Saturday, October 22, 2011

Children's Fair

Just got back from the children's fair at Ari's school a little while ago. I'm so tired I hurt! But the kids had so much fun! And it is always wonderful to run into parents I wish I got to see more often.

Let's see… What did Ari do? She is currently walking, I mean, running around with a shark on her face. She painted a pumpkin. She did a stamping activity, i.e. lots of ink on one sheet of paper! She made an alligator with Nana. She went on two pony rides. She spent a few minutes in the bounce house. She pet rabbits. She fed llamas. Her hair got licked by a llama!

Both grandmas and my nephew joined us. Daddy got to stay home and enjoy some quiet time. I got to see how all the hard work of about ten moms, including myself, paid off. What a wonderful event! Many families had a blast and the scholarship fund is a bit larger after today. Success!

What fun things have you done with your child(ren) recently? I'm hoping our next big thing will be a trip to Boston. Hint, hint, Yaminette! How is that calendar looking?!

Oh, I'm afraid to type it, but there is a rumor Daddy and I get to go on a date tonight! Ari wants to sleep at Grandma's because her cousin will be there. I know there is a great chance we'll be picking her up at 3:00 a.m. But I don't care! We haven't gone anywhere child free in so long. I can't even remember when the last time was!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ari's Fourth Birthday

I never posted about Ari's birthday party and it happened a month ago. Oops! Let's get that done before I start forgetting the details.

Where to start? We celebrated Ari's fourth birthday on Sunday, September 18, on our back yard. There were almost 40 people here! About 17 of them were little ones. I think about nine of them were age four. Yes, we had a preschool here for a few hours! It was nice to have several families from her classroom, the neighbors, the grandparents, and one of my closest friends spend the day with us celebrating.

We had pizza, fruit and juice for lunch. The kids played for about an hour on the yard. After that, they came inside to enjoy a puppet show courtesy of Nana. After the show, she helped each child make his/her own puppet using recycled materials. Bless her heart! She is an art teacher, she loves kids, Ari is the only grandchild and Nana only had boys. So she would do just about anything for our little girl! We lucked out in the mother-in-law/grandma department.

After the puppet madness, we went back outside for cake and the piñata. Picture this: 17 kids excited about cake and a piñata. It was loud, but a lot of fun!

All the kids went home happy because they got to make puppets and Ari was happy as can be about having her friends over and about her Hello Kitty party.

After everyone went home, we went to a nearby park and had dinner with our Boston friends.

The next day, Monday, we celebrated at school. The Montessori school Ari attends has a "celebration of life" for each child when his/her birthday comes up. It is very simple, but beautiful. I love it.

A sun is placed on the ground. The birthday child walks around it holding a globe. While the child walks, the parents talk about some of the highlights of each year. Ari got to walk around four times and we told the kids about how she loved eating beans when she was one, how she loved balloons when she was two, how she loved going to the water park when she was three, etc. After that, we shared grapes and crackers with the kids.

All in all, everyone had a great time. I am sure we will be doing it again next September!

Feeling nostalgic today...

Just came across Ari's ultrasound photo. If I remember correctly, I was about 17 weeks. Bittersweet. On the one hand, that was a wonderful time. She is here with us, happy and healthy. That makes me smile. I am incredibly grateful for my beautiful, happy, low-stress family of three.

All that being said, I am also feeling incredibly nostalgic. Will I ever get to experience that again? No idea whatsoever. We tried for months and it didn't happen. We think about it. We would like her to have a sibling. But there is a lot of ambivalence. So much ambivalence. It drives me nuts at times!

I think about adjusting all over again, about family dynamics. I think and wonder about what kind of mother and wife I will be if/when I become the mother of a school age child and an infant. It's no secret that being sleep deprived does crazy things to us. I think about Daddy. He is the bread winner. He works almost 50 hours every week. He always makes time for Ari in the mornings and in the evenings. What would it look like if he was working, making time for her, and making time for a new baby? I want my husband to be a happy, balanced man. I want him to still get some time to "boy out"!

I think about how we have fallen in love with the Montessori philosophy. We really believe in it and we see results. Our child is thriving. We can afford it. What about two tuitions? No way to know, I know. There is no way to know where we will be in four or five years when the potential new baby is ready for preschool.

My guess is that I'm feeling particularly aware of our financial situation because we're in the process of spending thousands of dollars in necessary home improvement projects. We own a duplex. Good news: having a tenant helps with the mortgage a great deal. Bad news: twice as much crap to fix! When you have to come up with close to $5,000 out of the blue, well, you feel a little stressed out!

Sometimes I wish we could just say let's do it, let's get pregnant, and things will come together. It will all work out somehow. But neither of us works that way.

Rant over. Thanks for hearing me out if you made it this far. If we ever make a final decision I will share. In the meantime, I continue to daydream about three potential scenarios: remaining a family of three, getting pregnant or adopting. Yes, I still think about adopting, but, let's face it. The only way we could adopt would be to adopt via DCF and that means a serious roller coaster ride for my entire family.

