Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year

I was away from blogging for a while but I wanted to post a new year's message.

I hope everyone a healthy, happy, peaceful new year with their families and loved ones.

The Mom Song from Northland Video on Vimeo.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Preschool scene

Recently there has been crying and fussing when I'm dropping Burak off at his preschool in the mornings. It's been almost 3 months since he started and I wasn't expecting this. I thought we could be on a routine by now; get in, get out. No scene, no issues. But my day is always full of surprises.

It's not Burak who's fussing, it's Ela. I take her with me when we go to Burak's school because I have noone else to leave her. I hate the fact that I have to bundle her up and take her out to that freezing weather every single morning, but I have to.

Now, as she's getting closer to her first birthday, she wants to stay with her brother and play with the other kids. First she jumps on to his teacher's arms, as if I had abducted her. She grabs her shirt or cardigan, whatever she has. She giggles and smiles, acting cute so that the teacher cannot let her go. When I get her back and she lets a cry out. Oh my god! She wants to get down. As we leave out of the door, she's crying.

I worry about your 3 year-old getting used to being away from you at school and how he's adapting. On the other hand, my free-spirited daughter wanting to get away from me, already.

Is this a red flag for the future? Is this what my mom had warned me about?

"If you have a daughter like yourself, you'll see"

Oh my...

Thursday, November 20, 2008


When I go out everyday to leave Burak to preschool, I pass by a gas station. Today regular was $2.29. I think 3-4 miles up North it might be around $2.09. It's always very low north of the city. I remember, the days we used to pay $4.50 weren't that far past.

It's nice to see the drop in gas prices, but I also see the big "going out of business" sale signs. It's not the mom and pop store at the corner. They're already gone. These are the big guys. Linen's n Things and Circuit City.

When housing market got tighter and mortgage bubble burst I was thinking maybe it'd pass before we're affected. Then stock market turned upside down, I started to think of worrying things more than once a day. Now with all the closings, and huge lay downs by big corporations I'm biting my nails.

Most stay-at-home moms might aggree with me on this, because we have only one person on the line, remaining in the volatile job market and that's the only income we have right now. I have my Avon business and some other side start-ups going on but it's not going to pay our mortgage and living expenses alone for sure. In addition, working even part-time with two kids is not as easy as it sounds. At least, I feel guilty when I have to do work related stuff instead of playing with them or taking them to the library etc during the day. So, the less time devoted, the less income earned.

I left my job voluntarily and for a short period - theoretically. I loved my job and the company I worked for, and hopefully they appreciated me as a member of their team as they told me when I was leaving. The decision then was not that hard. I wanted to stay with my kids at home, instead of looking for a new nanny (love) after Ana. (When we moved, she couldn't come with us. She is the gratest nanny on Earth) If I would be making the same decision today, it wouldn't be that easy.

I just hope we can hold on tight until Ela is at least 2 years-old. I hope I am making the right choice of investment.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wordless Wednesday




November 2


Monday, November 17, 2008

Handmade pouch sling

I did not know it was International Babywearing Week this week until I finished my first home-made pouch sling. I made this sling using the directions at Sleepingbaby website at home.

I had used Evenflo Snugli Classic Soft Carrier, The Ultimate Baby Wrap and Evenflo Snugli By My Side Soft Carrier. All of them were usable but my biggest problem was putting the sling on and putting Ela in it. I still use Snugli By My Side out and about. I was trying to use The Ultimate Baby Wrap at home whenever Ela couldn't entertain herself anymore and I had to prepare meals for them. It takes so long to put it on.

Not a lot of people use slings in Chicago. Maybe it is because most of the year it's so cold that the baby is either in the car seat or in the stroller anyway. Recently I saw a mom carrying an infant with Kangaroo Corner Adjustable Fleece Pouch. I really liked it but the price threw me off. I can sew so I decided it's high time to blow off the dusts on my sewing machine.

Even tough the directions warn you not to try your first pouch using polar fleece it's not that scary. I actually chose this fabric just because I loved the pattern. I have two more fabrics, one of which is a light upholstery fabric. I will post the pictures once I finish that one.

This pouch sling, is very very easy to use. Quick to put it on, put the baby in and take her out. It does not hurt my back, distributes the weight. Ela is about 24 lbs and I can easily carry her around the house with this. The baby sits firmly and is not flimsy as I though at first. Only thing I can recommend with fleece is to make sure you cut the fabric in the non-stretching direction and make the pouch seam a little bit curved at the ends than shown in the directions.

Directions for sewing a pouch sling by sleepingbaby.com

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Home-made, Mom-made Halloween Costumes

It is way past Halloween, but I wanted to share the costumes of our little ones. I made Burak's Spongebob Squarepants costume. I used one of Ela's diaper boxes. I cut the head and arm holes and took the bottom part out. Then I wrapped around with yellow poster paper. Then I used my sons Spongebob t-shirt to trace its face on a white paper and applied it back to the box. I cut out and glued its pants and tie from colored craft papers. The costume was ready.

