Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Current Favorites

I started a regular post a few months ago titled my Favorite Things and tried to make it a weekly regular... but not REALLY surprisingly, I couldn't manage to even make a regular habit out of jotting down some happy tidbits. But that is okay- I tend to be an "approach each day with an open hand" kind of girl (that is actually a style of mothering- I learned that in a Parenting magazine- different from the "organized get 'er done" Mama or the "live and let live" Mama). In other words, I didn't carve out a 20 minute segment once a week to make sure the blog post got written, thus it faded away. Much like my interest in making homemade yogurt or re-reading the classics.

But this morning is grey and rainy post-Sandy weather, I made pumpkin waffles with yogurt and blackberry parfaits, and am wearing a pair of scrub pants, my Communist Party sweatshirt and my hair is in pigtails. The babes are tucked under a blanket watching the Pooh movie and I am in the mood to write about some happy stuff.

No Pants, No Problem
Are you ready for the parade??

1. Cooking. On Thursday nights I sit at the kitchen table with a gin and tonic and current issues of Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Whole Living and my phone with A Cozy Kitchen blog pulled up. We have been eating some really fantastic, seasonal meals and enjoying watching Pursy and Knox explore new foods. For example, tonight we are eating cajun chicken, cheese grits and avocado/brussel sprout salad. The only foodstuff Pursy consistently picks off is fresh herbs... not sure why and we are trying to ignore it and let her explore her food but when it takes 15 minutes for her to pick the rosemary off of rosemary-crusted pork tenderloin, we get a little annoyed.

2. Smartwool socks. Need I say more??

3. Mad Elf. This probably should have been number one on this list to give a little validation to the number of bars, bottle shops and 6 pack shops I called to find out if they got the early release of my favorite beer in stock. It usually comes out Oct 31st and by perusing the Troegs website, I discovered this year they were doing an early release on the 15th. I think I pulled Grant away from a meeting to hooray this information into the phone. I finally found it in a new 6 pack shop in Squirrel Hill. I walked in, asked the very nice Indian gentleman if they got the beer in, he said no and I walked dejected toward the door. As I was walking out, he called after me "We do have a Mad Elf tall boy in cooler 15 in the corner, but that's it". WHHAATTT?? I literally ran over and saw the blitzed elf staring at me from his red label. The holidays have officially begun.

4. Falling leaves. Our yard has no trees in it yet, but our neighbors all around us have huge oak and maple trees that are covering our yard with huge, gorgeous yellow leaves. Pursy has been making pile after pile and jumping it- coming up laughing hard and covered in dirt and leaves. I love it. She looks like such a kid.

5. Halloween. Love it. love it. love it. We never celebrated it growing up, except to pass out candy at the door, and now I LOVE planning costumes for my babes. Pursy is going to be Foofa from Yo Gabba Gabba (whew- one more year I am saved from fishnets and bustiers..) and Knox is going to be a train conductor. We are hosting an All Saints Dinner at our house tomorrow night and let's just say it won't be just the babes in costume. I give Grant a free pass not to dress up because he has a PhD but I almost got him to wear this with me:

6. Knox's kisses. We are talking full open mouth-tongue out KISS. This boy is serious about affection and my favorite is the dive bomb kiss where I am holding him on my hip and all of a sudden I have a little boy face suction cupped to my cheek. He thinks it is soooo funny...

Here is some more random goodness:

Knox loves a lady in a scarf...

Building you a pyramid..

Professor Martsolf, can we have a private meeting in your office?....

My afternoon delight.

Independent Play.

I thought this was pretty clever and a little abstract... artist or politician?

Lovin' me some pigtails...

Monday, October 29, 2012

I Finally Get It

Anyone who has read more then one blog post is probably aware that I am a Christian. Let me define, it can be an ambiguous term. I believe that I was created by a God who created all things, loves His creation and died to save it after it fell into darkness and sin. I believe that He exists everywhere but somehow humankind will not understand Him completely until He returns to earth and makes it perfect like it once was. In the meantime, we have a responsibility as those who were created by Him and love Him to obey His words and love the people around us. We are not perfect and make mistakes, but when God returns to live intimately with his creation we will be able to love perfectly- without selfishness, pride or greed. At the end of time, we will be able to love as we were created to love.

