Thursday, September 12, 2013

Whadya Know?! Preschool is Pretty Cool!

So the munch started preschool last week and I have to say, why didn't I think of this before?! Well, of course I did, but the kiddo missed the cutoff for several programs following the school rules of needing to be a certain age before Sept 1st last year, then I never got around to enrolling her in the new year and all of a sudden it was summer and we were moving! So here we are heading in to the first of many years of instruction and I'm keeping my fingers crossed. To be honest, this mama was more nervous about preschool than the kiddo, probably because what kid understands the ins and outs of preschool if they've never seen the inside of a school room? I went over and over in my head the possibilities and potential for all-out disaster, everything from the morning trials and tribulations of getting a so-not-a-morning-kid out of bed before 8:30 am to the crying and screaming as attempts were made to pry little arms and legs off my body. From the other kids not wanting to play right on down to her refusal to follow the rules and being left in the land of Time Out forever. Not kidding people, I actually lay awake in the early dawn of the first day worrying about the coming hours. I kept my phone attached to my person like it was sewn on, afraid I was going to miss the call from the school, demanding I pick up this crazy child.

But guess what, and this is no surprise to the veteran mommies out there.....the call never came. The almost pleasant visit to the doctor's office came and went. The hours of quiet in which were filled with quality work time and household organization were extremely fulfilling. The lunch which was eaten without having to get up once was wholeheartedly enjoyed. The kid was returned to me smiling, happy, excited to share her experience, and, after the second day, proudly announced she had napped during quiet time. So this is what it's like! It's a total win-win for everyone. The munchkin gets to be educated, entertained and have a whole day filled instead of being with a mom who is pretty darn good at filling up the time with cool things to do but is in no way SUPERMAMA. The mama gets to get things done during the day instead of in the early dawn or the wee hours of the night. Both get to enjoy afternoons together, catching up after what seems like being apart for decades. Totally awesome.

Now, this peace will be all mine for exactly two more months. After that, the fourth player in this family will be making his opening appearance and that's gonna be a whole new ballgame! It's going to take a whole new set of skills to juggle the times and trials of being a parent to two fabulous little peeps.  I can only imagine the adventures awaiting my full participation and patience. Ummm, how soon do they accept babies into preschool? Just kidding folks, cause if the little guy is to be my last baby in bunting, I'm probably going to be sobbing when his school bell rings.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mama Finds Her Ommm Spot

Being a full time mama to a very precocious, strong-willed, almost 4 year old girl is pretty awesome. I love her enthusiasm for learning, her excitement about life and her willingness to help. Her determination rocks too....except when said determination is to make her own way of the world, and not in the way I'd like to see things happen. Now, don't get me wrong, I truly appreciate an opinion. I'm from California, remember? And I've lived in San Francisco for over 10 years, so opinionated folks are my homies. Except when the opinion is coming from my child. And it's an opinion or a stuck-in-the-mud-and-not-moving position. That's usually about the time when I say to the hubby, "this is your daughter!"

Since we've moved from San Francisco to Dallas, I feel like the determination to do everything differently than how I would prefer has gotten stronger. Could be simply because she's getting older, getting closer to the ripe old age of 4, thus making her an expert opinion on just about everything, and of course, much more knowledgable than mom. Could be because everything is new, so she's trying to establish herself in a new pad, a new city, a new routine, trying to make new friends. Could be, because secretly she's sitting in bed at night plotting, very Dr. Evil like, "now how do I take my mom to the limits of her patience, test that patience, give up just a smidgen to let her think she's got one on me and then continue to test, heeee heee hee?!" In all honesty, I doubt it's the latter but I'm thinking the former has something in the mix.

Either way, I'm having to find some serious ommm, without being able to enjoy a nice relaxing glass of vino in the evenings. Exercise usually does the trick and just as I had gotten back into a pretty impressive gym habit, considering my size and point of pregnancy, kiddo #2 decided to create some slight strain on the bod, so I've had to cut back in the last week. Hot nights on the town with the gals is a guaranteed stress reliever but my first Mom's night out of the month is tonight and lucky me, I've got one planned for Thursday too.

Writing seems to be a good outlet too, so if you see more and more of these thoughts spilled out, it's lil ol' me, trying to come to terms with being a calm and serene mother, only screaming with my mouth shut, in the bathroom, with the door shut. I'm not saying I make it to the other room every time but I try to remind myself to put my feet in her little shoes, and honestly try to look at her world. It's a pretty controlled environment, and having so little power and control over any situation on any given day would make me a crazy lady too. So I just think over and over again, empathy, empathy, serenity and peace at home. Usually does the trick. But not always.

So that's where the MNO's, the secret stash of chocolate chip cookies, a new recipe combined with a great Pandora station and the killer view of the marina and lake come into play. So far I'm pretty proud of my ability not to lose it every time the kiddo and I have a stand-off, which have come to look  a lot like a scene out of one of the Western flicks her grandpa is so fond of watching.