Unfortunately, my son wore the costume twice and did not want to go trick or treating with the costume on. So my husband carried it along. Burak wore his Spongebob t-shirt instead. He did not want to wear his pirate costume last year as well. Since I had asked him what he wanted and did not want to wear it despite his choice, I will be hesitant to "purchase" a costume, that he might not wear next year. I can do another one myself. Actually, I saw a picture on one blog of a kid with garbage truck made out of cardboard. I loved it. I will ask Burak next year and if he agrees I will build a garbage truck out of cardboard.

Ela's costume was made by my grandmother -with my humble helps tracing the pattern and cutting the fabric - 3 years ago for Burak. We used a Kwik-sew pattern. It is so cute, I couldn't think of any other costume for Ela. Burak was 3 months-old when he wore this. Ela was 10. It was a perfect fit and she kept the hat on as well.

The weather was gorgeous that day in Chicago. We sat down in front of our door to give candy to the kids (and eat the candy) while Burak and dad went around trick and treating.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Yippie Yay Thursday

I have no idea how I did it. I just poked around on the circuit board. Now the ride-on's buttons and the bubble maker is working. This is the only toy they enjoy together, right now. It's so nice (heartwarming) to see them playing together.

Ela and I started the classes at Merry Music Makers yesterday. It's a part of Music Together program. I love these classes. I like them better than Gymboree's gym classes. Not that anything is wrong with those but I like the interactivity of the music, the rhythm and, finger and body play better.

Ela is so different from Burak. She started to shake and wiggle right from the start. It had taken Burak I-don't-know-how-many classes to get warmed up the the class. I knew he liked the music, because he was doing everything back at home. But he would just sit and watch others for 35 minutes, then in the last 10 minutes he would start to join in. Then the class would end.

Preschool is helping him to be a part of a group I think. In the mornings, when I leave him to his class, he immediately finds his friends and forget about me (or even his father, when he leaves Burak). He has his own little - or maybe bigger than mine, who knows - world. It's amazing.

In the meantime, he's having hard time letting us go during bedtime in the last few days. I am guessing - from few hints he's given us - he is scared of something in the room or the wardrobe. He didn't tell us exactly why. I hope we can figure out soon.

Final good news is, I started reading again. (see Craving) Of course, the books are about child development. I will post some of my reviews here soon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

This Winnie Pooh Ride-on has been broken for sometime. The buttons don't work. The sound is off. I though I could fix it. So I opened it up, which was easy. Now I'm thinking.... what was I thinking?

Red cable or the blue cable?

What do you think?

I think it already blew up.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - October 20

I am not sure if I'll be able to blog tomorrow. I will be recovering from a weekend-long yard sale that I hosted alone, by myself, only with all the junk in our house. In addition, I will be working towards my promotion to be a "soccer mom", instead of a plain stay-at-home-mom (rookie sahm, right?), by starting the Music Together classes in the neighborhood with Ela and squeezing a 45 min. soccer class in the park (Chicago Park District) for Burak.

Here is my menu for the week. I found an orphan red cabbage - which I did not buy - in the fridge and I found crazy cheap arthichokes in the grocery last week. So I incorporated them into my menu.

Monday: Tomato soup with Semolina, Stuffed Arthichokes

Tuesday: Red Cabbage meal with chestnuts, ">Green beans in olive oil (green beans from the garden)

Wednesday: Mixed Vegetable Soup - Mini burritos w/ chicken and ground beef

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Noodle soup with green lentils - Meatballs with vegetables (repeat menu from last week. we went out last Thursday and ate leftovers on Friday)

Saturday: Salmon - Noodles - Salad

Sunday: Peas with ground beef - Rice

You can find other menu planners' menus on "Organizing Junkie" for the week of October 13.

First Yard Sale Ever

I hosted my very first Yard Sale. It was fun and it was a great success for me. It was tiring as well, since I did everything from arranging the items for sale, pricing, setting up shop and carrying them in and out. My husband took care of the kids while I attended the customers. Got rid of most of the junk, which was mostly my maternity clothes, clothes that I cannot fit in anymore, baby clothers and baby gear. I also had many unused gifts (with my apologies to friends who had given those). I still have a lot of stuff left though. I am not sure if people brought stuff as much as they had taken away. I met all the neighbors on our street, which we have not met in the last year - since we moved here. I was able to deplete my Avon stock as well as take new orders and meet potential customers.
Below are few tips and tricks for rookie yard sellers like me.

1. Don't forget to put your flyers in the stores around the neighborhood. They really work. Do this 4-5 days in advance.

2. Don't forget to put posters at the corners of the closest main streets. But... do this in the morning of the sale(especially for spring and fall) for you might not know when it's going to rain. All of my 4 greatly designed and executed yard sale posters were wasted by the rain which had supposedly moved away from the area. :(

3. Be ready for early birds. Be nice to them. Be aware of the types, who ask you "how much is this box? everything in it?No, no just give me a price. Tell me now, don't go through." as you're trying to setup and figure out what might be in that box. Say $10 or $15 more than the first number comes to your mind.

