“Then they will call HER and tell her she won?”

Riding in the car this morning after the presidential debate, Charlotte asked me why I was listening to so much news.  I started to explain about the election in very general terms, telling her that two people were trying to earn votes to become our leader in the U.S.  I didn’t mention Trump, Clinton, any specifics, or any opinions.  This is the conversation that ensued:

Mom:  “So on a special day in a few weeks, everyone will have a chance to go vote for who they want to be our leader.  It will be a very important day, and a very important chance to vote for what we want.”

Charlotte: “Oh.  Just like how we have a chance to vote on books at school, to see which one everyone wants to read.”

M:  “Yes!  Same idea.”

C: “So then after everyone votes, they will call her and tell her she won, right?”

She wasn’t talking about Hillary; she doesn’t know Hillary’s name, let alone the fact that one male and one female are running for office!  We don’t have the TV on at home [very often], we don’t talk about politics when the kids are awake [very much], and I hadn’t mentioned Hillary or Trump’s name in this car conversation.

But Charlotte said SHE.  “They will call her and tell HER that SHE won”.

My daughter lives in a world where she expects that women will lead!  That women will win!  That it’s completely obvious and simply normal that a woman would have a very important job.  Of course, this is her three-year-old world, where she hasn’t yet experienced any gender differences.  But I took a pause in the conversation right there to marvel to myself how lucky she is–she’s growing up in a world that will empower her, and one in which she’ll someday ask me “Wait, when I was three, you voted for the FIRST woman president? Why weren’t women leading before that?”

The incredulity that I know will accompany this question–whether she asks it in two years, or twelve years–will just be proof of how far we’ve come.  The time when women didn’t lead, or couldn’t lead, will be such a distant memory that it will be hard for her to believe.  I can teach my daughter all I want that women are powerful, intelligent, and successful…and I do.  But it’s time she starts seeing women doing, being, and leading so that it continues to just be normal and expected for her as she grows up in this world.

Saturday night rager

Ohhhh how Saturday nights have changed.  {Not that this is a new thing.  We’re 2.5 years in!}  But here it is, 8:30pm on a Saturday night, and I’m making pancakes and crock pot applesauce.  To freeze.  So that I can save time making lunch during the work week.

My kids are OBSESSED with these gluten free pancakes.  And with a picky toddler and a one year old who isn’t even ON the dang growth chart (.5%ile), we need all the comfort-food-slash-time-savers we can get!  This one by Cookie and Kate nails it:

http://cookieandkate.com/2013/pumpkin-oat-pancakes/

At least I’m drinking a Geary’s HSA doing it.  Did I mention that the hubster came home from the grocery store with THREE cases of it, and a carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream?  I knew I married him for a reason.  That, and he’s so handsome.

Parenting like it’s 1985

This post has been a few months in the making.  I’ve been trying to get it juuuust right.  And then I decided, screw it.  I have two toddlers and a full time job.  I don’t have time to get it just right!  Plus, my new favorite blogger at Renegade Mothering is a big fan of just writing…just getting it out.  Not worrying about perfection, being PC, or sounding ‘good’.  “Just write.” she says.  “Do it.  Do it now”.

So I am.

Anyway.

Parenting like it’s 1985.  I’ve been reading a lot of parenting things online lately, most of them found via clinking on various facebook shares.  The two topics that have struck me lately are ‘Slow parenting‘, and  the importance of self-care.  Slow parenting is this idea that we should stop hurrying our children along.  Stop scheduling so much, so that we are not always in a rush.  Take 86 minutes to walk around the block.  Spend the time to look at that caterpillar, and then dig in the dirt.  Stop saying “hurry up”, “we’ll be late” and “let’s GO!”

The importance of self-care is…well…important.  For so many reasons.

I’m trying harder to go slower.  I’m doing a good job at taking care of myself.  But, sometimes they are in direct conflict with one another.  On a weekend morning, I could color pictures and make pretend eggs in the play kitchen.  Or I could go for a run {alone}.  On Saturday, I was torn between the two.  I needed to run, to clear my head and be more ready to parent.  But I’d also spent the entire work week rushing around, and just wanted to say “YES” when Charlotte asked me to play.  I found myself debating which to do, in the middle of the living room.  “What would the article say?” I actually thought to myself.

Woah.  Hold on.  I don’t need to read something online to make every.single.decision.  In fact, I read so much online, that it actually takes up a ridiculous amount of my time.  And mothers people everywhere have been making sound decisions long before the internet and our smart phones.

So I got to thinking.

I spend a lot of time on facebook.  I click on a lot of articles that well-meaning friends share.  How to do this, Why you should do X,Y,Z with your kids, What your 2-year old should know and be doing.  Honestly, you can find any type of ‘research’ to back up any parenting decision you want (or don’t want) to make.  We’re living in this crazy digital culture that makes us over-analyze and over-research.  So I decided to take a break.  I’m going back to parenting like it’s 1985.  That is, before the internet.

Why?

1) I know my kids, and I know my own and Fred’s values and our wishes for them.  I think we can figure out how, why, and what issues to parent.  My kids are pretty awesome, and I am damn near obsessed with them.  So why not just go with our gut?