For those of you who have not read the Bible or may not know it all that well, there is a verse in the book of Romans that talks about the longing of Christians to be reunited with Christ. In other words, if we have accepted the truth that this earth is temporary and imperfect, there is a hope of one day all being made right. Essentially, all the evil that exists in the world is allowed to take place because God is not fully present to make things perfect. Why does He stay away then? I don't know- it seems like the obvious answer would be for Him to come back and take over. Get rid of cancer, bullying, starvation, genocide, house fires, rape, loneliness, racism... all the bad things that make life on earth so hard.

I never really understood the sentiment I mentioned above of Christians LONGING for the return of God. Grant and I joke that maybe Hurricane Katrina was our biggie and WHEW.. glad that's over, now we can just live life knowing that our big tragedy is already past. People should only have one big one, right? The family dealing with a child with cancer should be immune from anything else- they should have food on the table, a car that runs all the time, jobs that give them unlimited time off without worry of being let go, access to cutting edge oncology care, etc. There is only so much people can handle.

So if our big life trial is over, we can ride out the rest of our days with a strong marriage, two beautiful and healthy babes, good jobs and great educations, a house, 1.5 cars, and Trader Joes. I didn't really have a LONGING or desperation for God to come back and made the world as it should be- perfect. I had a few twinges of fear after Pursy and Knox were born- feeling like if I could be with them all the time, nothing bad would ever happen to them. I could somehow protect them. Wishing that I didn't have to take all the responsibility and just let them frolic and play in a world that was safe and protective. I thought it would be amazing if God would return, but I had a lot of confidence in my own ability to make the world okay for my children.

Then I read about the double murder/suicide of the nanny in NYC. A trusted and beloved childcare worker stabbing two of her little charges to death in a bathtub in Manhattan. A mother coming home with her third child after a swim lesson and finding a dark apartment and a bathroom filled with the unthinkable.

And I finally get it.

I get why we should long for God to come back to earth and be permanently with His people. Because only then will things like this never happen again. Because the promise of a world perfected and the end of sickness, death, pain, fear, loneliness is why I can get out of bed in the morning and live in a world where things like people killing other people happens. Because it isn't supposed to be this way. This is not the end of the plan. And I don't understand why God hasn't come yet, but He will and I am desperate for it. I will cling to it like Pursy clings to me when we walk by the house on our street with two pit bulls in the front yard barking at the fence. Desperately. But eventually we pass by the house and she calms down and with confidence climbs down and finishes our walk. Because she trusts that the story doesn't end with pit bulls. It ends with peace and a hand to hold.

That is why I am a Christian. Because God wants something more for us and He laid out a way for us to understand a little bit now. One day we will get it completely- we will know why pain and darkness existed and we will be so thankful that our God is home. With us.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

When Mama takes a Mental Health Day, We All Get Cookies

Thursdays are one of my favorite days of the week. At 830 I load up both babes in the double stroller and we walk 4 blocks to Eastminster Presbyterian Church for Community Bible Study. CBS is just that- women in the community getting together to study the Bible. We leave our denominations, political affiliations, personal views on spanking and organic food at the door and for three hours are united by a desire to know God a little bit better. There is a fantastic children's program where last week Pursy came home talking about "Davin" and a wolf- accompanied by a cool art project, which was a paper lunch bag made into a lamb covered in cotton balls. The teachers are amazing- evidenced by the paper bag lamb- who has the patience to help 2-3 year olds glue 87 cotton balls on a paper bag??

I love it. Being a Mama is my main gig right now, but when I drop both babes off in their respective classes and walk upstairs to the sanctuary, I feel like Christy the Woman. The girl who has thoughts about grass fed beef and evolution and Kurt Vonnegut and hollandaise sauce and whether empire waist dresses are actually a good post partum look. I have those opinions all the time, but not the opportunity or proper voice to express them either with a child eating off of me or a toddler wanting me to do the "dancing frog" with her.

