Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Thirty Somethings At Outside Lands

My husband and I have not been avid concert goers. Ticket prices seemed to always be more than we wanted to spend.  I tend to fall asleep anywhere after 10pm. So for those reasons it wasn't ever a priority. 

When we found out we were pregnant, something happened to my husband and he developed a great urgency to live a little. The year I got pregnant he went to no less than six concerts. Two of them were music festivals. I fought to go went to one where we had seats , but I passed on the chance to go to Outside Lands that first year because after he took me to Florence and the Machine on our anniversary at four months pregnant. I knew I would not want to walk/stand for a three straight days without being able to drink. 

The hubby had the most amazing time and has gone every year since. This year after many setbacks I finally got to go with him. My brother and my soon to be SIL offered to watch Animal and my mom (who is his other primary caregiver) was there too. I didn't go all three days, so I had to try to see and do all I wanted in one day.

Doors opened at noon, we wanted to leave at 11, but as usual when it's a personal day we're always running late. So we left at a quarter to noon. We parked across from the shuttle at 12:30ish and got in line for the shuttle that would take us to Golden Gate Park. The line was long, the ride is about 25 minutes long. We were on the Shuttle at one and as we pulled away we were surprised to see the line had more than doubled since we got there. 

Next, as we are dropped of at the gate, we somehow manage to miss the line doubling again. It took nearly another hour to get in.

There was so much art. Live artist painting murals. Past murals lined the outer edges of the event. There were painted structures all over. Some to admire and others to rest your achy feet. I could have spent several hours just walking through this area and watching the painters. Sadly, as fore mentioned, I had only one day so I only spent and hour walking through the art.

There were DJs, comedy shows, Skits, vaudeville acts, magic shows, break dancers, arts and crafts, carnies and even "camp" where we could have played board games and shit. We walked past all of that. No time. I definitely need to go for the three days.

There were so many choices in food. So much to drink. We did not eat, or drink to our hearts content. I didn't want to use the port a pottys any more than absolutely necessary and I'm sure that's self explanatory. 

We did however stop at beer lands, wine lands and for a cocktail. So good and like all events so pricey. At least my cocktail wasn't watered down. 


Outside lands is held at Golden Gate Park, so it is dusty, windy and awesome. 

At four we head to the stage where Death Cab for Cutie would perform. The hubby likes to get as close to his favorite bands as possible so we head to that stage as the band BEFORE Death Cab is going to start.  We find a decent place to stand for Haim, a band I've never heard of. At first I'm really bummed I'm not getting one last drink because I know we're not moving once DCFC starts. Then the energy really picks up and I really enjoy the three sister band. 

After they finish and the crowd starts to leave, we inch our way forward to find a better, closer spot. They are awesome, they play everything I want to hear. I almost completely ignore the people who have continued to inch forward and are now standing in spots where was once 8 inches between me and the person in front of me. 


Death exits after marveling at the fact that they are opening for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. Again after they finish and the crowd thins, we inch our way a little closer to the stage. It's comfortable.

Until the show starts. Don't get me wrong. Tom Petty put on a great show and he played almost everything I wanted to hear. He really rocked and the crowd was super into it. However, after standing in basically the same spot for four hours prior to his starting, my feet, back and body were done. I'm a middle aged woman for God's sake. Not to mention the people again squeezing into spaces that don't exist. The hubby who is much larger and who had already done this for two days had to be dying. He didn't seem to be. He loves music so much and was just in mega beast mode. I was impressed. 

The show ended just before ten. We trekked out to the shuttles, waited, road back to our car, walked to our car and headed home. We got home after midnight. It was exhausting and wonderful. 




Thursday, July 24, 2014

What We Are Reading: BATMAN Who is Clayface?



The hubby has a new job and is working near a comic book store. 

When he came home with, BATMAN Who Is Clayface by Donald Lemke, pictures by Steven E. Gordon Colors by Eric A. Gordon.  I have to say I was a little disappointed. Not because I'm not a fan, but because Animal is a little much sometimes and super hero/bad guy play,  is not something he needs any extra encouraging with. 

All doubts however were wiped away when I saw the excitement in his face! One important thing when hoping to instill a love of books in a child (or any person for that matter) is to remember, interest in subject matter is of utmost importance. So if like me you're not a fan of sci-fi, don't frown when your child comes home with Dune.  Instead look on the bright side. If your child brought home a book it's probably going to get read. There in lies the trick.

What's the silver lining in our new favorite bedtime story?

1. VOCABULARY! 

What's a detective mama? A person who solves mysteries by paying attention to clues and asking questions.  What's a batarang? It's a special boomerang that looks like a bat. What's a viking? A Scandinavian pirate. What's a utility belt? It's like grandpas tool belt only filled with the things Batman needs to fight crime. 

