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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Astrid washing the dishes

On the nights our babysitter Jill comes over, I usually have some sort of fun activity for them to do together, that will interest/excite Astrid, to keep her engaged (and to keep her from crying when U. and I are leaving). Activities include: baking cookies, baking scones, making a pizza, beading a necklace and bracelet, arts & crafts, drawing on large pieces of poster board, colored sidewalk chalk, bubbles, books, etc.

But tonight none of those things interested her. But guess what did?

Washing the dishes. I went downstairs and saw her standing on a chair pushed up to the kitchen sink and she had on my orange dish washing gloves, and she was scrubbing away. Our babysitter Jill was supervising (and we were both cracking up). It was really cute and funny to see Astrid so into it. She didn't even mind when it was time for me to leave. She barely showed interest and just said, "Okay bye mom."

Kids. *shrug*

Astrid's adjustment to school & mommy returning to work

The other night U. said to me, "I feel she really needs you."

So then we got into this whole discussion about Astrid's adjustment to all the changes that have taken place recently - starting preschool, me going back to work full time. It must be difficult for her in many respects.

First off being with me almost 24/7, and now that gets cut back to spending only 10% with mom.

Then there's the fact that I am her official translator. I can understand just about everything she says - either it's clear as a bell to me, or I can figure it out - from spending so much time with her - and now she's on her own at school. I told her teacher Miss Fathima that Astrid has a hard time pronouncing her name and says, "Miss Tima" instead. I wonder what else the teachers don't understand that she's trying to tell them. It must be frustrating. I know when I pick her up she's ecstatic to see me. Not only because it's me, but because I understand her.

When U. and I go out and leave her with her long-time babysitter Jill on our scheduled date nights, she cries and really has a meltdown, not wanting mommy (me) to leave.

U. has been away on business on several occasions since I started working again, and Astrid is pretty oblivious to it; but when I'm not there, her whole world crumbles. It really seems like her world revolves around me.

U. picked Astrid up from school a couple times, and she did not stop crying and asking for Mama. (Even though U. and I had both prepared her and told her again and again that Papa would be picking her up from school.)

When I pick Astrid up from school she will beg and plead to go to a restaurant and does not want to go home. I attribute it to wanting to spend time alone with me, and have me all to herself.

It's tough because 1) U. wants to have that strong connection with her and I know it hurts his feelings when Astrid acts like all that matters to her is mommy, and 2) I need my space and time for myself as well. But U. and I both understand that it's a phase she's going through given the circumstances. It makes our evenings and weekends extra precious now because it's the only time we get to spend as a family with Astrid.

So on those days when I'm exasperated by her crying and clutching onto my leg, not wanting me to leave - I remind myself of those sweet moments when she whispers into my ear, "Mommy...I love you so much."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What a grind!

I finished my first week at my new job, and tomorrow will be midway through my second week. With me going back to work full time and Astrid going to preschool full time, it has completely changed our daily routine. It's been quite a challenge. It feels a bit overwhelming like it did at first with a newborn. Mostly because it's all relatively new and I'm just winging it without it feeling completely manageable yet. It's back to falling asleep on the couch from pure exhaustion at the end of the day. But I know soon it'll become old hat and I'll have it down. It's just a matter of time. I keep telling myself that.

Our evening routine
Currently, when we get back home it's a mad dash to cook, eat dinner together as a family, do the laundry, wash dishes, prepare Astrid lunch for the next day, and then get Astrid ready for bed (bath, brushing teeth, blow drying hair, pajamas, and bedtime reading and lullabies sung to her). U. has been a saint cooking dinner every night he's been home. On those days/nights he's been away on business the first week, Astrid and I dined out at restaurants. (As a result Astrid will tell me, "I no want to eat at home. I want eat restaurant!")

We shop on the weekends for groceries at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's and the farmer's market, so we're pretty well stocked up during the week. I'm always trying to think of new things to put into Astrid's lunch to keep it exciting. On that note: I also purchased a fruit slicer that makes 8 perfectly sliced pieces every time. I first saw the scientist guy on the Food network using it to make apple slices for a pie. Rather than buying those prepacked apple slices that are refrigerated, I decided to get the slicer to slice up fresh fruit for Astrid everyday. It works great with all varieties of apples and pears.

