Thursday, September 23, 2010

This Too Shall Pass

But not what you think. In a lot of parenting moments, these words provide solace. Sleepless nights, fussy days, frustrating moments when we ask ourselves, "How did we get here?" and not in a good way.

There's a flip side, though.

Children grow so quickly, and I'm learning there will be a final time for everything. So many gizmos and gadgets have been put away, never to be used by Lydia again, and I always feel strangely nostalgic when putting things like the nursing pillow, the swing, and other toys into storage.

Then there are the things that can't be stored away. Things like a nap taken on your chest instead of in the crib, toothless smiles... there are last times for those, too.

I am trying to keep gratitude and appreciation in mind when spending time with Lydia. Trying to be extra mindful and realize that it's not just the hard times that pass. Good things evolve and change, and while I would never trade 18 month old Lydia for 6 month old Lydia, sometimes, at the strangest moments, it hits me that it is so important to try to memorize every moment, because though they will be replaced by more beautiful moments and special exchanges between parent and child, these moments now, these special exchanges, those too shall pass.

Vintage Lyds

I finally broke down and bought the hipstamatic app for my iPhone. So nerdy. So great.

-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why Take an 18-month-old to Music Class?

Lydia had her second week of music class at Austin Lyric Opera last week. I am so glad we decided to sign her up for these classes. They are a great way to kick off the weekend, and Lydia absolutely loves them.

Many of you are probably wondering what a music class for 1 1/2 yr. olds looks like, so I'm going to tell you. Lydia's class has 10-12 children in it, ranging in age from 7 months to 4 yrs. old. Most of the kids are between 1 and 2 1/2 yrs. Every child and their corresponding adult sits in a circle on a large carpet. The class begins with a hello song that says all of the childrens' names, then moves into several other songs. Some are spoken rhymes, others are action songs, and the teacher provides all children and adults with a new instrument for each song. (Eggshakers, drums, maracas, etc.) During both classes we have been to, there has been a dance song with scarves and a play-along song in which the teacher dumps out lots and lots of different noise-making devices and we listen to music and play along. At the end, they do a "lullaby" that mellows the kids out after the play-along and then a good-bye song. After each song, the kids clean up the instruments and put them back in their bins.

Enrolling Lydia in a music class was important to us for lots of reasons. We hope to raise Lydia as a well-balanced child who values intellect, creativity, athletics, and social interaction. I think music is a great creative outlet for everyone, including little ones, and there is so much research that tells us that the rhythms, melodies, and patterns of music benefit children for years to come. I want the arts to be an integral part of Lydia's life, just like reading and math.

It has also provided us with some really wonderful family bonding time that is led by someone else. This allows us to just kick back and enjoy the time that we're there. We walk in, have fun with our daughter, and leave when it's over. What a deal!

I have yet to get some good in-class pictures of Lydia. Parents are expected to participate, so I haven't had a chance to pull out my camera. These are definitely the worst pictures I've ever posted on this blog (uh, you can't see Lydia's face), but here goes:

Lydia with her maraca...

The view from above...

Rocking out with her drum. Notice her pigtails!!


It has been too long since I last posted--possibly the longest I've ever gone between posts. I feel guilty that it has been so long, but truth be told, I am exhausted. I won't go into details because, well, I don't want to, plus there's just not a lot to be said. Let's just say that between work and home, there just isn't enough time, and I'm trying hard to do a good job where it counts--which is everywhere! Thank you for not laying on the pressure and understanding.

ADDENDUM: I am okay. Just overwhelmed and stressed, as most work-outside-the-home-full-time moms are. I have posted so many times about the demands of life as a working mom, and I'm not sure how to phrase this one in a way that doesn't sound whiny and redundant. On a good weekday, I get 3 1/2 hrs. with Lydia, spend 9 hrs. at work, and do more work after she goes to bed until I'm too tired to continue working and I go to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat. Robin and I try to squeeze in time together as well as take care of ourselves physically and emotionally, but this semester particularly, it's been difficult. There has been little time for the things that make me feel a bit more human like yoga, reading, blogging, even TV and as early as September, I'm feeling it.

Things at work have been stressful. I'm not sure if it's always this way and I always forget, or if this is a particularly difficult year, but a lot of people are frustrated, and that doesn't always make for a pleasant work environment. There are a lot of good things going at work, too; one of my classes was observed by a writer from a national education magazine, and she will be writing about a specific student in my class and how my lesson helped him break through writer's block, I feel like my behavior management is finally one of my strengths, and I have more students who love to read than I have ever had before.

As I said, I'm doing lots of reflection and trying to figure out if this is the same old beginning-of-the-year stress or if something this year is different, and honestly, I'm not sure. I wonder whether this struggle to balance will be ongoing or if with time, I'll figure it out. It's a tremendous challenge.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's True...

I am a beast. Yes, the smiling face contradicts the message. We need to work on tone.

(Taken up in my Eng. 1 class.)

Eighteen Month Well-Check

This morning, Robin and I took Lydia to her Eighteen Month Well-Check. It went well overall. Lydia is still off the charts in everything, measuring 34.25" with a head circumference of 19.8" and weighing in at 33 lbs., 1 oz. Dr. Bell initially noted that she has jumped up a bit on the weight curve, but after talking with us about Lydia's diet and noting that she has actually lost 3 ozs. since we brought her in for an ear infection a few weeks ago, she was not concerned. She predicted that Lydia's weight will most likely plateau during the next few months and she will continue to stretch upwards.

