Monday, June 28, 2010

Coffee Makes Me Happy

I've been known to love my coffee, or at least the experience of it, but I have never been a coffee drinker like I am since having my son.  Coffee makes me happy!  Really happy! 

The smell and idea of it.  It all brings a smile to my face.

It's not a good thing that I have a Strabucks within walking distance from my house.  Or that my son sees the logo where ever we go and says, "Mommy coffee".  Yes, every iced coffee cup out there is, "Mommy coffee".  But that's my thing. 

I guess I'm known as a coffee lover in my circle of friends.  Just yesterday, at Braden's friend, Julia's, 2nd Birthday Party, Doug brought me a present.  Yes me!  He roasted his own coffee and gave me some to sample.  Now that made me happy!

It's brewing as I type...  mmmmmm...

To a real coffee lover, probably like Doug, who roasts his own, I'm a fake.  It's not so much the taste I love...  Sure, with enough flavor and cream, it's super yummy.  But to me, it's more about the idea that this is Mommy's coffee.   Yes, mine!  All mine.

In a time of my life when I give so much, coffee is something I can keep all to myself.

So that is why I have never loved coffee as much as I have since having my son!


Modesty Went Out The Window.

Like most teen girls or young woman,  I could have found a million things I wanted to change about my body.  I wished I were taller, I wished I were thinner, I wished, I wished, I wished!

I don't think I was unique in my feelings.  I was extremely self conscious, hated changing in front of anyone; whether peers or my own mother. 

It wasn't until I gave birth, when all modesty went out the window.  It didn't matter anymore what I wasn't or wished I were.  It was now more about what an incredible body I did have that could create, carry, birth and nourish another living human being.  A piece of me and a piece of my husband.  A whole being that was our son!

Even my relationship to my husband changed during the birth of our son.  Together, we labored and delivered our child.  Our baby boy!  Our hearts and souls. 

My husband is very squeamish and I don't think either one of us knew how it would go- but the beauty he saw during the birth of our son, made his admiration of my body even deeper. 

I am a lucky woman!  My husband adores me and thinks I am incredibly beautiful, both inside and out.  Even, while raising a young boy with little time for personal maintenance, I have no doubt whether or not my husband still finds me attractive.

And now, with our son approaching potty training, modestly is truly over rated.  I can't tell you the last time I had a private moment, without little eyes watching, narrating and even cheering for my successes.

But when do I, as a mother of a son, take back some of those private times?  What will my son learn should I decided to close the door on him?  I want my son to know some form of modestly, to ask for privacy, to have respect for his and other people's bodies. 

At the same time, I want my son to have no shame, to love and find beauty in all shapes and sizes.

So for now, I will keep the door open and hope that he knows the door is always open.



Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Evolution of Craigslist.

I have probably used Craigslist since it's conception.  What an amazing idea.  A community of resources, an ability to buy and sell items for FREE!  Thank you, Craig for your invaluable list.

I first started using Craigslist to find work and actually found several jobs through it's postings back when I was working in child care.

I then used the list to find apartments and eventually sold things, mostly furniture; especially when I moved from state to state.

To many people's surprise, I met my husband on Craiglist.  Yes, it's true.  I was encouraged from a friend who met his then girlfriend, and eventually wife, on the site.  I had tried other online dating, but was getting frustrated and had pretty much given up.  On a whim,  I decided to try it out.  It was free after all, so what did I have to lose? 

The first time I posted was a disaster, and I'll save you the gory details.  It wasn't until 6 months later, when I decided to try again, that I met Brooke.  It was a Saturday afternoon.  Memorial Day Weekend to be exact.  I posted (on the left, is the photo I used), and Brooke responded less than 20 minutes later.  He seemed sweet, thoughtful, and he had clearly read my post.  His photo (see above) wasn't half bad, either: I was drawn to him.  We emailed back and forth a few times, we spoke the next day and met the following.  Memorial Day!  It all happened so quickly, but we obviously know how it turned out.   Who would have thought?

