Monday, March 20, 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Snow Day Spent Entirely Indoors

Total concentration as she works with ooblek. 

Hanukkah house decorating! Better late than never!

Cuddles over morning milk

I'm so lucky that these two are so affectionate!

Teaching An Old Dog (and Her Young Pups) Some New Tricks

First off, Amelie has learned to count to ten. I'm especially impressed because I don't think she's heard counting (beyond three) all that often. I instituted a new rule recently wherein, after one reminder to not splash in the tub, a repeat splasher is bodily removed from the tub and forced to stand naked and wet on the bathmat for a count of ten before being returned back to the warm bath.

We've only done in a few times but apparently it made a big impression. She whispers the last two numbers in the video because my friend Jen, in an effort to help her, whispered "eight" to her so Amelie thought that was a clue that she was supposed to whisper.


Calliope, not to be outdone, has started writing words and sentences! Her school is very progressive (or old school, depending on your outlook) and doesn't believe in pushing children to read. So they only started studying the sounds of letters in January. And now, apparently, they are teaching the children to sound out words. Calliope seems enchanted with the idea.

Sorry it's sideways.
Written right to left, it says "thank you? (because she loves question marks, not because it's a 
question). I love (the) book." And there's a drawing of the sketchpad and colored pencils she
was given. 

I'm thrilled to watch the transformation into a reader (not there yet) and seeing the excitement and pride on her face when she figures things out. I am also, I note, a little bit relieved to see her start this work, even though, in theory, I support her school and their laid back approach entirely. I see them produce hundreds of students over the years who are bright and inquisitive and best of all, love going to school, so I know they are doing something right but it's still a little nerve wracking when it's your own kid.

As for me... Jamaica was transformative. I came back feeling like I had pressed a giant "reset" button. After missing my first two afternoon workouts because of hectic days at the clinic, and inspired by fellow SMC Sacha on the trip, who told me she gets up at 4:45 AM to work out before work... I started setting my alarm for 5 AM. And mostly getting up the very first time it goes off. And getting myself set to work out with very little wasting of time.

This requires going to bed earlier, and inspired again by Sacha, I'm making good progress here too. I set a bedtime alarm on my phone that reminds me and although I'm not where I want to be, I'm a lot better.

I also started a new workout program. I signed up for Burn and I input my preferences and voila... it sends me a new workout to do each day! It's fun having some variety to my workouts after doing T25 for so long.

Also, and this perhaps the biggest change... after writing a post to the SMC Forum about how to stop using nighttime snacking as an emotional crutch... I've committed to myself to eating dinner without distractions every night. For at least two weeks. Tonight was night two.

I did this exercise a few years ago, pre-kids, and it was really hard at first. I got very depressed initially. So I was worried about that happening this time around but actually, I am finding it much easier this time. It's kind of nice to sit down alone (I tried doing it with the kids two nights ago and my god, it's no fun AT ALL to eat with them -- all that whining and jumping up and down! no thank you!) at a nice clean table with a nice plate of food and just my thoughts for company.

I ended up getting really hungry after getting into bed and so I had a granola bar but hey, I didn't read or do anything else while I ate it. Progress!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Twenty Two and Twenty Three Months... Tons of Photos Because Who Can Remember What We've Been Up To?

As always, life is busy.

But I realized I'm doing well with my New Year's Resolution to be more present. Not much yelling nowadays. Today I got up and worked out at 5 am instead of doing it after work (for boring and complicated reasons) and it ended up being SO nice. Motivated me to go to bed earlier and it was lovely to feel less rushed at the end of the day. I used some of the time to cook my dinner with Amelie's "assistance" (among other things, she ate half the lime that was meant for my recipe!) and to read to Calliope.

We had a spectacular trip to Franklin D. Resort in Jamaica, where every room comes with a nanny (and an extra nanny, luckily for me, is only $25/day). We were with about 13 other SMC families. We had a blast! The girls loved the water and their nannies and I LOVED the opportunity to have my first real vacation in five and a half years! I took an exercise class every day and as a result, was exhausted at night and slept nine hours a night. Unheard of since becoming a mother! And it was fabulous to have other moms to gab with at the side of the pool, and to have child-free dinners with at night. And everyone understood that life is hectic and complicated and there were no grumbles if someone didn't show up for dinner. I made some lovely new friends and can't wait to go back next February!

