Sunday, January 27, 2013

Outdoor Landscaping (Quick) Pick-Me-Ups

I'm looking forward to the springtime, mostly because I HATE gloomy, wintry weather, but also because it means we will begin using our backyard again-- for parties! This spring I get to help host a wine-weekend bachelorette for one friend, and a couples shower for my sister. (Yay!)

In preparation for the upcoming celebrations, I am beginning to think of cheap, easy, but striking ways to update our backyard without bugging my husband too much. Of course, Pinterest is my go-to idea source, but HGTV, and a couple other sites have some fabulous ideas too. A few things I'd like to focus on...

1. More Lavendar (and other Herbs)
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2. Creatively used Wine Barrels
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3. More Drought Resistant (but lush in appearance) Flora
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4. Unexpected Pops of Color
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5. Retrain/Reconfigure my Grapevine Trellis/Screen

So it looks less like this...
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And HOPEFULLY more like this...just taller
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Sunday, January 20, 2013

I'm going to take a moment to brag.

Mostly because I am truly amazed by my daughter, I am going to take a moment to unabashedly brag about her. Obviously, most of her accomplishments have very little to do with me (even when I would love to believe otherwise). But, that fact doesn't take away from how amazing she truly is.

Some of the reasons I am so blown away by this girl:

She's recently talk herself to use a spoon-- both correctly and effectively. And, she's working on the use of a fork, which is going impressively well. And, all of this has taken place despite my consistent failure to provide the proper utensils at meal times. She literally has to remind me at each meal, usually as soon as she sees my utensils and points. Thank goodness someone is making sure she meets those developmental milestones.

She is as stubborn as EVER! This morning I asked her if she knew where eggs come from and she looked at me blankly. Then I reminded her they come from chickens and asked her what chickens say, to which she answered "bock bock". Then, I asked her if she could say "chicken" and she looked at me like I was stupid and impatiently said "bock bock". (We've resorted to calling chicken "bock bock" in our household for the last six months, since she started referring to it as such.) She's no dummy, there's no way she's going out of her way to say something new when she gets the same result from the tried and true.

She's teaching herself new words-- even if it means she has to glean them fro television and not from our rather extensive conversations about, well just about everything (refer to post about TV and the word turtle for more on that). Today she has already demonstrated that she can, in fact, say "more" --though she refuses to do so on a daily basis. I asked if she wanted more oatmeal and she responded with "more". New words and healthy breakfast choices! My kids destined for great things.

My baby girl is also becoming an adept socialite. Last night I dropped her off at my parents house so she could spend some time with her aunt, grandmother, and great-aunt. Walking into a rather loud setting was overwhelming at first, but that little booger went straight for her buddy, the dog, and when I arrived later to pick her up (WAY past her bedtime) she had settled in to the point of not wanting to leave. It's better than I can do in most social settings (thank goodness she doesn't have my social abilities, or lack thereof).

Lastly (for this post at least) is my girl's friendliness and polite behavior. She recently learned the word "please", so now when she asks for her "ba" (sippy cup, or really any cup) she says "ba peas". It is the most ridiculously cute thing in the WORLD. Plus, she's getting really great at timing when she says "bye bye" to people. It's pretty awesome to hear her yell "hi" and "bye bye" at people until they respond.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Parenting & Religion

I believe that logically, there must be a universal force greater than that which we do or will ever fully understand. I choose to believe that greater-than-us force is what many people refer to as God.

All of the said, I am and have been working through some turmoil over what to do about my kid's religious education. A long time ago (pre-Baby), I had no desire for her to attend any sort of church services until she wanted to. Then, my Father-in-Law made the best pro-church argument (for a kid) that I had ever heard; in essence he said: if I want my kid to be as knowledgeable as possible about all aspects of the world, I should make a point of introducing him/her to Christianity because it is so proliferate in the Western world and will surely color any child's understanding of their world.

Recently, I brought all of this up to my husband (a member of the Methodist church and regular church attendee until about seventeen) and his immediate response was: "If she's going to church to learn about the Western world, then she needs to go to museums, etc. to learn about it as well." To which I totally agreed, and pointed out that I already try to get her to as many places as possible, but right now there aren't too many museums looking for a one year old to run through the exhibits.

So now, I am stuck with the challenge of attending not just a church over the next few months, but one that I can stomach socially and one that she can also be a part of in order to better understand one of the greatest underpinnings of our Western world. Wish me luck?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

TV is a Better Teacher Than I AKA F the AAP

It's a sad day in this household. Today, my little girl taught herself the word turtle after watching a mere five minutes of Nick Junior's The Wonder Pets. What the fuck?

