Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Top 12 of 2012

2012 is coming to a close, and with it comes best of lists. So, without further ado, and in randomly numbered order, here are 12 of my favorite things that happened in 2012.  Predictably, many of these things have to do with my daughter. 
  1. My little girl turned 2.  Here's a picture of her at her birthday party wearing a dress sewed by me.  Yes, I'm proud of the dress.   Now, she's 2 and 8 months; she grows and learns every day.  She's a wonder to watch. 
  2. We had a trip planned to Washington, DC.  Anticipating a meltdown or 2, I had knit a sock monkey to give to Star on the plane.  Just as a tantrum was developing and naptime was being resisted, I gave Star the sock monkey.  She immediately hugged sock monkey and loved it.  Then, she peacefully fell asleep on Daddy.
  3. One of our neighbors was having her bat mitzvah and we were invited.  Star wanted to wear her sneakers, but I wanted her to wear fancy purple shoes.  She didn't want to wear the purple shoes.  I said, "but the purple shoes want to go to the bat mitzvah!"  She looked for a few seconds at the purple shoes, and then hugged them and said "OK, you can come."
  4. One day, I was snuggling Star and I said, "Star, I love you."  She, very sweetly, replied "and I love daddy."
  5. Potty training was both one of my most favorite and least favorite moments.  There were parts that were totally awful, but I'm so glad that it's over.  The environment has breathed a sigh of relief, and it's given my girl so much independence and made her very proud. 
  6. Obama was re-elected for a 2nd term.
  7. In my entrepreneurial life, I'm very proud of how I grew KinderCycle and then sold it.  Prior to KinderCycle, I had started 3 other businesses, but this was the only one that "succeeded" by many different definitions. 
  8. I'm totally late to the party here, but in 2012 I became passionate about Pinterest.  Before I tried it, I didn't understand it, but now I don't know how I lived without it.  I can sort all my random craft projects and recipes without having to print them out and maintain some sort of paper organizational system.  I also "pin" non-crafty things that I want to remember - like, I have a "board" of after school programs that may be good for Star in a few years.
  9. I switched to Kaiser.  I resisted for years.  I didn't want to give up "my doctors", and I thought that a PPO was way better than the Kaiser HMO system.  But, a few months ago, my employer made it fiscally irresponsible to stay on my PPO plan.  So, I did some investigation, and then switched over to Kaiser.  And, I love it.  I feel taken care of.  Their systems make sense and are relatively easy to navigate.  They have an online component that makes it easy to communicate with my doctors and track my appointments.  And, it's cheap!  They seem to have figured out that many people have similar medical issues, and they've figured out how to be efficient and deal with those issues.  Also, with Kaiser, they are both the insurance company and the provider, so it is in their interest to focus on the preventative side which I think is great for the consumer.  I am loving Kaiser and I'm beating myself up about all the money I wasted for years before I switched.  
  10. I started the tattoo removal process on tattoo #1.  This is a long story which I may get into at another time, but I also may just leave it at this.
  11. I got tattoo #2 which is the tattoo that I should have gotten in the first place. I totally LOVE tattoo #2. 
  12. We started paying for a food delivery service.  Through the year, we moved through a few different services and over the past few months, we've settled on one that we're really happy with.  Seriously, this is a LIFE CHANGER for me.  Maybe I don't have the capacity that other moms have, but I can't work 5 days a week while commuting an hour each way, run a company on the side, then make dinner while being a pleasant mom and wife.  And, being a pleasant mom and wife is a goal of mine (which I sometimes achieve!)  So, getting dinners delivered is fabulous. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Vacation Days = No Vacations

How do other families take real vacations?

At my job, I get 15 days of vacation each year, 12 sick days per year, 11 official holidays and 1 floating holiday.

This may sound like a lot, but let's break it down.