We have since used Craigslist to sell our furniture when my husband and I moved in together, found new jobs and recently have bought and sold baby items and clothes. 

In this day and age, when money is tight for many of us, and we try to leave minimal foot prints on the earth, what better site than Craigslist.  There have been knock offs, but nothing beats the original. 

So before you go out and buy something new, or simply toss out something you don't need anymore, think of the earth, your kids and grandkids that will use it, and try Craigslist.  You have nothing to lose. 

So, if anyone knows or has the chance to meet Craig, please tell him I think his list ROCKS and that I say, "Hi!"


Friday, June 25, 2010

Overstaying Your Welcome?! How Long is Too Long?

How long is too long for a playdate?

Has there ever been a time where you felt as though you may have overstayed your welcome?

I think Braden and I may have done so.  Twice this week.  Not that my friends made me feel as though we did.  But, I wonder...  How long is too long?

The good news is, we weren't the only ones.  Not that that makes it okay, I guess.   But we were all having such a good time.  The kids were playing nicely together, the moms and dad (yes, there was a dad) were chatting, the coffee was flowing... no one seemed to want it to end. 

Perhaps I was craving adult interactions.  Perhaps the same was true for the other mommies and dad that stayed.  Maybe I was avoiding having to go home and clean my house, or run the errands I so desperately needed to do.  I like to think I did it for Braden, but if I'm honest with myself, there was the selfish part of me that wanted to stay for me.

So are playdates really for the kids, or the parents?


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How do you say, "I'm sorry"?

Being the mother of a 20 month old, I find that I'm having to say I'm sorry a lot these days.  "I'm sorry Braden took you're toy."  "I'm sorry Braden won't share with you."  "I'm sorry Braden pushed you."  And if I'm being completely honest, yes, I have had to say, "I'm sorry Braden bit you!"

Of course we're trying to teach Braden to say, "I'm sorry", for himself.  But sorry seems to be the hardest word.  I think this can be true for some adults as well.  I like to think his dad and I are good examples, but let's face it, saying I'm sorry isn't always easy.

Sometimes Braden will say it quite readily, even before he's asked to.  Other times, he is so tight lipped, the words just won't come out of his mouth or he mumbles a lukewarm sorry that pains you to watch.  Do these halfhearted apologies really mean anything to him?

So how do you teach your toddler to say I'm sorry?

I guess for me, it's like teaching Braden to say please and thank you.

I can also teach him by example and say I'm sorry when I need to, in order to show him that apologies aren't just for kids.  There have been times when I've been a less-than-perfect mom (I know, shocking!) and have had apologize to Braden. My hope is that he learns it's okay to make mistakes, it's nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about and more importantly, it's easy to ask for forgiveness. 


Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Today's post is dedicated not to Motherhood, rather to Fatherhood!

I want to start off by wishing all the amazing Dads out there a wonderful and Happy Father's Day!  More often than not, Dad's aren't given the credit they deserve.  Today is for you!

I also want to say that I miss my own Dad, more than ever today!  I wish nothing more than to have had him have the opportunity to be a Nonno to my son!  Although they never met in this lifetime, I am convinced they met in another place and that my son was hand picked for me from my Dad.  I see, in my son, many of my Dad's traits and I know he would be proud.  Papi, we miss you every day!

To my husband, Brooke, you were born to be a Dad.  You give Braden unconditional love, support, respect, adventure and laughter.  You are a wonderful role model. Because of you, Braden has a love of reading, a gift of humor, a quality of gentleness, a sense of wonder, an appetite for knowledge, a desire for exploration, a side of playfulness, and so much more.

Your desire to be the best Dad you can be is admirable.  You give so much and want so little.

You give him space to grow and teach him about life's lessons.

You encourage him when he is frustrated and help him try again.

You expect him to be respectful and show him how to compromise.

You help him make good choices and teach him about consequences.
You tell him you are proud of him and show him that you can be trusted.

When Braden looks at you, his eyes beam with love.  He admires, respects, and loves you.

These are the joys you get from being a father.  These are the gifts you give for being a dad.

