Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The dreaded question

Uh oh.
It happened.

I knew it would eventually... but I'm not ready.

Amelia looked at me with her shining blue eyes and asked,
"Why?"

Steve and I were just telling each other this weekend how lucky we've been to avoid that incessant question. Amelia's ongoing question is usually "what's that sound?". To us, this is much easier to answer - and it is certainly less defiant.

So now she's asking why.

Why should she take a nap?
Why should she wait for me to finish my work?
Why can't she watch more television?
Why can't she have more chips?
Why doesn't the cat want 13 more hugs from her?
Ahhhhhh!

This dreaded question is going to haunt me 45 times a day for the next 10 years, isn't it?

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

She calls the cat sweetheart

Just like all kiddos her age, Amelia has taken to repeating many, many words that come out of my mouth. She surprises us daily with grown-up phrases and humor. My favorites are the pet names she's begun to use for all her loved ones/items.

I call Amelia all kinds of things. I call her Sweetie, Sweetheart, Honey, Sweet Pea, Pea Pod, and Princess, to name a few. She is starting to inject those words into her own vocabulary and I can't get enough.

This morning she made me some "food" out of pink & green Play-Doh. She brings it over to me in little bowls, saying "Here you go, honey. Yummy food!"

She pet the cat yesterday, soothing him with "It's okay, sweetheart. Does that feel good, sweetheart?"

Amelia saw our neighbor's 15-month old daughter recently. After we said our hellos and chatted for a moment, Amelia turned to me and asked, "Amelia is a princess. Is she a princess too?"

Maybe this is a lot more entertaining to me than anyone else. But I find it hilarious.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Back to the basics

It's time to check in with myself.

Am I, "Balancing Mama", doing better with the balance I'm always striving to achieve?

Hmm, perhaps. But...

Amelia has thrown some major challenges my way with her extreme mood swings. I've had moments of stress so intense that part of my brain kicked into flight response. I just wanted to go far, far away. I've had moments of self-doubt, wondering if I did something wrong to create this difficult child. And I've experienced frustration all around. Frustration with Amelia for her behavior, frustration with myself for how I handle her issues, and frustration with friends and books that give advice yet cannot relate to MY child. I'm convinced that traditional methods do not apply to her personality.

I tell her no - she stares me straight in the eyes, sets her jaw in a defiant look, and does it anyway. I put her in "timeout" - she's up within seconds and fights so strongly that no person my size can keep her down. Sadly, 31 pounds of pure will can sometimes defeat me. She has such a strong will! Not unlike myself, I'm afraid. Did I do this to my mother?

So how are the three moms in me faring these days? I think, finally, after a couple weeks of terror, I'm doing better.

I am a "perfect mom" - because I'm always striving to find the answers that fit my child. I understand that she doesn't fit in a standard mold. I am trying every day to get more in tune with her feelings and her struggles for independence and self-expression. I even reached out for professional advice on how to handle her tantrums. And you know what? I think it's working. Steve and I have been blessed with a (mostly) well-behaved girl the past two days! Surely a curveball is coming my way again soon, but I'm taking it one day at a time.

I am a "happy mom" - this usually goes hand in hand with Amelia's behavior. When she is happy, I am happy. So we've had a wonderful weekend full of fun. I regained some self confidence by learning to better understand Amelia's needs and my role in her tantrums. And that is necessary for happiness. When I think I'm doing a good job and I see the joy in Amelia's bright eyes, I am definitely happy.

And I am still a "working mom" - vacation was great, but now it's time to get back down to business. There is a direct correlation between the challenges Amelia poses and the amount of work (or lack thereof) I'm able to accomplish. As she is becoming more adjusted and learning to play more independently, I am getting back into work mode. Working from home is still very difficult with a 2-year old at home. Sometimes I have to drop everything to attend to her needs. That can be pretty challenging when I've focused on a task at hand. But that is my reality as a work-from-home mama.

And I can do it. I can do all of it.
Moms are pretty tough, you know.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Not a peep from Sleeping Beauty

Amelia mastered the big girl bed on her very first try! As soon as she realized what we were doing with her crib, she became excited. And her first up & down into the big girl bed gave her a big, glowing grin across that adorable baby face. She went right to sleep and did not make a peep until morning.

