Thursday, December 31, 2015

What did you say? (second edition)

* Brynna is 3-years-old going on 16. She's incredibly observant and tends to mirror our behavior -- and repeats everything. You'd think that would help us edit ourselves a little bit better.

Some of her latest gems:

"Buenos Dias"  (to every gardener she spots on our daily walks. It's really cute when she acknowledges others and is learning Spanish BUT not every browned-skinned person, or gardener speaks Spanish. Or is Hispanic. Luckily she's cute).

"I'm brave of him" (when talking about Randal from Monsters Inc. or Mr. Shadow Man from Princess and the Frog).

"Can you read the words to me?" (when she wants something read to her).

"Send out a toot toot and make your wish come true!" (farting is hilarious so she tends to add the word "toot" to everything).

"Probricita" (whenever Brylin cries).

"Is this a rubber band?" -- holding one of my shall we say unmentionables in her hand.

"Actually I can do that for you, uh huh." (her response when asked to do something. Oftentimes "can" is replaced with "can't").

Brynna: "Is this Adele or Taylor Swift?"
Me: "Actually it's Katy Perry"
Brynna: "Oh, actually I do like her."

"Oh shoot!" (still working on replacing shoot with man).

Monday, December 21, 2015

Brylin: 1 year

* Happy birthday, My Girl!  We celebrated your special day with an outing to Granola Babies and a shared birthday party with your sister, Brynna. It's amazing how quickly time is passing and how much you have grown these past few months. I love watching you grow.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

New Moms: Using Meetup to find your tribe

Will they like me?

Am I dressed okay? Is this sweater too tight?

Why am I doing this again?

These thoughts swam through my mind as I prepared for my first Meetup in December 2012, a month after my first daughter was born. As the first of my friends to have a child,  I was determined to make “mommy pals” who had kids the same age as my daughter. Although I love my childless  friends I felt as though I was on this first-time parent road alone and was a little lonely.

While pregnant I wanted to openly complain to others going through the same things I was going through from the constant kicks in the bladder to always being uncomfortable. I wanted to commiserate.

I joined Meetup at the suggestion of a friend who was also the first in her group of friends to have babies. Since I met my husband on, I was not a novice to online meetups and decided to dive right in.

I began to join groups with similar interests: new moms, babies, infants, wine, books and running were some of the interests I checked off when completing my profile. Now all I needed to do was actually attend something.

So once I was cleared to drive after my c-section I clicked the RSVP button and agreed to meet a group of  new moms of babies born (or to be born) around the same time as my daughter.
We met at a cafĂ©, just five of us, and I was the only one with a baby since all the others were weeks and days away from giving birth. The butterflies in my stomach started to flutter away after a soon-to-be-mommy began to complain about heartburn. The complaint opened the door for a litany of whining: I’m always sweating!; All I want is a glass of wine!; Anyone else have sore nipples?

“Oh good, I thought I was the only one!” I sighed.

Together we commiserated on everything pregnancy related. Five women from various backgrounds and beliefs in child rearing connected over the one thing we all had in common: becoming a mom.
I emerged from that first Meetup with confidence since I was able to provide first-hand advice on being a new mom. Most of all I felt relieved. Relieved that I wasn’t alone.

From that point forward I began to connect with other moms through Meetup groups; clicking with some and walking away from others knowing we will never come together again. It’s exactly like blind dating: you meet women you have nothing in common with; some who you find annoying and others you really like.

There’s also the rejection aspect of it. There were a few instances in which I felt a real connection with a fellow mommy, be it through common interests or because our children got along; however, it wasn’t a connection on their end as texts went unanswered or plans to meet up were never realized. Those rejections hurt of course, resulted in questioning why didn’t she like me? What did I do wrong?
But just like anything else, you bounce back and get back into the game.

