Reunion

It feels a bit reckless, posting here, for the first time in over a year. I’ve just read all the posts and truly appreciate all my gathered thoughts, the lovely love notes to my babe. What a treasure, which is what I meant them to be, of course.

Obviously a lot has changed since then, and why shouldn’t it, as so many days have passed.

In life, I have the most amazing son. He’s not yet one…but talk about a fast year. I still have the most amazing daughter, who’s more than four now. And the most amazing husband, still on this grand adventure called Life, and Parenting, with me.

I feel somewhat reserved about sharing here, I suppose I always have. But I’ve been writing poems and just adoring it, just so grateful for this gift that alights on my pillow as often as it does. The poems have become a sort of journal for me, capturing moments of our lives. They are raw and unedited, truly moments in time that I pen in the dim light through squinted eyes, shortly before passing out at night. I continue to feel a need to share them, so I am following that tug, right back to Love Notes Mama.

My hopes for this blog, in addition to me having enough time to write, are: to be a place of openness and pleasure, to be an outlet for sharing and receiving, to be a grateful witness to precious days with our precious ones.

Here is tonight’s poem, which I share as my first love note of the year….

Continue reading

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Snowshine

Our first real snow of the season brought much delight to our household.  It was on the weekend, which is great right there because we don’t have to drive to work. And it meant we had lots of time to play outside.

Pip and I got all bundled up. It was our first time using her new snowsuit. She kept calling it her bathing suit. She had some great boots that she could walk in easily, unlike last year’s pair that she could not maneuver in. Coats, hats and gloves completed the look.

The snowsuit stayed on for the good portion of the day…even inside.

As soon as we were outside, her look of wonder was on her face. Immediately, her gloves were off.

“Mom can I touch it?” she asked me. (She sometimes calls me “mom” now instead of “mommy” or “mama.” Such a 2-going-on-16-year-old!)

Yes, I told her.

“Can I touch it with my hands?” she asked, breathless. I smiled at the fact she asked me this, and told her yes, again.

We were down in front of the house when she thought to ask, “Can I eat it?”

The snow was so fresh and her face so expectant that I just had to say yes. She laughed and laughed as little red fingers lifted the snow to her lips, and tongue. Over and over.

Getting to watching Firsts is one of the coolest gifts of being a parent.

We made a snowman, then a snowdog (thanks to the Snowman movie we watched recently). We found rocks and twigs to accessorize them with. Eventually the snowman received Pip’s hat.

We made angels.

She sat on her little inflatable sled and I dragged her around and around the yard. “Faster! Slower! Don’t tip me!”

And of course, when we came inside, we had to have hot chocolate.

Summertime is really easy to love: sunshine, ocean, flowers, garden, warmth, bare skin.

But winter has its own treasures, too.  These snowflake joys, these cold-nosed pleasures.

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New Year

It’s a new year, and I’ve been reading through this special blog, grabbing snippets to paste into the annual family photo album I like to make.  It’s been really cool to read my observations, and I was struck again with what a gift recording these notes can be. So I’m endeavoring again to write some more.

Right now, Pip is two and 3/4s.. she’s not really a “pip” anymore, either! I was holding her hand the other night in bed and thought to myself, whose hand is this? It’s not the hand of a little child! She’s so big now!

She rationalizes and talks and outsmarts me – the other afternoon she wanted some milkies (yes, we are still nursing although I am working on weaning her) and I told her she could have some before bed. Without a moment’s hesitation she informed me she was sleepy and then asked for milkie’s again. Cheeky monkey!

We went to England over the holidays and she was a spectacular traveler for that long journey (17 hours door-to-door, a feat for us adults, nevermind a toddler). I was nervous the sounds of the engines on take-off would scare her, but my husband and I were determined to be as excited as possible about the flight, thus role modeling for her that it’s something enjoyable and exciting, not nerve-wracking. And she was totally fine – in fact, she nearly fell asleep in my arms within an hour except I had to buckle her in and she woke up. No sweat- she watched some TV before passing out. She had a quick cry halfway there, then slept again until it was time to land, when she sleepily but happily sucked a lollipop. The hour tube ride caused a resurgence of said lollipop, as the poor thing threw up during the morning commute on the crowded tube. It was wonderful to enter into our loved ones’ open arms when we finally arrived!

We saw a fun Pantomime (aka “Panto”) of “Jack & the Beanstalk” at the intimate and beautiful Harrogate Theater. A Panto is a mix of a musical and theatrical performance where the actors interact with the audience. The kids LOVED it, as did I. Singing, clapping and shouting “watch out behind you!” makes for a truly entertaining day. There’s gotta be a huge market in America for Pantos!

