Monday, September 12, 2016

When you can't have it all, does it matter?

So, this weekend, I went to a wedding. As per usual, these events make me feel a tad frumpy, a tad overweight (I still have 10 lbs of pregnancy weight that I have yet to shed) and a tad nervous that my toddler and baby will act out at inopportune times, which as Murphy's law would have it, they always do. To survive the day with hubby being a groomsman and all, I enlisted the help of my brother in law, a second hand me down ring sling and an 80$ nursing dress that I've worn for every wedding and fancy event this year as it's super comfortable and discreet for when I need to whip out my boob for my little one.

We survived well. Even if my body is a little lopsided from carrying my baby all night so that he wouldn't freak out from the loud music and MC'ing. Even if my toddler had a slight melt down during the ceremony because it was at nap time, I came prepared with trail mix to give her some added energy. Even if my baby decided right when the procession started down the aisle, that he would freak out and immediately need to nurse- it's all good, my dress let me nurse him discreetly out in the open in the front row.

We survived well. But. Truth is, the whole night I was self conscious. I was self conscious about my crazy hair that looked great upon leaving the house but after an outdoor ceremony, dealing with a tantrum-y toddler, a wailing baby and lugging-pushing a shitload of baby gear around, I gave up trying to maintain a neat updo. I was also self conscious about my nursing dress, bless Momzelle for their wonderful and practical designs but it didn't feel glam compared to the other ladies present that night. And paired with my hippy ring sling, my super hulk arms of steel (developed from caring for a baby that's in the 90th percentile in weight)- simply put, I was not feeling, even remotely, my most beautiful groomed self.

That night I came home feeling a little bad. Then I felt ashamed for feeling bad because these expectations that I have for myself are based on pure vanity and living up to Instagram standards that I know are not natural, not carefree and in fact, take a shit ton of work and time that I'd rather prioritize elsewhere. Yet still. I couldn't help it, I was disappointing my vain, superficial 20 something year old self from back in the day when I swore, I would never "let myself go".

Good thing I decided to confide in my husband. He brought me back down to earth with his pretty tart, pretty down to earth, no holding back - "who cares? there are more important things in life then perfect hair and nice dresses".

And he's fucking right. I fucking danced the night away carrying a 22 lbs baby and keeping eyeballs on my toddler. I'm fucking strong. I gracefully whipped out my breast in one swift move and satisfied my baby's hunger before you could even blink a fucking eye, before he could even muster another whine. BAM, like that. I'm fucking graceful. Yeh I'm still a little thicker then I'd like but my ass muscles are on point from all the damn squats I do picking up shit that my toddler drops while carrying my baby because he's needy these days. So on that note, at least I'm fucking healthy and physically able.

But the most important thing from that day is that my daughter saw me. I'm so thankful I trudged through the day and the night, even thought some moments, I just wanted to give up, go home and change into my sweats and call it a day. She saw me, yes, freak out at her for not listening to me but she ALSO saw me fill with joy watching our close friend marry a woman he loves, she saw me blow a kiss to her daddy while her baby brother was glued to my chest, she saw me swaying side to side all freaking night along side her on the dance floor with her baby brother in tow, crazy hair and all. She saw me, whether she knows it or not, she saw me not let my insecurities get the best of me. And that, that is gold. That is me being the best that I can be.

So I cannot have it all, I cannot be what my kids need me to be right now and have perfect hair and sport that perfect dress but my husband's right, it doesn't fucking matter. There are way more important things in life. Thank you husband. Thank you me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My daughter's role model

My daughter watches everything that I do, say and act. I see her emulating me. It really drives the point through that I have to set an example when I see her standing with her hands on her hips and giving that stern face that I know I wear so often. I can't just talk the talk, I gotta walk the walk. And I gotta walk that walk when it comes to the whole topic of "appearance". It drives me crazy when I hear women say things like "my mother always said there's no such thing as an ugly woman, just a lazy one" or "my mother never left the house without a good blowout and makeup, that was out of the question". Different folks, different strokes but what is fact is that society places way too much emphasis on women and looks.

