Are Easter Baskets the New Christmas Stockings?

Did I not get the memo?  Or am I so oblivious to this tradition as a Brit living in the US? All over my facebook page yesterday were photos of beautiful Easter baskets full of goodies…and then some. Chocolates, candies, stickers, books, balls, cuddly toys, toys and more toys. I was beginning to wonder if Easter was the new Christmas. For example….

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A paddling pool filled with toys parading as an “Easter basket”


If Aviana could talk, she’d go into daycare today and tell her friends about her super fun Easter weekend….

“I had such a fun weekend! Mummy and Daddy took me to a free easter egg hunt organised by the city at our local park.  I took my little felt Easter basket and lined up with all the other kids who were 3 years old and under.  As soon as the horn was blown I raced to pick up as many little plastic eggs in the field in front of us as I could carry.  But everyone else was quicker 😦 Mummy and Daddy turned me around to the field where the bigger kids were because they hadn’t found all their eggs yet.  I got one!!! But suddenly a swarm of big kids came running towards me.  I was afraid they’d push me over to get my egg!  And then….all the eggs were gone.  Well, at least I found one!  As we were leaving Daddy was talking with another parent and mentioned I had only managed to find one.  A big boy who must have been about 7 years old shared some of his eggs with me.  What a lovely thing to do!  Other kids came away with huge buckets full of eggs!  But next year I’ll get my training shoes on and I’ll be bigger so I can race the other kids!  I’ve only just learned how to run, so I’m still a bit wobbly on my feet.

The next day I was so tired from running around in the park I slept in a bit later than usual (You are welcome mummy and daddy, my Easter gift to you) but when I woke up I was excited for “Daddy Pancakes”, something we have every Sunday.  Today was extra special because Daddy made me a bunny rabbit pancake with chocolate chips for eyes and a nose.

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After eating A LOT of pancakes Mummy and Daddy took me out to the garden because the Easter bunny had left some treats for me!  I learned how to hunt Easter eggs last week at daycare, so I was quite a pro at looking for the little bright coloured plastic eggs.  Some eggs had little plastic toys in them, others had nothing in them – tricky Easter bunny! and then the best ones had cheerios and raisins in them! I filled up the whole basket with eggs!

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It was so much fun!!!  Did you have a fun weekend too??”

Other Kid:

“Yes!!!! But I got a huuuuuuuuuuge Easter basket with new books and toys in it!  In fact, there wasn’t enough room for all the toys so the Easter bunny had to pile them up AROUND the basket!  Didn’t you get any new toys?

Aviana:

“Hmmm.  No I didn’t”

Other Kid:

“Wow, unlucky.  Haha. May be the Easter bunny thought you were naughty so didn’t give you any toys.”

Aviana starts to cry……”But I’m a good girl!! Mummy and Daddy always tell me I’m a good girl, they never tell me I’m naughty….”


Ahh Aviana….you will learn some lessons from this….

1. You can’t have everything.

2. Don’t compare yourself to others…Comparison is the thief of joy.

3. The Easter bunny only poops out little eggs.  How can it poop out toys to give to children?  That’s just silly.

4.  Restraint….from not punching other kids that taunt you.

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Cats and toddlers

We always agreed that we would never get rid of our cats for a baby. We would have to get rid of the baby first. (Just kidding!) Only if the baby had severe allergies would we consider getting rid of our cats.

Why do I bring this up? Well, Our cat, sushi, is a bit of a feisty one and occasionally grumpy one. Not too soon before Aviana arrived, sushi scratched our friend’s daughter quite badly. Admittedly, she had cornered sushi and was waving her hands and had been chasing her. Sushi swiped and scratched our friend’s daughter right on the eye. We felt awful. It actually happened again when one time we lost track of the toddler, you know doing toddler stuff…and it happened in a split second. Sushi sent a message loud and clear-I don’t like you, leave me alone- SWIPE! We wondered whether sushi would ever get on with a baby, or if she would turn into a grumpy cat for ever.

Diesel, our feral cat we rescued from near certain death, is a scaredy-cat. The complete opposite of sushi. We didn’t need to worry about diesel hurting a baby. In fact, the chances are a baby would be more likely to accidentally hurt him first.

