Ten Inches of Space…

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 10-01-2011

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I think it’s time that even our modified version of co-sleeping comes to an end.  DJ seems to have adapted well to her big girl bed, and I seem to have gained the confidence that she is safe in her sea of breathable blankets and guardrails.

While I was lying with her the other night, it occurred to me, “I have ten inches of space right now.”  Considering that a twin mattress is 39 inches wide, and that DJ is over 2 feet tall (and lays horizontally across the bed), that leaves me about ten inches to try to find a comfortable position.  Now, I haven’t busted out the tape measure, but I can guarantee that even lying on my side, hips stacked one on top of the other, the depth of my body is more than ten inches.  No wonder I can’t get comfortable, can’t sleep, and can’t stop waking up with a criss cross pattern on my nose from being pressed up against the mesh guardrail.

I started thinking about this whole “ten inches of space” phenomenon, and realized that it’s really a true measure for all of motherhood.  When DJ is awake, there’s little space between us as we play.  As we ride in the car from one errand to the next, even her car seat is belted in closely behind mine.  I bathe DJ, I feed DJ, I change DJ’s diapers– all of which are duties in obvious, close proximity to her (not to mention the abundance of hugs and kisses that I give her throughout the day!).  I am living my life with less than a foot of personal space around me. I have not one, but two shadows attached to me.

The incessant annoyance that I feel toward my pets is beginning to make sense.  Just as I gain enough freedom to stretch out my arms, inevitably a cat or a dog reaches for my lap.  “Get away from me!” has become my typical response to their cry for attention.  Up until recently, I hadn’t given much thought as to why my affection for them had changed – but I get it now, I am uninterested in inviting anything else into my beloved, and minuscule, lot of personal space once I finally get it.

I just started reading a new book last night, and the author was talking about how our generation of parenting is so different from our grandparent’s.  When our parents were growing up, they were safe to play outside.  They’d come home from school and not return to the house until dinner was ready – which was about the same time that dad was getting home from work, too.  This left the mom of the house (our grandmothers) with plenty of alone time to get stuff done, and to perhaps, even enjoy a moment of solitude.  These days, we are unable to let our children play without supervision.  We are unable to let them wander down to the neighbor’s house, trusting they’ll return home safely once the sun begins to go down.  We have to be with them, sometimes less than a foot away from them, at almost all times.

When we become parents, we willingly wave goodbye to our personal space.  While it’s imperative that we carve out time for ourselves, for our marriages, and for our healthy friendships – it’s not always easy to do.  We must get creative.  We must be selective, and we must reprioritize.  I am slowly (very, very slowly) learning that while DJ is napping, I should be doing the things that I cannot do while she is awake – like soaking in a hot bath, having an uninterrupted phone call with a dear friend, reading a book, writing, or even taking a nap in my own bed.  It’s all too tempting to fold those loads of laundry, to pick up all the toys, to scrub the grout in the shower – but with such limited personal space, should we really be giving it over to chores?  The thought of giving my ten inches of space to the sink of dishes makes me want to puke, actually.

I am committed to using my personal space in more gratifying ways.  I am certain that if I allow myself a break from the monotony of the day, and focus solely on what feels nurturing to my soul, then I can allow my cat back onto my lap – and learn to better appreciate the closeness that I share with my daughter.

Change

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 03-01-2011

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Ahhhh, 2011, I am so glad you’re here.  While I do have yet another cold, I’m choosing to believe it’s lingering from 2010.  I doubt this is the first impression that the New Year would want to make on me, right?

I think that so many people are clinging onto the hope that 2011 will be THE YEAR.  The year when finances get in order, the year when health improves, the year you meet that special someone, the year you get pregnant, the year your football team wins, the year you get that promotion, or the year you finally forgive.  No matter the gravity of the hope – it’s present, and it feels palpable.

The New Year not only brings hope, but brings those all too familiar resolutions.  I was talking to my Uncle over Christmas about a new trend in marriage.  My Uncle is a lawyer and officiates non-religious weddings.  I told him that I heard that “modern couples” are replacing the vow “till death do us part,” with “so long as our love endures.”  I was expressing my discord with this new wave of commitment, as he was trying to explain the hypothesis behind it.  Something about how sometimes, when people feel like they have no other option, they feel trapped and just want an escape.

