Monday, August 24, 2009

School

I spent the weekend feeling a bit unsettled and I'm not sure how to let it go.

When I picked Vivi up from her last day of camp on Friday, the teacher said to me, "She did great all week. You would never know that she's never been to school." I am sure the teacher meant it in a complimentary way but the comment bothered me. I felt like there was some judgement that Vivi, being three years and four months old, should have had some type of formal education before now or that it was odd to find a child who is bright and socialized even without school.

Since Vivi was 13 months old, I have been home with her full-time. My husband and I always knew that when she was pre-school age, we would send her to an official nursery school. This idea, however, that children need to be in some sort of formal learning environment before they are even done toddling seems a tad ridiculous. I have even heard parents of babies refer to their child's daycare as "school." Are you kidding me? Can't a baby just be a baby?

We live in a society where getting ahead means everything: more money, more recognition, and supposedly more happiness. Pregnant women are bombarded with messages that if they listen to Mozart, their progeny will be smarter. If we plop our babies in front of Baby Einstein videos, they will talk sooner. If we enroll our toddlers in Arabic classes and figure drawing, they'll be more appealing to college admission officers. It's all about "learning." It doesn't matter if the child is ready or not.

And yet it is hard for me NOT to sign my child up for lots of enrichment activities. We live in a community that is home to one of the finest universities in the country. We are surrounded by overachievers and academics. I want Vivi and her sisters to be successful too and I'm not necessarily anti-class. (We have done some things. Vivi and I took a mom and toddler yoga class while I was pregnant and Vivi is now learning how to swim at the Y.) What I have found, however, is that Vivi, like most children, learns when she is developmentally ready-- not when she is force fed information in the name of school.

As a result, I am holding tight to my Mama Mama Quite Contrary identity. I am opting out of the rat race because I am raising little girls, not rats. My children can have their adulthood to be overscheduled and stressed out. For now, you will find us at the playground making mud pies and picking our noses.

Want to join us?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Uninspired


I went to the farm a couple of weeks ago and they had yukon potatoes, in all their glorious fresh from the earth goodness. Excited by their appearance, I ran through all the things I could make with them: mashed potatoes, a tart with a potato crust, some hearty kind of soup. I purchased a couple pounds and was filled with warm thoughts on the drive home. Then, to my horror, I realized that it isn't November. In fact, it is August and it is bloody hot outside. (Hence, the warm thoughts.)

Oh, and I hate potato salad. So they sit on the counter waiting for a damn culinary intervention.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lunch

Vivi is a great eater and for that, I am grateful. I would love to take credit for her unusual pre-school taste buds but I think she is just a curious kid and that curiosity extends to food as well. She's been taking lunch all this week and has had everything from sesame noodles to tabbouleh. Her lunch box comes home empty and I'm delighted that I manage to hit a home run in the food department.

That is until yesterday when I committed the cardinal sin of parenting in the new millennium. I sent Vivi to camp with....

PEANUT BUTTER!!!!!!!!!! (On a boring ol' rice cake, no less.)

Apparently schools today have this thing about peanut butter. If I send it in my child's lunch and another child with a peanut allergy happens to eat it and go into anaphylaxis... well, that would be a bad thing. I guess I was supposed to know this without being told.

Obviously, no one wants a kid's life to be threatened but it seems to me that banning it from an entire school because of one child seems like an over-reaction. Should we be eradicating bees for those who happen to be allergic to bee stings? Those children learn to stay away from bees, should we not teach children who have peanut allergies to steer clear of the nuts?

I'm sure I'm oversimplifying the situation but gosh, where did these allergies come from? When I was a kid it was the rare child who had a life-threatening allergy. Now it seems that peanut butter is akin to heroin as a potential killer of our children. Ok, now I'm just being dramatic.

But what gives?

On the upside of the food topic, the Turtles tried their first meal of rice cereal:





Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Good Meals

I woke up this morning to find Vivi cooking in her kitchen. She was making us "raspberry noodles" for breakfast. With a big day of camp ahead of her, she apparently needed something more fortifying than the bowl of dry cereal and watered down juice my husband put before her. Talk about a breakfast of champions.

In order to properly cook her meal, Vivi had to put on her apron and chef's hat:






And nothing else:

I finished my delicious breakfast and Vivi happily left for camp. Then I went to the kitchen and polished off some raw cookie dough. Yeah, that's right. I made it on Sunday but it's been too blazing hot to put it in the oven and my attempts to make a few in the toaster oven failed miserably. So I've been eating it raw. It is both exhilarating and disgusting all at the same time.

Please ignore previous post about getting my fitness on.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Camp

This morning we shipped Vivi off to camp. I never envisioned camp for a three-year-old but by mid-June I was pretty certain that I was going to need some help at the end of August if I wanted to survive the summer with my sanity intact. So all this week my little spitfire will be getting her kicks from 8:30 until 3:30 under someone else's supervision.

Last night, in the heat and chaos of our "vacation" week coming to an end, I was ironing name labels into Vivi's clothes and packing lunches. My husband was beginning the mental and organizational adjustment of returning to work and we all were feeling a bit excited and anxious about the whole prospect of the two of them being out of the house all day.