4. Be ready for antique hunters, and disappointed faces, when they see only baby stuff and irrelevant gift items. Be nice to them.

5. Yard Sales are for bargainers. Even though you mark your items with ridiculosly cheap prices, the pleasure of the yard buyer comes from the bargain. Thus, mark your prices a little bit higher and offer them discounts. Make them happy. Make yourself happy.

6. You might want to ask your neighbors to join. I actually had three "why didn't you tell us? we have lots of junk to sell." comments. I don't know if it would kill your own business, but sitting outside on a nice fall day with neighbors makes it easier to pass the time.

7. Leave sifters alone. Some ladies who sifted through ALL my clothes, folded them back and left them even in a nicer display than they've found.

8. Be ready for pastors in the neighborhood for a nice chat :) Especially if you're new in the neighborhood.

9. Have someone around for help- if nothing else, just for a restroom break. All in all, I was able to handle multiple buyers by myself.

10. Sundays might be lighter than Saturdays in the Fall. If you're going for a one day sale, pick Saturday. People go to church and watch Sunday football - I guess.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Laundry day - Yep! I need wash, dry and fold all of those.

"That's me" Tuesday

Ay, ay ay...

I am getting my daily life back on track. I was reading "Not me Monday" posts yesterday. Vow! If you believe in the "Secret" mentality, there is two options.

a. Two negatives makes a positive i.e. rewriting your negative experiences with negative (not) turns things positive.
b. "Secret" does not work, because after reading all that gloomy stuff, I couldn't have the day I had today.

The weather was gorgeous. My son went to the door, when I told him the holiday was over and we were going to go to school. Since Menu Plan Monday saved the day and my life, the food was ready. I delivered my Avon sales, made another sale at the playground. Got another order call from one of my friends. Got lots of nice pictures.

And to top it off, we just met the nicest garbage men.

Our paths crossed with the garbage truck as I was parking our car in the garage. My son stood there mesmerized as he is a fanatic garbage truck lover. The first thing he goes and finds in any store, in the toy department is the garbage truck, then big wheels. Then the garbage man came by and asked if he wanted to operate the truck as he was emptying our garbage bins.

Burak, being very prudent, did not seem to be very willing at first. Then I carried him and helped him. Lucky for him I don't get disgusted by it. He pulled and pushed the handle and all the world was his at that second.

Man, did he tell that he operated the garbage truck 100 times today - after I disinfected dhis hands and clothes? He told the story to everyone he spoke over the phone. It made my day as well. Because he was late for his nap and he mellowed down like a Persian cat instead of going hyper.

I am getting ready for a big big big yard sale this weekend. I am not going to act as if I don't know "how we accumulated this junk". I am praying we can get rid of them and raise some funds for the basement drain tiles. I am putting my maternity clothes, some small baby clothes and baby gear/gadgets on sale. This officially seals to closed shop doors. Good luck to me as I am the only one running this yard sale show.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - October 13


I can post my first weekly menu plan on my blog. Although I have been doing the planning for the last few weeks I couldn't find time to blog.

Our menu is mostly Mediterranean dishes. I like to have a soup as starters in fall and winter, then dessert on some days. I still cook separate little dishes for Ela, but Burak is eating what we are having. That's why I pay special attention that I cook lots of vegetables, legumes and balanced meat.

Monday: Red Lentil Soup, Stuffed Zucchini

Tuesday: Vegetable Stew, Bulghur Pilaf, Semolina Dessert

Wednesday: Sunchoke Soup - Vegetable Chicken au Gratin

Thursday: Leftovers - Pudding

Friday: Noodle soup with green lentils - Meatballs with vegetables

Saturday: Broiled Rainbow Trout - Pasta - Salad

Sunday: Eggplant with ground beef - Rice

You can find other menu planners' menus on "Organizing Junkie" for the week of October 13.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I am terribly craving to read a book. I have so many waiting for me on the shelves of my library. Childcare and child psychology ones, books about plays, novels, books in foreign languages - which if I don't practice soon enough, I'll forget. And I am about to order another batch from Amazon.com, after a long long time. I was able to get by, by borrowing from the library but nevertheless, I am addicted to books. And I am going back to Amazon.com. Above is my dream room.

I decided to join Menu Planning Mondays. If there is any I would like to attend play/games planning Tuesdays as well. I really lost my spontaneity. In addition, both Burak and Ela go crazy when the meals are late - even for 5 minutes. I can handle one hunger-crazed kid but two, no.

We had a really nice weekend. Saturday we went to Foster Beach and Burak and Ela got the last bits of sunshine and the lake. Hopefully, not really last but gotta enjoy every bit until this place turns into arctic.