How do you manage to stay calm in the face of a stand off?? I'd love to hear it!!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

NorCal Mama Settles In...And Starts To Melt

Well, it's been just over a month since we made the BIG move to the BIG D. My experience was rather enjoyable actually, thanks to a First Class ticket for the kiddo and myself. It's a whole new world beyond those curtains I tell ya! Our arrival was smooth, and our transition in becoming pool devotees was pretty quick, although apparently the powers that be really wanted to make me feel welcome in the Lone Star State. News Flash! The month of July '13 in Dallas was one of the coolest in decades. Yeah folks, I'm talking about highs in the 90's with lows in the high 60's, unheard of, according to seasoned Texans. Having grown up in the Sac Valley, I actually dealt with these temps rather well, in fact, was enjoying them, being acclimated to 70's and 80's with lows in the 50's in Marin and the Bay Area. Joined a couple of mother's clubs, started driving everywhere, and realized I still couldn't hit the parks unless it was before noon or after 6pm. It's library fun, pools, water parks, gym class and shade for us, probably until about mid-September.

Now, about this hot weather. I'm sure being the proud owner of a basketball style belly is adding to the heat factor. But it's hot. Super-duper hot. Like it's been in the 100's every day for a week and shows no sign of a cool front, anywhere on the horizon. I've almost been wishing my weakness was kinda like the Wicked Witch of the West, you know, the gal who melts when splashed by a bucket of water? Yeah, I'm thinking about that, a lot. Cause I'm melting without the water. Give me water, give me a pool. Lucky for us, the sweet spot we landed is about 100 feet from a fantastic pool that seems to be open just about all hours of the day. Also lucky for us, the Cullen Clan of Texas are the proud owners of one of the nicest pools in which I've ever spent time, complete with a fabulous view of the lake, not bad at all! So we'll stick to water during the day, hanging at the park at night, finding indoor play spots and just getting used to the weather. I'm sure, or at least, I'm hoping, next year I'll be adjusted and since I won't be sporting the beach ball belly, it will be a little more tolerable.

Till next time, think of a pool and think of me!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Marin Mama....Leaves Marin

I never thought I would ever write a post about leaving Marin County. I've lived here for 11 years, the longest of any place besides where I grew up in central California. I've lived here, loved here, made amazing friends here, raised my 3.5 year old wild child here. It's everything I've ever wanted out of a town, a community, a home pad. Except, how much it costs. Sadly, this paradise is the most expensive strip of land to call home in these United States, second only to New York City. When the hubby and I decided to bring some kiddos into this world, we made the decision one of us would only work part-time, in order to be with our children during the formative years. It's a choice I don't regret in the slightest but it's a sacrifice because we cannot afford to own a home, provide security and enjoy life as a family living here. So when a job offer came up in Dallas, my husband's hometown, we struggled, agonized and probably changed our minds a gazillion times until we finally made the decision to leave CA, head for Dallas and set up shop in his hometown, where his parents and sister with two young kiddos of her own are thriving. We are expanding the brood come November and our small two bedroom flat is already squishy so it seemed like a good time for a little change, or rather, in this case, a huge, gigantic, fantastically large change.

So as I head into my last week living in California, for the next few years anyhow, I am sad, excited, nervous, exhausted and so many other emotions, it's a major roller coaster ride with rather large, stomach losing drops. I can't wait to live near my sis-in-law, who will become my partner in crime. I am so excited to watch my kids grow up with their cousins. I'm thrilled to not have to worry about making the paycheck meet all our financial needs, every single GD month. I'm curious about the Lone Star state, on every visit thus far I've enjoyed myself tremendously. Southern hospitality, it's not a myth people!  On the other hand, I'm sad to be leaving my home state, the best state in the union, the most beautiful place in the world. I'm reeling over leaving the cultural diversity in the Bay Area, something I didn't grow up with but have learned to love, savor and sometimes even take for granted. I'll miss the sounds of the Pacific Ocean and the deep, moist redwood groves. I'll miss the breathtaking spans of the Golden Gate Bridge and the glory that is the bay, something that I, not once, ever tired of viewing. I'll be torn up at the fact I won't be able to drive an hour to my mom's house, or 3 hours to our cabin in Tahoe City, where the crystal clear, icy blue waters await my splash.

I won't be gone forever, there ain't no way someone could keep me out of the Golden State, but now I'll be a visitor rather than a resident, a status I'm still not quite sure I feel comfortable about, or have even accepted. I know I'll be able to appreciate what's before me when I visit, because I'll know what to do, who to visit, where to eat. I know my family and I will look forward to our vacations in California, something millions of people dream about and many never see to fruition. We'll have more cash to enjoy our time here, instead of scraping the barrel to make it work.

And who knows? Maybe we'll be back someday, maybe we won't be able to stay away. It's a special place this California, and it will always be in my heart. But the time has come to put something else first  and I have to say, making this decision with my husband, for the good of our family, is the first real grown up thing I think I've ever done. Putting the fam first, me second, is simply straight up serious adult business, no joke.