I so utterly want to downplay that for my little girl. I want her to focus on experiences and adventures and not worry about her hair or the cleanliness of her dress. I don't want her to spend hours on 'looking good' or waste energy on being insecure about some superficial thing that society deems as a 'flaw' today but changes their mind on it in 5 years. No, I want her to take care of herself, to feel beautiful because quite frankly, she was born beautiful as she is and because she takes care of herself and feels healthy.

All that starts with me. I'm her first role model. Those hands on her hips, that frown in her brows, that's all me. These days I don't wear any makeup. I haven't even gone for a pedicure this summer and I itch to have fun colorful toenails. But I don't want my girl to obsess over colorful nails. Because they chip and she still likes sticking her hands in her mouth at times to be like her baby brother. Instead, I make sure she sees me taking care of my skin every day with a simple moisturizer and toner. I make sure she sees me combing my hair for 5 minutes a day, not just to get rid of the dust so that I don't have to wash it so much but also to stimulate my head. I make sure she sees that that's the end of the beauty regimen because there's only 24 hours in a day! I make sure she sees me jogging, doing my yoga diligently and eating well.

And the irony of it is that I use to be one of those women that couldn't leave the house without some makeup because I've always been conscious of my imperfect skin. But post baby, I've really learned to love and cherish myself. I've really learned to appreciate how life is so much more then looking a certain way and I just want to pass that on to my dear girl. I want to help her bypass years of not loving herself because women are conditioned not to.

So, let's start turning that frown upside down cause a little mini me is watching.

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Today we went to church. It literally felt like I dragged our family to church, I pondered if the value was worth all the trouble. In the car, my toddler was whining that she didn't want to be left alone in Sunday school, my baby obviously needed to nap, my husband has never been a fan of religion. But I, I wanted to go, selfishly to listen to the sermon, I wanted my daughter to enjoy the other kids at Sunday school and I secretly hoped that my husband would enjoy the mental break with me of leaving our kids with the church helpers.

Things never go according to plan. It's like the universe was telling me to just stay home. Whiny toddler and baby, non enthusiastic husband and cherry on the cake- ugly, cloudy weather threatening rain at any moment. When we got there, my husband wouldn't leave my toddler. He says he doesn't trust the helpers there since he doesn't really know them even though we DO know them and they have their own kids there. So he sat with her through Sunday school while our friend took care of our baby and I went to listen to the sermon alone.

Of course, I couldn't enjoy the sermon because I was racked by guilt that my daughter was clingy and didn't want us to leave her and here I did leave her but daddy never leaves her (he completely has a hovering problem that I will cover in another post), my son was in the trustful hands of a close friend but I still felt guilty that I just handed my 6 month old baby to someone not my husband or either grandmothers. And then there was my husband whom I'm certain stayed back in Sunday school because he has a hovering problem AND he just didn't want to listen to the religious sermon because deep thoughts about spirituality and God are just not his cup of tea.

So. I sat there listening to a sermon that half provoked deep thought and half inspired tremendous guilt for dragging my family for my own spiritual pleasure. I'm not a particularly religious person. I've never been baptized, I never went to church consistently. My aunt was an avid believer, bless her soul she tried to convert us but none of it really took with the rest of my family. I've always had faith because a little children's bible landed in my lap when I was 6 years old and it had the most beautiful artwork. I just loved that big arse bible to death because to me, it was just another book with beautiful pictures and weird English. But what do you know, the words took meaning, even to a 6 year old.