Amelie is doing great. Remains utterly fearless. Slid down "Big Blue" -- the water slide at FDR -- without a trace of fear, laughing the whole way down. Plunges into the water without a care in the world. Happily dunks her face. Loves everyone but isn't a fan of separating from me. But if I set her on the path and let her toddler off with the nanny trailing her, she seemed perfectly content. 

I think her sentences aren't as long as some kids her age but I assume that's because of the fact that she's essentially bilingual -- her nanny mostly speaks Spanish to her. Which I'm pleased about. 

She does still have a tendency to swat or pull hair when one least expects it... but I'm learning to anticipate it just a little better. I try to "catch her" doing the right thing as much as possible, and to give lots of praise for that.

She regressed majorly with pottying while we were away but seems to have pretty much gotten back to where she was when we left. Still the occasional accident but not bad, I guess, for still less than two. 

Calliope is a delight. Very social, despite being one of the quieter kids, and unwilling to name a best friend or conceive of a party where she doesn't include everyone. I love that about her. She was a bit distant with the SMC kids at FDR, partly because the nannies were such darn good buddies that it was hard to bother with other kids. School is going great for her and life together is (mostly) just so darn pleasant. 

Ringing in the New Year with a shared love of donuts from Dough. 
Fellow SMC child Rian.

Babywearing baby

Being babies 

Calliope with two of her besties, Peyton and Maya.

Inspired by Leo's double headbands, everyone had to wear a headband.

Cookie decorating at a birthday party

Group effort creating Calliope's poster for the Women's March (with after school sitter Isabel).

The artist at work.
"Donald Trump: Stop Saying Mean Things About Girls And People With Dark Skin!
-- Calliope, Age 5"

Ice skating buddies. Alas, she didn't much like the lessons...
but did really well at free skate afterwards.
And really liked the hot chocolate with marshmallows, too.

Thumb/finger suckers Not-So-Anonymous

Sisters before Calliope's first big Broadway show

Amelie had a good time at home despite being left behind 
(and her howls of protest)

Times Square with Uncle Scott after the show. She was impressed. 

Snow Day Baking Buddies. Not everyone was wearing pants. 

Sleep Under Valentine's Day Party at Calliope's house -- our first time hosting a real party!
Everyone seemed to have a good time. This was after Valentine making and pinata smashing and cookie decorating...
everyone changed into jammies for a "movie" (Amazon Prime show) and popcorn. The "sleep under" part means that they
do everything EXCEPT sleep over.

Yet another bestie of Calliope's.

My delicious personal greeter after a long day of work

Our annual Valentine's Day card.

Celebrating Calliope's long awaited half birthday

First time on the big girl swings. Jamaica.

Proud to have her long awaited braids. 

Girls are in bed, babysitter is babysitting, and I'm off to an adults only dinner!
Franklin D Resort, Runaway Bay, Jamaica

Jamaican sunset

Fabulous nanny Karlene. This is the one that Bethany and Elsie loved. 
Elsie and Calliope would have shared her if they had been with us.

Fellow SMC blogger Tara!!!

Both our wonderful nannies! Because it turned out that one is not sufficient when you have an entirely fearless, water
loving toddler like my girl Amelie!

The beautiful spa at FDR.

The gorgeous beach at the resort next door (where we were welcome to swim). 
There's coral reef practically within spitting distance -- no need for a boat to get to it.

One of the treatment rooms at the Seagrape Spa at FDR.  Not only did the windows look directly out to the water but you could also hear waves crashing beneath you during your massage.

My big girl and me on our one (!) excursion off property. We went to see bioluminescent
algae. Pretty neat.

Our mutual photographer posted this gorgeous photo of Bethany on FB.
I thought of her a lot on this trip. She loved FDR so much and now I see why.
Forever grateful.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year Resolution -- Just One

I've really got only one New Year's Resolution.

And it's to be more present in my life, mainly with my girls. I feel like I can easily just rush through my days with my girls and wake up to find them grown. Or grown away, even if still at home.

