Thursday, January 31, 2013

"Rough with playmates, hitting and pushing"

Ugh. This was on Esther's note from daycare yesterday. "Playing rough today, hitting and pushing playmates." Nothing quite makes me feel like I should get the Bad Mom Award like a note sent home from school.

Even worse, the hitting isn't limited to school. She hits me, Gram, and even her little cousin, whom she adores. It doesn't seem to happen when she's mad, or otherwise provoked.  Really just because she's in the proximity of your face.

The other day I made her leave the playground because she hit her cousin, and, when I had removed her from the vicinity of her cousin, me. The screaming of her cousin's name and "Graaaaam!!" (who was also there) lasted for quite a good chunk of the duration of the saddest stroller ride ever. When the wailing stopped, I knelt down in front of the stroller and reiterated, "we don't hit." "Hitting hurts."

Here at home, I am introducing the time-out concept. I'm not sure I have the right spot picked out because she just hops down and follows me into the other room like, "Dude, why did you put me in that chair?"

Any wisdom on toddlers who hit? Or toddler discipline in general?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Grandmom Esther

My mom's water heater flooded the basement recently. Unfortunately, this resulted in a bunch of wet family artifacts. The silver lining is that Mom went through the artifacts and she and the rest of the family are getting to look through this stuff for the first time in ages (or even the first time ever!).

Most of the images I've seen of Grandmom Esther (mental or photographic) have been of her in the nursing home, old and frail. There were a few of her in various homes for birthday parties when I was super-young, but even then, she was in her late eighties.
This one is from Halloween when I was super-young, I don't have a memory of this at all.
(See the water damage in the corner?)

So it was pretty exciting to be looking through the pictures and run across pictures of Esther as a young woman. 
Here she is with her parents-in-law on the stairs of someone's home.

In naming my baby Esther after Grandmom Esther, I somehow feel closer to Grandmom Esther. I hung a picture of her over baby Esther's crib and it reminds me that she is looking down on her.

A letter to my daughter in the future

A letter to my daughter in the future:

'via Blog this'

A funny and honest conversation with her kid's future self.

Esther, ditto what she said!
Your Mom

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

One Billion Rising II

Written in Kerala for the women of India who lead the way

This could have been anywhere
And was
Mexico City
Nighttime men
like wolves
for prey
that single dimly painted door
paying nothing
a couple of  dollars
or euros
or pesos
to have her
Enter her
Eat her
Devour her
and throw away her bones.

This could have been anywhere
And was
A Buddhist nun on a bus
Trying to stay dry for the night
A woman leader speaking out against
The repressive government
A young woman traveling with her boyfriend
One lost her voice
The other her following
The last one her life

This could have been anywhere and was
Pink wooden crosses
A stack of stones
Red wilting carnations
Empty chairs in a square
Ribbons flying in a sultry wind
I ask Anna Nighat Kamla Monique Tanisha Emily
Why Why
Porque Eran Mujeres
Parce qu'elles ├ętaient des femmes
Because they were women
Because they were women

This could have been anywhere
And was
Where she got fired for being too beautiful
Fined for drinking after she was raped
A serious offer to marry her rapist
Got told it was legitimate but not forcible
This could have been anywhere
They do such a thing
When the girls go for fire wood
Step into the lonely man’s car
Drink a little too much at the college party
Wake up with her uncle’s fingers inside
Run from the screaming machete and guns
Be taken at sunrise
Get a bullet in the brain for learning the alphabet
Be stoned for falling in love
Be burned for seeing the future

I am done
Cataloguing these horrors
Data Porn
2 million women raped and tortured
1 out of 3 women
a woman raped every minute
every second
one out of 2
one out of 5
the same
I am done counting
And recounting

Its time to tell a new story
It needs to be our story
It needs to be outrageous and unexpected
It needs to lose control in the middle
It needs to be sexy and in our hips
And our feet
It needs to be angry and a little scary the way storms can be scary
It needs to not ask permission
Or get permits or set up offices
Or make salaries
It wont be recorded or bought or sold
Or counted
It needs to just happen
It is not a question of inventing
But remembering
Buried under the leaves of trauma and sorrow
Beneath the river of
semen and squalor
vaginas and labias
shredded and extracted
body mines
mined bodies
It is not about asking now
Or waiting
It is about rising

Raise you arm my sister my brother
Raise your one
Your one heart
Your one of us

I used to be afraid of love
It hurt too much
What never happened
What got ripped away
The rape
The wound
And love 
I thought
was salt
But I was wrong
I was wrong

Step into the fire

Raise your arm
Raise your one

Eve Ensler for One Billion Rising

Monday, January 28, 2013

One Billion Rising

One Billion Rising is an event calling attention to violence against women and demanding an end.

Different statistics say that 1 in three or 1 in four women in the world will be assaulted in her lifetime. That's 1 billion people, and it's not ok. As Esther grows up, she is one of those three or four, so it is important to me to do what I can to put an end to it now. I plan on participating at the event in Philadelphia, and I urge everyone to find an event near them and participate.