And even though she had the freedom to get out of bed, did she? Nope! She waited for us to come in and get her, then asked us to watch her get out of bed and clap for her. Yay, Amelia! A big girl bed pro.

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I'm not sure what naptime will be like. Especially the days she doesn't want to nap. Maybe she'll at least enjoy quiet time in her room, with the choice to climb in bed or not. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

But will she sleep in it?

We converted to the BIG GIRL BED today! We took the drop side off our drop-side crib and installed a pink "sure & secure" bed rail. The crib wasn't meant to convert, but it is too pretty to put in storage so soon (see a catalog image of it HERE). It is built very well and seems quite sturdy with 3 sides and the mattress frame still in place.

The bed rail also wasn't meant for a crib, but it hooks onto the frame just like it would a box spring and seems to be fine. We're breaking rules left & right, but I think it is going to work. We added a cute wooden step stool to match Amelia's furniture, and she's up & down like a pro!

She made us watch her go up & down into the bed a few times already. She is very excited and proud of herself.

But will she sleep in it? Wish us luck tonight! And for upcoming nap times... yikes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The toys are to blame?

I've posted in the past about my dislike for children's menu items at restaurants. Burgers & fries, chicken nuggets & fries, pizza, etc. It's difficult to find a green vegetable on a kid's menu.

While I wish there were more vegetable and fruit options, I do not blame the restaurants for my child's health. I choose to order her a side dish of broccoli or I bring her food from home.

This is why articles like THIS ONE tend to get on my nerves.


"McDonald's Happy Meals are being targeted by a consumer group. The toys in the meals are to blame, the group says."

HUH? The toys are making kids fat? Since when do the kids eat the toys? First of all (and most obvious), the unhealthy food plays a role in making kids fat. But who brings those kids to McDonald's? I doubt these kids are suddenly driving themselves. It seems to me that moms and dads are to blame for excessive fast food.

So your kid begs to go to Mc D's because he/she saw a commercial for the toy? Easy solution: if you are worried about their health, say NO.

You say the kids are "wearing you down" because they see too many commercials? Then cut out their TV time.

You know what? Low fat milk and apples are available in Happy Meals in lieu of soda and fries. And you still get the oh-so-controversial plastic toy.

Parents need to be parents and stop blaming everything else for their kids' problems. I don't think it is McDonald's fault that parents can't take a stand and focus on healthy snacks and foods.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Who needs Disneyworld?

The MALL is like a wonderland to my girl. When we're playing at home, she asks to go to the mall. When we're running errands and within a half mile of the mall in any direction, she puts on her best cute face and asks, "mall?". If we see a fluffy white puppy, she turns to inform me that puppies are at the mall.

We go there quite often, really. Not to shop. I haven't been an avid mall shopper since I was 17 and could spend 4 straight hours there without boredom. No, Amelia and I go there often to escape the unfriendly Atlanta weather. In the fall, we get 2-3 weeks of perfect play-outdoors temperatures. In the spring, it's the same story. 2-3 weeks of comfort outside our house. Otherwise, we're either too cold, enduring never-ending rain, or we're way, way too hot (99 degrees again today!).

It's no wonder Amelia likes the mall, though. We have a pet store with puppies! And bunnies! And fish! And birds! We have escalators and elevators to ride up and down, up and down. We have yummy snack places where I sometimes treat her with a pretzel or a cookie. We have Build-A-Bear, where she can see all the fabulous bears and the amazing fluff machine. We have a small play area with things to climb on and a tiny purple slide. And we have a choo-choo. Amelia only waves at the choo-choo, because I'm afraid of the relentless future begging if I let her go on it once. But she loves to wave at it. She thinks that's just what you do. (One day she's going to ask me why those other kids are on the train...I know.)

Today she discovered a new mall attraction: the TV security camera in Sears. As we were walking through the store, she stopped suddenly and began waving her arms erratically. Thinking she had some kind of bug or unknown foreign object in her shirt, I quickly asked what was wrong.

"Mommy, mommy!", exclaims Amelia, "It's an Amelia show!"