And even though it isn't THAT important that I share with my friends my views on grass fed beef-  I would like to know theirs, as well as finding out if they read the book Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollen, which shaped my personal view on grass fed beef. This is the stuff that is interesting to me. I really like food and in particular, food that is actually available to me and my family in as close to its natural state as possible. I am the girl they talk about when they open a Slow Food restaurant in the middle of farmland and say that people who really care about eating local will make the drive. (State College friends, think Elk Creek Cafe)

That was a significant digression.

Back to Thursday morning Bible Study. This morning I knew before I got out of bed that I wouldn't be going. Anywhere, probably, but more specifically would not be going to CBS. My grandfather passed away on Sunday and even though I didn't know him very well, I love my mother and wanted to somehow get to his memorial service in South Carolina. Grant and I agreed that I would go with Knox and he would stay behind with Purslane. I think airlines should have a moral obligation to provide discount airfare to individuals traveling to a funeral because after 5 hours of website searching, I had to make the decision that we could not afford the ticket. I know there are times when money is not a factor but we knew when I decided to stop working full time and stay home to raise our children that money would always be a factor for us. The phone call to tell my mother was terribly hard.

Last night, my older brother who lives in Japan left me a voicemail at 4 in the afternoon (5am his time) telling me to call him immediately. He also tried to Skype with me at the same time, leaving me a message that as soon as I could he needed me to call him. This was at 4p. He then proceeded to not answer his phone, be at his computer or answer emails for 4.5 hours. I didn't want to call my mother to find out if she had heard from him so I called my siblings, neither of which had talked to him. He is fine, just left his phone at home while he took a little critical trip but when he finally called and told me what happened, I was relieved and furious. Mostly relieved, but pretty furious. I will wait until he recovers to tell him just how angry I was... but Daniel, it's comin'.

Our children who have both been sleeping through the night for a few weeks now, continue to get up between 530 and 6. Which brings to mind the age old question: Is it better to be awake from 1-2a but sleep until 7? Not sure, but I do know that 530 is a terrible hour to be woken up by Pursy standing beside our bed saying "I have to go poop and pee Mama, can you help me?". It is a cute question and I have a soft spot in my heart for baby breath (ask Grant, he finds it really odd. You know how some people talk about smelling the top of their child's head to get that baby smell? I feel the same way when I smell their breath- sweet, unadulterated BABY breath. I cried the day Knox ate solid food for the first time because I knew it was the end of pure breastmilk breath, which is just like angels wings covered in happiness. And first thing in the morning that pure angel breath is concentrated by hours of mouth breathing... it is wonderful)

So I am tired. Not enough sleep makes for long days and needing to psyche myself up for trips to the park. Exhaustion is exacerbated by 2 year old behavior which while normal and expected, still makes me question the order of the universe. Surely this was not God's plan for mothers who sacrifice so much to be rewarded by a tiny WWF knock off crawling under the cart in Target bellowing for goldfish.

Have I mentioned before that sleep deprivation makes me a drama queen?

Along with not sleeping enough, Knox is teething, learning to walk and going through a growth spurt. Which means he is covered in food, bruises and is sleepy most of the time. It breaks my heart because he can't tell me exactly which need isn't being met and will just fall over, lay on the floor and cry until I can pick him up. Grant has an amazing ability to soothe him, so most nights I nurse Knox then pass him over to be rocked to sleep by this sweet man who seems to pull patience from the air. We both have our moments where we lose all sense of reason and say something like "why can't you just go to college already?!?" but for a man who claims to not be good with infants, my man is gold at bedtime with these little people.

Have I connected any sentient thoughts together? Cliffs notes: I am parentally distressed, emotionally sad and physically exhausted. Thus today I took a mental health day. We spent the early morning in the playroom watching Yo Gabba Gabba and doing puzzles, the late morning in the kitchen making molasses cookies and now at 1230 both babes are down for naps. Grant called at 10 and I think was a little scared by the tone in my voice, so is coming home a bit early to take over while I grab my purse and gym clothes and take a night off.