We have learned a lot of new words.  They are seeping into his free play time and therefore creating new synapses in his little brain. Important new information onto which he can connect other new facts. This is important because it's hard to grasp new information unless it can be connected to knowledge already acquired. 

2. ATTENTION SPAN. 

This book is 36 pages long, it takes longer to read, but he is so interested in the content  and pictures that he follows closely. A skill that will translate to other books and activities.

3. EXTENDED LEARNING POSSIBILITIES. 

This story has a lot to work off as far as lesson planning goes.

For instance in the story Clayface robs a bank. What can he learn from this you might wonder? 

We can play bank. We can practice counting skills, sorting, and simple math can be presented. If he were a little older we might draw up our own money and talk about where money comes from. We might visit a bank, talk through the process of depositing and withdrawing money. What other things can you do at a bank? Maybe take a deposit and withdrawal slips to copy and have some writing and math practice. 

There are also science opportunities. Matt Hagen becomes Clayface when he falls into toxic goo. You could play mad scientist. Look up the recipe for silly putty, play dough, gak, or clay. You could fill glasses with a few drops of yellow, red and blue food coloring. Then mix them with your child to see what new colors they get.

How about art or PE? Trace your child on butcher paper of let them trace you. Then color or paint a few "wax" figures. Put them up around your backyard and let your kid go wild with a boomerang. 

If my son was older and had some writing skills I might ask him to imagine he was Mat Hagen and tell me how he might use is new shape shifting skills in a short story. If he got really creative, I could help him transform his story into a short play. We could build a set and make a short video. 

The possibilities to get creative and teach your child in a meaningful way through his own interest  are really only as limited as your imagination.

Now get out there and have fun!


Monday, July 21, 2014

I Can't Believe I'm Doing This

There are a lot of things I prepared for during pregnancy. Like labor and delivery, how to care for a newborn, and logistics like health insurance for the little guy. 

The hubby and I talked about who would get up and handle night time feeding. Birthday parties. What would we do when he wanted a Mohawk, a piercing, or a tattoo. We had philosophical chats about t-ball, corporal punishment vs. timeouts, and how long I would breastfeed. 

Before parenthood there were a shit ton of things I'd never considered or even knew existed. Like what a doula was, an episiotomy, or whether or not I would circumcise my son. I didn't know what attachment parenting was or how to use a breast pump. 

I don't like making uninformed decisions, especially  when my child is at stake. So I research and research and research until I am satisfied that I'm doing what I honestly think is best for my little love bug.

Other things I just really thought I knew. I'm an Early Childhood Educator for Pete's sake! At least a 150 kids have been in my class. I'm good at what I do. Really.

So there were a few things I was for sure not going to worry about. Like discipline. Consistency. Language development (unless I had to, and of course I would know). Socialization. Close to the top of my list was potty training. 

I've been there, done that, with so many families. I knew what the signs of toilet learning readiness were. When to start and when to step back. 

Oh I knew. Like all childless people, I knew.

I had it all planned out. I would simply wait until my son showed all the signs of readiness, was physically ready and could verbally express his needs. I the great knowing mother would just follow his lead. It was that simple. Why complicate matters? Why push my needs and desires onto this little person? Why turn it into a needless power struggle?




Why indeed. 

Here's the thing. I'm pretty sure he's there. He's even asked to use the toilet and then gone. Successfully. And you know what I'm ready. I'm tiered of spending money on diapers, wipes, desitin, and diaper genie refills. I'd love to put that money into his college savings account.

So now here I am. Buying a potty seat. Underwear. Researching how to potty train a boy. Getting stickers and a few other little rewards (bribes). Fingers crossed hoping I'm not going to be starting a terrible power struggle I'm bound to lose. 

Any tips? 


Thursday, July 3, 2014

What We Are Reading: Building Empathy

Empathetic children. It's a characteristic most of us can agree we want our children to have. We're not the only ones. Experts have been talking a lot about it. I was reminded of this when I read this great article .

It was about why it's so important for boys and how to foster it. I giggled a little, not because I thought it was silly, but because one of the first tips was about giving little boys baby dolls. It reminded me of a certain story I shared with you. 

The other tips where great too. One was about reading with our children. It talks about a gap in reading to girls vs. boys by parents. The gap starts even before a first birthday. This makes me so sad, but I can totally relate. 



Reading is one of my greatest loves and I have been waiting so long to share that love with my child(ren). When Animal wanted nothing to do with books I could have literally cried. I refused to give up, reading daily to him. Eventually the day came when he picked his own story. It just got better from there. I could have given up, would have given up, if reading didn't mean so much to me. 

Empathy is an important skill for both sexes, it fosters courage, happiness and even success in the work place. 

