Friday, January 8, 2010

crazy friday

Dear Mom,

Sorry I missed your call today. I forgot to charge my phone last night, and it died this afternoon right after I heard your voicemail. You asked how things are going, and wanted to check on Shoghi and the new shift to forward-facing car seats.

Little guy is doing much better - the fever passed, but left behind it those horrible canines doing their nasty work on his mouth. He's been pretty possessive of Mama (something new) and has started hitting all of us in some brand new (and very long) temper tantrums that started up right after the sickness had gone. His way of talking also changed. I'm glad this dramatic behavior shift didn't come after a vaccine - it seems very pronounced, and I definitely would have been concerned. As it is, I guess it's just a developmental shift and we'll just continue to try to think creatively about what he needs from us (i.e. me and Laurie) to help him feel secure.

As far as the car seats goes, they're quite happy with them, I think. Max especially is really talking about things he sees, which is fun. The photo of Shoghi sleeping is from the day after his fever passed. He has been sleeping a LOT these past few days - as in 12 or 13 hours at night and 2 naps of 1.5 - 3 hours during the day. Poor guy is pooped. See the french fries in his sleepy hands and his furrowed brow/pout? Damn those teeth!

Today was such a packed day - why do I try to squeeze so many things in on the same day? I was really smart last night, though - I laid out everything I would need for us to get out the door, which sometimes can take a full half hour! From the moment we woke up, I was on the go - first morning snack (grapes and mozzarella), then breakfast (scrambled eggs with avocado and cheddar, sliced orange, waffle with jam), and morning nap. Max decided to skip his nap, so instead of doing some of my planned prep, I spent about 30 minutes trying to get him down. Finally I gave up and Laurie took over so I could shower. I packed our diaper bag and hopped in for a 5-minute wash.

We were out the door by 9:45, and I have to say I was pretty impressed with myself. It wasn't as stressful as usual, and I was excited to get to our first destination - a Reggio Emilia-inspired daycare/preschool just 7 minutes from our house.

Sadly, I was disappointed by the experience. The school was in a nice facility, but that's just what it was - very functional and institutional feeling. Fluorescent lights felt very harsh in the classrooms, which were set up exactly the same way as the traditional preschool I worked at in high school. The 18-30 month room felt very small, and I was very disappointed that they didn't have a single climbing apparatus, either inside or on the small toddler playground.

When I asked about their philosophy and how they characterized it as RE, the assistant director told me that they were very proud of their educational focus and curriculum, which from what I could see was just basically a plan for what the kids would do every day, moving them from free play to art, to gross motor play, etc. She told me that the teachers give an art project and show the kids what it "should" be, and then let the kids do what they want with the materials.

Another question that's very important to me is how they deal with normal toddler aggression. I listened to the teacher tell me that they use redirection and comfort the hurt child, but when I pressed them for further actions they take with biting children (I told them that Shoghi is just growing out of a biting habit), they immediately jumped to telling me about having the kid removed from the program for two weeks until they stop the biting behavior. Needless to say, that landed pretty hard on me. A truly experienced toddler program should have a detailed explanation for how they deal with behaviors such as this, and not simply indicate to a concerned parent that things could go from redirection to expulsion. It just seemed to lack expertise and certainly didn't seem to involve the parent in any kind of strategy.

I guess I figure if I have to pay someone $1500 a month to watch my two kids 3 days a week, I'm looking for something that is a much more creative environment - one that feels relevant to my children and one whose approach and curriculum will support the kind of development I want to give them. Not that I can even dream of affording such a huge sum of money to send my boys to daycare... I find myself more and more wishful that I can somehow afford a Montessori program. Going back to school to become an ESL professional is seeming more and more like the thing I should do if I'm going to find my way back to working a job that will support us.

From there, we went to visit our little twin friends. The boys and girls ran around getting into stuff while Elizabeth and I shouted fragments of conversation at each other from opposite ends of the room. (ok, I exaggerate a little, but you know what I'm talking about if you've spent time with 4 curious 1-year olds). We had a fun visit and left there in time to come home for a snack of peanut butter and banana (a first, which they gobbled up!) and a nap.

You might think this meant a break for me, but nope. I didn't even sit down for the next hour and a half. I had signed up to bring dinner to our former babysitter, who just had a baby two weeks ago. I actually succeeded at making my weekly menu (for the first time!) and had planned on making sabzi pollo, that wonderful Persian rice dish with baby lima beans, dill, parsley, and garlic. Being slightly delusional as I always am when it comes to estimating how much time things will take, I had decided to buy fresh herbs, which meant 30 minutes of washing, pinching and chopping. Oh, and our garbage disposal has been broken for a week, which also disables our dishwasher, so I had to do quite a lot of dis washing before I could even start cooking. Max woke up while I was in the middle of making this meal, so I set him on the floor with a canister of dry split peas and let him go at it.

I was pleased with how he played with this Montessori-inspired activity. I gave him the canister with the peas and a 1/4 cup measure, and showed him how to scoop the beans into a second bowl. This was the second time I tried this with him - the first being just last week when he was only interested in eating the hard, dry legumes, which didn't thrill me. This time he played with them for quite a while, which bought me enough time to finish most of the prep.

Here's Shoghi, meeting the baby on Wednesday. He's really starting to grasp the concept of "gentle." Both the boys really love seeing babies - they've started asking for them when we get in the car.
I won't bother going into the bizarre baby fever that seeing and holding this little peanut is provoking in me.

We didn't get out of here to deliver the meal until 3pm, which is basically the start of the last two hours of their playtime. We got back to our neighborhood at 4, and I decided to drive right to our good old quiet mall and let them run wild. It was pretty exhausting for me keeping them corralled by myself, but it was good for them to run around for a while.

Home again, then dinner, cleanup and our bedtime routine, and now the boys are in bed at 6:45. I have an entire kitchen of dishes to wash, but my new strategy of getting the floor wiped down and the toys put away while the boys are awake is really working well - it's not quite so overwhelming when I finally get them to sleep.

Well, that's how our day went! I just thought since it was already too late to call that I'd send a little (ok, a very long) note your way.

Love to you and Dad!


  1. thanks for the detailed day. i wish we had the time to talk about each day. i liked hearing each particular piece! Poor Shoghi. each milestone is so hard for him. it was delightful to hear him say flower on a recent video! your days seem more organized and great to hear about the menu planning. that definately can make a difference! xx

  2. I hope it's ok that I read this even though I'm not "mom." Well, I'm a mom, but not your mom! Anyway, this was a great and quick read because it enthralls me to hear about your day. It sure was busy but you conquered it! Adorable photo of Shoghi asleep with the french fries in his hands. :-)

  3. Oh wow, Celeste. NOTHING about that place sounds Reggio-inspired AT ALL. I hope it doesn't turn you off to the idea of RE!!

  4. Of course it's ok that you read it, silly! I figured if I was going to write that much, I might as well post it here. :o)

    Devon, it really is strange to me. There was no community/parent involvement component at all. I still can't figure out how it was different from every other generic program!

  5. Good bless you! least in those days of Ella's toddlerhood I had YOU!

  6. my goodness celeste! you are truly a supermom! you do so very very much. i am so frustrated that I still haven't gotten around to calling you. i need some of your energy and inspiration . in spite of your lamentations about your "failures" i just can't believe how fabulous you are. i have so much to learn from you.