Friday, December 7, 2012

I'm exhausted

Our sleep saga with Turtle has not reached a conclusion, unfortunately. The sitting-outside-the-door solution only worked for so long, and now he's gone back to being clingy and needy and so on and so forth. I'm currently sitting in his room, where I've been for the last HOUR. The only good news is that he's finally stopped talking and fussing, so I'm hoping he's on his way to a nice sleep. The nice thing about this late falling-asleep-time is that he sleeps pretty late in the morning. Unfortunately, Tadpole goes to bed right on time like a little sweetheart, and gets up right on time as well.  No rest for the weary.

A couple nights ago, when Turtle was protesting and I was still attempting to sit outside his room, I finally got frustrated and angry and let him cry.  For over an hour.  He SCREAMED.  I started really freaking out that he might be scared, and when he started shouting "Mamma, help me, help me" I couldn't take it any more.  I ended up lying with him on the futon until he fell asleep.  He then woke up at least three more times during the night, and the husband ended up sleeping on the futon (I guess he moved Turtle to his crib at some point).

Two nights ago he said he was afraid of "the truck outside", but I couldn't get him to elaborate.  The next morning I asked him about the truck, and he said it was gone, and he's never mentioned it again since.  Last night, he cried once during the night (the husband got up), coughed for at least 20 minutes between 4 and 5am, and when the heat came on at 5, it slammed his door shut (I usually leave a towel on the floor to prop the door open to prevent that from happening, but hubby forgot to replace it) and woke me up thoroughly (not Turtle, though, thank heaven).  Can I say I am tired?

I am at a total loss, and we're leaving for Italy in 10 days, so I don't think it's worth trying to work things out at this point.  We'll just hope things go better in Italy, and for the transition back home again in 2013.  I can't believe I only have two more preschool days until we leave - how will I get anything done?!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Play houses and barn!

So I am too excited not to post these now, even though they're not quite done!  I don't think I'll have a good photography chance after I finish them because they'll shortly be going as gifts to my kids and one of their friends and they'll be well-loved (I hope) and no longer in pristine condition.  I found this blog here, which led me to the tutorial here.  If you are interested in doing this, check out the flickr site with all the uploaded photos of people's projects.  So now I present the projects I've been laboring over for weeks and weeks.

This one is a gift for my good friend's daughter, who just turned 2:

Here is a view from the end, with the shutter detailing:

Those tabs you see are velcro, and when you undo them, you can open up the house to play inside:

I got her a little L.alalo.opsy doll with a sleeping bag to play in the house.  I've actually never heard of these before, but I thought they were much cuter than the traditional or di.sney princess dolls.

This is the barn I made for my kids.  It still needs some work, but from this view it's essentially finished:

From this view, it's not finished.  I glued on that beehive, but I need to sew on the little bee buttons that came with it:

Inside, there is a vegetable garden, a fence, and a pond, plus some animals.  I also ordered a few mini wooden tractors from etsy, but they haven't arrived yet:

And this house is for my kids, too.  It's definitely not done yet.  The front needs a little something more.  And i need to finish the fence.

The back is mostly done.  I would like to string a laundry line with mini-clothespins between the trees, but that won't happen for a while yet.  I also have ladybug and flower beads to add to all sides:

 And the inside.  Still needs work as well.  I made that little wooden bed with a mattress, blanket, and pillow.  I've also found some neat furniture online (including this), but haven't decided on anything yet.  My husband thinks I should have a little bathtub, but I'm not totally sure how to do that yet. I would totally take suggestions for what to put in the house as well as outside on the grass.

I did make a few changes to the pattern, obviously.  The original pattern called for sewing up two sides of the house and using a button with elastic to secure the other two sides.  I wanted to be able to completely flatten the house for easy portability (i.e. the ability to pack it in a suitcase), so I left it all open.  However, this led the problem that it was too floppy to stand up just using a button and elastics, so I ended up using velcro tabs.  I also made the barn with a three-part roof instead of a two-part roof.

So there you go - Christmas gifts 2012!

What Christmas gifts are you giving this year?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Well, the preschool dilemma has been solved, at least for the next 6 months.  Whew.  I went to visit the last school I was considering, a Montessori school really close to our house (less than five minutes in the car, and  probably less than 10 minutes by bike, although it involves a rather steep overpass).  It is not perfect, but then I don't think I will find a school that is.  The big plus is that they're willing to hold spaces for us until March, so I left my paperwork and deposit check today.

It is a big load off my shoulders!  They don't do 2-day spots (which seems weird), so we are signed up for 3 days per week, which is a bit of a change, but one that I think I'm ready for.  I am starting to get ready to move on with my life and consider a new career, and I will need that extra day, so I think it is a blessing.  I also think, or hope, that the kids will adjust better if they go more often.  And 3 days at this school is cheaper than 2 days at our current school, so yay!

As I said, it's Montessori, which is a plus.  They have two big classrooms with mixed ages in both, which I also think is good because I think it's more natural for kids to be in a mixed-age setting to a certain degree.  It has a great play yard, and a pet snake and rabbits.  It's right across the street from a gym, where they do some extracurricular activities, such as swim lessons in the summer.  I have to pack lunches, but I'm ok with that - it's better than eating the junk they get at their current school.  So that's settled, and I'm relieved.


I am almost done with several projects/gifts, and I'm excited about them.  I will hopefully finish them and be able to post some photos on Thursday or Friday.  We are celebrating Christmas on Sunday with my family, so I'm trying to get the gifts done by then.  My mom got the kids the IKEA toy kitchen, which I put together today.  I really hope they like it.  I think I might make them little potholders someday, too, and I'd like to somehow make a fridge to go with it at some point in the future.  Also, I don't like the white color (the natural wood part is ok), so I'm plotting to someday paint it (possibly when the kids are older and get bored of it).


Toddler discipline is a tricky subject, and one which I suspect is a source of marital problems.  We have a lot of disagreeing around here.  Our main problems with the kids are fighting over toys, wanting something we don't want them to have (i.e. cookies, keep watching TV when we say enough, etc.), not wanting to do something they need to do (wash hands, brush teeth, go to bed), bedtime/sleeping struggles (which I've written about a LOT lately), and mealtimes.  The simple way to deal with all of these things, of course, is to set rules and then stick to them.

It's not as simple as it sounds, though.

For one thing, how do you know which rules are appropriate?  And since toddlers develop mentally and physically on a daily basis, what they are capable of and how much they understand is constantly changing, so the rules can't be too rigid or pretty soon they won't make sense.  And if you have rules about everything, you will constantly be in a power struggle with your kids and that is really no fun for anyone.

And then, what do you do when the rules are broken?  Punish?  Natural consequences?  Explain other consequences and then follow through (i.e. time out, loss of privileges, etc.)?  What happens when one parent doesn't always follow through?  What if the kid is sick?  What if you weren't watching and you don't know what happened?  What if the kid doesn't seem to understand the consequences (i.e. doesn't understand that he doesn't get dessert because he doesn't understand or remember what he did wrong)?  What if he is throwing a tantrum?  Ignore it?  Put the child in his room?  Try to comfort him?

