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 Now that we are 24/7 parents those trips have been replaced by the park, soccer and football and beach, today it was a science fair, and tomorrow Legoland.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.