Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What am I thankful for this year?

Every year at Thanksgiving time, I like to take a few minutes to reflect on the things for which I am most thankful. I think most of us do something like that — after all, that’s sort of the point of this holiday isn’t it? Giving thanks for what we have — what we value — whatever that might be.

Most years, when I search my heart for what makes me most grateful, I come up with consistent answers: Family, love, health, comfort. These make life enjoyable, and while they are not unappreciated from day to day, I feel even more fortunate when I take the time to think about them and really consider their immeasurable value.

Reflecting on all of this brought me to a realization about something else for which I am thankful: Time.

People who work toward (or against, it often seems) deadlines know the value of time. And deadlines are everywhere — at work, at home … even our very lives are marked by them. The clock is an invincible foe, whether you’re a college student finishing a research paper or a military spouse dreading a loved one’s deployment.

Becoming a mother has made me acutely aware of the passage of time. Few things highlight its relentlessness more than seeing how quickly a little person goes from being a bump in your belly to a chatty little toddler, running from one end of the house to the other.

When I get home from work each weekday (some days later than others), that’s when the value of my time skyrockets. Those few hours between quitting time and bedtime are what I’m most thankful for. There are only so many hours of baby time that each child has — it’s painful to spend any of them apart. Necessary, but painful.

This Thanksgiving, I will make it a point to savor more than just the turkey and pie. I’ll be savoring the time with my family. Maybe my keener awareness — or my sheer force of will — can succeed in slowing that time down a little by making the most of it.

Happy Thanksgiving, and enjoy your time this holiday. It is as valuable as you make it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Child Crisis Center deserves our support

This is a reprint of my column in this week's My Las Cruces. Please share this information with the parents that you know with young children.

Sometimes, otherwise loving parents reach the end of their ability to cope with parenting, and the result can be disastrous.

When you are struggling to make ends meet, or stressed out — about work or lack of work, about an abusive relationship or the lack of a relationship — it can be very hard to have the patience to soothe and comfort a screaming baby. Parents, especially those who live in poverty or come from a history of abuse, don't always have the resources and support they need to weather these crisis situations without lashing out at their helpless child.

That's where the Child Crisis Center of Southern New Mexico comes in.

With no charge, with no proof of income requirement, with no presumption that a crime has been committed, with no inquiry about your immigration status, the volunteers at this facility will intervene.

All you have to do is ask.

Not only will they accept and care for your child for a period of hours or days, providing food, clothing, diapers and love, they will even come to you.

If you can gently put down your child in his crib, and let him cry there while you call for help, volunteers will come and pick him up, or help you calm down.

Whatever the crisis, whether it's homelessness, illness, a job situation or an emergency, help and support is there, even for those with nowhere else to turn.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because with the opening of Tutti Bambini Boutique, we have the opportunity to support this worthy effort. By purchasing the gently-used baby items there — or donating your own unneeded items, in good condition — you can contribute to a team and facility that helps save families from a terrible fate. Child abuse is a devastating but preventable ill of society, and the people striving to prevent it deserve our support and praise.

Please join me in sharing information about the crisis center and the other resources for parents, like the ParenTalk warmline, KidTalk and the Family Pride Crisis Nursery. Mention them to the parents of young children that you know — bring it up casually, long before they might need it. These resources could make a world of difference for a family you love.

Help is available

Report abuse or neglect to the Children, Youth and Families Department at (800) 797-3260

Need someone to listen? Call La PiƱon free, local ParenTalk "warmline" for parents and caregivers at (575) 636-3133 or KidTalk (575) 636-3636

In crisis? Call the Child Crisis Center of Southern New Mexico at (575) 636-3133 or the Family Pride Crisis Nursery at (575) 932-8946 to temporarily place your child at no cost.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Please. Just. Stop.

Right now, a certain 2-year-old is not sleepy. She does not care that it's midnight, and she wants out of her room. (That is currently prevented by a baby gate, for her own safety.) For the past couple of hours since I put her to bed, she has done a mix of lying down and wiggling (she puts herself to sleep with what we affectionately refer to as her "booty dance"), playing with her toys, singing to herself, and asking her sister if she's ok (she is — in fact, she's asleep).

But Maya knows that I am still up, and the night has turned into a battle of wills. Her strategy is to call for me in various irritating and whiny tones, over and over, louder and louder. Of course, anytime I bite and tell her it's time to go to sleep, she only gets louder. I could give in and go get her and let her watch Bubble Guppies while she does the booty dance in here with me, but I don't want to reward her strategy with the outcome she's seeking. The behaviors we acknowledge will continue, and the behaviors we ignore will go away, right?