Dr. Bell was pleased with her developmental progress, and we discussed time-outs (redirection is no longer cutting it) and Lydia's resistance to brushing her teeth. We also discussed the signs of potty training readiness. I am not anticipating seeing these signs any time soon, but it was nice to have the conversation and realize that, if Lydia is potty trained by 3, we may be past the half-way point in terms of changing diapers. For now, Lydia enjoys not only having a diaper on her bottom, but one used as headwear also. (That's a swim diaper she's sporting on her noggin.)

We will not see Dr. Bell for another well check until Lydia is 2. That is the longest stretch between well checks, and it makes me feel like our little girl is really growing up. Remember, we started off seeing her every week, then every two weeks, then every four. Now we're up to six months!!! I feel like the saying "the days go slowly, the years go quickly" is definitely holding true.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Aidan!!

To the little boy who has provided wonderful foreshadowing of the fantastic things to come and to his parents who have helped keep us cool and confident... Happy 2nd Birthday!!!
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Perfect Saturday

We were long overdue for a perfect Saturday together and today, we got one. We woke early, had breakfast, and headed to the Farmers' Market. We strolled the stands, picked up some things for this week, and missed this Farmers' Market that is so much more impressive.

We took a walk in a park near Ladybird Johnson Lake, and Lydia played in a fountain. We came unprepared, so we stripped her down to her diaper, and she had a blast.

We took her to her first music class at the Austin Lyric Opera. For forty-five minutes, Robin, Lydia, and I joined ten other children ranging from seven months to four years in a circle and sang, played with egg-shakers, maracas, drums, scarves, and tambourines. At the end, she played the piano. We had a great time and can't wait to go back next week. Even Robin, who was hoping to avoid the music classes, enjoyed himself.

We had lunch at Cafe Crepe downtown. It was delicious, Lydia was wonderfully behaved, and it was the perfect cap to a beautiful morning.

Lydia crashed on the way home and took a long(er than usual) nap. The best part? I napped, too. I napped for an hour and a half, and it was wonderful.

We then ran some errands, and Elizabeth, Brian, and Oliver came over for company and take-out. Oliver and Lydia really played together, and they chatted all through dinner.

They stayed until the little ones went into the tell-tale fast-forward mode that means bedtime, and we read to Lydia, put her to bed, and kicked back.

Perfect, perfect day.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Catching My Breath

Tonight, there is rain in Texas. Tropical Storm Hermine is passing over Austin, and we are enjoying a rainy, cool break from the heat. For the first time in what seems like weeks, I feel like I am catching my breath and letting go of some tension. School is off to a blazing start, and this mama is exhausted. I always forget how overwhelming the beginning of the school year is; my efforts to establish good habits, both for myself and my students, and the transition to full-time work have effectively knocked me off my feet. I feel as if I am perpetually behind and I crave more time with Robin and Lydia. I have not done a good job of letting go of tension, emotional or physical. Tonight, though, we played and we relaxed to the sound of the rain.

So what has been going on...

During the past few weeks, Lydia has added words to her vocabulary. She consistently says baby, eat, down, more, please, "moo" for cow, "meow" for cat, "choochoo" for train, and lots more. We often have to prompt her, but if we ask her to use her words, she can usually find it. My favorite UNprompted word came on Sunday when, after her diaper fell off in the wading pool, she first pooped in the pool and then, as I was refilling the pool with new water, dropped another turd on the walk and said, "Uh-oh!" It was not classy, but it was hilarious.

We are transitioning Lydia to one nap, and it has been rocky. Some days (like today), we hardly notice a difference, and others (like yesterday), we are left with a replacement demon for our usually well-behaved little girl. (Yesterday, both lunch and dinner were thrown on the floor and there were lots and lots of tears. Lunch was in a restaurant and dinner was with the Luthers. The girl likes an audience.) Crabby days have been a bit more frequent, and I think they are the result of less sleep, a new schedule, and possible (likely) molars about to make their appearance. Lydia has taken to gnawing on her fingers, which makes me think there are some huge teeth trying to push through her gums. I also keep having to remind myself that Lydia has to be frustrated by the gap between what she understands and what she is able to communicate. It makes for a grumpy girl and grumpy parents.

Grandpa Dale was here over Labor Day weekend, so we spent some nice evenings together and he and Robin got a lot of work down on the house. I enjoyed a morning walk with Rachael and the beautiful Simone, and I got to spend some time with Holly, Bill, and Liam, and Angela, Zach, and Dax at Holly's parents pool. I love getting the chance to hang with my original teaching mentors, and I also loved confirming that Lydia is no longer afraid of the water. She was so brave! We have also continued to enjoy Pease Park and their splash pad and visited yesterday with Jessica and Aidan.

Finally, daycare continues to go well. I almost always drop Lydia off and pick her up, which eases Robin's schedule. We have used the drop-in option twice now, and we are really glad that Bright Horizons allows us to be a bit more flexible with our schedule. We also are really happy with their curriculum. today they made a "friends fruit salad;" Lydia brought a mango to contribute!

I'm hoping these next few weeks bring a more relaxed routine; my personal goals this school year are to keep my desk and room a more peaceful, organized space (and I'm doing well so far) and to work against allowing my work stress to infiltrate home life. I'm not doing so well with that one, but I will keep at it!