On Sunday, Burak and DH went to Legoland Discovery Center. Then yesterday, DH realized Burak got some rash. Today the preschool teacher pointed me the blisterlike rashes on his hands. Luckily!!!, they had another kid having the same type of rash last year so she knew it was Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease. I first panicked, then pediatric nurse calmed me down, it's usual in little ones who started school recently.

So two tips here:

* Google "Legoland Discovery Center Coupons" before visiting the place or visit a local library for coupons.

* Don't Panic. Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease is different from Foot-Mouth Disease which only occurs in animals. This is like 6th disease. Viral, nothing to do, just wait it out.

We'll be at home tomorrow, trying hard not to get Burak and Ela touch each other.

Source (of the image above and many other envies): http://winewriter.wordpress.com/2007/10/11/some-exquisite-home-libraries-in-pictures/

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Goals and dollars

I am going crazy with this "not being an efficient full-time mom" due to never ending chores around the house. My husband helps me a lot and even with that I seem to be losing it. I am not a clean freak either.

Anyway, I decided I really need outside help -such as a cleaning lady- at least for 2 hours everyday, to help me clean up the kitchen, the tidy and clean the rest of the house, maybe put the clean laundry away etc.

Since I started Avon, I have been having hard time putting up specific goals for each campaign. Eh, since I am not working as a consultant anymore, I decided that should pay for any additional expense so that I can spend more time with my children.

I made a calculation:

2 hours of help every day * 5 days a week * 2 weeks (each campaign)= 20 hours

20 * $17 = $340 for a cleaning lady in a campaign period.

I assume $17/hr is an average rate for cleaning ladies with agents in Chicago. I have been out of that market quite a while. If I need less, it's even better.

Anyway, with Avon, in order to make $340, I have to sell $875 worth of products (40% profit level). With some products at 20% level, let's make it around $1,000. With average customer sales of $20, I need 50 customers buying from me each campaign. I have about 15 existing customers until now and they order maybe every other campaign or so. So I have to make at least 70 new customers. To do that, I need to talk to and convince 5 new customers every single day.

I need to get out more to the parks and have many playdates before Chicago weather makes everyone hide in their caves. That is a good excuse to spend more time with kids as well.

Also, if you are in need to good quality skincare, jewelry and make-up etc with great prices just visit my Avon store. I use most of the products. (That's why I'm into Avon) If I don't, then most likely my customers are.

As they say "you are halfway there if you have a goal". I hope this goal setting workshop helps me. :D

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Up and down

These last 2-3 weeks have been full of ups and downs like a roller coaster. I console myself continuously saying, "this is nothing", "these will go away" and "we can take care of this". I am also grateful that we are in good health (at least nothing untreatable, god forbid). It is kind of a test, I guess. Here is a list of my ups and downs for the last weeks.

Burak started preschool. He was really upset that I "abandoned" him there. He verbalized that he was "sad" for the first time, ever.

By Friday, he was ok, and he was not crying at all.

Both Burak and Ela got some kind of virus from pediatricians office that gave them runny nose. Especially Ela has been having hard time nursing and eating.

Ela started to get up and stand up.

I had the itches and rashes I mentioned in the previous post.

Ela started to crawl. Burak is actively socializing at school and learning English.

My cousin came to visit us. We haven't seen each other for a long time.

After non-stop rains this summer in Chicago, and affects of the southern hurricanes, rainwater leaked into our basement. We had to scrap the whole carpet. Our basement, which our kid's playroom is out of order right now.

We heard so many people's basement flooded. I drove to Park Ridge and on one street everyone had couches and carpets on the front lawn. At least, we only had a minor leak and we did not have to pump flood water out.

Finally, weather got so nice that we could spend the day outside and not need the playroom in the basement.

A bee stung my finger as I was enjoying the sunny weather with my cousin, out in the backyard. This was the first bee sting in my life.

Luckily, my cousin is an MD and he did everything necessary, including calming me down while I was running around in circles, screaming "oh my god!! a bee stung me, oh my god!!".

Finally, my dad arrived.

Basement is still out of order and seems like it will be at least for the next 2 months. All basement waterproofing and sealant professionals in the Chicagoland area are backed up a month even to see and give and estimate on the issue. We got one estimate and I think it will hurt.

But again, as long as we are all in good health, we can handle all these problems. My itching has gone. My finger is not as swollen. Burak and Ela's runny noses have stopped.

Also note that most of my ups are about my children. If it weren't for them.... :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I am allergic to my kids

Few years ago, I was working with a director who was really stressed out. He got depressed in even the smallest, easiest projects. I hardly get depressed about work stuff, especially about the projects we do hundred times a year. So we were both working with clients, and I was working as therapist on the top of that to calm him down. He started to get really depressed, that his hair grew grey and he was pulling hair at his sideburns. Eventually, he decided to leave the company.