Children's books are a great place to begin to build this essential skill. Books allow children to experience different points of view. To understand why others feel sad, happy, excited, scared, or lonely. To name their feelings. When you read to your child you can facilitate this process. You can ask leading questions like," What do you think the boy is feeling?" , "Why do you think he's scared?", or  "What would you do if this was happening to you?"

I have noticed my son has a hard time understanding when I'm upset. If I scowl and ask, "Am I happy or grumpy?" he can easily identify how I feel. I reward him with happy faces as well. He has really responded to this and I find he is more easily redirected this way. We can hone this skill at story time. When we read I like to ask, "Does he have a happy face or a grumpy face?" 

At work I use this technique as well. If someone is unkind or aggressive in my class room I ask them to look at their friend, how do they look? How do they think their friend is feeling right now? And finally, What can you do to make your friend feel better? Even two year old can start to understand and contemplate these things. By the end of the year I don't have to prompt them very often, they learn what to look for and how to make a situation right. Don't get me wrong, they are children and don't always care to make things right, but it's not about creating submissive robots, it's about giving them the tools to function socially.

There are many children's books specifically about feelings, and how to deal with them. There are also books like, HEY, LITTLE ANT By Phillip and Hannah Hoose.  That directly ask children to think about how they or others may feel. They are great. But don't think you have to limit yourself to books like this. Fiction titles are especially good at doing the same thing in a profound and meaningful way. 

I can still remember sobbing when I read Where The Red Fern Grows. Or how concerned I was for Ponyboy and Johnny. These characters along with hundreds of others taught me about being someone outside of myself. Outside of my comfort and even made me care for or understand someone I may have otherwise written off or disliked. The empathy that can be built when you step outside of yourself and into someone elses' shoes it's unparalleled,  because there just no other way to feel what someone else feels and think their thoughts and live their outside influences as well.

Empathetic children, another reason to read to your child.



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

True Story Hot Dog Review

I grew up more or less believing every commercial on TV. I wasn't a savvy seven year old. So when I was told Ball Park Franks' were the best because "they plump when you cooked them" I was convinced it was true.

When my parents would BBQ, I would ask for Ball Park hot dogs. I thought they were tasty and I was satisfied. They were pretty cheap and so my parents (for who a hot dog is a foreign food) were also happy.

It wasn't until I was married, and once had a craving for a hot dog that I learned anything about what a good hot dog tasted like. I picked up my trusty brand. When I got home my husband was pretty surprised. He refused to eat any but promised me that very weekend I would know what a "good" hot dog tasted like. He brought home Nathan's. He was right. Those were in fact the best hot dogs, I had ever had. 

Since then, I've turned into a bit of a snob. To be fair hot dogs are one of my least favorite things to eat. I have to be really in the mood or at a ball game. What is it about a ball game that makes a hot dog so good?  

Now if some one's cooking a Ball Park Frank I wont eat it. I wont let Animal eat it either. Of course he did try one at someones BBQ, and LOVES them. So I was super excited to find this at Costco a few weeks ago.
Our new favorite!

They are free of all the yucky preservatives, all beef, organic and gluten free. I was sure they would be gross, but what would Animal know? They'd be hot dogs and he would get used to the flavor and like it. 

Well boy was I wrong, these healthier hot dogs are DELICIOUS! We all loved them, including the hubby. They are not so cheap, 11.99 for 15 hot dogs(at Costco), but man are they worth it. With Fourth of July around the corner it's a good time to try them yourselves.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Twelve Years

Today the hubby and I celebrate twelve years of marriage. 

Twelve years of kisses, hand holding, and warm embraces. So many good times and sweet memories. Shopping for rings. Giggling through wedding vows. Buying our first piece of furniture together. Times with good friends,  and with family. Trips, where we drank, ate, and explored together.  The birth (the actual labor and delivery of our son. A moment I count as one of the most romantic moments of our lives together.  

Twelve years of the same arguments. The same misunderstandings, the same hurts. Years of doing little things that make each other crazy, me forgetting important items like a wallet, a phone, tickets, or directions. Him saying things that make me want to punch him in the face.  (I don't, I just want to sometimes). Big fights, little fights, sometimes tears.

Twelve years of every days. Monotony. The same old, same old. Ups and downs of course (as listed above) but mostly just the same old shit.

You might think I'm complaining, on the contrary I wouldn't want it to be any other way. This every day stuff is great, because I like my husband. He cracks me up. He adds spice to my life and he's my partner. I enjoy spending days at home with him and just shooting the shit. We have a lot of fun together. 

