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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Children's books on CD

These books that I purchased for Astrid that come with an accompanying CD, are worth their weight in gold. Astrid loves them, and they keep her imagination going as she follows along in the illustrated book, listening to the well told stories, the music, and waiting for the signal to turn the pages. She's listening to "The Gingerbread Boy" now, and just finished listening to "The Three Little Pigs." They keep her entertained and I much prefer her to be reading, than watching TV.

I used to have the same when I was a kid, with books and tapes, and prior to tapes I had records. And I used to love listening to those stories. Fairy tales were so much fun (and sometimes scary) to listen to and in my mind I was creating what the story looked like from beginning to end. In Star Wars, there was one scene where they go to an intergalactic bar and there were creatures of all kinds there. I was fascinated by this scene and wished I could be there to take part in the festivities. And there were the songs that I listened to over and over again.

These books & CD's cost about $10 a pop at the learning store, so they're not cheap - but if she enjoys listening to them many times, they're well worth it. The stories never get old, and kids love repetition.

A sick Astid and a presentation at work

Yesterday Astrid's school called me to tell me Astrid was sick and asked if I could come pick her up and take her home. She had a fever, would not eat her lunch and was just not herself. Picking her up at school, she was sleeping instead of playing with the other kids and drooling a lot.

Today she still had a fever and was lethargic, and had stomach cramps and diarrhea. I had to take her to the bathroom constantly and be very gentle with the toilet paper because her bottom was getting sore.

There was no way I could take her to school because she was still sick, and I was afraid she'd go in her pants. I had a scheduled presentation to give at 11 AM - a training session internally at my firm for some associates, and it's difficult to coordinate a time when everyone is available on the same day/time. What to do? I decided to bring Astrid with me to work and after the presentation to return home.

All the ladies love her at my office. The receptionist who has been with the company for over 20 years always has a stash of kids stuff in her desk, and every time she sees Astrid, she gives her a gift. Today is was a bug catcher with 3 small stuffed animal insects inside like a butterfly. Then there's another sweet lady who works in my dept. and is a grandmother who also gives Astrid gifts when she sees her. Today she gave her a stick puppet. And as we walk through the halls all the ladies "ohhh and awww" and if they see or hear her in my office they come by to chat with her. No wonder my kid always wants to go to my office!

It was a bit of a struggle to get Astrid distracted with coloring when her stomach hurt and she had to keep going to the restroom, so finally I just held her in my lap with her head on my bosom and just held her close, while I typed and worked at my computer. Her fever would spike and then go away just like that, and then spike again.

At my presentation, we had an intimate group and no one questioned what my kid was doing there. They all welcomed her, and made room for her to sit in the chair nearest me, to be close to me. She had her paints and was painting away, sitting at the boardroom table. It was the BEST! She was painting and quietly listening and observing everything. But not a peep during the entire 40 minute presentation. And no emergency trips to the restroom either. It was a huge success!

Afterwards she was all questions about what happened in the boardroom. And she asked me, "Mom are you proud of me? I was a good girl."

Yep, I am a proud Mama.

Astrid wants a baby brother

Astrid is on a "I want a baby brother" kick. Sometimes she'll say she wants a sister too, but it's always about getting a baby brother. Today she said Papa had told her she was getting a baby brother next week. She told this to me and later to her nanny. Wishful thinking I guess. I don't know what brought this on other than maybe other children at her preschool (classmates) have baby siblings that they talk about. And then there's Astrid's Godmother Jill who recently adopted a newborn through an open adoption and Astrid met the birth mother, and then of course the baby afterwards. So she sort of understands where babies come from and that women have them.

Today we were sitting in a restaurant and she spotted a woman pregnant with twins (so it was obvious there was at least one baby in there). Astrid pointed and said, "Mom, is she going to have a baby?" And then she asked if it was named Maddox (the name of her Godmother's baby). She was fascinated by the pregnant woman and I could just see the wheels turning in her head about a baby living in the womb, soon to come out.

