Monday, April 21, 2014


Holidays make me so giddy now. It's weird. I guess my lack of enthusiasm stemmed from young adult aloofness. But, my family always came together at holidays and made it fun for us, so I guess it shouldn't surprise me at all that I wanna do the same for the chiquita. 
Our Easter came in three parts this year.

Part 1:
The first was a neighborhood celebration in Stepford, Bunnypalooza. It sounded like a fun idea and the girlie was so very excited. View the excitement:

Running to the park to see the Easter Bunny (which to my knowledge, she has no real concept of).
I actually love our community and I'm thankful that there are events like this. However, I always come away a little (a lot) disappointed. Some insight:
The little one ran from the car (a block away), and into the event field, filled with gusto. There was a crowd, and jumpy castle things, and people she knew, and tents!, oh tents!, and more jumpy castles and-- yes, excitement. 
I--as a mother, looked past the bright and shiny, and saw the crowds, and the lines. I tried to steer Leeloo towards the open craft tent - but no, she saw the great big (with slide and climbing log) bounce house.
"That mommy!"
So we went into line. And we waited. And she ran about. And came back and we waited. And she ran to the front of the line and I coaxed her back and we waited. And she tried to pull me to the front of the line, but I convinced her to hold our ground, and we waited. And about 20 minutes later (two toddler lifetimes), we were next. 
This was a big bouncy castle, like the penthouse version. I sized up all the kids in front of us and they looked around Leeloo's size, so I felt ok about it. She pulled off her socks and shoes and clambered up the bouncy slope into the abyss. 
This is where my mommy vision went into 5 second slow motion cycle: She's in...she's smiling...she's balancing...I can jockey for position and see her clearly...she looks unsure...she sees me...she smiles...she's balancing... she's jumping!...she's giggling!...she's so happy...she's - what?
There was a blur of blond and then a grunt. Leeloo was down and an 8-yr old little girl pushed herself up off of her and bounced away. My girlie is tough. She has brothers that knock her about constantly so she can take a whollup. This time, she froze, assessed the damage, made eye contact with me and said "ow, mami, ow head", then started to cry. She made her way out, wailing. I held her and moved away from the castle, trying to soothe her, but really it just made her even more upset. She was holding her head in pain but so sad that she wasn't back in  the castle. I suppose I should be grateful for her resolve, but at that point I was not gonna shove her back into the melee. More upset.
Eventually (after ten minutes or so of her crying and cuddling and running back to the line and cuddling and pleading for more), I bribed her with a cookie. 
The egg hunt for 1-2 year olds happened simultaneous to her meltdown. So once I calmed her down they were on to the 3-5 year hunt. The hunt was in a small fenced yard--maybe 50'x50'--with only one side opened. There was no real "hiding" of the eggs, just groups lying on the ground. In front of the one open side there were parent and kids and older siblings lined up ready to go. When they finally gave the hunt order it was chaos. At first we couldn't get passed the parents standing and watching, the we couldn't make it around the kids getting the eggs, so in desperation I picked the girlie up and like a running back tried to take her to our goal--an untouched egg-filled corner. With great maneuvering we got there, but as soon as I set her down the eggs were gone, mostly picked up by older siblings who were "helping". We left with an empty basket.

After that I decided to abandon Bunnypalooza and head down towards the playground. Eventually all her little friends made it there and she had a great time with them, but it took an hour or so of me watching them to let the frustration subside.

Part 2:

The second egg hunt we attended was much smaller. The day before Easter our complex decided to do there own little hunt. We bounded down and waited for the doors to open.

Waiting with Wawa.
When we got in, Ripley got to meet an Easter bunny (I will not say "the" Easter bunny because the costume was one of the creepiest I've ever seen).

After meeting creepy bunny she had to wait again. I'm all about teaching my daughter patience - but seriously, there is only so much you can ask a 2 year old to endure.

The second egg hunt happened in a much smaller area. But the chiquita was still no match for the older kids. Her abuelita and I managed to steer her towards one egg but that was all. Luckily she didn't really think that she was missing anything. Especially since the hunt was at the pool. I let her put her feet in, but she was all in (fully dressed), in minutes. Time to start swim lessons again!

Part 3:
Easter Sunday.

