Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Holy brain and language development batman!

Here are several interesting words and phrases that Amor Chiquito has been using as of late.


Just in case

If you change your mind…

She is using all of these correctly! Being a first-time mom, I had no idea when kids begin to use such phrases. I was shocked!

Some quotes:

“Mommy, tomorrow (she has not figured out past and future phrases), when I be grown up, I will have a baby and I will be a mommy and you will be a grandma and daddy will be a granddaddy and we will be a big family for the baby.”

“Daddy, you are my daddy and my cousin’s tio (uncle in Spanish). Tio (my brother) is my cousin’s dad and my tio.”

“Daddy, I was in my mommy’s tummy and you were in Nana’s tummy. Mommy was in grandma’s tummy.”

Let’s not forget:

“And you are not listening to me. I want to go to the park.”

Lastly, “I am done talking about grandma’s house. I want to go to the park.”

Holy brain and language development batman! That’s all I can say!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Touching Words from a Mom

No earthly idea where I found this or who wrote it. I found it online years ago. As I was going through old documents, I came across it, reread it, and I'm in tears, just like all the other times I've read it!


We are sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of starting a family." "We're taking a survey," she says half-joking.

"Do you think I should have a baby?"

"It will change your life," I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.

"I know," she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations."

But that is not what I meant at all.

I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.

I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, "What if that had been MY child?" That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her. That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub.

That an urgent call of "Mom!" will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moments hesitation.

I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her baby's sweet smell.

She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.

I want my daughter to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy's desire to go to the men's room rather than the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom.

However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.

Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself.

That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child.

That she would give herself up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years, not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.

I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor.

My daughter's relationship with her husband will change, and not in the way she thinks.

I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child.

I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving. I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike.

I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time.

I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts.

My daughter's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes.

"You'll never regret it," I finally say. Then I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter's hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, andfor all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings.


What do you think, parents? This is about moms, but there are some pretty squishy daddies out there too! I heard a cute daddy tell his baby girl he missed her today, for example!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What did she say?!

Wow, my blog has been neglected! No posts in two weeks. Amor Chiquito has been home for almost ten days (spring break). She was also home for a few days the week before spring break because of an evil stomach bug.

So, where to start? Let’s start with the fun stuff!

The other day Amor Chiquito handed her dad something and said something like “Daddy, please hold this. I have a lot of things to do.”

What? Excuse me?! Lots of things to do?! Thanks for the laugh, kid!

The other day Amor Chiquito wanted to go to the park. I did not want to go. It was very windy outside. I had made plans to go visit my mother instead. The conversation went something like this:

Ari: Mommy, I want to go to the park.

Me: We are not going to the park right now.

Ari: Why?

Me: It is very windy outside. I don’t want to be cold! We will go another day. We are going to grandma’s house.

Ari: But I really want to go to the park.

Me: I understand that you want to go to the park. We will go tomorrow. Today we are going to have fun at grandma’s.

Repeat that exchange a few times…

Ari: Mommy, I really really want to go to the park.

Me: Ari, I feel like you are not listening. We are going to grandma’s today and we will go to the park tomorrow.

Ari: Mommy, I feel like you are not listening. I want to go to the park.

A few minutes later…

Ari: I want to go to the park.

Me: I am done talking about the park.

Ari: I am done talking about grandma’s house.

So, then what?!

I can’t get mad at her! She is modeling my actions and statements. That’s what kids do! She was not yelling. She was not being rude. She was saying what she hears me say. I felt like she was being a smart ass! But she really wasn’t.

I have been uncertain as to how to handle this. We could go on and on about what we want and what we are actually going to do for ever. Her and I could compete for the Most Persistent award for quite a long time!

My husband and my friend shared some ideas. I will share those another time. In the meantime, tell me, what would you do? What would you say?

Friday, April 8, 2011

On Traveling for Business, Attachment, and Separation

Warning: this is a long one!

Geeky Entrepreneur travelled for work this week. He was gone for three nights. He had not done much traveling since Amor Chiquito was born, but it looks like he will be traveling about once a quarter from now on.

This week was hard and exhausting for all of us. At the same time, it reminded me about attachment and taught me about the needs of little ones. Let’s just say that our daughter was very sad, confused and angry when her dad was gone. She did things she had never done before, including acting out in school. I felt as though a grumpy and unhappy alien took over my sweet and happy child. She did a lot of crying. I was ready to cry several times. You get my drift.

We got through it. Daddy tried to talk to her two or three times a day. I gave her lots of hugs and love. I tried talking to her about feelings. We co slept and cuddled a lot. That being said, I was still left with the feeling that, no matter what I did, my happy and sweet baby was temporarily gone. This made me wonder. What could I do differently? What did I not do? What could her dad do differently?

I spent some time online. I knew separation is not ideal. I know how it affects little ones and why. It has to do with attachment. You and your little one have a bond. She trusts you. She knows that you will be there when she needs you. You are her world. You mean complete and absolute safety to her. Suddenly, with little or no warning, you are gone. She wonders why. She wonders if or when you will return. If she is old enough, she may worry about where you will sleep, what you will eat, etc.

Up until age five or six, little ones are unable to verbalize their sadness and confusion. They communicate these feelings in different ways: crying, showing anger, sometimes even hitting the traveling parent when s/he comes home. Your little one might withdraw from you for a while after you come home. She may continue to worry about if/when you are leaving for days. For example, Ari is still asking me, multiple times a day, if daddy is home and if he will be home when she comes home from school. The first words out of her mouth this morning: is my daddy home? Where is he? I don’t see him.

I did some research and found some links that I thought may be helpful to you next time you are traveling.

Effects of Separation and Loss on Children's Development:

This article focuses on prolonged absence, but it explains what attachment is and the importance of attachment very clearly, I thought.