I got to thinking – maybe this is why resolutions are set, and re-set, every year.  We approach resolutions as if they’re a pact with some abyss.  If we do not follow through on the commitment that we’ve chosen to make to ourselves, or to someone else, we feel like a complete failure.  Lucky for us, we get a fresh start every 365 days.  As the clock strikes midnight on December 31, we feel a deep sense of relief and a bright ray of promise and possibility.   From one minute to the next, the slates are wiped clean and we start anew.  Isn’t that kind of silly?

This year I decided not to make a resolution.  I opted to introduce a theme instead.  I decided that 2011 would be the year of health.  Unfortunately, 2010 brought one too many phone calls about a loved one suffering from disease or illness.  While I do know that there are certain things out of my control, there are plenty of things that I can manage – and contributing factors to good health is one of them.  Given my certifications in nutrition coaching, this also meant holding myself accountable, and walking the talk.  The theme grew from health, to authenticity.

So, as I gear up for another year of celebrations, disappointments, opportunities, struggles and memories – I do so knowing that I can change my priorities along the way.  However, I face each day knowing that I want my choices to support the good health of my family (which means spending more time in the kitchen, buying more local foods, spending more time resting, and less time stressing), while never compromising who I am….at the core of my being.

I strive to be authentic.  I want to be someone who is open, honest, accountable and consistent.  I want to be a positive example to my daughter who is now 16 months old and picking up on EVERYTHING that I do.  I want to live more, worry less.

I don’t want a resolution, I want change.

Geoffrey the Giraffe

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 20-12-2010

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Did you hear what happened to Geoffrey the Giraffe, the Toys R’ Us Mascot?  Yeah, he checked himself into a psych ward a few years back.  OK, so maybe I made that part up – but I sure wouldn’t blame him.   Toys R’ Us is just another name for DMV in my book.  Mad chaos.

So far, our Christmas isn’t mirroring the vision I had for it.  As you know, December has brought some good viruses to our household.  In fact, just yesterday, my husband was diagnosed with pneumonia.  Luckily, the doctors caught it at the very early stage, so with a five-day supply of mega-antibiotics, he should be fine.  I keep telling him that there were other, more reasonable ways, to get out of our annual cookie-baking extravaganza.  Anyhow, this is why I ended up at Toys R’ Us without him yesterday.

We were doing the math yesterday morning, realizing that we had less than a week until Christmas.  All of the toys that we wanted to get for DJ would require assembly, so we knew we had to get crackin.  With the little Christmas Angel in tow, I headed to the giant toy store.  I was immediately enveloped by the warm, musty scent of children and the sounds of them not getting what they wanted, when they wanted.  It was a pleasant welcoming.

I have never understood why they make the aisles so small, the toy displays so large, and the bottom of the shopping cart without cross bars?  I mean, even Safeway knows that folks need a place to store their flats of water so as to leave room for the milk and eggs.  Whatever.  So there I was, trying to load three ginormous boxes into one tiny cart – no help to be found, just angry mobs of equally distressed parents.

We made our way through the migraine-inducing maze, over to the check out stand.  I was greeted by a talking can of paint.  Well, not exactly, but the checker’s personality was so lacking that she could very well have been anything but human.  We stood there for some awkward moments as she stared at me, and I stared at her.  I finally asked, “Is there a problem?”  “I need the bar code.”  “OK, is that something that I need to get for you?”  “No.”  And there we stood again.  I piped in again, “OK, so do you need to call someone?”  “No, I just need that box lifted up here.”  Wonderful, now we were on to something seeing as I was capable of lifting.  BINGO!  All scanned in, ready to pay and even under budget!

Thank goodness for the Shopping Cart Fetcher in the parking lot.  He was by far the most helpful person on the premises.  He offered to help me unload the nonfunctional cart, and even jammed a mammoth box into the upholstery of my backseat.  He was, actually, very well intentioned, and I was, actually, grateful for his background in Costco’s art of bulk loading.  Wait, have I mentioned yet that it was pouring rain?

We made it back home, and successfully transferred the boxes to Santa’s workshop, aka – the garage.  DJ was exhausted, and I didn’t even curse my husband for having pneumonia.  However, you can imagine my reaction when DJ was more excited over the wrapping paper and box for the one gift we allowed her to open early (a Cabbage Patch Kid that I had ordered on eBay and couldn’t wait to arrive!).  I was immediately reminded of a conversation that I had recently had with a friend, where I arrogantly said that “this would be our cheapest Christmas ever” – knowing that DJ would be more interested in the wrapping than the contents.  Why had I forgotten that I said that?  I knew that.  My expectations shouldn’t have changed.

