Lately in motherhood, I …
Made countless chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese dinners.
Read The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes to Sophie even though I was tired and didn’t want to read a “long” book before bed.
Went on a nature walk with Sophie and Bryan, and watched while Sophie bravely crawled across a fallen tree.
Pushed Sophie on the swings at the park and helped her cross the monkey bars.
Read Cinderella to Sophie during our visit to the local library.
Managed to break Sophie of the habit of coming in to sleep in our bed in the middle of the night (but admit that I kind of miss her there too).
Gave Sophie $1 so she could by hummus from the Farmer’s Market vendor.
Lost my cool and told Sophie I may stuff her mouth with cotton balls if she didn’t stop screaming so much (after which I regretted the remark when she cried and said she wouldn’t be able to breathe).
Let Sophie apply eye make-up to my forehead, paint my nails and “style” my hair.
Cried as I was presented with a beautiful drawing of the Sophie and me, a tote bag with our portraits, and a “My Mommy” book at Sophie’s school’s Mother’s Day .
As I celebrated my sixth Mother’s Day yesterday, I thought a lot about how motherhood is such a crazy, amazing, beautiful, frustrating, scary, and happy thing. There are still times that I feel pure joy one minute and utter frustration the next. One day I feel like I’m doing okay being a mom, and the next day I worry I’m not doing the best I should for my daughter. But I think the secret to it all is not getting caught up in those moments of despair and really living in the joy and happiness (which, thankfully for me, are more than the feelings of despair).
I look at Sophie and I am so proud of the little person she is becoming. She amazes me each and every day. I’m in awe of her strength, bravery, sense of curiosity, and love of learning. And yet she can also be the most sensitive and empathetic person (and pretty damn funny). I am so blessed and grateful that she brings such happiness and love to my life every day. She has taught me so much more than I ever expected to learn.
Thank you to Erin at Such Small Steps for inspiring the “Lately in Motherhood” post idea. She wrote “Motherhood Lately,” which was so good I had to borrow the concept. Check out her blog — it’s one of my favorites!
Sophie’s preschool class has been learning about famous artists this year. They started with Pablo Picasso, worked their way through Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh, and are now in the midst of Claude Monet. This particular artist unit led the class on a field trip to San Diego’s Balboa Park and to the Park’s Lily Pond. The historic site bears a striking resemblance to Monet’s famous water lily pond painting, which the kids have been studying.
Armed with painting paper, water colors and French baguettes, the teachers and kids (and a few parents, me included) spent the morning at the Balboa Park Lily Pond observing the water lilies. After a French-inspired snack, the kids carefully sketched their vision with exquisite detail. Next they used water colors to paint their masterpieces.
Sophie was so excited to see the lily pond and channel her inner-Monet. It was amazing to watch the concentration these kids had and how all their pieces of art were so different, and so full of wonder and personality.
By the way, this field trip idea would be a great homeschool lesson plan too.
The water lilies …
French baguettes …
Ready for color …
There are so many good books out there these days and, of course, so many of them are sitting on my nightstand. I feel like I’ve been devouring books like food lately. Which I guess is better than actually devouring food.
I recently finished the following three books that were all so good I read each of them in a matter of days.
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler was SO good and I appreciated her original story idea. The Affair by Colette Freedman was a fascinating look at the surprisingly sympathetic three triangle perspectives of an affair. And Amy Hatvany’s Heart Like Mine left me in tears throughout the entire book. I love Amy’s books, but this one was a tearjerker. But oh so good!
I’ve been lucky to get to know Amy through Twitter book chats and Facebook. But meeting her in person on her recent book tour visit to San Diego this month was an especially nice treat!
After three intense fiction books, I’ve switched gears and am now knee-deep into My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss. I’m loving her memoir, but biographies mixed with food and recipes are always tough for me to read before bed because they make me so hungry. Her stories of growing up in Berlin are fascinating though.
Here’s what’s currently on my nightstand to be read next (Amazon cart and wish list filled with books not included).
About a month ago, Sophie and I were in the grocery store looking for that evening’s dinner. It had been a long day for both of us, was very cold outside (cold for San Diego), I was in no mood to cook, and was eager to get home and into my comfy pajamas. As I browsed the gourmet soup and sushi section of the store, I pointed out to Sophie the live lobster tank in the hopes she’d stay interested for a a minute while I picked out my dinner.
Well, interested was an understatement. Sophie was enamored with these live lobsters. She would not take her eyes off of them. She wondered if they could see her and debated what they were thinking about. Even after an emergency bathroom run, she made me promise to return to the lobster tank for one last look. I then found myself staring at Sophie as intensely as she was peering at the live lobsters. What fascination we were both experiencing — she looking at these creatures and me watching her experience something she’s never seen before. And as much as I wanted to hurry us out of the store, I tried to keep myself in that moment and allow her the time to bond with those lobsters.
Later that evening – as we were enjoying our warm soup with a Harry Potter movie – I heard what sounded like pellets being crashed onto the ground outside. Little icy bits fell from the sky and onto our patio. It was hail, I yelled to Sophie! She ran outside to see the pieces of ice and couldn’t believe her eyes. Maybe it would actually snow, she exclaimed! The hail eventually subsided. But between the live lobsters and hail, Sophie couldn’t stop talking about the exciting things she experienced that evening.