I'm really struggling here, although through a bit of trial and error, I'm coming up with solutions.  I'm having a hard time setting some rules, but I think I've worked out some discipline solutions for the obvious stuff.  I've read about helping children work through their own solutions to problems, and while mine are too young to really do it, when a fight breaks out, I try to offer suggestions and work with them to fix it.  I think the best thing for saying no TV or no cookies or whatever is to just calmly keep repeating the rule, once you've decided what the rule is, and offer other possibilities if the kid is open to them.  So I'll say "I told you that would be the last video for today, but we can build with blocks or play with play dough now".  Does it always work?  Definitely not.  Sometimes I ask the kid to repeat the rule, like "Do you remember what we agreed before we started that video?"  Also doesn't always work, but sometimes it does.

And for when these things don't work, I ignore the tantrum for a bit, depending on how things are going.  If Turtle (my typical tantrum kid) is open to listening to me talk, I keep repeating myself over and over, saying what the rule was, and what his other options are, and telling him I'm sorry that he's mad but that's the rule.  When he's being receptive, it's nice.  He still needs to calm down and get over it, but mentally I can see he's there.  Other times, not so much, and if he pushes me away, I tell him I'll be ready to talk or play when he's calmed down, and then I check back every few minutes, and at some point, he's ready to cuddle and eventually to do something else.

It's not easy.  We haven't figured out the bedtime or mealtime battles, not by a long shot.  It's always harder to get the kids to do something they don't want to do (like eat or go to bed) versus stopping them from doing something they want to do (stealing a toy, throwing things).  Some days I have a lot of patience, and it goes really well.  Other days, I just don't know how I will get through 5 more minutes.  Those days are hard.  Really hard.  I sometimes wonder how people with more than 2 kids do it.  Really, how?

But it's really good, it really is.  I don't always remember it, but it is.  Life is sweet, so sweet, and I am so lucky to have these two complicated, loving creatures in it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Today it is pouring rain and Tadpole woke up with a fever and Turtle with a harsh cough like a barking seal. After a bit of children's tylenol for Tadpole and some homeopathic cough syrup for Turtle, we all had a nice morning in our jammies.

One thing that I love about my kids is that they love to read, just like me.  Turtle usually protests having to leave the library, and as soon as I mention going home he starts frantically pulling books off shelves and flipping through them madly, as if he's trying to read as many as possible before I insist that we go.  The best way of getting him out is to tell him he can use the self-checkout machine, and our library is nice because they have a nice low one that is perfect for little kids.

While we have books in our living room and in each of the kids' rooms, one of my favorite spots to sit and read with them is this cozy little nook my sister designed when she drew up our renovation plans.  It's a beautiful floating wood bench, with baskets underneath, bookshelves on one side and a lovely window onto the backyard.  Our contractor stupidly planned things so that there is an electrical panel on the wall opposite the bookshelf, but luckily it is just high enough not to be annoying when sitting and reading, and it is covered by that lovely tapestry from Peru that my husband and I bought at a fair trade store not long after we moved in together - it might just be our first decorative purchase for our life together.

Here is a pic of the kids looking at the rain, which was really coming down at that point:

Here is the view towards the bookshelf - this shelf holds two baskets at the bottom and then holds a shelf of toddler books, my French novels, older kid books that I still have from my childhood, and at the top are some of our books that we don't need easily at hand.

And this is the view towards the Peruvian tapestry.  A nice cozy little corner on a rainy day!

We don't have a window seat cushion, partly because the only place in town I got a quote from was staggeringly expensive, so I folded up an extra comforter and covered it with a quilt that has matching pillowcases, which makes for a nice comfy place to relax.

I hope you are enjoying this day, too!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Preschool advice

I could use some quick advice about preschool, if anyone has any to give.  Turtle and Tadpole are almost 29 months, which is a bit young for preschool, but I need the break and I think the socialization is good for them.  We are about to leave for Italy for 2 months, and I need to figure out what to do about preschool.

My kids go to a really nice, expensive preschool two full days per week.  It is across town, and the way the pricing works, it's much more affordable to send them two full days rather than 4 or 5 half days.  I had some bad experiences with the preschool when we first started there, including there being no one to greet us or help us get settled in on our first day, and there has been REALLY high turnover of the "teachers" (more like caregivers).  I like the current ones, but we've been through something like 4 or 5 in 5 months!  It's been nuts.  If we stay with this school, we will have to pay part-time tuition while we're gone to hold our spots (which is almost as much as full time).

Everyone assured me the kids would get used to going to preschool, but Turtle still cries when I drop him off.  After 5 months.  It's heart-breaking.  They both seem happy at the end of the day, though.

All the cons include:

  • Their schedule is REALLY early compared to our home schedule - lunch at 11:30, nap at 12, while at home we do lunch at 12, nap at 1-1:30
  • I don't like their focus on early academics over play-based learning
  • Their playground seems really boring compared to most other preschools
  • The food is awful (but at least they provide it)
  • Major turnover of teachers so far this year
  • Distance from my house - no chance of biking or walking
I was thinking of switching schools, but there are all the usual problems, including most importantly finding a school with 2 open spots.  

I've found one school for which we are first on the waiting list, but no guarantee that 2 spots will open up at any one time (or at all!), and their business management and administration seems SORELY lacking.  On the other hand, they have a much more pleasant grounds and building, a kitchen garden, and they get the kids involved in food prep and other daily tasks, which I really like.  I generally liked the feel of the school, and I know some parents of kids who go there who love it.

Another school is very close to my house, and I also like their set-up - play-based learning, lovely yard, very relaxed, and great hours and schedule.  The two main issues are that they are Jewish, and we are not, but they have their religious section on Friday, and my kids most likely wouldn't be there on Fridays.  (A little note - I am not anit-Jewish, in fact my father was Jewish, but I do not belong to an organized religion and am not looking for a religious preschool, no matter what religion it is).  And secondly, they don't maintain a waitlist, mostly because demand isn't THAT high there.  So I'd have to wait until a month before I want them to start and then contact the school to see if they have space.  It would be a risk.  I also found the building to be a bit run-down, although not enough to sway me against the place.  It's so close to the house that I could bike easily, and possibly even walk (or take the double-decker bus!), which is a HUGE plus for me.  I'd have to pack a lunch every day, though.

There are a couple other close-by schools, but the main problem, as with all the preschools, is that I can't hold a spot until March or get on a waiting list with a specific start date in mind.

To complicate matters, a good friend of mine has her child at the same school that mine go to, and wants our kids to stay together.  She is also not religious, and doesn't want to send her child to a religious preschool, and she doesn't like that some of the schools I'm looking at are even more expensive than where the kids are now, which matters more to her since her daughter goes full-time so it's a bigger chunk of money to send her kid there.

Is this trip to Italy a great opportunity to switch schools?  Or is it taking away something familiar that would be comforting for the kids after the huge change and upheaval of living in another country for a few months?  On the other hand, if Turtle is still crying when I drop him off, maybe he wouldn't mind switching.  I don't know.  I need to decide yesterday, because I need to give 30 days notice if we're leaving this school, and we leave for Italy in 3 weeks!

Advice, please!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More crafts - travel felt boards

I made these travel felt mats for my kids and my nieces and nephews for Christmas.  They are super easy to make, and if you're making more than one, they're even faster to make assembly-line style (i.e. do all cutting first, then all ironing, etc.  The only part that gets to feel like drudgery is cutting out the million little felt pieces.  I found the travel felt mat tutorial here, and got more ideas for little pieces to play with here. I think I made the mats slightly bigger than in the tutorial, but you can of course make them any size you like.