The day started with her basket:
Contents: Coloring books, a birdhouse, box full of "jewels" and small little things.

Her first jewelry box.
Best matchbox car ever.
Grandpa joined us for Easter morning.

After eggs we got dressed and put all our things together to head to the park where we invited all her friends for a picnic. All week my mom and I worked to make small gifts for the kids. We ended up with super cute chickies and sock bunnies. 

Little felt chicks in eggs. 
Sock bunnies from my own recycled socks.
Ripley loves her little bunny.
The park was wonderful. We have a small circle of families that we do a lot of things with. All of our kids are the same ages and they see each other many times throughout the week. The kids play so well together and the parents are all very nice and genuine. We are lucky to have a good circle.

Our picnic was fairly simple. We had snacks, bubbles, little paper airplanes, sidewalk chalk, and our own egg hunt. The night before I went out and bought more eggs, determined that the kids would not be left wanting. I admit now that I went a little overboard, and I'm ok with it.

Michaels had the best bubble wand.
Flying a paper kite with her Uncle.

Happy memories.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Vomit and Poop

This is what it is to be a parent.

Last night Leeloo decided to see what the teapot was like - down her throat. Immediately she began to Linda Blair and projectile vomit all over the carpet. A bath, a rag, and a vacuum later, she of course was hungry again.

Tonight as she was exiting the bath she began to struggle with dad. I was out of the room but I heard this kinda dialogue:

"Daddy! Daddy!"
"What are you doing?"
"What? I dunno why you're squirming. Wait? Are you pooping? Oh you're pooping!"
Tears and sobs.

By the time I got in there, the chiquita was standing naked in front of dad and looked super sad. In the tub was a pile of poop. D was trying to get her back int the tub because she wasn't finished and I stopped him, opting for the potty chair instead. She sat willingly, but cried the whole time. My drama queen. I think she was shocked and embarrassed.

Poor girl - she is understanding more and more everyday but still in the in-between of language and reason. Even when she bridges the gap I have to remember that she will still probably ignore some (most) of what I say and make poor decisions.

Yes. What it is like to be a parent.

On a happy note - here are some fountain pics of her not being gross at all.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Day in the Life

I was on Facebook last night and there was a post about going stir crazy because of a lack of Friday night plans. I hadn't even realized it was Friday before I read that.

Pre-children, pre-suburbia, pre-mommyhood, I was out every Friday night. Most nights in fact. I love music and dancing and coffee and art - I did everything and anything that would pull me out of the house. I performed, had rehearsal, volunteered and worked 40-60 hours a week. All while being aware of what was going on and where and who would be there. I prefer "social butterfly", but my partner likes to affectionately say, "party girl".

When I moved to the suburbs it was hard to adjust. Nothing is in walking distance. The closest coffee is Starbucks - in a grocery store. There is great art - about 40 minutes away. And music and dancing is rare and far between. Before Leeloo we had the divorcee schedule. Every other weekend we'd be sans kids and head out for a downtown brunch or take a drive up the coast. Now that we are 24/7 parents those trips have been replaced by the park, soccer and football and beach, today it was a science fair, and tomorrow Legoland. I forget it's Friday night because the days are such a whirlwind that by the time I open my computer I'm exhausted. It's fun and good, but mighty different from the life once lived.

A typical day:

6 - 6:30am - Leeloo wakes up and wanders into our room to snuggle.

7ish - she decides that it's time to eat, and usually sits straight up saying "Yum! Yummy!"

7:30 - FaceTime with the grandparents. She officially thinks my computer's only purpose is this. She opens it up and looks at the screen saying "Grandpa? WahWah? (her version of abuelita)".

8:30 - breakfast. Avocado on toast is popular. So are soft boiled eggs. And fruit, lots and lots of fruit.

9:00-10 - Caillou is on. Leeloo's favorite show is about a Canadian 4 year old boy. He's kinda whiney and always disappointed, but she likes him so much that she no longer refers to her brothers by anything other than "Caillou!"

I use this time to shower, get dressed, clean up breakfast, get Ripley dressed and get things packed up for the morning (snacks, lunch, etc).

10am - Morning activity. Park, library, dance, playdate, swimming, anything that gets us out of the house.

