Friday, May 28, 2010

Right About Now

Last night as I was helping LP into bed, I relayed the story of her arrival.

"Four years ago tonight, Daddy and I were wondering if we would get to meet our new baby tomorrow. We were so excited to meet the little person growing inside my belly.

The next morning, I knew that you were ready to come out.

Daddy and I went to the hospital and the doctor told us, 'Today, you are going to be parents!'

And Grandma and Papa came and Saba and Safta called on the telephone a lot to check and see if you had arrived yet. And I watched the Yankee game from the bed while we all waited for you.

And then at 6:24, out you came! The doctor put you on my belly and said 'It's a girl!' and Daddy and I cried. "

Four years ago today I became a mom. And today my big girl is old enough to ask for and understand the story of her arrival (in general terms, although I am betting Little Miss Precocious would actually want to hear the gory details).

I love you LP. Happy Birthday.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Potential Mission

I am thinking these are cop-out, but this is where I am starting.

Mission: To give my daughters the tools and resources to be bright, beautiful, strong and impactful.

But isn't my mission bigger than my kids? I don't know... Should it be? Being a mom is my most important job, my main focus right now. Ten years ago my mission was different, and maybe two or five or 10 years from now it will be different, but right now? It is all about them.

Vision: Five years from now I want to be a better person than I am today: more aware of the people and world around me, more cognizant of my positive and negative impact and better equipped to respond appropriately and effectively to maximize the positive and mitigate the negative.

I see that on my path to make my girls better people, I will learn a heck of a lot about myself and improve along the way. I can have a vision for them, but I can't make my vision about them. At least, I don't think so...

Am I too deep for the peanut gallery? Anyone have any insights, directions? Values or lessons to share?

A Lot to Learn

Work has been a bit hectic lately. I am working with a VP on a major project on the branding and positioning of our organization. As a result, I have been thinking lately about my personal mission, vision and values.
  • Mission: Why I exist
  • Vision: What I hope to achieve
  • Values: The principles I live by that help me live out my mission and achieve my vision

This is really, really hard.

So, instead of always writing about the girls, I thought I would try to start outlining some of my thoughts as they come to me. I figure in the long run this will be good for all of us. And I hope, some day when they are all grown up, they will look at some of this as valuable information.

  1. Learn something from everyone you encounter.
    This is really important to me. I think looking at every person in your life as a learning opportunity establishes a.) basic respect for others; b.) hubris - you don't know everything; and c.) every second is a learning opportunity, don't waste it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tell Me Something I Don't Know

Yesterday I missed LP's parent teacher conference. I was too busy listening to a really good book on tape (thanks, Wenderina!).

Fortunately, it wasn't a big deal. LP's teacher gave me the form and told me to call if I had any questions. She didn't have any major concerns, so there was no need to reschedule.

Some of the highlights of the form:
  • "She engages in a process of negotiation to reach a compromise" Like today, when she burst into tears when I said it was time to leave the playground. I gave her two more minutes. "Three?" she countered.
  • "[LP] communicates very well with her peers and teachers. She uses more complex sentences to express ideas and feelings." For example, "I am so so so so so excited for my birthday. At the nature center I get to touch all of the animals first because it is my birthday."
  • "[LP] understands and follows oral direction and she follows two-step direction, and answers questions with great detail." If you ask her what we did this past weekend? Expect at least a five minute monologue. Although the highlight apparently was going to her friend MK's house while MK's daddy and the Hoos exchanged garden plants.
  • "[LP] shows persistence in approaching tasks." Yesterday on the telephone she asked my mom if she wanted pumpkin or carrot seeds (LP and the Hoos had spent some time together planting over the weekend). She asked once, my mom responded, "Okay, pumpkin seeds." LP kept asking the question over and over and over until my mom relented, "Okay, yes, pumpkin AND carrot seeds."
  • Favorite activities and special interests? "...helping her teachers as well as her peers." Reading between the lines - she is an awesome busybody.
  • Situations or experiences that cause distress? "When she is asked to do something she doesn't want to do." Maybe if I had made it to the conference on time I would have learned that this is normal four year old (or thirty four year old) behavior?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Who are the People in Your Neighborhood?

The Hoos and I bought our cozy little home almost 5 years ago. And yet, only recently, have we really started to get to know our neighbors.

Just like every community, we have a mailman, Mike and a lovable elderly busybody, Matthew, who circles the block on his bicycle only pausing to share jokes and nursery rhymes in his Irish brogue.

My kids are potentially the Dennis the Menace's.