I'm hoping these will be another great toy for our trip to Italy.  Here are some pictures of the mats that I made, including some ideas of my own:

I made 5 mats, 2 for girls and 3 for boys.  In the future, I would not make them so gender-specific, probably, and I also would use a blue felt background for all of them.  It makes for a more realistic background, and the other pieces look better and are easier to see because it's more contrast. Here is a little dress-up person with some clothes.  I still want to do a few more clothes, including some dresses.  I've found patterns for making these people and their clothes on various sites and blogs, but I actually made these myself:

Butterflies - I'll probably cut out a few more body pieces.  I got this idea from the second link above. These were a bit time-consuming with all the extra cutting and gluing (I used a hot glue gun).
Here are a few trees, plus some weather pieces, which are always useful to throw in for use with various other pieces and scenes.  I also have stars and a moon, which I didn't picture here.  The Christmas tree ornaments are not glued down - the kids get to decorate the tree themselves.

Another tree and some flowers.  Would like to do more of these.

Houses!  These can be a lot more creative and fun, but I made these a while ago when my kids were pretty little, so I just did the basics.  You could also make other buildings like a church or a store or a school.

Cars and other vehicles!  I could get a lot more creative with these now, too.  Nothing is glued together here, the kids have to assemble the cars themselves, but if I made something more elaborate (like the tractors that Turtle is currently obsessed with) I'd probably have some pieces be fixed.  And see what I mean about the weather pieces being useful?

Pizza!  I've actually made a whole variety of fruit and vegetable pieces for our big feltboard, but I don't know how much fun they'd be for travel play:

And there you have it!  A nice mix of ideas from the internet plus my own ideas.  Have fun!  And let me know if you have other ideas, too, I'm always looking for more.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Our tentative bedtime solution

So, we only did CIO for one night, and it was pretty awful, but we were really going crazy with the sleep situation.  I always thought that once you get your kid to sleep through the night, that was it!  I mean, sure, there would be the occasional nightmare or request for water, but I was totally clueless about sleep regression and climbing out of the crib and so on. 

In our case, Turtle knows how to fall asleep without help, he just didn't want to go to sleep in his room alone.  We weren't able to get him to tell us what the problem was, so we couldn't try solving whatever it was that was scaring him or making him not want to go to bed.  Staying with him solved that problem, but created a new one: having someone in the room with him was making him too excited to sleep.  We even tried putting Tadpole in there in a portable crib - it didn't help at all, and prevented Tadpole from sleeping, too.

Based on a similar situation a friend had with her son one year ago, we decided to put a chair just outside Turtle's room.  My husband would get his computer and sit in the chair, show Turtle that he was there working, then close the door most of the way.  It worked!  And for the moment, it's still working.  Turtle has the comfort of knowing someone is there without the distraction of having someone to play with inside his room.  Now, we'll just cross our fingers that it keeps working.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

One crafty Mama - first 8 quiet book pages

I promised crafts, so here they are.

The first major project I finished recently is a series of quiet book pages.  I had set a deadline for our recent trip to Mexico, and finished 8 pages before we left (well, technically 9, but one is a 2-page spread).  They are almost entirely made out of felt, which is great because the edges of the pieces don't fray, and the felt pieces stick together well.

The first page I did was this rainbow page, which I found on this website.  I made a few changes - I used star beads, and I used a different number on each color of the rainbow, so this page can be used for both counting and colors.  I also added a button-on sun and a snap-on rain drop, since those are the fundamental makers of rainbows!  The kids love sliding the beads up and down the ribbons and counting them.

My favorite page is this sandwich-making page, which I got inspiration from here.  A few changes I made were to have a one-door fridge, a blue plate to match the plates we use, a basket for the bread (which I would have liked to make more basket-like), ketchup and mustard bottles, and a jar of mayo, which is open at the top.  There's also a knife I made by sewing a gray and black sleeve that fits over a jumbo popsicle stick that I cut in half.

A big favorite around here is the yellow school bus page.  I came up with this one on my own, although when I searched later I found a few similar pages online.  I used vinyl to sew 4 windows, into which I slid pictures of our family, and which have flaps that the kids can lift to reveal our faces.  The wheels can turn or be unbuttoned.  I would have liked to add something else, but I couldn't think of anything.

I came up with the autumn leaves page on my own, as well, after an afternoon spent outside raking leaves with Turtle.  He loves helping me rake the leaves into piles, steering the wheelbarrow, and piling the leaves inside.  The felt leaves stick to the felt pages and can be raked up with the dollhouse rake, which I purchased from amazon.  I originally made a rake out of pipe cleaners, which might work for an older child who could be more delicate, but did NOT work for a toddler.  The leaves can be raked up and stored in the wheelbarrow.

I got the pattern for these sock-matching pages here.  I think these pages would be better for slightly older kids, and actually, the machine should have buttons that I haven't added yet.  This page was more work than it was worth, I think, since making the socks is very time-consuming, but if that's your cup of tea, go for it.  Also, I used magnets inside the socks to get them to stick together, but they're not strong enough to work through two layers of felt.  Luckily, since they're made out of felt, they stick together anyway.  That blog has many excellent ideas.

The number page was inspired by this blog.  This is another one that will probably be better when they're older.  I did not do the double-sided numbers with velcro, since it was becoming a lot of work and since the felt will stick anyway.  The matching colors help the kids match up the numbers.

Another big favorite is the barn, which I have seen many iterations of around the internet.  I used these two blogs for inspiration.  It's quite simple, with a cute red barn and doors that open to reveal finger puppets.  I wanted to do something with the hayloft window that would be more interactive, but in the end I couldn't think of anything.  I added the fence and the grass, which I thought made the page look more "finished".

And the last page I made is for creating an ice cream cone, for which I took inspiration from this blog.  I started hand-sewing this one, and then ran out of steam, so technically it's not finished - I wanted to have a little bucket for toppings, too.  I can always add that later.

At some point, I will put them together to make an actual book.  I bought grommets and I will make a cover and the idea is for it to be able to be taken apart so multiple kids (i.e. twins) can play with it at the same time.  For now, having separate pages works just fine for me.

I have lots and lots more ideas, many of which can be found on my pinterest page.  Considering how thick the book already is with only 8 pages, I probably won't be able to add too many more.

I would love to hear your thoughts and any other ideas you might have.  And if you've made anything like this, please send me a link!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Post-op, CIO, crafting, yay!

Well, the new lifestyle isn't going that well, but that's ok.  The weather's been rough, and I've had a lot of motivation to get stuff done around the house, so I made a conscious decision to go with that motivation while I have it.  I've been cleaning out the kids' closets and our office, which has been a disaster since we moved in over two years ago.  I also tackled a 2-month stack of paperwork, which still needs to be filed.  It's hard every time I have an hour of free time and I have to choose between exercising, which will make me healthier and improve my mood, or knocking something big and important off my to-do list that will make my daily life a little easier and also improve my mood. 

What would you choose?