Floating Holiday
  • I take my floating holiday for my birthday.  I hate working on my birthday.
Vacation Days

  • I also take Scott's birthday as a vacation day and Star's birthday as a vacation day.  
  • I generally have to take 2 vacation days to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
  • I take 2 vacation days for my family's annual trip to Morro Bay.
  • I take a few vacation days each year at some point for visits to see Scott's family (generally in Florida or DC) or to spend time with them when they come here.  Let's call this 4 days off.
  • There are days when Star's school is off, but I don't have it as a holiday from work.  So, I either take that day as a a vacation day to spend with her or I hire a nanny for the day to be with her.
Sick Days
  • There are some days that I'm sick so I stay home and use a sick day (there are plenty more days when I'm sick but don't stay home even though I should).  There are some days that Star is sick and I stay home with here.  And, there are days when I need a mental health day, so I count those as sick days.  That pretty much uses up all of my 12 sick days.
So, seriously, working moms, how are you taking trips where you don't visit family?  I need some tips.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Letter to My Toddler

Dear Star,

Please don't break mommy's glasses anymore.  If heredity is a factor, then you will likely start wearing glasses and contacts in about 6 years, and you'll begin to understand that having broken glasses is really not a good thing. 

Much love,
your vision impaired mommy

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Kitty Pillow

I blogged earlier about a quilt I recently finished.  I think the only fabric that I bought to make this quilt is the light pink that pops up throughout the quilt. Other than that, I used scraps that I already had in my collection from years of sewing and not-sewing.

Quilt makers know that when you make a quilt, you end up with scraps.

So, the scraps that I used to make this quilt created even smaller scraps.  What to do with all the scraps?  Some of them are usable; I'll talk about those in a future post.  There are also a bunch of un-usable scraps - threads and tiny little fabric pieces.

But, I felt like they would be good for something.  So, with Star "helping", we decided to sew a pillow for a kitty.  Star loves kitty cats.  The big front and back pieces came from my "stash" of large sized fabrics, and the stuffing is all these tiny unusable scraps, threads, and torn pieces of Star's old clothes.

Once the pillow was done, but still in the house, she would look at the pillow, snuggle on the pillow and think about the kitties who would sleep on the pillow.  She decided that 2 cats would share it - one of whom would be named Raincoat.  

This weekend, we brought the kitty pillow to the East Bay SPCA.  Star was so happy to meet the kitties who might sleep on the pillow.  Because of the SPCA's policies, the kitties couldn't get the pillow until after they washed it.  It's a good and logical rule, but it was sad to not get a picture of the kitties enjoying the pillow.  We asked, and there were no kitties named Raincoat.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hold Them Close; Give them Wings

Along with most parents, I'm thinking about the shootings that happened yesterday at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

As an American, I'm horrified about our gun control laws, and lack thereof.

As a compassionate person, I feel helpless.  What can I do to comfort the families who have lost a child, a sibling or a friend?  What can I do to repair a community?  What can I do to make these children feel safe at school again?

As a parent, I'm scared beyond belief.

When my daughter turned 1, I got my first tattoo.  It's of a star with butterfly wings.  My theory was that I gave birth to Star, and now I need to learn to give her wings.

But, yesterday, I wanted to do the opposite of give her wings.  I wanted to pick her up from school and snuggle safely at home until our world felt safe.

How do we keep our kids safe while at the same time not being overprotective?  How do we let then try things on their own so they can become independent and smart people?

Today, I feel like I only have questions, no answers.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Why are you blogging?

Good question.

I started a company about two years ago and I sold it last week.  I hope that KinderCycle flourishes under new management!  I love KinderCycle immensely and I totally believe in it.  But, I want to spend more time with my husband and toddler.  (That sounds like a politician when asked why they are stepping down.)

Times have changed.  When I started KinderCycle, I was a stay at home mom to a 6 month old.  Now, I work full time in San Francisco, and have an active toddler and a husband both of whom I crave time with.  I also crave more alone time.  So, I sold KinderCycle.  I'm nervous and happy about the transitions that both KinderCycle and I will now go through.