The American Association of Pediatrics claims that it is best for children under age two to be exposed to ZERO hours/minutes/seconds of television per day.

In my attempt to do something (anything) right as a mom, I have drastically limited the amount of television my little girl watches on a daily basis (typically she watches no television when she's alone with mom). Baby girl watches the approximate equivalent of one thirty minute episode of a children's show per week (when she's at home). Okay, sometimes she watches VP debates too...

Yes, I know she watches more when at the gym daycare or with family (our parents and siblings are her primary babysitters for the twenty hours or so we need it each week), but I also know that's limited to when said family members have been utterly tired out by chasing her around/ keeping her out of trouble, so when all is said and done she probably gets an hour per week on average.

Granted, the AAP also goes on to say it's not so much the screen time as the lack of parental/ person-to-person interaction that goes on when you're not hanging out with your kid. When my girl does watch TV, she does so interactively. She dances to the kiddie songs, I ask her if she's "got moves". We recap what's happening in the episode: "Did Ming-Ming find his mommy on Mother's Day?" And, we watch shows limited to what I (or my husband) deem developmentally and educationally appropriate: Wonder Pets teaches teamwork (just listen to the awesome theme song if you don't believe me) and caring for others.


Sesame Street teaches... well, just about everything else. We're extremely luck in knowing that she primarily watches Sesame Street if and when she's with anyone else (she can also say "Elmo"... though, I don't know if there's so much merit in that nowadays given Kevin Clash's past missteps coming to light) and even then, whomever she happens to be watches alongside her.

However, this is not to say you're doing something wrong if your kid watches more TV than mine. This is what happens to work for us. Our little girl is active, she's not what I think of when I think of the stereotypical girl-child, and we wouldn't have it any other way, but that also means she's a mischievous little imp who runs (literally runs) rampant around the house, looking for someone to chase her, or play hide-and-seek.

My point is-- if you're like me and put a ton of stock into scientific research and recommendations made by professional organizations, you're in good company, and there's no reason to stress yourself out about every little thing your kid does that operates outside of that recommendation. My parents allowed me to watch as much TV as I desired from as early as I can remember. Literally, some of my earliest memories involve my mom and I watching M*A*S*H* late at night after my dad went to sleep-- how's that for TV and no set bedtime?

If I don't fuck up in this arena, then I'm destined to elsewhere, at least this seems fairly innocuous. In keeping with my New Year's Resolutions: the secret is moderation (and not freaking out).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

2013 Resolutions

#1 - Keep working on making my little family my TOP priority.
In the past, I have not made my marriage my top priority in the same way my husband managed to do much earlier on. Instead, I would put other family issues at the top of my concerns. Since our daughter was born, I have really struggled to make a shift that places her well-being in front of all else (even when it means making others unhappy with me) and I definitely believe that putting my marriage before most everything is what will truly be the best for our little girl in the long term. After all, our relationship is the first one she sees as her model for ALL of her future relationships-- we're important in her life! The way her father treats me and the way I in turn, treat him will become the foundation for how she treats others and how she allows others to treat herself in the future.

#2 - Keep up with my exercise regimen, but don't freak out if I miss a day or two (or three or four)!
I did a great job of keeping up with my exercise regimen last year. Even though I went back to work part time in August, the babe and I have a little routine that we've kept to for the most part. So far, I am able to maintain weight that I lost post-baby, and I  get to focus more upon cardiovascular health. In the next month or two, I would really like to work on some strengthening exercises/ training and try out a different group class than the ones I typically attend. I also want to keep the overall focus of my exercise on my mental health-- meaning, if the idea of having to go exercise is starting to stress me out, then I need to reevaluate the regimen in total.

#3 - Continue to keep in mind: the key (to most of my happiness) is moderation and reflection.
Over the past year or two I have come to a realization that moderation has not been a huge part of my life in past years. That makes it difficult to reconcile certain things in life, especially grey areas, and I don't want to allow my life to exist in those extremes. Thus far, I have begun to attempt to remember moderation is important in small things at work, at home, in my marriage, and in my parenting. Although my ninth grade students might disagree, I've (mostly) had a handle on the idea of moderation in the classroom. It's still a struggle in just about every other aspect of my life (reference #1-2 of this list!). My husband is not into moderation either (he's the yin to my yang, I work obsessively, he plays just as obsessively), so we have the discussion about moderation often... and it's a work in progress.

What are your resolutions for the New Year?