Then she asked me, "Mom? When I grow up, will I have a baby?" I said, "I hope so, when you're much older like mommy was when I had you." Then she asked, "I'm going to be a mom?" That one caught me by surprise. My 3 year old, little baby is already thinking about motherhood. And I pictured myself as a grandmother and got a little choked up. I want to be the best mom possible to her, so that if she does decide to become a mother one day, that she'll have lovely memories of her childhood and confidence in her own ability to be her child's mother.

So I've been hesitant to post about having a second child, for a number of reasons. One because I'm still on the fence about it. Two because it brings up so many mixed emotions and anxiety. And third because there are no definite plans yet to have or not have another child.

I get that question all the time though, "So when are you going to have a second one?" Even from my OBGYN who probably wants me to pop out another one since I was the model patient with Astrid, and bought him a nice bottle of Argentinian wine (my doctor is originally from Argentina) as a gift after the baby was born. (Because he was a great doctor and I really appreciated everything he did for me and my family.) And I'm not quite sure how to answer the question. I don't want to get into a deep philosophical discussion about it, yet it's probably too harsh to respond, "And why would I do that to myself?"

When I had Astrid the timing was perfect, and I don't have any regrets. We planned on having her and tried for almost a year before I became pregnant. It was one of the best decisions I made, and my beautiful child lights up my life. I'm thankful that my husband who is a bit older, was ready for a child (it was his biological clock that started ticking) and persuaded me to make the leap when we did. Astrid is the perfect addition to our family. My husband and I have grown so much from the whole parenting experience and continue to become better people. It is such a big life lesson & blessing to be a parent.

So why not jump at the chance to get knocked up again you ask? Well there's the actual pregnancy itself. The 1st trimester I lost 10 pounds. It was a true starvation diet. Three months of throwing up from constant nausea from the morning sickness. Which is a misnomer because it's not just in the morning - it happens ALL day long. The reason for it is progesterone poisoning which affects women differently. And I just happened to have it real bad, like my mom. I have a photo of me during that time when you can see my esophagus jutting out of my throat. I was teaching at the time and there were times when I'd be in the middle of a lesson and would have to run over to the sink to dry heave - then would go right back to continue teaching. I was driving on the fwy one time and I threw up in my mouth and had to swallow it. Telling my husband that story he said, "You're a bigger man than me." Just brutal.

And then there is being pregnant for 9 months - again. After the 1st trimester, the morning sickness just disappeared and I felt great. Only thing that got really bad was the heartburn the last trimester and the back pain between my shoulders from the boulders I was carrying around on my chest. I was popping Tums all the time, and asking my husband for massages all the time. (I did have at least 1 professional massage a month, so I can't really complain there.) No sushi for 9 months. A hardship for me. No alcohol. I love wine and cosmos. And then what it does to your body. Let's just leave it at that. I'm not one to let myself go, so it's of utmost importance I'm in the best shape possible before, and then can whip back into shape afterwards.

The birth (surgery) still scares the bejesus out of me. It's like a distant memory that happened to someone else. Everyone woman knows the fears that sets in the last month - Oh my gawd, the baby's gotta come out somehow! Thinking about them cutting through scar tissue and the recovering afterwards. Oy. I was sleep deprived as is with just one, and can't even image what it's like to care for a newborn and the 1st born - you're completely outnumbered.

And then there is the career quotient. I'm very much focused on my career and driven to boot. Having another child would mean I would have to put my career on pause. And who knows how I would feel after the birth of the child. If I would feel okay with going back to work after 3 months, or if I felt the need to stay home to bond and care for the baby. It's a lot to juggle being a mom and a career woman with just 1 child.

Also, being first born, I know how it feels to suddenly become the "big kid" when baby #2 arrives. Suddenly all of the attention is on the baby, and you're given less attention, have adult responsibilities, and your needs are neglected. I don't want Astrid to be traumatized by that. I want her to be our baby for as long as possible.