Perhaps DJ, at her young age, has a few things to teach us.  I mean, it’s really not about the gifts after all, anyway.  She would be perfectly happy playing with an old rattle so long as it meant she had our undivided attention.  So, I am attempting to adjust my attitude and forgive my trespasser,  Toys R’ Us.  It’s not about the crowds desperate to fulfill the expectations and visions of gifts under the tree, but about our ability to stop everything and just be together – really together.

Five days until Christmas.  Let’s get it together, people.  Fa la la la la la la la la la.

Partnering With Your Partner

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 13-12-2010

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As you know, it was my birthday last Wednesday.  I was well celebrated by those who love me most – phone calls from dear friends, a complimentary and in-home hair cut, dinner at dad’s house, fancy lunch with mom, and an after-hour Sprinkles cupcake with my husband.  Well, those were the upsides.

I hesitate to mention the birthday poop that DJ left for me in the bathtub – the poop that got caked into our nonslip bath mat – or, a few nights later when she handed me a live spider half the size of her palm.  Although, those little morsels of toddler goodness paled in comparison to the plans we had to cancel with friends due to the nasty cold-bug that invaded our household and left us all quite snotty.

I had been so looking forward to having some quality time with friends.  I was starting to overcome my social anxiety (and let’s face it, depression) – and not only was I ready for some adult interaction, but I was craving it.  Our weekend calendar was actually FULL – and I was giddy with feelings of long lost popularity.   But, just as life sometimes does, our plans were turned upside down when we (DJ and I) got sick.

My sinuses were so congested that my front teeth ached.  By the time Saturday morning rolled around, and DJ’s “play with me” whines began, I could barely peel myself out of bed.  I don’t mean to be dramatic here, but I was feeling worse than I had in a long time, and I just couldn’t imagine how I was going to be a mom that day.  Just as I was contemplating how I was going to lift my heavy head off the pillow, my husband scooped DJ up, closed our bedroom door and let me sleep.  It was a true gift from heaven.

As the morning went on, he cooked DJ breakfast, took her to her gym class, and kept her with him while he ran errands.  He even picked up lunch for all of us. By the time they returned home, my nasal spray had kicked in, and I had even showered.  I was feeling human enough to realize just what was happening – my husband, my partner, had totally partnered with me to help me handle life.  The true essence of the marriage that we committed to.

Unfortunately, my routine with DJ is so ingrained in my every thought and move, that I often forget that others (especially her daddy) can do just as good of a job with her as I can.  In fact, I think DJ’s daddy would love for me to get out of the way now and then and just let him parent, too!  The two giggled a ton, and had some really great moments together.  They even seemed more bonded by the end of the weekend from all of their time together while I laid around feeling sorry for myself.

So, while I was lamenting over lost time with friends – God was teaching me a far better lesson, one I actually needed more than anything.  I learned that my husband is so valuable, so capable, and so in love with our daughter.  It’s his desire to take care of us, and I need to allow him that space so that he can really shine.

Kung-Fu Fighting

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 29-11-2010

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DJ has morphed into some sort of Kung-Fu Master.  Yep, that’s right, my sweet little girl has abandoned her Velcro Stride Rites for a black belt in karate.  The very feet that used to gently pitter-patter all over our house are now being used as weapons.  And somewhere along the line, I have unwillingly become her sparring partner.

DJ will be 15 months old in six days.  Apparently, this aggressive behavior is normal.  In fact, I was on the phone with a friend the other day, and as we were talking about our kids, she asked “Is DJ getting bossy?”  I responded, “We call it ‘opinionated’ around here, but yes, yes she is.”  She told me not to worry, that her son (about 18 months older than DJ) was still hitting and biting in an attempt to get his way.  Thank God DJ hasn’t figured out that she can also use her little chompers as an assault force – though, I’m sure that pleasantry is coming soon.

As DJ’s sense of independence increases, so does her frustration.  She wants so badly to explore and accomplish things on her own, and gets very angry when anyone interferes with her plans.  She is babbling up a storm, and I’m sure growing weary from our misinterpretation of her two-syllable gibberish.  She does not like to be ignored, and will take negative attention over no attention.  I have read plenty to understand that I am not the first mother of a toddler to battle on this field.  Still, having company on this stretch of the journey doesn’t make the experience any more enjoyable.

