Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Hiking Game

I love hiking. When the girls were too small to walk it was easy to put them in a jogger. I chose wide open trails. But next came a phase when they can walk but not as long or far as I wished.  Neither one of us gets a work out really.  I don't want to be mean mommy but since when does a 3 year old have less energy than me?  I found a trick that has worked with both of my girls.  

I turned the hike into a treasure hunt and it's amazing how long they'll keep going.  I gather up a bunch of the kids small toys. The kind of things we get in birthday goodie bags, marbles, toy soldiers, lego men/women, jacks, shrink-a-dinks, dinosaurs, anything the kid is into.  I stash them in a pocket as I hike and when I hear "mommy I'm tired" I stealthfully start dropping them one by one along the trail.  

For my oldest, I would say "There's pirates in this land and they dropped their treasure on their way to higher treasure!" She would come running....and keep running to find the next treasure!  For  my youngest I say "The pirate princess came by here and she left you a trail to find her!"  It's amazing how well it works!  

How well does it work you ask! I've done 2 hour, straight up the mountain kind of hikes in Big Sur on our way to waterfalls.  And last week we did a 3 hour hike in Griffith Park to find the Japanese Teahouse!  I didn't pick up the 3 year old once and the 7 year old wishes she could run the trails by now.  I have a bad back so it's kind of a necessity for me to have them walk on their own. 

Of course I make sure you keep the kids well hydrated and fed! Snacks are the other thing I keep well stocked in a backpack! Both girls have built up quite a bit of stamina over the years/months.  My oldest can now do my usual hikes. Except, she prefers to run them and so I'm the one struggling to keep up with her.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I've Changed My Mind

I'm totally mesmerized watching teen aged girls these days.  It won't be long before P is there and I'm curious and scared for what is coming down the pipe. I'm also wondering who will P be? What kind of girl will she be? What will her style be like? Who will her friends be? 

Last week we were in the waiting room in P's dentist's office. It seemed like all the patients that day were teenage girls and they were there with their moms.  I looked around and noticed all the girls were pretty much a younger version of their mothers.  They almost even dressed the same. I've noticed this almost everywhere I go: church, friend's play date and parties. As mothers we are the main role model for our daughters. And that's when I changed my mind about not letting P wear nail polish until she is 16. 

I wouldn't say I'm unstylish. In fact, I know I can put an outfit together when need be. For an event I can look very good. However, on a day to day basis I'm more of a mess than polished. In fact, this week as I clean out college and high school pictures I noticed my hair was always messy. My look was very casual. Too casual.  My mom was definitely a hippie. I followed suit to a big extent. That's not what I want for my girls. 

To me the ideal woman is one who can be casual and dressed up. She can look good in make up and without. Whether she's going for a run or to a black tie event she looks good, great even. Her hands look manicured even without polish. I guess ideally, I'd like my girls to be a better, more polished version of me. I didn't start wearing makeup regularly until I became a mom. My girls are blonde/light hair with blue eyes. With my dark hair I was constantly mistaken for their nanny. In an effort to rectify that I started wearing make up and not wearing sweats. It was such an effort. Too much of an effort at times.  Now P is older and I put myself together for her behalf really. I don't want her to be embarrassed of her mother when I go to pick her up from school or when we bump into her friends. But I wish I could take it up a level. Unfortunately, I've been too much of a tomboy for so long.  

And so, in an effort to support my girls' "girlieness" (each is more girlie than the next) I've decided I'm going to let them paint their nails. I wasn't allowed to wear any kind of make up until I was 16. I liked that rule because as I've said to my chiquitas "If you want people's attention you first must learn to do it with your own personality and accomplishments. When you've learned that skill set then you earn the right to use all the colors of the rainbow." I've liked the rule in the past.  Now I don't like the all or nothingness of it. I think allowing them to play in stages might be better: first nail polish, later pink lip gloss, then mascara, eye brow highlighter and eye highlights until they can start using more and continue to use it all appropriately for the right time and place. If I want women who are a bit more aware of their presence and appropriate appearance I must allow them to develop that part of themselves and to be comfortable with it. I must give them the freedom to play with their looks and to enjoy this process of becoming a woman. As women we go through such drastic changes with our bodies growing up. Going from nothing to all make up seems like another drastic change at a very awkward and ever-changing time in their lives. 