We also enjoy traveling as a family. Astrid has joined us on many trips to 12 countries. But there are still places and things we cannot do just yet, until she is older. For instance, hiking and activities that require you to walk for long distances or to have stamina. My dream is to travel to Tibet, but she has to be much older for that to be able to withstand the low oxygen and also the arduous journey. By having child #2, that date would need to be pushed back on where we can travel to, and limit us on what we can do. It's also more expensive to travel with 4 vs. 3. What if we have a child who doesn't travel well? I cannot even imagine that nightmare.

And then there is the added responsibility which includes financials. Suddenly there's a full time nanny to pay in addition to school tuition for the older child. There are 2 college funds to start saving for. Room for 2 children, two separate bedrooms, a bigger house, or remodeling. And how the hell do you juggle the responsibility of caring for 2 kids at the same time? It would complicate our lives for sure, and I don't want to be boxed in to a lifestyle of the 2.5 kids, which is not how I see myself.

Now the pluses of having a 2nd kid are numerous too. Astrid has a sibling to grow up with and play with, and learn responsibility. Also, when my husband and I are gone, she will not be left all alone. I would enjoy having a big family immensely when I'm older. Being surrounded by my adult kids and their grand kids would be such a joy! Having a second kid would potentially be easier than the 1st one because I know what to expect and I'm more confident in my abilities to parent. (That is unless the kid won't sleep, or eat, or is just an all around pain in the a*s.) It would also be great to go through that experience one last time, this time being less stressed out about everything. When the kid sleeps for 4 hours straight the first time, I won't freak out and check if the kid is still breathing. It would also be nice to bring another life into this world, to experience that baby's temperament, personality, quirks and how different or similar they are to Astrid and my husband and myself.

To date my biological clock remains silent. I keep waiting for it to go off. But maybe because I already have a child and that relationship is so fulfilling, it'll remain dormant forever. I want to think about both short term and long term, as it's a very heady decision. I can't send the baby back if it doesn't work out. If it turned out I'm not able to get pregnant, so be it, I already have a child who completes me, but I also don't want to miss an opportunity that I may regret later in life.

Conflicted? Absolutely.

Anyone care to share their thoughts on the subject?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Compliment of the day

"Mama you are the best hugger," said Astrid.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

An early Valentine's Day present

Tonight while walking the dog, and U. out of town - Astrid yanked on my hand and said, "I don't love anybody but you mom."

When I reminded her of Papa, she said that yes she loved him and our dog too. And the more she thought about it, she said she liked Godmother Jill and Bill too. But reminded me a few times that she did NOT love Maria (our new nanny).

Then she hugged my leg and told me she loved me SO MUCH!

Looking through Binoculars at the artwork

Scanning the art on the wall @ the Blue Hen.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Philanthrophy starts at a young age

Today at the nail salon, Astrid was rattling off questions to her favorite nail salon lady (who just adores her and loves it when I bring her in)...questions included: "Do you have a brother?" "Do you have a sister?" "Do you have a mom?" "Do you have a bed?"

All of these questions were met with a smile and "Yes". Until Astrid asked, "Do you have a car?" To which the lady responded, "No."

Astrid turned to me with concern on her face and said, "Mom...she doesn't have a car. Can you give her a car?"

Oh baby, bless your kind little heart. Empathy is a great thing and I hope you never stop caring for others.

That turned into a conversation about how not everyone owns a car. Some people take the bus, or get a ride from someone else. The fact that someone would not have a car while everyone she knows has one, was quite shocking to Astrid and difficult for her 3 1/2 year old mind to wrap around. She didn't want this woman to be without.

In a related vein - money is a foreign concept to her. Everyone should have it and give it away.

Later on at the grocery store, Astrid asked me where the man was. A couple weeks ago there was a man playing a guitar outside the store and Astrid wanted to give him money. So I gave her a dollar that she placed into his guitar case.

