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 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?