With everything you do, you are teaching Braden to be good man, husband, father and friend.

I am blessed to share in this journey of parenthood with you.  Just as Braden, I learn from you, I admire you, I respect you and love you. 

Happy Father's Day!

We love you!


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Boys Will Be Boys...

My boy is a boy.    If I've ever questioned nature vs. nurture, I have learned, having a son, that nature takes over.

We've raised our son fairly neutral.  Aside from the obvious boy clothes, his room and toys are a happy blend of both.  Most of his little playmates are girls and he's often the only boy in the bunch.

My husband, Brooke isn't exactly your man's man either.  He's very gentle, kind, and sensitive.  He prefers watching plays over sports and will often kid around with me about the "sweaters" the football players wear during the games.

We're hoping to raise a kind, sensitive, caring young boy who will some day be a wonderful man, partner and father.

Something inside my little boy turned very testosterone in the last few months.  All of a sudden he gravitated towards "boy" toys; started making vroom-vroom noises when playing with cars, and is now obsessed with motorcycles, garbage trucks, cars, trains, and buses.  He prefers balls over his animals and knocking things down over building them.

So when I heard about The Annual Touch-A-Truck event in Thousand Oaks, CA, I knew we had to go.

In one word, this event was awesome!  It was my son's dream day! 

He not only saw a dump truck, sheriff van, garbage truck, tractor, excavator, school bus, fire engine, ambulance, sewer truck, bulldozer, cement mixer, and helicopter, but he also got to check them out first-hand. They let the kids sit inside them, ride on them, honk the horns, kick the tires, work the controls, and blare the sirens.   

I don't know which was his favorite, but I think his highlight, if not mine, was watching the helicopter take off right in front of our eyes, with its propellers just over our heads. 

This is an event worth visiting year after year.  I was impressed by the size and organization of it all.

Check it out next year.  It's always held the Saturday before Father's Day!


Friday, June 18, 2010

He's 20 months going on 20 years!

Yes, that's my 20 month old son "goosing" his friend, Liana.   And from her expression, I'm not sure if she's looking back to make sure no one's watching, or as if to say, "Do you see what your son is doing to me?"

If you must know the truth, however, the moments leading up to the pinching of the bottom were actually prompted by Liana.


Here they were.  Braden minding is own business.  Not noticing Liana.  More interested in his own shadow (typical male).  She, clearly is watching me  :-)

Hmmmm....  Liana notices Braden.

"I'm just going to slowly move over a bit," she thinks.

"There we go.  Nice and close.  Maybe I can even casually touch his hand ever so slightly..."

"Woop?!"  Next thing you know, Braden's pinching her bottom.  How does it start so young?  

The other part of this story, the side I didn't catch on film, which I was told afterwards, was that Braden's expression was truly priceless.  Apparently, he had the biggest grin from ear to ear; clearly his intentions were direct and he knew what he was doing.  He had, however, better sense than to check whether or not mom was watching. 

It's the old toddler method: if I pretend I don't see you, you don't really see me, right?!

The good news in all this, is that Liana's parents, Seth and Mitra, are good friends of ours so a little goosing isn't going to upset them.  Especially since they've been known to goose one another as well. 

Maybe that's what Liana was hoping for?  A little goosing like she sees...  I'm just saying?! 

Yeap, that's them!  Liana's parents.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Would you ever go camping with 21 babies and toddlers?!

As you might have noticed, I haven't had the chance to blog in a few days. It's not for a lack of desire, it's because this weekend my son and I went camping with 21 babies and toddlers. Is that crazy?!

My husband and I are avid campers. We try to camp at least 3-4 times a year. By now, we have it down to a science. We camped with Braden for the first time when he was only 6 months old, and he's since gone at least a half a dozen times.

Braden is an outdoor boy down to his soul. He wakes up every morning and immediately wants to go outside, so camping is his Disneyland! All he needs is sticks and dirt.  He's a simple boy.

