mothering


Sometimes we are unpleasantly startled by a reflection of our own behavior in our children (like when they repeat a cuss word! at the appropriate moment!) and other times we have to give ourselves a pat on the back for passing along exemplary behavior.

A couple days ago, I caught Christian and Noi naa in the middle of a very serious nursing session. They were each nursing their respective “babies.”

Noi naa is letting Christian nurse her prize doll Annabelle, while she nurses Minnie Mouse.


I like how Noi naa is resting back on a triangle pillow and how her feet are up.


Christian nursing lying down, except instead of reading like I do, he's playing with a matchbox car.


They were at it for a while - SO CUTE!!

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I basically missed the U.S. Mother’s Day, since I was in transit over the Pacific from Saturday 3 pm Los Angeles to Monday 2 am Bangkok, but there was a funny little video waiting for me in my email when I booted up my computer for the first time.
You can watch it here.
Bella gave me a very sweet letter and manicure gift certificate before I left and sounds like my husband’s getting me an external hard drive – sheesh, maybe I should always go out of town for Mother’s Day!
Thanks for all the cyber wishes, my friends.

Aiden turned six on Monday – and he wanted the same train adventure that his sister had had for her birthday the previous month. We took the same Amtrak line south from Irvine, but stopped in Solana Beach for pizza at the Pizza Port and boogie boarding at the small cove beach there.
The boogie boarding was a blast – really exhilarating.
Great day!

The gang that rode the train (grandma, great grandma, and great aunt met us for lunch too).


We made short work of the lemon-y birthday treats.


The girls couldn't get enough sand play - they were very focused.


Birthday boy impressed us all by catching come good waves! Christian was content to balance on the boogie board and pretend he was surfing.


All the babies crashed out hard at one point or another. Here's Oliver in zoneland.

We’re getting ready for our annual World Breastfeeding Week Family Picnic. I’m in charge of the vendors. This is the meetup description I posted for my attachment parenting meetup group.

YOU ARE INVITED! COME AND HAVE FUN WITH US!


August 7, 2010, 11am-2pm
Alta Laguna Park in Laguna Beach
(PCH to Laguna Ave, which turns into Park and you take Park to the top of the world and turn Left on Alta Laguna, the park is on the right).

Bring your sunscreen, sun umbrella, and blankets or chairs.

This event was a tremendous success last year – besides raising several thousand dollars for the local La Leche League groups, about 150 families had fun all day long.

Again, we’ve already scored some wonderful donations for our opportunity drawing and online auction and family gift bags. The first 100 families get a goodie bag! So far, the gift bags will include Natrcare products, a copy of Mothering Magazine, samples of Tanner’s Tasty Paste, Badger’s Lip Balm, xylitol chewing gum by xclear, and more.

There will be 9-10 vendor booths with local businesses including an on-site photobooth with Steph Fowler Photography (see last year’s sweet pics here), the Shoebox (professional shoe-fitting for our toddlers), and cloth diapers through envirobabystore.com.

We hope to see you there; it will be great fun for the whole family. We’ll be having a BIG bake sale, all-natural hotdog sales, and a craft and game for the kids. Please pass this info along to all your friends.

See you soon!
Sierra, Kimberly, and Hope – LLL Leaders
and core volunteers Liz, Jeannie, Noel, and Jaimie

P.S. As always, we WELCOME VOLUNTEERS.
If you would like to volunteer an hour of your time setting up, breaking down, or minding a booth, check this link to peruse our volunteer sign-up, bake sale, or items needed spreadsheets (through google docs).
Then contact me and I’ll add you to the list!

P.P.S. To see what was in the 100 FREE gift bags we gave away LAST year, check here. This year, the loot bags promise to be even better. We’ll post a list of items soon.

More not-chocolate-cake. Because I never think to take out my camera at bedtime...

No joke, instituting a rather strict bedtime routine has been like MAGIC.

All those nights when I knew Christian was exhausted we just couldn’t get him to tip over into slumberland – are in the past. Christian is often EAGER for bedtime now, and frequently shoos his daddy out of the room, so we can get going with our “candle bright” as Christian calls it.

It’s going on three weeks and now I’m eye-ing other troublesome spots in our day, and even our week, that might benefit from the addition of more thought and routine.

