Friday, April 23, 2010

Yelling and Screaming and NO!...oh my

My baby. My perfect, happy, adorable little baby. Man, can she scream.

E is officially making her bid to gain status as an independent human being. Loudly. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. In theory, it is very much a good thing. In reality however, I am seriously wondering how long it will be before concerned neighbours show up at my door with child welfare representatives in tow. Everyone goes through this, right? Right?

Okay, I know it's normal. What I don't know is how to handle it. I used to watch Nanny 911 and scoff at the incompetence of parents who were afraid to discipline their children and would rather give in than spend the energy teaching their children how to behave. I was always able to offer up my sage advice on how I would have appropriately handled the situation. Now I'm on the other side of the fence. The side where the decibel meter is shattered daily, where the reward for ensuring a child's safety is an all-out tirade of fury, and where one is constantly reminded of her inadequacies as a caregiver. It's tough on this side. And I could use a little guidance. Like, oh I don't know, a visit from Nanny 911.

Not that it has gotten that bad yet. Right now we just have a fiery little 15 month old who is not sure what the rules are and just wants what she wants without a full arsenal of skills to express herself or understand why her mama does what she does. And a mama who just wants her - be happy and cuddly all the time no matter what, which may not be entirely realistic.

I could use some advice. So please, anyone with wise words for coping with this tricky stage, please impart your wisdom. Should I be giving her time-outs for tantrums or just when she does something wrong? Do I just wait out the tantrum or get in there amidst the flailing body parts and try to redirect her attention? How much explanation can she handle at this stage?

Part of the problem is that we haven't really childproofed yet, apart from the odd plug cover and a couple of elastic bands around door handles. Also, the place is a mess. So she is always seeing things to get her hands on that she shouldn't. The obvious solution to this is to get the apartment in order with all things she can't have out of her reach/sight, and to childproof. Okay, so who is picking her up and taking her away this weekend so that I can get started? Anyone???

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Everyone needs a little inspiration now and then. A little motivational speaker on their shoulder to remind them about the importance of finding joy and peace in everyday life. Yesterday was a rough day and I found myself lacking perspective. E was cranky, we hadn't had much sleep, it was cold and gloomy, and nothing seemed to go the way we wanted it to. It was just one of those days.

This morning I was reading a friend's blog, and clicked on a link to one of the blogs she follows. It was about the trend these days in getting so much genetic testing done and people choosing to abort fetuses as a result of illness or even gender. From there she went on to talk about God and the tendency people have these days to "design" a God that fits their lifestyle. I'm not a religious person, but the post resonated with me. I took away a message that was perhaps different from what she had intended, but just as valuable.

Life is to be enjoyed. Everyone struggles and falters, and no one has it all. Every day there will be things around us to complain about, and things around us to cherish and be grateful for. All we can do is make a choice. We can focus on the negative and become weighed down by misery, we can focus on the positive and be surrounded by hope and good will, or we can choose not to focus at all and lose out on the experience of life itself.

I am making the choice today to see beauty wherever I look. I hope to make the same choice tomorrow.

Here are three poems that often pop into my head when I'm having a bad day and need some inspiration. I am grateful for the people who have shared them with me.

Don't Quit (My Grade 6 teacher Mrs. Goulagh forced us to memorize this poem. This is an excerpt.)
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.

Untitled (We used to have this up on a corkboard in our kitchen growing up.)
I shall pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

The Serenity Prayer (Our cheerleading coaches, Sandy & Adam, would lead us in this prayer before competitions)
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

...and that's about as spiritual as I get folks. :)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Look at all the FAH-VAHS!

It's springtime in New York! If I'm not mistaken, this is one of the most pretty places to be this time of year, along with Paris of course. And our neighbourhood must be one of the prettiest in all of Brooklyn. Carroll's Gardens are all in bloom, and it's driving both my daughter and allergy sufferers crazy, though for different reasons. My neighbour was outside sweeping all traces of plant matter from his stoop and sidewalk the other day in a futile attempt to keep the sniffles at bay. My daughter, on the other hand, can't be within arms reach of a flower without yelling "FAH-VAH!" (in a surprisingly convincing Brooklyn-baby accent) and going in for a "pet". She LOVES flowers. Especially ones that she can touch, and she's usually pretty gentle. But if a petal "accidentally" becomes separated from the stem, she likes it when I stroke her cheek with it.
We have flowers from Easter on the kitchen table that cause her no end of distraction during mealtimes, there is a new planting of annuals two doors down from us that she MUST visit EVERY time we walk by, and the multitude of pink and white flowering trees along our street send her into shrieking ecstasy.
Her second favourite word these days is "CAH" (there's that accent again!), which includes anything with wheels. And her ride of choice is the trike she got for her birthday. When we get it out she says "CAH! CAH!" and as soon as she's on it she starts demanding "GO! GO!". I don't know who looks happier - my girl on her sweet ride, or the passers-by getting a kick out of how cute she is.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Daddies have fashion sense too!

