Naming the struggles: transition to life with a new baby

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(“Maternity” (1935) by José de Almada Negreiros via P. Ribeiro Simões, Flickr CC)

“You name our suffering, and that makes us want to come close to You.”

(Rev. Glenn Hoburg, Grace Presbyterian Church)

The second I heard those words, I put down my pen and slammed my journal shut.

Did I hear that right? I thought. How did he know? How was it possible that those words, preached in a church about the New Testament book of Romans, could have anything to do with my parenting a three-year old and a 10-month old baby?

Although uttered in the form of a prayer, referring to God’s relationship with His children, that sentence immediately reminded me of my three-year old daughter, E., life with a new baby (yes, still, 10 months later), and my ability to accept – and confront – all of E.’s feelings.

Let me explain. Continue reading

Easter 2017: a lesson in less is more

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(Photo courtesy of Yann Coeuru, Flickr Creative Commons)

Happy Easter, friends! And, happy spring!

It truly is a glorious time of the year here on the East Coast of the US. Azaleas and cherry trees in full bloom, sunshine, birds singing, new life.  And, Easter, a very special holiday tradition from my childhood, one that I’ve always wanted to share with my own children.

I love traditions, both the high holy religious ones and the everyday ones that give rhythm to our days. And, as the parent of young children I sometimes find myself worrying “we have to create our own family traditions now while they’re young!! What are we going to do for (fill in the blank with a holiday) to make it special?”

(Since Halloween wasn’t really celebrated in my or D.’s families growing up, we’ve chosen to skip that holiday for now. And, we only this past year, E. being three years old, decided to do the whole presents under the tree for Christmas.)

My holding back, so to speak, on the whole holiday celebrations thing stems from my journey into RIE parenting, Magda Gerber’s approach to childcare. One of my favorite quotations of hers is “do less, enjoy more.” That sentiment, together with her reminder to parents that “earlier is not better,” has helped me worry so much less about when my children will accomplish X or do Y or learn Z.

Her words have also reassured me that everything in its due time, including family and religious traditions.

And, so, Easter 2017. My attempt at simplicity and less. Continue reading

It all begins and ends with me: the heart of parenting

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(Photo courtesy of Barbara W, Flickr Creative Commons)

Last Thursday I had to excuse myself from E.’s bedroom. “Necesito un descanso,” I told her. I need a break.

What I didn’t tell her was why.

But, I could feel the anger swirling in my stomach. My muscles were tight. I needed to step away. I needed to take a few deep breaths. I needed a time out.

“Was that okay?” I asked myself. 

Processing the situation later, I realized, “yes, of course! It’s always okay, when you sense you’re about to lose your temper, to take a break.” 

I also realized that there was more going on.  

Because in parenting there’s always more. So much more. Continue reading

Please, thank you, & I’m sorry: teaching morals to young children

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(Photo via artethgray, Flickr Creative Commons)

Recently a friend of mine posted a faith-based article entitled “Should I make my child apologize” on social media, and I had the privilege to respectfully and honestly dialogue with her on-line.

Since the issue of manners and morality is one that concerns all parents, secular or religious, I thought I’d invite you all to join in the virtual conversation with my friend and me through today’s blog post.

My hope is that this post is filled with respect and humility since I know the topic of disciplining children is a sensitive one.

I want to reiterate that the purpose of this post (and, the blog as a whole) is to process my own parenting journey and to explain to others the “why” behind the decisions D. and I have made for our family.

I also hope that everything I write here serves to prompt an honest and authentic dialogue with any reader who might feel led to comment.

So, let’s jump right to it! Should we make our children apologize (or, say please and thank you, or share, etc.)?

Continue reading

City Life: why we love living in an apartment

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Amig@s, I’ve got great news to share: I’m four months pregnant!

What does that bit of good news have to do with a blog post about life in an apartment?

Well, pregnancy gets you thinking about all kinds of life questions, including housing.

Most friends and neighbors in my life circle (mid-30s, married with children, settled in their careers) share something in common: they live in a house with a yard and basement.

D. and I are the odd ones out. We (still) live in an apartment. In fact, D. has lived in an apartment most of his life, and I since 1998.

And, we love it!

Since we announced that we’re expecting our second child, we’re often asked if we’ll stay in our apartment or look for a bigger house. D. and I think about that question a lot and for now, we’ve decided to stay put and make our 1,000 square-foot apartment work for our growing family.

Here’s why we love apartment life:

Continue reading

La panadera y su pinche: Why I cook everyday with my daughter

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Most mornings between 7 and 9am and most afternoons between 1 and 3pm you can find me in the kitchen. Little Miss E. right by my side.

My father-in-law, during a recent FaceTime call, which we usually make in the afternoons between the aforementioned window of 1 to 3pm, commented, ¿Y ahora, qué, eres ama de casa? Que siempre que nos llamáis, estás en la cocina. (Translation: “What are you now? A housewife? You’re always in the kitchen when you call us.”)

My answer, yup! E. and I cook everyday together. She loves it, and it helps her learn.

Here’s why I cook everyday: Continue reading

Home Tour, Montessori style

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Several months ago I wrote a post about how we invited Montessori into our home.

While I may have only scratched the surface of what Montessori means, I have come to understand that it is more than just a type of school or style of education; it’s a framework that guides my parenting, a new lens through which I see my daughter. Montessori is a way of life. And, that includes how I have prepared my home for my daughter.

Today I’d like to invite you into our two-bedroom city apartment. Not to show you the massive Rita Hayworth portrait above my credenza, or the random CraigsList finds I’ve scored over the years, or my 1940s record player. (I do love my vintage record player, though!) Rather, to show you how we’ve made room for children.

Before becoming a mom, I always swore that I would never, ever turn my house upside down to accommodate my kids. Call me selfish, call me vain. But, I guess at the heart of it, I didn’t want to make my child/-ren the center of the home. I feared having garish plastic toys screeching out the ABCs on repeat on my living room floor.

However, I’ve come to understand that accommodating a child in your home is not the same as making her the center of the universe. In Montessori there is a lot of talk about the “prepared environment:” “…Maria Montessori’s concept that the environment can be designed to facilitate maximum independent learning and exploration by the child.”

Today, I’d like to share with you how, through the basic principles of Montessori, D. and I have, little by little, made room for our daughter.

Those principles of the prepared environment are:

-Is each room safe for the child?

-Is each room accessible and welcoming to the child?

-Is each room clean, orderly, and peaceful?

-Is each room aesthetically appealing, beautiful?

-Does each room facilitate the child’s independence and learning?

E. is an equal member of our family, so it seems only right that she has a part in each room of our apartment, an indicator to her that she is welcome everywhere (minus my shoe collection…ha!) and a reminder to D. and I that we live with a little person with different needs than our own.

So, bienvenidos a nuestra casa.

Continue reading