This year, we planned a trip with 18 other families with babies and toddlers ranging in ages from 7 months to 2.5 years. One might have expected it to be madness, but I have to say, it was complete organized chaos. The kids had a ball. (Braden's photo says it all) The longest play-date they've ever had. What could be more fun than running around in dirt and mud, splashing in water and climbing tree stumps all day long with your best-est-best friends. Then you top it off with smores around the campfire, and finally you crawl to bed from exhaustion to only get up and do it again!

Exhaustion is putting it mildly. It's taken me three days back to not only recoup from the weekend, but also get the dirt off my feet and the dust out of my hair.  But it was worth every minute. I think, I can speak for everyone and say it was one of the best family weekends we've had.

If you've never been to Lake Casitas Recreation Area in Ventura, CA, it's a can't miss. A definite Bucket List for kids. With it's Water Adventure playground, you can spend the day splashing around in a multi-level jungle gym with waterfalls, bridges and slides. Or float along the Lazy River in an inner-tube, which has been known to lull babies to sleep (no joke).

For me, as a mom of an only child, weekends like these give Braden the opportunity to make friendships that will be, in many ways, like family to him. Many of these friends, Braden has known since the day he came home from the hospital. For both Brooke and I, during this first year, a year that has given us many opportunities to grow, learn, and prove ourselves, these friendships have helped us make it this far. These friends, are our family!

So having the chance to sit back and watch Braden play, discover, explore, share, negotiate, struggle, apologize, and laugh with his friends, is an experience for which I am grateful.

Ask me then, "would you ever go camping with 21 babies and toddlers?" My answer would be YES! YES! YES! I would. I did.  And I would do it again!

Both for me and for Braden!

These are the memories of his childhood. These are the experiences that will shape him. These are the moments I treasure.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Food fight

Okay, so sometimes I wonder whose the toddler in the family?

Today, it was me! I can admit it. Not something I'm proud of. Not one of my finer moments. Certainly not an example I want my son to emulate, but it was one of those days.

I felt tired and depleted.

All I wanted was to be understood. Not by my toddler, rather my husband. Don't I do enough, give enough? When do I get to be a priority or when do I matter?

I take responsibility for not making myself a priority at times. It's something I need to work on.

I've read enough self-help books to know this. I'm a giver. I give until I have nothing left for myself.

So today was one of those days. These feelings led to an ugly argument which ended with my frustration level reaching immature status, thus the 19 month old inside of me lashed out and threw a bowl of plums at my husband. I didn't throw the actual bowl. I had enough sense to hang onto it. But the plums I had just cut up for my son, went flying into the air and landed mostly on the floor, but a few managed to splatter on my husband's clean shirt. A shirt, I think, he had just put on to head out to work.

To my son's shock, he shouts, "Noooooo throw plums."

Even he has better sense than me!

Tomorrow is another day!

Have I mentioned that I'm not perfect?


Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Do-it-Yourself gone wrong!

Was it really worth the $10 I saved on a haircut? Not sure!

My mom used to cut our hair when we were kids; but now that I think about it, my brothers and I all had the same cut. I don't know if it was worse for me or them? I did get mistaken for a boy quite a bit, so perhaps it wasn't a flattering cut. But how hard could it be?

I got inspired to buy baby clippers for Braden when I saw a friend, Rose's son's hair. He looked so sweet. Perfectly cut. Not too short and not too long. Rose said it was easy. She told me she followed the directions on the DVD and it was as easy as that.

"Okay, I can do that", I thought. Besides, think of all the money we'd save on haircuts. I don't even cut my own hair more than 4 times a year because I hate to spend the money. It's either that or I want to be sure it's long enough so I don't get mistaken for a boy anymore?! :)

In any case, I jumped on Amazon that night and ordered the clippers. In two days they were at my door step.

It was time for a haircut.

Because I lack the patience and time to watch the DVD, I skipped straight to the cutting.

What was I thinking? It was late in the afternoon and Braden hadn't eaten. It wasn't the right time. But when I get something in my head... there is no stopping me. So we started.

OH NO~ What was I thinking?

Okay, just a little more here to even it out.

Ooops... a tiny bit more on top so it doesn't look like a bad mohawk.