I am a lucky girl. Every weekend, J gets up early and takes E for a little daddy-daughter time so mama can sleep in and relax. They always have lots of fun together. They take Ralph for walks, they go out to brunch, and sometimes they go to Gymboree. I used to feel like I had to get her ready for these excursions, probably because I'm so used to doing it every day that if I don't do it I feel like I've forgotten something. But J is more than capable of handling the entire production. In fact, he takes particular pride in choosing her outfits. I have to say that in general, he is more concerned about what she wears than I am. Some days I just keep her in her pyjamas all day, but not her da-da. Every day is a new opportunity to look fabulous!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The New Rules

The internet is down. Gasp! What will I do while I drink my coffee and eat breakfast? What will I do to escape from real life for a few minutes in the middle of my day? Will I miss out on some great deals from my online parents group? Who has emailed me that I won’t know about? How much time can I spend trying to fix the problem before I am categorized as “obsessed”?

For the past several - erm - months, I have been thinking about cutting down on the amount of time I spend on the computer. At one time I had told myself that I would not use the computer when the girl was awake. Hm. That didn’t take. A couple of days ago I implemented a strict “Computer use limited to one email check/hour while E is awake” rule, coupled with a “No Facebook while E is awake” clause. Just making the rule made me feel like a bad mother. I mean, who sits on the computer while their child fends for themselves in the background? Shudder. Something needed to be done.

You see, I’m a fly-by surfer. The computer is always on, always logged in to email and usually to Facebook. Also occasionally to Amazon and other online shopping websites while I debate whether or not to pull the trigger on various purchases. (I’m casting a pretty wide net with the use of the word occasional.) I don’t spend large chunks of time sitting at the computer (except during naps and at night), but I can’t seem to walk past it (and it’s conveniently located in the middle of the apartment so that I’m ALWAYS walking past it) without doing a quick “Check Mail”, and perhaps a little “News Feed” update.

---First check to see if the internet has come back up---

I don’t want to be addicted to the computer. I take pride in the fact that I don’t have a television. It is important to me that E doesn’t grow up glued to the screen, brain numbed into submission and motivation beaten senseless. I used to watch a lot of television; it’s how J and I used to spend the hours between roughly 5pm-11pm every evening. I loved it, and I hated it. It was so liberating when we got rid of it. But now I’m afraid that I’ve just replaced it with another equally debilitating vice. It’s just as important to me that E doesn’t develop an obsession with the computer, stripping her of all need for real human contact. But at this point,

---Second check to see if the internet is up---

the computer is one of the focal points of her day as her mom and her dad spend so much time at it that she figures it must be pretty important. We don’t let her use it, and probably because of that she always wants to get at it. The only time we let her near it is to Skype with my parents, and she gets so excited and wants to press all of the buttons. It’s obviously going to be a source of interest for her, and we’re obviously going to have to let her use it at some point and set some boundaries and limits and strike a balance and all that parenting crap, but I think the first thing we need to do is get it in check for ourselves. One of the reasons that we stopped watching tv was to set an example for our children. This is the next challenge for us. After that it will be cutting back on my chocolate consumption, but I’m not ready to talk about that yet. Let’s stick with the computer for now.

The Rules
  1. Email can be checked only once every 3 hours, as well as during naps and in the evening. Replies to email are limited to naps/evening unless absolutely necessary.
  2. Absolutely no recreational computer use (FB, online shopping, etc.) while E is awake.
    1. Time spent on Facebook is limited to 15 minutes per day.
  3. Online banking, mapping/scheduling reference and other “semi-legitimate” browsing permitted on an as needed basis - but is limited to 5 minutes at a time.
---Third check---

4. More time is to be devoted to writing. Blogging, emailing friends and family to stay in touch and working on various writing projects should be the main focus of computer use.

I feel better already. Wish me luck on this daunting challenge, and feel free to inquire on my progress. All encouragement/harassment/brow-beating will be appreciated. It’s for the good of the children.