When planning for the sale, I started thinking about what I loved about KinderCycle and what I want to try to keep in my life.  Yup, you guessed it.  Blogging.  I happily, but not prolifically, blogged for KinderCycle, so I'm hanging up a new cyber-shingle over here.

 Welcome to my journey.   

Monday, December 10, 2012

Adventures in Quilting

I didn't grow up in a crafty family.  But, somehow, I got a crafty gene, and as soon as I learned to crochet while living on a Kibbutz in Israel in 1993, crafting became a big part of my life.  I took my first knitting class when I got back to California from Israel when I was about 22 years old, and knitting became an obsession.  Since my knitting phase, my passions within crafting have moved around quite a bit.  I got into spinning yarn and weaving for a while.  I was passionate about mosaics while I was pregnant.  Now, I seem to be (temporarily?) settled on sewing and jewelry making. 

Around 15 years ago, a mother daughter quilting group was announced at my parents' synagogue.  My parents and I were living in different San Francisco neighborhoods.  The flyer said that "quilting is a metaphor."  We never figured out what quilting was a metaphor for, but we joined the group. 

We got a supply list and my mom and I went to a quilt store to buy needles, thread, chalk and fabric.  I can't remember how many weeks the group met for.  We learned how to hand piece and hand quilt a table runner.  The colors we chose were burgundy, black and gold.  Our family used that table runner for a few Thanksgivings.  I'm not sure where it is anymore.

The front
Crafting with my mom didn't persist, but my own passion for crafting did.  I recently returned to quilting (after a 15 year hiatus) and made a Twin Size quilt.  I joined a block of the month group in January of 2012 (thanks, craftsy!), and I stuck with it.  Honestly, there were some months that I didn't think I would.  Quilting seemed so much more exact than knitting, sewing garments or sewing bags.  In quilting, an 1/8 of an inch in one block can multiply to disastrous results!
The scrappy binding which I LOVE

My finished quilt is totally flawed.  Experienced quilters would notice, but would be too kind to point out, all the places where my seems don't match up and where my quilting stitches are uneven.  But, I love it and I'm proud. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Potty Party Weekend

The earliest pictures I have of Star on a potty are from around July of 2011 when she was a bit over a year old. 

Diapering longer than necessary didn't make any sense to me.  Why would we teach our kids to go pee and poo in their diapers for a few years and then suddenly expect them to change their behavior for the rest of their lives?  It made sense for me to do potty training early, if possible.

When I say "potty", I mean a regular toilet with a little seat on top of it.  We used a stand alone potty seat briefly, but, we quickly transitioned to the regular toilet.  Less cleaning for the parents and other caregivers!

During these early stages of potty training, I was a stay at home mom.  Star and I were together most of the time, so I could focus on her potty training and she began to quite consistently use the potty!  We brought her potty seat along to friends' houses and to airports.  We had an awkward moment on an airplane when Scott was walking down the aisle with the potty strapped to the outside of his backpack.  He turned a bit, causing his backpack to also turn, and the potty seat brushed against a man's face that he was passing. 

When Star was 15 months old, I went back to work and she started school.  This totally stalled her progress - in fact, it regressed.  Her school didn't believe that children her age could be potty trained.  I thought their view was nonsense (I still do!), but there was nothing I could do about it.  We had a meeting with her teachers and the principal which didn't help.

During this time, Star used diapers and the potty.  Sometimes, she was better at using the potty than other times, but it seemed like there was no real incentive to go to the potty if your diaper was always there.

A few months after she turned 2, she moved into the next classroom at her school.  This classroom was supportive of potty training.  So, we waited until the Jewish High Holidays had passed, and got a weekend on the calender to do a Potty Party Weekend (let's call it a PPW for short.)

