mommy hacks-best of toddler books

i never do these “best of” lists, but i thought i had to share because it might save some of you the great pain of having to go through books trial and error. and let’s be real, time is of great value when raising a baby or a toddler. so i offer you my best of toddler books; for the great new phase when they are no longer interested in books that read longer than a tv commercial.

so i am thrilled that buddy adores reading. i am reading the same book about 15 times a day and i have zero complaints. however, i am finding that with his attention span, i can’t read longer books anymore. as a baby, you can sit and read your heart’s content. but with a toddler, he’s flipping pages so fast i can’t even keep up.

i have it reduced to these books that have approximately one sentence per page. this was by trial and error, as ordering books blindly through the internet gives you no idea if they meet this one sentence rule. so the following is a list i’ve compiled of toddler-friendly books besides dr. seuss (not a knock on ole’ seuss–i love seuss). full disclosure: some of these may be a bit longer, but i find that i can skip over a few words or sentences without losing the gist of the story.

1. the very hungry caterpillar, by eric carle
2. one love, by cedilla marley
3. carry-me fishy fun, by tim bugburd
4. all the peekaboo! series (ie. peekaboo playtime, peekaboo faces, etc.)
5. 3såååC 2DVW3azao-lp…‘“ (<—-that was contributed by my toddler)
6. please, baby, please, by spike lee & tonga lewis lee
7. because i love you, by julia hubery
8. sweet dreams, little one, by julia hubery
9. you're my little star, by julia hubery
10. the runaway bunny, by margaret wise brown
11. goodnight moon, by margaret wise brown
12. first 100 words series
13. if you give a mouse a cookie, by laura numeroff
14. i am a bunny, by ole risom
15. little bunny, by lauren thompson
16. that's not my ____ series

several of these books make great interactive reading activities. ask your tot, "where's the bunny?" etc. etc. and it makes for great fun. my tot's favorite is also a lap bounce while reading the particularly rhyme-y ones. crazy, goofy voices–anything to snazz up a story is naturally a plus. huzzah! we win.

mind vomit

sooooo, friends!

long time no see. just going to shoot this out there and get back to writing my book (woot woot!).

super random, i’ve been thinking lately about motherhood. naturally, since being a mother. but i just had a conversation with a few of my friends who haven’t walked that path (yet? who knows.) and it came up about labor and the afterwards.

here was my experience with when buddy was first born. there wasn’t an outpour of emotion. there wasn’t a rush of love for this little being. no. if you are a mother who felt that way, that’s great. but for me, it was like someone handed me an alien. and told me that i was to babysit someone else’s child for the next 18 years. my brain couldn’t comprehend that the gooey, wailing creature i was holding was the same guy who was doing aerobics in my belly. he didn’t feel mine.

i fell in love with my little man. it was gradual at first, but the love then exponentially increased like a rocket. it was almost as if i had to get to know him first and acquaint myself with him before i thought to myself, “wow, you do belong to me.” i know, you’re used to what women tell you it’s like; not how it is for some/the majority/the few. the bottom line is this: motherhood, even the beginning of it, is completely unique to the individual. so don’t EVER think for a second that there is something wrong with you because you didn’t feel what “everyone else” feels. don’t think you’re wired wrong because you didn’t feel immediate affection for your infant when he/she’s first born.

when i told my friends about my experience, they immediately responded with reassuring me that they actually heard that a lot of women feel that way. to which i would like to reply with, it’s so sweet that they felt obliged to reassure. i couldn’t care less if what i experienced was “normal” or not. because the relationship i have with my guy is kick ass. but still, it’s really irritating that what we see in media is making women feel like they are subpar because they don’t feel this sparkly thing. i was just fortunate enough to not give a damn.

so to women everywhere: your experience with childbirth and bonding is special. don’t let anyone take that away from you. if some mom in your community tells you with a tear in her eye that hers was hollywood-esque, proudly say that you thought someone had switched your baby. because that’s real. and that’s yours.

see ya later, guys. back to work!