If you feel like sharing about family dynamics, either what you witness as a parent or your experiences as a sibling, I would be happy to hear about it. Email me if that would be your preference. Johannafsilva at gmail

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hey you, age four, you suck!

Oh, age four, how you're kicking my ass!!! Here I was thinking I was out of the woods because my child was the sweetest 2-year-old I've ever seen! Yeah, right! Life has a sense of humor!

Let me fill you in. Ari turned four on September 18, less than three weeks ago. She is a very sweet, compassionate, helpful child. She is fairly self-centered at times, but what little kid isn't? We're working on that, explaining to her that she doesn't always get to go first, that we take turns, that all of us get to have choices. I refuse to let my child become the stereotypical only child. I believe that the way we raise our child will have a huge impact on who she will become. I believe in treating my child with love and respect, the same way I want to be treated. I believe in setting boundaries lovingly and with empathy. Hell, I'll just put it out there. I've moved away from the whole consequences thing. My beliefs have shifted and I now believe that communicating and remaining connected will do us all better than imposing a consequence that is just going to embarrass her or piss her off. I have a lot to share about that ongoing journey. I promise I will get to it some day. For now, I will share that I set firm boundaries, that when she cries, stumps or tells me that she is angry and that I hurt her feelings, I tell her that it is ok to cry, that I understand her feelings and that I am right here, ready to hug her when she is ready.

All that makes it sound like we live in a perfect, easy little world, I know. I'll share a story about today and you'll see how this is a work in progress for me.

You see, starting last Friday, my sweet, not-so-little child and I have been finding ourselves getting into power struggles usually once a day. Thus far, these lovely episodes last anywhere from one to twenty-five minutes. One time we spent just under ten minutes in a restaurant restroom because I insisted that she sit on the potty to prevent an accident. Let me take a minute to add that, of all the times I've insisted on her using the potty, there was exactly one time when only drops came out and not a big pee. Today we had an episode, for lack of a better word, that lasted almost half an hour because she wanted to have some chocolate. What is the big deal? Grandma had already given her some chocolate. Our rule is one treat after dinner. Also, given the fact she is giving me hell about eating a balanced diet, I want to make sure I don't overdo it when it comes to junk food.

Back to today's big event, she did not cry the whole time. She alternated between stumping, lying down on the floor, crying, temporarily calming down, and saying things like "I'm sad. I'm angry. You hurt my feelings. You're not doing what I want you to do."

When these power struggles began I was feeling quite drained when it was all said and done. Today I felt fine, despite the fact that this was by far the longest. I don't know if I'm growing up, if I got enough sleep or if I was just having a good day today. Little girl, don't try me next week. All bets are off, ask daddy!!! Just kidding, well, kind of!!!

At any rate, I guess the moral of the story is that parenting is a never-ending learning process, that certain behaviors are developmentally appropriate and so they will come up no matter what, and that, what matters in the end, is to get through it the best you know how so that at the end of it your family is still feeling connected and intact. Yes, there are times when we will lose it. We're human. Let's just make sure that we apologize when we have to, even if it means apologizing to a four-year-old. Lastly, let's try very hard to always end the day in a positive note. For us, this means "no, you can't watch Daddy play his game, but we can do a family hug."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Peace Day 2011

The Montessori school Ari attends celebrated Peace Day on September 21. Peace Day was established in 1981. It is my understanding that many Montessori schools around the world begun celebrating Peace Day after September 11th happened by gathering at 11:00 a.m. to sing "Light a Candle for Peace."

I missed the event last year. After seeing the video I was really kicking myself. It was absolutely beautiful. Many people I showed the video to felt that it was just silly hippy stuff. They got turned off by the many peace signs.

I have to say now that I have attended the event I love it even more. The entire school gathered outside, preschoolers, elementary school kids, teachers, staff, and a significant number of parents. Several of the older kids shared what peace means to them. The kids sang several songs about peace. They also sang several songs about different emotions, positive and negative, how to cope with them, how to approach their peers when they find themselves in a tense situation. Now, tell me that isn't brilliant? Tiny kids are practicing their developing social skills in the classroom and they get the reinforcement by singing about it. Us parents should learn the songs and sing them to ourselves and our children at home!

So, no, it's not "hippy shit"!

Check out this video:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Yummy Pancakes

My child recently became obsessed with pancakes! I have tried a few recipes. Here is our favorite recipe thus far. As usual, I tweaked the recipe until it was both quite yummy and still healthy.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2.5 cups buttermilk
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1/3 cup olive oil


1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together buttermilk, milk, eggs and olive oil. Keep the two mixtures separate until you are ready to cook.
2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. You can flick water across the surface and if it beads up and sizzles, it's ready!
3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, using a wooden spoon or fork to blend. Stir until it's just blended together. Do not over stir! Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/2 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot. We love adding whipped cream and strawberries! Ari likes the strawberries on the side. When Harry Met Sally, anyone?! No, I'm typically not into "chick flicks," but I did love that one when I was a teenager!