Guess who is Aviana’s favourite cat? Yes, you guessed it, it’s diesel. Diesel has always fascinated Aviana, perhaps it’s because he is so elusive Or maybe it’s because he eats all the food she throws on the floor (he is a bit of a dog). Sushi on the other hand loves to hang around Aviana and sleeps in her room for her morning nap. She will happily flop down in front of Aviana with her ‘please stroke me’ face on. Now, Aviana has learned to be gentle with sushi, we have instilled it into her since day….but recently Aviana has been a little hard with the strokes with Sushi. One time in particular she grabbed sushi and fur went flying, sushi was very good and did not retaliate or defend herself. I am afraid though as Aviana gets bigger and stronger that she might hurt Sushi and Sushi will fall out of love with Aviana forever or worse, retaliate.

Now that Aviana is walking we have to watch her like a hawk around the cats. Hopefully it will get easier, but for now toddler + cats = potential danger!

Karma

It is clearly Karma.  I decided to take my day off in lieu for Martin Luther King Day when I was working in Paris tomorrow.  I had grand plans of doing some serious self teaching of my not so new sewing machine.  I was going to pick up Aviana early and get some mummy daughter time. But……here comes the but…..Aviana got ill again.  Well kind of.

Daycare called today at lunch time to say Aviana had a fever and needed to be picked up.  When I got there she had woken up from a nice 2 hour nap and seemed her normal self.  But hey.  She has been teething, got a runny nose and has a bit of a sore nappy rash.  I am not convinced she is seriously ill.  Her fever was 100 at daycare, when I got home it was hovering around 99.5 and with some tylenol/paracetamol it came down to 97.9. I am thinking a cold and teething and hoping not the start of something more serious.

Of course, she is not allowed back to daycare for 24hrs after a fever….so there goes my day off!  Well at least it is still a day off, and hopefully Aviana will actually be well enough that we can still have a bit of fun together.

This poor girl can’t catch a break! BUT at least if she is ill it is more likely she will be better just in time for our girl’s holiday in Orlando in a week’s time, I’m sure some sunshine is just what the doctor ordered 🙂

Textbook baby

Why is everything a competition when it comes to baby milestones??!!! Aviana is pretty much textbook in hitting all her milestones (except for crawling which she avoided, but that’s not a real milestone anyway), but today at Aviana’s gym class someone made out like Aviana was LATE in her development.

Whilst Aviana clambered over some low lying parallel bars, a mother of a little boy who was new to the class commented on how she is glad her son isn’t climbing yet, I laughed and agreed ‘I can’t take my eyes away for a minute’, then she asked ‘awww, how old is she?’, without much thought I said ’13 months-she just started walking really in the last week so she is off exploring everywhere’. The mother looked surprised, probably because Aviana looked pretty confident, so I added, ‘she has been almost walking for a few months but finally figured out it was more efficient than scooting’. And then the mother asked if Aviana was my first, I replied yes, and she said it….’ohhh first borns are always late at walking’.

Wait. What? Aviana isn’t a late walker!

Yes some kids walk earlier, and some kids walk much later!!! In fact the average is 12 months. Aviana is pretty much text book and started walking solo aged 12 months 1 week.

So this conversation got me thinking how much pressure as parents we put ourselves under for our babies to hit their milestones at any given time. It is seemingly never ending! Of course it’s important to track them, but it also helps to know what the range for developmentally normal actually is. This mother’s perspective was clearly from a limited experience and luckily I knew better so as to not be offended or become worried!

This is one of the reasons why I hate the question ‘how old is she?’ from random strangers. I always feel like the only reason they are asking is to judge their kid against mine.

The sickiness

It just HAD to happen the two weeks I was away on work travels.  Before I left Chris got really ill with some kind of respiratory infection…and of course it had to happen when snowmageddon happened.  Chris was due to travel, but he was too ill and then we had 9” of snow!  This meant I had to look after Aviana whilst daycare was shut and Chris was a poorly bunny tucked up in bed.  We have some wonderful friends who came to our rescue who walked through the snow to our house and helped clear our driveway so I could get out and drive Chris to Urgent Care.  The day after Chris’s trip to urgent care I was due to fly to California.  With all the snow I was mostly expecting for my flight to be cancelled/delayed.  But in the end my flights went smoothly, despite the snow, and so off I went to California leaving sick Chris to look after Aviana.  Chris had some extra help from our sitter on a couple of evenings.  They survived, but Chris was exhausted, still recovering from his respiratory infection.