** I pasted a portion of the article below in here because it is a PDF. I could not find or did not know how to find a link to it. **


Business Travel: Preparing Kids for Your Absence and Keeping in Touch
During a preschool circle time, children discussed their parents’ occupations.
Four-year-old Joe shared that his Dad worked at the airport. His teacher asked if he was a pilot who flew planes or a mechanic who worked on them. The boy was stumped, “Um, I don’t know. That’s just where we take Daddy to work.”
by Karen Stephens
Sometimes kids wonder about the simplest things — like how you will get food to eat when you’re not home.
Following up with Joe’s parents, the teacher discovered that Dad didn’t work at the airport at all. But it quickly became obvious why Joe thought his father did. The most tangible thing Joe knew about his father’s work was where he and his mother took Dad almost every morning — you guessed it — to the airport.
From Joe’s perspective, the airport was Dad’s workplace. Preschooler Joe hadn’t yet figured out that the airport was just Dad’s work commute.
Especially for parents, the glamour of work-related travel wears off quickly.
Frequent business travel wears on nerves and tugs at the heart. It can rob parents of irreplaceable child-rearing moments and create painful physical distance. And it’s not just tough on moms and dads. Young children often don’t clearly understand where parents are during work travel, or why parents don’t take the whole family along. If children are left unprepared for a parent’s absence, it can be a time of scary uncertainty.
If you’re a parent whose work schedule includes a lot of travel, the tips below will help you prepare children for your absence and help you stay in touch until your safe return.

Remember, not all surprises are good. Forewarn kids before you travel. If you leave unannounced, you’re likely to undermine trust. If you must leave very early in the morning, say your good-byes the night before. But avoid saying good-bye right at bedtime when children feel most alone anyway.

Let children know why you have to travel for work. According to their ability to understand, briefly explain what you’ll be doing. Sometimes kids wonder about the simplest things — like how you will get food to eat when you’re not home. If those details worry your child, reassure them there are restaurants
and grocery stores where you travel.

Explain how long you’ll be gone. Younger children won’t understand calendar dates, so talk about how many nights sleep or how many days of child care it will be before you return home. School-aged children can mark off days on a calendar. (However, also prepare them for flight delays that upset the best of plans.)

With today’s easy exposure to news reports, children might worry about your travel mode. This is especially true if you’re flying or taking a train after a reported accident. Reassure children that pilots or engineers will do their very best to get you where you’re going safely.

Whenever possible, leave a photo or brochure of where you’ll be — even if it’s your hotel or company building. You can even leave web sites of your travel location that children can view. All that will help your child understand that you didn’t just “disappear” somewhere.

Use technology to stay in touch. Call home when you reach your destination and leave your contact number on the voice mail. Consider faxing and e-mailing messages or digital photos.

Call home at agreed upon times or you’re likely to miss each other; especially when in different time zones and/or countries.

Don’t forget promised call times. Most kids — especially preschoolers — don’t talk a lot during phone calls, but they still like to hear your voice. If you get delayed, remember to give kids a sincere apology once you do talk with them. Young children often don’t clearly understand where parents are during work travel, or why parents don’t take the whole family along.

Help children maintain a sense of your presence in the home by leaving them with one of your favorite items. It can be something as simple as a sweater, sports cap, book, or photographs.

Leave love notes under pillows, in backpacks, or under meal cups to remind your child you think of them even when you’re gone.

Draw up IOUs for activities you’ll do together once you return, such as go to the park or children’s museum.

Continue participating in daily routines even when you’re gone. Leave a video of you reading a bedtime story. Make a tape recording of you and your child singing favorite songs and leave it with a tape recorder for listening.

If you miss a special event, holiday, or birthday, don’t waste time feeling guilty. Limit those occasions as much as you can, but a missed event isn’t the end of the world. Instead, spend your energy planning together how you’ll re-celebrate when you return. Or plan how to celebrate together long distance, such as singing “Happy Birthday” over the phone.

If you are gone a long time, periodically mail home little treasures for the kids. Items easy to mail include coloring books, paperback books, stickers,
puzzles, bookmarks, stuffed animals or puppets, or a few foreign coins. Those are just a few ideas to help ease parent-child separation during travel. There are many more useful ideas in the
book The Business Traveling Parent by Dan Verdick (Beltsville, MD: Robins Lane Press, 2000). Verdick shares lots of ways to creatively stay in touch with children until the joy of your next reunion.
About the Author — Karen Stephens is director of Illinois State University Child Care Center and instructor in child development for the ISU Family and Consumer Sciences Department. For nine years she wrote a weekly parenting column in her local newspaper. Karen has authored early care and education books and is a frequent contributor to Exchange.
© Karen Stephens 2007

A few more ideas:

One idea that we meant to try, did not do, but will most definitely do next time is using webcams. Ari is very visual. She wanted to see her dad and she wanted to show him what she was working on, even what she was eating!

One of my friends suggested that we tell Ari that Daddy will be traveling days before he actually travels. She suggested that we get Ari involved in the packing process.

I feel/hope that talking to Amor Chiquito about what to expect when Daddy is gone might be helpful. I am thinking about how often she can talk to him or see him on the webcam.

Do you have any other suggestions?

As for our family, all of us are glad that life is back to normal. Daddy is glad to be home. Ari is thrilled that her dad is back. I feel that both of them are back! I am hopeful that in a few days Amor Chiquito will stop worrying about her dad not being there when she wakes up in the morning.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Article: Don't Say No to Me

Great article on how to say "no" without saying "no" 100 times in one day:

This mama began blogging recently. She writes very interesting, thought-provoking posts. Let's not forget that this is where I found the quinoa chocolate cake recipe!