Sunday, January 24, 2016

A teddy bear (Bobbi beer) birthday

I don't know how it happened but  I have a 2 year old and it seems so sudden. This year was the year we saw her change from a small but strong willed baby  to a confident, curious, independent little girl that knows so very well what she wants. Of course the changes were not sudden. Our daughter. She changes and learns so much every single second. It is such a joy to see her take life in, explore, grow, discover.

I hear a lot of parents say that it's not worth it, at this stage, to organize parties for their children because they won't remember. When I see how much fun Y. has at  her friends' parties, when I see how much she enjoys hitting the piñata (we made one for Christmas and she has been practicing non-stop), when I see how much she loves cakes and treats and playing, I honestly don't care if she will remember or not. All I care is that she will enjoy, have a blast, feel loved and celebrated.

The theme for this year's birthday was Bobbi beer. She fell in love with the happy little bear from the Dutch book series ever since we read her a story with him for the first time, so it was just a natural choice. It is amusing to see how certain books really speak to her. It's almost like a real friend, Bobbi and Y., they get each other (and the illustrations are really lovely).

We wanted to keep it relatively simple, however I still wanted it to feel special. This year we didn't have the time or energy to make a piñata, but we got it from another Mexican who is a true artist: she was able to construct it just from looking at a drawing.

I made her a blueberry and coconut milk cake and iced it following Sweetapolita's pastel swirl cake tutorial. Then I used paper straws and some wrapping paper to make a carousel with Bobbi bear and its friends. I used this tutorial to make party favor bags (and yeah, I know that is the Paddington bear, but I just thought they were similar enough, and the 2-year-old didn't seem to mind, all bears are Bobbi to her). They were very easy to make.

For snacks there were mozzarella-tomato-basil skewers, olives, peanuts, cut veggies with hummus, mandarin and grapes on a stick and these apple-banana-oatmeal bars in the form of little bears. I also made orange and chia-seed water and that was about it.

It was so nice to see her running around and playing with her friends and having a day all for herself. Do you like to make a big deal out of birthdays or do you prefer low-key celebrations (Mark's the latter)?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Our toddler-friendly felt Christmas tree

 Well... hello. It has been a while. Is anyone still here? I have missed writing so much. But I am always so bone-tired that I never seem to be able to make the time.

Suddenly, it is that time of the year again. I think I've written  before about how the boy does not love having a lot of Christmas decorations or a tree (he just hates stuff in general, and anything that looks crammed).

Last year we had a real Christmas tree, albeit a small one, and it was lovely, but also, I spent a lot of time trying to stop Y. from hurting herself with the crystal spheres (I don't know why I thought they'd be safe).

When I saw pics of toddler-friendly trees made of felt, I knew we would be making one. It is the perfect activity for little children, it is easy, flat, does not take up space and it is oh so pretty (and lazy!) .

We just got the felt from the craft store, free-handed the form of the tree and the ornaments, cut it and attached everything together with safety pins and double-sided tape. We made little holes to
let the lights go through and attached everything with a bit of tape.

Yu loved participating in the process, admiring it and helping assembling it. When it was still work in progress she would hold our hands, lead us to the couch where it was waiting to be hanged and smile in awe, asking us to light it up.It was magic.

We do not have any plans yet for Christmas, I am looking forward to taking a pause, just being with our closest family. And maybe making a ton of cookies with little girl. She loves cooking (and getting messy with flour)  How are you celebrating? What traditions are important to you? 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Like being in the middle of a whirlwind

Life these days does not stop. I feel like I am inside a washing machine that keeps turning round and round, over and over again. Whoever started talking about "balance" when referring to navigating work and family life never really experienced it. I do not feel there is a balance at all. I feel like we are constantly running just to keep the status quo, just to (barely) keep functioning.

Mornings start very early. As soon as we are up it's full get ready, make breakfast, eat breakfast, get dressed, go, go, go. To the train, to the car, to bring Y. to daycare. The days when I can bring her are the best, because it is such a calm, happy place. You don't just drop the kid and go. You have to stay a short while so that the transition takes place in a smooth way. They make nice coffee too.

I like working, I like being productive and helping people out, and learning. And I like the people I work with. But I would be lying if I said I did not think of my girl a lot during the day. I daydream of our days spent at parks, finding cafés to drink latte's and eat lunch together and walking around  the city, discovering new places.

By the time I am back home, the focus is on eating dinner, then playing a bit, reading books and shortly after Yu's bath time and sleeping ritual follow. I want to be present when I am with her, our hours together being now so limited. When she finally falls asleep we are both exhausted. Brain dead. Collapsed. I want to do stuff, but more than anything I want to rest and that always ends up winning. Dishes, minimum picking up, still have to happen.

Weekends are the best but they are not very relaxing. We do all kinds of fun stuff together, we visit friends, we try to go to exciting places (like the petting farm), we catch up with friendships. Laundry, cleaning, groceries have to get sneaked in between.

It keeps going on and on and on.

We are still breastfeeding during the night and though I am ovulating, I am still not pregnant. It makes me feel really sad. I also feel really guilty for being sad, because I know how blessed we are. But we are yearning for another baby, and when you are everyone around you seems to be getting pregnant at the same time. Several friends of us who have children the age of Y. are expecting their second kids and I hate feeling the jealousy again. I do not like to dwell in negative feelings, but they are there. We keep hoping though, and we keep going, trusting, praying.

