Sunday, September 25, 2011

There are no mulligans in parenting

It has only taking us 10 months to really learn what parenting style fit our family. We read so many great books and took many helpful tips from them. We've also been very interested in reading about other cultures and how they raise their infants as well.  Other cultures do things so differently, it has been fascinating to see the differences. We have learned one big concept through this whole journey- there is no right answer that is going to work for everyone. Each family has to find what works for them and each individual child.  

The hardest thing about being a new parent for me is filtering all the advice that is constantly coming in from caring family or friends. And sometimes even strangers in the grocery store. A friend warned me of this when I was pregnant. She said, "you are going to have to just filter it all out and find what works for you. Learn to ignore" This turned out to be very good advice but was a lot harder then I thought! There are so many unknowns and SO much advice. It's hard for a people pleaser like me to weed it all out. I felt guilty when I didn't do exactly what the books said, especially when it came to schedules. 

I am not an organized scheduled person. I am more of a last minute oh crap I have to be out the door in five minutes and am still in my sweats kinda person. I tried over and over again to get Ela  on a schedule because I thought that was the only way. It was a consent battle. Ela would fight it and we would give up. I felt guilty all the time, like I was a failure. It made bedtime a nightmare. Jered and I would end up yelling at each other over a screaming baby. It finally hit me that this isnt working for my child. We went on more relaxed approach and made bedtime more flexible. It made for a much happier family. God gave us mommas an intuition and I am finally learning how to listen to mine. There was an article I would recommend called "Baby Led Schedules". This pretty much summed up our parenting style we have learned to embrace. You can read it and take away what you will from it. I took away was for parents wanting to implement this style of parenting, it is all about the baby. It's picking up cues from Ela on how to meet her needs. If she is tired, we lay her down for a nap, it's not at the same time each day though. I have learned for her, if I force her to go take a nap at the same time every day it's a battle. And I battle I dont want to fight. If I just wait one hour, she's now tired and will go right to sleep. If she's hungry, she is nursed or given food. If she isnt tired and it's 9 pm at night, we play even harder until she is tried. I am not tired at the same time every night, why would Ela be? It's not the easiest brand of parenting but what brand is?

One of the biggest positives of the Baby Scheduled Parenting is I dont have to plan everything around her naps and bedtime. When we were in NYC she took her naps in stroller. She would feel asleep when she was tired in the middle of one of the noisiest cities and sleep for hours. One night she went to bed in her stroller on top of the Empire State Building. When we got back to the hotel, I just laid her down in her pack and play and she slept the night away. This works for our on the go lifestyle. That's another reason I LOVE breastfeeding and encourage everyone mom to do it if they can. We can just plop down on a bench and nurse. We dont have to mess around with warming up a bottle. It's so fast and easy! And the bonding time we get together is so special. 

 I hope each new parents finds their voices and parenting styles quickly. I have learned through this process not to be judgmental of others parenting styles because each child and family is so different. I do hate Ela was our test subject but I think more so then that, I hate I didn't embrace what I felt was right for her because of others options.. Being a new parent is hard!  I am no expert, I learn something new every single day. And it's a little scary, because it is kinda a big deal to raise another human. It takes a lot of prayers, grace and learning.  There's no mulligans in parenting. 

What should a 4 year old know?

Thought this was such a good article. 

What should a 4 year old know?

I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked.

Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only 3. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.

He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.
But more important, here’s what parents need to know.

That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.

That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.
That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.
That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Idle Life.

We just got home from a week at Aylen Lake in Ontario Canada. Gabriela’s middle name is Aylen if that tells you anything. It is my favorite place in the world. Our busy lives just stop and time stands still. No email, television, x-box or blackberries. It is as though we have traveled back in time. We pass the days down at the dock, swimming, sunning, reading or taking the kayak out for a spin. There are no errands to run, no pressing appointments and no dings interrupting dinner.

Dinner is one of my favorite times of day. The whole family gathers around our large round table. The food is always delicious, maybe more so because we are so hungry from being outside all day and my mom is a wonderful chef. We just talk, eat and drink a little wine. Sometimes more than a little. Once dinner is finished, we have to wash dishes the old fashioned way. Sometimes it’s not so bad, the conversation is good and it’s almost enjoyable to scrub away.

