Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ooooooohhhhh! Now I understand.

Amelia was such a challenge yesterday.

She wasn't terribly sick, just a light fever and some congestion. But her mood was just awful. She cried almost the entire day. She'd start to play contentedly, then the least little thing would set her off into a frenzy of tears and panic. It seemed like every little oops became a catastrophe. And she wanted that pacifier in her mouth all day long. I really struggled with that, then just gave in because I didn't know what else to do. (The by-the-book "perfect" mom is still kicking me over that, but even she didn't help me with another option.)

I usually know how to decipher Amelia's crying - sometimes it's whiny crying, sometimes it's hungry crying, and sometimes (hopefully not too often), it's pain crying. As I heard her scream out in pain during teeth brushing, it hit me like a ton of bricks. So I ran upstairs and asked her if her mouth hurt. Sure enough, she told us all about her mouth "boo-boo" and pointed to the back of her mouth. After a few entertaining attempts by Steve to pry her mouth open and hold down her tongue, he saw them.

PhotobucketMOLARS!

Darn those little white things poking through my girl's gums. I can't believe it took me ALL DAY LONG to figure that out. And I hate that she's experiencing discomfort. But now I know to keep the Tylenol coming for one more day. And a pacifier now and then isn't going to ruin her life.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I hate when I feel clueless!

The perfect mom in me is freaking out today. Amelia is sick and therefore extremely badly behaved. She has been crying all day long over every little thing. She is only quiet with her pacifier in her mouth... the pacifier that she ONLY uses to sleep. Am I supposed to stay strong and not let her have it, or just give in because she's sick? Am I supposed to be consistent with discipline when she acts very badly, or show lenience because she feels so awful? I have no idea what the "rules" are here or what I should be doing. My heart just breaks for my girl.

I think I'll let her have whatever she wants... I don't know what else to do. Gotta go hug my girl.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Roller coasters, choo-choos, & balloons! Yay!

Whew! We are WORN OUT. Decided to go to Six Flags theme park with the family. Amelia's cousins had a great time trying out roller coasters. Even 6-year old Connor made it on two of them!

Amelia also had a great day. She rode the Monster Mansion boat ride (um, warning to parents of young ones... really scary in the middle! Ooops.) and the flying balloons. She also really enjoyed riding a "horsey" on the carousel, the real choo-choo train, AND she drove a blue car! Here's a video of Amelia and her first time driving a car:
video

Friday, March 26, 2010

Why I have a closet full of towels and pillows...

Steve has a pretty large family. And they like to come visit us all at the same time. For two days I've been working on getting the house clean and beds ready for six additional people. Two guest bedrooms... check. Fold-out couch bed... check. Inflatable mattress for our almost 6-year old nephew... check. Eight pillows, four sets of sheets, and a big pile of towels. We're ready!

I'm very blessed to have good in-laws. I'm thrilled that they're coming for a visit. I've found that I look forward to family visits even more since Amelia has brightened our lives. I get so much joy out of seeing her interact with people who truly love her. Grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. She is a very lucky little girl.

We're ready for a fun-filled weekend! Maybe some chaos here & there, as expected with a house this full. But I'll take it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A conversation with Amelia

My child is a talker. And a singer too. And an eater. In fact, the only time she's not singing or talking is when she's enjoying snack time - which in our house occurs a gazillion times a day.

Amelia especially likes to talk & sing in the car. Her favorite performances include:

(1) What I'm seeing out the car window
(2) Mommy! mommy! mommy!
(3) The names of my school friends
(4) Counting objects

Here's a loose transcript of my conversation with my sweet almost 2-year-old daughter on the way home from preschool today:

Mommy: "Did you have fun at school today?"

Amelia: "Yes. Play! Kitty! Emily!"

Mommy: "Oh, did you get to play outside?"

Amelia: "Uh huh. Play! Toys!"
Amelia: "One, two, free... cars. Blue car! Truck! Wash car. Mommy car. Clean. Soapy."

Mommy: "Yes, we did wash mommy's car this weekend. It is clean!"

then we pass a little farm with some llamas...

