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The Monkey

Come To This Park Often?

While at my neighborhood park the other day, I started chatting with a mom while our boys played together on the playset. This isn’t unusual for me since I tend to strike up conversations with other parents at the park, especially if our kids are interacting together. I’ll exchange a few pleasantries, chat about the kids, and then go on my way. Maybe I’ll see them again, but often I don’t. It doesn’t matter much to me anyways.

But this time was different.

This mom was really cool and I liked her immediately.  We simply had one of those conversations that just *clicked.* Within a matter of minutes, we learned a great deal about each other and discovered we had quite a bit in common. I felt a connection and wanted to get know her more. I could tell she felt the same way, too. But, then the Dude arrived at the park to surprise the Monkey and, after an introduction and a few more minutes of chatting, she turned away to run after her boys and we started getting ready to head home. I didn’t quite know how to approach her after that, so I left without getting her digits.

I learned something that day. Picking up on other moms is hard to do.

It’s one thing to meet new mom (or dad) friends at playgroups, sports, lessons, or through school, but how do you ignite a friendship with someone you just met and connected with…but have no way of knowing if you’ll ever see them again? Is it weird to ask for a number or e-mail address (or offer your own) in a matter of minutes? I don’t have much, if any experience with this sort of thing. Nearly everyone I call a friend just somehow became a part of my world, mostly through regular interactions at places like work or school or through mutual friends. Between my real life friends, acquaintances,  and online community of blogging buddies, I don’t actively look to expand my social network.  But, just like when you’re looking for romance, friendships can often be found when you’re least expecting it.

I have a new appreciation for the men and women who are confident and brave enough to ask someone they just met for their information. I’m sure they fail at times, but I’m certain they ultimately succeed as well. And what’s the big deal if someone says no, right? At least they took a chance and asked.

I think I missed an opportunity to become friends with someone I thought was really cool. I hope I see her at the park again one day. And, if I do, I’ll make sure to take a chance.

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Introducing Kids To (Live) Music

We just got back from a long weekend with family and friends where we were treated to a special outdoor acoustic show from one of our favorite bands, Hot Buttered Rum (great band for people of all ages!). These guys played our wedding, so it’s especially fun for us to bring our little Monkey along to their shows.

I love outdoor shows, especially on a beautiful summer day or warm evening. Bringing your kids along can be one of the best ways to introduce them to music.  Some of my earliest childhood memories center around music and live shows so, needless to say, music has always been important to me.  Before pregnancy, live shows were something the Dude and I ventured to regularly and would even plan vacations around. That didn’t stop when I got pregnant. The Monkey probably went to about 30 shows in the womb, from bluegrass and classical to jazz and popular rock. My last concert was about two weeks before my due date. I’m still not sure how I waddled my way to that show, but I certainly got plenty of dancing space!

There is no better way to expose children to music than to introduce them to the live creation of it. To actually experience the formation of beautiful and complex melodies is a wonderful way to stimulate the senses of children and help cognitive and physical development. However, as important as it is to expose young ears to the gift of music, it’s even more important to protect those ears. The type of venue, music genre, the type of crowd, and the acoustics are important pieces of information to gather before you buy your tickets.


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Foodie Friday: Reservations For Two…Plus A High Chair

My little Monkey is now nearly 29 months old and we don’t go out to very nice restaurants with him at this point. If we do eat out as a family, we’re usually relegated to restaurants that primarily serve pancakes or chicken fingers.  Or that have parrots hanging from the ceiling. Or that not only dole out the crayons, but have crushed crayon on the floors and scribbles on the table. Those are the places that make me feel comfortable and safe when I venture out with the little dude.

It wasn’t always this way.

Within weeks after the Monkey was born, we started to venture out to our favorite places to eat in San Francisco. From about 2 weeks to 6 months, the Dude and I would roll our Monkey along in his carseat to some of our favorite places, including upscale restaurants. Think we’re crazy? I beg to differ. We knew his nap routine perfectly and he always slept like a dream in his carseat. I say to all new-parent friends – go out with your newborn. Take advantage of their nap schedule AND their ability to sleep through anything. Don’t be nervous. There is a very good chance that your newborn will be better behaved than most other patrons.

Around 6 months, his sleep routine changed and so did his activity level. We started to hire babysitters more often.

When we do take the Monkey out, there are a few tips that have helped me along the way. Now, my child is no angel and I would never pretend otherwise. He is a very normal and active toddler who can scream and flail like a banshee when his freedom to do as he pleases is restricted. That said, I have still managed to garner a few compliments from other patrons about his behavior at restaurants. Why? Because I put myself in the shoes of other patrons. I do not like dining around unruly children. I do not want my child to be THAT child. Yet it is inevitable, though. Your child will throw a temper tantrum at some point in public and it is very likely that it will be at a restaurant.

How To Avoid Tantrums (and how to deal with them when they occur): (continues…)

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Big Brother (Part II)

A  few months ago, I wrote about my internal debate about whether or not to make the Monkey a big brother.

The debate still rages within.

I have never been so conflicted about anything in my life. Ever since I decided to become a mother, I assumed that I would have two children. No more, no less.  My reasons for not wanting more children may be considered selfish, but they are still valid reasons nonetheless.