Last night we got home from the playground a little before 6. Before even exiting the car, AK was yelling out "No home! No home! Ozzy! BeeBee!" Ozzy and Beebee are cats that belong to a family around the block. LP used her gift of gab to clarify her sister's words, "Let's go to the A'Polkas house and see Ozzy and Beebee. Do the A'Polkas have a doorbell? We can ask them if Ozzy and Beebee are home."

So after a quick stop in the house to drop off their school bags (of course there was enough time for LP to remove her socks and change her shoes), we were back outside.

"RIIIBBIITTTTT," AK yelled out, pointing at the frog statue on our across-the-street neighbor's lawn.

"[AK] if you want to see Ozzy and Beebee you had better not jump in the puddle," I said knowingly as I watched 'the look' come into her eyes.

When we made it to the A'Polka's house, the cats were nowhere in sight, but the A'Polka family was outside. We visited for a bit and then most of the family made their getaway in a car. (Can't blame them from escaping from my nutters as they took over the block).

We slowly walked back home, with the girls yelling out "KAILEY!" in an effort to invade the privacy and the peace of our aforementioned across-the-street neighbors.

They insisted on truly invading their space as well as we knocked on the door to say hello. We could tell they knew it was us when they moved the barking dog from behind the door and put him in the backyard.

The girls then made themselves comfortable while poor baby Kailey stared at them in awe.

As I dragged the girls home to get dinner - it was now after 6:30 - I thought of the new folks moving in next door to us. "Poor people. They have no idea what they are in for."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Listen Up!

Day care has taught the girls lots of great things, i.e., how to play nicely with others, how many parts an ant has, and how to eat the main part of your lunch before delving into the sides and snacks.

It has also taught some not-so-great concepts.

Of course, the positives far outweigh the negatives. LP and AK were going to bite or push or kick out of frustration if they were in day care or not. Of course, this means that they may or may not be acting out/on/with others in a forum where they can embarrass me and call into question my parenting, but, again, not a consequence of day care as much a consequence of being human.

However, a major pet peeve of mine is a teaching tool used in day care: Listening Ears. I HATE the idea of "listening ears." Taught alongside "gentle touches," "walking feet," and "inside voices" it is meant to be an adjective, describing how ears are supposed to work.

Unfortunately, LP and her peers think of "listening ears" as a noun, items that can be broken or lost. At least once a week I get a note about how LP was not "using her listening ears today," which is incredibly frustrating for many reasons.

I am constantly reminding LP, "You have EARS. They should be listening to what your parents or teachers or friends say ALL the time."


The good news is, AK has not yet been introduced to listening ears. This doesn't mean that she always listens, but it does mean that there is still hope that one of my children will be obedient. HAHAHAHAHA!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Strange Bedfellows

Last night as I lay sound asleep, I suddenly had a warm little body snuggling up next to me. Dazed (for obvious reasons) I attempted to cover LP with the blanket and shifted to get more comfortable to return to my slumber.

"Mommy, move back the other way!"

That grounded me.

"Wait a minute, you aren't supposed to be in bed with me. I'm sorry, LP. Let's go back to your bed."

I took her little hand, walked her back to the correct bed, pulled up the covers, patted her back and sleep-walked back to my bed.

I still have no recollection of helping LP in to bed - maybe she pulled herself up? That will teach me not to sleep in my usual spot on the very edge of the mattress.

Although, it was kind of nice to get some nice cuddling - even if it was 1:30 in the morning!

Monday, May 17, 2010


AK has been chanting my name all morning. Starting at 5 am. A full two to two and a half hours BEFORE when she usually wakes up. Around 5:45 I went into her room and she was bright eyed and bushy-tailed. Happy as all get out. AND WIDE AWAKE.

Something is afoot.

First, Friday night we were out late for dinner at my in-laws. We got home at 9:30, well past their bedtime, but both girls were awake. I think I managed to get them both to go to sleep by 10.

But they woke up before 7.

Saturday we spent the entire day outside. Going from soccer (where LP scored her first REAL goal!) to a farmer's market to a plant sale to working in the garden outside to the beach (the drive was a failed attempt to get them to take a nap). The only ones who wanted to pass out were the Hoos and me!

Yesterday we drove to my parents on LI and both girls were awake the entire drive down, chatting away.

On the way home LP sang "Spanish" songs (basically her making up words and sounds to the tune of Old MacDonald and telling us it was Spanish) until she finally fell asleep. Alas, AK picked up where she left off, never falling asleep or stopping her loud chatter.

