a picture at this house every year. Their front path is perfect for photos
Halloween 2009

Halloween 2010

Halloween 2010 finished! Mo has already started talking about her costume for next year.