Snow Painting! One Small Way to Make Winter a Little Less Painful.

I realize that I am super late in the game for winter time activities for tots, but we just got our first real snow of the season here in VA. We’ve made some paper snowmen here and there, had a chance to go sledding while visiting family, talked about why it’s so cold and all, but this has been our first chance to really get into winter and the snow. Oh joy.

Yesterday we did our obligatory snow play in the fresh (albeit ice coated) snow (have you picked up yet that I’m not a snow  lover?) but today was just too cold. Not surprisingly, E woke up all sorts of ready to go play in the snow, but with it being 18 degrees at 8am, that was not about to happen. So I brought the snow inside for a little snow painting.

This is a ridiculously easy activity, and one that covers art, science and sensory all in one.I’d love to say I was the inventor of this awesomeness, but, not so much. I found it on The Pleasantest Thing this morning, and was game as it didn’t involve medicine droppers as many other indoor snow art activities do. One of these days I will remember to buy those. All you need is snow, paint, a few cups, paintbrushes and paper. {For those little ones who might still want to taste the colors, substitute food coloring for paint}

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We mixed green, blue, and pink into three separate cups and E went to town painting her paper with the colorful snow.

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The sensory part is pretty clear: snow is cold and wet! For the science end, here are some opportunities for early science exploration and language to take advantage of:

Talking about warm versus cold: “Your hands are warm, but what happens when you hold the cold cup of snow paint?”

Making predictions for what will happen to the snow: “What do you think will happen when we paint with the snow? Will it stay cold and frozen, or will it melt? What’s your prediction?”

Observing what’s happening to the snow on the paper: “It looks like the snow paint is getting watery as the snow melts. Are you observing that too?”

Taking the temperature of the snow: After the snow melts take the temperature of the melted snow. Draw a thermometer and mark the two readings. “Did the temperature of the snow go up or down when it melted?”

After E was done painting I put the bowl of leftover snow I had gathered onto a tray along with some spoons and cups and let her go to town. She loved it, and I in my ever exciting and luxurious mom-life I got to put a load of laundry in, make a bed and clean the playroom.

All in all, this was well worth the trek outside to get some snow. E now “obsuvs” and knows that snow “mels”, and I defied the laws of physics and gained a few more minutes in the day.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Not Just a Deep Conditioning Treatment.

Let me pre-empt this whole post with the idea that regardless of if you’re a working mom, stay at home mom, work from home mom, dream of having a job where someone pays you to leave the house mom, whatever mom you are, motherhood can be challenging. I say this as I am about to reference an article about women in the office, and although I love a good debate, I don’t want to hear about who has it harder. That is not the point if this post. So let’s continue.

As with most concepts that seem, well, rational, here’s another one that needed a study to be proven true:

“By putting self-concern on par with concern for others, women may feel less altruistic, but they’re able to gain more influence and sustain more energy. Ultimately, they can actually give more.”-From the New York Times article Madame C.E.O., Get Me a Coffee. You can read the full article here.

I’m sorry, this is news? Yes, in a shocking turn of events, when women take the time to look after themselves, they can be more successful in their endeavors and feel less like the walking dead.

Obviously this article is talking about women in the workplace. This idea, however, rings true for those at home caring for their children as well. Taking the time to do something for yourself is actually beneficial for not just you. It ultimately makes you more productive, and therefore able to do more of all that you have to do, and to do it well.

Take a minute and let that sink in. Because I’m not saying that in 5 years when both kids are in school for at least half the day you can justify doing something for you. I’m not saying that in a few months, when you’ve got that nap schedule nailed down, then you can take the time to fit in the workouts you’ve been missing.

No. I’m saying that now, today, you should be taking time for yourself, to do what makes YOU feel renewed. A good workout, a deep conditioning treatment, the time to put on actual eye color and not just slap some mascara on those sleep deprived eyes. From the moment your feet hit the floor in the morning, there is something that needs doing. Breakfast, the dog, the laundry, the crumb covered floor, the migrating toys, the closets full of crap that should be thrown away, the bathroom floor that has been peed on how many times? There’s always going to be something.

