Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Why?

Alden is an inquisitive and insistent little boy.  He is intent, these days, on understanding decisions and the reasoning behind everything. 

"Why" has become his favorite word.  Especially when we say "no" to him.  He asks for something (like an Elmo video), we say "no", and he says, "Whhhyyy?"  Not really in a whiny way.  In more of a mournful way.  But, he also really wants to know.  He'll turn my face to his so we are making eye contact and then say, "whhhyy?" as though imploring me to have a valid reason. 

I'll answer him and say, "because we don't watch videos in the morning."  If that isn't enough, Alden will once again say, "whhyyy?"  This can go on for many rounds.  But, more often, I'll say something like, "because we don't watch videos in the morning" and Alden will reply, "oh."  Oh! Like it all makes perfect sense now. 

It's hilarious to talk to him with all his questioning and, then, seeming understanding.  Oh! 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Bike Riding

In a week, Kai has gone from not being able to balance on her bike, to being able to ride around the neighborhood, turn sharp corners, and speed along with the best of them.  She is so proud of her newfound skill -- and it's opened up a world of possibilities.  Like riding to school in the morning!  There is a bike trail that goes near our house to downtown Sacramento, coming out just a few blocks from Kai's school.  Of course, we wouldn't let her do that alone -- but, it could be great fun for Eric and Kai to bike to school/work together in the morning.  And, Kai is excited about the possibility.

In addition, it means bike riding will be a big part of our summer.  We have a bike trailer that Alden can ride in, so we can all go out together.  Of course, per my last post, Alden has little interest in sitting in a trailer while the rest of us ride bikes.  He also wants to be on a bike, scooting along beside us.  So, that might pose a bit of trouble.  But, we'll see if we can get him interested in the trailer.

Kai has such determination and grit when mastering a new skill.  She just keeps at it.  Practicing over and over. She doesn't love learning in front of others -- but, she'll do it in order to master a new skill. 

Next up is a new bike for her -- one that doesn't need the tires pumped up every other day!

Go, Kai, go!!


(also, note that Kai is wearing a jacket in this video.  At the end of May.  In Sacramento.  We've only hit 90 a couple of times this year.  The weather has been so mild and nice.  It's a big strange.  Maybe we won't have such a blazing hot summer this year?  One can hope).

Owning His Age


It's like someone gave Alden and instruction manual on how to be 2.  Because, man, he is TWO.  He can say "TOO" when you ask him how old he is.  Ask him twice in a row, and his second answer is likely to be "BLUE".  He is never certain if we are inquiring about his age of his favorite color.  Although, I'm not sure blue is actually his favorite color.  But, it's definitely his go-to color if you ask him what color something is. 

He yells "NOOO" at least fifty times throughout the day.  And his "no" is generally followed by his furrowed brow, glare of death look that he intends to show his seriousness, but that often just results in us cracking up.  It's funny but also trying. 

And, his newest ever-so-two phrase is "I do it."  As in, I'll buckle my own car seat, fix my own breakfast, load the dishwasher, unload the dishwasher, ride my own bike, drink with one hand, feed myself soup, be my own person.  Whatever it is, he will do it.  Alone.  Without help. 
 
 

Last night, this insistence came in handy.  I got Alden undressed so he could get in the bath.  He ran ahead of me into the bathroom and when I got there, he was sitting on his potty, grinning from ear to ear because he had gone potty.  He hopped up and started pointing in the potty and yelling, "PEE PEE PEE PEE!"  And, I looked and clapped.  He beamed harder and danced around the bathroom.  This morning, when I asked him if he wanted to use the potty he said, "NO!"  Followed by the glare.  Baby steps.

Then there's "mine".  A lot of things are claimed as "mine" -- including the nearly everything we have that isn't actually his.  "MINNNNEEE" followed by "NOOOO" are frequent phrases heard around these parts. 