Supah Dupah Quick Update

i haven’t forgotten you, my faithful readers!

it was important to me to drop in and let you know what’s been happening. the book writing has been intense. i have been consolidating everything i have written in the past…pfff…eight years? it’s been a mess, but it’s getting there. i’m also working on my last two chapters and getting started on interviews. after that, revising some old chapters. after that? editing, editing, editing. i was getting discouraged, but it may very well be possible that i will be finishing this book in december like i had hoped. i have an incredible feeling of empowerment and optimism.

i really must get back to working (baby-free! can you believe it?! thank you, grandmas out there who make dreams happen!). as far as progress, it’s coming together.

oh! and i am pleased to announce that i will be creating a new twitter account for my new book. less mommy tweets, but more geared towards the economy, my generation, the job market, and education. all things related to my soon-to-be real live book! once i get it all designed and whatnot, i will let you know what my handle is :-). and i would love for you to follow me through this journey! woo hoo!

will check in again later! wish me luck! four months to go and counting down until completion!

-j

meeting strangers

image image

joining the mom community is all about putting yourself out there and meeting new people. connecting. finding friends for your little one, which pretty much feels like dating all over again. looking for mom friends isn’t easy. in general, talking to strangers isn’t easy. you’re vulnerable, it’s awkward, and you may end up making a fool of yourself. but i decided to just dive right in. but not in the way that i probably should have. here is a blurp of an email i sent my good friend, erin, recently of an encounter that went not at all how i had hoped… enjoy :).

“let me set the scene. i am at a play space on the third floor of the mall.

jake is off playing on what looks like a watermelon, but is really a fish.
i sit next to a grandma smiling at him.
“what is that supposed to be?” i point at the watermelon/fish.
she shakes her head apologetically. waves her hands helplessly, “italiano.”
“oh!”
for some reason, i am possessed by this overwhelming feeling of enthusiasm and determination to let this woman know that i adore italy so i attempt to speak completely indecipherable italian to her.
“permiso!” i cry out, robustly, the first word that comes into my brain. which means, excuse me.
“ah!” she nods approvingly. “permiso,” she repeats with a smile, approving of what i am assuming is my accent.
“excusi!” i continue, which means, excuse me.
again, she nods her head, repeats, “excusi.”
“si!” i throw out there, hoping that i’m not reverting to spanish. luckily, it turns out “yes” is actually “si” in italian.
there’s a pause.
“toilete!” i say with a proud flourish. i just said “toilet” to the woman. i should have stopped here but i didn’t.
she gestures over to jacob, who has a glazed look on his face. perhaps he senses his mother’s idiocy. she ticks off her fingers, and i quickly guess she is asking how old he is.
i hold up a very erect finger, “ONE.” i say, in a bold tone that should only be reserved for the hearing impaired, not for foreigners.
“un ano!” she says with a smile.
“and…AND DUE!” i say excitedly, holding up again, two very erect fingers. the grandmother looks confused again, looking between my fingers and jacob. now i can see what she is thinking. “but you just say he was one year old….”
“oh!” i say suddenly, “un, due…and…THREE!” i desperately hold up three fingers, hoping she understands that for god knows what reason, i am attempting to count to the woman in italian, which is utterly pointless because, well….i DON’T KNOW ITALIAN.
“due ano?” she looks bewildered.
“no…” i say despairingly…”un ano….” she looks stumped.
in one last attempt, i say, “rome?”
nope, nothing.
“the pope?”
nothing.
she calls over her kids to come translate, speaking rapid italian, which i’m pretty sure means, “kids, come over and tell me what this crazy lady is saying!”
three girls gather around me, and i begin to feel nervous.
“how do you say rome in italian?” i ask timidly.
“how am i supposed to know? i’m only half italian.”
well crap.
suddenly, i remember! “ROMA!”
i turn to the grandma. “ROMA ES BELLISIMO!”
“bella?” she offered.
“si…” i say again.
i finally shut up and pretend to take pictures of jake as i slump away totally humiliated.
so here is my lesson….if you don’t speak the language, don’t even try…..just don’t do it…..”
but really…what is my lesson? just dust yourself off and try again. meeting new people is all about making an idiot out of yourself and being okay with that.

have a little faith

image image

when i was in basic training, i quickly learned that the best thing i could do for myself is to be observant and watch as others made their mistakes to ensure i didn’t make the same ones. while others got chewed out by t.i.s screaming inches away from their faces, saliva flying, i modeled good behavior.

what i never thought is that i had it easy in basic training. you always had someone else making your mistakes. as a mother, you have to actually live through your mistakes and learn from yourself. suddenly, you’re responsible for this little being. another life other than your own. and it’s terrifying to know that everything you do factors into shaping this little person’s future, their well-being, their stigmas about themselves, other people, culture, environment–everything. how could we be given such an enormous responsibility? is there anything more delicate, more fragile, than a human life?

us women were given this awesome gift. and we doubt ourselves. oh, do we know how to doubt. but us women are made of resilient stuff. just unbelievable strength. we are programmed for this. so while we doubt, while we second guess…we are actually continually functioning on a subconscious, maternal level. because we have our instincts. we will always know what’s best for our little ones. because although the cord was cut, there is still a connection with the person that sweetly slept inside our bellies for the precious time they were there. us mothers know best. we just need the confidence that we do.