Saw the orthopedic surgeon this week and had x-rays of my hand.  Things look good, although my ring finger is still really stiff, as well as my pinky, which was badly sprained and stuck in the cast and then the splint along with my ring finger.  Physical therapy is ridiculously painful, so painful that I break into a cold sweat and tears come to my eyes.  I can see how breaking a person's fingers might have been useful during the Inquisition.  Anyway, I can barely bend my fingers, and I have a whole series of exercises I have to do at least 4-6 times per day, preferably after warming my fingers with a heating pad.  Do you know how easy that is to do with two really demanding toddlers around?  Not easy at all.  Some days I feel lucky to do the exercises only 2-3 times.  Luckily, typing is also a good exercise.

Last night we let Turtle cry in his crib after he didn't fall asleep with my husband sitting in there for a half hour.  He cried for well over an hour, and didn't fall asleep until close to 10:30.  It is SO HARD to listen to him cry, but I am out of ideas and don't know what else to do.  I think if CIO doesn't work after a couple more nights, I may try to come up with something else, but I'm willing to give it a chance at this point.  It's been months now of him not falling asleep, and he did fall asleep on his own for over a year, so I know he is capable of doing it.  Also, I've tried over and over to ask him what's wrong and he doesn't tell me, no matter how many different ways I think to ask him.  I know he's not very good at expressing himself yet, but he's quite talkative in general and is usually good at telling me both if he wants/needs something and/or is scared of something, so I don't know why he is screaming and not falling asleep.  It's frustrating for us all.

I've been working on a lot of crafts - is anyone interested in seeing pics?  I've made 8 quiet book pages, I'm almost done making a cloth dollhouse, and I've made multiple fleece hats.  I could get pics up sometime in the next few days if anyone is interested.

OK, I've got about 1.5 hours to try to get dinner prepped, maybe go for a run and a shower, and get as much as possible done around the house.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fall mini-goals

I've been having a bit of an up-and-down attitude about my current situation.  I was actually in a good mood about my broken hand situation for a long time.  I felt that I could get back on track for the marathon, that I was managing daily life pretty well, and that I was lucky and the injury could have been much worse.  Then I fell again and decided to pull out of the marathon, and stopped running, and started eating a lot of stuff I shouldn't, partly out of stress.  This week, my husband's been gone and the kids have been pretty awful, to the point that I cried multiple times yesterday.  I'm missing the rush I get from exercise, and physical therapy has suddenly gotten pretty painful (to the point where I am sweating and squirming and grabbing my seat in pain - sort of like mini-labor).  Today I asked the physical therapist what she though about my progress, and as I suspected, it's not as good as she'd like.  Which is understandable, since with 2 toddlers and no help around, it's been impossible to do my exercises as often as I should.

I decided today that I would go for a run, with my splint to protect my hand.  I just got back and I already feel better.  In a matter of a couple weeks, I went from being an active runner ready for a half-marathon and well on her way to a full one, who felt confident and healthy,who was ready for an awesome cross-country ski season, to someone who is becoming a couch potato and couldn't even keep herself from snacking on cookies every time she felt a bit of stress (and the amount of stress I felt yesterday worked out to about 15 cookies).

So.  I need a goal again.  And I have a few in mind.  My mini-goal deadline is Thanksgiving, which the hope of re-establishing some good habits.

I'm still signed up for a 10k for November 17.  Until then, I will run 3 times per week, 3-5 miles each time.  I will work out at least 2 other days per week by doing exercises at home or going for a bike ride if my husband is home. 

I will not snack between meals (possibly except of fruit, I'll see how it goes).  I'll go back to my usual schedule of a healthy breakfast (usually a slice of whole-wheat bread with cream cheese, or yogurt and cereal), lunch (need to get this healthier), afternoon coffee, and dinner without second helpings.  Dessert for special occasions only or nights out.  No more cookies!  Coffee only once a day, and don't drink it if I don't really feel like it.  Tea is fine in the morning or evening.  Try to eat fruit after every meal.  I've done this kind of diet for years, I don't know why it feels so hard now.

I'd like to have a few other goals, and one thing I want to work on is gratitude.  I was doing well for a while with no goal or program - I really wasn't at all down about my accident and surgery.  I felt that things could have been a lot worse, and I was lucky.  And it was all true.  But then when I lost my long-term goal of training for a marathon after two months of hard work and good results, followed by a week of really difficult two-year-old behavior, I lost a bit of perspective.  I want to get that back.  So here's to that - to trying to get my perspective back with a bit of good, old-fashioned gratitude.

Starting with: today, at this moment, I am grateful my husband is on his way home.  I'm grateful I have made at least SOME progress with my physical therapy.  I'm grateful my friend and my sister are coming over tonight for a crafting night.  I'm grateful for all the good food I've been eating and will continue to eat.  I'm grateful for mochas, and now especially salted caramel mochas (maybe that's not a good thing to be grateful for).  I'm grateful for my general good health. 

It's a good life.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I have not felt like blogging because my broken hand is still in a splint, so typing is a royal pain, but we are still having sleep issues, so I am sitting with my computer in Turtle's room in the dark while he is definitely not sleeping.  I actually have a lot of non-computerish things to do, such as cleaning up the kitchen and assembling the lasagne I will be serving to my mom and her friends tomorrow for lunch, so it is rather inconvenient to be stuck in here.

Otherwise, life is good.  And busy.  I am in physical therapy for my hand, which has been painful, rough, and slow-going, but at least I'm making progress.  I can tell it will be a long while before I can climb again.  I wonder how long it will be until I can type normally?

I've given up the marathon, which has been a bit depressing.  I started running again and then one day I fell again.  I was super lucky and didn't reinjure my finger, but it freaked me out and I'm ready to wait for another year or two or five.

We went on vacation!  It was so fun.  We went to Cancun for 9 days, and my in-laws flew over from Italy to meet us.  We mostly stayed at our resort, ate a lot, swam a lot, slept a lot, and played a lot, and it was a blast for everyone.  I rigged a secondary splint for myself out of athletic tape and drugstore finger splints, so I could go in the water, but my activity was pretty limited.

The kids are fabulous, as always.  They're so smart and funny, every day is awesome, although some days are also long, tiring, and frustrating.  They speak 100% Italian with us at home, although they clearly understand English.  They get into moods, especially Tadpole, where they just talk nonstop, every thought pops into their heads spewing immediately out of their mouths.  It's hilarious.

I try really hard not to gender-stereotype them (except their clothing to some degree, but it's pretty mild), but their toy preferences do seem to skew a bit towards the gender stereotypes.  They actually mostly overlap, but Turtle is slightly more into trucks, fire engines, and tractors, and Tadpole is slightly more into stuffed animals (well, animals in general).  They both like purses and hair bows, pretending to cook, running, jumping, climbing, wrestling, coloring, pushing strollers/shopping carts, reading, music, dancing, etc.

Turtle, as always, has more patience and is more interested in solving problems, such as putting puzzles together.  He likes musical instruments more than Tadpole, too, and plays the harmonica as well as strumming the little cheap guitar we got them in Cancun.  He also loves playing with our box of cars and trucks, and helping us cook, which he can do really well because he is generally patient and can follow directions.  He loves reading, and his favorite books lately are all about cars or tractors.  He is getting picky about his clothes - he likes the color red, or otherwise he wants clothes with a tractor or car or motorcycle on it.  I swear I have not done anything to push motorized vehicles around here!  Maybe he's picking it up at preschool?