On a walk to a playdate. We stopped for every snail and she
discovered ants. It took us almost an hour. Toddler pace.

On this particular day Leeloo got her first cruising experience. In an Escalade no less, with big ginormous speakers.

Noon - time to head home for nap.

12 - 3 - welcome to the unpredictable portion of the day. On good days she sleeps for a few hours. Lately, afternoon naps are hit or miss. Mama still needs the quiet time. Please, nap overseers of the universe, have pity on us!

She's so lovely.

2:30 - B comes home from middle school. Let the homework begin!

3:30 - Z gets home from school, yet more homework to be had.

4:00 - By now the chiquita is up and it's snack time for all the kiddos. Then we are either off for a family walk, errands, or football practice.

On our way to practice:

What we do while the boys practice:

5ish - head home and cook dinner. Or drop the boys off to their mom and sometimes cheat on dinner.
This day we had some errands to run (buying stainless steel bowls since I'm trying to ween out all plastic). Dinner was found nearby.

Dinner cheat. Panera.

Always gotta stop and see the fish.

6:30 - our normal dinner time.

7:00 - clean dinner plates while the kids go bananas.

7:30 - bath time for all.

8:00 - reading time for the chica and bedtime for the monkeys.

8:30 - 9:30 - convince the 2 year old that sleep indeed is a good thing.

10:00 - 12am - Glass of wine, piece of chocolate. Catch up on daily events, write, edit pictures, anything I can while my eyes stay open. Oh, and maybe spend sometime with the partner (if he hasn't fallen asleep with Leeloo - which is what he did tonight).

And you wonder why I don't remember that it's Friday. Whew!

(all these pics were taken on one day - the outfit changes are typical, 2 year olds are messy!)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mommy & Me: Dancing

Our first Mommy & Me adventure was swimming (which needs to be revisited soon), our second was dance. This is California, so water is abundant. The swimming lessons are a necessary survival need. Dance on the other hand was purely a mommy need. Leeloo loves to move and jump and jiggle, so I didn't have any worries about her interest, but her discipline was another issue. Luckily we began with a basic movement class and any participation (even if it was circling the class at mach speeds like a crazy child) was regarded as valid. 

The first class was promising, the chiquita seemed genuinely interested in mimicking the teacher. However, after the newness wore off, the class devolved from a dance space to a "let's run around and be silly" space. She's two. I didn't expect much more.

However, to my surprise, at the end of our lessons she knew some things. If you ask her what First Position is, her little feet mermaid out and her hands move up to hold an imaginary ball. She will then open to Second and do a little plie. She can also point and flex her toes and move across the floor on her tippies (while flitting like a butterfly). The chiquita even learned how to bow!

We are gonna take a dancing break (and return to swimming), but I can't wait until our next lessons to see what else sinks in!

Having tea in her new favorite ensemble.

On a colder day, taking baby to class.

Butterfly time.

Mostly she just puts the scarf over my head while the teacher dances with hers.

First position.

Break for some music time (on dress-up day - explaining the bee wings)

Finished with class - ready for the world!

Dance prepares you for everything.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Confrontation at the Park

One of the main reasons that we frequent the park so often (despite fighting cabin fever), is so the the chiquita can socialize. Human interaction is this crazily intricate web that takes acrobatics to navigate - and here we are, as parents, fumbling to teach it to our little ones. Mostly the playground is a good experience. Leeloo has her little clique of friends that she plays with, but she also includes anyone that is in her little 3 foot bubble. Age two is nice that way - no discrimination. Occasionally there are disagreements, someone claims a toy, or sand gets tossed in an eye, but luckily these moments pass quickly and all is forgiven easily.

Today I got a glimpse of what I hope is not the future yet to come. The park was super busy. Every other day there is a mama exercise group that floods the playground. The whole place vibrates on these days. Leeloo was playing quietly on her own and I was letting her be independent. However, I still watch her, and all the kids that I know and love. Actually, I watch all the kids - even the ones I don't know, because they are kids, and vulnerable, and very apt to needing an adult to help with something. I was there watching, when a situation started brewing. It was innocent. M was at the top of the slide and R jumped on the bottom, ready to climb up. A scenario that happens almost everyday - no biggie whatsoever. M's mom intervened, first asking R to let M slide down, and then when R was not compliant she tried to get M to move over to the next slide. M got upset, wondering why, if he was there first, he had to be the one to move. These boys were 4 and 4 and a half. The younger more gentle and the older definitely more assertive. Unfortunately, the scene devolved and poor M got taken away for a time out. Not because he was the one in the wrong, but because he choose not to listen to his mother after he became upset.