It’s OK to ask your toddler to play on their own for a few minutes, they should be able to anyhow. Putting your infant in a bouncy seat and therefore not interacting with your baby every waking minute is OK. They’ll be fine. And that thing on the list of the myriad of things that need to be cleaned? It can wait. Everyone will ultimately be better off.

But you know who will REALLY benefit from this? The person who this will have a huge impact on? Your daughter. Because this behavior of ignoring our needs while meeting everyone else’s, that’s learned. We didn’t learn it in a formal lesson, we learned it from watching our mothers exist in every day life. I for one am for a change in E’s cultural curriculum.

Doc McStuffins Babysat E While I Was Sick. And I’m Totally Cool With That

I haven’t been sick sick in a long time. I think the last time I had a fever I was teaching preschool, a job where hazmat suits should be issued but sadly aren’t. Then this weekend we got the head cold from Hell. Not a lot of snot, a minor sore throat, but a high fever that wouldn’t leave for three days. E came down with it on Thursday, meaning little sleep for me, and I got it Friday. This deployment has been wrought with sickness. Given our close timing, I can only assume we picked it up at dance class from the little love who was lethargic and coughing. Thanks awesome mom for bringing your sick kid. Hey dance mom, in the future let’s keep in mind that it’s a toddler dance class, not the New York City Ballet. Thanks.

Anyhoo. Given the whole three days of misery thing, she was 100% by Saturday evening. I was not. Sunday morning arrived along with a necessary trip to the store for dog food (my plan had been to go to the pet food store on Friday, and clearly that didn’t happen) as at this point Meatball had had whole wheat bread and yogurt (at least they were organic…) for two meals. One outing with a potty training toddler and a large bag of dog food and I wasn’t up to entertaining E. Enter the DVR and Doc McStuffins. Thank you Lord for DVRs. E had the time of her life watching every Doc we have, and I was able to lie like a dead thing on the couch running death prevention. We are both still alive so clearly I did a bang up job.

E watched pretty much a whole day of TV, and survived. As did I. I felt like a new person after a day of rest and a good night’s sleep. If you had told me when E was born that she would watch an entire day of TV, I would have said maybe when she’s in college. Or, 2 1/2.

This brings me to the larger point of sharing this weekend’s misery and my adoration of Doc. I’ve had one too many conversations with mom friends who feel stressed that they aren’t living up to the ideals of a parenting style. My philosophy: Parenting is pragmatic.

It’s comforting to hold a parenting philosophy close. Attachment Parenting, Free Range Parenting, The Child Centered Approach, etc etc. They can offer guidelines and answers to problems at all hours of the day, but only within the confines of their tenets. Life, however, does not always fit nicely into a particular parenting philosophy’s teachings. So many parents, especially moms, who already have one of the hardest jobs known to humankind, are left feeling like failures as they weren’t able to live up to the {Insert Parenting Philosophy Here}’s ideal of what a parent should be doing.

The tenets of Attachment Parenting were born in a laboratory setting.

Free Range Parenting was created by ONE MOM, based on her and family’s experiences.

And on, and on, and on.

This isn’t to say that many parenting philosophies don’t have value. Most do. But to hold so strongly to a parenting philosophy that you alter your life in ways that compromise your sanity, well that’s just insane. As for myself, I am indebted to dear Doc McStuffins and I don’t regret it one bit.

 

 

Hey? So How’s Life?

I took a break for a bit here to focus on an endeavor that lots were asking for: a place dedicated to fitness, healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle in general. If you haven’t been there, take a gander at 10 Years and Counting: A Weight Loss Journey.

In the meantime, I’ll skip catching you up on all of life, it’s been, well, life with a toddler, add in a deployment. Lots to bitch about, but who needs to hear that? Along with the struggles there have been some bright points. Shall we call them, learning opportunities?