I’ve noticed that as soon as we get into a groove, DJ changes her rhythm.  If I’m not quick to catch on to the new way of doing things, then her temper flares.  This has been so enjoyable….NOT. For instance, my previously schedule-resistant child is now a complete disaster if we should deviate from her daily routine.  If she should get to sleep even 30 minutes later than her regular bedtime, then her bed turns into a full blown fighting ring.  When she gets overly exhausted, she gets sort of crazy – and this is a when her Kung-Fu Master alter ego takes over.  She kicks me (repeatedly) in the face.  As I sternly tell her “NO!,” she laughs at me – her very fake, very intentional, very deceptive laugh.  This has become my new reality.

Lucky for me, the word “timeout” is usually threatening enough to stop her behavior – although, I try not to abuse that tactic.  Halting her bad behavior is utterly exhausting, but I know that the alternative approach of letting it go because I can barely muster up the energy to correct her for the 702nd time of the day, would be far worse.  I am constantly questioning my reaction. Have I been too lenient?  Have I been too strict?

All I know is that this child-rearing business is a tough field.  Trying not to laugh when DJ does something unbelievably mischievous is almost as hard as trying not to break down in tears over the frustration of repeating myself constantly.  I find myself explaining and justifying to others that this bratty behavior is normal.  Luckily, those who are parents (or dear friends of mine who trust that I’m not intentionally creating a monster) totally understand it and offer their condolences support.  Those who aren’t parents, look horrified – as I once did, before I was living it.

I have a feeling that these battles will continue on for the rest of our lives as mother and daughter; they’ll just look different as the years go on.  I imagine that someday down the road, when the mere thought of me disgusts DJ, I will be remembering the good old days of Kung-Fu.

You Missed the Sign

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 22-11-2010

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My mom comes over from across the bay to visit DJ at least once a week.  It’s always a really special time for the three of us – three generations of strong, independent, adventurous, and really fun (if I do say so myself) girls.  Sometimes we have exciting plans like building sandcastles at the beach, and sometimes we don’t have any plans at all.  No matter what, we always have a great time.

Last week was one of those weeks when we didn’t have any specific plans.  The weather was beautiful, so we decided to walk several blocks to a neighborhood restaurant for lunch.  We ordered a tuna sandwich and house salad to share, with a side of egg salad for DJ.  Much to our dismay (insert sarcasm here), our sandwich came with French fries….guess we had to eat them.

DJ has been growing more and more irritated with the concept of sitting.  This makes meal times extremely stressful for me, as she already eats like a bird.  I am constantly worried that she’s not eating enough, and now, without sitting still for more than 40 seconds, I am convinced that she instantly burns whatever calories she ingests.  How she has enough energy to even support her body’s automatic functions like breathing is sometimes beyond me.  (Though I am thankful for such mysteries in life).

About five minutes into our lunch, DJ lost interest in her egg salad and began reaching for my tuna sandwich.  Lord knows it’s not gonna hurt me (or my hips) to sacrifice a few calories, so I gladly gave it up.  For those of you who have a kid who doesn’t enjoy eating, then you can relate to the sense of satisfaction felt when they actually “ask” for something off their plate, or yours.  You can probably also relate to sometimes allowing them to eat foods that you swore you’d never give to them – like French fries.  They see “yummy,” and you see “CALORIES.”  Go for it, kid.

After eating part of my tuna sandwich, DJ wanted a French fry.   My mom and I looked at one another, and elated over her interest, couldn’t hand the fry over to her quickly enough.  DJ took a little taste and then began motioning toward my plate.  I thought perhaps she wanted to try some ketchup, so I dipped it and returned it to her tiny tuna-laden hand.  She got a little fussy, handed it back, and then began her routine of fidgeting, wiggling, throwing food and growling – her signal for being done with the meal.

My mom and I began eating faster, knowing that we had suddenly been catapulted into borrowed time.  As we were finishing up, an older woman approached our table.  I figured she was just another admirer of DJ’s who was inevitably going to gush on and on about how adorable my kid was.  You can imagine my surprise when she decided to school me in mothering.

“You know, you missed the sign.”  I was dumbfounded.  What sign?  The “No kids allowed in this restaurant” sign?  The “No giggling at your table” sign?  The woman recognized my confusion and said, “The French fry.  You dipped her French fry in ketchup and when you gave it back to her, she tried to tell you she didn’t want it.  She tried telling you.  She didn’t want it on her plate.  You missed it.  You missed the sign.”  And with those two cents jammed down my throat, she walked away.