When I was a kid and I heard my mom talking about money and I told her, "Just go to the bank - those people are so nice they always give you money." My mom thought that was the cutest, funniest thing a kid ever said.

I feel a bit that way with my own daughter. I want to preserve her innocence but do want to show her that there are those less fortunate and show her how she can help. I'm thinking we may need to start volunteering for a good cause.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sick and thankful Astrid is 3 1/2

I came down with a bug and today it took all my energy to change Astrid into her pajamas and brush her teeth to get her ready for bed.

At bedtime I usually read her a book or two and sing to her, and play tickle games, and give her a massage. But not tonight. I was just too exhausted from being sick and all I could do was crawl up in her bed with her.

Astrid has been getting into the habit of reading a book back to me, that I just read to her. So tonight I asked her to read me "Sammy the Seal." She knows the entire story and can almost recite it. And she was happy to do it. "Okay mom. I'll read the book to you," she said.

And then afterwards she fell asleep. It took little effort and I was so relieved. The swim class helps. She has swim classes twice a week and they tire her out. Tonight she was showing me how she makes "ice cream scoops" with her hands and arms when she's swimming. Too cute.

We hired a part time nanny who picks her up early from school twice a week and takes her to her swim class and also to her music class at The Pasadena Conservatory of Music. She occasionally also babysits 1 or 2 other days a week so U. and I can go out - and she takes Astrid to the library or the park. She also gives her a bath at the end of the day which is a huge help to me.

In other ways I'm grateful that Astrid is 3 1/2 now too. For instance she can put on her seat belt now in the car (which is helpful when I've just gotten my nails done). She also can bring me things (i.e., like my purse) and put things away (i.e., like bring her glass or dish to the kitchen sink, getting me a safety pin for her socks, or putting away her hair bands). Today she vanished for a few minutes and when I found her, she had put on her socks by herself and did a good job. And then there's the hand washing which she can do on her own now. Just the other day I got a really bad paper cut and she immediately shouted, "I'll get you a bandaid mom!" and came back with a SpongeBob Squarepants bandaid for me.

In so many little ways she's becoming more independent and a big help to me.

Lots of new posts

Scroll down to view some new posts that I just got around to posting.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Samples of Astrid's artwork

Self portrait from a few months ago.
Self portrait from today.

Another sample of Astrid's artwork.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Astrid with newborn Maddox June Davis

We went over to Jill & Bill's house to see their newborn baby Maddox June Davis. Astrid was excited to hold the baby.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year 2009!

Ice Skating in Pershing Square

Coffee/Tea at The Biltmore

We had about 40 minutes to kill before they'd let more ice skaters into the rink at Pershing Square, and it was a chilly day, so we went across the street to The Biltmore to warm up with coffee and tea, and warm milk for Astrid.
Astrid snuggling with her Papa in the lobby.
Goofing around to pass the time.
Playing with Papa's hair.
Can we go yet?

While in the lobby we sat across from a family that flew in from London on the same flight as us. I remember them because their daughter kept me up all night (as she did her parents - even throwing something at her dad's head to keep him awake which lead him to scream out loud - yeah fun when you're trying to sleep) with her antics. Her name was Franchesa and she acted like the spoiled brat character in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. So badly behaved and I had the misfortune of sitting next to them. I only mentioned it because it was a weird coincidence.

New Year's Day (at The Coffee Table in Eagle Rock)

Our housekeeper Marla, gave this matching outfit to Astrid for Christmas. Posing on the wall across from Coffee Table. Pose #2 on tippy toes.Pose #3 with a great big smile. Coffee Table was the only local place we found open on New Year's day.Mmmm...lemonade. Coloring while we waited for our order. The place was packed and it took awhile to get our food.I've learned to keep crayons and paper in my purse, which have been lifesavers when it comes to long waits.