Kindergarten already?

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Tomorrow, my baby is going to kindergarten. And like every parent, I just can't believe it.

Just under five years ago, Dylan and I used to go to the coffee shop together on Friday mornings for a cup of coffee and a danish. I'd carry him in and he would grin that toothless baby grin at the barrista, and then point at the ceiling fan and say "ta!" (his word for "fan"). On Wednesdays I'd take him to "Baby and Me Yoga," and I always had to bring his bouncy chair along because his patience for the activity lasted only half as long as the activity itself. And I had to warn all the other moms not to step in the puddles of drool. Dylan was a drooler.

And tomorrow he'll put on his brand new backpack, stuffed with a binder, some folders and some gluesticks, and I'll drop him off at kindergarten. I just can't believe it.

Sometimes I think I've cheated myself by having my kids so close together. If I'd spaced them three, even five years apart, would that have put the brakes on time, at least a little? It seems like I'm so busy with each new baby, and simultaneously so busy cleaning up after the older kids, disciplining them, cooking, doing mountains of laundry and mediating disputes that I don't have time to slow down and think about how to enjoy my children. So they grow up fast, way faster than they ought to.

Do parents of single children feel the same way? Surely there won't be a single mom standing there in the doorway of Room 7 thinking to herself, "wow, her babyhood seems like eons ago ..." When it comes to our kids, do we all perceive time as passing way too quickly?

I'm proud of Dylan. He's grown up so much in five years, but I have a hard time accepting that the next five years will pass just as quickly, and the next, and then next ... before I know it I'll be standing there in the doorway of Henry's new kindergarten class, and then it will be junior high, high school, and then I'll be driving Henry to his dorm room at college and that will be that. Kids all grown up.

Congratulations, my little kindergartner. You've come a long way, baby.

Two Under Two Supplies: Stroller

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If you're a two under two mom there are a couple of items that you need. Really, really need.

The first one is a baby sling. Properly used, a baby sling will help you hold and comfort your baby while simultaneously remaining hands-free so you can chase after your toddler.

The second one is a stroller. OK, maybe a stroller is the first one.

You can't run errands without a stroller, not really. I suppose it's possible if you are going somewhere that has shopping carts (you can put your infant seat in the basket and your toddler in the seat), but you can't go to a shopping mall or any kind of shopping center unless you have a stroller. You have to be with your baby at all times, and that means you can't be chasing after a toddler. And you certainly can't get any errands done if you're chasing after a toddler anyway.

I have owned four double strollers in my long career as a two under two mom. The first one was a very cheap stroller I got on sale at K-Mart. It was a tandem stroller, and it was so long it was impossible to steer. I couldn't open doors without the assistance of a kind stranger. I kept bumping into store displays. I never knocked anything over, but that was by sheer luck. I only had the stroller for a couple of months before I realized it wouldn't do.

My second double stroller was a BOB dualie. I love this stroller and still own it. It's perfect for traveling anywhere outdoors. You can drag it (with some difficulty) on to the beach, you can use it on trails (albeit very wide trails), you can take it on walks, and your kids will stay safe and comfortable. You can't use it for shopping, though. The BOB dualie is so wide it won't go through most doors, and you have to be careful at attractions like zoos and theme parks because it's usually too big to go through the turnstiles. (It's still a great stroller for these places, but you have to ask park employees if you can use an alternate entrance.) Yes the BOB is a great stroller, but an errand-runner it is not.

My third double stroller was a Graco dual glider. Nice stroller, worked pretty well, but when I traded in my Graco infant car seat on a FlexLoc I could no longer use it because it wasn't compatible with my new infant seat. It was also an older model that lacked cup holders. Now, I used to scoff at cup holders because they just seemed like such a gimmick. But when you have two adults, two older kids and two little kids at an event somewhere and everyone wants something to drink having cup holders is really, really useful. Really, really useful.

My current double stroller is a Baby-Trend Sit and Stand Double stroller. I love, love, love this stroller. It is super easy to steer, and I never have to ask for anyone's help opening a door and maneuvering my stroller inside. It has the coveted cup holders. It has a ton of storage underneath for shopping and errands-running. I can clip my infant seat into the front seat or the back seat, whichever I prefer. I can take the back seat off and convert the stroller into a sit-and-stand version when my toddler is older and no longer needs to be confined. It has a canopy for each seat. It's comfy. It folds and unfolds with one hand. It can be taken almost anywhere, even to a clothing store because it's narrow and maneuverable.

Two under two is challenging, but if you have the right tools it makes handling your day to day chores a whole lot easier (stay tuned for more product recommendations!)

Too Many Photos

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I have taken 32,437 photos since my first child was born in 2005.

I should be able to say I'm surprised, and I am ... honestly, I'm surprised it's not a lot more than that.

Digital has made me a fearless photographer. I can take hundreds of shots of a single event, and never have to worry about how much it's going to cost me to have all that film developed. I can waste shots with abandon. And because I fire off so many wasted shots, I get a lot more great shots than I would if I was just killing a roll of 36 during every event.

But when it comes to my photos, I'm a packrat. I don't delete anything, except for the very overexposed and the very underexposed, and the very blurry. This is how I know I've taken
32,437 photos. I still have every one of them.

I back them up on an external hard drive, and on DVDs stored in two places: one in a fire safe (in case there's a fire) and one on a bookshelf (in case someone breaks in and steals the fire safe).

Someone once told me you are supposed to go through and delete all but the very best of your photos. Ideally, you should only have one great shot per event.

Who made up that stupid rule? In just a few years, my kids will be grown. I don't want one great shot from every event that happened during their short childhoods. I want a shot of each one of the wonderful expressions they wore on their faces during those events. I want shots of what their hands and feet were doing. I want the smiles and the tears. I want pictures of them running, pictures of them standing, and pictures of them wondering what to do next. I want action shots and still shots. I want to know what the event looked like. When I view my pictures, I want to be transported back in time. How can I do that with just "one great shot?"

Childhood is over way, way too soon. I have a fierce need to document all of it, because you can't really go back, not really. Words and pictures can bring you close, though. And when the kids are grown with families of their own, that's all you have left. Words, pictures and memories.

Hang on to them.
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