In England we barely saw the sun, but when we returned home it was to a snowstorm! The icy sparkle the next day, plus Pip’s glee at the magical wonderland made it all worth it.

snow

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Happy 100th Birthday Julia Child!

Today is Julia Child’s 100th Birthday! Let’s go make a mess in the kitchen in her honor!

Happy Birthday Julia!

Happy Birthday Julia!

I read My Life in France this year, and loved it. Her wit, her passionate love affair with food and with France, and her devotion to the science of cooking all took me by storm and made me want to grab the nearest bowl and whisk up a homemade batch of mayonnaise!

Pizza

“How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like kleenex?” 

Julia was a role model to multiple generations of people, influencing what they ate, how they cooked, where they shopped for food, and how they approached the ritual of mealtime.

"If you're afraid of butter, use cream."

“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”

Some of my favorite sayings by Julia could easily apply to parenting as well… or really, anything you love, or life in general….

“…nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should.”

“…nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should.”

“…no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.”

“...no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.”

“…no one is born a great [parent], one learns by doing.”

“Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”

[Parenting is] love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.

“[Parenting] is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”

“Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed. Eh bien, tant pis. Usually one’s cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile, and learn from her mistakes.”

flooor

“Maybe the cat has fallen into the potty, or the cereal has been dumped on the floor, or the first birthday cake collapsed. Eh bien, tant pis. Usually one’s [parenting] is better than one thinks it is. And if [the house is] truly vile, then the [parent] must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile, and learn from her mistakes.”

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Toddler Laughs

Having such a linguistic child has given me a lot of laughs recently.  We have full on back and forth conversations now. There are questions, answers, connections, more questions. Her language development amazes me, and it is SO fun to know and hear – directly from her – what she is thinking / wondering / feeling, as much as she can vocalize it now.

For example, before we went to the zoo last week, I asked her what animals would we be seeing.  Her first answer: “Cookie Monster!!!” came with hands thrown up in the air in excitement.  Uhhh… yeah, guess that Sesame Street zoo book might have confused her. Or maybe it was wishful thinking?  When I asked her “what other animal?” she said, “Elmo! Grover!” And finally, maybe sick of my questioning (?!) she answered, “Mommy!”  Yes, Animal Mommy would certainly be seen at the zoo…!

Feeding the goat at the zoo

Feeding the goat at the zoo

In the car we stopped at a Starbucks for some morning brew and I asked for a croissant and a bagel.  The woman told me they didn’t have a plain bagel, or a cinnamon raisin one, just an “everything” bagel, which we declined.  As I drove around the corner, this happened:

“Get a bagel, Mommy?”

“No, they don’t have any bagels left.”

“Get a donut?”

Me: eyeing her warily in the mirror, “No, no donut….”

A brief pause, then an exasperated, “What do they have here, Mommy?”

Uh… Where did she come from?!  My husband and I look in amazement at each other thinking about how at one point she could only blink… and now all this!

The other night we were playing on the floor, and Pip said to me, “They’re sleeping, Mommy,” as she pointed to a knife and a fork she had lying down.

I played along, as she laid her plate over them. “Oh, they’re sleeping? And you’re covering them with a blanket?”

“No, a plate,” she corrected as she rubbed their “backs” and hummed them a tune goodnight.

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Feeding and Eating with Kids

In one of the online mothering groups I belong to, one mother recently said her son was in a low percentile for weight and she was feeling extreme pressure for him to gain weight. As a result, meal times were now wrought with frustration and tears for both of them.

This instance really got me thinking about feeding and eating, and what a complex and foreign territory it is to all kiddos and parents.

At Pip’s 18 month check up, the doctor indicated that she was at the lower range of weight for her age group. While he wasn’t concerned, he said if it didn’t improve, we’d have to “do something.”

This made me anxious, mainly because I suspected I wouldn’t agree with his suggestions of “something” to do. In order to avoid the situation entirely, it was clear to me she needed to gain weight.

I don’t like that this was my reaction, but it was what it was.  I already wrote about the use of fear in birth and I think pediatricians can sometimes use fear as well, either unintentionally or with good intentions.  I’d rather receive concrete suggestions, or have more detailed discussions; maybe we needed to do a food diary, or perhaps there were other foods we could offer. This type of conversation would empower us and give us good options rather than leave us unsettled by a vague yet threatening ultimatum.  Maybe still it would be good to remind myself (and the pediatrician) that the often-used growth charts are based upon formula-fed babies, who differ in growth than breastfed babies.

So I could totally relate to the other mother’s situation. The concern, however quiet, in the back of my head that she needs to eat more, scared me.

