Friday, July 31, 2009

On Wondering

Last week while driving a friend home, I spotted a fabulous bumper sticker. It read:

Those who wonder are not always lost.

I had to smile, thinking to myself that the owner of the car was a kindred spirit. I read the bumper sticker aloud and commented to my friend that I thought it was great.

Imagine my surprise when my friend said that it was her car, her bumper sticker, and she, too had always loved that quote! (I knew I liked her from the very beginning!)

Those who wonder are not always lost.

This weekend I shall find a small chunk of time to wonder - outside, observing, unhurried.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Me Time!

I did it. After years - seriously, years - of allowing a desire to learn to knit fester inside me, I signed up for a knitting class at the Knit n Stitch = Bliss store in Bethesda. Knitting is supposed to be a stress reliever and the teachers at Arlo and Elsa's Waldorf school say that kids are magically calmed by their mamas knitting in the room with them. Who knows if any of that is true - I'll blog about that later - but in the meantime all I can think about is getting my hands on some big fat mustard-yellow yarn and crafting up a big warm scarf for myself and loved ones.

What kind of me-time do you have planned for August???

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Zen and the Art of Pottytraining

Zen and the Art of Pottytraining - Report from Weeks 2 and 3

It's a sham calling what I am doing "pottytraining." It's more like my raising the issue with Arlo and him rejecting it outright. Our discussion goes like this:

Me (hopeful, smile plastered on my face): "So, Arlo, are you ready to pee and poop in the potty like Mommy and Daddy?"

Arlo (with furrow in his brow): "I want to poop in my diaper!"

Me (giving it one more try): "How about pooping in the potty, like big kids?"

Arlo: "No, diapers...can I have some apple juice?"

Discussion over.

Also, it's really hard and not that fun to be stuck at home all day every day while attempting to pottytrain.

Meanwhile, a girlfriend with a son a few months younger than Arlo announced to her that he was ready to use toilets now. I'm happy for her (I really am) but jealous, too. I want Arlo to tell me he's finished using diapers. And I want it to happen, without any work on my part. We already worked our butts off to get him in his own bed and sleeping through the night and on a good schedule and eating lots of veggies and playing nice with other kids and I'm tired and wanting to coast through pottytraining.

Believe it or not, you can outsource pottytraining. For half a second last week I considered hiring someone to come do this for us. I also considered bribing Arlo with M&Ms when he delivered No.1 and No.2's in the toilet.

They say that nobody goes to kindergarten in diapers, meaning that all kids eventually potty train. They also say that kids do it on their own time schedule. I refuse to over-research this issue (like I did for infant sleep) so this is all IO know about what the so-called experts say about pottytraining. I also refuse to flip out and make this a battle between Arlo and me.

So what's left? Why am I writing this if I am so "zen" about it? Two reasons. You know how you have rock solid beliefs about parenting before you actually become a parent? Well, before I had kids, one of the beliefs I had was that all kids should be potty-trained by age two. So a part of me feels like I missed some stupid deadline. This I feel, despite the fact that I made up this stupid rule before I had a clue what being a parent was all about. I also fear I am being judged by other people - parents and those without kids - who see Arlo's diaper sticking out of his pants and know that he's two and a half and judge me to be a bad mom because I haven't potty trained my kid.

In the end, I can only control what I think. So I told my inner critic to shut the *f* up. Yes, I missed an arbitrary deadline set by my former self, the self that had oodles and oodles of free time and that got all the sleep needed. Oh well.

I just finished a great book called "Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood" by Zen teacher Karen Maezen Miller. In it, she states: "Don't push the river. Let the future come to you." Soon enough this headstrong little toddler will be a headstrong, know-everything teenage boy whom I have to constantly remind to pick up the boxers from his bedroom floor. Such is life.

Right now, today, I will celebrate my friend's son's development in the world of pottytraining. I will continue to discuss, but not push, Arlo in the same direction.

And yes, there will probably be M&Ms bribery involved.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Love, the Second Time Around

While pregnant with Elsa I wondered how I would ever love her, my second child, as much as I love Arlo, my first child. I simply couldn't imagine it, and that scared me. Arlo and I are so close and have such fun times together. I wondered what it was going to be like with a third member of our daytime gang.

With Elsa's birth, all those worries disappeared. First, you are thrown into full-time newborn haze on top of taking care of a toddler, so there is literally no time for pondering anything. But mostly it had to do with the fact that once I met Elsa, held her in my arms, kissed her little head and held her tight to my chest, I couldn't imagine not loving her. We were now a daytime tribe of three.

Tonight my husband is at a musical with his 15 year old daughter and I am puttering around the house after having bathed the babies and put them to bed. Elsa just woke up, not needing to nurse, but wanting to be close to me. She is pretty opinionated, and would only settle in quietly when I sat her on my lap facing outward. We rocked and I held her tightly. My lips touched her baby fine infant hair and I drank in her sweet smell. Slowly she melted into me, and I felt her little body go limp inside the sleep sack. She had fallen asleep and I had fallen even deeper in love with that little girl.

They tell you to enjoy it because it goes by so quickly. I believe them - I am amazed at how fast these 8 months with her have passed. So I'm collecting and savoring small moments like this one.

Mama Can't Get Sick!