At the time, even though I did not link these things then, I started have problems swallowing. It started slowly, then at one point I realized I could only take 3-4 bites and swallow down in a meal. I lost weight. My dad, who is a doctor, got really concerned when he heard this. I went to an internist, and she did not find anything wrong physically and neurologically. I was also getting frustrated, not knowing why I was chewing and chewing but not able to push it down with my tongue.

Eventually, when that guy left, and I started to manage my own projects by myself - overseen by a partner of course -the problem went away. It was very interesting to me, because I never felt stressed at the time. But I realized I might have strange physical reactions to unconscious stress.

Few weeks ago, my arms started to itch. There is nothing on my arms but the burning inside was killing me. The itch continued a bit on my back and then went down to my legs. It is coming occasionally during the day, like a burning feeling, and urge to itch. I itch like crazy, then my skin becomes red and bumpy. Then it all goes away. No trace, no mark nothing.

Of course, I started think of any reasons to cause this itch. First I stopped working in the garden, touching any bean or tomato plants' leaves. Then I stopped using any body wash and shower brush. Then I stopped using the lotions and moisturizers. I wasn't eating or drinking anything new, so that couldn't be. The itch was getting worse. The rash was coming and going.

Finally, I thought of the past event, oh my god. I am unconsciously stressed to be at home with my kids. I got even more depressed - if I were unconsciously depressed in anyway. It is true I am still struggling to be more of a mom than housemaid and Burak is testing my limits due to new grown jealousy, but stress? An allergic reaction? I am allergic to my kids? I was devastated for few days.

Then I realized, I should have asked my dad. I told him I might be having allergic reactions due to stress. He was baffled. Then he told me, "What stress? Stop using your thyroid medicine."


I haven't even thought of that as a possible reason because I have been using that medicine for a while. We looked it up online and it says very rarely it can cause itching and rash. I was so relieved and happy to be physically sick.

I did not take the medicine today and I don't have any itching. I visited a doctor today and he couldn't care less. He told me to take Claritine and to continue with the thyroid medicine, without considering to check my hormone levels. I got upset that he wasted my day on Saturday, as much as he was for the same reason.

I came home, to find Ela crawling. She just started. She was so happy to see me.

So am I, honey, so am I.

Monday, September 8, 2008

First Day of School

This is Burak's first day at school. He started his preschool today. I have been getting him ready for a week or so, telling him, he would play with his friends and toys, and singing songs and playing outside. He mostly listened to me quietly but he commented, once in a while, "Mom's coming along, right?". I explained him, "Yes, I will. Then I am going to come back home to cook while you play and have a good time. I will pick you up once I'm done." He didn't seem to be very convinced or enthusiastic.

This morning he went in right ahead and found himself a toy. He was happily playing while I handed his stuff to his teacher. He started to whine so that I stayed there, once I told him I was leaving. He didn't want to come with me. It was obvious he wanted to stay and play, but he wanted me to be there. His teacher controlled the situation by playing only with him until I was gone.

I am so curious, how he's doing. Whether, he's going to jump into my arms or drag his feet coming home.

Ela is taking her morning nap now. So i'm kind of free. Blogging. Making "to do lists". That's my thing. Otherwise I forget stuff.

I really really have to count physical inventory in the fridge and the pantry. I seem to have completely lost control of what's in there, since my mom was the commander in chief of the kitchen for 9 months.

Once I figure out what's in the deep corners of my pantry, I need to plan when and what I should cook. And then cook.

I need to clean the house (Mondays, house cleaning)

I need to fold and put away clean laundry (Waiting from Sunday)

I need to call my Avon customers to get their orders before campaign ends.

I need to read and write blogs, and read books about Montessori, playtime for babies (refresh my memory) and a novel.

And now ....

Ela is awake :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

MBA Moms staying at home with their kids

Here is an article I came around in Businessweek about women who had their MBA's from Harvard and decided to stay at home after they became mothers.

It is true that you consider the investment you've already made when deciding to go ahead with your career, whether working for another boss or being your own boss, which I'd prefer should I decide to go back to working outside of home. At one point you have to consider how and how much you want to invest in your children. And this is not a simple equation. Not all moms, children, families and working and outside childcare opportunities are the same. So answer is really different in each case.

Working moms also provide other means of investing in children like living in safe and better neighborhoods, bigger homes, going to better schools and attending more activities. In terms of emotional needs, not all children are really emotionally glued to their parents. My mom worked all my life and I don't remember crying for her, maybe because we had good really care at home, whether being with our dear nanny or my grandma. She was all hands on after she arrived from work as well. My son was very very happy under the care of her nanny as well. She was able to focus on him all day long, playing with him full-time, much better than what I can offer him right now.

I was lucky to be able to work from home after my son was born. I was also very very very lucky to have the greatest nanny of all times for my son. I could still continue to work from home but the burden of being a half-efficient employee and half-efficient mom became too heavy. Even though I continue to complain about being a half-efficient mom anf half-efficient cleaning lady+cook at home I had to try this for my own sanity.

