Archive for the ‘parent’ Category

To have or not have a baby?

By
September 23rd, 2016



I know I got your attention with that headline, but this isn't about me. I'm not asking if we should have a second child.

Olivia 2008

Olivia 2008

We have the one, and we're good with that. One and done.

This is inspired by a conversation with two friends in their late 30's wondering if they should have a child. They're on a fence: they like their yuppie lifestyle, but they also like the idea of a family.

I get that. We asked ourselves that same question before we took the plunge.

Claus and I shared our thoughts on what can be a very difficult question to answer, and it just got me thinking about this nearly decade-long journey of parenthood.

Olivia 2009

Olivia 2009

Our short answer is: yes, have a kid or three (if it's just a lifestyle question, money notwithstanding.) They're fun, and they change your life for the better.

Very hard work. Very big reward.

I don't think I would have known what I was missing if we didn't have a baby, but I'm glad I did. I feel I'm a better person for it because it's changed me on the inside.

I don't think I was not good before, and I'd have been perfectly happy to have lived my carefree lifestyle centered around my husband and our whims. I would have stayed caught up on all the current trends, events, movies, music, and restaurants.

Peru 2005

Peru 2005

We would have been to another 10 countries by now if we continued on our previous travel track. My world would have stayed a tidy, orderly place where I never forgot to pay bills or put money in the account before the check got overdrawn.

Italy 2004

Italy 2004

I would have always had the time to see my esthetician and hair stylist every six weeks. No roots. No messy brows.

I cannot tell you how many various layers of stress having a baby has brought us. Maybe you think about some of the obvious: having to use your sick day if your child is sick. School applications and tuition. Vacations only in developed nations now. Weekends dedicated to their activities and playdates.

I'll be honest. It can get monotonous.

Every school day is the same thing because only routine can tame the chaos. There are periods in which I just want my time for myself, and it's frustrating.

Some people say "You can keep living your life. You make the kids adjust to yours." I respect that everyone's attitude, situation, finances, and experience is unique, but I totally disagree. It may work for some, but it didn't for us.

For instance, I found that forcing Olivia to stay out late because it suited my travel schedule, or forcing her to sightsee for eight hours in Paris simply ended up backfiring on me. She slept in the stroller and when we returned to the hotel dog-tired, she was wide awake and wanted attention.

I could go on and on about the ways I've adjusted my life around mothering. Work schedules. Priorities. Travel plans. Hobbies. Everything. This whole blog is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg.

On the other hand, I really like being a mom. I'm in love with her, and more every day. I had no idea that was even possible.

I look at her sleeping and love to nuzzle in her hair and whisper that I love her. I love how she puts her arm around me and tells me how much she loves me.

Romantic love is great, and you could say all that about your spouse. But, in ways I found tremendous, overwhelming, beautiful, and inexplicable, it's so different with my child.

It's softer, it's deeper, it's bottomless. Even if you think your spouse walks on water, it's still just... more with your child. She's my favorite human in the world.

I get excited to see her after school. I love to talk to her and share her world. I love to make her happy with little gestures and gifts.

I take her to a movie date for Girls' Night Out and she's so happy. It never gets old. Then she brags about it at school, which I think is cute.

I love marking her change and growth, and watching her blossoming intellect and personality. I love when she finally gets a concept we've been working on.

I see the world differently. I'm much more patient, compassionate, forgiving, and nurturing. She reminds me to appreciate what really matters: the connection.

She told me recently she didn't care what we did for our next Girls' Day, as long as we are together. She said we can just take a walk or play at the beach, and that it doesn't need to involve anything fancy or expensive. She's so cool.

16-7-31 Mommy Livi hold hands

I love her, and I love being her mother. I'm grateful that I took a leap of faith and had a kid, because it's been a good journey so far, and I like who I've become, simply because I am learning more each day to see the world through my heart.

So that's my opinion... what advice would you give to someone unsure about having a baby?