Amelia: "Am-i-nals! Look! Mommy! MOMMMMMY!"

Mommy: "I see the animals. Those are called llamas."

Ameila: "Llll-aaa-ma. I know. Sheep!"

Mommy: "Do you see a sheep?"

Amelia: "No."

Mommy: "Oh, okay."

Amelia: "Am-i-nals. Cars. One, two, free cars. Pink treeeeee!
Amelia: Clean car. Mommy car. Soapy."

Mommy: "Yes, clean car."

Amelia: "Play. School. Friends. Kitty! Emily! Tami! Eee-za-beh (Elizabeth). Harris? No Harris."

Mommy: "No, Harris is our neighbor. He doesn't go to your school."

Amelia: "Oh." (pause.....) "French fries?"

This kid is just random. But it cracks me up and makes me smile. By the end of the day, I'm really tired of talking and listening to talking. But I also feel very blessed that I get the share all the exciting things that happen in Amelia's cute little head.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tinkle, tinkle, we heard the sprinkle!

Amelia just went pee-pee in the big potty!!! We're not even training yet. She has a potty ring on the big toilet, and we have her sit on it once an evening just to get used to it. Tonight, she told us she had to go potty. So we rushed up there and sure enough, she went pee-pee!

YAY, Amelia! We made a big deal about it and her face just lit up. She was so proud. And rightly so!

Steve said he was glad to be home for that moment.

Funny how a little bit of urine (in the right place) can make a parent so excited.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A slow blogging day

We had a fabulous day yesterday - highs in the mid-70s and sunny. We took Amelia to a park we'd heard about but hadn't previously visited. It was fantastic! Two playgrounds, picnic pavilions, a huge grassy area for running & kicking the ball around, a creek for the older kids to splash around, and walking trails in the woods. This park isn't the most convenient to where we live, but the drive will be worth it once in a while. I'm thankful to live in such a wonderful kid-friendly area. With mild weather 2 seasons a year so we can play outdoors.

I'm having "blogger's block" - kinda like writer's block - lately. I'm probably boring you guys to death. And I apologize for that.

Being a frequent blogger is more difficult than I thought, but I'm still enjoying it. I hope you guys are still reading. I love the exchange of comments and I'm doing my best to keep up with those of you who have blogs as well. Gotta love mommy blogs!

So for today, I'll jump back to my format I used in the beginning. Let's evaluate how I'm doing as three moms in one:

This weekend I was the Perfect Mom because I gave my girl extra hugs and kisses! I also strained my rotator cuff by swinging her around at playtime. Ouch. But she loved it, and that's good enough for me. Sometimes the soreness is OK to hear that hardy toddler chuckle.

This weekend I was a Happy Mom because I spent it with my husband and Amelia. Jamaica was amazing and very restful, but I am happy to be back with my sweet family. And you know what? It really did help my control issues. Steve proved to me that doing things differently can still be effective. All last weekend - Daddy's rules and daddy's way. And Amelia was well-behaved, balanced, and happy. She had a blast, actually. I should have trusted him more before the trip, but hearing about it in action makes all the difference. You go, daddy! Good job. Maybe my nag-o-meter will read a little less from now on.

The Working Mom.... hmmmm.... I've been a little lazy in that department this week. It was hard to get back from vacation and into that mindset again. I didn't do any work this weekend, but will jump back on it tomorrow. I felt like I owed my girl more undivided attention since I had been away. But welcome back, reality. I'm ready.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Our house is becoming a fortress

As if outlet plugs, cabinet locks, and baby gates weren't enough, I'm about to embark on yet another child-proofing shopping trip.

Amelia can now unlock the doors.

And she can open the fridge.

