Friday, May 27, 2011

"Please" is a request, not a demand, right?

When Abby was learning her first words, we always made sure to say "Please" and "Thank you" when giving and receiving so she would learn politeness and manners early on. Once she grasped the concept, it was great - she would say "Please" when she wanted something and eventually "Thank You" became "Thank you, Mommy" and "lelcome" (you're welcome).

As parents, we were pleased as punch that our daughter was learning manners early on and couldn't resist giving her what she was asking for because those "magic words" are some mystical key to getting what we want. This is also where we went wrong.

Cute little words with seemingly innocent connotations soon because desperate "PLEASE! PLE-ASE! Have it?" and soon after the water works of a spoiled child followed. Without realizing it, we had taught her manners but not limitations and that sometimes, as the song goes, you can't always get what you want. Since she is now able to throw a pretty good tantrum when this happens, we have to come up with a new strategy. What that isn I'm really not sure yet. At this point we've recognized that we need to remove her from the situation, calm her down and explain why she couldn't have the cookie, or touch Nana's expensive figurine and then get her engaged in something else, like playing with a favourite toy, singing a song or even watching a much-loved tv show (why IS Dora so memorizing, anyways?).

I suppose the next logical step is to teach her that "Please" is a request, not a demand; but how? Though my heart warms every time she uses a new word in context or, gasp, a sentence - "Daddy, you so funny" is amazingly cute - somehow I will have to figure out how to teach the rules of the English language and etiquette to a toddler. When someone figures that out, let me know!

Oh, and if you know how to explain that orange is a fruit, colour AND flavour, I know people who want that information.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Don't Mess With My Schedule, it has Consequences

Today I am running late coming home. In my single or newly married life this wasn't much of a problem, but now that I have my daughter, it changes everything.

Our days are highly scheduled so that I am at work on time and that I am home with time for dinner and to spend quality time with my family. When something messes with this, the domino effect is strongly felt by the three of us.

To begin with, I left the office 45 minutes later than normal. This means arriving home 45 minutes late and steals away 45 minutes I could have had preparing and eating dinner or playing with my daughter. When my husband picks me up from the subway, I am going to hope and pray that my daughter isn't asleep, because her falling asleep this late means she will be up until 10 and that just doesn't fly. I need a shower, people!

It means that instead of having breakfast for dinner, as we had planned, it will be take-out, which is a bad habit we are trying to stay away from. It means...oh, what's that? The subway isn't running? Just GREAT.

It means a lot to me to get home on time for myself and for my family. I don't want to miss my little girl growing up because of 10 hour work days, or time spent with my husband, who works nights because I can't get time away from my desk.

It's times like these that I really question the hour and a half commute and the demands of the industry I'm in. I am sue I'm not alone in my way of thinking here. Someone forgot to give the working world the memo from Mom's requesting a realistic 9-5 work day when work as a mom (and wife) never really stops. Is it really too much to ask for in this busy life?
-Laura Bee

Monday, April 4, 2011

Making mealtime work

For me, the hardest part of the day comes twice: once when getting everything ready in the morning, and again when arriving home at the end of the work day.

In the evening, it's a rush to commute home so that those few precious hours before bedtime last as long as possible. However, on arrival, the next sprint in the race begins: what to make for dinner.

If you are

like me, you have grown up with mystery surrounding mealtime. It either decided by someone who is not me (thanks, Mom!) or it isn't until you get home and dstare at the fridge until you are inspired or your tummy grumbles (substitute this for your hungry child grumbling) that dinner finally happens.

I have learned that the best approach to mealtime can't involve any surprises and involves a little bit of prep work and decision-making.

Enter the family calendar.

My calendar sits prominently on the fridge door, adorned with labeled stickers and hand-written events. Mine was actually gifted to me and is from Wouldn't you know it, but this is the best place for meal planning to begin.

Start wi

th either writing down a specific meal (i.e. Shepherd's pie) or a generic type (i.e. Pasta) which takes a lot of guesswork out of your precious cooking time. Tip: take into consideration the events for the day when selecting a meal. Pasta is great if your child has a soccer game that night, and a crock pot roast is perfect for a busy evening or late arrival home.

The next step is to take your grocery list (mine is next to the calendar) and write out all the ingredients you need to shop for to make your week of meals. Now you aren't wasting time shopping, either! Tip: organize your grocery list according to the flow of your grocery store; that way you are less likely to miss an ingredient along the way.

At a loss for meal ideas? I started my journey using this method after receiving an amazing cooking/meal planning book called "More Time Moms". They have a companion iphone app and printable lists from their website and do

all the work for you! How helpful that?

Try it out and let me know what works or doesn't work for you. Right now I have to get myself home and make toasted deli sandwiches on onion buns with fresh veggies and dip. Who knew planning would be so helpful and fun!

-Laura Bee

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What's that, you say?

My little girl is growing up and this past weekend was a huge indicator for me.

Just before the weekend, I got curious about just how many words Abby actually knows. She can communicate with us pretty well by now and most words she says can be interpreted by most people who hear her.

With that in mind I did the project manager thing and nade a categorized list. I then sent it to DH and asked him if I was missing anything. He admitted that he was useless in this department (aka he doesn't read his email) but without his input, I had managed to find over 100 word that Abby can currently say. That doesn't even count the words she understands.

Then, spending time with her this weekend blew me away.