Hmmm... now that looks funny, let me just trim the sides a bit.

AAAAHHHH.... nope, not quite right- a little more here... a tad over there....


I just clipped the whole thing at it's shortest length.

UGH! Now he looks like a military school boy!

Oh my goodness... he looks like a boy! A four year old boy! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it!

Where has my little toddler gone?

Who would have thought a haircut could change someones look so significantly?

What have a done?


Keep in mind this experience was not a pleasant one for Braden. He hated every minute of it. The itchiness, the sitting still! All of it.

The good news is, that it grows back!

I better watch the DVD next time.

Not sure this Do-it-Yourself was worth the $10!


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Kids say the darnest things!

A few months ago my son started calling me "Arianna". It was clear as day. Not an easy name for most to pronounce, certainly not for one of 16 months, but nevertheless, he walked around for several days calling me by name.

I have to be honest and say that it didn't sit well with me. I wasn't a fan and didn't think it was cute at all! I think he knew it pushed a button. Why was it a trigger for me, I'm not sure? It's not like I don't like my name. I actually do! I think it was just a bit unsettling. I didn't wait 37 years to be a mom, to then be called by my given name. I never called my parents by their first names, so I never thought my 16 month old would call me by mine. Perhaps it was a flash-forward 16 years?

A few days later, he decided he would call his dad, Brooke. I thought for a minute he was walking around the house asking for a "book." But, two things about Braden; for one, his pronunciation is perfectly clear and secondly, if not, he doesn't relent until you understand him. So when I asked, "Are you looking for a book?" he replied, "No. Brooke" with his hands up in the air as if the say, "Where is he?" I then repeated, "Book?" and he repeated, "No. Brooke." I then asked, "Are you looking for Daddy?" To which he replied, "Ah-ha. Brooke."

I guess that made me feel a little better. :)

Fast forward to last week and suddenly I hear my now 19 month old say, "More animal crackers, Honey." And when he's really desperate, I hear him say "honey" with such a plea. I guess honey sounds better than calling me by name, but where does he get this?

And then I hear myself speak and it's clear where he gets it from. At least he's catching on to terms of endearment and not my, let's call it "assertive" demeanor while driving or speaking to Time Warner Customer service.

I guess it could be worse?!

What are some of the funniest or cutest things your child(ren) have said to you?


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Okay- I'm getting the hang of this.

Day two and everything I did today I thought could be something to blog about. Is this going to be my "new" life? :-)

It was one of those mornings. From the minute I woke up, it felt like I was a minute too late. Have you ever had one of those days? But then the day ends and it ends at exactly the right time and I don't even remember how it started. Okay, maybe I do :-)

So what to share?

I had an idea when I was pregnant with Braden. Since I don't really journal, but wanted to share what I was feeling and going through during pregnancy, I thought the next best thing would be to email.

I set Braden up with an email account before he was born and emailed him every now and again while I was pregnant. I wish I done it more often. But I guess it's like my blog- it takes a while to get me started.

So now, when Braden is at an age that he'll understand, he can log onto his email and read the emails I sent him. Emails about how incredibly excited his dad and I were, the things we did while we were pregnant, the feelings we had, even stories about his family. A family he would soon meet and grow to love.

We still use that email account. Braden will write emails and send photos to his family and friends. He something receives emails and we save them all.

It'll be a gift that I hope he treasures some day. I guess in the age of email, Facebook, Twitter, and the likes; it's the replacement.

So why don't you email him? Tell him a story. Share an idea. Let him know how you are feeling.

He'll read it someday. I promise you!


Monday, June 7, 2010

For the Love of Motherhood- first blog

I've been meaning to start a blog about motherhood. What it's like to be a mom. Why has it taken me over 19 months to start writing? I had every intention of blogging about every new milestone our son, Braden had reached. Clearly I missed a few! Like the first time Braden smiled, laughed out load, rolled over, traveled on a plane, cut a tooth, got his first ear infection, first diaper rash, sat up, ate solids for the first time, drank from a straw, swam, crawled, cruised, took his first step, called me mama, signed a word, finger-painted, got his first haircut, scraped his knee, tossed a ball, and so much more?