Dinner Date

Dinner Date

Practicing gentle parenting helped give me the tools to handle my anxiety about this and any food issues as they happened. Here’s how I help myself stay grounded when they pop up:

  1. Trust my daughter and follow her lead. If she’s hungry, feed her. If it’s meal time, or we’re out and it’s been a while, offer her food. I cannot force her to eat, and accepting this truth makes my life so much easier.
  2. Know that my job is to offer her a variety of healthy foods, and her job is to eat it.  This are not my pearls of wisdom; I think the credit can go to Ruth Yaron but I can’t remember for sure. Either way, this knowledge is a lifeline in frustrating mealtime situations.
  3. Be aware of my thoughts and emotions as she’s eating. For instance, if she’s eating a potato I’ll catch myself wondering why she doesn’t eat the corn. If she’s eating the corn I wonder if it’s too much corn. Paying attention to these crazy thoughts help me see them for the mindless chatter that they are and let them go.
  4. Try to look at her diet has being balanced on a weekly basis rather than a daily basis. Whereas an adult may try to get so many servings of fruits, veggies and grains in one day, a baby or toddler’s appetite can fluctuate wildly from day-to-day, but over the course of the week they should more or less get the nutrition they require. Again this is not my pearl – I think the credit goes to a friend’s pediatrician.
  5. Pay attetion to what she likes and have it on hand. There are certain foods my daughter loves that I love to feed her: beans, corn, apples, potatoes, kiwis, bananas, strawberries, peas, among others. When I have them on hand, she’ll eat them.  For instance, I used to give her goldfish in the car to help with her discomfort during car rides. One day I gave her leftover strawberries from her lunch, and to my surprise she ate them all and did not ask for any crackers. Now I never get in the car without a banana or apple for her.
  6. Think of food as medicine. It can heal and it can harm. Be cautious with the sugars, because it really is everywhere, and an excuse for a “special occasion” treat can be had on any day of the week.  Watch for food allergies closely, and if she displays any odd behaviors (from her attitude to an upset stomach) consider that food could be the cause as well. Know the top three food allergens: dairy, gluten, eggs in case you need to try eliminating them.

Overall, our relationship with food is complex. Food is a tense subject in our culture and our country. I sometimes have to make an conscious effort to not create tension for my daughter with meals.  My aim is for eating to be a pleasurable and fun event for us. I want to engage all our senses. I want to impart on her a love and appreciation of all types of food (not to be confused with food-like products!). I want mealtimes to be a time when we nourish our bodies and enjoy each other’s company.

And yeah, I would love for her to eat some carrots, too.

Garden Carrots

Fresh from the Garden

For what it’s worth, Pip’s 2 year appointment came and went, and the doctor never mentioned her weight, and I didn’t ask. :)

p.s. I am not a nutritionist or doctor or anyone even remotely approved to offer food / medicinal advice. Take this for what it’s worth: my experience. :)

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Parenting in Progress

I’m a work in progress. I am definitely a parent in process. Turns out, parenting, just like life, will put a bend in life where you thought a straight line was.  And if you don’t have your crystal ball out, you just might tumble off the road for a beat or two.

My latest “bend” was my daughter turning 2.  I know, those infamous terrible twos, that parents vaguely warn you about while muttering under their breaths and shaking their heads.  Although I don’t think it’s as much “terrible” as it is “challenging,” I’ve become one of those parents, stupefied, defeated, lost. No, not lost. In progress.

My wonderful amazing infant/toddler suddenly became a wonderful amazing toddler/child and while that’s a wonderful amazing thing (it really is!) it’s also like – totally new everything. A more independent, more aware, more involved, more active, more vocal, more more. Which: Yay!  And also: OMG.

And it’s hard to remember this littler being is still quite little and should be quite dependent upon me, especially when she’s clinging to me while I’m trying to cook dinner or conversely running away from my sunlotion-ladened hands.  Because sometimes I find myself thinking, with her being so much more everything, that she should also be more understanding, more able to play independently, or more able to fall asleep on her own.

It’s not all challenging, of course. But it’s definitely all consuming me, in my effort to remain the type of parent I strive to be. I don’t want to yell (I do), I don’t want to be frustrated (oh yeah), I don’t want to be anything but in love with her.  But, hey, I am large, I contain multiples – so does Pip – we all do.

I have to remind myself to forgive myself, for not having gotten the hang of this yet. And to lay off myself- why should I have the hang of this, when it’s all new, just like every day in life is new?  And that I’m doing the best I can, and that Pip is happy and healthy and loved and perfect, really. As am I.

So, that’s where I’ve been.  Realizing (again) that I’m a parent in progress. And that that is pretty special, too.

I’ve also been in my garden, lucky me. :)

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