Thursday, August 30, 2012

Summertime, and the Living Is Easy

Today I chose to pretend that there was no laundry to fold, no dishes to wash, no bathrooms to scrub. I pushed away the thought that the playroom is so messy that there is no floor to walk on. And we went outside to play in the yard.

The biggest factor in choosing this house to rent out of many others that we saw was this backyard--a place for my preschooler to run and play. A place for my baby to crawl around and try to eat the grass. A nice shade tree, and a fence for privacy and security.

P.S. Can you spot the squirrel?

Friday, August 24, 2012

It's Not a Question

With my first child I read loads of parenting books. What I learned is that there is no normal and the books often just made me feel as if I were always falling short. So I rarely read parenting books now--except maybe ones that validate the choices I've already made.

But during a recent wait at the doctor's office I read an article about mistakes that almost every parent makes. One tip in particular made sense to me. And I went home and forgot what it was until I made said mistake.

The mistake is to form requests as questions for your children. "Will you put your dishes away?" makes them think they have an option. Simply ditch the question mark and poise it as: "Put your dishes away, please." It will take the time to make the switch, but it's something I'm working on now.

I realized why I ask instead of tell. I would never tell my husband to do anything. I always poise it as a question: will you? can you? would you? But it's different with my kids. I do get to tell them what to do. With kindness, of course. But when I need them to do something, it's not optional. (My husband inherently knows that, my daughter does not.)

Another mistake parents make is to act as if small mishaps are a big deal. Which teaches your child to also freak out over small things. (Speaking of which, my daughter has now picked up the word "freaking" from me--which she uses when she's frustrated. Oh joy.) Definitely something I need to work on, but that's another very long story.

What simple "mistake" have you changed in your parenting that has made a difference in your daily life?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Girly Girls

Sometime in the last year or so, I read Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein. I'm glad I did, because my three year old daughter is suddenly choosing all things girly. Having read this book, I know that it's normal, and even healthy, for children around this age to identify deeply with their gender and choose the outward signs of their gender. Hairstyle, what people wear, and the things they like are the only gender identifiers that my daughter really knows. After a conversation I had with her today, it's clear that she really doesn't understand that boys do not have vaginas (or "ginas" as she pronounces it). So what makes someone a girl or a boy? Whether they choose pink or blue.

So a couple of days after choosing a Toy Story backpack, she told me that it was for boys. She wants to wear a crown and be a "queen princess." Every day last week she wanted to watch Cinderella--a movie she has seen one other time I think. And she suddenly wants to put on make up before she goes out. I usually put on lotion and chapstick. And if I'm getting fancy, I put on tinted moisturizer and curl my eyelashes.

As the author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter learned, even if you try to cut out girly and princess stuff entirely, your daughter will find it and want it. Maybe even want it more if it's completely forbidden. (Between the preferences of my husband and myself, we already have no Barbies, Tinkerbell, or Hello Kitty in the house. And we haven't even gotten into the older age toys like Bratz yet--which will also obviously be off limits.)

We're only at the beginning of this girly girl phase. But I take comfort in the fact that she was still excited to play with the toy hammers in nursery class, wants to wear Cars band aids, and still loves her toy train set.

Monday, August 13, 2012

TV Time

Most days we probably watch too much TV. Part of the problem is that I don't like a house that's too quiet, so I often have the news on as background noise. But I have one question for people who don't own a TV and don't let their kids have screen time. When do you take a shower? Because I take a shower during Sesame Street.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What Is

Lisa Leonard is a jewelry designer and blogger who I've followed for a while. I don't know the details, but she has a son with severe disabilities. I've followed her blog not because I'm big into jewelry, but because of the grace with which she handles her life's challenges. Today she put up a link to an article she wrote a while back called What If? There are a lot of what ifs in all our lives, but in the article she said that she chooses to focus on what is instead of the what ifs of life.

I struggle with this. For a long time, I felt that if my living situation were different, I would be happy. Eventually I realized that if I couldn't be happy with what is, then there was no guarantee of being happy if outside situations were different. Our happiness has to come from within, without being dependent on other people or things to make us so. Not easy for a natural pessimist--but that's just another excuse.

The truth is, I'm extremely blessed. Sometimes I have to hear about those who have more challenges than me, and see how much more grateful they are, to appreciate that.

So--cheers to what is. To what we have, and not to what we don't. To how things are, not to how they could be.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

Though it was a struggle in the first days and weeks, I have been blessed to be able to breastfeed both my daughters. I breastfed my first daughter till she was a little over one year, and at seven months, my second daughter is still going strong.

Occasionally I've wished that someone else could take a turn and feed my babies, but for the most part I've appreciated the convenience, affordability, and closeness that breastfeeding brings.

Breastfeeding appears to just involve me and the baby, but I wouldn't be able to successfully breastfeed my babies without the support of my husband. And I know that I was heavily influenced by the examples of my mother and older sister. Thank you!

And a couple of links from around the web this week:

Reasons to Breastfeed in Public

Breastfeeding is Beautiful (Pinterest Images)

Breastfeeding Facebook Page

The Nursing Moms Project