My plan is to hit up a consignment shop in Squirrel Hill for some fall/winter clothes for the babes, grab some take out from one of the many fabulous Mediterranean restaurants on Murray Ave, peruse the used vinyls at Jerry's for a gift to present to fabulous husband upon my return home, have dessert coffee and wander a bookstore, and find a 6 pack shop somewhere in the East End that has started to carry Mad Elf for a late night porch drink. Just before coming home I will stop at my gym for a late night work out and arrive back home refreshed, probably a bit distressed about my weight which doesn't seem to want to decrease, but overall ready to be a Mama again.

Better then Valium.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Loving the World... One Homeless Guy at a Time

We were walking to the library the other day and I was wearing Knox while Pursy rode in the single stroller. I used to love my double stroller until I started walking it around Pittsburgh and realized that the 19 pound lightweight contraption that I thought would be so useful for "city walking" was no match for the unmaintained sidewalks of East Liberty.

Regardless, I convinced Pursy that riding in the stroller was awesome and for just this one day, she bought it. We crossed Highland Ave without incident and were rounding the corner behind Eastminster Presbyterian Church when we passed a homeless gentleman sitting in an doorway outside the old YMCA. Right as we walked in front of him, Pursy leaned over the side of the stroller and said:

"Hi! What's your favorite color?!"

He was so surprised he just looked at her for a minute and then he started laughing and said "Well, baby, I guess it's blue." (I can hear my friend Kate in my head imitating her students in New Orleans public school right now)

I smiled at him and we continued on down the street. As we walked away, Pursy squirreled herself around in the stroller and said "Mama! His favorite color is blue!"

I love that girl.

The Awkward Toddler Smile... love it

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Love Pile of Pictures

Grant spent two days in DC this week and while we missed him tremendously, the babes and I filled up our hours with friends. Tiffany and her two babes Annie and Oliver came for an overnight visit, and two girlfriends from nursing school came for a dinner party. Most of our pictures involve eating of one kind of another...I feel like between introducing a small babe to solid foods, encouraging a toddler to experiment with all kinds of food, and myself as a nursing Mama who not only wants to eat all the time but also is using cooking as my creative outlet, food is the fabric of our lives at present.

I realized again this week what a marvelous collection of people we have in our life. Most of these people knew me before I was a Mama and before they were parents as well. It is a beautiful gift to be able to go through seasons with these friends.

Let me introduce you to some of our favorites from this week:

Making ebelskeivers and telling Pursy stories about making them with my Mama and Grandma.
Death of an Ebelskeiver.

Pan on the right is remnants of my attempt at ebelskeivers and pan on the left is the modification that became breakfast. Ebelskeiver pancakes. Sorry, Grandma... will try again another time.

Frustrated Dada and Two year old refusing to eat breakfast.

I love the colors in this picture and the look on Pursy's face.

Pumpkin pancakes, yogurt with raspberries and coffee with caramel creamer. Beautiful fall breakfast with beautiful people.
Love people who love on my kids.

Check out that gorgeous face. Kid can seriously roar- Tiffany called it "dinosaur tourettes".

These two were trouble... cute, cute trouble.

Sweet Annie

If true love happens twice, Grant is first and then Tiffany.

Marinara Beard

There are 8 undergrad and graduate degrees in this picture... plus 5 babes and 3 girls very happy to be together.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It Goes In the Purple Box

At work the other night, comparing phone pictures of cute offspring with co-workers. I had a picture of Knox in the playroom and in the background, you could see a row of colored fabric boxes I have lined up along the back wall. Very casually, my friend said "what goes in the purple box?". Without a second of hesitation, I answered "non-educational blocks and Legos". Immediately, I clapped my hand over my mouth and stared at her in shock. Really?? That just came out of my mouth? Me, the girl who invented dinner the night before by adding whatever was in the pantry to some noodles and called it Pasta Primavera because I didn't have a plan for feeding my family an actual meal?

