Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Grass is Always Greener

Taking the girls to the library isn't my favorite of motherly duties.

DISCLAIMER: I love that they go to the library and I think it's super important--but holy bejesus it ain't easy.

Imagine having to watch two kids who are on two opposite sides wanting to pull every book down that either contains the color pink or that has pictures of horses splattered all over it. Then toss in a game of hide and seek that always ends in laughter as Mia discovers me by moving books and peeking through the other side of the aisle. Then throw in 2 rounds of "pick-em-up" with the basket of about 75 crayons that Mia inevitably knocks over with her knubby elbows while coloring a little too dramatically. And all the while--try to remain as quiet as possible. Because after all, it is a library.

The greatest part of the library is the deep breath I take after successfully hauling two kids and a 20 lb. bag of books back into the car. No, I take that back. The best part of the library is the weekly story time class that both girls attend. For 30 minutes I get to innocently watch on the sidelines as the girls listen to a story, sing some songs, have fun and make a craft. Yes, indeed, this is the best part. I love watching them from the sidelines.

Especially on craft days. Several weeks ago the kids were given a styrofoam cup filled with soil.



Then they glued a smiley face on the outside of the cup and were given a handful of grass seeds that they were to "drizzle" over the top of the soil.

Drizzle.

As in, drop your handful of about 437 seeds onto the top of the soil. Mia followed directions perfectly and in about 17 seconds her craft was completed. Bella however, decided that the proper way to cultivate her grass was to sift through the soil and individually plant the seeds.

Seed by freakin' seed.

For a minute or two, I obliged her obsessiveness by not wanting to disrupt her creativity. About 5 minutes passed, and I felt my foot twitching like crazy. So I calmly interjected, "you might want to sprinkle all the rest of the seeds on top since the class is ending."

Ya know, in that calm and collected voice you use when in the presence of other mothers--yeah that's the one I used.

But Farmer Bella wouldn't budge. By this point, Mia was losing her mind because all she wanted to do was dump the basket of crayons all over the floor and smugly watch me
pick them up.



FIFTEEN MINUTES PASSED, the class ended and it was just me, Bella and the tazmanian devil left in the room. Bella was still implanting the soil--seed by seed. So I went in for another attempt, "perhaps the grass seeds won't be able to breathe and grow if they're all at the bottom of the cup."

Failed attempt on my part and by now my patience was gone. I turned my focus to Mia and started to peel her off the floor. And with that, Bella finished and clapped her hands clean and proudly showed me how she planted every single seed herself by singing a rather loud, "ta-daaaaa."

About a week later.....sure enough-the grass had grown.



These cups sit on the window sill above my kitchen sink. I look at them about 23 times a day and every single time, I smile. I smile because I think about how frustrated I got in such a pure and honest situation. But I also smile, because sure enough Mia's grass is much fuller.
I'm awful.

On a sidenote, the Bella-Mommy-Scissors triangle of trust is back in effect. About 3 months ago, two days after getting scissor priveleges I found a chunk of her hair on my kitchen floor.

I figured I'd give her another chance with the scissors--and she had a ball.



Now if only I could get her to work the lawn mower!

Monday, May 24, 2010

In lieu of...



While driving home from our recent trip to Washington D.C. it occurred to me that while on vacation Bella and Mia had not watched any television (except for the movies we allowed them to watch in the car on the way, which god bless u car entertainment system). I also realized that they spent so much more time together. You know, good ol' face-to-face interaction-- not sitting side by side watching television like they did at home.
They were bonding in a different way.

A deeper, more meaningful bond.

So when we returned home, I decided that I was going to give it a week with no television. I gotta admit, it was hard at first. Taking away television really meant that I'd have to step up my game. It also meant more fighting. Which meant more refereeing on my part.
But, I knew it was possible.

A week passed and I actually liked not having the tv on. The ironic part? I became a better mom. My patience level grew. I wasn't as frustrated with them because now, we were doing everything together. Rather than putting them in front of the tv to distract them while I did what I needed to do and then proceed to get really annoyed when I couldn't complete anything because they'd eventually get up and tug on my shirt,
I learned to find other ways to entertain them.

Don't get me wrong, I find value in quality childrens programming. In fact, I give Sesame Street and Super Why credit for teaching Mia her letters. Seriously! One day, she just busted out some letters after pointing to some on a sign, and it occurred to me that I might wanna get on that. Yes--tv can teach kids a lot. But so can other things. And for me, it's the act of sitting and doing nothing that I have a problem with.

After two weeks had passed since the vacation, I sat the girls down and told them that we won't be watching tv anymore. And I explained why. With of course, the exception for random family movie nights where we'll all watch a movie together. Oh and of course the occasional You Tube clips of Meerkat Manor. Have you seen this stuff?
The girls GUFFAW when watching meerkats.
Who knew?