As if I don't supervise her wistful gazing into the pantry enough, she can now stare into the fridge hoping for some special snack to tempt her taste buds. If she understood the concept of look (briefly!), choose, and eat, I may not be too concerned. But she likes to climb IN the fridge. She likes to step up and hang off the shelves. And her skinny little toddler body can probably fit in there even if the door closes. Not so safe. She is never alone in the kitchen long enough for this to actually happen, but the mommy worry in me can't stop with the "what ifs". I may or may not buy a fridge lock... gotta think it over some more and check out the new-fangled gadgets that are out there. I keep thinking that she will eventually understand and heed my "no-nos".... but I know I'm still in denial of her awesome 'I-can-do-whatever-I-want-I'm-almost-two' attitude.

The doors scare me even more than the fridge. We have an alarm system that beeps if a door is opened, but I never, ever want her to be able to go outside without a responsible adult watching her every move. We have neighborhood dogs that are occasionally blood-thirsty. And cars. And who knows... maybe (but hopefully not) an occasional stranger up to no good. My girl is not going out there on her own, nope. No way. My parents have simple little latches installed up high on their outer doors, and I will for sure be visiting the giant chain home improvement store for some of those this weekend.

Welcome to Fort Toddler. Visitors need an instruction manual to open anything around here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tech-wise toddlers

Do you ever stop to think about all the technology our little ones are growing up with? And how different their world must be vs. what it was for us "back in the day"?

Amelia is surrounded by technology. Mommy on her wireless laptop doing work. Video chats on Skype with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Emails to Daddy. Photos from friends. Recordable/rewindable television shows. DVDs. (We saw the new inventions of Atari and Beta VCRs - ooooohhhh.)

Amelia has no concept of "that show isn't on right now". Between cable on demand and our DVR, I have a stockpile of her favorite shows ready to go at her request. When she sees a scene she specifically likes, she merely says "again?", and I can magically rewind to watch it all over again.

Amelia knows that a digital camera can show her the photo as soon as it's taken. With every photo I snap comes an immediate "I see it!" from the model. She is fascinated by seeing herself in that little camera screen.

Even her toys light up. And sing. And sometimes even talk or move.

Everything is about immediate gratification. I want that show now. I want to see my photo/video now. I want to hear that song... NOW. Kind of interesting when you think about it. Or overwhelming, perhaps.

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5 months old, checking out Granddad's computer

Maybe this is why, even though she has an extensive vocabulary, Amelia acts like I'm speaking an alien language when I tell her to wait for something. There isn't much waiting in her little tech-sophisticated world.

If only mommy chores could be recorded and replayed as needed... might save me some time!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mommy to a toddler - not as bad I as thought

I'm relaxed. I got my "me" time. And I missed Amelia like crazy.

My trip was a wonderful experience, not just for myself, but for making me a better mommy. I had lost my perspective on the power of the good things. I was so burned out that I focused almost entirely on the challenges, frustrations, and exhaustion.

But what about that sweet little voice every morning that calls out "mommy? mommy!"

And that hearty laugh whenever I let down my guard and do something silly?

All the learning and growing that has become so visible from day to day?

Even something as small as the sweet little hair bows she now insists on wearing?

Awesome. All of it.
And there's SO much more.

I'm sure I'll be tired again by the end of the day. I'm sure I'll experience the work vs. playtime struggles again soon. We'll probably have some snack disagreements this afternoon. My body still disappoints me... I doubt I'll ever look like (or feel like!) I did 2 years ago.

But you know what? All of that is OK. Really, it is.

If I have to choose between the smooshy belly or Amelia? Or the career vs. Amelia? Or my precious "me" time vs. Amelia? My girl will win. Every time.

Maybe the elusive balance this three-in-one mom has been searching for was not within this life at all. It exists in those brief moments where I can step away; even if that happens once every two years. Perfect will never be perfect without happy.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A relaxed and rested mommy

Back from a wonderful, peaceful weekend in Jamaica!

Traveled with my sister while Steve stayed home and did an awesome job playing with and caring for our sweet girl. They went out with friends, bounced at the inflatable place, went to the mall, and took a hike in the woods. She had a BLAST. And I know Steve did too. This weekend will be a precious memory for both of them for years to come.

I needed this weekend to refresh. And even more, to remember how truly blessed I am to have such an amazing family. Amelia tests my patience and devours my energy, but I always want her to remain the driving force in my life. She owns my heart... and anything else she wants.