The colored boxes in the playroom came about a few weeks after Pursy's second birthday when I had a meltdown looking around at all the PIECES in our home. Puzzle pieces, chalk, blocks, Legos, crayons, magnets, farm animals, stickers- the older children get the more pieces their toys dissolve into. Designers of infant toys are smart- everything is connected together by ribbons or ties or stretchy/bouncy things. No one wants to hear a baby cry while they are searching for a piece of a toy that rolled under the couch.

But we want toddlers to LEARN. Discover, experiment, practice, create... so we give them things with different colors, shapes, feel, and purpose. And we think this can only be done if we positively frustrate them by giving them a million pieces to work with. All for the sake of development.

What I have developed is a familiarity with my latent OCD. Looking around the playroom, I realized that if I didn't organize the stuff in there, the hundred of pieces would form a tiny army and take over my house. So I went to Target and created the multi colored box Dewey Decimal system for the babes toys. I knew I had this manic tendency, evidenced earlier in my life by closet and dresser overhauls- ending in a trunk full of garbage bags to take to thrift or consignment and nothing left to wear but things that were made in the USA or of sustainable fibers... whatever the trendy thing to care about was that week. There was also a school transfer and cross country move after a knarly breakup in college. I am impulsive when it comes to making decisions, but when I decide to do something- it gets DONE.

Grant will attest- I do not clean often but when I do, it is not half-assed. I don't just sweep one room. I sweep the entire house, followed by a wet swiffer and finish with a paper towel to the baseboards. It makes me intermittently productive. I'm sure Grant would prefer a casual clean of the bathroom once a week as opposed to the grout being scrubbed with a toothbrush and the shower getting a bleach cleaning once every few months. 

Our present church situation had brought out my manic organization into the light. In short, we as a church body have decided to develop lives of discipline and commitment- following rhythms and habits of prayer, meditation, solitude, fasting and Scripture reading. I knew these things were not going to get done in my present unstructured stay at home Mama life. When I walk in the door of the hospital, my OCD says hello and buys me a coffee. I am really good at my job, in part because when you are managing 4-5 patients in heart failure you need to make sure everything gets done in a timely and quality fashion. But at home, the only thing I know for sure when I wake up in the morning is that I am going to make coffee. The rest of the day depends on whether Knox is teething, how Purslane is doing with peeing on the potty, whether we have library books due, if it is raining, babes who think the day begins at 5AM, whether or not I remembered to grab toilet paper or if we need to run to Target, etc.

On Sunday when we were discussing morning prayer, the thought went through my head that morning really is a subjective term. Does the day begin when we get out of bed or when Pursy comes into bed with us? My breakfast time or the kids breakfast time? Sunrise or 7am? WHEN IS THE MORNING???

So I did what every person with latent OCD does. I made a Table on Microsoft Word with seven columns for each day of the week and then added in everything that needs to get done in a day. Key element that might ensure my success: there are no times of day on this Table. If morning prayers happen after Pursy's afternoon nap, so be it. If laundry gets started at 9pm after the babes are in bed, so be it. I have Grant and I's exercise time first thing every day but I know there will be some days that I don't get to the gym until after dinner. The point is, there is a place on the chart for everything. Yes Grant, including small daily cleaning jobs.

And just to make me happy, the chart is purple. Just like the Non-educational Blocks and Legos box.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

If You Want to Make Me Love You

Nine months ago we moved to Pittsburgh. We moved from State College/Happy Valley/Grad School Bubble to an intercity neighborhood in the midst of cultural transition. We moved to a neighborhood that is the definition of urban. Our neighbor on one side deals out his back door and the neighbor across the street is a college professor. Families like us move into renovated homes that previously were either burnt out or housed squatters. Our neighborhood is East Liberty and is colorful and alive and fantastic.

Grant and I are no strangers to moving, and certainly no strangers to moving into the city. But this is the first time we have moved with littles. And we found very quickly that these two babes changed a great deal about everything. Grant had already started his job, so I was alone all day with a 20 month old and a 2 month old in a new house, new city- and those of you familiar with Pittsburgh winters can feel my pain when I say that we were stuck inside.