I had the pleasure of spending the last two weeks with Sophie as she’s been home with me for spring break. I know some parents may read the word “pleasure” and think I’m crazy. But I have to admit, it was some of the best days we’ve spent together. I know part of that is because she’s older now and can express her emotions and desires easier. But I’ve also learned to focus more on the simpler things in life to make our time together more meaningful.
I purposefully did not pack every day of our vacation full with activities. I made sure we had days at home with absolutely nothing scheduled, just to see what would transpire. And when we did go on our outings, I really tried to be present in the moment myself and not worry about what would come next (not always easy for me). But I wanted Sophie to enjoy the little moments and the simple things. And now – with Sophie back at school – I admit I’m a bit sad the days are back to business as usual.
I think about that cold evening from a few months ago quite often. That night was one of those parenting “a ha” moments for me where I remembered what truly matters in life. It’s not about fancy toys, trips to Disneyland, clothes, the best schools, or even eating organic foods. It’s about the little moments – like live lobsters and hail – that are so simple, yet bring so much joy and wonder to a child.
Sundown Monday brought the Jewish holiday of Passover, which re-tells the story of Exodus, the Jews enslavement in Egypt and their journey to freedom. This year’s festivities began with Sophie’s annual preschool performance of the re-telling of the story. Sophie and her class played the important role of the items on the seder plate with Sophie being an egg.
We celebrated with the traditional dinner complete with items Sophie made in her preschool class: a seder plate, Miriam’s cup, a Haggadah, and a matzah cover. It was a special night for me, watching Sophie participate so fully in the holiday. She asked – and answered – the four Passover questions (even chanting one of them in Hebrew). She knew the meaning of why the holiday is called Passover and what each of the seder plate items represented. I was in awe of her and so proud of her knowledge and Jewish pride.
Sophie’s Seder plate …
For those of you keeping Kosher for Passover the next eight days – or simply looking for recipes to use up your leftover boxes of matzah – here’s a recipe for Chocolate Toffee Matzah. I tried it for the first time this year and it was delicious!
TOFFEE CHOCOLATE MATZAH
4 pieces of matzah (don’t use thin or salted matzah)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
2 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
- Preheat over to 350-degrees
- Lay matzah out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt together butter and sugar. Bring to a boil. Mix together for about four minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the water.
- Pour sugar mixture over matzah and cover evenly.
- Sprinkle with chocolate chips.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, spread chocolate with spatula, and add nuts to top (if desired).
- Cool at room temperature. When the matzah is cooled, break it into pieces and store in a container at room temperature.
Attention San Diego Residents: I am giving away a Family Pack to the Hullabaloo Family Music Festival on April 13, 2013 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Head over to the San Diego Features/Giveaways page for more information and to enter for a chance to win an amazing family fun pack to the music festival with other great prizes!
One of the hardest parts of parenthood is how your child’s problems can so often cause your own childhood emotions and memories to float to the surface. I experienced this myself a few weeks ago when Sophie came home after a particularly challenging day at her gymnastics class.
After a challenging gymnastics session, Sophie ultimately broke down in tears, crying over the fact that no matter how hard she tries, she can never earn the much-desired “gold star sticker” that is bestowed upon one of 15 5-year-olds in the class. Apparently this Survivor-esque contest has taken it’s toll on Sophie, leading to this massive break down in frustration. She further confessed – through tears and sobs – that she tries so hard to concentrate and listen and sit still, yet one particular little girl (who happens to be a friend of hers) constantly distracts her. And as a result, the sticker is never within Sophie’s grasp and she just doesn’t know what to do.
Hearing Sophie tell me this story made my heart sink and tears immediately welled up in my eyes. Of course I felt badly for Sophie because I felt her frustration and pain. But the sadness I felt were not just for Sophie. They were for a little 2nd grade girl who was chastised by her teacher and forced to stay after school because a classmate got her into trouble for no reason. Yes, that little 8-year-old girl was me. Listening to Sophie’s story, I was suddenly in 2nd grade again — feeling scared, frustrated, and helpless. Choking on my words and tears, I shared this story with Sophie who said that girl didn’t seem like a very nice friend.
After the crying subsided (both Sophie and mine), she seemed to get over the gymnastics episode fairly quickly. Me on the other hand? Not as much. For the entire day following this emotional conversation, I still felt so badly for Sophie. Every time I replied the episode and heard her words, I started to cry all over again. I couldn’t understand why I was still so upset when clearly she had moved on.
But that’s just it. She did move on. But I was still experiencing the pain I felt when I was 8-years-old. Sophie’s pain felt so real and raw to me because of that same injustice I felt when I was only two years older than her.
I’m realizing this is will be the tough part of parenthood for me. Not knowing what old wounds and memories will be reopened by Sophie’s experiences, and the encounters she has with the mean kids or the friendships she makes as she grows. Suddenly the days of worrying about her watching too much Nick Jr. seem trivial.
I do worry about the emotional toll this new stage of our lives will take (for me mostly). But I also know that Sophie is incredibly strong, and so was I as a kid. She will make her mistakes and I know she’ll get her feelings hurt countless times. Which means my feelings will also be put through the ringer. I guess we can only do so much for our children. So as I wait for the next emotional debacle, I will start stocking up on Kleenex.