Here are some pics from the trip!

The resort (Iberostar Montego Bay):
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My view from a poolside lounge chair:
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Amazing clear blue water:
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Never far from my thoughts:
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Resort view at night from our balcony:
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Daddy & daughter weekend

"Many marriages would be better if the husband and the wife clearly understood that they are on the same side." -- Zig Ziglar

I came across this quote the other day and it really rang true. It’s so easy to fall into a pattern of “my life is harder than yours”, especially with the drastic differences between our day-to-day activities. I’m at home most of the time. Steve is in a pressure position at work. He’s very busy and feels pulled in many directions. It’s hard sometimes to see life through each other’s eyes.

But you know what?
My husband is awesome.

It is because of him that I’m boarding an airplane this evening for a tropical island destination. He said I needed to get away for myself. He suggested to my sister that we go somewhere together. He’s even taking a day and a half off of work to care for Amelia (who just happens to be the love of his life, as well!).

So here we are, Thursday March 11th – departure day! Off with my sister to sunshine, warm temperatures, and gorgeous ocean views.

I feel horribly guilty and a little sad about leaving Amelia. Would the Perfect Mom leave her kid? Maybe, maybe not… but the Happy Mom is winning this fight.

And the Working Mom can just chill out until Monday.

I know Amelia is going to have a fantastic long weekend with her daddy. He is a great father and responsible person. I have nothing to worry about. I just have to deal with that little empty space in my heart that will be filled again when I get home.

I love my girl. And my husband. My life is infinitely more than it ever could have been without them.

Bon voyage!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Preschool aggression continued...

Thanks for all the support & advice yesterday, my favorite readers!

I asked the teachers about Amelia saying "C bite", and they told me that she did show them a red mark on her arm during lunchtime. She was sitting next to C. The teachers did not see anything happen, and Amelia didn't cry. Just showed them the red mark on her arm. They thought maybe he pinched her. And he could have - I'm not sure how much stock to put in a 23-month-old's version of the story. They promised me they'd be extra vigilant in watching C. today, and assured me that biting is a serious offense and they handle it promptly and with authority.

Amelia pushed two kids in class today. Apparently for no reason whatsoever. She got herself another timeout. I do not want her school experience to turn her into a bully! Do you think she would have done this anyway? Maybe it's just her personality and her age. I hold out hope that as her communication continues to improve, our little talks about being nice will sink in her adorable little head.

I mean, come on... does this look like the face of aggression?

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More like the face of silly cuteness, I would say.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

He's a bully. And he's two.

My mommy alarm bells are going off today. I'm not sure if it's an overreaction or normal mom concern. I could definitely use some feedback.

I've been worried about a particular kid in Amelia's class lately, let's call him "C". This kid is big and pretty much ALWAYS aggressive. He pushes, squeezes hands really hard, scratches, and pulls hair. Once it took both adult teachers to pry C's hands out of Amelia's hair.

When I see this kid in the mornings, eight times out of 10 he is misbehaving. He's even thrown toys at me before! Amelia has begun copycatting this kid's actions. She's pushed and squeezed hands. And today, I got a report that she pulled one little girl's hair multiple times. And landed herself in a well-deserved timeout.

If my worries about her becoming a bully aren't enough, there's something else. Amelia showed me her arm a few times today and said "C bite". I asked her, "C bit you?". And she kept saying yes to the question. She even began to cry. I asked her if she is scared of anything, and she said yes. I asked her if she is scared of C. She said yes.

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But the teachers didn't tell me anything like this today. They only told me that Amelia misbehaved. Is C just really sneaky with his actions? Or is Amelia becoming some kind of actress who makes up stories? Why would she say she got bit if she didn't? Do kids her age make up stories? I'm really at a loss on this one.

I definitely plan to ask her teachers about this in the morning. What else can I do? How do I keep my girl from mimicking this aggressive boy? Her aggression is worsening, but I don't know if it's normal behavior for her age or if it's the influence of kid C.

At the least, would I be justified in asking that she not get put in the same class as him next year?