Perseverance worked as I connected with several moms, which resulted in friendships outside of the Meetup groups themselves. Nurturing those connections these past three years has resulted in our children  becoming close friends as they continue to grow up together

These friendships are dear to me as I know those women will always be there to commiserate with when our toddlers are being, well toddlers; will be the first to send words of encouragement when things get hard; always bring a coffee for you when they arrive for a play date since they know the infant isn’t sleeping through the night, and can offer words of advice on how to find plan a birthday party for a 3-year-old or how to get  a child to pee on the potty.

Connecting with fellow moms via Meetup helped me find my tribe; my fellow mommies who have become close friends and confidantes. Meetup helped us to connect on a surface level but it was our individual personalities that pushed us into a deeper connection of camaraderie that has led to genuine friendships that all started with a click of a button.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Sometimes: FindingOur Strength as featured on Mamalode

Another post on Mamalode today! 

Sometimes I want to run away, hide in a corner of the house where no one can reach me until I find the strength to break free from the stress that winds itself through my nerves making even the slightest comment or movement an infraction deserving of a mom’s wrath.
Sometimes I want to yell to stop. Stop yelling when the baby is trying to nap; stop running around the living room or jumping on the couch. So many times I want to yell, “Why won’t you stop being so bad?” Or, “What is wrong with you?”
Sometimes I do raise my voice. The sound echoing through the playroom, catching you off guard. The power in my voice makes you cry but also makes you stop in mid-hit, throw or jump. Often I am upset that I was not able to tame my temper by simply taking a deep breath to remind myself that you, my beautiful daughter, are only 2. But I’m human, and sometimes my weaknesses come forth during those emotionally-charged interactions. Of course, knowing that my actions hurt you results in extra hugs and cuddles and has me feeling terrible that I yelled when I should have taken a moment to compose myself.
Many times I want to cry. Hide in the hallway closet, and sit in the furthest corner beneath the winter coats and rain boots – and sob. I want to allow the tears to fall from my eyes unabashedly, not caring who sees or if I’m making the dreaded ugly cry face.
Sometimes my weaknesses take over and I do cry; giving in to the stress of being the parent I’ve envisioned long before you were born. The parent who could end a tantrum by throwing her child “that look,” or never loses her patience, instead happily agreeing to play princesses for the 10th time that day; the mom who never rushes her daughter to hurry up and pick a shirt to wear to school because time is always ticking by, each second a reminder of all that needs to get done that day.
My weaknesses are often on display for my daughter to see as I lose my patience every now and then or give in and cry, no longer able to hold in the tears. Once I was crying in the car after a particularly bad play date where my eldest refused to share with her playmates, the infant only wanted to be held by me and I was exhausted.
“Please listen to me,” I begged my daughter when I pulled her aside. But she didn’t.
Embarrassed and frustrated I rushed us out the door, holding back the tears as I strapped the girls into their seats. “What’s wrong mama,” she asked from the backseat as I quietly cried with my hands over my eyes. “You weren’t listening and I really needed your help,” I told her. She took it in, cocked her head to the side, pouted and said, “I’m sorry mama. I’ll listen more better.”
There are so many times when I have to find the strength to laugh instead of giving in to frustration,  especially on days when my toddler’s back talk is at an all-time high. Laughing is all my husband and I can do after a long day of work and coming home to two under the age of two who are being , well, kids.
Laughing is how I get through the hard times when work is stressful, the toddler skips a nap, the infant is teething and the Starbucks line refuses to budge. Sometimes laughter is the answer to the day’s problems. Making my daughter laugh is how I can help shake off the bad mood that hovers above her, refusing to dissipate despite my attempts at putting on a silly face or just tickling when she just can’t seem to shake the grumpies.
Sometimes strength comes in numbers as my husband and I team up to help solve a problem or the toddler helps entertain the infant when I need help.  Together, my eldest daughter and I will in the play room, swinging our arms up high, shouting peek-a-boo to make the infant stop crying. Other times it’s me and my husband pulling the girls onto our laps to give them the hug or the tickles they need, all of us laughing in unison, connecting as a family.
Each round of laughter is like a start over button, a moment to shake off the bad, regain our strength to move forward. Forget the terrible morning/afternoon/evening we just had, let’s start over. Together.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mom Arms as featured on Mamalode