I don’t want to be pregnant again. It was an incredible experience to be pregnant but it wasn’t necessarily enjoyable. Simply put, the lack of control over my body was an unpleasant experience. This may have something to do with my OCD tendencies, but I think a lot of women feel this way with or without acknowledging it. I felt the same way about breastfeeding for nine months. For 18 months, my body belonged to another human being. Now that another 18 months have gone by in which I’ve had complete control over my body, I’m not so sure I want to rent it out again.

I enjoy sleeping again. I enjoy having personal time for myself and time for the Dude. Getting time for myself, let alone with my husband, is a luxury. Infants and toddlers tend to put a marriage/partnership on the back-burner when it really needs to be a priority. All marriages/partnerships suffer when children come along and there is a big part of me that doesn’t want my marriage to be affected any more than it has already. Introducing children into your world can be the most beautiful thing in the world, but it can also create a huge strain on family dynamics. (continues…)

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A Mama’s Year-End Review

It’s pretty common for those who work a 9-5 job to get some kind of annual year-end review. For those of us who work the 24/7 job, otherwise known as stay-at-home parents, it’s my belief that we should get a year-end review, too. The only problem is that our boss’s typically lack the verbal skills to express a year’s worth of achievements, failures, and everything in between. If my 26 month-old boss could actually give me a year-end review, I’m guessing it would go something like this:

Hi Mama. Thanks for coming into my playroom office for your year-end review. First, I would like to congratulate you on making it through what I believe has been a challenging year.  I started the year with a tentative curiosity that has now morphed into a careless daredevil attitude. I leave you exhausted by the evening and wake you up at sunrise to play. I have become a picky and demanding eater and my table manners are still somewhat nonexistent. I may know how to use a fork now, but I can’t promise that the food will always end up in my mouth. My favorite words are “NO!” “NO WAY” and “NONONONONONO!!!!” which are usually expressed in, uh, a very spirited manner.  I tend to treat you like a servant and yet you still smother me with love and kisses. Have you always let people walk all over you like this? If so, we may need to address your self-esteem issues.

While some goals have been met and some expectations have been exceeded, there have been some mistakes and even a few outright failures. The year started out great but things started sliding a bit around the first quarter. That’s about the time I started to actually sleep through the night, which apparently led you to believe that you could sleep more on the job, too. You picked up speed again until the 3rd quarter, which is when I understand you started a “Mommy Blog.”  I noticed your work performance slacking a bit when I started getting an extra half-hour on my nap schedule and little extra time in front of Sesame Street and Olivia. Look, I appreciate your need to document “mommy” stuff online as well as your desire to communicate with people other than me, Elmo, and Oswald. I get it. The only reason I bring it up is that while I don’t mind your little side projects, I just want to make sure that you still manage to keep the vast majority of your energy on one thing, and one thing only…me.

For the most part, it’s been a good year. I know I’m not the easiest boss in the world. You’ve been a full-time, 24/7 on-call employee of mine for 26 months now. I have to say, you’ve been managing your position quite well overall, especially since you had zero job experience before you took on this position. Let’s be honest, despite your career and educational background, you knew nothing about what this job would actually entail. However, despite your lack of experience, I am a healthy, happy, and well-adjusted 2 year old. For the most part.

Let’s go over the goals from last year as well as discuss the goals for next year.  I am happy to report that many of them have been met.  Let’s review:

  1. Learn to say “thank you” : ACCOMPLISHED! (even though I pronounce it “danku”)
  2. Eat broccoli: ACCOMPLISHED! (yet you still call them “trees”, as if you think I’m arboristically-challenged)
  3. Sleep in a big-boy bed: ACCOMPLISHED! (although making me sleep on a mattress on the floor during the “transition period”  felt almost criminal at times).
  4. Play well with others: ACCOMPLISHED! (you know I never mean to throw sand in other kid’s eyes, right? Right???)
  5. Get me into a sleep routine: ACCOMPLISHED! (I just want to add one thing – can we please stop reading Goodnight Moon all the time? That book makes me have weird dreams about old bunnies, jumping cows, and mush).

Now for the bad news. The following goals were not accomplished:

  1. Wean me off the binkies: FAIL
  2. Wean me off the bottle: FAIL
  3. Wean me off a night bottle(s): FAIL
  4. Potty-train me: (this one is almost laughable) FAIL
  5. Learn the alphabet: (seriously?) FAIL
  6. Learn to count to 3: FAIL
  7. Stop throwing food: FAIL
  8. Learn to say I LOVE YOU: eh,  I can sign it, so I guess that’s a only a semi-FAIL

So instead of creating some new goals for yourself, perhaps you might want to just work on the items that didn’t get accomplished this past year. I’ve got to be honest. It looks like you got your work cut out for you next year, Mama.

In conclusion, you’ve done a fine job as my mom this past year. Since I don’t know anything different and I have nothing to compare you with, I’d even go as far as to say you’ve done excellent work. Keep it up. Oh, and one more thing. You know how I put my fingers in my ears when you sing me a lullaby every night and you think that’s so cute? Well, what I’m really trying to tell you is…STFU! Oh, uh, where did I learn that from? Ummmm, go ask your co-worker…that daddy fellow. Yeah. Anyways. Thanks again for a good year and let’s make next year even better. Now, go gimme some milk. Danku.

Happy New Year, readers! May 2010 be filled with love, joy, and happiness.

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