Mamas... what would you do?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Monday. La, La, La, La, La...

Does anyone recall that song?

Monday Monday, can't trust that day,
Monday Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way

Every other day, every other day,
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah

(The Mamas & The Papas, 1966. No, I was not born yet.)

I don't know why, but I always get that stuck in my head on Mondays. Today's Monday is going pretty well, actually. Did some mall shopping and got a cute spring/summer dress that I can wear one evening in Jamaica this weekend. Amelia played in the mall's soft play area and waved at the choo-choo that goes around the mall. I've never let her ride it, because I'm afraid she'll ask to ride it every time. So for now, she's content to wave as it goes by. She will undoubtedly tell her Daddy all about it when he gets home.

Yesterday was a bad body-image day over here. I went to Kohl's with my sister and managed to look like an ogre in everything I tried on. Not only am I as white as a ghost (THAT's gonna be hot in Jamaica, isn't it?), I've really allowed myself to get "squishy" these days. After Amelia was born, I was sooooo skinny. Smaller than I had been since college. Not sure what my secret was then. No time to eat? All the pain I was in from complications? Whatever it was, it is not around anymore. Not that I'm asking the pain to come back... no thank you.

Who decided that pants and jeans have to sit below the waist? Doesn't anyone know that mommies have this lovely pouch of smooshy skin/fat that will conveniently bunch up OVER the oh-so-trendy low waisted jeans? I never thought I would long for the days of "mom jeans". But now I get it. And I want some! I want my squishyness to be hidden. Not displayed for the world to see. And judge.

And why do tops have to be made out of these thin, clingy materials now? Does everyone really want to see every lump and bump in my body? I do love the flowy, loose tops, but I'm also paranoid that they look like maternity clothes. I don't want people to start whispering about me... no extra kiddos here! Not for at least another year.

I did park in a maternity parking spot at the store today. Ooops. Let's hope that one doesn't come back and bite me in the butt.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

IKEA Success!

We got Amelia's new table & chairs set. She loved the stools instead of the chairs with backs, which made me really happy b/c those colors matched. Check it out!

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Thanks, Mom & Dad for gifting this to our little cutie for her upcoming birthday. She loves it already!

Hi ho, Hi ho, off to IKEA we go!

I get a little too excited about going to IKEA. Have you ever seen this store? It's really fun. It becomes a half-day event because it's all the way downtown, parking is crazy, and the store is freaking huge. But it's really fun to walk around.

I'm on a mission for a cute table & chairs for Amelia. My parents want to buy it for her 2nd birthday (coming up in only a few weeks - yikes!). Upon searching online, I found that 12" high chairs are much harder to find. Amelia is crazy tall (95-100th percentile for height), and I think a slightly higher chair will allow her to use & love the table for a long time.

I adore the chunky, fun look of the Mammut table:

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I do wish the table and chair color would match, though. I'm holding out hope that the store will offer more color selections than the website. Steve is also going to IKEA, along with his veto power if he absolutely hates it. And Amelia will be our official "table tester". Her vote counts twice; she may be little, but she's important.

Anyway, IKEA is fun. I'm looking forward to our visit. Happy weekend!!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Work, work, and more work

My eyes are furious with me for being in front of this computer screen for so long today. Amelia probably isn't much happier about it.

Nothing very interesting to report, just crazy busy. Mostly work. I'll be working all weekend on a presentation. The first sunny, low-60s weekend we've had in months. But I'll be working a lot of it.

I'm also trying to figure out vacation plans for this summer. Does that sound fun? It's not. It is actually quite tedious. My husband wants to drive us all over the western U.S. and hike for miles near sheer cliffs and over mountains. With a 2-year old!

My self-appointed vacation planning job is to insert reality and safety into this plan. And hopefully a little relaxation somewhere too. My relaxation is a week from now when I'm in Jamaica with my sister (no toddlers!). So Steve can do as he wishes with our summer trip... but we do have to draw a line somewhere. Amelia is adaptable, but we can't torture the poor child with long car rides or hikes every single day. His idea of "family vacation" is very different from mine. But we always come to a common ground eventually. And we have a good time.