Ok, moms and dads, help me out here. What do you do when your kid doesn't want to sleep and implements the car-alarm approach so you can't sleep either? Do I ignore it? Do I shut her door to let her know it's not working? Do I go in and read a book or sing a song, but make her stay in the room? Do I let her come out for a little while, till she's more tired?

What works?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Again! Again!

Ah, repetition.

It is the joy of a toddler's existence, and the test of a parent's patience.

I can tell that Maya takes a lot of pride in her ability to communicate effectively (most of the time) with words. She's pretty patient with us, even when she has to repeat "hambuss" over and over, while her dad and I slowly come to the understanding that she wants to play in her sandbox.

When she does get her point across, she often says "Yay!" and claps her hands, as if to say "Good job, you dumb parents! You figured it out."

Maya always wants confirmation when she identifies things, and she won't stop until she gets it. She'll bring her Weeble over and hold it up, declaring "Itsa egg. Itsa egg. Itsa eggitsaeggistaeggITSAEGG!" until one of us says "Yes! It's an egg." Then she smiles and tells us something else about the egg: that it's blue, for example. This, she can confirm for herself, for some reason: "It's bwue. Wight, it's bwue."

Since we've always quizzed her about the things she sees, asking about their color, their shape, the sound they make, now she's started quizzing us. "What tuhwuhZIS?" she asks me, holding up her crayon. I tell her it's blue. It's not that she doesn't know; she's just making sure I know.

She loves to say and do things over and over and over, just because she can. It's awesome to see her sense of personal accomplishment when she makes a request and we understand and comply. That's why Dad spends half the afternoon spinning the Weebles on the table ("Spinnit awownd?") and I spend half the evening drawing pictures ("Wet's dwah...puppies! Yay, puppies!").

She's got us well-trained.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The perils of 'me time'

Becoming a parent can be an isolating experience.

Sure, it's magical and wonderful and fulfilling, and I am happier about having become a mom than I could ever have imagined being.

But it also puts me in a different demographic from many of my longtime friends. They are, for the most part, child-free, and can call one another up and say "Let's go to a movie/bar/concert/barbecue/lake! I'll pick you up in 20 minutes!"

Really, that is not even a void in my life. I do miss being spontaneous, but there's something else that makes me feel sort of whiny about the situation.

My husband is a bartender, which works out extremely well for us in terms of child care. He is the girls' primary caregiver during the day, and our work schedules seldom overlap, so we have the luxury of peace of mind and no child care expenses. For Maya and Kayla, it's ideal. For Brian and me, not so much. We don't have a mutual day off from work (we did, briefly, have Sundays, but no more), so there is never an evening when neither of us has just gotten off work and neither of us has to be at work in the morning. We make the best of it, though, and spend our weekday evenings together at home or on the occasional Tuesday date night.

But on Friday and Saturday nights — like tonight, for example — it's just me and the girls. Brian will be gone until the wee hours of the morning, slinging drinks for unruly college students, and I will be here, staying quiet, so I don't wake the babies. I'll read, or watch a movie, or I'll spend some time on Facebook. These are the nights when everyone else is out having fun, though, so there's not much interaction to be had online.

Even if I had no kids to watch over, it's not much fun to go out on a Friday night without your significant other, if you have one. With my coupled-up friends, I'm a third wheel. With my single friends, I'm a poor excuse for a wingman.

One day, Brian will have weekends free, too. By then, we probably won't be the party animals we once were, but that's ok.

Until then, I guess I will crack open a beer and try to make the most of the "me time" that a lot of other moms would probably envy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Long time, no blog

Wow. It has been almost a month since my last blog entry. Oops. Let's see how quickly I can get you caught up on the highlights at the Bradford household.
  • Maya turned 2. What? I know. I'm pretty sure she was only born just the other day, but no. It was two whole years ago. Time is relentless. She is changing and learning new things every day. For her birthday, we went to Grandma's house, swam in the pool and swung on the swings. I made cupcakes — red velvet with cream cheese frosting.
  • Grandpa came for a visit from Santa Fe, and Grandma came down a couple of weeks later. There was more swinging:
  • Kayla's luxurious hair has started falling out. She's in what we call a transitional hairstyle. Here is the before, from Grandpa's visit (about 4-1/2 months):
  • And here's the after, from tonight (less than a month later):
Oh, well. It'll grow back, right?
  • We introduced Kayla to the bouncer. She's just about an inch too short to really bounce, but she's having fun with little toys:

There's plenty I left out, but I promise not to go another month without a post! By the way, I've added an option to follow my blog by email, so look for it at right, if you want to sign up!