I love my husband so much it's ridiculous really. I'm so sappy, and so head over heels in love that you probably want to punch me in the face. I still get excited when I know he's on his way home to me. Don't be jealous, we want to kill each other sometimes too. Just like every other couple. There's nothing special about us, except we know how lucky we are and that this is it. 

THIS IS IT.
  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What We Are Reading: The Block Mess Monster

Have I got a book for you!

I bought this book a few years back, I skimmed through it decided it was not lesson plan material, and threw it in my late spring/early summer bin for our class bookshelf. I picked that time of the year because most of my class has turned 3 by then and I thought the concepts in the story and language were better suited for 3 year olds.

What book am I talking about?
A New Favorite!

The Block Mess Monster by Betsie Howie, illustrated by C. B. Decker, has become a class favorite! Not just my class of toddlers, but from my 2.5-5 years old. The kids LOVE this book. The younger ones love the pictures (as do I) and the older ones really seem to feel for the main characters plight. I have been reading this book multiple times a day to a fascinated and giggling crowd for two weeks. It is not getting old. I love to read it, and they love to listen. Animal even tells me at home he is Calpurnia. 

This story is about Calpurnia, her mother, and the block mess monster. A monster made of blocks that is keeping our protagonist from cleaning her room and her mother who cannot see this creature (only the giant mess) and who is loosing patience, fast.

I really enjoy the back and forth the mother and daughter have. It's really all of us parents, loosing our cool at some point after having nagged, all day? all morning? for our children to do just one simple thing. To clean up their toys. Only told from the perspective of the frustrated child, because let's fast it, it's hard not to be understood by the adults (well meaning as we might be). 

What parent hasn't been here?

The kids just crack up at the this marvelous (dare I say accurate) portrayal of the mother at her wits end. The best part of the story, is that in the end the mother figures out how to help her daughter and Calpurnia feels heard. It's really what we all want. I highly recommend this book and believe me I'll be looking for this book in hardcover come Christmas for my own little one!

Monday, April 28, 2014

To Party Or Not To Party

That is the million dollar question of the day.

This morning when I got to work I found an invitation to a students 3rd birthday. I walked over to my sons file and found that Animal had also been invited (along with the whole class). I immediately thought two things.

1) She doesn't realize he's my son.

2) I have a dilemma.

The party happens to be on the last Sunday in May at 1:30. Posing a few problems. The time is during Animal's nap time. We put him down at 1. If he sleeps he's down till 3-4 missing party. We could skip nap, he's kind of transitioning out of them. The problem is he needs it. In fact he's hard to tolerate without one that I'm afraid to have my highly excitable toddler out in a yard full of other hyped up 2.5-3.5 year olds.

It's a kid's birthday party, and to me that means sugar. You may or may not know how I feel about that, but the short if it is it is, we keep that shit down to a minimum. We don't serve juice in our home, I bring water to any event we attend and I water it down when I'm forced to give in. The hubby and I don't allow fruit snacks or marshmallows, and we keep other sweets to one on special occasions.

I don't say anything to anyone else about it. I don't make loud (or even quiet) comments about why or how. We just say, no thanks. Does Animal happily shrug it off? Sometimes, but he's a toddler and sometimes he cries when we say no to a second helping (or a first). It's hard because he's two, he wants, what he wants, when he wants it. It's also hard because we provide a lot of nutritious food and we don't limit it. We don't force him to eat either. If he takes two bites of lunch and says "I'm done", we say okay. He'll eat when he's hungry. It's an issue for some people. Maybe they think we're dicks. Maybe they think  we think they're bad parents. I don't ask you to defend what you feed your kid, and I would appreciate not having to defend what I don't feed mine. It's just easier not to deal with it.

The fact that we got two separate invitations let's me know these parents (and I know they're not the only ones) don't know Animal is my son. The teachers son. I'm not in the mood to broadcast that. Especially when he'll most likely be batty from no nap.

Last, the last Sunday of every month is family day. My siblings and I go to my parents house and have a meal together, and catch up. It's a rare occasion we are all in the same place at the same time. Or it was until family day started last year. I don't want to miss it.

What say you? Please comment or tweet I really need opinions. Am I just being selfish? Or do you agree there will be other parties?



Monday, April 21, 2014

Chi-Chi Cocktail Hour

Remember South Park? The cartoon with the foul mouthed kids. Well the hubby and I still watch it. It's not on the DVR, but when we see it's on we watch it.  Recently the hubby watched an episode he really wanted me to see because there was a drink on there he wanted us to try.

I finally caught it and as usual it cracked me up. In this episode Butters returns to his "native"  land Hawaii. All the "natives" drink a special drink called a chi-chi in a coconut. The drink is made from coconut milk, pineapple juice and Vodka.

The hubby couldn't stop talking about how tasty it sounded and how much he wanted to try it. Being the good wife I am. I went out and bought all the ingredients including fresh coconuts to pour our drinks into.