Featured on Mamalode this month! Here is the link to the story: Mom Arms

“Pick me up!” my toddler demands as we stand in one of the many lines at Disneyland.
“Please just stand still, B,” I beg.
“We’re almost there,” I lie.
“Mama, pick me up!” she demands louder this time.
Why did I think a trip to Disneyland by myself with a toddler only a mere three months after giving birth to my second daughter would be a good idea? It was not even 11 a.m. and we’d already waited in line for two princesses, Dumbo and It’s a Small World. My breasts were engorged, I was tired since the infant required nighttime feedings and I was cranky from lack of caffeine and my toddler was filled with requests.
“Can I have popcorn?”
“I want to see Rapunzel!”
“After lunch I will have ice cream”
And the ever constant: “Pick me up!”
The Southern California sun has been brutal this past year, and it was no different this February morning, which also happened to be my birthday.  The thought of standing in line holding my 30 pound daughter, all thighs and arms, hot breathe on my neck, sticky hands on my cheeks, made me want to head to the nearest bench and take a nap.  
“Can I just have a few minutes of not holding someone?” I thought, envying those parents in line who either tackled the park as a team or whose child was of age to stand in line quietly or with minimal fidgeting.
Perhaps trying to celebrate my birthday with my daughter at Disneyland, on our first mother-daughter date since her sister had been born was a tad ambitious. My back was still weak from the epidural, causing a sharp pain when bent over too long, and maternity shorts were the only clothes that fit.
I was hoping the day would be a special outing for my daughter since her singleton world was shaken up three months earlier when we brought her baby sister home.
“You don’t love me,” or “I don’t want you,” bellowed from her mouth anytime she saw me holding the baby. For the first time, she preferred others to me; pushing my arms away when I bent to pick her up. All because I was holding her sister.
My sweet infant too small to understand that she was encroaching on her sister’s favorite spot: my arms.
“Look at that little bicep,” my friend noticed on one of those rare afternoons  that I got out of the house alone. “When have you had time to go to the gym?”
“Gym?! No, this is from the kids,” I tell her, at the same time buttering up a bagel, excited to not have to share my food. “I’m always carrying someone.”
“Maybe I should have baby,” she joked, “ so I can have arms like that.”
We laughed, because we both know she won’t, and the tiny biceps are only one of the noticeable changes that come along with being a mom.
In line, I can feel a sweat stain forming on my lower back from the weight of the backpack  filled with snacks, jackets, a change of clothes, water bottles and enough Purell to last us a week. Just the thought of adding 30 pounds of toddler to the weight being carried on my back cause beads of sweat to form on my forehead: how can I do this? How can I carry everything?
“Pick me up, mama,” she whines, bouncing up and down in her Cinderella pajamas (one day she will realize the beloved “dress” is really a nightgown), arms stretched up to me, little fingernails painted pink, remnants of syrup from a breakfast of pancakes and banana on her fingers.
It’s so hot, I’m so uncomfortable, my back hurts, there’s a crook in my neck from co-sleeping, my wrist hurts from the constant cradling of the infant. I’m. So. Tired.
But that face. Those eyes. That voice. The understanding that my daughter needs to feel close to me forces me to dig deep, find the strength to endure the scorching heat, the tightness in my back and neck, the weight of it all.
“Okay, come here,” I tell her, bending down to scoop her up, adjusting her in my arms so that that her head rests on my shoulder – if only for a second – and her arms fall around my neck.
Up close, I can see the flecks of green in her hazel eyes, the dimple on her cheek, and the slight gap between her baby teeth. Her breath is warm and smells of syrup and juice, her forehead glistens with sweat, all of her weight rests on my arms. Her body at ease knowing I have the strength to carry her and everything else.
“You’re carrying me, mama?” she asks, her chubby hands messing with my hair.
“I sure am,” I tell her. “I’ll always carry you.”