Today's sermon spoke about Christians being busy. To summarize the 30 minutes that I actually listened to before my guilt consumed me and I went looking for my daughter to let her know that mommy did not abandon her like she always does at daycare, the sermon outlined how before we consume ourselves with tasks in the name of Christianity, our first priority is to be. To observe and to appreciate. What I've always loved about these sermons is that they always speak to me somehow. Either the sermon writers are really good at pinpointing the common issues in their audience or, as God would have it, I always just make it to church on the right days. Even if every single event before I get there is trying to tell me to stay the f*ck home or do something else. And today, the guy spoke about how Christians are just always too damn busy. They forget that before everything, they must be in Christ and Christ must be in them. To be honest, I have no idea what that means. But the parts about observing and being in awe at what God brings us, that I can relate.

Like my children. I am always in awe when I look at them. Even when they bug the bejeezes out of me by never shutting up with the "whys" or "pourquois" in French or refusing to nap (my baby who went through some milestone and now refuses to go down to sleep). I thank God every day for their existence. I pray for their good health. I am racked with guilt for spending so little time with my toddler these days since my second needs me so. I try to remind myself that he only needs me this much his first year and like his sister, will be more independent soon. This neediness does not last forever. Still, it's hard to enjoy his infancy in peace because I worry about my first.

Our schedules are busy. Monday to Friday, my first goes to daycare. Saturdays are swim class and the rest of the day, we're at my in laws. Sunday is our one free day as a family. And as much as I want to go to church for myself, for my daughter so that she can get that community feel and meet other kids while playing with those that she already knows, today I realized, it's OK, in fact, it's my priority to first observe and appreciate this miracle of my family. This one day that we have, it's OK if we just spend it together doing nothing as long as we're together. My daughter is probably this darn clingy because she just wants to be in our company, together. And my second, gosh, he just needs to nap damnit!

My husband so subtlely hinted that maybe we should wait until the kids are older to bring them back to church. And then, I can bring them myself. As in, he doesn't need to come. As slightly annoyed as I am by his "helpful" suggestion (mostly helpful for himself), I think he has a point. My toddler just wants to be with us, not separated and put into Sunday school like another day at daycare. My baby just needs some regular napping and not always on the run. So. Spiritual enlightenment will have to wait a bit.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Kids and order

Maria Montessori believed that in giving small children limits and order, this actually allowed them to be as free as possible. Now that A is 2 years old, I completely believe it. A can be such a wild child. Her grandmother always says she acts like a boy, whatever that means in old gender based thinking. I guess stereotypically, boys have energy and girls sit quietly.... I know that that is dead wrong.

A always had trouble sleeping. She's very easily stimulated and she's always fought sleep so we adhere to a strict nap and bed time schedule, even on weekends. This year, we decided to have some fun during the Christmas holidays and relaxed on the routine. A didn't nap properly, didn't sleep properly and albeit being dry for two weeks during the night previously, started wetting her bed during the holidays. She was also really whiny and prone to tantrums, probably due to the bad sleeping. Now that we're back on schedule and routine, she's in a generally better mood and she's dry again!

I also realize that when presented with too much choice, A doesn't know how to decide. She gets confused and then suddenly has zero focus. Therefore I totally believe now that by setting order and limits for her, this allows her to control what she wants to do in the allotted time so that she can be free to just focus on that activity without wondering about the unknown of what will happen next.

Yes, it requires some sacrifice from mommy and daddy but I have to say, I'd rather a happy toddler then the alternative.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A little bit of Reggio and a little bit of Montessori

Hello Blog. It's been a real real long time :) Today, my 2 year old A had a really great day. When we got to daycare, she was so happy playing with her friends at the gym, she didn't want to leave. When we got home, she had a few tantrums but we stayed firm and gave her consequences that she had to live through without going old school on her and I think it worked, albeit it taking longer to get her to do what we wanted. And the best part, I had totally reorganized the toys in her room to make the toys/activities less cluttered and more attractive, this whole week she's been zoning in on two practical life activities on her own and today she pretty much played quietly by herself. My thoughts are all over the place so let me back track a little.