 At this point nothing out of the ordinary had happened. R was certainly being bratty, but most kids have their turn. It wasn't until M and his mom were gone that I overheard R excitedly say to his friend (who looked like a scared deer), "Look! We got M in trouble! He'll probably have to go home! He'll probably have to go straight to his room!". These words were laced with equal parts menace and glee. It was terrible. And unacceptable. And I couldn't let it pass.

 The conversation that followed went something like this:

Me: "R, that was not a nice thing to do to M. Where is your mother? We need to talk to her."
R: "No we don't! I have no mother!"
Me: (to the scared deer boy) "R is not being a good guy and his mom needs to know. Which one is she?"
R: (with intimidation) "Don't tell her! She wants to get me in trouble!"
Me: (again to deer boy) "If R was being mean to you, would you want him to stop? Would you want his mom to know?"
With that, the little deer boy pointed to a group of moms that were in exercise gear, talking, with their backs to the playground. I thanked him and looked at R with my most serious face, and said: "I know who your mother is now. If you play nice, I won't have to talk to her."

 The playground chaos took over and I thought that was the end of it. M's mom came back (having two other children to keep tabs on) and felt guilty for essentially punishing M for being bullied. Eventually she went back over to M, who was still upset, and I overheard R saying something like: "let's go look at M in trouble!". Oh kids - they are sometimes awful!

I stepped in immediately and told the boys to leave M his space. When met with more indignation by R I went to his mom. I slipped into her circle, and didn't wait for her conversation to end before I quietly told her what happened. Immediately she yelled at R to come towards us. I calmly explained what I had told her and she demanded if it was true. He hung his head and said yes. She stood up and grabbed his arm and pulled him over to M to apologize - thanking me, while threatening him.

I felt bad for the kid. He was a bully and he totally upset me, but the outcome of the whole situation upset me more. Bullies learn their behavior. This boy is only 4 (and a half). The whole time his mother was chatting, back turned to the playground. When the little deer boy pointed her out, I watched to see if she'd turn to check in on R, but I never saw her face. R made some bad decisions, but I won't hold it against him. I will be nice (but on guard), when I see him again. Throughout this whole scene I knew where Ripley was and that she was ok. She is my priority. Throughout my day I have to excuse myself from conversations because she requires my attention. I teach her patience, but I am also protective and interested and concerned with her well being. At the end of it M's mom thanked me for talking to R's mother. She said that it was so hard for her to do that. I let her know that I will always be there to stand up for our kids. I am confrontational. Maybe it's the latina in me, but I will not be timid when our kids are at stake.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Frozen was the second movie Leeloo got to see at the theater (Despicable Me 2 being the first). She was super excited to be there with her brothers and her abuelita, but we were a little late, so instead of row seating we were at the far back right corner of the theater sitting two by two. She seemed fine sitting next to me and was really excited by her snacks, but as the theater went dark I realized that she was wearing her sparkle boots. The cute ones that have twinkle lights that turn on with every bump. She soon realized that we could have our own private disco! Mom fail.

The experience (despite the shoes) went very much like her first time. She sat for about half an hour, then wanted to explore a bit. We went in the lobby and wandered about, looked at movie posters and then moseyed back into the theater (maybe 20 min later?). Then after a bit she wanted to wander again, and sit with her brothers, and have more disco time, and look at the movie posters some more... Fairly typical behavior for my just 2 year old.

Since there was so much meandering I didn't think Leeloo particularly liked the movie. She had fun, but turn Tinkerbell on and she's zombied out into fairy land - complete attention. However, despite all the distractions, the music from the movie completely resonated with her. Everyday she brings me the iGuy and asks to watch Frozen songs. She'll start with "Let It Go", then "Snowman" and "Summer". Not only does she smile and dance, but she sings! Her whole being lights up and she loves it. Just one of the many highlights in our day.