President Olivia

By
September 19th, 2016



Olivia and her friend Kiryn were trying to talk about the Presidential election, which led to a discussion about what they would do if they ran the country. The following is their list of laws if they were POTUS:

  1. No school on Tuesday (the other days are fun)
  2. Free ice cream every day
  3. Driving allowed at age 13
  4. Bedtime can be 10 p.m. for nine year olds
  5. Free iPads for all kids and all people except old people (30 and up)
  6. Paint the White House pink
  7. Mom and Dad can stay in any room we want in the Pink House
  8. Homes for homeless people (aww, sweet)
  9. Friends come over/ sleep over whenever they want, and no adult supervision
  10. Cake for dinner every night
  11. Pets for everyone
  12. University is free, and the classes can't be too hard

These are my suggestions if I were POTUS:

  1. Nobody works weekends
  2. Outlaw traffic jams
  3. No using weedwhackers or leaf blowers during nap times
  4. Apple will come up with a voice silencer for whining children
  5. Paid maternity and paternity leave for one full year (this is a reality in Scandinavia. So advanced.)
  6. Mandatory daily naps
  7. Naked travelers, so we can get rid of those long TSA lines. Nothing to screen! (Brilliant: everyone will exercise to get in shape, and it will lower medical costs!)
  8. No more wars. World leaders will win decisions via bake offs

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We all sat down and drew our campaign posters. The girls said I have to choose an animal to represent our campaign, and bunny and dog were taken (doh! but what else is there now?!?!) and they wouldn't help me pick an animal because we're opponents, so I came up with panda all on my own. Then they said I had to draw it on my campaign poster; please don't laugh at my horrible job.

IMG_1627 IMG_1628

We then drew straws to decide the order of speeches. Claus was told he would be the voting bloc. Hawaii should take a tip and instigate mandatory voting, so we wouldn't be embarrassed year after year with low voter turnout numbers.

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I pulled up my iTunes and we picked introductory music for ourselves as we walked up to the podium (a repurposed stool.) I was not only a Presidential nominee, I was the a/v technician.

If real campaigns were run like this, the media would have no scandal to dig into regarding campaign spending. We spent not one dollar on advertising, convention halls, decorations, staff, or even wardrobe. I think Olivia was wearing one of her cousin's hand-me-down shirts.

There was a little bit of concern from the other candidates that the voter might be biased because I'm the voter's wife, and "everyone knows the moms are the bosses. Is he going to choose you because he has to?" So I gave Claus a Presidential nominee pardon for this one exercise.

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The girls wrote campaign speeches but I winged it because I felt 20 years of newscasting prepared me for this moment. "No fair, you know how to do that!" came the howls of protest.

Hey, life isn't fair. This is politics, baby.

Our combined speeches took ten minutes. Everyone ran a clean campaign; no mud slinging. I was proud of us.

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The media would be so sad if this were real life. How would we go wall-to-wall with coverage for 12 hours? Who would buy election ads?

In the end, Claus would not pick. He decided it would be a draw. He pointed out this would be a great new way to govern, because we can share the responsibility.

The voter

The voter

When the girls are in school, I can be President, and when they're home and I'm tired, they can do it. They thought that was bogus, but I thought that was an interesting solution.

Then the co-Presidents got tired of this; the smaller ones moved on to Shopkins and the grown up one started cooking dinner. If you think about it, the real politicians could learn a lesson from the kids.

Keep it short, keep it tight, play fair, and then move on to something else productive.

Miss Ocho goes to school

By
September 9th, 2016



Once again, the annual trotting out of the family cat occurred at Olivia's school for Sharing Day. I packed up the cat up and gave her a pep talk about how exciting this was going to be for her.

IMG_1506

"I hate every single one of you."

She goes out once a year and therefore this little outing prevents her from qualifying as an official shut-in. Besides, this is how she earns her keep.

She is 13 so she really doesn't hunt birds or cockroaches anymore. In fact, the birds come into our garage to wait for her breakfast leftovers.

I think they're actually friends now. At the very least, they have come to a detente.

The understanding is they ignore each other. I don't appreciate this. I don't like birds in my garage.

It brings Olivia and her classmates much joy to have a kitty in class. It's OK as long as I come and go with the cat as soon as the show-and-tell is over. Cat can't hang out all day.

IMG_1498

"Hands! Hands! So many hands!"

I put a pretty pearl necklace on Ocho for her big moment, and brought a bag to hold her in. We didn't let the cat out of the bag.

Olivia proudly stood up in the front of class and recited a few facts about her pet, and answered some questions. Claus was there too, and we were proud of her for speaking loudly and clearly and not being shy. It make us happy to see her so happy.

Afterwards, the children lined up to pet her. This went over quite well.

"Deep breaths. Deep breaths. This too shall pass."

