Yin Yang

by Leslie

Normally, I’m a pretty sunny person – happy, upbeat, optimistic.  Today, I’m feeling a little spicy, though.  Maybe it’s the rain.  Maybe it’s my period.  I don’t know.  Anyway, I’m offering up what could serve as my worst enemy’s how-to manual: 

Random Things That Annoy Me
(Keep in mind, this is not an all-inclusive list because the internet just ain’t big enough, baby.)

  • Lip-smacking.  It actually involves more than just lips.  There’s some tongue and saliva in the mix, too.  You know the sound.  It’s that moist, suction sound you hear when someone is really enjoying their food or can’t decide whether to keep their mouth open or shut.  Ick.   
  • References to “balls” by women as if they have them.  As in, “Don’t bust my balls!” or “I’ve got the balls to say it.”  Ummm, no ya don’t.  You do not have balls.  Come up with another way to say what you mean.
  • The fact that my husband glanced over my shoulder at the first two items and thought it was “hot.”
  • The use of the word “irregardless.”  It should be “regardless.”  Look it up.
  • The songs “Butterfly Kisses” and “Christmas Shoes.”
  • The common question that often follows the statement that I’m a stay-at-home mom: “So, what do you do all day?”  Regardless (ha ha, see what I did there?) of what some may think, stay-at-home moms don’t necessarily spend their days eating their weight in Bon-Bons, having internet sex, and watching Oprah, Dr. Phil and Soap Operas.  Some of us, who aren’t satisfied with plopping our children in front of the television all day, actually care for them, which is a full-time time job if you’re doing it right.  Even children who have a working mother require someone to care for them through the day.  Do you ask daycare workers or nannies, “So, what do you do all day?”  A paycheck doesn’t equal worth.

Okay…I wrote the bit you see above, then saved it because Julia woke up from her nap.  Now that I look at it again, I feel like the evil, negative Mommy monster.  Since I’m just a bit of a freak and will feel all twitchy until I balance it out, here ya go:

Random Things That Make Me Happy
(Again, not an all-inclusive list because your screen would explode if I unleashed all that sunshine.) 

  • Slipping between fresh, crisp sheets on a newly made bed.
  • The song “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5. 
  • My husband’s soft kisses on the back of my neck.
  • My daughter’s laugh.
  • This…particularly at 1:34.
  • The comic strip “Baby Blues.”  Now, those guys get it.

This morning, I was moving around in the room when Julia’s eyes popped open and she jumped out of bed.  She went straight to her vanity, put on about ten bracelets and started to dance.  She jumped around a little, then quieted herself, gracefully lifted her arms up over her head and rose up on her tip toes.  She turned and turned, losing her balance a little as she said, “Ballalina, Mommy.  I do ballet.”

What a way to start the day, huh?  I can’t remember the last time I jumped out of bed and welcomed the day with a dance.  (In fact, it’s been a long time since I “jumped” out of bed.  Now, it’s more of a roll and a crawl to the nearest caffeinated beverage before I can start jumping.)  Most of Julia’s days start out and are filled with dancing.  I enjoy watching her dance and I love dancing with her. 

Dancing…well, it’s kind of our thing.

Since Julia was born, we’ve danced together.  It started simply.  I’d sway and rock with her to calm  her during those first weeks of her life when we were just getting to know each other.  Soon, I discovered that bouncing her up and down, moving from side to side and spinning around made her wiggle and smile.  After a few months, those wiggles and smiles became giggles.  Once I found a surefire way to make her giggle, I wanted to do it again and again.  So, I did.  Dancing with Julia quickly became a daily ritual.

We’d dance to relieve stress or stop the tears.  As she grew, it was a great way to illustrate concepts like fast and slow or up and down.  Eventually, it became a way for us to communicate what we weren’t able to express verbally.  I mean, can you really just tell someone they fill your heart with joy?  It’s better to show them.  Our way was by jumping, twisting, shaking and grooving to a funky fresh batch of tunes.  Dancing together helped us relate to each other and it became a special bonding time.     

We still dance together, pretty much every other day.  We call it “Dance Party Time,” and do it when no one else is home.  We put on our Dance Party Mix and let loose.  Really, we get pretty crazy.  It is sort of a mental and physical release, for me.  I love it because for that short period, I’m not worried about money, how I look or what other people think.  I’m just having a great time with my girl; it’s just the two of us with no distractions and no judgements.