I was mortified.  Some old woman thought that I was a bad mom (or at least a disengaged mom), and she had the audacity to point it out in front of my own mother.  I felt knee high to ant – shrinking in my seat.  If I was going to be called out like that, why couldn’t it have been over one of my famous quinoa bakes, or spinach frittatas?  Why couldn’t a complete stranger have seen DJ reject my apple and sweet potato compote, or my chicken and brown rice roll-ups?  I was embarrassed to have been lectured over a darn fry – of all things.

I am continually amazed by the unsolicited advice that strangers offer parents.  I can still remember where I was standing the first time someone shouted (literally, yelled from their car window as I walked through a parking lot) their opinion at me when DJ was just a few weeks old.  I was crushed, and have never forgotten the piercing sting of the “You’re doing it all wrong” message unloaded on me that day.  No matter how wonderful I feel about the job that I’m doing as DJ’s mom, comments like these have a way of shaking my confidence.  Because I have a sneaking suspicion that people will never learn to keep their mouths shut, I am hoping that I can at least learn to take their words with a grain of salt.

This parenting stuff is hard.  I’m just 14 ½ months into it, and I question myself about one thing or another at least once a day.  I have no notes to refer to, no experience to call upon, no guidebook, and sometimes not even a clue about how to handle certain situations (like the day DJ had a rock solid poop stuck halfway out of her bottom).  These uncertain moments are terrifying, and can bring you to your knees (in both agony, and laughter – there is always laughter once these unbelievable predicaments are resolved).  However, I sure could do without the bully beat down from you better-than folks out there.

My mom just shrugged her shoulders at the confrontation, and never uttered another word about it.  That’s wisdom I tell ya – she allowed the woman to rant, and then let her opinion dissipate into thin air the moment that curmudgeon walked away from us.  Please dear God, let me become calloused and unaffected long before I become a grandma!

Little did Mrs. Intuitive know, she missed a sign too – a “sweet” little hand gesture from me as she turned her back.  Immature, absolutely.  Empowering, heck yes!

A Promise Fulfilled

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 15-11-2010

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If you have been following my blogs since DJ’s birth, then you’ve probably gathered that our parenting style around here most closely resembles attachment parenting.  In fact, I might have even claimed that label at one time or another.  However, as DJ gets older, what I realize is that “modern parenting” more accurately describes our approach.  We aren’t tied to any rules.  We aren’t following any books.  We are simply listening to DJ, our instincts, and our hearts.  We are attuned to our child’s needs, and we are doing our best to fulfill them in healthy, compassionate and constructive ways. Our way is not the only way, or even the best way – it’s just the way that works for our family.

Alright, enough with the disclaimers.  I’m just going to say it – DJ still sleeps with us.  Well, with me now.  My husband and I have shared our bed with DJ since she came home from the hospital.  It wasn’t really our intention to do so.  In fact, if you had asked us if we’d ever have our 14 month old in bed with us, we both would have answered with a resounding (and somewhat disgusted) “NO WAY!”  But, somewhere along the way, it became a habit in our home.  I am certain it was first sparked by my “new mom” paranoia, but then I became “attached,” and just enjoyed having DJ close by.

Up until six days ago, I had felt shame, embarrassment, judgment, and insecurity about sharing this truth with others.  While I have always remained absolutely confident about this decision for our family, it’s been hard to ignore the criticism from others.  And then, last Tuesday night, I realized that our choices had in fact allowed me to fulfill a promise that I made to DJ while she was still in my belly.

I had promised her that she would always be safe with me.  I promised her that she’d never have to worry about my coming or going because I would ensure that she’d always know that I’d be back for her.  I promised her that whenever she was scared or anxious, she’d have a safe place in me.  When I made her these promises, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d fulfill them, except by just being there for her however I could be.

With DJ’s growing sense of independence, we decided that she might be ready for a “big girl bed.”  We got her a twin bed, equipped with the proper safety guardrails and decided to give it a try.  Back to the “modern parenting” concept – we were simply paying attention to DJ’s lead and hoping we were on the right track.  I had decided that I would sleep in the bed with her, in her room, until she was comfortable with her new quarters.  I had assumed it would take her at least a week to even sleep through the night.  I was wrong.