I'll post more about this as the day comes.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a regular part of growing up. It happens whenever a child takes some step that further differentiates her/him from her/his parents. So when Esther really got the hang of crawling and when she started walking, for instance, she also developed some separation anxiety.  The anxiety comes from a lack of feeling safe in the world without the "safe one" or parent.  Of course, she eventually learned that she is basically safe when she crawls into the other room: I am still in this room and still here for her. Same with walking, except, of course, when she walks into stuff or off of stuff...

Separation anxiety also rears its ugly head when I really am leaving her somewhere. Sometimes she would cry when I left her in the church nursery (not often, she eventually thought it was her own playroom with bonus friends), the times she first had to start or change a day care, and especially at the YMCA (that one is another story for another post).

Lately, with the back and forth between her dad and me, I've been worried about separation anxiety for Esther. She's also beginning potty training, which is one of those, I'm-growing-up-so-I-need-you-less-Oh-my-God-where-are-you?! things.  Being the book-lover that I am, and knowing she's too young to just sit down and talk it out, I am once again resorting to books.

Most of the story books in the separation anxiety department are about young kiddos going to school. Esther  (after the first day or two of surprise that she's in another new place) loves school. When I drop her off, she starts saying bye-bye immediately and keeps at it until I can finally get her coat off, hang it up, and get out the door. She is like a twelve-year-old. I'm pretty sure her first sentence will be, "Um, mom, can you just drop me off here, I'll walk the rest of the way." Or, "Ew, mom, don't kiss me in public!"

Anyway, school isn't our problem. Our problem is, she's away from daddy for a few weeks at a time and then she's away from mommy for a week at a time.

I Love You All the Time  is cute. It chronicles two bear parents doing things throughout the day, like going to work, being on the phone while bear cub is looking bored, and bear cub going to bed. It reiterates, "I love you all the time," and cubby is reminded, even when parent-bears aren't paying direct attention to you, they still love you.

You Go Away is another one that covers the gamut. It starts with peek-a-boo, which is the beginning of addressing separation anxiety, because baby really does think you've disappeared behind that blanket. It goes on to hide-and-seek, stepping away from the grocery cart for a second, going to work (parents), going to school (kiddos), and finally, mom and dad go someplace on an airplane. It has the most simple language. "Away. Back" "You go away. You come back." This allows for me to interpret what Esther and I see.

The Kissing Hand is sweet but maybe a bit too old for Esther right now (we read it anyway). In it, the Mama raccoon is getting the baby raccoon ready for school, and baby raccoon (cub? pup?) is sad to leave Mama behind all day. She kisses his paw and tells him that whenever he's missing her, he can hold the paw up to his cheek and remember her kiss is there. It's really sweet. There's one confusing thing: raccoons are nocturnal, so baby goes to school at night. I don't know why this messes me up, but it does every time! Also, there's a really sweet/cute (ok, and also predictable) ending, which I will not spoil for you here.

That is just the start. I'm a book-a-holic, and some part of me thinks I can fix anything with just the right picture book. Esther has at least two more, and I bought one for myself that arrived in the mail today. I'll let you know what I think.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Blow! Blow! Blow!

One of the favors for Esther's birthday party is a hankie. I know nobody uses handkerchiefs anymore, but the monkeys in the book do! This page was the inspiration, obviously.

By the way, this is how we get Esther to blow her nose.  I give her a tissue and say, "Hands with handkerchiefs!" She says, "Bow! Bow! Bow!"

I chopped up the book (gasp! I know!) and scanned a few of the pages for decorations at the party.  I cut out the monkey in the front and scanned him in all by himself.

I also printed out the words. I printed them all together, monkey and caption, and used up 8 of my 10 pages of Ink-jet-to-T-shirt transfer sheets.

I was about to start cutting them out when I realized I hadn't printed them backwards.  (You put the transfer sheets face-down, so they have to be the mirror image of what you actually want to see.)  So I used those last two pages to print the words. Doesn't it look funny?

Ok, on to the business. I ironed the transfers onto the hankies. I put it on the hottest setting and didn't use water. Steam makes the ink run. I kept the iron moving, but kept the heat on the image for 30 seconds to a minute each.  Of course, follow the instructions on whatever brand of transfer stuff you use.

Lay the images face-down and Iron! Iron! Iron!

The final product. Kinda cute, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hand picks an apple

It's one of the lines/pages in Esther's favorite book.

So I plan on including it in the party preparations. Applesauce in little cups for the kiddos, and an apple/plum/white wine/champagne sangria-like concoction.

I'll also include apples in the favor bag.  It's in the story, and bonus: it's a healthy treat.

I'm getting excited for Esther's birthday, but still can't believe she'll be 2!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reading stories

I just found a fun website:

It features lots of famous actors reading children's books. I watched Betty White and Al Gore (ok, not a famous actor, but he was in a movie!). Betty's book was a good one for Esther's age, but Al's was super-long. May I suggest looking at the duration of the video before assuming your kid will be able to sit still long enough to get to the ending?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Our Story So Far

Esther's dad and I are splitting up. I know it can't be easy for Esther, but it's not like we can sit down and have a big long chat about it. But she loves story time, so I made her a story book.