All in all, I am not a hardcore advocate of being a stay at home mom for everyone. It's a different scenario for every mother and every kid at every stage of our lives. We should consider the investment made in our MBAs, as sunk cost. The future lies in investing in our children.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Lessons learned

I usually buy children's books based on my liking of the illustrations. Usually the subjects and the contents are safe. That includes "Walter the farting dog" even though the name does not leave a good first impression.

Anyway, we have this really nice hardcover story book named I'll always love you by Peone Lewis and Penny Ives. The name is very common in children's books by the way. We love this book as a family. My son loves the main character Alex, after whom he named one of his teddy bears. The story is about a bear boy, who mistakenly breaks his mom's most favorite china bowl, asking various scenarios to figure out how upset his mother bear would get over the broken china bowl.

The story is nice and all, his mom telling Alex she would always love him no matter what mistake he would make. However, somebody had to figure out not every three year old might understand the story like this. Here's what happened in our household.

Section from the story:

Alex "What if I have a pillow fight with Joey Bear and all the feathers burst out? Will you still love me?"
Mom: "I will always love you. Though you must pick up all the feathers." (The picture shows Alex and Joey vacuuming the feathers.

Scene from our house:
I hear weird noises from the monitor and go into Burak's room, where he was supposed to be taking a nap. He is holding the pillow, with no pillowcase. Apparently some struggling went on. I ask him what he wants. Conversation goes:
Burak: Let's open the pillow.
I: But then all cotton and feather would spread around
Burak: Then I will clean up with vacuum cleaner. (which he loves to use)

Another section from the story:
Alex: "What if I spill my new pots of paint on Baby Pog and she turns green, red and blue?"
Will you still love me?"
Mom: "I will always love you. Though you will have to bathe her." (The illustration depicts Alex in the tub with her sister cleaning up.)

Scene from our house:
At the corner of my eye I see Burak wandering with a permanent marker in his had around his sister. I immediately run to the scene and see few lines of red marker on Ela's head. I told him that pen was a permanent marker and would not wash away. His response was that would wash her and it would go away. Reminder to myself: Burak got really tall. Put away all permanent markers to highest shelves.

I really don't want to see my son pouring the cereal over his head or playing with the food in the fridge, which are other scenarios in the story. He likes the book as well. So I think I will make up another story or create another version about the illustrations until he can read by himself.

And to the storytellers, be aware of different interpretations in your childrens's book stories.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Get up, Stand up

One of the few things I miss from my "working mom" days is when I had help, I could sleep in for an extra half an hour in the morning. Either our nanny, Ana, would take over Burak or after Ela was born my mom would take her after her morning feeding so that I could snuck under my still warm comforter. That extra half an hour of sleep is so precious. I sometimes get that during weekends thanks to my husband.

I am one of the moms who has to have enough sleep to keep sane. As a big fan of Baby Whisperer I was able to sleep without interruption at nights since Burak was 3 months old. But with Ela (and Burak by her side) finding time to sleep is a challenge.

Since I have been staying home alone with kids, I would use their naptime to catch on my missing sleep but now that Ela has decided she is interested in standing up and (most likely) walking even before crawling, that hour of peace is now down the drain.

She wants to sit up and hang on to the rails for standing up trials, when I put her into her crib. Then she misses her sleepy window to fall asleep and she cries. I pick her up, rock her and put her back but the same episode plays over and over. She sometimes cannot figure out that she has to lie back again to sleep. So she wanders on her butt, sitting and trying to pull herself up in the crib, then crying. When she's sleeping and she just wakes up a little bit, instead of falling back to sleep, she sits up again and wakes herself up.

Being a second time mom, I should know baby life is short periods of continuous change. I wish it were easier for me to find alternative ways when these changes arrived but they are all different. It's like I am novice again and that makes me feel insufficient thus a bit frustrated.

I was not a big fan of these toys but I think I am going to get what they can an exersaucer or a stationery entertainer. It's funny how different siblings can be. Burak was very strong on his legs. He wanted us to help him jump when he was around 6-7 months. He loved to play jumping game. But he crawled first backwards then forward.

Ela, even though she spends a lot of time on her tummy, prefers sitting up. She can sit herself up from any lying position so she does not stay on tummy for long nowadays. She does not crawl or make any move like she's going to crawl but she can reach everything in the sitting up position somehow. Now this standing up threw me off even more combined with less sleep, that I called the pediatrician today to ask if it would harm her legs, putting unnecessary force on them earlier than usual. She said it was normal.

Instead of getting excited that my daughter is trying to stand up as many would do, here I am lamenting on my lack of sleep.