I recognized that we were blessed- Grant got a great job right out of grad school, I had the option to stay home with the babes which I chose to do, our house was beautiful and we knew we were settled and could put down roots. But making friends proved to be much harder then it had ever been before. Promising conversations were interrupted by a babe needing to nurse, or the other one needing help reading a book. Dinners were early, to be kind to our babes, and after dinner drinks were traded off between Grant and I, as one parent usually had to excuse themselves to bathe and rock a child to sleep. The ways we had always made friends before were now fragmented and stressful. If we were invited to a show, we called Grant's cousin to babysit- and if she was busy, we had to decline. Double dates in dark neighborhood bars where intimate conversations are born were traded for drinks on our living room couches, whispering so not to wake up sleeping babes.

It was just hard. I went through my own personal dark night of the soul when I realized that my dear friends in State College could no longer show up and take a babe out of my arms so I could take a nap when I was exhausted. Phone calls to various places around the country where my tears flowed stopped feeling therapeutic after a few weeks. Panicked moments when I just didn't know what to do and needed to talk to someone who knew me and knew my babes- those are the moments when friends show up. And I didn't have any. It was terrifying to feel like I was doing this alone. I felt like a fraud every time I chatted with a new person and ended the conversation before I either had to admit I was on the verge of losing it, or lie and say everything was good. I started just trying to get through until 5 when Grant would walk through the door. I felt an immediate weight lifted the minute he walked in- he was so strong and I let him carry more then his fair share of family exhaustion.

That time is past now and we all survived. We are slowly making friends and we have accepted that this season is hard but beautiful. We give ourselves grace when we have to cancel dinner plans with new friends last minute because after a day of potty training, teething, dead car batteries and walking to work in the pouring rain, we just...can' it. We apologize profusely when we are late because Knox pooped all over the car seat cover and we had to at least sponge it off before putting him back in it to get to my brother's wedding rehearsal. I sometimes wear knee high boots in the summer because I didn't shave my legs and Grant almost left for work the other morning with his bow tie upside down. We are every TV show stereotype of a family with young children.

But here is the best part. We are making friends here that like us in spite of the fact that they come for lunch at 11 and eat at 1245. They come over for drinks on our back porch after the babes are in bed and end up feeding Knox Cheerios while they sip a beer because he chose their leg to pull himself up on. They come over for breakfast dates instead of happy hours and hold Knox for an hour while I use both hands to fold laundry. They set up sprinklers in their front lawn and airplane Pursy through the spray.

If you want to make me love you, love my children. Because there is nothing more dear to a parent then watching other people enjoy how great their babes are. Like this:

When Life Hands You Avocados...

Little Man and I rarely get time alone together. Purslane is extremely two and a half, and can be a tornado rampaging from one corner of the earth to the other. A lot of times Knox is just along for the ride. And he seems to get a big kick out of her, but there are some moments when I think about all the books I read to Pursy and all the outings we did together and all the TIME spent getting to know her- all the one on one time that Knox just doesn't get as the second child.
I love this picture- Pursy is so annoyed at whatever Knox is taking out of her hand and Knox is cracking up.

I need to keep in mind that Knox is always on hand experiencing and being exposed to everything that Pursy is- it's not like I sit him in front of old episodes of Mr Rogers Neighborhood and hope that he develops his own ideas about humankind and the world by osmosis. I can release my guilt and accept that Knox is going to grow up and be a very functional contributing member of society- possibly able to accept things as they come and live much more laid back and with less angst then Pursy will. Pursy already has a plan for making the universe fall in line behind her like a baby duck.

But today, Knox took a morning nap and was very awake when I put Purslane down at 2 in the afternoon. So we played- just the two of us. And I was blown away with everything that he has learned while I was doing other things. He is responding and initiating in fantastic ways. And he LOVES making people laugh. If something he did got a smile out of me, he did it repeatedly and with more and more gusto.