I came home for 24 hours at the weekend and then I was off again,  but this time to Paris.  After I made it to my hotel I received a sitrep that Aviana was not acting her usual self.  Either she was acting strange because I had left or she was getting ill.  It turned out she was getting ill.  Chris was sending me pictures and videos of Aviana looking incredibly sorry for herself.  She couldn’t sleep lying down or on her own and just cried and cried.  Poor Chris stayed up most of the night with her sleeping upright on him.  Worried about her labored breathing he took her to urgent care.  She had Bronchiolitis and sores in her mouth, it was viral so there was very little that could be done to help her recover quicker except for rest, cuddles and fluids.  The sores in her mouth meant she wouldn’t eat any food except for yoghurt, blueberries and chocolate ice cream.  Haha, yes we resorted to the ice cream (my idea ice cream, chocolate was Chris’s idea!!!).   Poor love, she was in so much pain.

Chris was due to travel for a couple of days for work, but the doctor said Aviana couldn’t come in contact with other children until 48hrs after her fever had gone….which wouldn’t have been a problem except our sitter works with other children so that meant she couldn’t have Aviana.  I offered to come home, but that would have been too late for Chris to travel, so he cancelled his work trip and stayed home with her for the rest of the week.  Of course, it was impossible for him to work at home with a sick baby and he doesn’t get much leave as it is.  It was just so typical – I have 8 days of leave I carried over from last year…I’m the one with all the leave and I wasn’t there to help!

By the time I got back from Paris Aviana was feeling better and almost back to her normal self; she still has a bit of a chesty wheeze and a runny nose, but she’s a million times better than she was.  Then of course I woke up with some weird chesty cough, I haven’t had a cold so it came out of nowhere.

I think we are done with January and the sickiness.  Can we just start the new year again please?!

1 + 35

Aviana turned the grand old age of 1 in December and I turned 35.  Two big celebrations for us! Our birthdays are separated by 7 days with Christmas in the middle, and then new years eve to wrap it all up.  It’s basically INSANE.  Christmas and my Birthday will never be the same again with Aviana in our lives!

Having a birthday near Christmas has it’s pros and cons, but mostly cons.  No one comes to your birthday parties (or you have a birthday party no where actually near your birthday), people buy you last minute random presents because Christmas is at the forefront of their mind or they buy whatever they found in the sales…so I get either twice as much for what they would ordinarily spend (winner!), or I get whatever random crap is left in the sales after Christmas.  Then to add insult to injury people will wrap my birthday presents in ‘christmas’ wrapping paper…trying to make it look like birthday paper. Ha!  Aviana’s birthday is before Christmas so she will likely face similar issues with birthday celebrations to what I have had all my life. At least I can empathise with her!

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For Aviana’s birthday this year it fell on our usual day when our sitter picks up Aviana from daycare and looks after her for the evening, enabling us either to stay late at work or go on a date night.  We ummed and ahhhed about how bad parents we would be for keeping that plan and going out to finish off our festive season shopping on our daughter’s birthday.  I know, I can hear it now – the outrage of such a thing!  Well, next year clearly we wouldn’t do that, but for her first birthday?  Not so important.  We planned to have a winter ONE’derland Birthday party in first week of January when all our friends were around, so why not go out and make use of the sitter?

Before we went out for the evening I made Aviana a ‘Doo doo’ (Aviana speak for Doggie) cake.  She opened one or two of her presents, we cooked her favourite dinner – broccoli and cheese bites followed by cake.  You know all those cake smash pictures you see from baby’s first birthday?  Well Aviana doesn’t like sticky mess on her fingers or face so she ate the cake very delicately!  No cake smashing here.  She did thoroughly enjoy it though.

It then took us THREE days to finish opening all her birthday presents! We didn’t rush her, and just let her enjoy unwrapping.  By the time we had finished with Birthday it was Christmas!  More presents!

Christmas we just stayed at home and chilled out.  First of all Santa came to visit and we opened our stockings together.  Then we cooked a roast chicken dinner with all the British traditional Christmas trimmings, opened a few presents and Aviana loved her new trike.  So we took her out in it to the park for our Christmas day walk.  It was bloody freezing and even Aviana was a little grumpy about the temperature, so it was a very quick ride around the block in her new toy!  Having said that, it was very memorable and a lovely day.  We did not get round to opening all the presents that day.  (BTW – we only bought one small present for Aviana because she had received so many from friends and family!).

