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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Sunday Surf: June 3

Welcome to this week’s Sunday Surf!

Sunday Surf 2012

Here’s some of my favorite articles that I read these past couple weeks.  Enjoy!

As Pip’s turned 2 and we’ve entered a whole new phase of parenting, I’m finding articles on cooperation and understanding very helpful. A few of my favorites are below:

Some feel-good stories: 


Thanks to Authentic Parenting and Hobo Mama for hosting this fun Sunday ritual! Visit their pages for more Sunday Surfs!

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Weekly Links (Sunday Surf) May 27

Welcome to this week’s Sunday Surf!

Sunday Surf 2012

Here’s some of my favorite articles that I read these past couple weeks.  Enjoy!

And a couple more on the Times’ article:


Thanks to Authentic Parenting and Hobo Mama for hosting this fun Sunday ritual! Visit their pages for more Sunday Surfs!

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Late May Gardening

I love my garden! It is so fun to go out every day and see all the new things that are happening.

Petunias & Peas

The ripe strawberries are the star of the show right now. They are absolutely delicious, melt-in-your-mouth berries. You have to be very careful picking them because they are so soft they can melt between your fingers. We buy organic strawberries all the time, but even they taste like a mild strawberry flavoring in comparison to the real thing grown right outside your front door.

So simple yet so incredible

The peas are beautiful too, sending out curly feelers to grow and climb toward the sunshine. Little peapods are forming in between their closed leaves, beautifully ripening each day.

Reaching Pea

I think I missed the kale this year, which is a HUGE bummer, because I ate that every day last summer!!!!  The garden center I relied on for my early veggies (lettuce, onions, kale, leeks) didn’t have any kale. Now there’s none to be found in the other garden centers. But I haven’t given up – I still have two spots dedicated to it and am hoping I run across it somewhere. Now that I think of it, they also didn’t have any leeks or onion sets to transplant. I might have to go to a bigger center next year.

Box of Carrots

Since it’s  Memorial Day weekend I decided it was OK to start planting my warmer-weather friends:

  • Basil
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumbers
  • “Waterlemon” (as Pip calls it)

And I also threw in some celery for good measure. A few more squares of carrots were added, too.  Unfortunately, the edamame we planted didn’t take – not one! We replanted them last weekend but I’m not sure they’ll grow or not.

Nearby, the potatoes are absolutely thriving!! After being uncertain if they were even going to sprout, they have just taken off in leaps and bounds. In fact, I’ve hilled one corner of the box as much as I can possibly hill it! They are very eager growers. My husband’s already planning what to make with them. :)

18″ of Hilled Potatoes

Here’s how the layout looks now. Things change as the season progresses, and I find different things to plant or other things are not available. Everything is planted except for 8 of the 9 tomatoes. I will be going on a tomato plant hunt this weekend for the ones I want. :D

Garden Layout I wish I had written down when I planted each veg, so I know for next year and so I can track days to harvest. I’ll have to be more conscious of doing that next year.

Another exciting development is that I’ve inspired one of my neighbors to garden! They said they like seeing what I’m growing and started their own in their yard! YAY for gardening neighbors! I am going to bring them my extra basil to see if they want to plant it. :)

My flower beds are also thriving. Things are blooming, every day surprising me. I love it!

front bed roses


May Night Salvia

Smelling the roses

What does your garden look like this month? What are you most looking forward to eating? :)

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Mother’s Day Recap

Happy Mother’s Day! A few weeks late but I still wish it all to you!

I love Mother’s Day. I suppose I loved it growing up, as much as you can understand it really, but giving my mom extra attention, cards and love was always fun. But now, as a mom, I love Mother’s Day. It makes me feel so proud and happy and pampered and loved. I love a day to celebrate Moms and to celebrate all we do – all I do – as a mom. It’s a beautiful thing.

“Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos and threes by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers, and sisters, aunts and cousins, but only one mother in the whole world.

– Kate Douglas Wiggin

Mother’s Day is not without its sadness now, for me.  Now more than I ever I want to be able to call up my mom and wish her a happy Mother’s Day, now that I know personally what this is like. I want to pamper my mom and do her nails and cook for her and take her for a drive and plant some flowers with her. I want to cherish her.

“People who live well ultimately die well too. By this I mean, they leave people who know how strong the love exchanged is, and they know that it remains. When you take the time to show others that they matter to you and live life large, you become a person whom others learn from. Others then look at their own life and remember to make it count.”   -Allison DuBois

My friend texted me yesterday morning, “Happy Mother’s Day! You make Baby Pip and Big Mom smile everyday. Have a magical day.” It was a perfect way to start off my perfect day. It made me realize how I can cherish my mom with my actions, and in my own mothering. It made me realize I can and do make her happy with my choices and the love and attention I give to my daughter. In honoring myself, and in honoring my daughter, I honor my mother.

And it was a perfect day. After a week+ of rains, the sun was shining this weekend. Yesterday was warm and sunny, my flowers and veggies were happy and blooming.

I woke to this face, beside me, smiling her just-woken-sleep-in-love smile at me. My very favorite smile on earth.

A Good Morning indeed

When we got up, I was ushered into the living room to find a new bird bath waiting for me! I’ve been wanting one for my yard, and hubby and Pip picked out this gorgeous one. The birds are going to love it, and I am going to love watching them splash around in it (instead of in the puddle on the street!)

Splish Splash

After breakfast I was cordially invited to the Daddy and Pip Day Spa, where I entered the bedroom-turned-oasis, with low lighting and relaxing music was on. I was given time to relax with an eye pillow, then received a nice massage. My feet and hands were lotionized and slipped in gloves and socks. Mmmm!

We went outside after breakfast, where we swung on the swings and splashed in the water table.  The bird feeder was put in its place of honor. The front lawn was cut and gutters cleaned (not by me!).

One of the very few reasons I had any respect for my mother when I was thirteen was because she would reach into the sink with her bare hands – bare hands – and pick up that lethal gunk and drop it into the garbage.  To top that,  I saw her reach into the wet garbage bag and fish around in there looking for a lost teaspoon.  Bare hands – a kind of mad courage.   ~Robert Fulghum

My sister arrived for a special visit. She hugged and laughed with Pip, admired our veggies and chatted. We made brunch, my favorite waffles and fruit salad.

Pip napped… I wrote! Sunshine streamed in the window, warm air kissed my flowers and veggies outside… What a beautiful time!

After nap time the fun continued with a trip to the beach! The weather was lovely, and although we wouldn’t be swimming in the cold Atlantic just yet, there was plenty of splashing around.

Pip loves the ocean. It takes my breath away to watch her there. She will stand still, watching the water rushing up around her feet, calves, knees, and then look up towards the horizon and whisper under her breath with a look of amazement on her face, “Ocean!”  It’s one of my favorite places on Earth, too, so her affinity for it touches me deeply.

Then Daddy and Pip took me to one of the best clam shacks around, where we had fish and chips and grilled cheese, yum yum!

All in all, it was a perfect day. My husband’s the best. He and Pip really know how to spoil me! :) Hope you all felt the love on that special day too.

Mother's Day

Mother’s Day Collage

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