DJ slept through the night our very first night in her new bed.  What I realized as I was laying there wide awake, was that I had actually fulfilled my promise to her.  I had become her safe place, and while she was in a new environment, I was there and that was good enough for her to feel at ease.  In those midnight moments, I made peace with our controversial decisions.  Not only did I feel a sense of peace, but I felt an overwhelming sense of confidence in my parenting ability.

While other mothers may have made similar promises to their babies, and have also fulfilled those promises in different ways – this is how I followed through with DJ, and this has been the right way for us.  I think that part of being a good and successful parent is being able to discern your own convictions from the voices of those around you.  I certainly believe that listening to others with wisdom and experience is essential, but at the end of the day, we’re the only ones who can fulfill the promises that we make to our own children.

Peanut Butter

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 08-11-2010

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I’m feelin like a pretty big girl right about now.  I did it.  I faced my biggest parenting fear tonight – peanut butter.  Yes, peanut butter.  Somehow, some way, the creamy goodness became my nemesis, and I (oddly enough) battled with the idea of it almost daily.

I don’t have any food allergies.  My husband doesn’t have any food allergies.  Neither do our parents – or even their parents.  And still, I became obsessed with anaphylactic shock.  I actually never realized that hives were a much more common symptom of a nut allergy than full blow anaphylaxis was until tonight, when my husband walked me through the “procedure.”

Prior to tonight, I had it all figured out.  DJ’s first taste of peanut butter would be in the car, which I was going to strategically park near Kaiser’s Emergency Room entrance.  That way, if DJ became short of breath, broke out in a crazy rash, started having seizures, etc. – I would be close enough to professional help (I don’t blame you for thinking that I’m the real one in need of professional help, and while that may be true – it’s another blog).

Perhaps this sounds insane (it might be).  Or maybe it even sounds insensitive for those who have experienced a serious allergic reaction (it’s not intentional).  However, it is the truth.  I was scared of peanut butter.  I was terrified that peanut butter would be the “thing” to make me say, “I just knew this was too good to be true.”  And that, my friends, is insane.

DJ has been an easy kid.  While she is 14 months old, and is experimenting with all that comes along with this age (as you know from last week, tantrums are still topping the list), her temperament is sweet and her quirks have been minimal.  I find myself wondering when the other shoe will drop more often than I celebrate how blessed we are to have had such a gloriously uneventful experience as parents thus far.  Somewhere along the line, while other moms were worrying about head injuries and kidnapping – I began worrying about peanut butter.

So, tonight became the night.  While standing in the kitchen with my husband and coming up short on ideas for snacks for DJ – we cut up an apple and I said, sheepishly, “Maybe we should try peanut butter.”  My husband reached for the jar almost immediately, but was kind enough to hear my hesitations and refer to Google for answers.  In that moment, I decided that I was tired of being controlled by my fears, and that I would prefer to triumph over this obsession with DJ, rather than to find out later she had a good ol PB&J while in someone else’s care.

“Peanut butter is number 8 on the list of top 10 allergies.  Milk and eggs are way above it.  She’s most likely to get hives, if anything. She’s unlikely to have an allergy if neither of us do.”  My husband read convincingly from About.com.  OK, DJ was already fine with eggs, fine with milk, and I knew that I was tough enough to handle hives.  As my husband grabbed a spoon, I grabbed the telephone (seriously, in case I needed to dial 9-1-1).  A little dollop on a slice of Fuji apple, and over to DJ’s salivating mouth it went.

It was completely uneventful.  She liked it – a lot.  However, she was more interested in watching our goldfish swim than she was in her newest delicacy.  I watched her like a hawk for several minutes following, before I realized what a complete whack job I was.

Now that the whole experience is over, and life in our home remains allergy free – I am trying to forgive myself for being insane, while also trying to put it all into perspective.  Listen, I am a mom.  I only want the best for my child, and if I think there’s potential for anything at all to hurt her, chances are, I’m going to fear it and try to steer DJ clear of it.

More than that though, I am a new mom.  I’ve never done this job before.  Fears and anxieties are going to manifest themselves in the strangest of ways.  Today, it was peanut butter – but God knows tomorrow it will be something else.  I am OK with that, so long as I don’t allow my fears to hinder DJ from trying new things.  Within reason, of course.

“Honey, while you’re at it, can you Google the health benefits of red wine again?”  I think I might need some positive affirmation tonight after facing my fears.

Tantrums

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 01-11-2010

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We have entered into the tantrum phase.  Please tell me it gets better.