So, laughing, I joined her in the fun. Dancing and waving and hopping in front of the camera. Watching ourselves on the screen. The "Amelia show" is an odd one... but it probably made someone laugh. If there is a security guy manning a booth of monitors at Sears each day, I bet we made his day a little brighter.

He probably thinks we're nuts.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Vacation - from Amelia's perspective

Buckled up on the airplane
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An early morning, outside breakfast (Grand Tetons)
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I found a stick!
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A really big "cow"... (bison in Yellowstone)
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Daddy broke the wheel!
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MELTDOWN!
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Pretty blue water
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All this water is stinky! (Yellowstone thermal features)
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Yay! An ice cream break!!!
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A "tweet tweet" up in the tree (bald eagle, Yellowstone)
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And a "doggie" too! (Coyote, also in Yellowstone)
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Off to the ranch for a horsey ride
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The horsey ride was very short...
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We even saw a "cow!" (Moose & baby in Grand Tetons, near Jenny Lake)
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Finally, relaxation in the rooftop heated pool (Teton Village)
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Saturday, June 19, 2010

A restful vacation? Not quite.

We've been away for a week on a family vacation. We began our adventure in 90+ degree, hot and humid weather. Then traveled to cool, breezy, and picturesque Wyoming. We saw the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone National Park, and a ranch near Big Sky, Montana. Photos to come... once my bruises and sore muscles are healed.

We have never let Amelia's existence hamper our travel plans. She went with us on a mega family vacation to Europe last year. She's been to Maine with us as well. I've always said that the memories of having her with us far outweigh the challenges she brings.

Not sure I still believe that. Now she is two. Now she refuses to put on her shoes. She screams about wearing a jacket. Throws tantrums in restaurants (because green beans are apparently impossible to find on menus out west). We spent entirely too much money on only a few restaurant meals, and 90% of the time she ruined our experience. Steve and I ate separately, one wrestling an irate child while the other scarfed down their expensive meal. We opted for car picnics and pizza places as much as possible. And I may not go out to eat, even back in the 'burbs, anytime soon.

The challenges are definitely greater now. But still... the trip would not have been the same without our little sassy one. She made most of our memories really special. I do not regret this trip together - and we will certainly travel again. But maybe next time we'll think twice about pushing a physically tiring itinerary like this one.

I'm thinking a cruise.
Lounge chairs and ocean breezes. And child care facilities.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Researching Amelia

Steve and I knew we loved the name Amelia long before we actually had an Amelia.

When Steve pulled off his sweet and elaborate marriage proposal, we were on Amelia Island in sunny Florida. And my paternal grandmother, whom I was only able to know until I was about 6 years old, was also an Amelia. The name also qualified as one that would be unique enough, but not so unique that we had to endure comments from others.

We quibbled over boy names for a long time once I was pregnant. To this day, we still do not have a boy name we can agree upon. So it was quite a relief when the ultrasound tech said those magic words, "it's a girl!". Immediately, she went from an unknown little bean to our Amelia.

I know I looked up the meaning of her name back then, but today I felt like looking at it again. Baby Center's "Baby Names Finder" provides some fun information about names.

Here are some fun facts about the oh-so-fabulous name AMELIA:

Latin origin.

It means "industrious" (definitely true for my Amelia!).

In 1881, Amelia was at it's peak. There were 2,377 babies per million given this name.

Around 1904, probably close to when my grandma Amelia had been born, the name was on the decline. It hit a low in 1969, with only 263 babies per million given the name Amelia.

Now the name is on the rise again. In 2008, Amelia's birth year, Amelia was ranked #68 in popularity for baby girl names. In 20090, that rose even higher to #55.

Currently 2,311 babies per million are named Amelia.

And of course, the most famous Amelia was Ms. Amelia Earhart. Born July 24, 1897, she lived 40 exciting, "rough and tumble" years before disappearing on a flight in 1937. She was an aviation pioneer, and quite a spunky lady.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mommy is taking over

One of my friends said of their parenting recently,

"We let the 'leash' out longer & longer, until we realize we have to pull it back in again. We let it out, pull it in, let it out, pull it in."