THIRTY-FIVE

And so the gift opening continued into Boxing day.  Then it was time for MY Birthday!  Daycare was open so Chris took a day off work (my office was shut for the holidays) and we went on a day date for my Birthday!  That was nice to hang out just the two of us with no goal other than to enjoy each other’s company.  But the real matter of the fact was that I am now 35.

I am 35.  The same age as the Duchess of Cambridge (briefly – she’s now 36).  This is the magical age where our fertility drops off a cliff.  But apparently it is also the age that women peak at becoming more confident and happier.  I can definitely attest to the confidence thing!  The one thing I thought I would have by the time I was 35 was less spotty skin.  But no, just spotty with small wrinkles in places!  I’m still hoping and dreaming that day will come!!! 😂

Entrepreneurship and being a mother

So this entrepreneurship bootcamp I’ve been on this past week was amazing and inspiring.  We had various successful entrepreneurs talk to us, some of the best ones were the founder of mixbook (Andrew Laffoon), founder of Guitar Hero (Charles Huang) and Anastasia Neddersen founder of Artveoli.  There was something very interesting I found about their talks.  They all mentioned having children.  Having children didn’t stop them from becoming entrepreneurs.  In fact, Anastasia said that you should not wait to have children, which was amazing to hear.

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Charles Huang – if he listened to these potential investors guitar hero would never have been

What was just as amazing was a student in the class who brought her 6 month old daughter with her for the whole week.  It wasn’t until day 2 that I noticed her sat in the back bouncing her daughter to stop her from crying!  I went up to talk to her and tell her how amazing she is as well as how darn cute her daughter is (BTW – not all babies are cute to me, but this one was seriously cute).   There were times that she had to leave the class briefly to attend to her daughter, but I think she was there for about 90% of the class.  KUDOS.  This lady isn’t going to let having a child hold her back in life!

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Entrepreneurship – Baby won’t hold this mamma back in achieving her goals!

Only 5% of tech startups are founded by women, yet around 25% of engineering and computer science graduates are women.  How can there be such a difference?  Why is it like this? How much does ‘being a mother’ play a role? Do women really wait? I mean, I get it, it is hard to take time off work to have a baby when you run your own business!  But are there other reasons?  There has to be!?!

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My startup team for the week – these guys are going to go far in their lives, they were super smart! #alwaysbethedumbestguyintheteam

That smile

Whilst I was away traveling with work Chris sent me regular photos of Aviana.  In the photos I noticed little new things she was doing.  Notably, walking with more confidence.  One photo in particular, she had a beaming smile.  The smile seemed so genuine.  She was smiling at our cat Diesel, saying hello to him first thing in the morning.  My heart melted.  I felt massively home sick.

I drove home with bleary eyes after my red eye flight back from San Francisco, trying not to speed or shout at slow people because all I wanted to do was get a big hug from my family as soon as possible.  I wondered whether Aviana would be mad at me for leaving her all week, or if she would ignore me or worse, not remember who I am. When I got home Aviana was in bed napping.  Typical.  And so when I heard her talking away to herself in her crib I excitedly went into her room and surprised her.  I leaned over her crib and smiled and she gave me that huge big beaming smile I had seen in the photo.  I smiled even harder.  I just wanted to cry with happiness.

Something had definitely changed with her in the last week, this smile was meaningful and conveyed something.  I felt like she was communicating with her smile, I think she has learned that she can make other people smile with her smile.  How cool is that?

Mompreneur? Nope.

Mompreneurs – let me just say NO.  Boss Babes – a definite NO. Why?  Because you wouldn’t catch a man calling himself a dadpreneur or Boss Dude.  Sorry, it’s been bothering me since I caught sight of the term yesterday.  End of Rant.

It is actually a coincidence I speak of Mompreneurs because I am on day 1 of the Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship bootcamp in California Much of the week we will work through the method for a startup.  I am not sure how I ended up here with work, but I am feeling very lucky to be here.  50% of the class are Berkeley students so at the grand age of 35 I am feeling pretty mature in this class!  But at the same time I am already in love with their youthful ambitions and energy.  Their lives are not so complicated yet.