Tadpole, on the other hand, is generally very impatient, at least relatively speaking, and while she can follow directions if she wants to, she usually prefers to modify the activity to suit her needs.  Placing sliced carrots into a bowl is much less fun than moving them back and forth from bowl to counter over and over.  She does a lot of role-playing, much more than Turtle.  In any given game, whether she's playing with animals, cars, balls, etc., there's always a mama and a baby, and sometimes a daddy, too, and she has imaginary conversations between all her made-up characters.  She loves to read, but I haven't noticed much in the way of a preference for any particular kind of book.  She's also not super picky about her clothes, at least not yet.  Whew.

Potty training (or "toilet learning", which I don't actually say, but I hate the term "training" used for kids, it sounds like one is talking about a dog) is not going anywhere.  We've been really laid-back and just suggest using the toilet here and there and generally we don't get any interest.  I'm feeling like my husband is ready to start pushing a bit harder (ha), but I don't know.  Turtle actually peed in the potty once, not intending to, and it scared him and now he wants nothing to do with it.  Tadpole is not patient enough to wait for something to happen.  I'm not sure how to gently encourage without being too pushy, since I think being too insistent might result in a lot of resentment and stronger refusal.  I keep hoping for a more natural breakthrough, that they'll give us some indication that they're ready.

Since bedtime has been a bit rough, I've also been thinking about moving them to beds.  Turtle slept in a bed in Mexico, although he fell out the last night.  Yesterday at naptime, I put them both in Turtle's room, with Tadpole in a pack'n'play, and at one point I saw that Turtle was trying to climb out of his crib.  So it might be just about time to make the switch.

And that's my update.  Turtle FINALLY fell asleep and it is 9:40 and I have tons to do, so off I go.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bionic woman

Surgery went well!  I ended up getting a plate with four screws, which will hopefully stay in my hand and I won't need another surgery to have them removed.  I get my cast off on Thursday, and I think I will get a removable brace then, although I'm not totally sure.  I went for a very short run yesterday just to see how it would go, and I plan to try a mid-to-long range run tomorrow.  I can't wait to be able to use my hand again, even if it is stiff.

Since it's hard to type, I'll just leave it there.  Hope all's well with you, thanks for the comments, and sorry I haven't really returned any recently.  One-handed typing and all.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Today, I set out on a 12-mile run, and at mile 4.75, I tripped and fell.  When I landed, I bent two of my fingers backwards.  One came back up at an odd angle, and I sat on the pavement gripping my hand in pain.  Luckily (ha!) I was right across the street from the hospital.  4 x-rays and several hours later confirmed a bad fracture.  Several hours after THAT, I had a pre-surgery consult and scheduled surgery for Monday.

Now I am typing with one hand and feeling sorry for myself.  The husband leaves Tuesday for Boston.  I don't want him to cancel, but I'm worried about managing the whole week with not much help.  I've been training for this marathon for 7 weeks, and now I'm not sure I'll be able to do it.  I'm going to have pins put in my hand, and then later removed.  After the cast comes off, I'll have weeks of physical therapy.  And I've got two active needy two-year-olds. 

Feeling a bit overwhelmed right now.

Friday, September 7, 2012


This sleep thing is sort of crazy.

I mean, you know that you're not going to get much sleep for a while when you have a baby.  Depending on how much experience you have with small children, and on the tendencies of your own child, you have a more or less realistic idea of how long it's going to be before you get to sleep through the night for the first time.  And then semi-regularly.

One thing that doesn't seem to get much discussion, though, is sleep after the newborn and infant stages.

Turtle is currently crying in his crib.  It's 8:30 at night.  He's been awake since 6:30 this morning, without a nap, and he only slept about 8.5-9 hours last night.  That's right, he didn't go to sleep until around 9:45 last night.  My friends, this can't go on.

And I don't know what to do about it.  I feel really helpless.  Like many people we've been floundering around looking for whatever will work, sticking to our principles as much as we can and diverging from them when we get desperate.

Things that have worked in the past are not working now. 

Repeating the bedtime routine with more milk, more singing and rocking, another good night kiss - won't work anymore.

Bringing a toy or two of Turtle's choice - for some reason, only seems to make him cry harder.

Rocking him until he falls asleep - well, he falls asleep.  But we're not very successful transferring him into his crib anymore.  It's like he won't let himself go into a deep enough sleep to not notice the transfer.  He clings, even when he's been twitching and snoring.

Rubbing his back?  Tried it for an hour the other day.  Didn't work.

Sitting in his room with him, comforting him from the floor or the futon, so he'd relax to know that someone was with him in his room.  We've tried it multiple times, sometimes for longer than an hour.  Every time we go to leave, we discover him standing in his crib, just waiting.  Not even lying down.

He has a white noise machine he's used since he was really little.  I tried switching it to quiet lullabies like they use at his preschool, but he hated it.

I've tried just asking him what he wants, what would make him comfortable, but it doesn't work either.  He wants to get out of the crib.

So far the only thing that worked easily (but after 1.5 hours of trying other stuff), was climbing into his crib and sleeping with him.  That is NOT what I consider a reasonable part of a bedtime routine. 

We're currently re-trying CIO, which I'm not a big fan of, and the problem is it's taking forever.  He still cries for an hour or more.  I hate listening to him, I hate that he's upset.  I was sure that skipping his nap today would result in a tired-enough kid to GO TO SLEEP!!!!!

I bought a magnetic white board today and drew a little chart of the bedtime routine, complete with little icons for each step.  We went through the routine with Turtle and Tadpole and let them each put a magnet next to each step when it was finished.  It made the bedtime routine much more fun and we didn't have the usual battle we've had recently.

But it hasn't helped him to go to sleep.  And perversely, it's not like he's sleeping in, either.  He's waking up between 6:30 and 7 every morning, even after falling asleep between 9:30 and 10:30!  He's getting so little sleep!  It's got to be a phase, right?

I just don't know what to do anymore.

It's funny how much sleep loss you can tolerate when you have a newborn, and how getting up a half hour earlier than usual when you have a toddler makes you feel so tired.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tired, plus preschool discussion

I am tired.

It's been a long day.  Also, it was a long weekend.  I went backpacking Friday-Sunday, got sick on Monday, felt a bit better Tuesday, and then had to handle my mother and the kids together today.

Turtle is on another sleep strike.  Last week, without the husband home, I spent two nights of two hours trying to get him to go to sleep.  The second night, the only thing that worked was climbing in to the crib with him.  Nothing works - not rocking, not milk, not water, not singing quietly, not rubbing his back, not staying in the room with him and shhhhhhing until he falls asleep.  We're back to CIO, and as much as I hate it, I don't know what else to do.  Problem is, so far it's not working that great this time around either.  The screaming starts as we're getting the bedtime routine underway.  He no longer wants to put on his PJs, brush his teeth, etc.  Any advice?  He's only 26 months old, so I'm not sure a sticker chart or checklist would work, but I'm open to any suggestions.

I took a week off of marathon training, which I hope will be partially offset by the approximately 15 miles of hiking I did this weekend.  I was starting to feel physically very tired and achy, and I needed a little break, and I honestly do feel better from that point of view.  We'll see if it made a difference during my 7-mile run tomorrow.