This new rule of ours meant that I needed to come up with some distractions like stat! Instead of letting them watch tv (while I blog), this is how we've spent the last month:


Playing a rousing game of "cocoon" in a fold-up laundry basket



Feeding our neighbor's horse, Honey



Painting, um blotches, that are clearly flowers when asked. Clearly.



Busting out (and busting up) old toys (sorry bout' your nose Pinocchio,
lie all you want,
ain't no one gonna know)



Getting wet in our white trash version of a bathing suit



And above all, bonding.



We'll see how permanent it becomes....don't get me wrong. The ban is for the girls only. Mama still needs her American Idol and Real Housewives, ya know, quality programming!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A reflection of Mia's 2nd Birthday

I always thought it was so cliche when parents comment on how fast time passes with their kids. But then I became a mother and realized the truth to that statement. It's not so much that time quickly passes, it's more that no matter what, I can't get yesterday back. Even if yesterday was the most perfect possible day, it too will pass and be organized somewhere in the files of memories that I cling to so fondly.

On May 8, 2010 Mia had that perfect, possible day, her 2nd birthday.

With every grandparent present to shower her with kisses and hugs she knew today was going to be special. She knew it was her day.

Before heading out to the Lincoln Park Zoo to celebrate, Eugene took her outside for a couple birthday portraits.



Two seems so young, doesn't it? But to me, she seems soooo much older...already!



It was a cold and overcast day. We ressurrected our scarves and mittens and headed for the zoo. Mia's favorite place of all.

Especially the monkeys....

Align Center

She rode the endangered species carousel with her Lola by her side



She watched a pacing leopard with her Nana by her side



She braved the cold



Not always with a smile



But it wasn't long before the smile returned as we headed to Ed Debevic's, a family favorite.



I mean look at her, she's in a fried food birthday heaven!





Dodging the insults thrown our way by half the wait staff we watched as Babycakes our waitress, presented Mia with the world's smallest sundae.



After practicing for an entire week, she blew the candle out like a champ!



And even got to open some pretty cool gifts...





After lunch we headed home to enjoy some of the cake that my mom and sister baked for her. Since Mia loves herself some kitty cats, that's what she got....





And again we sang to her....



And celebrated even more...





Ultimately, all I wanted for her was a perfect day---and she got just that.

Happy 2nd Birthday Mia!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Showtime!!

I fully believe that watching a preschool ballet recital is the true chicken soup for the soul. It's guaranteed to put a smile on your face---even if your child isn't even up there.


What's funny is that Bella only had two numbers so the entire show lasted about ten minutes. Not kidding. In fact the first song she was so excited and nervous about being up there that she forgot to dance altogether! It was precious.
Here she is giving us one last grin before the curtain closed for the next set.



But by the time the curtain reopened for her final performance, Bella had shaken any previous nerves she had and really started to groove.

My favorite part was when she ditched the choreography for a moment to give a full-on wave to Mia who was sitting in the front row, beaming from ear-to-ear at her big sister.



Thanks Gabe for her adorable hairdo. She would have looked a hot mess had I done it!



Also, how cute is this? My sister's boyfriend and his parents were kind enough to reward Bella with a BEAUTIFUL bouquet of flowers. Thank you, she loved them!



I get so excited to think that little Mia will be joining Bella on stage soon. She is quite the dancer, you know.

This life of mine? I'm loving every minute of it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dinner and a movie


I'm such a sucker for bathroom humor. I almost always revert into a 10 year old whenever I'm in a public bathroom stall and hear someone toot. I'm not kidding--instantaneous cackle! But believe me I don't throw stones---I'll laugh even harder if it's me who accidentally lets one loose.

So it should come as no surprise to you that my daughter Bella and I have a very open relationship when it comes to her bathroom routine. From the moment she began using the potty, she started to artistically interpret her #2's.

EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

For example, one day it looked like a necklace. Or a banana. Or a family of marbles.
Or a sleepy hotdog (my favorite). Or the letter S.

But tonight. Yes, tonight will go down in the books.

ACT 1

SCENE 1

( A bathroom. Bella, a boisterous 4 year old sits
on the toilet, obviously in distress. Her mother,
tired and visibly cranky from a long day, puts
away folded clothes in the bedroom next to
the bathroom.)

BELLA

Uggghhhhh!!!!!

MOTHER

Bella, are you alright?

BELLA

Yes, mom. It. It. It hurts.

MOTHER

Take a deep breath, Bella. It'll help.

BELLA
(Quietly)
Okay.

MOTHER

Did that help?

BELLA
(Overlapping)

Oh my God! Mom, come here! Come quick!

MOTHER

(Rushing over)

Bella, what is it? Is everything okay?

BELLA

(Bella stares directly into toilet bowl,
amazed and in awe of what she sees.)

It's a family mom! Look, a family! I think they're having a party, look at all of them!

BELLA
(Bella inquisitively stares a little bit longer
and notices something that catches her
eye. Mother watches closely.)
Holy canoli mom. Look! Look! They're not having a party mom, they're watching a movie! With popcorn! Popcorn Mom! Look! Corn!