As a parent in this world of information overload, there are so many books out there, so many philosophies for educating and rearing kids, it gets very overwhelming. I started to educate myself on the different philosophies when I had to look for a daycare that would meet my expectations. A was at a more traditional, play based daycare originally that was not living up to my expectations. My main issues were that the instructors weren't taking the time to speak proper languages to the kids and it didn't seem like they were getting much stimulation from the instructors at all during the day. Hence I began my search for a better place that was still convenient and could fit within our daily lives.

That's when we landed on our current daycare that's Reggio inspired. Montessori is an emerging big thing in my city and I was keen on trying to find one for A but they were just all too out of our way. I wasn't too enlightened about the Reggio method but once I visited the daycare and read up on it via Mr. Google, I realized it would be a really good fit for her. My little girl is quite a social creature. She's also a bit of a free spirit. She's very energetic. She's also very stubborn. When she doesn't want to do something, she's like a rock. She don't budge. I've often told my husband that for a character like such, you can't meet a rock with another rock, you'll just end up breaking each other. You have to be like water, flexible, bending, patient but consistent until you smooth down the edges.

So as much as I admire Montessori based instruction, pending how a school implements it, it may be too strict, stifling and lonely for my crazy little sprite. With the Reggio influence, activities are very much project based, done in groups and according to interest. Reggio believes in allowing kids to use their 100 voices to express themselves. So instructors embark on projects of interest and whatever the kids learn, they express via one of their voices whether it be by painting, sculpting, speaking, singing, dancing, etc. Reggio tends to cultivate social and problem solving skills. Montessori on the other hand is focused on enabling a child's independence and fostering self confidence via activities that teach them to do practical life things by themselves and activities that can be done over and over independently with focuses on math, culture and languages.

A has been at this daycare since September and I've been extremely happy with how she's growing. However, today, I've been extremely happy with another milestone. I've been trying to adopt a more Montessori approach at home, as much as is realistic especially now that baby #2 is on the way. I want her to be more independent with her play and leisure time without relying on electronic gadgets or mommy and daddy.

I knew that the way all her stuff was just stuffed in boxes was a problem. It took me a full day but I finally cleansed all the bins and shelves and redistributed everything. Every shelf had a maximum of 3 toys/activity sets. Every bin was organized by category and only filled to the point where we can see everything with one glance when pulled out. I had to shoot/donate a lot of my own stuff to make room in our shelf space.

My activity sets are not exactly Montessori, there's a criteria for what makes an activity Montessori but it's ok. I try to make them practical life, sensorial/math, language, culturally relevant and so long as she has interest...... here are some examples:

Activity set 1: A metal tray with construction paper and a ziplock bag of more scrap paper, two safety scissors and a glue stick. I call this a practical life activity because A likes to practice cutting with the scissors and then gluing everything together.

Activity set 2: A metal tray with a can of play doh, plastic play knives and spoon, a roller, a heart shaped cutter and a few plastic mini bowls. I also call this a practical life activity because Audrey likes to pretend she's cutting, rolling, sorting, every sort of manipulation the "food" and cooking for us.

Activity set 3: A plastic bag with puzzle pieces on a wooden board. For me, this is math for a two year old.

Activity set 4: A plastic bin with this collection of many many little pieces of spheres, cubes, sticks and other weird shapes that you can build anything with. Kind of like legos but not really. Again, for me, this is math.

Activity set 5: Three books stacked. 1 book for ABCs, 1 book for numbers 1 to 5 and another with animals.

Since Monday, she's been coming home and going straight to activities 1 and 2. Today, she went through activities 1 and 2 and went about doing her thing without me or daddy. Then after 30 mins, she asked me to help her with 3. THIRTY MINUTES. This girl's attention span is normally 10 mins... MAX... if we're lucky. Anyway, the puzzle is still a challenge for her. She's good at matching shapes but doesn't get the concept of linking the pictures on the puzzle pieces. It's ok, with time I think she will get it. Then she asked for me to play set 4 with her. I obliged for 15 minutes and then it was time for a bath and bedtime but she didn't want to stop :)

These aren't new toys or activities for A but Montessori is right. Lay everything out in a sorted, clean, attractive manner and kids will find value in them and want to use them. A even knew that they had to go back to their own spots. Mind you, this could be a daycare taught thing but it's important that her environment outline very clearly where everything goes.