When I had my own company one of the lessons I learned was that nothing works in absolutes. In business you must always be analyzing and ready to make adjustments and changes to better your company's position. I think I'm using that same advice for parenting. I've analyzed who I am, where I wish my daughters to be and making adjustments to my rules to better their future positions.  

And in any case, I'm a woman. I'm allowed to change my mind. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Today was HUGE!

Today was huge.  Today was the last meet of the 2014 San Fernando Catholic School League Swim Season.  It's been a good swim year for P. She medaled in the breast stroke in every meet.  Half way through the season she started competing in all four events: back, breast, free and fly.  She was never disqualified for improper technique which is huge at 6 years old.  Last year she was the only one in her class on the team, this year she gained 5 first grade team mates.  It's been a fun and productive year but today was huge! 

Today we had a break through and not just in swimming. Today she learned a life lesson.  All season P has had an issue with finishing strong or putting in 100%. In practice she was cutting off the beginning and end of each lap AND stopping half way.  I let it go until I noticed that in meets she was starting out strong and practically coming to a halt at basically the very same spot where she was stopping in practice.  She was performing the same way she was practicing.  So we had a talk. 

We talked about what giving 100% looked like: swimming wall to wall and not stopping half way.  I told her I preferred her to give 100% for half an hour instead of giving 50% for an entire hour.  She promised to give 100% and I promised that if I saw her short change her practices I'd pull her out of the pool.  I also promised to listen to her as she listened to her body. If she was feeling tired or sore we would skip swimming that day.  Our open communication was working well. 

The next meet came and again I saw her nearly stop half way in every single event.  One of the parent-coaches said it could be lack of strength which was normal for her age. The issue would resolve itself with time. But to me there was a mental aspect I saw missing.  She had a couple bad practices. I called her out of the pool once it was so bad. She returned to practicing strong. We incorporated a few fun core strengthening exercises but still I felt the issue was mental more than physical.  I felt that if she could power through the moment she starts to feel tired or the burn it would only take once for her to see it was worth it. But how could I get her to do it on her own?  No way was I going to get her to do it with threats or harsh discipline. 

Last night, the night before her last meet, we were having fun and getting her pumped up.  She was listening to her favorite music. I started thinking about what use to get me fired up.  Rocky! I wasn't sure the music without the movie would do much for her.  But thanks to YouTube I found a compilation of all the training scenes from all the movies put to the Rocky theme song and Eye of the Tiger.  P was so into it!  I was able to point out how Rocky pushed through the tough tired moments to train harder and that's what got him stronger.  I could see something was clicking but who knew if it would translate to the pool.

The meets start out with the backstroke.  We did our usual little routines which includes a little pep talk before staging. I reminded her of Rocky. I reminded her to push through. These were the last four races she had to do and she could give them her all.  And then the breakthrough came! She pushed off the block and she swam hard. The half way point came and she continued to swim hard without slowing down! I was literally on the verge of tears. It clicked! It finally clicked and I knew the feeling she had just had.  That sense of accomplishment that tells you I control my body!  When she got out of the water she was out of breath and tired in a way I had never seen before.  They gave her her time and it was 6 seconds faster than her previous best time.  I was so proud. She was so proud. 

The other 3 strokes were the same. She swam hard wall to wall. She knocked nearly 6 seconds off all her strokes except her best stroke, the breast stroke. But I was expecting it. Breaststroke came two events after backstroke and she was still tired. She needed to gain her mental strength again, also something new to her. By the third event she was able to gather herself back together and give it her all once again.  At the end of each race she was exhausted and I'd ask her "did you leave it all in the pool" and she'd say "there's nothing left".  