Saturday we went to visit my parents. My mom had just gotten back from a month-long trip in Thailand, so it was important for me to see her and have her see how much Abby has grown in that time. (Did I mention that she has shot up almost 5cm in the last two months?).

While Abby played and interacted with Nana, Poppy, Uncles, Aunts and her cousins, I learned that Abby knows way more than I give her credit for. I couldn't tell you how many times I stopped and said "I didn't know she could say that".

Part of me had the guilty working parent feeling, because I have to learn these things far after the fact. However, it is just as exciting for me to hear her speak to me as if it was the first time she ever spoke.

Now my little girl, what will you say next?
-Laura Bee

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mom Confessions

Every mom has their little secrets; the things they don't share about their parenting style lest they be judged. In my 18 months as a mom, I've learned that a lot of mom's have the same secrets. What does this mean? That our "confessions" are actually a fact of life and shouldn't be buried away with the little white lie you told about not having that deli sandwich during your pregnancy.

And so, I open the closet to my parenting skeletons and confess to the world wide web (with no excuses!):
- I have been co-sleeping since Abby was 5 months old
- I have let my daughter eat more on more than one occasion: fast food french fries, chocolate, popcorn, popcicles, orange juice, apple juice, cake, chicken nuggets
- I still nurse Abby at least one time a night
- my daughter doesn't sleep through the night. In fact, she usually wakes up 2 or 3 times at night to cuddle up closer to me or nurse
- we turned Abby to forward facing at 13 months
- Abby watches TV. Mostly cartoons, when they're on but she can't help but dance to the theme song for Hanna Montana and Sonny with a Chance

Ok, you can judge me now for these few things, but before you do, remember that it is impossible to be the perfect parent. I do what is best for my child. Sometimes I am not proud of the decisions I have to make (especially when Abby recognizes when we've just pulled away from the drive through), but it's what we have to do to get by. The day I win a million dollars (ok, maybe 5 million), I will quit my job and devote my life to being the perfect parent.

Right now, I will enjoy my wins and learn from my losses and most of all, be honest about everything. Maybe someone else will learn from me or not be afraid to talk about something considered "taboo" in the parenting world.

Go ahead, you can tell me - what's hiding in your closet?

-Laura Bee

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sleep deprivation sucks

I have an overdue apology for the gap in time from one post to another. I have been so sleep deprived the past 4 weeks that I don't know how I am still alive, let alone awake.

After dealing with Abby's croup, which turned into a nasty cold, we each took our turn in the sick-bed. I got her cold, which was a doozy. Shortly after getting on the mend, Abby decided to teeth, or go through a growth spurt, or have night time anxiety. I'm still not sure what quite happened there.

It started with her whining in her sleep. I would pop back in her pacifier and she'd roll over and go back to la-la land. When that turned into her waking up every hour I knew I had to do something. Broken sleep was not doing any favours to my daily duties at work. I was becoming unfocused and tired by 2pm, yet I didn't give in to starting a coffee habit.

I turned to online resources and my own know-how on how to deal with this situation. I began different things: offering her water when she woke, changing what she wore at night (since the weather is starting to get warmer here), giving her advil, changing our night time routine, baths, location, you name it. The only real thing that seemed to help was a combination of a bath using night time body wash by Johnson & Johnson and a bottle of water for her to drink at night.

Then, one magical night, she woke up every 3 hours. To a working mom who needs sleep and doesn't have the opportunity to take a nap on lunch, this was incredible.

I am happy to report that whatever it was that bothered her has passed and she is now only getting up 2 times at night. A HUGE improvement over once every 1-2 hours. It seriously felt like having a newborn again, without the 20 minute feeding sessions, that is.

I am a much happier mommy and she is a much happier baby. Now we are having trouble getting her up in the morning! I sense shades of what it will be like when she's a teenager.

The lesson I learned here is to never give up and that nothing, as far as a toddler is concerned, will last forever. And most importantly...I love sleep!

Monday, January 31, 2011

A taste of a work-at-home mom's life

Today, I stayed home with my sick little girl. It started suddenly on Saturday night with the symptoms of an oncoming cold. Sunday morning I was on the phone with my mother and Telehealth Ontario to see what was wrong with my little girl. She had had a horrible barking coughing fit when she woke up and ended up upset and in tears; as was I. Telehealth, after a thorough investigation, informed me it was a case of croup that could be treated at home. However, she was not to go back to daycare until her fever was gone.

Monday morning came and though she was feeling better, another coughing fit and an ill look to me meant I was going to stay home and do whatever I could to take care of my daughter in her weakened state.

I had already given my managers at the office a heads up that this might happen. My follow up email rung true of the rest of my day: I would try my best to follow up with my emails (which conveniently come to my blackberry, by the way).

We spent our morning curled on the couch while my little one dozed in and out of consciousness and I tried to type one-handed over her shoulder. As the day went on and my demand increased (by work and a sick little girl) I wondered how on earth work-at-home moms get any actual business done without help! Well, by the end of my evening I think I figured out how - they never stop working. Instead of a solid 8 hours at the office, an hour commute home and then another, oh, 3 with the family, it's a day with interwoven streams of child care, conference calls, document writing, meal planning sprinkled with play time and timesheets.

What I've learned from this is though I love the comforts of being home with Abby and DH more when I work from home, I undoubtedly either get less done in a regular work day or am working on all things right until bed time. And while I miss them while I am away, there is a certain je ne said quois about my shared office which not only makes getting work done more efficient, it means I love coming home to my family even more.