This is very true for us as well. We want to let Amelia become her own person, assert her independence, and gain confidence in her abilities. We don't want to hover and choke her with our own rules and ways of doing things. So we "let the leash out", so to speak. We allow her more and more freedoms and observe how she's doing.

Lately, it has become time to pull that leash back in again.

If it won't hurt her, let her be. It is not worth the fight.
Thus far, I have been a firm believer and consistent follower of this self-written philosophy. Amelia is two years old. If she is not about to bleed and she isn't walking too fine a line between safety and the ER, she really isn't pulled back. Several parents have told me how surprising it is that a first-time mom like me can let her go so much. I just want her to become the confident kid she deserves to be.

However, now is the time to pull on that leash a bit. She is starting to test her boundaries too much. She's become bossy and, dare I say it, a little manipulative. So now I have a new tactic - I refer to it as, tough luck, kid. Mommy is back in charge.

Amelia will not hold my hand in the parking lot at Chick-Fil-A? OK - I tell her we're getting back in the car and not having lunch. She refuses to put on shoes to play outside? Fine - I tell her I'm going outside to play all by myself. She doesn't want the particular episode of Little Einstein's I turned on for her? Great - I'll turn the TV off instead. And if she wants to cry about it? I'm much better at ignoring it these days. I used to try to talk to her and explain why, but now I give my reason ONCE and only once.

It is amazing how my new tough love works. After a week of doing this consistently, she totally understands. Would I ever really not feed her lunch? Or play outside while leaving her in the house? No. Of course not. But so far, the threat alone is working it's magic. Is it mean? I certainly hope not. Amelia still gets plenty of freedoms, but I am slowly metamorphosing from the bullied victim of a two-year old into a much more effective mommy of a slightly less bossy child.

I just hope she never calls my bluff.

That will be another post. Another day. Hopefully a long, long time from now.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Searching for something...

Amelia knows what "no" means. She tells her stuffed animals "no" all the time. She tells them to listen. And she puts them in timeout. But somehow, when "no" comes out of my mouth, it seems not to translate in her world. She just looks at me. And grins. And keeps doing whatever she is doing. Timeout for Amelia means kicking, crying, and definitely NOT staying still in one place. Amelia's animals seem to grasp the timeout concept.

She's been quite a bully this week. I understand that she is two. I understand that she has no desire to be quiet and relax just because Mommy is completely and utterly burned out. But wow, sometimes I just want to pull my hair out. Or run away and hide in a cave. All alone. For about a week.

Or...

I can try really, really hard to focus on the highlights of my day. I can push aside the um, disagreements I had with my spunky little one and instead remember what she (and I) did RIGHT this week.

Why is it so hard to remember the good moments? I suppose exhaustion and exasperation take a toll after a while. But it is never all bad.

Amelia told me she wanted to give me a "big hug" - and she did.

I gave her a different breakfast than usual one morning, and she said "Mmmm, mmmm. Looks good!". (That one cracked me up.)

She put on her shoes all by herself two days in a row.

She cleaned up all her plastic fruits & veggies and her picture flash cards in the same evening.

I created an art project (glue stick and fake feathers!) and we completed it together.

We shared a pretzel an looked at bunnies in the mall.


And now she just took her diaper off... and she's throwing a tantrum because she doesn't want Daddy to put it back on her. Sigh... breathe.... and go back for more migraine medicine.

Has a mommy ever gone insane from terrible twos? I fear I may be the first.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Swimsuit shopping

Amelia and I are spending several hours a week in swimwear this summer. HOTlanta is miserable these days. The weekend is expected to be a humid and sizzling 94 degrees. The pool is the only outdoor activity I can really handle for much longer than 45 seconds. So I went out in search of new swimsuits for my girl today. She only has one that fits comfortably. The other suit is simply adorable, but not worth the tugging, whining, and struggle I have to endure to get it on her body. One-piece swimsuits do not fit her well at all. She is too tall and her torso too long. So, off to the stores we went, in search of a two-piece swimsuit that makes Amelia (and her parents) happy and comfortable.