At the end of the day I had to sit and talk with her.  To me this was such a momentous occasion and I wanted to make sure she understood why. I told her i was incredibly proud of her.  I explained that it wasn't just about the swimming. It was about her knowing she gave it everything she had. She would never wonder if she "coulda, woulda, shoulda" done something more could she had finished better? And the same thing applied to all things in life. If in everything she did she did her best she would have no regrets or wonder if it could have been better. I also explained that the more she pushed through the tough parts, or when it starts to burn, the stronger she would become.  It wouldn't necessarily become easier but she would find comfort in knowing she could break through the tough barriers.  And the uncomfortable point would become comfortable.  The life lesson was clicking in.  

Today she finished:
10th in breaststroke with a time of 39.32
15th in butterfly with 45.52
20th in freestyle with 30.82 
25th in backstroke with 35.09

Today was huge!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Bee sting and Cake

P stepped on a bee yesterday morning.  Her foot started itching in the evening and then it swelled overnight.  She has spent most of the day on the couch.  I've been doing a round of homeopathic solutions: epson salt soak, garlic taped on the location of the sting, cotton pads soaked in apple cider vinegar and placed all on the swollen area. Next I'll try Manuka honey and mud.  She says it doesn't itch anymore, only when I massage it.  It still feels pretty tight when I feel it underneath. 

In the mean time I'm thinking how much TV can a kid watch in one day?  Dave took G to Ikea so I had to take advantage of this one on one time and try to distract her from her foot some how.  We can bake...even though it's a thousand degrees outside.   

It's also 4th of July weekend. We should have something special right?  Cake!  Vanilla bundt cake with fresh whipped cream and strawberries!  

P and I made this recipe together from Bon Appetite, except I didn't add the raspberries since we'll eat it with fresh strawberries. I also don't plan on doing the icing.  The whip cream is good enough.  I like that the cake uses olive oil.  Seems healthier as far as a delicious cake goes.  

Every time I cook with the girls I remember how great it is for them.  I try to say everything in Spanish so that's a bonus.  Then there's the whole following instructions thing, the measuring, counting, problem solving.  Just getting the beater attachment to hook onto the Kitchen Aid is an exercise in problem solving. I try to keep my mouth shut and let her solve it on her own. Hard though.  

It's also hard to cook a meal that needs to be on the table within 30 minutes AND patiently work with a child. It's why I end up making cakes or leisurely food with them.  I need to summon my inner zen more often.  Cooking is a valuable tool in so many ways for all people. 

It's blazing hot. I need to get in the pool while that cake is baking!


She learned the difference between mixing and folding.

G helped by adding vanilla to the cream.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Baby G

I suspect hese are the pictures that'll melt my heart the most as the girls get older. That belly! That bare belly in diapers with those cute toes and hands! The simplicity of a warm morning in the fall.  How easy and calm life is now before pre-school and kindergarten and homework and a million activities that I feel I should be having them do.  Maybe this is the real activity. Playing a little computer game after snuggling and watching the birds feed from our bedroom window feeders.  I love this today. I'll miss it tomorrow. 

Her Buddy Owen

Their chemistry is unique. I can't quite explain it. Both are super active, whitty, sassy, and smart. They met in preschool.  I've never heard anyone make Annika laugh as hard as Owen.  I'm not sure what the future holds but i've told Brigitta, I hope Annika marries someone who make her laugh and think the way Owen does now. She lights up but in the most organic and natural way when they are together. I love, love, love that he has never told her she can't play with him and the boys because she is a girl and girls aren't super heroes. He may be the only boy who hasn't said that to her. There is something to their chemistry.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Annika has been playing the violin for one year.  She started in October 2012.  She has had one recital and one event where she has had to play in front of people.  It's been good and with each performance she gets more comfortable in the public eye. 

She loves it. She hates it. I see too many good things coming from the violin to let her stop.  It's developing her focus and her awareness that doing something everyday, even for a little bit, has a huge impact.  We practice about 5 days a week for anywhere from 15-20 minutes.  I saw her hold a cup the other day and realized she has developed dexterity and strength in ever single finger in both of her hands.  She has violin hands! I love it.  Today I saw her play with a sense of ownership i've never seen before. Confidence is building.  This is why we do it.  Personal growth and confidence.