a mother’s doubts

I recently read this blog post http://alegarattoni.com.br/as-maes-perfeitas-dos-grupos-do-facebook/  …  For those of you who don’t read in Portuguese the gist of it is: she’s talking about those facebook mommy groups that somehow make us “human mothers” feel inferior… It’s about those “perfect” moms who are organic eating, breast feeding vegan, baby wearing, non working etc. etc.  and how they make her feel inadequate as a mother and somehow lacking.  Well, I actually take part in one of these groups, and it’s curious how generalising it is a little bit like that.  It’s a bunch of mother’s who do their very best for their kids and who seam to sacrifice almost anything for them too. So far, it all sounds normal to me…  But this post got me thinking about something I have felt every now and then:

Often when I am feeling exhausted and overwhelmed I think about my two grandmothers.  They each came from very different backgrounds and had very different lives, but both have left me in awe at their strength.  My father’s mother had 12 children…  12.  Just the thought of spending 9 years of my life pregnant…  makes me tired.  They lived in Paraguay in a German community, so the chores and looking after the children were shared with others, but still.  12, not one or two or three.  There were no disposable diapers, or ipads or computers, or cell phones, or all the unhealthy snacks we use to bribe our children with.  There were hardly any shoes to go around.  Yet I NEVER heard her complain about anything looking back. My other grandmother had only 3 kids, but no cleaner, no maid, no diapers, no car, no spare rooms…  My mother tells me she shared a crappy sofabed with her sister in the living room for some years.  That was their bed.  When it rained there was a leak right on top their heads.  Their younger brother slept in the room with my grandparents.  All this to say, their childhood was nothing near my children’s and many kids who are around us today’s childhoods.  There was probably a lot less whining and crying too.  I don’t think that either one of my grandmother’s got to think about every tiny detail and decision in their kid’s lives, weather it was traumatising them or not…  And yet everyone survived and grew up to become healthy adults…  Sometimes I think nowadays we are so conscious of our parenting, we read so many books, try new theories go to so many doctors that we forget to just go with our guts.  We sacrifice so much for these kids and I worry that this generation will grow up to be selfish, spoilt and weak.  I am one of those mothers who read books and theories and all that…  and still when push comes to shove, half the time I don’t know if what I’m doing is correct or the best for my kids…  Plus now I have my own mother who is super present in my children’s lives but also comes with her ideas and baggage and that sometimes confuses me even more!  Parenting is so so hard, and the more conscious we are about it, the harder it seams to get because well, I just keep thinking of all the things I could be doing wrong that could somehow damage my kids.  Then again, sometimes it’s good to put things in perspective and remember that we are all human, and we all survive one way or another and so will our kids.

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Potty training nightmares/adventures

Yes, it’s about that time!  So after much thought it was decided (mainly by my mother and myself) that Miss N. would start potty training over the Christmas holiday.  It was the perfect opportunity, largely due to location and time of year…  Summer at the beach.  This means no wooden floors, most of the day spent outside, warm weather and little clothes being worn).  I had the feeling she was almost ready, but figured I would try it anyway.  So we took two potties with us to the beach.  One simple one and one all colourful, with a lid and button to “flush” the toilet.  Also, quite a few panties and lots of  hope!  Now the first couple of days were really quite successful.  She made a couple of drops pee in the potty once, then a big pee pee and then there were even a couple of lovely number twos.  Then mysteriously it all went South. Suddenly after her “number two” she looked at it rather shocked and uncomfortable.  Somehow surprised to see that that came out of her.  She stopped doing anything on the potty only to stand with her legs open pee and then say “xixi”.  I figured the beginning was all too good to be true and that things would soon start progressing again. Unfortunately she then started to refuse to sit on the potty at all.  I then started thinking: every time she’s done poo poo in her diapers, we lay her down to change her so she’s looking up at the ceiling or my face…  She doesn’t really see what came out!  Of course it’s weird for her to look at it right there in front of her!  Anyway, I gave up on the attempt all together and figured we re-start after we got back to Sao Paulo.