So goodbye my sweet state, I will treasure our time together near and dear to my heart. And when I return, I have no doubt you will embrace me with open arms, and whisper a song of joy, which is just so left coast and so very me indeed.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Marin Mama Stops to Smell the Roses

Wanna know what gets me going? Springtime in Marin County. Yup, it's at this time I sit back and really dig in my heels, reaffirming my determination to ensure my family lives and thrives in this absolutely beautiful place. It's really not fair, I mean, to people who don't live near Marin or the Bay Area because the scenery is well, simply breathtaking. It's not just the rolling green hills or the vast amounts of wildflowers seen fluttering in the wind just about everywhere. It's the fresh smells, the creeks flowing, the mist and fog seen hovering around Mt. Tam like a blanket wanting to cover the sleeping lady for a nice afternoon nap. It's seeing my fellow Marinites taking advantage of the sunny but-not-crazy-hot days. We can be found lounging at the parks, walking down our main streets enjoying ice cream, wandering the booths at any number of farmer's markets, kayaking, grabbing a beer at Marin Brewing Company after an awesome bike ride.

I consider it an honor and an absolute privilege to only work weekends and thus be able to wander the county with the kiddo in tow almost every day of the work week, when the trails are empty, the lakes are still and the meadows are pristine.  The little gal loves it too, which is a thrill all in itself. She already talks about the beach and the water with such love that this mama, having grown up in the Sacramento Valley, believes with all her heart that it's oh-so-cool we can pack up the car and hit the sand within 30 or so minutes.

Our little yard is in full bloom. The pink jasmine is about the explode and I never get tired of the scent so strong it wafts down to the lower level of our driveway. The hubby got a head start on the garden planting and the potato tops are sprouting, the strawberries are blooming and all the perennials are popping up and showing their true colors. I can't wait to start picking the fruits of our labor and trying, at least, to get some of it in the house before my daughter eats most of it, fresh, right there in the yard.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Marin Mama Goes Head to Head....With the Righteous Mommy

Okay, this is a little bit of a rant. I'm a pretty laid back mama. Rules are definitely important, as is respect and listening but overall, I'm up for letting kids figure it on their own, sans the hover-style parenting many people seem to find so fashionable these days. For example: leaving your kid in the car for over 60 seconds to run an errand, even if the windows are down....maybe not such a great idea. Walking away from a screaming 3 year old who won't leave the confines of the toy ship at the local children's museum....totally acceptable. I'm talking maybe 50 yards here, with sight of said screamer at all times. Honestly, it was either walk away and hope she follows or rip her out of the ship and carry a kicking, screaming, very unhappy child to the front gate. I opted for the former, because, again, I think it's important to let kids figure some things out on their own. RIGHT?!!

 Well apparently this was very, very wrong for another mom today. She saw the kiddo's face coming from out of the ship window  and made a beeline for the thing. I was already walking back towards the ship because it was very obvious my brilliant plan wasn't working this time round. She looked at me, looked at the screamer, looked at me again and kept walking. I called out "It's okay, she's mine, it's totally fine" and I got the most distasteful-you-are-an-awful parent look, one of the worst I've seen in some time.

I almost laughed because it really was funny. There was absolutely no chance of anything happening. The place was closing and no one was there, just me, the screamer and this worry wort of a parent who clearly thinks I'm going about child rearing the total wrong way.

Being overly sensitive? Perhaps. But really!? I can't get 50 yards away with kid in sight without being frowned upon? What's next? If I let my kid climb the ladder to the "Big Kid" slide, am I totally irresponsible? Sorry, I'm just of the school of common sense. I mean, kids have been around for how long and are pretty resilient, in my opinion. Especially if she's got me watching from the sidelines.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Marin Mama Stays Calm....Even During the Storms

I've learned that my precocious daughter is huge a tantrum thrower. Now, on authority from this mama's own mama, I too, was a thrower of the mighty storm. I'm talking on the ground, red faced, drama queen style screaming. And lucky me, (and too my mother's delight) I am raising a fantastically smart, stubborn and opinionated little girl. Seriously, I do feel quite lucky. Even when she's on the ground, about 25 yards behind me in the mall, screaming for all the world to hear. Because I know this strength and feeling she has about, oh say, riding the rides when I don't have any quarters, will help her succeed in the future. Because she'll never take it sitting down. Because she'll fight for what she wants, because she'll refuse to give up. Doesn't every mother hope for that kind of determination and strength in a child? Even if it means you feel like you might be going insane at this very moment? Or even if you get those knowing looks and smiles from those who've tread the path before you?

My answer is yes. I'm willing to deal with the drama now, because I know my kiddo won't just sit back and watch her life pass by. Nope, this one is hopping on the happening train and taking over for the conductor!!  At this point, I just need to ride out the tantrum and feel confident that these exhausting moments will come back and give her a little kick in the behind.

And when she has a daughter of her own, I'll be able to look back and feel just as proud of her as my mother feels of me.