"Deep breaths. Deep breaths. This too shall pass."

Ocho is a very good kitty and didn't struggle or complain. She didn't love it (you don't say!), but she tolerated it well.

Claus and I brought her home and took bets on where she'd run first: the yard for freedom, or the attic, her "safe place." He won.

It's the little things. I like that the cat is my main drama and gossip for the day. I like that the classroom constitutes a large part of my social life for this week.

The cat's happy too, now. She can go back to her normal pattern of eat, rest, repeat for the next 364 days. I hope that's enough recovery time for Ocho.

The World's Third Coolest Mom

By
September 7th, 2016



The latest ratings are in, and I've apparently fallen in the rankings from World's Coolest to World's Third Coolest Mom. I'm... stunned.

It started this way: I told Olivia if she is really good for a month, she can have a bona fide slumber party with more than one girlfriend over! She got very excited.

Slumber parties were a big part of my childhood. I mostly remember having them at Steph's house in Connecticut. There'd be five or ten girls with sleeping bags strewn about the den. We'd stay up late, try to summon Bloody Mary, and talk about boys.

Steph's birthday. Rocky Hill, CT

Steph's birthday/ sleepover. Rocky Hill, CT

I think eight is a good age to start having them. The kids are old enough not to miss their mom at night and need to be driven back home. They're old enough to follow directions (mostly) about cleaning up their mess.

But I was very tired when she was eight, because I was working an early morning shift. I needed absolute silence by 7 p.m. when I was lying in bed.

Yes, even on the weekends. The body doesn't get a memo that it's Saturday, you know.

So now she's nine, and I'm off that shift and committed to normalcy for the rest of my life (speaking in terms of work schedule; let's not get too optimistic), and I can do this for her. Olivia is very motivated to earn this reward.

We sat around and planned the event. Food, dessert, activities, sleeping arrangements, guest list. Six or seven girls, I tell her.

And here's where it glitches up. "I can come and tell you ghost stories or we can paint nails together!" I gush.

We can do nails!

We can do nails!

Olivia paused. "Only if you're invited. We'll have to vote you in."

Invited? Vote? ?!?!?!

"But--? Aren't I-- the coolest-- mommy? You said so-- the other-- night?" I sputtered in pain.

"Jordan's mom teaches fourth grade now, so that's even cooler than a mom who was on TV," she shrugged. The message: delivered so matter-of-factly without any sensitivity!

That's cold, Dawg. She's like a mini Jason Bourne. She kills me.

"What if I were still working on TV? Would that make me the coolest?" I queried.

Olivia at my old job

Olivia at my old job

"No. She has a job at school. That's awesome," insisted Olivia.

OK, relief. I don't have to go get my old job back.

My old job

My old job

"I'm #2 then?" I confirm.

"Actually, you're #3. Jaycie's mom works in the cafeteria," she corrected.

Oh, my heart. I'm number three. Just like that. Fame is so fickle.

I'm going to work really hard to get back to #1. My idea is to present an ice cream bar to rival the delicious spreads over at those yogurt shops: the many flavors of yogurt, the two dozen toppings.

You shall all toast to my coolness!

You shall all toast to my coolness!

All the girls will witness my coolness when I unveil this with a flourish at the slumber party and they'll convince Olivia her mom is the coolest. This actually means I'm the one who wants to have the big sleepover now.

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I! Will! Return! To! Former! Glory!

 

Cursive conversations

By
September 5th, 2016



Olivia and I continue through the summer practicing cursive. (See Part 1 at http://smalltalk.staradvertiserblogs.com/2016/06/29/learning-cursive/) She's gone through the alphabet and we're on to whole sentences.

She's a funny one, my kiddo. Here's the transcript of the latest conversation, which, for reference, took place before breakfast:

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Me: Har du spist dine vitamin piller i dag? (Have you taken your vitamin pill today?)

Her: Stop writing in Danish! Please!

Me: Bueno. En Espanol, entonces? (Fine. In Spanish, then?)

Her: Or Spanish! I can't read it!

Me: Do you understand when I say it?

Her: Most of the time - not always.

Me, testing her desire to read Spanish: Helado?

Her, with strong desire: Ice cream. Follow up question: Can I have some for breakfast?

Me, forgetting to write cursive, answering in English, Spanish, and Danish: No. No! Nej.

Her: Sorry, I only understand English cursive.

So... I guess sass translates on paper.

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