2) Without facebook time, I’ll have time for things I always say I don’t have time for!  Like: writing!  Stretching after a run.  Making real-life phone calls to friends.  Reading an actual book.  Making those curtains for the playroom that I’ve been thinking about.

(Disclaimer: I will not quit my boobie group.  You guys are my rock.  My peeps.  I NEED you.)

So, farewell to the land of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ of this article and that study, the cute pictures of other peoples’ babies (gasp!) …along with pictures of Friday night drinks, the view from a vacation balcony, and a Wednesday morning latte. It’s not you, it’s me.  I got some things I gotta do.  If you’re curious what they are, you can find out about it here.  We’ll be busy, but doing it all slowly (of course).

Dear Buddy Boy: you’re one!

Baxter Boy, Buddy Boy, Baximus Maximus, Bam-Bam,

We already have a slew of nicknames for you, and it’s been the fastest year of my life.  I’m writing this on the eve of your first birthday, and remembering back to that day a year ago when you joined our family.  It certainly has been a whirlwind…on fast forward…with a lot of chaos.

When I found out I was pregnant with you, I felt a strange combination of shocked and scared.  My other baby was still a baby, and here we were, going to have another baby!  But the moment you made your speedy and extreme entrance to the world, and when I heard Dad say “It’s a boy!”, I felt such an intense elation.  I didn’t know how much I wanted a boy until I heard Dad laugh those beautiful words in the hospital room.

‘We did it’! I kept thinking.  ‘We did it, together, and now I have a son!’ The “we” was you and me…we made it through an exhausting pregnancy and a fast and scary delivery–and now you were here to complete our family.  We were instantly more full, as though we didn’t know we were missing you until you actually arrived.

“Yeah right”, you’re probably saying to that last statement.  “Moms have to say stuff like that”.  But you needn’t take my word– the sheer proof of this is Charlotte’s instant and unending love for you.  From your first week at home she has looked after you, comforted you, brought you diapers and toys and eventually snacks and teething rings, and made you laugh more than any of us combined.  When you cry, she says “Oh, Baxter’s crying”–not a complaint, but empathy–and she looks for ways to help.  When you laugh, she aims to make you laugh harder.  And when you try something new, she is your biggest cheerleader.  “Oh, THERE you go!” she exclaimed when you fell to your knees, but got right back up.  “Are you feeling better Baxter boy?” she asked this afternoon, when you woke up from your nap with a runny nose.  She has to be able to see you at the dinner table, so that she can show you how to do things, and see if you like the new foods you try.  And SHE was the one who deemed you “Bam Bam”, because you’re “always banging around on things”.   She’s your protector.  And her wholehearted acceptance–no, overwhelming love–for you is the surest sign that you have made us complete.

You are a determined little monkey, and you don’t do anything cautiously or quietly.  I’ve never read anything about the circumstances of one’s labor and delivery being an early indicator of  their personality.  But for you, Bam Bam, the way you entered the world was the exactly the way you live in it each day.  You are fast, you jump feet first into anything new, you’re loud (for a little guy), and you don’t take no for an answer.  You’re a risk-taker, you work hard at things, and you are not shy to make your needs known.  I have never seen a baby do such a fast army crawl, or take to eating finger/table food as quickly as you.  Your current favorites are macaroni and cheese, salmon, anything orange, and bananas.  You eat at least one “monkey food” every single day, and more if we let you!

But this, my Buddy Boy, is the side you don’t show to everyone: you are sensitive.  You need some comfort and contact amidst your chaos.  You’ll be busily ripping the playroom to shreds, but after ten minutes you’ll crawl around to find me, bury your face in my knees, and give a big deep sigh.  Sometimes it doesn’t last, and you’re back to the mayhem in another 30 seconds.  Sometimes it does, and you lay comfortably in my lap to clap my hands or fiddle with my cheeks.  I love these moments.  I love them because you interject cuddles with craziness, and those cuddles are often reserved just for me.  You may not always stop to hug your mom, but you used to.  And it makes my day, every single time.

So, Bax, you are now one.  Leaving babyhood, and becoming a toddler.  People say it happens before your very eyes, and they are right.  I blinked, and you went from a blob to a boy.  You’ve made us all laugh and you’ve made me lighten up quite a bit in the past year, so I can only imagine what the next one will bring.  I can’t wait to see you take your first steps, start to talk with us, and grow into your very big personality.  I know you’ll do it all with that mischievous little twinkle in your eye, blowing your raspberry spit face at us.  And we’ll laugh right along with you!

Ready with big cuddles anytime you need them,

Mom

Facebook, Frigid temperatures, and Follansbee Family Fun

I’ve realized lately that I do a lot of complaining about not having any time.  In fact, I just blogged about it last week, and then a lightbulb went off: if I want more time, I need to stop wasting time!!  I need to take all those random, seemingly harmless minutes that I spent on Facebook, and put them to good use.  Do I really need to know what Sally Smith ate for breakfast?  Do I really care what John Johnson thinks about the Patriots’ win?  Do I even remember somebody-something-or-other that I worked with for a couple months nine years ago??  No!