This afternoon, I finally got extra 2 hrs of sleep thanks to my husband, again, and I was happy to see the shine of excitement on my daughters face when I helped her stand up after dinner. I also did lots of deep breathing (with my breathe right on my nose) to keep calm. I gotta remind myself that when these days are gone, I will miss them.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Good to be a SAHM

3-hr parking in a south loop parking garage for an appointment - $28

Parking in Navy Pier Parking - $16

An impromptu visit to the Chicago Children's Museum and Nayv Pier because we're in the neighborhood- Priceless

(Of course we have CCM membership :) )

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Resume builder

Fresh out of corporate workforce, first thought came to my mind when I realized, I finally potty trained my son, was that it would be a great addition to my resume.

Well, as a consultant we always kept our resumes updated, so that it could be send to potential clients for upcoming projects. Experience, personal skills, continuing education etc. etc.

Now, when I think of potty training my 3 year-old, stubborn son, it was one of the hardest tasks that I have ever accomplished. It was a challenge. I had tried at least 4 times before, one of which took a month without diapers and loads of laundry and disinfectants and he did not give in.

What would you do if you had seen a paragraph like in on a resume:

Full-time-mom July 2008-Present
Chicago, IL
* Potty trained a 3 year-old stubborn boy - all by herself. Saved $$$s of diaper expense. Saved myself and other household cleaning up sh*t.

What is it? It's everything you are looking for in a skilled employee here: Management skills, communication skills, negotiation skills, problem solving skills, creativity...

Here is the narrative of my experience:
Well, it was a big challenge but I am committed to my goals (underlining important action verbs here). I knew I could accomplish this even when my peers (my mom and other moms) advised me to partner up with another expert in the field (the preschool teachers) to address the issue. Even though I am a "team player", this was my own challenge.

I woke up that morning. I printed out a plan (a chart for stickers, made in Excel) and handed it to my son. I told him if he gets 10 stickers (one for each pee), the finance VP (his dad) was going to give him a bonus (a big excavator from Target).

He repeated after me, that "with 10 stickers, he was going to get a big excavator", as he always does with all reward promises. But he did not seem to be ready to go into action by himself. So I decided to give him a friendly push and I(un)dressed him as Adam and let him play. When he started to bend and curl, I took out all my available tools. A yogurt cup, a Dora cup, 2 musical potties and a toilet adapter. I offered them one by one and he refused them all. I had seen him hold his pee and poo for a whole day before, so it started to get discouraging. But I persevered and continued to follow him around with my old yogurt cup. He was looking for a book in the shelves when a drop dripped. He looked down. I told him to let it go. He did.

So the first one did not hurt, right? But it was not voluntary. I rewarded him with one sticker. By the way, stickers are better than popsicles which we had promised him before and had not worked, because then you have to give so many popsicles. Anyway, hours later again bending and curling, when he saw the cup again he was changing his route. Then came out the pee targets. (Not ready ones, did not have time to buy them.) Of course this only works with boys but it is a good idea. Second one, he hit the target, he got the sticker. And believe me every time, he put the sticker on his chart and he repeated, what he was going to get.

Long story, kind of shorter, he got his excavator (he chose the most expensive one, bad idea to let him pick) on the 5th day. It tells you how long he can hold. He still needs to be reminded and convinced a little bit but we had only one accident.

Poo is still an issue, but as my skills as a hands-on-mom improve, I will get it soon.

Well, lessons learned:

*It's great to be at home with the kids.
*Never ever listen to anyone that it is too early to potty train a kid at 2 or earlier.

We have saying that goes like "if milk burns your mouth, you'll blow on the yogurt before eating". That is why my daughter pees and poos in the toilet at 8 months. (thanks to EC, which is another post topic.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

On the way to school

Today we went to see the first school (daycare/preschool) in the neighborhood. This was a small(er) daycare setup. Burak was pretty well behaved during the appointment. Tough he couldn't resist to the totally new - to him - toys in the playroom. He played with the washer and dryer and the big fire truck. As we had to leave he asked to play more but he still returned the toys where he took them from and came with me. Poor thing. What is nice though is he associated the concept of "school" with play and toys.

I made appointments with 5 other places around. Two of them are Montessori schools, one of which is quite expensive. My expectation from a preschool at this point is give Burak an opportunity to socialize, spend some excess energy, have fun, improve his English and hopefully get a grip on potty issue with the help of his teachers and peer encouragement. He doesn't need to learn this and that and become Einstein.

I have my "checklist" for a good daycare/preschool, but I don't have a prejudice. I am not obsessed with Montessori, but I admire the structure. All I know is, it all comes down to the teacher. I know that from Ana. If we can find a good teacher that will understand Burak as an individual and treat him accordingly, then we're good. It doesn't write "good teacher" on a good one's foreheads. So I hope our luck helps us again the same way it helped us when we found Ana.