As of today, E and I have begun to SUCCESSFULLY potty train. You can read about the first attempt here. Not so successful. Four days ago she made the decision that diapers were not her thing anymore, she wanted big girl panties. A few accidents here and there, and by day three, all was well. Then…she got the tummy bug that’s been lurking around these parts. Let me just say, I didn’t think that much could be inside one 2 year old. I’ll leave it at that. Luckily, it was a quick one, 7 hours of restlessness and feeling pretty icky, and she was back to herself. The fact that that was 2AM and she wanted to play, not so awesome, but by 3:30 she agreed to try to go to sleep. And then woke up at 7:30, bright eyed and ready for the day. She got back into her big girl panties and carried on, which I was really happy about. I had enough laundry to take care of!

So far this deployment E and I have so far survived round 2 of potty training, and come out the other side with success, and a nasty tummy bug. We also made our first unaccompanied long distance road trip (10 hours) with no issues and no breakdowns, neither car nor mental, over the Holidays.

One of my biggest fears was her being sick like that and me being on my own. Not for the gross factor, though that was nasty, but more for me second guessing my judgement: Am I making the right choice? Should she go to the ER? Is she getting dehydrated? So getting through her being sick and pulling through with flying colors, without me losing my gourd, I’m giving myself a pat on the back for that one. And no, no trip to the hospital was made, she was peeing just fine (I may have forgotten to put a diaper on before she fell asleep, poor love woke up soaked) and, like I said, was ready to party at 2AM. Thank you Frozen for providing said party.

All in all, we have so far done pretty well this deployment. I may be taking some serious leniency with cheat days and wine is for weekends on a regular basis, but at this point I’m OK with that. I’ve gained a lot confidence in myself as, well, myself, and as a parent. I won’t be biting at the bit for the next deployment to come around after Jer gets home from this one, but I’ll be taking the perspective from the start of it that it’s a chance to see just what I’m capable of (please, God, don’t take that as a challenge).

Me and E, we've got this.

Me and E, we’ve got this.

It’s OK to Not Like Your Kid

For those of you who were waiting for someone else to say it first, you’re welcome. For those who think I’m evil, let’s be clear. You’ll always love them, they’re your child. For myself, at the moment I love spending my days with E. She’s hilarious. She tells “jokes”, she counts to three and yells “Go!” for everything she does, she plays independently and she’s generally a kind and playful child. That hasn’t always been the case.

If you had asked me three months ago how I felt about E, or, Dear God, when she was a newborn, how I felt about her, and I would have told you I love her dearly, but I can’t wait for the next chapter. I’m done with this one, I don’t like spending time with her. I imagine there will be many, many more times that I love her deeply, but can’t wait for the next phase to begin.

When people tell me they want time to slow down, that their children are growing up too fast, I know that they must be in a “like” stage. They like spending time with their child. Their child isn’t sucking their soul, or causing them to question what horrible thing they did in a past life. I also know that when I see this person again, maybe next week, maybe in a month or two, they’ll be feeling terribly guilty as they don’t really enjoy spending time with their kid. They’ll phrase it well: “He’s going through a stage”. “She’s in the middle of a leap.” (Thanks Wonder Weeks for this wonderful re-wording of reality). “He has allergies.”

Maybe saying “I really don’t like my kid at the moment” makes me sound heartless, or cruel. As far as I’m concerned, it makes me sound honest, and human. Do you like your husband or partner every day? Nope. But you still love them. And so it is with our children. We always love them. But some days, we don’t like them. For myself, admitting this has made me even more grateful and appreciative for the days when I love spending time with E. Because I know, at some point, I won’t like spending time with her. And on those days, as I’ve done before, I’ll look forward to the next chapter.

The Hardest Part of Being a Stay at Home Mom

The hardest part of being a stay at home mom isn’t the lack of mom friends, the diapers, the awkward play dates or the serious lack of adult conversation. It’s not the chores or the desperate attempts to cling onto whatever career you once had. It’s feeling like, and sometimes knowing, that you’ve seriously screwed up this mom gig multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times a day. Because it all comes down to you.