Saturday night after Animal went to bed, I googled chi-chi recipe and found several recipes along with some fun facts. Like the chi-chi was once a popular cocktail and has recently started to see a comeback (because of South Park? I wondered). Also if you happen to have piƱa colada mix, all you need is to add some vodka for an instant chi-chi! Lastly most recipes call for coconut cream, not coconut milk.

Here's the recipe I made:

1 measure vodka
4 measures pineapple juice
1 measure coconut milk
Blend with ice, then pour into your coconut and add a straw. Enjoy!

This cocktail is great! It's creamy, sweet and the perfect amount of liquor. You know, not so sweet you wonder if someone forgot to add the spirit, and not so strong you wonder why you bothered getting a drink instead of a shot. Even my dad drank one. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but he rarely drinks, so this was a big deal to me. Added fun, when your done you can scoop out the tender coconut meat and eat. Double yum!

This drink was so good in fact, we're cooking up a plan for a chi-chi night. The hubby wants to BBQ pig, and I'm wondering if I should find a Tiki bar. This is an excellent drink to make a pitcher (or 2) and just refill the guest coconuts. Very low maintenance summer night drink.

I can't wait to host now that I have a back yard. With potential to be lovely backyard.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I Do It Too

You know what really chaps me hide?

When a kid is crying and a well meaning adult says, "You don't need to cry about that". Or some variant sentence that means shut it down. It bothers me so much.

The worst part is I do it too.

Children cry for so many reasons. Sadness, confusion, feeling misunderstood, left out, scared, exhaustion, to release pent up energy. Why do we devalue their feelings? Why for our own comfort or sanity do we ask them to bottle up their too big emotions? Sure sometimes the little buggers are just trying to manipulate us into giving them their way. Of course we should not give in to the tears, but why not just let them cry? What's the real harm? Is there real harm?

I know it grates on your nerves, as it does mine, when your little person is crying cuz it's nap time/diaper changing time/ time to turn off the God forsaken Bubble Guppies, but can't we just send them to cry in their room/a chair/or some other area when we can't tune them out?

Could our need to stop their tears come from our desire to spare them pain?

OR...

Do you hate cry babies too?

I really hate whining. I don't want my kid to be a whiner and I don't want him to cry over every little thing. Sometimes life is disappointing. Sometimes people are assholes. Sometimes you gotta just get on with your life and not care about every little thing.

Plus there are better ways to deal with things than sitting and crying. Better ways to ask for what you want.

The thing is don't you need to cry, to learn that doesn't solve the problem? Or to see tears don't make people do what you want. They (our children) are just learning by trial and error.

Just like we understand we'll be changing many, many, many soiled diapers, then washing many wet (please only wet) underwear, pants and floors before finally graduating to, in the toilet every time.

Lest you think this analogy doesn't apply, I'm not saying that you'll listen to all this whining and crying till your child finally learns to control their emotions and then it's over. Home free. No. I'm not saying that, I'm saying just like with potty training, it gets better. There will still be surprises and hiccups, maybe even lifelong ones.

Just like with potty training, I need to have some patience and I would wager I'm not the only one.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Buying Children's Books Cheap

Acquiring an assortment of books for your child(ren) can get very, very expensive quickly. In order to do so on a budget will require some thought and planning on your part, but can certainly be done. Here are a few helpful tips on building a library for your home.

1. Buy (or get) used. Garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores, craigslist, freecycle, friends, family (because fellow book lovers hate to get rid of books, but love to pass them on to a new home) and even your local library. They are all great places to find gently loved books. Kids don't mind a few scribbles or a bent corner. They only care about the chance to read a new story with you.

2. Check out the bargain section at your local big box store. You can often get some great hardcovers for as much as 90% off retail price.

3. Costco has an amazing assortment of books for all ages. Instead of buying those giant delicious (and alarmingly addicting) muffins pick up a new book for the kids. Also why not let them look through while you finish your shopping so you can get through your shopping list little faster (expert tip: if thumbing through the pictures doesn't keep their interest, don't buy it).

4. Add books to wish lists and registries. We added all our favorites (that I hadn't already purchased) to our baby registry. Not everyone can afford the crib bedding or stroller you're dying to get, and those bottles, pacifiers and bibs are snatched up quick, what can a well meaning acquaintance pick up? How about a hardcover of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. I love to gift books to all the children in my life and while I'm fortunate enough to work with young children and know what most preschoolers are into I have a harder time shopping for teeny boppers, so a tip from parents is especially helpful.