Good thing we had a nice weekend and they are both crazy cute. I am going to focus on the highlights of the weekend instead of the lowlights of this morning.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Making It Worse

I have already discussed how LP is well aware of how babies arrive in the world and I thought that would be enough to satisfy her curiosity for a while.

Alas, I was wrong.

It started a few weeks ago as we drove to the dry cleaner (why is it always when we are going to the dry cleaner?):

"Mom? How do babies get INTO your belly?"

"Magic." And then I changed the subject.

A few nights later as I got the girls dressed after their bath:

"Mom? How do babies get in your belly?"

"LP! Come here! I have something to show you," the Hoos called out from the other room, attempting to save me from the inevitable.

Finally, the other night, I relented.

"Mom? How do babies get in your belly?"

"Magic." (Dude, they say on cribs all the time 'this is where the magic happens' isn't that what they mean?!)


"Okay, when a mommy and daddy love each other very much they make a baby."

"But HOW?!"

"Ummm, a little piece of daddy and a little piece of mommy smoosh together and multiply and that makes a baby."

"Oh," she said thoughtfully. I was thankful for the respite, until...

"When I get big I am going to smoosh against someone to make a baby."


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

An Alternate Reality

Four years ago I was nine months pregnant with my first child. We didn't know a lot about "Bump." The baby's gender was a mystery, as was his/her disposition, size, shape...we also had no idea of the impending impact on our lives.

That reality seems like a long, long time ago. How could there possibly have been life before LP? I can't even remember a time when LP was not talking incessantly, let alone a time when she didn't exist. What was life like without her luscious cheeks, inquisitive mind and incredible memory?

Two years ago I was nine months pregnant with my second child. We didn't know a lot about "Bun." The baby's gender was a mystery, as was his/her disposition, size, shape. We thought we had a general idea on the impending impact, but we were wrong.

This reality also seems like a long time ago. How could we have been a family without AK? Without her springy curls, devilish grin, and fantastic hugs and kisses?

By some miracle, I think we are exactly where we are supposed to be.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Famous Last Words

  1. "Nah, we don't need a trail map" As evidenced by my family's time spent exploring the woods surrounding the Stamford Arboretum. Seriously, unless you actually want to carry your exhausted kids through the woods, just take a second to grab the dang map.
  2. "Looks okay to me." If you even have to ask, don't eat it. Just toss it. We haven't had food poisoning lately, but I think this to myself weekly when cleaning out the week's leftovers from the fridge.
  3. "Special breakfast for Mother's Day!" Alas, I was not the one getting the special breakfast on Sunday. LP said, "Mommy, can we have pancakes and strawberries with this stuff [whipped cream she grabbed from the fridge] since it is Mother's Day?" AK got in on the action, grabbing some chocolate syrup from the fridge. I ix-nayed the syrup but let the rest of the breakfast ride.
  4. "Let's go shopping!" I spent Mother's Day at the outlets with some girlfriends. We had a great time, but they kept reminding me it was my idea and I bought the least. I guess I am picky. I still had a great time and got two pairs of new shorts, a couple of shirts and some undergarments. The kids made out the best since we all got a few things for our little ones.
  5. "All done!" Can you say jinx? Just when I think I am caught up on laundry... the girls come home from school, the Hoos gets home from work, I get boogers on my shirt.... Or, if AK calls this out when she finished up a meal if I don't answer fast enough - all done becomes all over.
  6. "Diaper bag? We don't need no stinkin' diaper bag?" Just when I thought I could get away with carrying only some wipes and a few diapers, AK soils her shorts and ends up wearing LP's 4Ts. Cute, but not exactly effective.

I can go on and on - what can you add to the list?

Friday, May 7, 2010

In Advance

Since I am going shopping on Mother's Day, I wanted to send out Mom's Day wishes in advance.

Thanks, mom. For being an awesome role model, one of my best friends (now, not when she was being mom and teaching me right from wrong), and a loving grandmother. You are the best mom. I don't tell you enough.

How is this for a gift - you are right most of the time. A few months ago I gave you a hard time about frozen raviolis you bought for the kids. They love them. They are a go-to back up lunch. You know your stuff. I'm sorry for doubting.

Hoos. Despite the fact that it is unlikely that you will read this, thanks. Thanks for making me a mom and giving me our two wonderful daughters. And for being a great husband and partner in my motherhood adventure. Without you, not only wouldn't I be able to celebrate Mother's Day the way I want (helloooooooo outlets!) but I wouldn't be a mom at all. I also wouldn't be the person that I am today.