Our morning routine
Recently Astrid has been waking up at 3 AM, and U. will bring her to our bed to sleep with me (and then goes and sleeps on the couch by himself - poor U. Plus he leaves for work at the crack of dawn). I don't know what it is about that time, but she's chatting up a storm and wants to tell me about this and that. At 3 AM I reserve the right to continue sleeping and be grumpy if someones talking loudly in my ear- so I remind her it's "dark outside" and she needs to go to sleep.

Regardless, she's up (wide awake and ready to go) before 6 - so in order for me to get ready for work - we take a bath together. Most days she plays in the bath after I get out just long enough for me to brush my teeth and blow dry my hair.

Then we go downstairs for breakfast. I don't eat breakfast, but Astrid does, so it gives me time to cut up fruit for her, put her frozen gel pack in her lunch and her lunch containers (I prepared the night before), and sometimes enough time to fold laundry. Anything we need to bring with us is placed on the bottom step next to the front door - so in the rush to get out of the house - we don't forget anything. This includes Astrid's lunch bag, her bedding (the preschool has the kids bring home their bed sheet, blanket, and pillow every Friday to be washed, and brought back on Monday), and my purse.

After breakfast we go back upstairs and I get Astrid ready for school. I get her dressed, get a matching jacket ready, brush her teeth, and do her hair.

Then I let Astrid watch a PBS cartoon show while I get ready.

Then we're flying out the door.

On the bright side
My commute is great (by LA standards). About a 20 minute drive in the morning, and 30 minutes in the evening.

I was also fortunate to find a preschool for Astrid within a mile from my office. That has been a blessing, to be able to spend a little bit of time with Astrid at school every morning (and have time to chat with her teachers about her), while getting to the office on time. After work it's great too, because she's so close.

Astrid is also liking her preschool more and more - which makes me happy as well.

And I can't say enough about how nice it (and what a big help it is!) to have a wonderful husband. U. got home from a 3 day business trip and long flight and what's the first thing that he does? - He's does all the laundry, washes the dishes, and cooks dinner for us. Yeah okay he had me at chicken - I walked in after my first day at work and smelled the whole, roasted, organic chicken in the oven that U. had cooked for us. Mmmmm. *mouth watering* I have to tell him sometimes, "I'll do it. You're making me feel like a horrible wife. Don't do everything."

And I'm getting into the swing of things at work.

It'll all come together soon, or I'll just be crashed on the couch 3/4ths of the way through any TV show I try to watch. There are worse things.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


What is up with all the licking? I've heard of kids doing that, but never thought my kid actually would. But now here she is licking everything (my leg, my arm, bathtub, furniture, the carpet). It is so gross and I keep telling her to stop, but it seems like she just can't help herself.

Please someone tell me this is a short phase which she'll grow out of soon.

Proof my kid is funny (a comedian in the making?)

Astrid has always taken great pleasure in making me laugh. And when she makes Papa laugh the whole house is filled with laughter.

After dinner tonight as I was strapping Astrid into her car seat we had this little back and forth

Astrid: "Mama take bath with me?"
Me: "No, I don't think so. Not tonight honey."
(Recently I have been taking a bath with her in the evening and then another one in the morning before work, but I'm trying to limit myself to just one bath in the morning so my skin doesn't get super dry.)
Astrid: "Why?"
Me: "Well, because I'm not dirty. I didn't run and play on the playground like you did."
Astrid: "You not dirty?"
Me: "No, I'm not dirty."
Astrid: "You butt not dirty?"
Me: (Pause) "No, my butt's not dirty." (laughter)
(I had to really think about it. She's right - you only get that shower fresh and clean feeling after a bath. Haha.)
Astrid: "Gotcha!"
(We both started cracking up, and I ended up bathing with her.)

In the bathtub

Astrid was using her toy trumpet as a phone. I tried to say something to her, when she put her finger up to her mouth and said - "Shhhhh. Just a second. I talking on phone. Don't cry." - and went back to talking on the phone (er trumpet), shooting me sideways glances until she couldn't hold it in any longer and started laughing out loud.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

1st few weeks of preschool (in review)

1st day of school
"Mom? I see boy butt. Boy go poop."
Communal toilets. Oh boy.