5. Lastly my favorite, Scholastic Book Clubs. Remember those awesome flyer's that you used to get sent home monthly when you were a kid, with all your favorite Judy Blume books? Or was I the only dork begging my parents to spend 50 bucks on all the books I couldn't live without! If your child is in school and brings these flyer's home, use them. They have incredible deals. Also they allow your child's teacher to build their class library like no other. Giving your child the most books for your hard earned buck. Every month they have at least 1 book for a dollar each. I snatch up these deals for stocking stuffers, party favors, student gifts and just because gifts. Also the variety of books, hard covers, books on cd, books for your tablet and boxed sets are great. I have several boxed sets waiting for the day when Animal starts reading to himself by lamp curled up under his blankets words blurring into each other, chin falling into his chest as the book drops out of his hand from exhaustion. I digress. Is your child not in school yet? Don't fret, you can get a scholastic parent account. Full disclosure, I don't know the details of buying straight from scholastic from a parent account, but I have been a teacher running a scholastic account for my class for 14 years and they blow me away. Every. Year.

I have been collecting books for my child since I was 18, so it's no wonder he has so many books available to him. I know however that it's never too early or too late to fill your child's life with words, stories, and imagination builders. As an early childhood educator believe me I know how pricey and beyond you it can feel to provide your child an assortment of books. So use these tips. Read with your child. I promise you will see it was money well spent.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Accordion Lessons

This weekend we spent  Sunday morning walking around our local flea market. As usual it was a morning full of fun.

We walked around for about 3 hrs and Animal only asked to be carried about a dozen times. We did pick him up a handful of times because there were giant puddles everywhere from Saturdays rain storms, but he walked 98% of the time so it was a successful trip in that sense.

Why not let him walk, run or jump in the puddles? Well you see, this weekend when I did some spring cleaning I pulled out his cool sandals so I wouldn't have to dig for them when the weather changes. He loves them and changed his trusty sneakers for the sandals all by himself. I made a small attempt to change the shoes back. He wasn't having it.

I could see the sunlight beaming in through the shutters and thought, why not?

As soon as we got there I saw exactly why not. It was too late. We were there. We avoided puddles as best we could, until eventually the toes of his socks were soaked. Luckily I had a spare in his backpack and we stopped to dry his toes and have a snack.

We let him ride the plethora of 50 cent kiddie rides and took a turn on the carousel.

Afterwards we found a cute pair of (new) shoes and the real fun began. He ran through puddles. He jumped in them. Splashing in as many as he could. Until a little boy, 4 or 5 years old walked by playing with a small child size accordion. Animal watched, and then turned his head this way and that trying to get a peak at the little musician.

Just a few aisles later we found ourselves in front of a vendor selling various children's instruments and so my husband bought Animal his first red accordion.

Animal carried the heavy (for a toddler) box around the rest of the morning until we headed home.

After nap time, we showed him how to hold the accordion and showed him how to push the buttons to make music play. He had a hard time at first, but soon he got the hang of it. Yelling, "look daddy, I did it".

Neither my hubby nor I play the accordion. Actually I know absolutely no one who does. So now I'm wondering, are there accordion lessons for kids?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Parenting Fail #98, #102, and #144

We have been dealing with this fail for a long time.

I can't really remember when it started only that Baby Centers emails reassured me, and other parents that this was a normal phase, and how to best deal with it.

We tried to follow the advise and tips. Then we went rogue and tried harsher tactics. It didn't work, and we reverted quickly back to the Baby Center tips. I thought we were finally past it, and we were on to the next. We were wrong.

My son is a biter.

We don't know why. He's got so many words and he's learning more and more to ask for things and to express himself with these words. We do not bite. We do not spank we don't even really swat. (That's what we tried by the way, hitting his mouth. It didn't work, and we decided after each trying it once that it would not work with our kid). We are not violent. We use words to fight with in our home. So why so much aggression? Why biting?

I was a biter, could that explain it? My dad bit me, and I stopped he says. I can't do it. Besides he has bitten himself (and left teeth marks) and it has not deterred him.

I am at my wits end. I feel embarrassed, stupid and incompetent. 

I believe as a professional I should be able to help him, or at least have the patience to deal with it. He's not the only two year old I know with this problem and God knows he wont be the last. In the mean time I have a fear of taking him anywhere or doing anything. I don't think I'm writing this as a cry for help. Feel free to leave me advice, I think I've heard it all, but I could be wrong. He's in school (where he will be shadowed in the near future as they try to help us get through this phase). We take him to the playground, we give time outs, and offer a ton of attention and love. What else? What else is there? 

I think I'm writing this post more as a confession. Asking to be absolved. I want other people to know I recognize the problem. We recognize the problem. We are working (have been working on it) for so long, and we wont give up. I'm sorry if my son bites you, or your child. I try to be close enough to stop it. We are consistent in not allowing it, of giving consequences for these actions. 