I still receive weekly developmental updates from www.babycenter.com.  When I got pregnant with DJ a few Decembers ago, I signed up with this online tool right away, as I loved getting weekly updates on her growth in utero.  Now, I find it so comforting to read what “normal” milestones are – helps make the struggle du jour more bearable when I believe there are at least a million other moms out there feeling my same pain.

So, last week’s 13 months, 4 weeks update was something along the lines of “your seemingly sweet, even-tempered toddler might start throwing tantrums.  Don’t worry, they’re right on track.”  I felt as though I was being congratulated – that I should be delighted that DJ was indeed keeping up with her peers in the attitude department.  That update was timely though, as it was that very morning that DJ discovered yet another new tone in her voice.

Hooray for me.  I have become a mom to a tantrum-throwing toddler.  She has become that kid, that kid who people stare at with disapproval.  And I have become that mom who people stare at with disgust, or in rare cases, empathy.  I have suddenly become that woman who has lost all control to a “spoiled child” – a child who FREAKS OUT whenever she gets frustrated.  For someone who already hates being anywhere even remotely close to the center of attention – this phase is making me pretty uncomfortable.  No, very uncomfortable.

We took DJ over to my husband’s grandparent’s house on Saturday.  She was thrilled to have a new audience, and to have new folks to test her tantrum powers on.  We all made the mistake of laughing every time her high pitched yell tapered off into a grizzly snarl.  (She likes to end each tantrum with her eyes squinted almost shut, and her lips puckered into an “O” shape.  Honestly, it’s completely hysterical).  However, we have now spent the past 30 hours trying to undo her thinking that this is a positive source of entertainment.  Consistency is exhausting.

I tried to change my perspective tonight while she was flipping out at the dinner table.  After my seventeenth “No,” I decided to ignore her.  While pretending she wasn’t making my ears bleed, I tried to remind myself that this will eventually pass – that she’s learning about independence and communication, and I hate to say it….manipulation.  She’s learning who she is, and how to get people around her to respond.  I mean, in a way, I guess I am sort of proud of her for expressing herself.  However, really, I am just extremely fearful for our future.  Someday, there’ll be hormones and words further coloring these outbursts.

I can see it now – the red Mary Jane’s she’ll be wearing the first time she adds foot stomping to the tantrum repertoire.  Would it be so odd to wear noise-cancelling headphones around the house when those years kick in?

I love my child.  I love my child.  I love my child.

Two Years….

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 25-10-2010

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My husband and I celebrated our two year anniversary yesterday.  It’s hard to believe it was just two years ago that we said “I Do.”  Sometimes, it’s even harder to believe that it was just two years ago that I fit into a stunning, size 6 wedding dress!  Oh my, where has the time, and my figure, gone?

Yesterday, as we woke up, my husband said, “Not that I would change anything, but if we didn’t have DJ I bet we’d be waking up at the Ritz.” He was right.  Before DJ was in our lives, we were a bit extravagant.  We loved to indulge.  We loved spontaneous getaways, expensive massages, and decadent meals.  We never really thought twice about valet parking, upgrading suites, or even having top shelf cocktails.  It’s not that we were well off by any means, we just spent our money impulsively.

Now that I am not working….well, let me rephrase that – now that I am not getting paid for the work that I do, we’ve had to scale things back quite a bit.  Learning to live on one income in this economy has been tough, but it’s certainly made us more creative – and responsible.  It’s been a challenging, but positive lesson for us to learn.  Our perspective has changed from want to need, from instant gratification to patience, from ourselves to our child.

We spent the better part of yesterday running errands out in the rain.  We needed a raincoat for DJ, and a safety lock for our toilet.  I’m not sure we could’ve gotten any less romantic.  While we had dinner plans to eat at the restaurant where we first met, by the time we got home and dried off – we decided that staying in, cuddled up with our new candles burning (our new version of splurging – purchased along with the toilet lock at Target) sounded like a much better plan.  My, life has changed.

Despite the anticlimactic celebration, I must say, the evening ended on a perfect note….My husband turned on our wedding song, and we danced in the middle of our dining room.  We swayed to the music, both reminiscing about this very same moment two years prior.  We moved slowly and lovingly. Though, we couldn’t help but giggle, DJ was sandwiched in between us, rocking back and forth enjoying the dance along with us.

Maybe it wasn’t the Ritz – but it sure felt like a rich moment.