Alden adores the bike we got him for his birthday, asking to ride his "bike" and go around the "block".  He's clearly trying to figure out if bike and block are synonymous with one another, asking over and over again about the "block" part while we are riding and pointing to his bike while saying, "block?"  But, he loves to ride.  It hilarious because he doesn't use the pedals.  He just pushes himself with his feet, but he can really get going.  He tries so hard to keep up with Kailey, who has also mastered the art of the two-wheeler.


He is attempting 3 and 4 word sentences.  Usually, of the variety of, "mine, me have. ME" or "I want some more.  ME".  But, it's awesome to hear him stringing words together.  He also frequently points things out.  Like, "LOOK! Airplane.  Sky!"  Of course, many of the phrases require quite a familiar ear in order to translate.  My mom has been spending a lot of time with us and has gotten quite good at deciphering his phrases, often translating things that I didn't understand.
 


One of the only people that Alden will allow to assist him is Kailey.  Yesterday, he kept going over to her and kissing her arm and giving her hugs out of nowhere.  She loves that.  We all love that.  And, when she tries to show him how to pedal his tricycle, he'll actually listen and attempt it.  When I show him he furrows his brow and yells, "NO!"  She holds his hand, looks after him, shares food with him, and is so attentive.  And, in return, he gives her kisses, allows her to be the only one who can help him, shares with her, let's her have the first pick of all food items/treats, and shows great concern whenever she is upset or has an owie.  They are so good for each other -- so mindful of each other. I love watching the two of them interact (except on mornings, like this morning, when Alden was jumping on Kai's head in the bed and she was screaming and he was screaming and they were both beyond irritated at each other.  That happens too).

He is so eager to catch up to Kai and the rest of us.  It's amazing how agile he is.  How quickly he runs and climbs and gets around.  He tries everything we're trying.  And, he is intent at learning and advancing.  He can already recognize about half the letters -- watching Kai read and go to school has definitely made him envious.  A couple of weeks ago, we had to go to Cathy's house for child care for a few days because Kai was sick at home and we didn't want to expose the kids or Linda Ann to her illness.  Alden was SO EXCITED to get to pack a lunch and LEAVE the house for the day.  He'd jump from foot to foot at the back door while clutching his lunch yelling, "I GO! I GO".  It was adorable and also a big indicator that this kid is READY for the next thing. 


He loves going to the classes we have him in -- participating actively in the music class and watching intently during tumbling and trying out all the moves and equipment.  He wants to join in, be part of the action and the fun -- and he's so capable and ready and enthusiastic.  He's fun to watch.

 

He's definitely got a mind of his own.  He's TWO. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Forty

Yesterday, I turned forty.  Really, it's just another year.  But, I like pausing and thinking about the decade that was.  Really, the 4 decades that have been.

I like to joke that I've been growing into middle age my whole life.  My best friends, when I was a child, were often quite a bit older than me.  Often, they were adults.  Teachers.  Mentors.  I've always been career-minded and focused, wanting to have jobs from a very young age and always relishing my work.

But, now, as I actually turn the age I feel I've been, in many ways, my entire life -- it's interesting to reflect on the growth that has brought me to this new decade. Growth that has, in many ways, surprised me. 

My 20s were definitely the decade of foundation building.  Finishing school, those first jobs and resume building, law school, my first fellowship after law school.  And, a lot of my foundation building also came with tearing down the structures of childhood.  It was painful for me.  But, now, as a mother - I think it was probably equally (or more) painful for my parents.  Especially my mom.  I think the rejection and pushing away from your past is often associated with teenagers -- and, to be sure, I did that as a teenager. But, for me, the real push away from my childhood and my past came once I was out on my own.  The process of developing an independent identity also meant tearing down the one that had been constructed by me, but also for me, as a child.  It was rejecting narratives about myself that I had never been totally comfortable with and trying to figure out who I really was. It was proving to myself that I was a risk-taker (although, not at the fairgrounds), an academic (although, more in a practical way through work than in the abstract space of school) and independent (while being in a very close relationship with my partner in life).  And, in my 20s, my natural inclination was to demonstrate these things through work and career and school.