I've been thinking a lot about preschool and "homeschool", too.  I put "homeschool" in quotes because I am using it in the sense of schooling at home in addition to, rather than instead of, more standard schooling (like, at an actual school).  I wasn't super happy with the preschool we ended up choosing (mostly because there was space available and my kids were one month too young to start at most of the other schools), and while the situation has improved a bit, it still isn't ideal in my mind.  I've been ok with that, because we're probably going to Italy at some point, possibly for 1-2 months, so we will probably pull them out of preschool at that point and lose our spots, and have to look elsewhere.  In touring a lot of other preschool that I had previously ignored because of the aforementioned age cut-off, I realized that there were quite a few things I liked about some of the preschools that I do NOT like about our current preschool:

- Many of the other preschools either require the kids to bring a lunch or they include the kids in the lunch-making process, and often in the gardening and food-growing process.  At our current preschool, I believe the lunches are prepackaged processed foods, and I'm now realizing that the menu is pretty boring, not very good, and repeats quite frequently.  Since my kids go only twice per week, it's not a huge deal, but it's not ideal at all.

- Many of the other preschools are play-based, imagination-strong, and very free form in their style.  Particularly the Waldorf school, which I LOVE except for a few small points (I will bring that up in a bit).  The preschool where we are is very academic, clean, and well-ordered, but seems to leave little room for the imagination and for child-led learning.

- The yards of many of the other preschools are messy, natural, and allow for a lot of exploration and creativity.  Our preschool has a very plain yard, with a play structure in tanbark, some tricycles (which are too big for my kids at this point), and a very few other toys, including some balls and buckets and shovels.  It is certainly adequate, but when compared to some of the yards I've seen, a bit depressing.

- Our preschool has had major turnover since we started (only 2.5 months ago), so the teachers they have now are already different than the ones they started with.  I was not at all impressed with their first set of teachers, but their current teachers seem a bit better - much more loving and less stern with the kids.  Still - they were off to a bad start, and need to work to improve, in my opinion.

I was particularly impressed with our local Waldorf school, without knowing much about Waldorf before touring it.  The rooms are absolutely beautiful, built to bring in lots of natural light, and furnished with natural materials, mostly wood and cloth.  The yard was very natural, with lots of plants, pathways, and free form areas, such as a sand play area and flower beds.  I think the two biggest problems (besides the age cut-off preventing my kids from attending this year) are the very strict rules against media of any kind, and the fact that they are near a freeway (not a major one, but I could hear the traffic and it bothered me a bit).  But I love that the materials are so natural and calming, the activities so creative and inspiring, and the setting is so beautiful and open-ended.

The media rule is not too much of a problem for me, although I strongly believe in reading with my children, and in them learning to read at a young age (or at least not preventing them from learning to read).  My husband doesn't like the dogmatic sense of the anti-media restrictions, and I can somewhat see his point.

But lately, I've been thinking.  My kids are only in preschool 2 days per week.  And on the other 5 days, we DO all those other things.  We play with wooden toys, and felt, and do arts and crafts and music.  We dance and read books, and do role play games.  We cook, and bake, all the time!  They are constantly helping me make lunch and dinner.  We're working on setting the table, using cloth napkins that I made myself, washing our hands before meals, being kind to one another.  We have a beautiful yard, and a water table, and we get outside a lot.  They help me in the vegetable garden, and can identify all the vegetables we grow, and help me pick them.  We also do errands, go to the library, go to gymnastics class, visit Grandma, and we are about to start attending two playgroups - one at the local cooperative nursery school, and one Italian language one nearby.  We are also raising our kids to be bilingual, which is going really well so far.  The only thing they're really missing is a chance to get used to being in school, and to be around other kids, so that is really all we need, and we have that.  While I hope to find a better place when we have to (at least in terms of food - prepackaged processed food just isn't what I want to serve my kids), I am realizing that the current situation is actually just fine.

And so that's where I am.  Crossing my fingers that Turtle is dropping off to sleep, and I'm going to try to cut out some fleece for Tadpole's winter hat before I hit the sack.  Pictures of hats to come soon!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Notes and ramblings

I wish I had time to write more, but I've been pretty swamped lately.  I've got so much going on, and I thought I'd just outline it here, in the hopes that I'll have more time to write about it in coming weeks.  Sorry for the bullets - I LOVE bullets, and find they really help organize my thoughts, and make random streams of consciousness much more organized.

  • I'm training for a marathon!  I don't really have the aerobic base that I'd like to have for this kind of training, but it's ok going so far.  My longest run so far is 7 miles, most of my runs are more like 3-4 miles.  Next week I have to attempt 9, which I'm a bit nervous about.  I already registered for the marathon since spaces were running out, and it's great to have a goal, but I feel that if at any point in my training I don't think I will make it or I'm really hurting myself, I will stop.
  • I'm super busy with arts and crafts and I'm getting lots of ideas from Pinterest, and I'd like to put them up here as I'm working on them.  I've made a couple dresses for Tadpole, pillowcases for Turtle's room, blankets for the kids to take to preschool, a bunch of fun games and activities, colorful napkins, and some travel feltboards.  In the works are more clothes for the kids, quiet books (in progress, but stalled at the moment), finishing the kids' Christmas stockings (I work on them every once in a while, but they're quickly moving up the priority list), and some Italian-language learning projects.  
  • The kids are doing great, and finally enjoying preschool a bit more.  They still speak mostly Italian, but are clearly understanding English.  They're hilarious, and I'd like to post more about them, including some pics.  Sometimes some of the funny stuff they say loses something in translation, though.  They're really into cars, trucks, buses, tractors, airplanes, trains, and so on.  Tadpole still loves her stuffed animals, though.  They also love playing with water and doing art.  We haven't gone to the playground much because it's so hot - we've spent a lot more time in the backyard and the pool instead.
  • My vegetable garden is doing pretty well, despite the lack of care I give it.  I barely have time to harvest the vegetables.  Hopefully next week I can make and can some tomato sauce.  I've already frozen some heirloom tomatoes to make sauce, too.
  • Overall, I'm trying to use my "free time" to organize the house and my life a bit.  I made some major progress in the garage before our landscaper moved a bunch of equipment back in and stalled that project.  I've cleaned up our home office, and now I'm in the middle of making a mess again while I reorganize years of papers, books, and memorabilia (it will take a while, I'm sure).  I'm slowly working my way through my closet, both the clothing and the other stuff I've got stored in there.  I reorganized the pantry (which still needs some work), and I've gotten rid of bags and bags of toys and kids clothes (along with a ton of stuff from the garage).  I still need to work on other closets around the house and the kitchen, plus finish up all the stuff above, but I've made such noticeable progress that it makes me feel good to look around and see what I've done.  I know I'll get there someday.
And that's the update for now.  Will try to do better at posting more!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A while

Sorry.  I know.  It's been a long time.  Life has been mostly good, and I haven't felt much like writing.  I also have been trying not to sit in front of the computer so much (with mixed results).  And I'm trying to spend more time exercising, which has not been easy.

Turtle and Tadpole turned 2 a few weeks ago.  We threw a party for them, and I think a good time was had by all.  Especially the eating chocolate cupcakes part.  They've been singing Happy Birthday ever since.

They're amazing little 2-year-olds, generally well-behaved, fun, smart kids.  They speak primarily Italian, but are picking up a lot of English now that they've started preschool.  They go to preschool!  Twice a week!  That's how I find time to exercise.  Honestly, I don't love the preschool, but we will probably have to find another preschool next spring anyway, since we are considering a long trip to Italy this winter.  We've had some issues with separation anxiety, but this week they are doing a bit better.