So lately, when I have the urge to go on Facebook, I’ve been forcing myself to fold laundry.  Write a blog post.  Search for a new crock pot recipe.  Whip up a new activity for Charlotte.

It’s been frigidly cold lately.  Which translates to a lot of indoor time for Charlotte ‘Bee.  So here is what we’ve been doing to brave the cold, stay busy, and learn something along the way.  All activities brought to you by the increased time I have, now that I am not spending it on Facebook 🙂

1) Giant Christmas tree/ giant snowman “puzzle”

Felt-on-felt pieces need no extra adhesive!  It’s a little modern-artsy, but Charlotte can make and re-make her puzzles over and over again!

 

2)  Snow paint

Combine equal parts shaving cream and elmers glue, then add a bit of food coloring.  VERY fun and oozy!

IMG_1581

3)  Colored rice/sensory bins

Food coloring, vinegar, and white rice…shake in a bag and then let dry overnight.  Pour all the different colors into a plastic bin together, and you have a wonderful, cooling, sensory experience.  Charlotte loves to scoop, pour, sift, and shake the rice.  Sometimes it even becomes the ingredients in her pretend meal that she’s cooking us.  We also have a dried pasta sensory bin (same idea), and soon to be some more additions!

4)  Water play, and helping in the kitchen

I can’t take full credit for this one, as Fred did all the woodworking.  But we built her a “learning platform” (fancy Mommy blogger name for a stool).  Now she can “help” cook dinner by washing the vegetables, pouring ingredients into the mixing bowl, or stirring things [violently].

She also LOVES standing at a sink full of water and “cleaning the dirty things”.  She thinks she’s washing the dishes, and we praise her for being “such a good helper” but really she’s just pouring water from one vessel to another and getting her shirt soaked.  Such fun!

4)  Memory game

I blew up photos of family faces, then printed two copies.  Mounted on card stock, and Charlotte will have a large Family Memory game to play!  She’s really into finding matches, or things that look alike, so I think she’ll love finding matching faces.  This will be a birthday present…shh  🙂

IMG_1579Next things to try are shaving cream “paint” for the bath tub, a water tub with floating/sinking objects, and I’m working on a homemade photo book of all her favorite people and things that she can “read” to herself.  Oh, and what about extra time for myself?  I’m going to sleep a little earlier, I’m making healthier and more creative lunches for myself, and working hard at using easy-to-prep weeknight meals.  That pays off by more time for all of us to play after supper!

 

I WUV you mummy

The first time your baby tells you they love you, you feel like a million bucks.  Charlotte has been playing around with the words for a few weeks now, but never said them to anyone, and never as one complete sentence.  But today, as I lay on the couch sick she was getting snow pants on with Daddy.  She walked on her “pip toes” over to me, rubbed my arm, and said “I WUV you mummy!”  With such conviction in her voice, yet tenderness with her tiny hands!

Let me tell you, crying because you are happy is a real thing.  [It also confuses your toddler, who thinks they have done something good.]  How did my tiny little baby become an almost-two-year-old, with such a full personality and a wide-open heart?

In fact, there were quite a few gems from Charlotte’s mouth today:

“Home is where the heart is!” as she and Daddy returned home after gymnastics.

“Grampie…he’s a good guy” after Grampie dropped off some soup.

And now, for some reason, she has started referring to herself as “Waka Bee”.  It’s her approximation of “Charlotte ‘Bee”, which we call her often.   But every time I hear her say “Waka Bee’s pants” or “Waka Bee watch signing time with mummy!” I laugh because I can’t help but picture a little muppet.

She’s a cute little muppet.  Quite literally, my pride and joy!

IMG_1512

New years resolutions

It’s that time of year for setting goals, resolving to be better, work harder, etc etc etc.  Here’s mine…

It’s been bugging me that I can’t get anything done lately.  And I don’t mean big projects like organizing our finances or working on the kids’ baby books (although those are unfinished as well).  I mean small, everyday things like clean my bedroom.  Fold laundry and put it away all within the same day.  Respond to an email.  Cook a dinner that is not scrambled eggs, pasta, or yet another kind of soup in the crock pot.  Go for a run so that my pre-pregnancy pants might fit?  Yeah right.

With two kids, there is way less than half the time and more more than twice the work.  The math doesn’t seem to add up?  And yet, my parents did it with three kids!  How?!

Sometimes you just need permission to let it go.  Let. It. Go.  Let it all go.  You just had a baby.  And you’re still the mother of another baby.  I love this blog post because it gives me that permission:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ashlee-gadd/you-just-had-a-baby_b_6439326.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000037

So, I’m taking a break.  I’m letting some things go.

Someday….someday I might finish their baby books, or sort and edit our 9,868 photos, or paint Baxter’s bedroom.  But for now, we’re busy playing trains, building play-doh pizzas, and making dinosaur noises.

My resolution this year is very simple: eat more takeout.  No planning, no cooking, and little cleanup.  It may not help me fit back into my pre-pregnancy pants.  But it will free up one precious night a week where we all can be a little more sane, and have a lot more fun 🙂  Cheers to 2015!