Since then we’ve started and stopped another 2 times!  I think the main issue is I’m soo tired and it takes soo much patience!  Then at school she’s doing it half the time in the toilet, the other in her pants…  and we are once more battling on here at home.  Today there was one pee pee in the toilet…  we partied hard!!  :)

And on monday, when I go back to work, I have two kids I look after who are also being potty trained, plus all the others who every now and then let something leak out!  Between them and my daughter I’ve been dealing with bowel movements quite a LOT!!

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Mlle. N proudly showing her 3 drops of pee!

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Some random moments of calm where I can get my sanity back for a little while!

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It’s been a while…

a looong while since I’ve had time or energy to write here.  The reality is that having two kids often feels like having more than double one kid…  Maybe someone out there gets what I mean?

This year started out with a lot going on.  Some adjustment was necessary. First, while we were still at the beach on our Christmas vacation, Mr. D had to take a plane to the US on a personal family emergency.  This was on the 25th of January.  We were so looking forward to the end of the year at the beach…  I was heart broken even though I know it was totally necessary.  (all is good now).  So in the end I was left with the kids, my parents, a couple of darling cousins of mine and my aunt.  Thank God for that, otherwise it would have been catastrophic!

Then, when we got back to Sao Paulo, I started working again!  My first fixed job since before Mlle. N was born.  It’s only part time…  and just about all I can handle at the moment!  So G is going to daycare for 4 hours a day and N has changed school.  It’s not easy to find part time jobs here in Sao Paulo for some reason.  So I feel I found the perfect one for me.  I’m working at a bilingual school…  Now Miss N gets to go to a new and really really nice school!  G stays next door at her previous daycare for 4 hours during the morning and I can see him once during this time to breastfeed. This last detail was key!  I can still breastfeed.

At work I am with a group of 14 three year olds.  So it’s also new territory for me since my kids haven’t reached that age yet.  It’s funny how in some ways they are still very close to N and others light years ahead.  I am learning a lot from this experience and am really loving my co-workers.

So far, so good….  if only I could get a decent night’s sleep.  The truth is, I haven’t been getting more than 5 hours of sleep per night since I can remember, and it’s beginning to show.  Between my two kiddos, I wake up an average of 4 to 5 x per night lately.  No wonder I keep getting sick!  I really don’t know what to do or how long I can keep going like this for!  My last hope is that in about a month when baby G will start eating savoury foods, as well as his fruit, he’ll miraculously sleep a little better.

There was a LOT of guilt going on in the beginning.  I couldn’t be there for N during adaptation at the new school since I was working…  My mother who is ever present helped SO SO much!  Now Mlle. is fine, loving the school and improving her English…  only thing is she’s taking out her anger of her mother having to work on her Grandma!  Smarty pants has noticed that Grandma comes in the picture all too often when Mommy can’t be there.

All in all though we are getting there. Where?  somewhere more structured and better for everyone. Hooray!

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Mlle N is growing….

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Am looking forward to next year’s photo!  :)

All in a bag

As much as I love my home country and too a certain extent do consider myself Brazilian, there are a few habits that I just can’t put my head around here!  One of them is the sidewalk washing.  I may have mentioned this before, but it’s a phenomenon to me.  Every morning when I’m taking Miss N to school I see it: Every shop or building is having it’s sidewalk hosed down….  All the dirt, leaves and trash that people throw on the streets gets hosed away into the gutter so that when it rains the slightest in Sao Paulo the  streets are flooded due to all the drain pipes being blocked up with the garbage….  The other day was really hot…  I was walking to a store quite a few blocks down.  At the beginning of my path was a lady hosing down the 2 maybe 3m in front of her shop.  I continued down the street, did my shopping and must have taken at least an hour and a half to get back.  When I passed her shop again she was still there, hosing away!!  I don’t think anyone in this city has ever thought of considering the water that is going to waste when they do that!!  I’m sure her feet were very refreshed though!