I'm still struggling to sync the schedules of Ela and Burak. She took a nap in her stroller as we read books with Burak in the library the other day. But then Burak was hungry and I had to wake her up as I put her in the car seat. Maybe we should have walked, but it's hot out there. I think as I figure a way out, Burak will start preschool. I hope we can have quality time altogether before that.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Question of the week

I am still trying to get my act together. Thanks to the guests we had invited over for the weekend barbecue, we had to clean up and organize the house. That's one of the reasons I like having guests over. Otherwise, we don't feel the urge to really put things away. After everyone leaves, the only thing to do is clean up the kitchen. Then we have a tip top, cleaned up house.

Now I need to plan for action. Planning ahead! I didn't feel the need to plan ahead this much when I was working but without a plan, a day with the kids goes waste. The same goes with cooking and shopping for cooking. I believe moms need an assistant for scheduling and planning.

I got two magazines with a calendar, Chicago Parent and Family Time. They also have online calender on their websites but having a hardcopy works better. I also use www.chicagokids.net. Since it's summertime, we can enjoy the playlots, parks and pools at the parks around the neighborhood as well. With Chicago's gas prices, I don't want to spend everyday of the week in the van. (Reminder of why we needed a second income!)

Since kids are both out of their jetlags and into their regular routines, I need to figure a way out to syncronize their schedules to optimize the daily activities. It's really hard to cater to a baby who sleeps twice and a preschooler who sleeps once a day and almost none at the same time. My daughter gets drowsy as my son finishes his breakfast and needs to get out. She cannot really sleep in the car seat or stroller. At least she does not fall asleep easily as she does in her crib. She wakes up when my son starts to get hungry for lunch.

Then my son really needs to take a nap, otherwise he climbs up the walls. Sometimes, coincidentally they take their nap together, then it's "happy hour" for me. When my son wakes up from his nap, he wants to go out and play with my husband. Sometimes my daughter needs a short nap before bedtime which means we can't tag along with them. We sit down at the dinner table together which is nice. Then everyone gets separated for bedtime routine, I with my daughter, my husband with my son. That's why I advocate putting the kids to bed early. Otherwise, I would barely see my husband as I'm closing my eyes as my head touches the pillow.

So the question remains: How do I get everyone play, go out and get their naps and lunches altogether? How do moms manage anything with more than 2 kids?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bonus points

In the first few days, alone with the kids I have accomplished few and I have accomplished a lot. Unfortunately, I had to do more house chores than playing with the kids or taking them out. We just came back from a long overseas vacation. Taking care of 7 loads of laundry, settling back, getting into a routine while feeding the kids and putting them to their nap so that they don't suffer from jetlag kept me busy all day long. So when daddy came home, everyone was free to roam around the neighborhood.

I admit, I was really pampered. I was working from home office but I was employed full-time. So I always had help for my son and my daughter. Mostly, I and my husband share the housework. However, until recently my mom was taking care of cooking and cleaning as well. That was real pampering.

My biggest bonus point for the week was to convince my son, who is 3, to eat his meals by himself. Let me rephrase that. I convinced my son, that unless he eats by himself, he's going to stay hungry because his grandma and great grandma are not around to feed him to his mouth anymore. He was pampered more than I was and that era is gone with the wind.

He still resists potty training, which eats up all my bonus points. I hope preschool will help as everyone suggests. Otherwise, I am not sure how to go around this. Nothing works when it comes to potty. He knows everything. He deliberately wants to pee and poo in the diaper. He notifies us to be changed once he's done. Even worse, he goes to a private corner and tells us to look the other way when he needs to go. Routine, Potty books and DVDs, candy, small rewards, big rewards, changing the lead (instead of me, dad and great grandma etc) , taking the diaper away, nothing worked. Once in a while he tells us, "I peed, dad is going to give me a popsicle" as we always tell him. We ask him if he peed in the toilet. He responds, "nooo, I will not pee in the toilet. Change the diaper."

My daughter's sleep schedule is terribly off. It was not like this with my son. He was like a swiss clock and he has been sleeping through the night since he was three-months old thanks to Baby Whisperer. This vacation threw us off. My daughter woke up every two hours, the first two nights we came back. Sometimes I let her get back to sleep by herself but most of the time I had to breastfeed her. Finally, I gave her supplement formula. That night she woke up only once. She's almost eight months old and she has to sleep through the night already. This waking up at night is not for me, I am not used to it. I am not sure how other moms put up with it until their kids are 1.5-2 years-old. Because I am tired, my milk supply has gone down as well.

My other bonus points: she poos in the toilet (at 7.5 months).

I don't feel its terribly hard to keep up with two kids. I just need more sleep and get the house straight so that I can play with the kids. I need to find some games to make them (a preschooler and a baby) play together at least once or twice a day. Also next week's to do item is to go and see preschools around the neighborhood.

Monday, July 28, 2008

First day on the job

It's officially my first day as a SAHM. After years of studying and working, and working and parenting at the same time, I am finally at home taking care of my kids, 3 year-old DS and 7.5 month-old DD, myself.