Vivi went to bed at about 8 and by 8:30 I had climbed in with her. I wanted to snuggle and hold onto my first baby who is so much a kid that I can hardly stand it. "Mama, you can sleep in my bed tonight," she said. When I told her that I would take up too much space in her bed, she said, "well, you can sleep on my futon then." I don't know if she was sensing my insecurity or expressing her own. I sang her Good Night, My Angel while we snuggled and then kissed her goodnight.

As I was creeping out of her room, Vivi asked, "Mama, can I take some string cheese in my lunch tomorrow?"

"Yes, love."

"And the noodles in the green bowl?"

"Yes."

"And some blueberries?"

"Okay."

"And some goldfish for my after lunch snack?"

"Sure, sweetheart."

And then I went downstairs and repacked her lunch.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Social Cues

Vivi has started to... ahem... touch herself. It's been hot out and she's been going without clothes for the better part of the week so she's had more than enough opportunities to give her body a thorough review. It's not that I have a problem with her exploring her body. It's natural and normal and all that. I just really don't want to see her do it.

So the other day, while she was checking things out, I said, "Hey V, I know you like to touch there but it is your business and you should have some privacy."

"But Mama, I want to do it here."

"Well, some people may not want to see it. That's not polite."

"Mama, if you don't like it, don't look."

Well, I wasn't quite sure what to say to that. I mean it is how I feel about breastfeeding in public. I don't flaunt my breasts but if one or both of my babies needs to eat, the boobs have to come out. If someone doesn't like it, too bad. They probably don't live in this neighborhood anyway. If Vivi can't touch herself in her own house, then where can she?

I've pretty much decided to let the touching issue slide for the time being. Now if I could just take care of this problem:




Thursday, August 6, 2009

What I Thought

There are a few words that I thought I'd never say as a parent. Things like "...because I said so" or "if I have to stop this car..." Those phrases always seemed tired and old and I vowed never to use them. Well, I am old and tired and I have to admit that I have threatened to stop the car on numerous occasions.

This morning, however, I uttered eight words that I really didn't expect ever to string together. In horror, I yelled, "VIVI! DON'T PUT LIP GLOSS ON THE BABIES!!!!!!!!!!!"

Getting My Fitness On

I know I'm fat. Yeah, yeah, I gave birth to twins five months ago and I probably should be easier on myself but I know what I can look like. And what I'm looking at every day ain't it.

With both of my pregnancies, I ate sensibly and gained the recommended amount of weight. I didn't deny myself anything but I didn't overdo it either. I gave birth to three good-sized babies and have nursed or plan to nurse them all exclusively until they start solid foods. After that, I'll just continue nursing at least until they are one. This plan worked beautifully with Vivi and my pregnancy weight melted off. With the Turtles, it just hasn't happened.

I'm sure there are a whole host of reasons for this. Vivi was the model baby- sleeping soundly, regularly, and through the night by three months. She was the only child so getting out for a walk was never a problem. I returned to work part-time when she was 13 weeks so we had a routine for our meals and snacks. We both thrived with the structure.

With the Turtles' arrival, it has been chaos from the beginning. I go most of the day without eating because I am just too busy. When 3:00 hits, I am ready to crash so I start my 6 hour snacking ritual. I go from sweet to salty and back again until about 9 when I am full. Exercise has virtually not happened.

About a month ago, a package came in the mail. It was a surprise from my husband who, since the birth of the twins, has been showering me with gifts. (I think these gifts are to show his gratitude for growing, birthing, and raising our girls. I think they also help assuage his guilt at being relieved that he doesn't have to be home full-time with them.) Anyway, I open to box to discover a Nintendo Wii and the Wii Fit Balance Board.

My response, "Either you really love me or you really do think I'm fat."

So, here I am in the digital age, trying to get my fitness on. Any suggestions from you moms of multiple children out there? This fat curmudgeonly technophobe needs all the help she can get.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Feeling Folksy


Sunday morning we packed up ALL of our children and headed south to the Newport Folk Festival. We purchased the tickets one rainy June evening when sitting outside listening to music seemed like a nice way to relax. Not once, in our sleep-deprived delirium, did we consider how we would actually pull it off. All we thought was we will never have a chance to hear Pete Seegar, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, and Arlo Guthrie in one place again. It was a gift we wanted to give our girls even if they wouldn't ultimately remember it.

When we got there, I feared we had made a terrible mistake. There was no shade to be had in the entire park and our beach umbrella was "strictly prohibited." Apparently, those festival folk don't like to have their view obstructed. I frantically covered my children in sunscreen (even the babies) and hats and prayed for clouds. By 2:30, my prayers had been answered.

The clouds rolled in and the breeze off the water made it the perfect temperature. The babies delighted everyone around them and barely uttered a fuss the entire day. Vivi loved all the people watching, the snacks, and the music. She even loosened up enough to dance.

Late into the afternoon, I was feeling all proud hippy mama. We were basking among the crowd and Joan Baez had lulled our girls to sleep. She told a story about singing a particular song at her son's wedding and then again at her parent's wedding when they decided, at age 91, to get remarried after a 30 year divorce. As she started to sing Forever Young, I turned to my dear husband and said, "That's our wedding song too!"

His reply, "It is?"