Shopping for toddler swimwear seems like a simple task. Until you see the selections. I'm sure itsy bitsy, teeny weeny, yellow polka dot bikinis can be adorable on 2-year-olds, but I simply cannot bring myself to dress my girl in one of those. Not yet, anyway. How do you stuff a Dora the Explorer swim diaper in some of those bikini bottoms, anyway? Maybe the scantily-clad toddlers don't wear swim diapers? Where are the simple tankinis with modest tops and full-coverage bottoms? They are certainly not easy to find.

I didn't find exactly what I had in mind, but I think I found two suits that will work. Now, unless she grows too much before our late summer beach trip, my little swimmer will be set for the rest of pool season.

Swimsuit shopping for myself? That is another (scary!) story.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for this cute little princess.

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That face melts me every time.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Choking on this second-hand smoke

I may be a few days late in seeing this, but I am too shocked and disgusted to leave it alone.

This kid, the same age as my precious, healthy, funny Amelia, SMOKES! His father gave him his first cigarette at 18 months old. Um... WHAT?!?!?!

How does someone even get to that point? How does a parent ever think it is a good idea to give an 18-month old a cigarette?

Says the horrible father, "I am not worried about his health. He looks healthy. He cries and throws tantrums when we don't let him smoke."

Um... again... WHAT?!?!?!?! So he looks healthy on the outside, and that makes it OK? He cries, so you give in to his demand for a cancer and emphysema-causing cigarette? This sickens me.

That poor, poor child.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I should be napping

I really should. I should be chilling out on the couch, nothing but silence coming from the baby monitor, my eyes closed. But am I napping? Of course not.

I have some kind of ridiculous obsession with finding things to do. Even when I am caught up on work and chores, I manage to waste time on Facebook. Or email. Or, like this very moment, I have a blog post to write. And 99.9% of the time, right as I have finally decided to take a quiet moment all to myself, I hear that little sweet voice from upstairs.

"Mommy?" Mommmmmmy?"

She seems to know exactly when to wake up. To make sure I have wasted every precious second of her naptime on stuff that I may or may not have needed to do.

Today I am going to relax. As soon as I finish this post. Last night, I was lucky enough to have a girls' night out with three neighbor/mommy/friends. We had some margaritas and yummy white queso dip. I had a BBQ chicken taco that was a little bit spicy and quite yummy. And the four of us, we laughed. We laughed about our husbands (in the nicest possible way, honey). We laughed about our kids. We actually conversed on subjects that had nothing to do with our kids (imagine that!). And we talked about how another neighbor's kid may or may not wear a swim diaper in our community pool (I seriously hope so). And the drunk neighbor who once could not find his own home. It was a really good time. Something we need to do much more often.

I was out way beyond my usual self-imposed curfew. These days I barely make it to 10:30 before crawling into bed. We got home around 11:10. I had a fabulous no-stress sleep. And now I am greedy for more "me" time. I could use a little more rest.

So here is my announcement: I am going to take a nap!!! I have no ability to nap longer than 20-30 minutes, but I'll take what I can get. Yay for calm & rested Mommy! See ya later.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Summer is looking good

There is a very good reason they call it HOTlanta. We're already deep into our muggy, humid afternoons. It was 90 degrees yesterday.

I have not been looking forward to this summer, fully aware of how much Amelia loves and needs outside time. At 14 months old, she didn't really care if she saw the sun & sky or not. But one year later, we are all about walking, running, sliding, and wagon rides through the neighborhood. She's probably as bored of these four walls as I am by now.

I knew school would help me a bit, allowing her playtime outdoors two days each week. But what was my plan for each afternoon when that little girl was inevitably going to look at me, pleading eyes and all, and ask "play outside, Mommy?"

Thank goodness I found my answer.

The POOL!

Amelia splashes, kicks, and giggles in the water. She watches the other kids. And despite her ridiculously short attention span, she can actually stay there for over an hour! I've never been much of a pool person. Swimsuits are not comfortable. My skin is perpetually pale (I have no idea why I don't tan anymore... I must be the only person on Earth who once returned from 10 days in Hawaii the exact same color as when I left). But this neighborhood pool is a lifesaver!