Anyway, I am way too tired to write more. And too worn out to be clever or creative. That's happened a lot lately... my blog kinda sucks. I'll try harder when I have energy. Promise. :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Not sure it's this easy...

Two Simple Ways to Be a Happier Parent

1. When are you happiest with your kids?

2. What part of the normal day with your family routinely causes suffering?

Then make sure your day is structured so that you get routine, habitual happiness and so that you're eliminating habitual pain.

This suggestion comes from expert happiness sociologist & mom, Christine Carter. "Rather than trying to solve problems in her family, she wanted to prevent them."

Check out the news article here:

http://health.yahoo.com/featured/84/two-simple-ways-to-be-a-happier-parent/


Okay...

So here goes.

My turn.

I am happiest with Amelia on Friday mornings. I am "off" work that day, and generally try to find an out-of-the-house activity we can do together. Sometimes that just means a walk around the mall and a food court lunch. Or we have playtime with friends. Or occasionally, we go to the inflatable bouncy play place. On Friday mornings, I can focus entirely on my sweet little girl without feeling pulled in too many directions at once.

The part of my usual routine that causes "suffering"? That one is easy. It's when work needs are hectic. This isn't the case every single day, but it does happen often. I have a job. It doesn't matter if that job is only 12-15 hours a week. I still have people counting on me, client deadlines, and something to focus on independent of Amelia. If she's at school and IF she takes a nap (a big if these days), I usually do okay. But when a deadline is looming and Amelia wants my attention, I come very close to a breakdown. And I admit, some days I really have broken down. On a couple days in the not-so-distant past, the stress really came to a head. I sat in front of my computer and cried.

So here's where Ms. Carter's plan baffles me. How do I get habitual, every day happiness like I can on Fridays when I work? And how do I eliminate daily (or almost daily) suffering without quitting my job? I like to work, and I want to stay current in the ever-changing world of advertising & media. Quitting isn't an option - or even a want.

Does this mean I'm just screwed?

I guess I'll keep trying to work this one out on my own.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Our snowman is fat. And a woman.

We're not so great at making cute snowmen. This one turned out more like a chubby old lady. Amelia cried when we tried to make her stand next to it for a photo.


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We didn't miss it this time!

We got snow in Atlanta a couple weeks ago, and we missed it entirely. We were in Florida for the weekend. But I can clearly see today's snow. It's heavy and wet, and it's been falling for over 2 1/2 hours.


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The school system didn't close, so I took Amelia to preschool. Then got some groceries - not because I'm doing the freak out "need bread and water" thing, we just needed food. Then got some gas and came home.

Managed to slide down my short but steep driveway upon getting home. Hit the mailbox. SUV - zero. Mailbox - one. The mailbox is also going to be a lot cheaper to fix.

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And NOW, Amelia's school just called. I have to go right back out to pick her up!!!


What a day.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mommy survey - what do you do "wrong"?

My kid watches television. Every day.

For all my talk about trying to be as "perfect" as I can be for her, I had to let that out there. I read the books, check the baby advice websites, teach her everything I can, and generally work my butt off to keep her happy & healthy.

But I let her watch TV.

According to most parenting experts, this is my big screw-up. Amelia loves her shows. She doesn't sit practically comatose in front of the screen. Generally she's up running around while watching at the same time. And she doesn't watch anything that isn't age-appropriate. Nor does she watch for hours on end.

Amelia watches about 45 minutes in the morning while she's eating and I'm getting myself (or her school bag/lunch) ready. And she watches an hour in the evening while snacking and waiting for me to cook dinner. By that time of day, she doesn't want to play independently and pretty much drives me crazy. Television is the ONLY way I can cook our family dinner. It's television or starve. That's how I see it.

So sue me. Call me a bad mom. She's brilliant, healthy, and gets tons of human interaction with me and her daddy every day. I'm not worried a bit.

But I am curious, mommies! What is your big mommy no-no? I bet we all have at least one!
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