After dinner, we will sit around and play cards. Usually contract rummy. Always contract rummy.  Once the night is over, we climb into bed. It is freezing cold compared to the warm days and feels so good to snuggle under the covers. I confess, I even pulled Gabriela out of her cold crib so she could snuggle between Jered and I. She is the best snuggler. This year, we stayed in Mom and Dad’s room so we could have easy access to Gabriela’s pack and play for naps. The sunrise is early, around 6am and is so bright it woke me up every morning. I didn’t complain though. Watching the sunrise over the lake first thing in the morning just makes me want to praise God for His wonderful creation. I would crawl back under the covers and go back to sleep. Once I woke up for good, I grab a cup of coffee, a baby and some toys. Down at the dock mom and dad are doing their devotions. Ela sits on the dock in the warm sun and plays. There is no rushing to get dressed and everyone fed so I get to work. It is just peace and relaxation. No schedules, no plans. My kind of vacation.

To me Aylen is more than a vacation, it is a way of life. It reminds to make my life simple. To make sure I leave room on our calendar just to be. I want Ela to remember her childhood as tea parties, waterlogged days from swimming all day, buzzy worms and a lot of laugher. We need time to just be a family and every summer Alyen reminds me to schedule in more time to do absolutely nothing. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Little crawler

Gabriela starting scootching around a few weeks ago. She is very mobile. If I turn around for one second, she will be into something! I have a feeling i am in for it as she grows up. We had a large gate we propped up under the bar for the dogs at night. She loved to go over to it and try to bring it down on top of her. We packed that up and right away she went to the second smaller gate we had propped near the stairs! What a smart 8-month old.

We flew for the first time last week and it was an adventure. The Atlanta airport is so huge it is always a hassle trying to find your gate. We got through security okay, we've found everyone is nicer when there is a cute baby involved. We made it on the train and finally got to our gate. Once we had boarded the plane we did everything we could to keep Ela awake. Once the plane starting taking off, i started to nurse and she fell right asleep. She slept the entire trip until we landed. Whew! On the way home she made friends with the ladies behind us and pretty much everyone on the entire plane. She is such a social girl, unless you try to take her away from mommy. She is a great traveler.

Monday, May 9, 2011

my heart

Admits all the dirty laundry, dishes and winter clothes that need packed I just found peace in the chaos. I currently have the most beautiful little girl sleeping on my chest. My heart is so full of utter contentment I wish I could freeze time. My clothes won't pack themselves but they can wait along with all my other household duties. Right now I have a more important job. And unlike my chores, this can't wait. Unlike dirty laundry, this won't be around forever. I'm afraid I'm going to blink and there will be a five year old standing in front of me.

So for the next few minutes I will be ignoring all my duties and enjoy the best part of being a mommy.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Yesterday I went to get my eyebrows waxed. This used to be such an easy feat. I would just make an appointment, run over after work and poof, my eyebrows would be immaculate. Toting along a very energetic six month old changes everything. Including my tip.

I met Mary at a new place, European Wax Spa. We clearly did not think this through. I assumed we go at different times and then could just take turns playing with Ela. Not the case. I could tell the waxer (what are they called???) was super excited about having a loud and slightly damp baby in the spa. I stuck Ela in her car seat, I almost knocked her out and tipped over the car seat all at the same time. I was thinking this girl must think I have never put my child in a car seat before. Once I managed to get her in I didnt think through buckling her in. In my mind she doesn’t sit up and try to escape. She is still the little three month old who was so easy to tote places.

Once I climbed up on the table and laid down I realized I no longer had a visual of Ela. Oops! At this point I am feeling so stressed and overwhelmed and just wanted this process over with! The waxer is explaining their five-point process and all I hear is wahh wahh from Ela. I'm starting to sweat because we are in a nice spa and I am sure the other women are enjoying hearing Ela fuss. The waxer keeps going "ah awe" in the fakest tone of voice each time Ela fusses. What she really means is why in the heck do you have a baby in a spa and she is seriously getting on my nerves. Then she looks over at Ela and looks at me and says "Will she tip it over?". I want to die at this point. Forget having groomed eye brows let's just call it a day and head over to Mellow Mushroom for some bacon. I slink off the table and look at my daughter. She is rocking her car seat back and forth and sitting up. She is literally about to plunge off onto the floor. I just won the mother of the year award. With wax hanging off my face I pick up my daughter and look at the waxer. Because I am already winning I just say, "Her dad was supposed to watch but had to work late." Now I seem like a unprepared, unfit teen mom. I am pretty sure last time I checked he was my husband too. I crawl back up on the table and put Ela sitting up on my belly. She still isnt happy and wants to nurse. As I am having hairs ripped out of my head my daughter is pulling my shirt down and forcefully making her way to my boobs. Winning. I give her my sunglasses to entertain her until this torture is over. She sticks the ear piece down her throat and gags. Really?

Moral of the story is dont take a baby to a spa. Lesson learned.