The kids have been swimming, riding their tricycles, doing lots of arts and crafts, reading, and playing with their favorite toys, which include blocks, cars and trains, play dough, pretend food, and our homemade felt board.  They are so much fun!  It's also getting much more difficult to manage them when we're out and about.  Ironically, while most other moms seem to complain about their 2-year-olds running away from them, mine both always want to be carried, which is really hard on my back and arms.  I actually really wish they'd be a bit more independent, although I do appreciate that I rarely have to worry about losing track of them.

I have been busy with sewing and training for a possible marathon this winter.  I'm excited about having a goal and getting back in shape!  My running has been varied lately - sometimes I run faster than usual and feel great at the end, sometimes I have to keep stopping to walk and feel like crap when I finish.  It's all ok, though.  My training program officially starts this weekend, though, so I'm hoping the good runs pick up.

I hope all is well - I will probably not be back here for a while again, as I try to stay out of cyberland, but you never know.  Happy summer to all.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

April mini-goal, sewing, and coffee deprivation

Yeah, so this is a bit late again. I'm very tired, I went out with some friends last night after I was planning to stay home and work on some projects (I got a babysitter, that's probably obvious, but just to be clean ...) I got home quite late, then woke up quite early, so ugh. At my age, I think I would have learned. Tonight I have a bunch of chores including folding laundry and cleaning up a poopy bathtub (thank you very much Tadpole), so this will be short and sweet, I hope.

I got a sewing machine! Now I am having trouble getting started on projects. I am immobilized by the possibilities. I want to make napkins and a few pillowcases first, I think, plus some felt projects for the kids, a rag quilt, and an art quilt (that will probably be down the road a little ways ...). I'll try to remember to post pictures if/when I get around to those projects.

For the month of February I tried to give up coffee, and it was a major fail. I ended up giving it up for Lent and so far I'm doing it. It has been really hard, I'm sorry to say. I crave a delicious blended mocha drink very often. I guess that can be my mini-goal for March.

For April, I want to get back to my good brushing and flossing habits. My last dentist appointment was disappointing, although I expected it. No cavities, but things were not looking good. My bathroom is at the far end of the house, and so once I am up and ready for the day, I tend not to go back and brush my teeth after breakfast. So I put an extra toothbrush and toothpaste for myself in the kids' bathroom, which is right off the kitchen, and I will try to do my morning brushing there, which is good because they will see me and learn good habits yada yada yada. In addition to brushing twice a day, I will floss every evening. I often start skipping it, thinking one night won't make a difference, but then days go by and I don't do it. And it's so fast, there's no reason. The hard part for me will just be remembering and making a habit of morning brushing in the kids' bathroom - I started yesterday, but then I already forgot today (although, to be fair, we went out for brunch with friends instead of eating breakfast at home, so we didn't have our usual morning routine). So wish me luck!

Hope all's well, I've got to get to cleaning that tub, so I won't be reading or commenting on blogs tonight!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tantrum Town, USA

Well, as I believe I've mentioned, we're having some serious behavior issues around here, and I am at a total loss as to how to solve them. Tonight, Turtle refused to sit in his high chair, as he has been doing on occasion lately. He wanted to sit on my lap. I am not ok with that, because I don't want to spend the next year (or more) holding a toddler/preschooler on my lap at every single meal. I've tried the following, and nothing has worked:

1. Giving him a choice between sitting in his high chair or several other things, such as removing the tray and pushing the chair to the table, using it as a booster seat, or letting him sit in a grown-up chair.

2. Telling him he will not be eating dinner if he doesn't sit in his high chair (or eventually, one of his other choices). Then I either ignore him when he screams, or I try to empathize per some of the websites I've read, which .... have you ever tried to empathize in a calm voice with a screaming, tantruming toddler? Yeah. If it works for you, great! It does not work for me and Turtle. He can't even hear me over his screaming.

3. Tonight, we didn't watch our usual Italian cartoons after dinner. I guess this could count as "punishment", but in my mind, it is because there is a usual sequence of things, and cartoons come right after dinner. If we don't eat dinner, then logically we don't get cartoons. Logically. Haha.

So Turtle went to bed without dinner. I offered dinner many times, in many ways except for him sitting on my lap, and none of it was acceptable to him. In the end, he didn't want to seem to eat at all. He calmed down after about 20 minutes of crying, and played for a little bit, then the tantrums started again because I remembered that I had their sleep sacks in the dryer and ran to go turn it on so they'd be dry before bedtime. That resulted in a major meltdown, which lasted through changing into pajamas, putting on sleep sacks, brushing teeth, and saying goodnight. More than an hour of screaming tonight.

The worst part is that Tadpole seems to finally be noticing that Turtle is getting a lot of attention, and she is starting to be upset about it, too. She notices that Turtle says "Mama mama mama" all day long and eventually I pay attention. She notices that Turtle screams and cries a lot and I have to eventually soothe him, calm him, give attention to the situation. I'm sure she hasn't really figured it out quite yet, but she's definitely noticing. It's unfair. All the parenting things I'm reading don't seem to take into account that a lot of the techniques involve not only a lot of patience but a lot of TIME. It's hard to sit and soothe a toddler and wait calmly for a tantrum to end when there's ANOTHER toddler who rightly wants some attention, too. Especially when these tantrums are happening multiple times per day. I'm really frustrated and a bit lost right now, and not sure how to handle things.

My husband's cousin is visiting for a few months from Italy to help me, but I'm starting to wonder if the tantrum and fairness situation is actually worse. I mean, don't get me wrong! She's a TON of help, she cleans, helps cook, helps with baby care, watches the kids when I want to go run or have a dentist appointment, etc. It's also fabulous to have someone to talk to rather than spending day after day with no adult conversation. But, I'm sensing that Turtle has figured out that now that there is a 1-to-1 ratio, he wants to make sure that the adult he gets is always me, and that Tadpole gets my cousin-in-law, who he likes, of course, but sees as the second choice. It's different when Papi is around because we're both number 1, and sometimes Papi is even more in demand than I am. But there is definitely a difference between Mama and Cousin, and Mama wins every time. And so usually Tadpole loses. We're going to try very hard to change that (we've discussed it), but these battles are taking a lot out of me.

So anyway. I am still really struggling to handle the difficult behavior, both in and of itself, and in how it affects my relationship with two same-age children at the same time. It's really rough, and I am realizing it's probably going to go on for at least the next couple years, so it's time to nip it in the bud and make some changes around here. This is all so much harder than I thought it would be back when I was the expert and didn't have kids.

In other news, tomorrow I'll talk about my mini-goal for the month of April, how Lent without coffee is going, and my brand-spanking-new sewing machine.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I can't believe it has been a month since I've posted. I've started multiple posts, but can't finish them. Turtle is on a napping strike, and has been for quite a while now. In addition, he's just having a lot of strong-willed behavioral issues. I'm not calling them problems, but they are definitely challenges for me, and I've been spending what free time I have, aside from cleaning and cooking and the usual stuff, in researching child development and discipline and parenting and trying to figure out where I stand. And I think I sort of know where I stand now, and so I'm trying to figure out how to translate that into how I should act.