But the real question for me is what’s with the plastic bags??  A few months ago there was this whole movement going on in the supermarkets preparing everyone to stop using plastic bags.  For weeks and weeks in advance there were signs warning the shoppers that the bags would no longer be given to us, but sold…  There were tons of  re-useable bags and baskets on the market.  Then, finally when the day came to disappear with the bags it lasted maybe a month before everything was back to how it used to be.  Customers were complaining, forgetting their re-usable bags all the time…  I started noticing that when someone would complain about the lack of free bags they would be handed some bags from under the counter.  This went on for another week or two and then, one fine day, everything was back to the way it used to be: Plastic bags being handed out to each customer…  The worst is that the bags are so thin that most of the time we need to double bag items so they don’t tear the bag and fall out.  It was such disappointment for me!

I remember once I saw this lady who put everything she was purchasing in one of those see through bags to then take it to the cash register where it would be once more placed in a bag….  I understand if you’re buying 5 apples to bag them, but one?  Or a bottle of milk??  Why does that have to be in a bag to then be placed in another bag?

I went for a coffee yesterday and this is what I got:

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My coffee in a cup… a pao de queijo and a tiny spoon, in a bag to stir my coffee.  Why couldn’t they give me a normal spoon?  The coffee cup will be washed anyway!

Often restaurants hand you the cuttlery in a little bag when you go eat….  It’s to prove it’s extra clean!

I use my bags for the trash here at home.. but still…  how many bags do I see littering the streets and gutters?!!  Too many!

Two is better than one!

Having two kids is like having a whole army sometimes!  I don’t know if there is a difference between two and five kids… maybe not.  But the leap between one and two is enormous!  The plus side to it is that I really feel like we are a family now.  Before it was my husband, and I, and Mlle. N.  Now we are a family!

We recently bought a double stroller so I could take N to school with the baby..  When I go out with it I have the feeling I’m one of those long skirt hairy leg women who have 9, 10 kids following them around.  Of course, those women’s kids are well behaved however, not mine!  The thing is our sidewalks and public transportation are so crap here in Sao Paulo that if you’re going to go anywhere by bus there’s just no way to take your kids in a stroller.  So unless you have a car, most people who have to go beyond a few blocks carry their kids in their arms.  I don’t know how they do it, with bags, diapers, umbrellas and all that but they do.  Plus the busses shake and rumble so much…   and the drivers go around corners like nuts at 100km/hour…  So when people see me with my double stroller they really stop to turn their heads.  Miss N loves it though.  She’s big on going out with her little brother and doesn’t like it at all that I cover him up because the light still bothers his eyes.  She starts complaining if she can’t see him.  So cute!

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The down side of two kids is that they gang up on you to make sure there are no good nights!  When one decides to sleep through the night by a miracle, the other makes sure to wake up at least two or three times so we don’t get a full night’s sleep or rather 5 hours straight.  That would be too lazy of us!  I have less “free” time now..  (by that I mean time off where I drop everything I should be doing and do something I want to) but it’s so worth it!  Financially we are going through a bit of a rough patch, and having 2 kids certainly cuts a whole in our budget, but I still believe it’s totally worth it!

Mlle. N is all about taking part in my everyday chores now..  She wants to help with everything. Especially sweeping the floor and washing dishes…  It’s exhausting sometimes, but I wouldn’t dare discourage her!  Who knows, maybe it will last till her teenage years! :)

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This is her helping Daddy dismantle the bed!

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Dishes are her favorite!!  She can spend hours standing on a chair getting soaking wet…  If only it weren’t so anti-ecological!!

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A few weeks ago we were visiting a friend and there was a little playground in her building…  In the playground was a house…  Mlle. N fell in love, claimed it for herself and we were stuck there for a while.  It took a lot of coaxing to get her to leave…  By that I mean her dad and I having to pretend to walk away, say bye bye etc.  No, not nice, but it was either that or pick her up and have her scream all the way to the car…

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So later when we were home I decided to make her a house out of cardboard.  I had seen a model on pinterest and decided to try it out.