There's two sub-goals to help me achieve this one overarching goal: one, aim for eight hours of sleep a night. When I'm well rested, I am much calmer and saner and happier. I probably won't often achieve eight hours but it's a good goal. Seven hours is pretty good but eight is better.

And two, check off at least one item from my to do list every single day. Preferably in the evening, before I relax. (Daytime items are good too but I need to be more disciplined about not just throwing in the towel every evening.)

Like Shannon, I'd like to eliminate sugar (again). I manage it for a few days and then fall off the wagon. I'm pleased that I exercised every day of my 10 day break but one, when I was instructed not to for medical reasons. But I don't want to make a resolution about it. I feel like I need fewer resolutions and more self love for the time being.

Being home over the break and especially, potty training Amelie and being forced to slow down and just BE with her, really helped me realize I wanted to prioritize goal number one.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

"Vacation" Update and December Photos

First two wheeler (with pedals)! 

Calliope, Amelie and I are staying put this holiday break. Mostly, it's been lovely. I've spent more time than usual playing with
them. It still doesn't feel like enough, but it's more. I've gotten a lot accomplished around the house and in life. I've potty trained Amelie. Sort of. We aren't across the finish line yet, since it still is requiring a lot of thought, but I will let her be in another room for a few moments without me. That's progress, considering we did a three day bootcamp and it's only day four. Of course, I'm freaking out that she won't finish figuring it out and it will be high maintenance for ages but I'm hoping for the best.

My queen

She's got big shoes, er, boots to fill.

This snowsuit has been worn by a multitude of cousins. A little piece of history.

Sisters goofing around at dinner.

Fourth night of Hanukkah. (Amelie is signing "water" mid photo.) 

Dress up play date with her school besties.

Finally got a video of my toddler practicing her "spelling. "

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Twenty One Months

I got possibly my first three-word sentence last night, "Thank you Mommy." Though maybe "thank" and "you" don't count as separate words since kids learn them together as one "thank you." Anyways, it's a sweet little development.

Amelie's more cooperative in some ways, following along nicely when we go downstairs, across the lobby, and outside to the trash and recycling area. And more challenging in others -- constantly saying "no no no!" and "stop!" and "otch!" (ouch!). She's much more ferocious in her opinions than I remember Calliope ever being.

She's obsessed with shoes and tries on every pair she can find, her own and everybody else's.

She's been eating up a storm and feels a ton heavier than just a few weeks ago.

Calliope is doing well. She's pretty even keel. She wears nothing but fleece pants (from the boy's department, because god forbid her pants be more snug fitting like girls' styles), preferably topped with pink flowered snow pants. She's generally the only kid in her class wearing snow pants but I respect the fact that she doesn't care what others wear. She's very interested in "math facts" at the moment. Also in drawing. She draws constantly. I love her creativity. We got home from work today and she immediately set to work transforming a cardboard grocery box into a car that became a stroller that became her bed for the night.

I'm working really hard on being more patient with her. It's hard when we are always rushing to get out the door to get to school and then rushing back home again. Five year old pace seems unbearably slow to me. I've started getting up a bit earlier, though not entirely by choice, because Amelie has decided that the world has started at 5:30 AM. So I get up then and get Calliope up by 6 (instead of 6:15) and try to stay in the room with her and keep her on task instead of yelling from the other room as I get myself ready. Then she gets to play briefly before starting the process of putting on snow pants TWENTY MINUTES before we leave. But I'm mostly succeeding in not yelling. And it's paying dividends in much more cooperation and less dawdling if not actual speed.

Does anyone else worry about their grown kids not liking them if they aren't nicer to said children when they are small? I feel like that was my experience with my own parents and I desperately want grown up Calliope and Amelie to like me. So this line of thinking torments me a good bit.

As far as me... well, things are slowly, gradually improving. Today at work I felt, for the first time in over a month, like I wasn't terrifying behind in my list of things to cram into precious breaks between patients. Of course then I had a frantically busy day with patients, alternating between those with the stomach virus and those who needed a pregnancy test before the holiday break. Good times.