As a stay at home mom, I’m the one who forgets that they’ve been in their diaper for four hours straight, resulting in the start of a nice diaper rash.

I’ve put her back in pee stained pants, in public, because I forgot to pack an extra pair.

I’m the one who prays with my little girl every night, and curses in front of her at least once a day. OK, let’s be honest, multiple times.

I can’t blame anyone but myself for my daughter’s love of Mickey Mouse Club House, and her desperate attempts to get the TV on. It’s the only show she’ll watch from start to finish, and I totally take advantage of that. So I can do laundry and clean.

If my daughter is taken care of by a grumpy, not in the mood for the job caregiver, that person is me.

If her lunch isn’t so well rounded, read peanut butter and Goldfish crackers, that is absolutely due to my lack of ability to negotiate one more thing.

I have no one but myself to look at if she hasn’t done any art activities.

Same for sensory and early science.

Her socialization? Also entirely dependent on me.

As is her amount of physical activity. Yet somehow that playground a mile down the street often seems a world away.

The days when she’s in a bad mood? Most of the time I can trace that back to me being in a pissy mood and passing on that negativity.

I’ve worked as a preschool teacher and a nanny. I am well aware of what is expected of professional caregivers of children. And the truth is, if I was working for someone else’s family, I would have been fired long ago for my mishaps and misgivings. And somedays that is a hard truth to gripe with.

What I do offer, even on my worst day, is my love for E as her mom. I’m banking that that is enough to make up for the lack of professionalism as a caregiver that I bring to the table daily as a stay at home mom. Like really banking on it. Because like I said, I screw this gig up on a regular basis.

I’m going to go ahead and hope I’m not alone on this one.

 

 

 

Yup, It’s Just Another Day, and I’m Good With That.

We didn’t go to a museum today, we didn’t have a play date, or go to a story hour. We didn’t make an art project, or do a special sensory activity. We have nothing Pinterest worthy to show for ourselves today. We didn’t even go outside (to be fair, it’s pouring rain). We spent the day hanging out inside, playing, dancing, watching some TV (gasp!) and just living out another day.

And it’s been lovely.

Not because it’s oh so relaxing, I mean I’m still spending it with a toddler, but it’s nice to take a day to slow down and have an opportunity to sit back and really look at how awesome my kid is. When you’re rushing out the door to get somewhere and your little one is bound and determined to finish their puzzle, their mastery of basic shapes may not seem so exciting. On a daily basis you might “know” what your kids can do, but knowing and appreciating are two different things.

And so, after a quiet day at home, here is the latest awesomeness of E:

E can count from 1 to 10. It may be the cutest thing I’ve ever heard. 

She can count three objects in a row (pointing and saying “1, 2, 3″)

She has a serious love/obsession with flipping off of laps. 

She has mastered a majority of her puzzles. 

She loves to read. She now “reads” her favorite books. 

She has a strong love of Mickey Mouse Club House. I’m not proud of that one. 

She loves to dance. 

She has a really great sense of humor. She even cracks herself up. 

She’s a little cuddle bug, and gives some of the best hugs. 

She has some serious leadership skills. These occasionally land her in Time Out, but they’ll become very useful later in her life. At least that’s what I’m telling myself today. 

E checking out the rain, just to make sure we really, really couldn't play on the slide.

E checking out the rain, just to make sure we really, really couldn’t play on the slide.

E made a chair out of her blocks, which all four of her baby dolls took turns sitting in followed by herself. She thought this was JUST hysterical. And really, it was kind of amusing.

E made a chair out of her blocks, which all four of her baby dolls took turns sitting in followed by herself. She thought this was JUST hysterical. And really, it was kind of amusing. Notice the Minnie Mouse socks?? Ya. Not proud. 

Tomorrow we’ll be rushing about to enjoy our last full day on the Cape, with hopefully some nice outside time, and Friday we’ll be traveling for a busy wedding weekend. But today, we’re taking it low and slow. And I’m good with that.