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I know, I know, it’s very ugly and shabby looking. (not even close to the one I saw on the site!) But do you know how hard it is to put something like this together with an almost two year old hovering around wanting to help cut and paste everything??  (it’s really hard!!). Of course it didn’t last long!  But that afternoon she sure had fun in there!  She even ate her lunch in the house!

Later the roof fell off so I decided to try to do some “remodeling” and let Miss N decorate the outside:

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Then we got bored of that so on another day she painted the outside…  That provided a LOT of fun and laundry…

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Note the detail on her nice sweater…  : /

Anyway, after a lot of fixing up I finally came up with some shingles for the roof and “wallpaper” for the inside…

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I used corn starch glue to stick the “wallpaper” up and coat the paint on the outside so it doesn’t rub off on your hands. It took me a while to finish, but was actually a really fun little project.

Temper tantrums and butterflies

Well, my lovely sister and super back up is gone!  She was here for a month after Baby G arrived to meet him, see N again and help out.  It’s incredible how so little (in terms of what is needed) can help so much!  Just someone who will pick up the baby when he’s crying so I can deal with Mlle. N helps sooo much!  Yesterday I was alone with the two of them so I had to wait for Mr. D to come home to give N her bath because it was at the same time the baby needed feeding…  In the end she didn’t even go in the water for more than 2 seconds since there was sooo much drama and crying…. After a lot of coercion and new tricks on my part, it all failed so we gave up!  (bad parenting, I know, but sometimes exhaustion and hunger gets the best of you!)

On a happier note: Here in Brazil for some reason (probably the toy industries) there is children’s day!  I know!  Seriously insane idea…  to make us poor parents have to spend more money on expensive toys yet once again!  Mlle’s school has special games and activities going on all week.  Today was going to school in pajamas day.  Yesterday was fancy dress day.  Most “sane” parents go out and buy some dress up clothes for their kids to go to school like batman or some disney princess…  But since I have soo much time to spare (haha) I decided I’d make her outfit myself….  (Truth is those store bought clothes are yucky and synthetic not to mention expensive!)

So I decided to make her a butterfly outfit.  Some cardboard wings and bug antennas for her hair… This is not a DIY post… No time for that but I will put some photos of the process….

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Why mothers have no memory and I’m not green

I once heard that we forget just how painful giving birth is almost immediately after the fact.  It may be true otherwise who in their right minds would want to go through it twice?  I know we aren’t completely amnesiac, since we do have a vague memory of what it was like…  after all there are many accounts,  but I’m beginning to think that the extent of the real pain we forget. Same thing goes for sleepless nights and other pregnancy issues.

It’s not that I forgot how itchy I got in the third trimester of my first pregnancy, but for some reason I did think I could face it again.  Hence the 2nd child.  Same thing goes for the sleepless nights after Miss. N was born.  I know there were (and still are) many many with N… but now that I’m going through it all over again feeling absolutely EXHAUSTED…  I find myself thinking I don’t remember it being this torturous…   I’ve had a sore throat for maybe 3 weeks now.  I’m taking loads of vitamins but my body is too tired to deal with my throat.

Another example: Maybe it’s just our baby, but I’ve never changed so many diapers in my life before..  Is it another boy thing on top of the sprinkler?  The other day I went to give him a bath.  Thank God, I decided to ask my sister to help even though I can manage just fine on my own.  I prepared his bath filled it up with the perfect temperature water put him in and two seconds later: pooof the little guy goes and does a big yellow poo in the water!  Ah crap! (literally, right?) So while my sister holds him in his pooey water to keep him warm I get Miss. N’s bathtub (yes we have several baby tubs…  something I thought was unnecessary till now) out and fill it up.  As soon as the little guy goes in that one and I start trying to get all the poo off him…  Poof, he lets out another one!  Oh man!!  Seriously?!  So fine…  I go get the tub, fill it up and we dip him in very quickly now…  (getting smarter finally!)… Take him out again, wrap him in his towel…  and just as I start drying the little fellow off, he goes and does ANOTHER one!!  I swear, I’m telling the truth here…  we somehow manage to clean him up while he’s screaming non stop of course…  put a diaper under his bottom and just as I’m about to close it….  Yes, you guessed it!  Another poo poo!! It sometimes takes me 3 diapers to change him because the first he poos in and then the second again while I’m changing him!