And then came my 30s, which is when the real building began.  The foundation I built in my 20s was strong -- for a career especially.  I knew what I wanted to do, and had carefully put in place the pieces to do those things.  Internships, classes, law school, more internships, a fellowship.  I was poised for a stellar career.  An impactful career.  And, then, Eric and I started talking about what else we wanted to do with our lives and the possibility of family.  So much of the identity I had reconstructed for myself in my 20s was based on a rejection of family that our early forays into conversations about building our own family felt like an abandonment of the persona I had created for myself.  Luckily, I had the presence of mind not to be too tied to an image. And, I also knew that whatever image others had of me was just that -- an image.  In fact, that was what I spent so much of my 20s fighting against internally.  It was rejecting the notions others had of me (or, at a minimum, the notions I thought others had of me) and building confidence in who I really was.

So, we talked about dipping our toes in new waters by shifting course and building a family alongside our careers.  And, then, we plunged -- since both the pregnancy and the baby came far faster than we had ever anticipated. 

And so my 30s were about a new kind of building and balance.  The building of a family. And, in building my own family, I found that I also started reconstructing the ties to my past -- to the very things I had spent so much of the prior decade rejecting. My friend Sarah jokes that the change was instantaneous and she saw it in my eyes the second she saw me in the hospital after I had Kailey.  But, now, I know that what she saw was just that initial root taking hold.  It was a new area of growth that started immediately, in that instant of becoming a mother.  But, growing into what that really meant for me was the work of my 30s.

The work of my 30s was about growing more towards peace, patience, and understanding. I've learned a new way of interacting with the world and those around me that was previously foreign to me. The irony is that I found real independence by being tied so completely to others (aka my children) that I no longer had moments to really reflect on the profound change that had taken hold.  I gained empathy towards others when forced to ask for help - both at work and home - as I attempted to juggle the constant daily chaos of work and kids and home maintenance and repair.  And I've gained an understanding of the most important parts of my childhood -- that I was loved, nurtured and supported -- by viewing that childhood through my new eyes as a parent that is constant making mistakes, second-guessing and questioning myself.  Over this last decade, I've experienced a softness in myself that often feels foreign to me.  And, I've learned a lot more about forgiveness and the importance of letting go of the past and embracing each day.  I'm not sure what it is about parenthood exactly that brings these lessons so squarely into the forefront.  And, it's entirely possible that I would have gained these insights and experienced this growth in my 30s regardless.  Who can say.  For me, becoming a mom and feeling more connected with the people and world around me are inextricably linked.

Which is not to say that I am entirely a changed person. I'm still extremely career-minded and driven.  And, I'm focused on that impactful career and try to deepen my impact every year.  And, for sure, I still possess my most intractable flaws that I've had for all my days.  I have a quick temper, am easily frustrated by others, like to be in control, and can be callous and indifferent towards others' feelings. And, I continue to be terrible at admitting wrong or fault or making amends for my own bad actions.

So, here I am at 40.  If you had asked me when I was 20 what I hoped to be doing at 40, I probably would have wanted to be a jack of all trades, running for Congress (or at least being Chief of Staff for a member of Congress).  My answer would certainly have been almost entirely about work.  My answer would have been rooted in knowing the parts of myself that had always felt the most comfortable -- that I am a doer, an organizer, a worker, and an activist. I knew these aspects of myself as a younger person, for sure.  And, to this day, these traits are what I consider to be my core self.  

And, yet, as I sit here at 40, I find that even as I have maintained that core, I've been capable of growth that I didn't anticipate.  Now, if you ask me what I want to be, I think beyond work and  define myself equally by my relationships.  I am wholly a mom.  A daughter.  A wife.  A friend.  I find myself wanting to push myself to be better in these relationships as much as I want to continue to grow in my job. Trying to constantly do both - and pushing as I do to do both really well -- can be so exhausting.  But, I'm also finding, it is so worth it.

It's funny how as I turn this page on a new decade how much more connected I feel to my past than ever before.  Not necessarily to the the child people thought I was.  But, to the child who was loved and nurtured into the adult I wanted to become and - everyday - am becoming more.