A few weeks ago everyone around me got sick. It started with Elsa, who likely contracted it from her Oklahoma cousins. The cold then passed to Arlo, then to my mom and stepdad and finally to my husband when we reunited with him back in Maryland. Even my brother got sick from the lingering runny noses during our family get-together over July 4th. Somehow I dodged that sickness bullet - I like to think that it demonstrates that there must be a merciful God after all.

My experience as a stay at home mom is that we don't get sick days. At least I don't. If I'm sick, I still have to take care of the kids and the house and all the stuff they use during the day -- there are onesies smeared with purees, toddler shirts stained with playground dirt, high chairs in need of wiping and pots used in the making of Mac-n-cheese to be scrubbed. The floors don't care if I'm sick - they, too must be cleared of fallen Cheerios. The fun stuff, too, must go on - the babies need hugs and diapers changed and the occasional tickling.

A neighbor friend of mine, a woman who worked outside the home, told me that when she got sick she stayed in bed all day and let the nanny care for her son. What a luxury! Some women might be lucky enough to have husbands/partners/family members who can pitch in for the day to carry the load. If that's you, count your lucky stars.

My plan is to avoid getting sick in the first place. To to this, I employ a precise routine that usually works. Today I've begun the routine, because I woke up feeling a bit under the weater. Here's the magic:

1. Steamy shower followed by neti pot -- the steamy shower makes me feel better on its own, but it also opens up the nasal passage for the neti pot. When I first started using a neti pot about 7 years ago not many people had heard about them, but now they seem to be everywhere. I think I even saw one at Walmart. Nothing works like a neti pot to remove allergens and other gunk from your nasal passage and help you breath better.
2. Oil of Oregano - I put a few drops of this under my tongue several times a day. They say it is a natural antibiotic and it sure helps me to avoid getting sick or to feel better once I am sick.
3. Hydration - my choices are orange juice (vitamin C) and water. Lots of water.
4. Rest - I'm not so great about this. If you can swing it, it helps to nip a cold in the bud. I'm supposed to be resting right now, while my husband is taking the morning off and is at the park with our toddler (baby is napping). Does blogging count as rest???

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Diary of a Potty Training Mama - Week One

Time to potty train! We are doing the let-them-roam-around-the-house-and-yard-with-no-diaper-on variety of potty training. Report from Week One:

Day 1 Tuesday - Explain to toddler that we are doing something new - we will forgo diapers and he should from now on let us know when his tummy feels like he needs to pee or poop and we will take him to the toilet. Toddler responds with "No, I want to poop and pee in my diaper." Toddler peed on the floor once, but mostly waited for nap time (where diaper was worn) for pooping and peeing.

Day 2 Wednesday - Toddler pooped in his morning diaper before we had a chance to begin our new routine. He also peed outside once. My back was turned but I heard "Oh, Mommy!" and turned around to see a small puddle on the patio. Toddler peed inside on the carpet once. He had asked for some water and he peed while I was upstairs getting sippy cup of water. He pointed to the small rug and said "I peed." This doesn't feel like progress.

Day 3 Thursday - Emergency stop by the doctor's to have Infant checked out (fearing ear infection, it turned out to be that she is just fed up with travel). Toddler felt need to go poop at the doctor's office but refused to poop in the toilet. Insisted on being alone in bathroom to poop in diaper. This doesn't feel like progress.

Day 4 Friday - Household is in a frenzy, prepping for party Saturday night. We return to diapers.

Day 5 Saturday - Ditto.

Day 6 Sunday - Tired from party and using regular diapers. Plan to regroup and try again next week.

My Toddler, My Meditation Teacher

I try, try to meditate at least five minutes a day. Lately, with all our travel, household woes (algae in the pool and oven door that came off when my husband and I were trying to move the oven to attack the ant problem, to name a few) and sicknesses (sick toddler, sick infant, sick husband = stressed and about to go nuts mama) things have been off schedule and rough. Finding five minutes to myself has been impossible.

This morning, desparate for a chance to collect myself and get grounded so that I could be a better mama and person and not be so short-tempered and scattered, I sat on my meditation cushion and told my toddler I was meditating for five minutes and he should do it too, with me. "All you do," I told him, "is sit real still, be quiet, and listen to your breath."

Silence followed. It was too silent, if you know what I mean.

I opened my eyes. Arlo was standing in front of me, two inches from my face, with a big grin on his.

I laughed out loud, then explained again how to meditate and invited him to sit with me for five minutes. I resettled myself - eyes closed, hands resting on my crossed legs with palms facing up, mind on my breath.


"I meditate like this" he said, jumping like a kangaroo across the room. "I meditate like this, Mommy!" Pure glee that only a child knows was completely written on his face.

Hhmmm, I thought. He might be on to something. Perhaps meditation is more than perfect attendance on the meditation cushion? Of course I'd done walking meditation before, but that was at an official meditation retreat. Why not jumping meditation, in the living room, where you are perfectly in the moment, breath and movement aligned. It was about presence, right? If I could find presence in the mundane acts of each day - diaper changing, washing dishes - then wasn't I achieving the point of meditation?

I'm a work in progress and I have so very far to go. But thankfully I've got a two and a half year old guru to help me along the way.