Monday, August 10, 2015

And then she fell in the shit...

The baby started walking. When I saw her the first time I just could not believe it. We had been waiting for this to happen and when it did it still shocked me. We are so proud.

Yet, that makes things more complicated. She is such a curious spirit that she has to be where the action is happening. Normally we clean the house together on the weekend, taking turns at taking care of the child while the other one does one chore or another. With her newfound mobility and her eagerness to help out and learn... getting anything done around the house is quite the challenge.

So this Saturday I decided to take the kid to the park while the husband stayed home to fix some stuff (which involved the use of terpentine).

It was a fresh and early start of the day. We went to the swing, to the slides, to those wiggly animals that balance and rock. And then we walked to the lake to see the ducks and water chicken. Her excitement made my heart burst. The birds must have thought we were there to feed them because the whole flock came to us (halas, I did not even have the saddest piece of bread with me).

And then... she fell down. The next thing I see her whole shoe, leg and part of her arm is covered in dark green goop. The one day that this paranoid mom goes out without the massive diaper bag, wipes and alcohol in gel this happens.

How have you been doing?

PS I am a disaster... I have not been answering your comments like I used to since... a while. It feels so lame to write this note down. But truly, I appreciate each of them (and my brain is also mush most of the time). I will get around to it soon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hey there

I am still alive... and I have a long list of things I want to write about. I am just having a hard time finding the moments when I am not completely exhausted.

But, if you are so inclined, Kristin, from Not intent on arriving, interviewed me for her Writer Wednesday section. I feel so honored and excited to be feautured there.

I found Kristin  by following her from comments on Lauren's blog. She is an avid traveler and a poet, and as someone who loves to read and wander the world, I really like her space. Thanks for having me!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Traveling with babies

 The first time we put little baby Y. on an airplane and took her with us across the ocean I was a bit terrified about what might happen / how she might take it.

She is now 17 months and she has been on a total of 8 flights, on short and long distances. I am by no means an expert, but I am a lot more confident now than before that first flight, so I thought it would be handy to put together some tips:

- bring a swaddle blanket that the baby has been sleeping on for a couple of days. It will smell familiar and help your kid adjust to the new environment. I actually like bringing two, one for a familiar smell in the airplane (particularly on long flights) and one for the crib once you arrive at destination. A little piece of home will help them transition to the new situation easily.

-the sound of the turbines is the most magical and strong white noise we have ever experienced. It always manages to soothe the baby to sleep when the time comes.

- as for the diaper bag, bring the minimum essentials while being prepared for all the possible scenarios (but if you forget anything don't worry... you will be able to find what you need at the airport, if overpriced. On one of our flights to Mexico we were offered sterilized baby food (pots) by the airline, eventhough we had our own food. She was distracted by having something new to try and actually ate it). This means bringing: all the diapers you need for the duration of the travel time + an extra two. An extra outfit for the baby, and extra t-shirts for each of the adults traveling with the kid. A pacifier (if you use one), favorite toys, water, food for a day. I use my diaper bag as a carry-on, my wallet and passport also go there. Make a small diaper-changing set with everything you need (diapers, changing mat, wipes, diaper cream) so that you can quickly take it out before each change. A diaper bag or backpack with compartments makes it easier to organize everything. Bananas, avocados, pieces of cheese are great snacks that I always like to bring with me. Bibs and muslins to clean up messes are always a must.

-most airlines will let you bring an umbrella stroller that you can keep with you until you board and check in at the gate. This is great, but, even more useful than the stroller we find a baby-carrier indispensable. It will let you be hands-free at crucial moments (like passport control) and babies love to nap in there. We love the Maxi-Cosi Easia and the Lillebaby (specially comfortable these days, when she's gotten bigger, she can be carried in the back and have much more of a view). 

-airports are fun for babies: all the new people and toys (read: magazines, airplane safety cards, bottles of water). They will be amused by the new scenario and also get pretty tired from all the stimulation. In our experience this makes for easier naps, however we do have a very social baby who enjoys looking at everything, waving at everyone, being out of the house.

-have baby suck on the pacifier or breastfeed during take off and landing. We have not had problems with her ears, but we've done this for prevention anyway.

-for long distance flights, if your baby is 10 kg or under you can ask for a crib. This one has been very useful for us. When she was small she did sleep there, later, it worked as a play pen, a place where she loved to sit and stretch. I strongly recommend asking for it, if possible. 

People tend to like babies and, at least with us, have been very understanding. Travel does get harder once they are at that awkward stage where they can crawl but not walk yet... they want to be on the move but can't and won't be happy staying in your lap. Smaller babies (up to 6-8 months) are way easier, because all they need is milk + rest + some distractions and they love to be close to the parents anyway.

I always thought the actual travel was the hard part, but actually what has proven to be trickier is adapting to the new environment / jet lag. It normally takes a couple of days of playing at 3 am, but trying to get on the local schedule, doing as the locals do and going with the flow makes for enjoying travel with small kids.

*The comments on this (lovely) post (about traveling with baby to NY for the first time)  have a lot of handy tips for traveling with kids and babies.

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