Here is our afternoon play date:

Having a chat.

He loves to give these open mouth kisses...

I found an avocado! Let's make guacamole Mama...

It keeps rolling away from me!!

I got you now, crafty avocado..

I love guacamole!!!

That doesn't taste right....

Definitely not right!!!

I shall try one more time

I don't think I like avocados anymore....

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pretty Little Liar

I did NOT use those markers, Mama...

When Patience Expires

Pursy had been pestering me for 20 minutes to come draw crayons with her. I was trying to put dishes away and start dinner so kept buying time by encouraging her to draw difficult things, like a school bus or a bumblebee.

It was quiet for a minute or two and I thought my brilliant plan was working.

Then I heard a sigh...

I looked down and Pursy was leaning on the kitchen island looking at me. When our eyes met, she let out a dramatic sigh and said: "Mama, I am so lonely..." (she doesn't have her "Ls" yet so it sounded like "wonewey".

I hope Grant isn't that hungry when he comes home from work in 20 minutes. I am going to draw a bumblebee.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Élever mes bébés

I recently wrote a post about the book Bringing Up Bebe here. I put myself on the list at the library, as there are apparently quite a few American Mamas interested in how the French are doing things. My copy came in a few days ago and I started reading... and haven't put it down.

The writing is good- just enough self deprecation from the author to make the experiences seem real and just enough skepticism about Parisians to make it endearing. She admits her hesitations, her failures, and her successes on the road of intercultural Motherhood. I got the sense that if I ran into her in some cafe we could sit and have a coffee and get along.

It is the first book on parenting that hasn't made me want to punch the author in the throat. Unlike another book I foolishly purchased two weeks ago because it was recommended on a blog I read... the first chapter was all about the metaphor of God chipping away at a piece of marble to "release" the beautiful sculpture underneath. I get it, I appreciate it.... but I don't need more metaphor in my life. I need 3 bullet points, preferably all starting with the same letter, a few minutes of direct application or "what to do" and a coffee and donut hour afterwords would be great.

The chapter I am reading right now is about the "awakening" of childhood. The first three years of life, French parents believe the child is just taking it all in. Discovering the world, experiencing different things, absorbing colors and tastes and smells. The author talks about signing her 18 month old daughter up for swimming lessons and the first two classes, watching the parents just let their children splash and jump and play. She was expecting some different strokes and actual swimming- the instructor chided her that children at this age just need to experience the water in order to prevent any fears and to instill confidence. Then, when they are ready for more, the strokes are just an extension of moving through the water. Thus, most French children are great swimmers and parents aren't standing at the side of the pool trying to encourage their tot dressed in arm floaties and inner tubes to "trust me!".

She talks about not really knowing what to do with the permission not to meet some developmental marker. She says parents in France don't really sit around and talk about when their child started talking or sitting up or reading. They are more concerned with this idea of awakening- discovery, exploration, soaking it all up. This lasts until around 3 when all French children start pre-K.

I thought about Library Moms and wondered what would happen if I hit the downtown library this morning and did not hover over Pursy while she played at the train table. If I didn't give her a speech about sharing when she swiped a train or if I ignored the stink eye after she accidentally tripped over the tot lying on the floor reading his Little Einstein book. What would happen if I just let her play? For those of you who have never experienced the Library Moms, they are a tough crowd. There is a lot of pressure to have the child who somehow has magically mastered the art of sharing at age 2, or at least you as a Mom are RIGHT THERE the moment they upset another child to explain the rules of the universe.

One of the ways that French parents encourage their children to awaken is by cooking together. As the author says, not just to occasionally stir some flour and sugar together while wearing a neck to ankle apron but actually cracking eggs, measuring vanilla and frosting cupcakes. So I followed their suggestion and Pursy and I made a raspberry cake together yesterday. C'était très amusant.

Best part of baking...

See these blackberries?...

Mood Shot

Adding the Berries

One for the Cake... one for Me...

P's version of the "thumbs up"

Our Buttermilk Blackberry cake

I made a CAAAAAKE!!