So now I can relax on a float in cool water (Amelia within sight and reach at all times, of course), or I can sweat on a playground while chasing my little munchkin. Which one sounds more comfortable to you?

Yay for water.

Perhaps I will survive the summer after all.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Saturday

Hanging out on a Saturday afternoon?

Do you need something to do?

Click HERE and help nominate 3MomsInOne!

There are some really well-known and awesome blogs on there. I need all the help I can get. Maybe a miracle too.

I will now end my shameless self-promotion post. Thanks for understanding :)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Welcome home

Amelia has too many toys.

I have filled up every drawer space in our guest room furniture. Any extra corner space in the guest room houses the larger items. I have been stuffing plastic and canvas bins with animals, gadgets, and books for two years. Steve even hauled the giant infant items (like the swing and exersaucer) to our attic space. Still, you can always find our family room cluttered with colorful kid stuff. Animals. Puzzle pieces. Dress-up clothes. And anything else Amelia got her hands on that morning.

I put toys on what I call "rotation" in our house. I get out three or so toys, a few stuffed animals, and several books. These live in the family room for a while. Then occasionally, after Amelia is in bed, I'll switch things out. Not only does this make her excited to see the "new" things again, it helps me to keep much of the clutter hidden from time to time.

Last night, a few of Amelia's previously favorite stuffed animals came out of rotation. Her polar bear, Icy, among them. Amelia took one look at that soft & cuddly white bear on top of the toy bin, and her face lit up with joy. She rushed over to the bin on her little bare feet, where Icy received a very big and very emotional hug.

"Mommy! Mommy!", Amelia exclaimed,

"Icy came home!!!!!"

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Leave it to... someone else

Every now and then I look at the "on this day" page from the New York Times. Sometimes I remember past events. Often I learn something I hadn't known before. Occasionally I peruse the celebrity birthdays.

Today, Jerry Mathers (aka Beaver Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver) is 62 years old. Happy birthday to him. In honor of his special day and the show that launched his fame, here are a few musings on why I am grateful NOT to be a 1950s housewife:


I am grateful NOT to be a 1950s housewife because...

Men's cotton boxer shorts and/or an oversize t-shirt are much more comfortable to sleep in than a modest, full-length, long-sleeved nightgown.

I can take my makeup off and pull my hair back in a headband before my husband arrives home from work - and any other time of the day I feel like it.

Cookies come in quick and easy "break & bake" packages, taking only a couple seconds beyond baking time for a warm & delicious treat.

(And speaking of food...) Dinner can be Chinese delivery, a previously frozen pizza, sandwiches, or sometimes even cereal if I've had a rough day and just don't feel like the extra effort for something better.

A stinky diaper on a weekend is as much my husband's responsibility as it is my own.

I can have a job outside of my house. Or inside my house, thanks to modern technologies and the Internet.


Yep, it is 2010. Mommies can celebrate our evolution over the past 60 years. I may be fighting to balance all my personas these days, but I am definitely glad that I am able to have so many. For those of you who are the 100% housewife/mommy type, more power to you. And I am certainly impressed.

But I'll take my modern conveniences and allowances any day.

Now where are those pajama pants? And my glasses. I need to get more comfortable.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A teacher in training

Amelia has the makings of a great teacher. She loves to line up her stuffed animals on the stairs and "read" books to them. She loves to show me flashcards and help me with the pictures. She especially loves to reprimand bad behavior and cuddle her students when they get sad.

Lately Amelia's stuffed dog, Lola, has been pushing the other animals. Amelia says, "Big no-no, Lola. No pushing!" and puts Lola in timeout. Then she hugs and cuddles the pushing victim, usually a smaller animal who can not defend himself.

Elmo seems to have trouble staying awake in class. He is always going upstairs to take a nap. Amelia puts him in bed, tells him to "have a good sleep", and returns to teaching everyone else. Perhaps Elmo should have an earlier bedtime so he can learn with his friends?

In Amelia's actual school today, she led the music session. She confidently told the music teacher which songs to sing. And when to sing a certain song again. Or when to move on to the next song. The rest of the class went along with Amelia's lesson plan. Sounds like she did a good job!

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A school session on the stairs. Before Elmo went to take his nap.

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