I have to believe that someday we'll get past it. Everyone does, right? I did. Animal will too.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What We Are Reading: Little Bea And The Snowy Day

Little Bea And The Snowy Day


Every Christmas I order a holiday book from Scholastic book clubs for each of the students in my class. I choose the holiday book that's on sale, usually a dollar maybe two each (because I'm a preschool teacher not an engineer). I sign the book with a Christmas wish and hope they will enjoy with their family for at least a few months. 

Sometimes (most times) the book is from a known book series, but sometimes it's  new book, as was the case this year. Little Bea And The Snowy Day by Daniel Roode  published 12/27/2011. It's a book about a busy bee, her friends and their fun day in the snow.

We live in sunny California and have not yet taken our first trip to the snow. I do NOT love this book. Honestly I don't even enjoy reading it. Maybe because I didn't grow up playing in snow, and I hate the cold. This year we had a two week dip into 29-33 degree nights and days that barely touched 50 degrees and I swore I would die. So you can see I am very biased. 

Animal on the other hand LOVES this book and weeks after Christmas, this is still requested at least once a week, and I must read a minimum of twice. He loves the pictures and he likes the simple words. That rhyme on some pages and don't on others (something that makes me a little crazy, as I find it harder to find a comfortable rhythm to read aloud with). He doesn't care. I try to focus on how much I enjoy snuggling my little guy.  

So what to do with a book you don't love to read? Try a little lesson planning. Focus on skills you're trying to build on. 

I like to ask Animal questions about what the little forest friends are doing. I ask him to point out colors or help me count. I also ask open ended questions, like what kind of snow friend would you build? Because we're still working on vocabulary and communication.


At some point in the story the furry friends dig in the snow and then show each other what they have found. If you don't want to go outside, or you would like a contained area, you can do the same activity with a bowl, or water table filled with snow, fake snow in my case and small toys. You can roll "snowballs" with mashed potatoes and have a little sensory fun.

Give them measuring cups and cups or bowls of different sizes. Ask them to guess how many scoops it will take to fill each. Which will take more? Yay for math fun. 

Or have a "snowball" fight with crumpled paper if you want P.E. I can think of so many activities to do with this book that I almost love it. If you're looking for ideas or want more in this area just leave in the comments section. 

See you next Thursday, until then I hope you and your little ones can snuggle together for a great story.





Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Health Scares

Pre Biopsy View


I've had a few health scares. 

Not many. I've always lucked out. Even as a kid. I never got too sick. Much to my mother's delight, I was (am) the biggest baby so it was especially horrid for my mommy when I did fall ill.

I don't get the flu shot and very, very rarely get the flu. I work with children and rarely get so much as a cold. It happens, and when it does I swear I'm dying. Still I rarely have to miss work, or even a run.

Even with my strong immune system, I've always had this suspicious feeling that when my time comes it will be to something terrible. Maybe because I feel guilty when someone awesome gets gravely ill. When I see a story about someone battling cancer, aids, leukemia, diabetes or anything of the like, I wonder, "Why not me?". 

Really, what makes me so lucky? There's no reason. Reality is these ailments can strike anyone, and they do. 

I myself have had 2 previous scares. One involving an ultrasound. The second involving a biopsy, then a decision about a simple office visit or a more aggressive outpatient surgery. I chose the more aggressive treatment. Now I face my second biopsy (unrelated to first), another bullet I'm hoping to dodge.

Why am I so worried? Is it a premonition? Is it that real illness has been like the scariest of Bogey men to me? Or is it that I'm a parent now? 

I'm unlikely to figure it out tonight. If I figure it out before I get a call, I'll let you know.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Why Don't Boys Like Girls With Short Hair?

First I'd like to say I don't care why. 

Maybe they love our long hair because they wish they had it. Maybe they associate it with femininity, or sensuality, or freedom. I don't give a shit. 

I titled my post that hoping Google will send some readers my way. 

I've never been what you would call girly. As soon as my mom stopped doing my hair, it went down hill fast. I was a frizzy maned mess. I have a decent face. A cute Mexican, maybe Persian face. Also a good personality. I learned to do my make up and mastered the tomboy look. My hair being a disaster just went with my look. I hated my hair. I couldn't get over it.  It was my enemy. 

When I would see a girl with really short hair I would think, "Lucky bitch".  I was very over weight at one point in my life and I didn't want to be a fat girl with a "butch" haircut. why is it butch for a girl to have short hair I'll never understand. stupid society with it's stupid gender rules.

After years of hard work I got in decent shape. The tomboy look was working for me and I was getting hit on a lot. I was feeling pretty confident, so I finally did it. I cut my hair. I got my favorite style, a pixie cut. 