Oh to be young and uncomplicated! We had an ice breaker session where we asked each other 2 questions to get us to learn about the importance of trust.  The first question was – what is your secret love? (person, thing, action) and second question – what have you failed at?  And what did you learn?  I chuckled as some of the students answered – not getting on their college sports team, or, not getting a job.  Ahhhh so young and naive.

Today 30 people were given 1 minute to pitch their idea for a startup.  Some of these people were already a business, but embryonic.  Only 20 ideas would be taken forward, the rest of the class had to figure out which of these 30 ideas they wanted to with.  As they pitched I noted down 5 great ideas that interested me, a couple that were exceptional and I truly believed they would be successful (Note to self, take mental note of the names of these people!), a few pitches were just plain awful, and the rest I was indifferent about.  In the end one pitch stood out for me.  The idea was still embryonic, the guy who pitched it had passion and came across as smart, but he didn’t articulate his idea particularly well because he hadn’t really nailed down what exactly he wanted to do.  This was the part I found intriguing.  We had 30 minutes to meet with the people who pitched their ideas to determine if we wanted to be part of their team (and if the wanted us too!).  Interestingly, he attracted to his team a diverse group of people with a range of skills…this is what is emphasised heavily in the bootcamp.  Diversity makes for a winning team.  A good example is Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg

I am probably the oldest in the team and the only parent so I am intrigued how these factors will make a difference this week.  May be some day I will be an entrepreneur, my time is not up just because I am 35. No.  Age is not a factor (although experience may be) And you can be a parent and still be an entrepreneur.  I do think that risk taking is likely to reduce and may mean that the bang for buck might not be as good.  That’s just a gut feeling – a bias may be, it’s not a statement of fact.  But it is definitely an interesting issue I’m going to keep an eye on this throughout the week….How much does being a parent influence entrepreneurship?

By the way, as this all goes on Aviana is getting better at walking, I am sure I will come back home after this week to a true walking toddler! It has also been a while since I travelled away from home, so it will be interesting to see her response to me not being there and me returning for 24 hours before heading off to Paris for another week.  The guilt is real.

She moves and leaps

Technically Aviana doesn’t  crawl, she scoots on her bum and drags her right leg. It’s kind of Gollum like and a little creepy…if I dressed her up in some weird creepy baby Halloween costume, she would terrify many people with her scooting crawl.  When she was learning to get from A to B she was incredibly frustrated as she developed this skill, but as soon as she figured it out, all was right with the world. I sense this period of frustration happened again, but this time with walking.

Aviana has been ‘walking’ with our assistance for quite some time.  Even the doctor thought she would be walking within weeks of when we saw her at the 9 month wellness visit.  But no, and I could see that Aviana was very frustrated by this.

Another odd thing happened.  Aviana turned into a grumpy/touchy baby with head banging and hair pulling being her signature move.  I wondered what had happened to my sweet girl, who seemed to turn into the demon toddler from hell. So I thought I should check my wonder weeks app and low and behold, she started her 8th leap. It was the exact day her grumpiness started that the leap started.

The wonder weeks app has proven to be very accurate in its timings over the past year. This particular leap is the ‘world of programs’ leap. The signs of this leap includes temper tantrums. I thought that babies didn’t have temper tantrums much later into toddlerhood, but I was so wrong!

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Really, we think Aviana can walk and that she hasn’t sussed out that it’s actually quicker to get places by walking. We think this because she can walk with us holding just one hand (barely a finger even). But on my Birthday (a few days ago), at 53 weeks old she decided to walk on her own! She was very pleased with herself! But was so excited she kept falling over. Which frustrated her more.  So I think the mental leap and her walking development turned her into a very touch baby.  Technically we have 18 days left of this leap, but with her figuring out how to walk she became noticeably a little less grumpy. With the wonder leaps, I tend to find that she is crankiest at the beginning and end of the leap, but not always constantly for the whole leap.

I am really excited about this leap, I can see her doing some of it already in just the past week.  Aviana has been very observant of us making breakfast, dinner and knows the correct order of putting the toys away in the bath just before she gets out. The signs are all there of her working through this leap.  The wonder weeks has been a really fascinating app to help us through some of her crankier stages in life.

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