So what have I been doing these last 19 months? Why has it taken me 592 days to publish my first blog? Good question! Motherhood. I never could have imagined it to be this good.

The funny thing is, Brooke and I laugh at most of the milestones and say, "Oh this one is definitely for the baby book!" Too bad we don't have a baby book. Will Braden hate us one day because we didn't log all these important milestones in a baby book? I'm sure he'll hate us for many other reasons, but I doubt not keeping a baby book will be one of them. At least he'll know we can't drag out the baby book to embarrass him when he brings home his significant other.

Ironically, I can, for the most part anyway, tell you when all those things happened. Or roughly. Is this because I'm a mom?

For example, I know I noticed Braden cut his first two bottom teeth after we got home from a trip back east. Which also happened to be his first plane trip and sadly, the first of many ear infections. This was in March of 2009.

Braden's first real belly laugh was for his Grandpa while visiting The Getty Villa. We were lucky enough to catch it on film, which makes me laugh each time I look at the photo.

I can also tell you that he ate his first solids on Mother's Day weekend in Palm Springs. That his love of food and phenomenal appetite started that very weekend.

His first sign was "airplane" and he started signing at 11 months.

Braden also took his first solo steps just before his 1st birthday. Not with me. Not even for Brooke. Rather, he stepped out to his Nonna. Four steps to be exact.

His first official hair cut was April 1, 2010. We did save the locks of curls that got cut off. We waited so long to cut those curls.

Braden first swam in a pool in Orlando, Florida and drank from a straw at 6 months.

He spoke Mama at 9 months and crawled at 10 months. He started cruising early at 7 months.

These are the memories that aren't logged in a scrapbook, but will forever be logged in my mind.

Motherhood. Motherhood suits me. I'm good at it. It makes me happy. I'm a far better mother than I am a wife, a daughter, a sister or friend.

I am blessed. I have always been blessed. Each day, I take the time to be grateful for the day I spent with my son. Each night as I put him to bed, we recap our highlights for the day. Mine are simple. "I am grateful for your presence in my life. Thank you for choosing me! I am so very proud of you and proud to be your mom. My highlight of today was..." Generally, it's simply spending time with Braden. Reading a book, cooking a meal, taking a walk or playing at the playground. These first 592 days have been about a lot of growth and change. Not only for Braden, but for both Brooke and I. We not only teach Braden, but we learn from him.

What do I give Braden as a mother? Patience, consistency and unconditional love. Perhaps he'd say more??? If I can, each day, give him at least those three things, then I have done my job well! Some days are better than others, of course. I dare not sit here and say that I am perfect, because I know I'm not.

What do I hope to do with my blog? I'm not sure anymore. I had intended to simply document, but we all know that documentation is not my thing. Rather, I want to live in the moment and be present. I want to watch my son grow, to teach him, and learn from him. To soak in every moment I have with him, because just as these last 592 days have passed too quickly, I know that the next 592 we pass just as quickly.

I didn't get here alone, that's for sure. If it weren't for the amazing support of my husband, Brooke, our friends and family, both near and far, I wouldn't be the best mom I could be. I am grateful for my best friend, Gina, my mom's group and my own mom! You are all my inspirations. Thank you for the endless phone calls, the constant support, the example you give and friendships I have with you!

I want to share my experience of motherhood with other moms. It's good. It's all good. Each and every day is a good day. Even in the midst of chaos, sleepless nights, dirty dishes, unmade beds, and tasks that never seem to get done. It's a blessing!

Perhaps this blog will not only provide some knowledge of motherhood from one mom's perspective, but also provide other moms with information they may find useful, if not at least inspiring and fun. Whether you learn about which parenting books I enjoyed reading, or what are the best activities to do, or where's the best park in the area, or what's the best swaddle, noise machine, diaper cream or sippy cup. Perhaps I can share, I sure do hope to learn...

So, let's see where we go from here!