I looked fucking great. I was young, my hair finally looked good, my tiny eyes looked big. I was in shape and with my new confidence I even tried to dress a little more grown up. Think JCrew catalog (Ethnic edition).  Literally, everything I bought that year came from that catalog.

You know what happened. All of a sudden I was invisible to the opposite sex. So me with a frizzy mess on my head way better than me with a sleek cut. I loved how I looked, but no one else seemed too. Except other girls and women. I got a lot of compliments from the women who new me, even only kind of. But I was invisible to everyone else, especially men.

It was disheartening, and a big blow to the ego. I grew my hair out.

It was a disaster. Again. Until I discovered (and purchased) an awesome flat iron, and I asked all the girls with great hair, who did their hair. I had my second grown up haircut. A short A line bob. It was cute. Flattering. 

I got in really great shape again. I cut my hair shorter. Not a pixie cut. In my heart I knew I needed that hairdo again. I gained 10lbs and then I kept thinking as soon as I loose this, I'm chopping it (my hair off). I got close, but tried an edgy cut instead. A warm up to that pixie cut. I was gonna go super pixie too. 

Instead I got pregnant. Then I couldn't lose the weight. Could. Not. Lose. It. 

Then I did. I wanted to get that last ten off and just be fit again. Then sitting in my stylist chair. I thought FUCK IT. What if I never lose those ten pounds. I don't look awful. I have a good face, a face with high cheek bones and a strong defined chin. My eyes pop with this cut and I want it. I want it so bad. I hate pretending I can do things like my hair. I don't pretend that well either, BTW. 

So I did it. Every girl I know has complimented me. Even girls I know don't like short hair. Maybe they recognize this is the best for me. Or maybe it just looks good. Or maybe they're just being nice. I don't care. I love it. I love me like this. 

The hubby was less than thrilled, he was supportive of my haircut, but I showed a shot of a girl with a shaggy pixie cut. An inch maybe inch and half longer than mine. It will grow, I told him. It took him a day to get over it. I don't know how much he likes it, but I know he loves me. And I love it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Where Have I Been?

You may have wondered? Or maybe you haven't.

So many things have happened since last I wrote.  

It feels like years ago, but I'm pretty sure it's only been a few months. Here's a short list of what happened to me. The good, the bad and the ugly.

1.  I blew my cars engine. It was heartbreaking. I loved that car, like really loved it. I'm not too proud to say I cried when the tow truck came to take it from me. It took some time to come to terms with what I had done and how I would solve the dilemma of having no vehicle. It was a big ordeal finding and purchasing my new (to me) car. It's cool, but I'm not going to lie. I really, really miss MY car. Randomly I'll imagine I'm still driving my old car and I'll get sad all over again. Even now 3 months later.

2. We got a notice that our rent was being raised. Again. We refused to pay a penny more for our large but rundown apartment. So we were forced to start looking for a new home. Something we had been doing for years anyway (because as fore mentioned we were living in a rundown apartment) but could not seem to afford anything in our beautiful, but ridiculously expensive city. 

Then, on the same night we got that letter, the hubby found a listing for a cute two bedroom house on the street we lived on when we got married. That  just so happened to be walking distance from my moms house (our babysitter), and close to the the elementary school we want our son to attend.

We went to check it out. No expectations. 

We filled out the application, and two credit checks later, we were moving into our first house together. Very exciting. Right? Totally. 

Only problem is this house has no garage, and our old garage was full. Not hoarder full, I used to park my beloved car in there. Nonetheless it was packed. Many trips to the dumpster and the local donation center later and we still have a small storage shed worth of things that don't fit into our home (without turning us into an episode of Hoarders). 

3. The Hubby got pneumonia over the Christmas break. He refused for days to go to the doctors and when he did it's because he thought he was going to die. Lucky for us he did, or he just might have. It was a tough week. He survived.

4. Animal has been keeping us way busy, as toddlers are apt to do. He's talking so much, it's a big relief to finally hear. I can't even count how many words he has anymore, most are clear and he's even gotten a few five word sentences in there. 

He's giving us new worries, new laughs, new troubles and lots of happiness. Also lots of writing material if I ever make the time again. 

Sometimes as we read something for the tenth time in an hour I think: This is the next, What We Are Reading. Then I never sit down and write. I only imagine what I'll write later that night when I finally pull out the laptop. Then I don't.

5. I have been running. I have a new partner. The Tall guy has started to join me. It's going great. Last weekend we ran 5 miles and two weekends ago I ran up a hill I haven't run since I was pregnant. 

Also my dad's back. He was never gone, but he had been injured and sidelined and now he's up and running along side me.

So that's where I've been. Now I'm back and I hope you will also come back to check out what's happening on this here blog.