When we were pregnant with N, a very dear friend of mine who is very…  how should I put it… eco-friendly? You know, vegetarian, hardly uses plastic stuff, etc etc…  Well, she gave me one of those beautiful cloth diapers.  They’re really cute…  At some point during pregnancy I was actually considering doing the whole cloth diaper thing.  (nuts right?)  Well, seriously, can you imagine if I were doing it now?  I mean, every time I change one diaper I’d have 4 to wash?!!  That’s not possible!  The main reason I was considering it wasn’t so much to be “green” (sorry guys, but it’s true) but rather because I thought maybe it’s cheaper…  but I’d have to have a couple hundred of the cloth thingys so…  maybe not so cheap!  Plus, I’ve read the amount of water spent cleaning them is not at all eco-friendly, so there’s no real gain.  In any case, if today with the disposable diapers I do several loads of laundry a day…  imagine what it would be with the cloth ones?  I’d be working harder than a laundromat!  I don’t have any help here that can do that stuff for me…  It’s just me running around like a headless chicken here at home most days when I attempt a clean tidy house and total chaos when I don’t.  So, no green friendly diapers for me, sorry! But anyone who does use then has all my admiration and support.  Really!

then and now or the more the merrier…

Don’t know what it is about new borns, we always want to see who they look like most or what color their eyes will be….  Miss. N always looked more like her dad!  And the little new guy looks like my dad!  But when you put them together next to each other they look more like each other…

Miss N. went to spend the weekend at the beach with my parents and sister…  Although it is nice to have some peace and quiet around here, I can’t help but miss her!!  The house is dull without her voice…  I wake up at night and want to go check on her…

I’m sorry for all the maternity blogging over here…  but till Mr. G gets his shots we are pretty much stuck at home and have little else to write about!  I feel cooped up, but know it goes by quickly…  Still would love to be out and about with the two of them!

Here are some photos of then and now…

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No matter how tired and exhausted I feel…  I’m so glad we are four!  <3

Lesson no.2 : You can never have too many bed clothes with kids

A while back I was cleaning out our cupboards and came upon the conclusion that we don’t really need that many sets of bed clothes.  Two, maximum 3 sets is enough. Same thing for towels. This is a great way to save space I thought. Sure enough, it is. If you don’t have kids.

We had another adventurous night here at home.  Baby G, our youngest has been having some kind of stomach issues since he always has a hard time either digesting or evacuating, I’m not sure. His doctor’s appointment is tomorrow, so we’ll hopefully know better then. But he keeps us up for several hours during the night.

Last night it was Mlle. N who wasn’t well.  She woke up crying at 3am and threw up.  Off I went to change all her bed clothes, covers, pjs etc.  Mr. D stayed with her so she’d fall back asleep.  I went back to burping the baby who had just been fed.  Ten minutes later I hear crying and my husband banging on the wall for me to go to the rescue again.  Poor N had thrown up again. Off I go to get another set of sheets and Pjs…  By this time I figured I may as well save myself time tomorrow and get the washing machine going. Needless to say, another ten minutes later: same procedure once again!!  I’m just hoping that’s the last time ’cause we really don’t have many clean sheets left!  (needless to say it wasn’t the last time… there was a 4th!)

We were up from 2am till 5 pretty much with all the commotion.  Then, at around 7 the little guy decided he was hungry again! I think it was one of the shortest nights…  sleep-wise so far.