Here are the details of the plan we followed.  You start with a PPW over a long weekend.  The kid wears no diaper and no underwear and is with one or both parents all weekend.   After the PPW, the kid continues to wear no diaper and no underwear for about 3 months.   

The theory behind not wearing underwear is that underwear feels too much like a diaper. If the kid wears no diaper and no underwear for 3 months, then they get used to it. You introduce underwear at the end of this 3 month period after the kid already knows how to consistently use the potty.

On the Friday of the potty party weekend, I stayed home with Star.  If I make this story sound like the whole process was easy, I'd be lying, so let me tell you that day #1 of the potty party weekend was awful.  I was following Star around cleaning up after her the whole day.  She wasn't used to interrupting her play to go potty.  It was a horrible and messy day.  By the time Scott got home from work, I was so exhausted that I retreated and for the rest of the night I was noticeably absent.

Scott and I were with her on Saturday and Sunday and each day got better.  Monday, Scott stayed home with Star and they went on an adventure to San Francisco and rode the cable cars with our trusty potty seat in tow!

Since then, she's been diaper free and underwear free during the daytime.  (At some point, we have to figure out nighttime potty training, but we're not there yet.)  She wears "soft pants" like leggings or loose soft pants, but no jeans or anything with buttons or zippers. We want to make it as easy for her as possible to get to a potty and then pull down her own pants.  (Sometimes, she pulls down her pants and then walks to the potty which is super cute, but not always socially acceptable.) 

During the 3 months, there have been "accidents".  Honestly, I don't like that term for a variety of reasons, but that's a whole other blog post.  Accidents aren't a huge deal; when they happen, we put her on a potty so she'll start to connect going pee pee or poo with sitting on the potty, then we clean her up and get her dressed in clean and dry clothes.  Looking back over texts between Scott and I over this time, there are a lot of updates about potty time.  "Poo Poo disaster."  "No accidents!!"  "Pee pee accident right before we got to the potty."
The  3 months have now passed.  Star did wonderfully.  She goes poo poo and pee pee on the potty nearly all the time.  Last weekend was my family's annual trip to Morro Bay.  During this weekend, we presented Star with underwear.  She is so proud of herself.  She was jumping up and down and proudly wore her underwear around the house.  After seeing her cousin's underwear, she said, "Ellen has kitties on her underwear.  I have stripes."  

When we got home from the Morro Bay weekend, she took off her pants so that she could show off her underwear.  Bathtime has now become a bit of a struggle because she doesn't want to take off her underwear at the end of the day.  In the past few days, she's decided that she's now big enough and can sit on the regular toilet without the aid of a potty seat - this is a totally fine move except for when she fell in the potty.  I wish I had caught a picture of that. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Family Gatherings

For the past few years, my immediate family has gathered in Morro Bay for a long weekend with spouses, significant others and kids.  Part of the family comes up from the L.A. area and part of us come down from the S.F. area.

In year's past, conflicts have erupted over:
  • Making coffee.
  • Cooking.
  • Doing dishes.
  • TV usage.
  • Reprimanding children who are not your own offspring.
  • Getting sand in the bathtub.
  • Sleeping arrangements.
  • The location of where cars should be parked.
  • Alcohol usage.  
Nothing major, but conflict impacts me strongly.  I'm the youngest sibling, and I think by all accounts the most sensitive.  I hated Scrabble for years because of the way my brother and sister used to fight while playing.

This year's annual Morro Bay trip just ended.  Our original family of 5 is now 11 people.

Bad things that happened include: heavy rains on Friday delayed all of us; my dad had a brief trip to the Emergency Room; my mom had a minor car accident on Monday; I spent the whole time sick with a hoarse voice and a cough; my niece Ellen had a cough; and, by the end of the weekend, my sister and my husband were getting sick.

But, the good things that happened totally outweigh the bad.  It was a good trip.  There was less conflict than in year's past - maybe we're all growing up a bit?  Finally.