I did it on snapfish.

The gist of Our Story So Far is that both of her parents love her, and we're doing the best we can to help her be happy.

She loves pointing at the pictures and telling me who's in them. Me and Daddy, herself (she calls herself Daddoo-- I think it comes from us saying "that's you!" in pictures or the mirror), her grandparents, and a whole spread of the key characters in her life. She requests it each night by shouting, "Daddy!" or "Daddy Mommy!" (There's a picture of Daddy and Mommy on the front cover.) It's usually second to "Dum Dummy."  : )

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sleeping soundly

I go in to check on her every night before I go to bed. Tuck her in again ...

Tonight her arms and legs were spread wide, a gentle snore coming from her little face.

Sometimes I just want to crawl into the crib with her and snuggle her, I love her so much.

I almost always (if I think she's not about to wake up) tell her I love her and some other thing... "You are beautiful," or "You are amazing." I want the words to soak in over the months and years so she always believes them.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Gram's Cookies II

Here's how they turned out! They're not exactly right, according to the family elders, but they're the best we've come up with so far.  I was skeptical of the raisin and date filling, but it's just a sweet center that tastes quite good! Family dinner is the 27th, so we only have two more weeks to figure it out...

Gram's Filled Cookies

Somehow I managed to get a recipe box that contained my grandmother's recipes. It only had a few in it-- she didn't cook much-- but the hand-writte, food-spattered index cards are pretty special.

One recipe was mentioned by my uncle on Christmas day.As you can see, it's Gram's filled cookies. Gram is my mom and uncle's grandmother, my great-grandmother. My uncle claimed these as his favorite cookies and so we're trying to decipher it before the next family supper.

The ingredients are straight-forward, but there's no description of how to assemble the cookie and filling. When Uncle Paul tried it, he ended up with something that looked like a puddle on a cookie. So I added a bit of extra flour to thicken the dough.

They're in the oven... I'll let you know!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Her Name

Esther is named after my Great-Grandmother, Grandmom. This is her and me just after I was born.

Grandmom is baby*-Esther's mom's mom's dad's mom (follow that?). She grew up on a farm not far from here, a farm that was fairly recently sold to become parkland. She had a strong faith, and I hold on to her marked-up Bible and a crucifix that was hers.  I remember visiting her in the nursing home as a kid. She had osteoporosis and other other stuff, but I was too young to know much about that. She was always so sweet, and seemed happy to see us, in spite of the fact that we were three kids under the age of seven (at the oldest). She died at age 91 when I was in second grade, and was the first person I knew to die. It was kind of traumatic.

On a slightly cheesey note, I made up a song when Esther was born. In my defense, not much rhymes with "Esther."

There once was a mommy and God blessed her
By giving her a daughter she named Esther.
She brought such joy to her mom and her dad!
Every time she smiled, it made their hearts so glad.

There one was a baby girl named Esther.
She was a special girl because God blessed her
With beauty and smarts and talents and such,
And a family who loved her very much!

Mommy’s great grandmom was named Esther.
She was a special lady ‘cause God blessed her
With a long life and a strong faith too,
And that’s just what your mom and dad wish for you!

Any other moms out there make up cheese-ball rhymes to sing to their kiddos while rocking/breast-feeding/begging the baby to go to sleep?


*OK, toddler.

Food ideas

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb is a sing-song kind of book about monkeys playing drums. I'm thinking monkey cupcakes, found on Pinterest from here, and a drum "main cake" found on Pinterest from here (without the Elmo face, of course).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Invite

This is the invite to Esther's second birthday party. (I made it for the non-email people in Esther's life. The electronically connected got a little e-mail thing from a program I have called Smilebox. It came free with my purchase of Print Shop.)

The party will be at my Nanna's assisted living facility. They have a free activity room. Nanna is Esther's great grandmother. She's 85 and can't get out without oxygen, so this was the only way I could be sure to include her. Plus, when Esther and my dad and I visited her over the holidays, Esther's cuteness cheered up some of the oldsters there, so I wondered about the availability of a space. Nanna gets to invite 5 or 6 buddies. She's already worried she'll leave someone out and hurt feelings. Miss Popularity.

The added bonus of doing it there-- there's no other free location that will be neutral space for my family. Since my parents' divorce, I've been cautious to include everyone, not offend anyone, and try to avoid awkwardness all at the same time. Now that Esther's in our lives, we're all stepping up in these areas... all for Esther.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Almost two!

Esther turns two in a month... I've decided on a theme:


She is loving this book right now, and we are having a blast learning to do a thumbs up, shaking hands, and saying, "Whack! Whack! Whack!" (Esther somehow makes it sound like a duck)

I think the kiddos at the party will make drums, and I'll come up with a menu based on the book's monkeys, drums, and references to apples and plums. I'll keep you posted on the planning.

Take care!