Although I don’t really keep track of the time, except as a general starting point, I am listing times here, so you can see about how much time everything takes. We start no later than 8 pm. I’m two ways about getting Christian to bed any earlier, because he only ever sleeps for 10 hours at night with a good nap every afternoon. If he’s asleep by nine, then we get up together about 7 am.

The whole routine is intended to wind down the day and to foster a sense of calm peacefulness before going to sleep.

7 pm Dinner (we sit and eat all together at the table – I don’t say a blessing,  I merely say “bon appètit” before we dig in)

7:30 pm Chad does the dishes. Baby likes to help. (I finish my dinner!) Then there’s usually a bit of playing on the living room floor between Daddy and Baby. I slip into the shower myself.

8 pm Chad and Baby shower together.

8:15 Pyjamas (his t-shirt for the next day) and diaper (cloth without a cover). We sing “Where is Ti-ti? Where is Ti-ti? There he is! There he is!” while getting dressed if he is resistant.

8:20 Teeth Brushing (“Brush, brush, brush your teeth! Brush them everyday! First you brush the top, then you brush the bottom. Keeps the cavities away” to the tune of “Row, Row Your Boat”.) If Baby resists, Chad pins him down to the bed to brush the teeth properly. Christian thinks it’s funny and I figure the physical “force” now is better than anesthesia for filling a cavity later.)

8:25 Goodnight kiss to Daddy. Prepare the bed. Christian sleeps on a lambskin between me and a king-size pillow on the side of the bed. He naps on the same lambskin.

8:30 Light the beeswax story candle on my dresser singing “Candle light! Candle bright! Shine your glowing candle light!” Christian blows out the match, and I carry him and the burnt match to the sink to wet it before throwing it away. If I miss ANY of this, Christian prompts me. I even have to put the box of matches in the same place each evening.

8:32 A calm sweet read-aloud story. Like Mother’s Lap or I am a Bunny.

8:35 Christian is carried to the candle and blows it out while I sing “Candle light, Candle bright, Thank you for your shining light.”

8:37 Christian turns off the bedroom lights while I sing, “The sun has gone to bed and so must I. Doot-doot-a doot-doot doot doot-doot -dooo.”

8:38 Christian nurses while I tell him a story: Once upon a time, not too far away, and not too long ago, there lived a little boy named Ti-ti who loved adventure. One day… [insert activities of the day told in simple, pleasant detail]… and if things haven’t changed, they are still the same today.”

Then I sing,

“All is silent in the forest, as through the night.

A night owl is winging her way through the air.

And the moon her watch is keeping, as through the trees,

That stand in the forest, as sentinels there.”

8:45 Christian is snoring and I ease myself out of the bed to watch very un-Waldorf movies with my husband until about 10 or 10:30 pm.

Thoughts:

I’d like to sing a nicer song for turning off the light. I like this one, but haven’t learned it all yet. I’m just making up a tune for it.

“Now the day is over,

Night is drawing nigh,

Shadows of the evening,

Steal across the sky.

Now the darkness gathers,

Stars begin to peep.

Birds and beasts and flowers

Soon will be asleep.”

Also, instead of telling Christian a story about himself, I like the idea Devana suggests of telling a story from my own youth.

This post will be randomly interspersed of pictures of me, Christian, and Ellen looking at art in Culver City last week.

Have I not yet recommended you read Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children by Sharifa Oppenheimer? It is a excellent parenting resource and I recommend it HIGHLY.

It is the book that we are reading book club-style in my Waldorf in the Woods playgroup (one chapter a week).

Not only do I think it’s done more to deepen the level of understanding of how we want to parent in our group than any other single event or action I’ve taken, but I actually think it is meaningfully changing all our lives.

Take, for instance, the chapter on rhythm, “The World of Rhythm.”

“Rhythm is the magic word for parents and educators of young children. Young children thrive on a simple, flexible rhythm that carries them through their day, through each week, and through the slowly unfolding years of their lives. Rhythm lays a strong foundation, not only in our children’s lives but also in our own. We humans have been shaped over the millennia by the rhythmic rotation of the earth, by the diurnal dance of day and night…

Our children, who live closer to basics than we do, are profoundly affected by the life rhythms we determine for them. Many problems we experience with our children can be addressed by setting a simple daily rhythm that allows their needs to be met in a timely way.” [italics mine]

I am convinced that the last sentence in that quote is absolutely correct.