All in all, a good day.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Yoga and being present

Hello blog, it's been so long! Today I'd like to talk about yoga and meditation and how much it's made a difference in my life. I decided to take yoga seriously the last two months and by seriously, I mean, to not just focus on the physical training because that's just one element of yoga but also on the others. I won't go into detail about the 8 legs of yoga because I'm no expert and you'll find much better information with a simple Google search. I can tell you how sticking with it for 2 months has helped me in my rather busy life now that I'm back at work full time.

The thing yoga teaches you is self forgiveness. Sure I don't always succeed in practicing every single day. Sure I don't always have energy to do that particular workout. And sure, sometimes, most of the times, my brain wanders. But the fact that I'm even aware of it is already a good thing and the next step is to simply accept it, let go, forgive myself instead of becoming frustrated- to just try again to focus on the moment, to focus on my breathe, to focus on the stretch. Yoga teaches me to forgive myself when I always have a tendency to become exponentially upset and frustrated when things don't go as I plan.

Yoga also teaches me to be present. There are so many distractions these days. Everyone has a smart phone, everyone has a tablet. Nobody has dinner without whipping the phone out. My husband tries to read his blog feeds at dinner time. It's incredible how connected we all are and how NOT connected all this available connection is making us. Yoga reminds me that today is today, it will never happen again. The moments that I experience today, I will not get to enjoy ever again if I waste my time not noticing and being on my phone or worrying about tomorrow or regretting about yesterday. And this my friends, my viewers, this, is such an important lesson to grasp when you have a child. Because children grow up so fast.

Everyday I see my daughter and she's just transforming into this spunky little person that likes to laugh and play and joke! She's so playful and so full of energy and so full of life, I love her so much, I think that my heart can burst. And I want to relish every moment of that. Every single moment when I'm still the light of her life, when she still bursts with joy when I come home from work because one day, she will grow up into a broody teenager and not want to see my face at all. So today, yoga reminds me to soak up these precious memories.

And with that I wish you a nice evening :)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Natural products

So since becoming pregnant and a mom, I've become alot more conscious of the things I put on my skin and in my body. The first thing that I converted in my regime were my skincare products. I swapped my moisturizer for Argan oil in the warmer months, worked very well. I swapped my smelly Tony Moly toner with half part apple cider vinegar and half part water, works well at maintaining my acne and minimizing my pores. I'll need another moisturizer for the winter so currently pondering what I should replace my Derma 211 with. I swapped my deodorant with a salt stick and daily baking soda washes in the underarms. For special occasions though, I don't take a chance, I do use the conventional anti-perspirant stick. I've swapped out my chemical-y L'Oreale on sale shampoo and conditioner with fancy snotty 10$ a tiny bottle natural shampoo and conditioner with ingredients lists that comprise of different oils. I'm glad I did, the L'Oreale conditioner was giving me acne, plus it made my hair feel heavy and annoying.

The thing with going natural is that once you start...... there's so many things you realize that you should swap. I try the best that I can. I've swapped out our house cleaner with a generic 'natural', 'biodegradable' brand from the supermarket. The ingredients list tells me it's some concoction of citrus acid and it smells orange-y. It works well in the bathroom. Next in line is our our dish washing liquids soon, once all the products we bought on sale are used up. The same with our clothes detergent.

Along those lines, I've noticed some hype on my Facebook feed regarding Arbonne products and their 'purity'. I'm very suspicious of these claims as the individual spouting this marketing hype has little to no qualification when it comes to nutrition and skincare... or science research for that matter. Which is how I landed on this blog post that investigates Arbonne products and their ingredients list. It's a good reminder to separate marketing hype versus actual product value.