I've had a couple little social upsets recently. One was with a friend, who often seemed a bit short with me. I couldn't tell if it was just her style or something about me, so I tried to ask her if I had done something that had bothered her. I really don't like being on the defensive like that, in principle, asking "how have I annoyed you?" but I just couldn't figure out another way to ask. To my shocked disappointment, she seemed totally surprised and completely offended by my question. I can't quite figure out why she's offended. And the more I tried to fix things, the worse it got. Finally we agreed to drop it but we still haven't seen each other and I'm worried about what that will be like.

And then my brother called me and proposed a couple of "ground rules" for my visiting him in the future. The first being that I not visit when we are sick. Well, I called him the day before we left and informed him that Amelie had thrown up and asked if he wanted us to not come. He told us to come the next day if the night was quiet, and it was. It seems that Amelie developed a runny nose on the trip up (because my nanny swears she didn't have it the previous day, and I certainly didn't notice it) and his wife and him are very upset that my thirteen month old niece got her first cold as a result. Plus Calliope got the stomach bug the night after we arrived and then a bunch of cousins got it a day later, and while I felt absolutely terrible about that, a) I did call the doctor and get guidance from them about when it was safe to travel, and followed it, and b) his family had already had the stomach stomach two weeks prior and none of them got the stomach bug again. Obviously if I had had any idea that Calliope would get the stomach bug (plus a high fever that no one else got) and would share it, I would never have come. Spending Thanksgiving alone in someone else's house with a feverish child was pretty miserable, even without all the packing and loading and the eleven hours of driving alone with sick children.

His second ground rule (his expression, not mine) was that my life be "less complicated, without an agenda, like doing laundry or teaching Calliope to swim or ride a bike." I spend a week with them every summer and not surprisingly, I think, I always have things to accomplish.

This condition really took me by surprise, not in a good way. I was outraged. My life is, indeed, complicated. And packing us up (especially from a 6th floor apartment building where I don't have a garage spot) and getting us to a different state is incredibly "complicated." Of COURSE I'm going to do laundry when I'm there! I generally miss my cleaning lady's laundry day when I'm there, and even if I didn't, why wouldn't I do my laundry there when they have an actual laundry room, of all blissful things, which I can use while my children are ALSEEP (my laundry room is 6 flights down, and involves bringing both children along, including my runner, which is, shall we say, challenging.)

Anyway, I have a really hard time with people being mad at me. I think because of my codependent mother. I learned that it's always my fault if people are mad at me, and it's my job to fix it. I'm trying really hard to just sit with the discomfort and remind myself, over and over like a mantra, that their reaction is not my responsibility. But it's very uncomfortable.

Thank goodness tomorrow is my last day of work before the break! We are absolutely definitely not going anywhere this break! At least, we are not staying with anyone. I wanted to be sure there was no risk of infecting anyone -- the guilt over sharing the stomach bug was enormous -- and also, I'm am so freaking burnt out from the election plus stolen wallet plus Thanksgiving illness extravaganza (for our family alone: three stomach bugs, one extremely high fever, two bad coughs, one scary asthma exacerbation, one possible asthma exacerbation, one persistent case of laryngitis for me which lasted five days) plus my car getting crashed into plus my keys getting stolen (by the same kid who stole my wallet... I called the police this time) plus two sex ed presentations to 9th graders who were great but also absolutely exhausting plus, of course, the loss of Bethany. An absolutely challenging month, shitty in many ways but thankfully we are all healthy and I am gainfully employed.

So I'm very much looking forward to some quiet time with my girls. Hoping to make gingerbread houses with them, if it's not too many steps (I have a Manichevitz "Hanukkah House" kit on standby, just in case the from scratch recipe is too much) and taking Calliope ice skating and maybe potty training Amelie. My main goal, honestly, is just to not snap at them. To slow down and actually enjoy my girls.

Kicking off the break with a child free night, since my sitter volunteered that she'd be happy with a few extra hours. So my friend Emily and I are going to the Russian bathhouse tomorrow night for hopefully a relaxing evening free of awkward encounters with Russian (or otherwise) men. Hopefully the fact that it's the night before Christmas Eve will work in our favor. I'm hoping this will set the stage for relaxation over the break.