Inspired by it, I decided to tighten up our bedtime routine. I mean, we all have some semblance of routine at night – but ours was loose, very loose. Meaning, sometimes, instead of turning off the light to nurse him down, I would keep the light on so I could read my book, while Christian nursed. It seemed to me that whether or not the light was on or off made little difference to Christian, who sometimes fell asleep nursing while I tap out one-handed email responses on my laptop. Sometimes we bathed early and sometimes late. I had half-heartedly started a candle lighting routine, but then stopped because I was waiting to learn that perfect candle-lighting song. Our bedtime routine never seemed to be a problem, because Christian didn’t seem to have THAT much difficulty going to sleep, especially if he’d had enough outdoors playtime that day.

Then we started having trouble putting Christian to bed. Sometimes it would take me several hours to get him asleep. SEVERAL HOURS. Not okay in my book, because not only didn’t I feel irritable in general and specifically towards Christian, but also, Christina seemed to want to be asleep – and he just couldn’t get there.

So, I drafted a very specific bedtime routine (in my head) and put it into effect ten days ago.

It was like magic. And the first night it wasn’t even a routine yet, so how could it be so wildly successful?!? But there you were – the first night, and every subsequent night, Christian has fallen asleep on schedule, in about a half hour of starting the bedtime routine. (Well, the last nights it has been a bit longer, but nothing like the nightmares we were dealing with the previous week.)

I’m torn.

It’s hard to pick what to post about first in the new year. I reread my last post (holiday photoshoot) and felt that I sounded irritated and crabby and I don’t want to start 2010 with that tone.

I’d like to write a bit about Bella, I think, because as my mother-in-law gently reminded me recently, Bella is a good kid – one who already is pretty hard on herself – and while I am navigating the tempestuous emotions of her teen years, I sometimes lose sight of that. I want to direct some energy into remembering all the things I love about my girl and how much closer we’ve grown just recently.

My sweetie girl at sixteen.

Being  mother to a teenage girl is hard, and part of that difficulty, is that while Bella stretches and reaches towards adulthood, her feet are kicking me and her childhood away. And it feels like sometimes, dirt and pebbles are raining down into my face. Yeah, it hurts that much – it’s that uncomfortable – and it’s why you can (surely) hear my screeching two apartments over.

And while we squabble often and loudly – I have noticed a few things that make me wonder if we’re nearing some kind of adulthood maturity, or at least past some of the rougher teenage rebellion hurtles.

For one, her palate is changing. Suddenly she loves my chicken salad (home roasted chicken, organic greens, diced apple, raisins, pecans, shredded carrots, cucumber – what’s not to like?) and homemade whole wheat bread. She has even strutted in to tell me proudly that she reduced the amount of sugar the banana bread recipe (from Starbuck’s, granted) called for. This from a girl who has always bemoaned my reduced sugar and whole wheat treats as “brown bread.” Even my chocolate chip cookies, she would dismiss as “brown bread.” She’s the  kid who rejected whole wheat so vehemently that I bought her white bread and bologna for her school sandwiches! Yet, she made brownies from the box this week and told me later that she’d added applesauce instead of oil.

!!

I raised an eyebrow and asked if that was a suggestion on the box. She shrugged and said, “No, but my dad’s always telling me I can do that.”

I know part of the food thing is a growing awareness of wanting to stay slim (she is), but I like to think that it’s a growing awareness of health too. She’s requested that I bake bread regularly.

Taken in Yucca Valley over Thanksgiving.

And past her palate, Bella just wants more hugs and kisses now. And laughed the other day when Christian ran over to try and pry Bella’s arms off HIS mama. I said, “Hey, Bella’s my baby too”  and chuckled to see the understanding bloom on his little face. He grinned and tried to climb into my lap too. Bella is finally warming up to her little bro too.

She even deigned to say that she had a great Christmas – and all we did was stay home and cook together as a family. She even came up to me the next day and THANKED me for helping her get such great gifts (my sibs and parents sent Christmas money and asked me to do some shopping for them).

I love my girl. It was fun bumping into her a million times in my little kitchen on Christmas Day.

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