Basically, I'm all for "Positive Parenting", which involves mutual respect, setting firm limits and enforcing them without actual punishment, and recognizing that acting out is normal and trying to handle it without losing my cool. It hasn't been going that well. It's a work in progress, and I've found that the longer I go without a break, the harder it is to find, as my friend said, the "presence of mind". I got a bit of a break today, because I left at dinnertime for a parenting class, and tomorrow I get to go to the dentist and out to lunch with my old work friends, so I'm super excited.

My husband's cousin is here, visiting from Italy for a few months, which has been great, and I've been using any extra time I can eke out while she's on toddler-duty to clean. I've been catching up, and it feels nice. In addition to exploring parenting styles, I've also been looking at preschools, making (and constantly changing) career plans, finally getting some stuff up on the walls of our house, starting a bilingual play group, starting to make a list of sewing projects I want to do since I'm going to buy a machine on Friday (I hope!), baking bread (yay! one of my great joys!), doing a lot of from-scratch cooking again, and just about everything except exercising, which I still need to find a way to squeeze in. But since I'm catching up, I hope that will get on my to-do list really soon. I need it!

We've also been doing a bit of skiing, which I admit has been nice, but I'm so out of shape that cross country has been a bit sad. Soon, soon.

Lots more I could say, but I should try to get to bed before midnight one of these days. So ciao a tutti!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


So, the kids are in bed, it's another single Mama night for me, and I've got hours of work ahead of me before I hit the sack. Still, I keep thinking about what I'm going to do with my life in the years ahead. I have to admit, I wish I had a better idea of what would make me happy.

I know I've posted this before, but it always helps to get my thoughts out.

My husband suggested nursing school. I'd consider it. I would like working with patients, I think, at least most of them. I think I'd find it stimulating, interesting, and worthwhile work. But I'm nervous that it might be a little too "gory" for me. I'm not that squeamish, but I am a little bit. I'm not sure about getting needles in veins, for example. And I know it can get a lot worse than that.

One of my long-standing ideas has been to be a teacher. I used to want to teach high school, now I'm leaning more towards the younger grades. I'd like to be more creative, teach kids who still think school is fun (at least some of them), and still have that wide-eyed innocence. But taking care of my toddler twins makes me wonder whether I have the stamina to do it for years and years. Some days I have a lot of energy and ambition and ideas, other days (like today), I'm totally done by 1pm. And then there's all the outside-of-class work, too. And the low salary and difficult finding a job, at least in my town.

Another recent idea I've had is to be a doula or midwife. At first, I thought it was a bad idea. I'm not bitter, exactly, but I'm a bit wistful about the birth I could have had, but didn't. And the immediate aftermath. I'm jealous of those who got to everything "normally". I'm getting over it, I don't dwell on it or anything, but putting myself in a situation where I'd be witnessing what I didn't get to have, and will probably never get to have, over and over again seems like it might be painful. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder whether being a part of other people's good experiences might help me gradually get over my own pain, and start to associate more positive and happy thoughts around birthing. And also, I have the experience of a birth that didn't go nearly as planned, which has to be good for those whose own births don't go as planned. So I'm leaning towards this a lot, I just have to figure out how to get there.

Other ideas? Someone suggested physical therapy, sports therapy, coaching, etc., but I am not an expert in any of these things. I like many sports and I believe strongly in fitness, but I am not sure I am the person for that - it is not the front and center of my life. I am actually fascinated by quite a few things, including linguistics and languages in general, reading and writing, and editing, grammar, etc. But those are all hard fields to break into, especially without any experience.

So that is where I am at the moment. Just thinking, pondering. But considering that my kids are heading towards 2, and I am not getting younger, and I may need more schooling, I know I need to start making plans and thinking much more seriously. Any other ideas or suggestions?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Catching up

I know I haven't written in ages, and I haven't had much time lately, and a lot has been going on, so I will bulletize just to get stuff down. I hope to write more soon.

  • Tadpole and Turtle are 19.5 months old, and I LOVE this age. They are so much fun. They go to gymnastics twice a week, which we all love, and playgroup once a week, and they'll be starting music classes next month, once a week. I'm trying to have one activity per day, because otherwise we get bored and cranky.
  • I'm starting an Italian language playgroup. We've met twice, the first time was a bit of a failure because it was cold and we met at a park, and mostly non-Italian speakers showed up. The second time went well, and now I need to figure out where to go from here.
  • Tadpole has had recurring diaper rashes leading to infections, and I'm crossing my fingers that this time we've beaten it. Poor, poor baby girl, I can tell it's been uncomfortable for her.
  • Both babies are talking up a storm, and talking mostly in Italian. I've been making an effort to speak mostly Italian to them, which helps, and my in-laws were here for two weeks, which helped even more. They say a few things in English, like shoes, water, hi, bye, bottle, etc.
  • Both babies still take bottles, twice a day. I am working on a plan to cut out the naptime bottle, which I think will go ok, since they don't take one when they nap in the car or stroller.
  • Speaking of strollers, they HATE sitting in their tandem double, Turtle pretty much refuses and I end up carrying him while pushing Tadpole. They also refuse to sit in supermarket carts, so shopping has become a nightmare. I could use some advice on this point.
  • The only stroller they'll stay in for longer periods is the bike trailer, which I use for jogging, too. It is not realistic to use regularly, because it doesn't really fold and is extremely difficult to get into the car. Especially if there is anything else that needs to go in the car. I need to solve this soon.
  • BUT! I have been biking and jogging a lot more lately, which has been nice. We all got sick about a month ago, and it was miserable, and my jogging came to an abrupt halt, but I've managed to ramp it up again and we've been biking around town with the trailer, and i went out on a long ride this weekend. It helped my mood immensely.
  • Because of the illness and my in-laws visiting, I pulled the kids out of daycare. It would be more than a month that they couldn't go, and I saw no point in continuing. I am enjoying them so much more now, and I like going to gymnastics and doing other activities with them. The only problem is getting major chores done around the house that I can't squeeze into an hour, like organizing closets, cleaning up the garage, etc.
  • So! We've asked my cousin-in-law to come stay with us. She just broke up from a long-term relationship, doesn't have a job, and seems unsure where she is going with her life, so she is thrilled to come to California for a few months and take a break from life, and we're thrilled to have her.
  • My in-laws left last Monday, and as always, the first couple days are a bit of a shock. They are very active, get up early, and like to keep busy. They cleaned my house, cooked meals, entertained the kids, and helped out so much. I almost cried when they left.
  • Back to Tadpole - she is ADDICTED to her pacifier, and I've been reading about how it's probably time to start thinking about limiting it, so I'm coming up with a plan for that as well. Not sure how that's going to go, really. I'm nervous about it.
  • AND - we're looking at preschools for the fall. The one I really liked has a waiting list, and the hours are a bit strange (you can do either 8-2 or 8-6, depending on what you want to pay for, but my kids normally nap 1-3, and well ... I don't know. I was hoping they'd go 5 partial days). The other one that I liked had two part time spots open, twice a week for the full day, so I signed up. They also will have at least two friends there that I know of so far. It's a great school, sort of expensive (but not that much more than any other place in town), but the main drawback in my opinion is that it's a bit far. It's only about a 10-15 minute drive, but it's really too far to bike, and I am really enjoying biking with the kids more than driving.
  • We are having a serious drought, and as much as I am loving this weather, it is really not good for California. Please send some rainy thoughts our way.

And that's all for now. I could expand on just about all of those points, but I need to get some chores done while they nap. Hope all's well in your world!