 

announcement!

image image image image

okay, all…

i have come to accept that being a mom, blogger, and writer isn’t going to happen for me. therefore, i am taking a brief (but temporary!) hiatus from my blog. take note, friends. i will be back shortly. i need the time to focus on my book, because i’m starting to get discouraged that i’m not making any real progress on it other than writing it in my head.

so you may get the occasional blog post, but i will be absent for an extended period of time. i won’t be MIA for months, just a few weeks or so to get my book some real direction. some of you may appreciate this move i am making, as you have perhaps had a similar a-ha moment. i am realizing that i need to prioritize and i really can’t get everything done simultaneously. and i definitely don’t feel bad about that. i’m only human.

and on a side note, i will be working on my blog’s remodel. as you may know, i already gave it a makeover just recently, but I’m really not content with it. so make sure to check back sometime and bask in it’s awesomeness. don’t forget about me! because i sure as heck won’t forget about you…BUT, i will be on twitter. so reach out! say hello!

wish me luck!

-joan

redefining yourself past “SAHM”

image image image image

becoming a mother is all about redefining yourself. with these mom communities i’ve been joining online and in my neighborhood, i find that several of us have fallen into the trap of including “mom” in our introductions–but not in the way that you think. yes, it our roles, but i’ve actually forgotten what it’s like to introduce myself beyond what i do at home. i am a writer. it’s so sad that i feel as if i’ve lost a bit of my identity now that i’ve become a mom. i’m really not giving myself enough credit and selling myself short when i simply say, oh i stay at home with the baby. i’m a writer, dangit! i’ve struggled the past year with balancing writing and the baby, and trust me–it’s no easy feat. i would say the baby is winning bar none in that battle. i have had zero time to write, and any time i have during nap time is used to clean, eat, do laundry, unwind, and gather whatever sanity i have left.

the label “stay at home mom” is one i get stuck with. however, i am much more than this. it says so much, to be called a SAHM, and there so much negative connotation. not to mention so much controversy online on whether it is an actual “job”. yes, you’re right, we don’t get paid for it. but that’s really beyond the point that everyone is missing. the point is, what the message is trying to get across, is that it is challenging, and it is a time-consuming commitment that is sufficiently demanding, just as much a as a “real job.” i mean, holy balls, what is everyone getting so heated over? is that really undeniable? everyone says, it’s a lifestyle choice. well, yeah, it is. we chose to bust our butts over our kids and budget versus having to bust our butts over our jobs that give us a sufficient income, AND coming home exhausted only to try and squeeze in time with our kids. they’re both equally difficult decisions, and both involve sacrifices. both parties deserve parades. SAHMs AND working moms alike. no one has it easy. hopefully we can all learn to agree on that instead of pointing fingers and thinking of ourselves as martyrs because we think our choices were better. as long as you believe in the choice you’ve made, who cares what other people think. am i right?

on a side note, it leaves me stumped when people ask me what my tyical day is. this really grinds my gears. my frustration isn’t directed at anyone, it’s just that whatever answer i give, it’s totally unsatisfying. and my answer never justifies how i spend my time or fully captures my life. i don’t have a itemized list of what i do during the day. and when i try to explain, i can see it from the looks on their faces, it takes all day to do that? i want to laugh. yes, to entertain a child, it does. it takes a circus, all the energy of the cast of “rent”, a fireworks display…and yes, i do dance in front of my bewildered child and sing like I was gene kelley. all in a day’s work. i guess why it bothers me is that i’m not doing any SAHMs justice when i give crap answers to this question. because it perpetuates the idea that we just sit at home idly. when in reality, i need to be real and say that everything i say i do throughout the day, also picture a baby screaming/pulling on your leg/whining for your attention/etc. that prompts several interruptions. so yes, i have become the multi-tasking champ. so there’s that. then that’s as accurate as i can get without you actually sitting in on a day. and in that case, if you do, be ready to dance.

please see awesomest twitter post here by @mom_community.