Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I'm Not Going to Tell You

Every time I blog about how well anything is going, Elena will flip it on me…so…

I am not going to tell you how great Elena has been sleeping lately…I’ve phased out her afternoon nap…I started out by reducing it to only 1 hour, then no later than 2pm but after many nights of her being awake until 10 or 11pm, something had to give. Even staying up that late, she’d still be awake by 7-7:30am. As much as she seemed to need the rest of a nap, what was the point if she was only getting 8 hours of sleep at night? Without a nap, Elena is asleep by 7:30-8pm & will sleep until anywhere between 7-8am. Oh sure, she gets a wee bit grumpy come 6:30ish & bedtimes can still be challenging but I’ll take it since it affords me some much needed me time from 8pm until I head to bed about 10pm. The best part though is that she’s back to wanting to cuddle & have me rock her to sleep which I LOVE…selfish, I know.

I’m also not going to tell you how easy meals are now. Elena went through a phase recently where she would resist eating everything & anything…I tried giving her the chance to choose but that only worked half the time. She would fight & barely eat anything even her staples that she use to love. Thankfully she phased out of that & will now eat just about anything. She’s still not big on vegetables but I’d say she comes by that honestly since most of my family are not veggie eaters…she did however insist on trying some of my salad recently & liked it…now fruit…this girl cannot get enough fruit, she’ll eat just about any fruit & has even taken to not just eating Clementine oranges but peeling them herself!!

I am definitely not going to tell you that we seem to have a handle on tantrums lately. Elena definitely has her fair share of tantrums…she’s two after all…but using the Fast Food Rule & Toddler-ese from Happiest Toddler on the Block has made a world of difference & tantrums that use to run 5-10 minutes or longer can now be defused in moments…truly. The only time she has explosive tantrums is if I’m too lazy to employ these techniques…because I’m not going to lie to you, I feel pretty stupid doing it…especially if there are other people around. We’ve even gotten to the point that I don’t have to use Toddler-ese exactly, just verbalizing how she’s feeling seems to defuse the situation pretty quickly. And an added bonus, she prefers to curl up in my lap & let me hold her while she cries it out. A funny thing she does now, when she’s crying but no longer out of control upset, she’ll go to the mirror & look at herself crying, that cry turning into a dramatic, over the top fake cry…it’s hilarious!

What I am going to tell you…since it can’t be jinxed…is that I filed my taxes & thanks to having a dependent on a single income, I got a nice return…so I’ve rewarded us by purchasing another trip down south this winter…I got us a pretty good deal to Dominican Republic in November…I’m so excited! Anyone care to join us? Elena’s got her own seat this time so I’m hoping that will make the flight a bit easier. We’re also flying out of my town’s smaller airport so we won’t have to navigate a huge airport this time. It’s always nice to have something to look forward to!

Before that though, I am looking forward to this summer…if only we’d start getting some warmer weather!!!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Picking a Preschool

I decided it would be a good idea for Elena to start preschool in September…that was the easy decision. I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be to determine which preschool would be right for Elena.

As awesome as my Mom is for committing to care for Elena while I’m at work, it is a lot on her…more than that, Elena needs the opportunity to learn & socialize sooner than entering Junior Kindergarten. I believe her speech would improve if exposed more to other children her own age. I also believe that, no matter how much my Mother & I love Elena, it doesn’t change the fact that we have zero experience or training in early childhood education & don’t know the first thing about making sure Elena is learning what she needs to meet her best potential. I’m not just being a proud parent when I say that Elena is very intelligent & I know she needs more challenge & stimulation than what my Mom & I have to offer her.

I started out looking at Montessori schools…though very expensive, still affordable since I would be looking for just part time, 2 mornings a week. I believed they must be “the best”. I don’t know much about the Montessori philosophy & investigated these preschools purely based on that assumption that the must be “the best” because they were expensive & seemed, I don’t know, elite.

My brother convinced me that there were plenty of fine “regular” preschools & that I shouldn’t sell them short. Upon his suggestion I widened my search & looked at what else there was, including the “church basement” variety as he put it.

I was able to narrow the search down to 2 preschools that I would seriously consider…one in a centre type environment, the other a “church basement”.

The front runner in my mind from the start was the “church basement” one…though it was actually a synagogue. This piqued my interest since right off that would offer Elena an experience into another culture & religion. Theirs is a multicultural enrichment program. Their vision is to provide a safe, secure and loving place for children to learn, grow and develop. Their motto hooked me instantly, “The first pair of arms away from home should be the most loving”. Touring their classrooms, I was glad to see photos & quotes of Martin Luther King & Mahatma Gandhi among other along with various art prints. Meeting the teachers, I could feel the warmth & caring. The whole atmosphere was very family-like. They also have a Friday drop in program my Mom would be able to bring Elena to so that she is familiar & comfortable there come September. They have a fabulous outdoor area & get the kids out in the fresh air every day, weather permitting. I was also pleased with their non judgmental, practically non-reaction when I mentioned Elena was donor conceived. It came naturally to bring it up with them. Beyond that this was not new territory for them. They’ve had kids there from various back grounds & situations including twins with 2 moms. I just felt it in my gut that this was a good place.

I had to visit the other place…I couldn’t just pick the 1st & only place I visited, right?

The Centre type place was good. I didn’t get a warm & fuzzy feeling there…but I didn’t get a bad feeling either. They’re located in a more upper class area & their price, though still less expensive than Montessori, reflected that. They didn’t have an outdoor play area or an outdoor program whatsoever. The owner was very friendly & obviously very knowledgeable, the other teacher just didn’t give off a good vibe…not a bad vibe…they both just came across a little condescending. The owner mentioned a lot of, “we’re thinking of doing this” & “I want to implement such & such”. She seemed to have a lot of great ideas but it came across as a little too much, it all seemed...forced. They also have a summer program Elena could attend but she would be on her own there right from the get go…I understand the logic of that but my Momma’s heart hurts at that thought.

Even as I’ve typed out these thoughts on both preschools, it was clear in my mind where I want Elena to begin her school experience…I bet you could tell too? What do you think? Any input or advice is very welcome…maybe I’ve missed something?