MOTHER
(Trying to hold back laughter,
she clears her throat, begins to speak.)

Why yes Bella, it sure does look like a family movie night, huh?

(Blackout.)


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Practice makes perfect--or at least an angry sibling

The week before a ballet recital is pretty typical in our house. Constant dance routines all day long (ON REPEAT) in anticipation for the big show. Even Mia knows the steps and faithfully follows along 99% of the time.

Except this time. And I caught it on video.

Here's Mia going all "Sean Penn" on me with the camera....it's a hoot.

video

And yes, you are correct, the song that my sweet little 4 year old is dancing to is "Party in the U.S.A. By Miley freakin' Cyrus!

What ever happened to "You Are My Sunshine" and "Twinkle Twinkle" ya know, proper 4 year old dance numbers? Huh?

Ahhh jeez, who am I kidding? I let the girls watch Alvin and the Chipmunks The Squeaquel over the weekend and now all Bella sings is Beyonce's "Single Ladies."

Fast forward ten years and I'm in some serious trouble!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Toss, Water and Grow Wild

Mother's Day was simply perfect. My in-laws are in town, so it was particularly special because we had so many mothers celebrating together. Our entire family went for a picnic and BBQ-ed in style! The highlight of my day was opening Bella's present for me that she made at school.


There was a cute little poem about moms glued to a fancy watercolor card that she painted. But it was when I turned the card over that the laughter began. Bella answered a questionnaire about me as her teacher wrote down her answers.

This is priceless:

What is your mother's name? Just "mommy"
How old is she? 45
How tall is she? Little big
How much does she weigh? 10 or 5 pounds
What color is her hair? Brown
What does she do around the house? Wakes me up
What is her favorite food? Toast and waffles
What is her favorite TV show? The news
What is her favorite song? When we sing Neil Diamond together
My mom is? A good friend
I can tell my mom is mad when? She needs a hug
My mom laughs when I? Tell jokes
My mom is special to me because? I love her

How adorable is that?! Although, I about choked when I read the age line! Just a decade off, that's all :)

Attached to the outside of the gift were three clues: toss, water and grow wild. The gift was a teeny tiny clay pot with a clump of seeds that we get to toss around and watch grow.

I gotta say, mothering these girls is a blessing.
They are so unique and so full of life--I'm proud to be their mom.

As I type this, I feel the kicking in my belly from my child within. I can't help but tear up. I can't wait to meet this little guy and hold him and smell him and kiss him.

I just can't wait to be another mother.

Happy Mother's Day to All!

A Mother's Tribute

In honor of Mother's Day today, I'd like to give homage to my mother, Kathy Post. Also known as Chicago's first ever "stone cold fox," which is how several family members revered my mom back in her heyday. Her beauty was obvious.

Now that's a helmet head!

But aside from her beauty, she had impeccable taste. The grand-daughter of an Italian dress designer, my mom embraced fashion trends before anyone else knew about them. Talk about a fashionista!

How geometric of you, mom!

I swear this picture is framed on the walls at Bucca di Beppo!

She embodied class, sophistication, and a timeless beauty that was obvious to all. From prom queen to "prettiest senior" to valedictorian--she was and still is an inspiration to anyone who knows her.

Isn't she a cutie?!

I love you mom, you're just as beautiful today as you are in these pictures. Which is why on this day only, I will give you a "forgiveness pardon" for my 8 year run with the awful Dorothy Hamill haircut you made me wear. But if I can just spend a moment to bitch about how you dressed me. Where was your impeccable taste when you dressed me for my 3rd grade picture? What, did you not have your morning coffee when you allowed me to leave the house in this frock? Did I do something to upset you? Um, is that a huge SCARF tied into a BOW over a WOOL Izod sweater? Am I really a girl? WHAT IN THE HOLY HELL WERE YOU THINKING? Mooooommmmm!

I will NEVER forget this Mom. NEVER.

Just breathe Gina, just breathe. Remember about the pardon, REMEMBER THE PARDON.

But tomorrow? Tomorrow, my grudge will be in full force.

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Looking Back

On this day, the eve of Mia's second birthday, I am reminded of what a
wonderful year it has been.



She is connected to me in a way that I can't explain, but that I can feel.

And it's strong. So strong.

Aside from the flooding thoughts of how much she's grown....











my heart is heavy as I think back to her birthday party last year. If you didn't get a chance to read about it here it is, A Party with a Purpose.

About a month after our family put on the Fun Fair, this faith-based shelter closed down.
And these families had nowhere to go.

Many times throughout the year, I have thought about these smiles





and have wondered where they are



and if they're safe



I pray that their families are back on their feet and have a stable home for themselves.
I'll never forget that day Mia. I hope that when you look back you know
that you're life started in service to others.

We made a difference that day.



Happy Birthday Eve Mia Narciso!

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