Dancing with Julia helps me remember what’s important and that life is supposed to be fun.  Seeing her dance around each day makes me feel like I just might be doing something right.  She’s such a happy child.  I’d like to think that our time dancing together is teaching her something about expressing joy, loving life, sharing with someone and feeling good in her own skin.  Or maybe she’s just learning to play wicked air-guitar and pull off some kick-ass robot moves.  Either way, it’s time well spent.


by Leslie

Just because I predicted it yesterday doesn’t mean I was prepared. 

Today, Julia threw my toothbrush in the toilet, ate half of a yellow crayon, chewed on the zucchini I purchased for tomorrow’s dinner (Mediterranean Strata), and pooped on the floor somewhere between getting her out of the bathtub and trying to get her dressed.  

Exasperated, I asked her, “What is with you today?”

“I’m 2-years-old!” 

“Yeah, you are.”

Now and then, I am struck by how much Julia has grown in such a short amount of time.  Given, all children grow and at roughly the same pace for the most part, it isn’t until you’re a parent that it becomes so meaningful.  And just like extra pounds you put on over a few months, you may not notice the growth day by day.  Sometimes it sneaks up on you and it isn’t until you try to pull on your favorite jeans that you realize you’ve gotten bigger.  Today it was overwhelmingly obvious that Julia has gotten bigger:  she wanted cow milk rather than breast milk.

And that’s not all. 

This morning, we went into the bathroom and there were towels on the floor.  Without any prompting, Julia scooped them up off the floor and took them to the hamper.  I thanked her for being so helpful.  “You’re welcome,” she replied with such coolness, I stood there frozen for a moment. 

Later, we were getting ready to head to the library and  I couldn’t find my keys.  As I looked, I asked Julia if she’d seen them.  She quickly joined my search and within minutes, she came up with the keys. “Here it is,” she proclaimed, jingling the keys high in the air.  I thanked her again for being such a great helper.

Later, she asked for a banana.  I said, “Okay, let me get it.  I’ll peel it for you.”

“I do it, Mommy.”  She reached up, grabbed the banana and proceeded to take it to the table where she peeled it and ate it.  Then, she picked up the peel and threw it away, all on her own.

Next, she wanted to color.  I set her up with a coloring book and crayons at the table.  She picked a page from the book and tore it out.  She took the crayons out of their storage container and lined them up on the table.  After studying her coloring page, she carefully chose her crayons, strategically applying each color to a specific area of the page.  Once she was finished, she brought me her completed product, “For you, Mommy.  It’s a dolphin.” 

I gushed over her work, pointing out my favorite details – the orange sun, the blue water.  “Oh, hold on,” she said as she skipped back to the table.  I watched her pick up her crayons and put them in the storage container.  She closed her coloring book, picked it up along with her crayons and took them to a nearby shelf to put them away. 

I was floored.  When did my helpless little baby turn into such a helpful little girl?  It seemed like it happened overnight. 

True to toddler form, this burst of maturity and responsibility will only last a short while.  After surging forward, she’ll spring back for a reprieve before heading out again.  Tomorrow, when she throws her food at the table and takes a big bite out of her crayon, I’ll likely be wondering what happened to my big girl.  Still, today she behaved more like a big girl than ever before and I am so proud of the way she is growing.

Show Me The Money!

by Leslie

I had heard somewhere – Oprah, I think – that it is time to start teaching your child about money if you offer them a $1 bill and a $100 bill and they know to choose the hundred.  Now, I don’t have any hundreds floating around, but the other day, I did have a ten and a one.  Julia grabbed them off my desk, put them in the storage basket on her tricycle and rode off.  Grandma came across the money a few minutes later and decided to give Julia the test, asking her to choose between the bills.  Julia, of course, chose the ten.  So, I guess it isn’t too early to start teaching her about money.  Although, this tells me she knows quite a bit already:

Julia:  “Mommy, can I have some money?”

Me:  “Money?  Why don’t you go and ask Daddy?”

Julia:  “No, mommy,”  she giggles.  “He no have it.”

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