LP and AK. You make me want to be the best mom I can be every day. You make me love you more every minute. You make me learn something every second. I love you more than you will ever know. Or maybe until you become moms. And then you will be amazed to realize that your mommy ever felt the way about you that you feel about my sure to be fantastic grandchildren.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Standard Operating Procedure

A few weeks ago I wrote about a type of phone call no one wants to receive - the middle of the night, unexpected kind.

Yesterday I got another phone call I could have lived without.

When my cell rang I thought for sure it was the Hoos, who hits the wrong button on his speed dial and pings my cell phone instead of my work phone about once a week. Imagine my surprise when I answered the call from "Bud, with the Department of Family Services in Norwalk."

Say WHAT?!

Apparently it is standard operating procedure for DFS to call a random group of parents when they receive a complaint about a day care center. "Your child is fine and safe, I want to assure you, it is nothing like that," Bud said, attempting to be reassuring.

He could not give me any information about the nature of the complaint, or the date of the complaint. All he wanted was to see if I had any issues or concerns. Considering the center has gone through significant changes in terms of staffing and administration in the last few months, the timing would have been important for me to know. In early February they changed the director, one of my very most favorite people in the world, which had a significantly positive impact. Haven't you noticed I have been complaining less?

I noted that they have also had some increased turnover, but I thought this was a targeted effort to improve the center and address parental concerns. So, basically, I told Bud that, no, I didn't have any current issues or concerns.

Of course, now I am really curious and I just called the CT Department of Public Health to find out the number and timing of any open complaints.

If I wasn't comfortable with the center I would be really worried, but I am trusting in the system. And in LP's mouth. Because if something wasn't right, I assure you she would tell me and anyone else in the vicinity about it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Vacation - All I Ever Wanted!

We are back from a long weekend away in Washington, DC. We had a great time and met up with some old friends and some really old friends, or, as LP likes to call them, her "new friends."

As I have blogged about before, the Hoos and I went to college in DC - we met there almost 15 years ago, and we are quite nostalgic about the place. It really is a great city with lots to see and do and we did a lot of seeing and doing while there.

We stayed at an Embassy Suites in Crystal City, potentially the highlight of the trip for the little ladies. They honestly thought they owned the joint and would run, laughing and whooping, from our room to the elevator, racing to "hit the button!" They also enjoyed swimming in the hotel's indoor pool and taking its shuttle to the Pentagon City mall. At the end of the trip AK almost refused to get into our car to go home, insisting instead on taking the "bus."

A quick rundown on some of our activities:
  • The National Zoo with our friends from college and their adorable little boy. LP was in rare form, acting as a tour guide and in general talking every one's ear off. We got to see giant tortoise love, which was actually kind of gross. The kids didn't know what was going on and LP wanted to know if "the top turtle was going to turn the bottom turtle into a pancake tortoise."

  • The Natural History museum with a high school friend and her two precious daughters. I guess it doesn't count as rare form if LP was once again a tour guide talking every one's ear off. The kids enjoyed riding the carousel on the National Mall and putting their feet in the fountain in the National Gallery sculpture garden. It was hot and my poor friend and her husband were toting around their 5-month old in a Bjorn in the 85 degree heat. Total troopers.

  • The girls' first Metro ride. They loved it! LP really wanted to take the train underground and AK loves riding the escalator, so to them this was the best of all worlds. And at one point LP asked if she could stand next to her "new friend" and got up and held one my best friends since childhood's hand. Totally sweet.

  • A nighttime monument tour. After dinner on Sunday night we took a trip into "the city". We ended up with a great parking spot right near the Hoos' and my favorite hidden treasure, the Albert Einstein statue. We enjoyed Albert and the Lincoln. It was fun trying to explain to LP that the steps in front of the reflecting pool is where "Daddy asked Mommy to marry him," or, as the Hoos puts it, doomsday (only kidding!).

  • Quick stop at our old stomping grounds. LP really wanted to get a Washington t-shirt. Instead of getting the usual inexpensive tourist shirts (4/$10) we decided to instead spend $30 to get them GW shirts. Think of it as our alumni contribution. Despite the fact that the campus has changed significantly since we graduated 12 years ago, it brought back nice memories and we totally felt like old fogies explaining to the kids, "And this is where we used to study...And Daddy lived here for 3 years....And Mommy lived here for one semester...And we used to eat lunch here every day..."

The trip was a great combination of old and new memories. LP didn't want to come home and tried to leave some toys in the car for "our next vacation." It can't come soon enough for any of us.