1st week of school
"Yeah kids nice to me. Everybody nice. No one hurt me."
"Little Indian BOY."
When I sing the 10 little Indians song to Astrid, I always make them little Indian girls, but at school they say little Indian boys. So Astrid tried to correct me. But she loves it when I sing girls because she's a girl so it's alright that Mommy changed the song just for her.

2nd week of school
"Mommy I missed you! I so happy to see you! You so happy to see me!"
When you're never away, you never experience the joy of being reunited with your kid.

3rd week of school
"My turn. My turn."
When she stayed at home with me there was not waiting for a turn, so this is definitely new. Everything is about it being her turn. Which is good I guess. She's learning to assert herself so she's not left out.
"You want to go time out?"
I saw Astrid putting her doll in the corner of her crib and asking about a time out. We don't use time outs at home so I knew she must have learned it from school. (We use the naughty step.) The gist of what I got is that some girl was put in time out and Astrid watched everything go down.

How was school?
Q: "What did you do today?"
A: "I don't know." (typical answer)

Unfortunately her teacher, "Miss Fathima" goes home at 1 PM daily, so when I pick Astrid up from school I can't get the real scoop on what went on that day in class (to talk to Astrid about it)- but I do ask her teacher when I see her in the next morning. And there are other teachers there who tell me she's a very good, smart girl and she's getting along well with the other children.

I do ask Astrid pointed questions, but the answers I get back or pretty much hit or miss and don't give me a picture of what really happened that day.

Now she also says "bye" to the teachers and to the other children when we leave (which she refused to do initially but now she does it straight away). Now we're still working on saying "good morning."

Nap Time
Naps I knew would be the hardest transition for her because she's used to sleeping in her own crib, being sung to by Mommy, having her back and feet rubbed. And I would get comments from Astrid everyday about how she was "sad for mommy when nap". But today one of the teachers told me that Astrid was napping now for 1.5 hours, when originally she did not want to go to sleep. I asked her how they put the kids to sleep and she said they gently pat their backs and tell them to go to sleep. She said that Astrid doesn't need that as much anymore.

Packed lunches
Everyday I pack a nutritious and fun lunch for Astrid. I bought cookie shape cutters to make different shaped sandwiches for Astrid. The first day it was a circle with a smiley face made out of raisins. U. saw what I did and basically told me I was more thoughtful than his mother ever was when he went off to school for the first time. The real reason I do it is because I want her to know that her mommy loves her even when we're apart and that she's reminded of it everyday. That's important to me.

On her own
Now that she's in preschool, she doesn't have me doting on her, so it was necessary to train her on a few things. In preparing her for school, I reminded her daily to always pull up her sleeves BEFORE washing her hands. That way avoiding her sleeves getting wet. So far so good, except for one day when she did come home with wet sleeves.

I also taught her how to use a tissue to blow her nose on her own. She's teething right now so her nose is constantly running. So every morning I put a clean folded tissue in her pocket for her to use at school, and I also brought a box of Kleenex with her name on it in her cubby hole at school if she needs more.

I also taught her how to use a napkin to wipe her mouth and hands as she's eating so that she doesn't stain her clothes, and isn't walking around with dried food on her face.

I also can't do elaborate hairstyles, or anything with big hair clips because I have to be mindful of her napping in that hairstyle and how it will feel when she sleeps, and how it will look when she wakes up.

So she's less pampered in a way, but so much better at washing her own hands (and of course she wants to do everything by herself anyway).

Final Destination
The school sold it's property and will be moving in June or July to another location in Altadena. So we'll have to see how it goes and if we will continue with the school or move Astrid to another school at that time.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Singing "Old MacDonald" during the morning commute

Nothing like singing "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" during the morning commute, and hearing Astrid's laughter in the backseat at all my animal sounds.

While driving Astrid to school I've gotten into the habit of turning off the radio, and then taking requests by Astrid, and singing to her, and us singing children's songs together. We both enjoy it and it gives us some bonding time with each other before and after the day, driving to and from school/work and home.