Saturday, February 13, 2010

Breaking into Song and Dance

One thing that I notice about Gabs is that she is always singing and dancing. If there is any music playing, she will dance to her heart's content! It's really cute because now she will try to sing along to songs she's never even heard before. She does it by repeating the last couple of words in each line. It's adorable! The interesting thing is that, she doesn't really even need a song. At least a couple of times a day, I will be doing something in the kitchen and I'll turn around to find her dancing to her own tune. She will make up songs about anything around her.

The place she sings the most is in her bathtub. On most nights I let her play in there for a few minutes before I actually get down to bathing her. If I have been with her all day I'll normally just read a book or sit with the laptop while she entertains herself. If I've been working all day, then I try to interact with her the whole time. Anyway, I am always amused by the songs she makes up as she plays with her toys. She loves bubbles! So somewhere in her singing, she'll talk about them.

I am not around a lot of other kids her age, so I'm not sure how common this is for a two-year old. I would assume that it is. Kids have an amazing ability to entertain themselves. They are never bored! And those of us privileged enough to be around one are never bored either, we just have to observed them enough and we always catch them doing or saying something funny/cute/impressive. Who says we can't learn from kids? I'm taking a lesson from my daughter and breaking into song & dance :-)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Me, Myself & Math

The other day I was thinking about how much easier my academic life would be if I just got over my issues with math. I mean really. Contrary to what some may say, it's not a matter of just buckling down and doing problems over and over until you get it. It's a lot more complicated than that. I can actually remember when the problems first started.

It was 7th grade. A new accelerated math program was being introduced at the school and some of us in the "top" class were put in the program. We were going to be introduced to pre-algebra. The thing about this section, that I can't remember I even knew at the time, was that it was a temporary placement. Whether or not you were kept there would depend on how well and how quickly you adjusted to the new material. After I don't know how many weeks, some got to stay in the accelerated program, while the rest of us shamefully had to return to the "regular" math class. To make matters worst, some of my closest friends stayed in the "accelerated" group and to top it off...the "regular" math teacher stunk. Needless to say, I felt really crappy and from that point on math and I never saw eye to eye again.

Until 7th grade, math was just another subject in school. Over all I was a pretty good student but I was never very motivated (except in 4th grade). I was never one of those kids who could do crazy calculations in their heads but then again my English was not that awesome either. The difference though, is that my Language Arts skills (or lack of) never made me feel inferior or incapable. I always felt that I could do better if I just tried harder. When I tried, this truth held true for every subject...except math. It seemed like I had a constant mathematician's block.

Whenever I was presented with new material I had this queasy feeling. The kind you get when you know inevitable failure awaits. I felt that no matter how much I tried, I'd never really get it. This of course, became a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more I felt this way, the less motivated I became to really try and when I did try I was too nervous to really absorb. Add to that the fact that math builds upon itself....not having the basic stuff down only crippled me.

I went to a magnet school and in the high school placement test I scored high enough to qualify for another "accelerated" math program. This time I would be taking algebra & geometry my freshmen year, and if I did well, I would catch up with my friends & be in their "section". So yeah, freshmen year was a lonely one for me, as I only had French class with the group of kids I graduated 8th grade with. Thankfully I did well and was back with my group sophomore year.

It's amazing how impressionable our minds can be! You would think that taking two math classes at the same time and doing well would be enough to dispel my inferiority complex. But no. The damage had already been done. That is the damage that I know have to deal with if I am not to let it be a deterrent to my academic/professional success. Basically, I have to find a way to conquer math.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


To spank or not to spank? That is the question I wrestle with about every few weeks. Now that Gabs is two, it seems like almost anything has the potential to turn into a power struggle. How do you get a, sometimes seemingly defiant, two-year to do what you are asking? It's very confusing, especially when, this same toddler, is generally extremely helpful and good-natured. The more I read on the subject, the more I realize that I don't want to adopt it as a parenting style. Then, there are moments when I think to myself, "if we did spank this would not be happening right now".

Part of the reason why it's so difficult to discipline her is that our babysitter (M) does no disciplining. As long as whatever Gabs wants is safe, the answer is yes. Now, M is an older lady, older than my mother. I guess she treats Gaby as many grandma's would, giving in to whatever the child wants. The problem is that at our home, things do not work that way. That's when the problems begin. She's used to having her way there and then is outraged that it does work at home. For most of the day, Gaby is the only child at the sitter's home, so this only adds to the level of spoiling that is taking place. Don't get me wrong, I love M! I am so grateful for her and how much she loves my daughter. I can leave Gabriella there every morning knowing that she is safe and well cared for. I know I don't have to worry about her being mistreated and neglected. Only now that Gaby is two did I really start to feel that the lack of discipline is an issue. I don't want her to be treated like the world revolves around her or that it is ok to be confrontational with everyone around her. This is especially important when she starts going to preschool and has to interact with many other children and adults.

Seriously though, I always feel bad complaining about my Gabs because she so great. I mean it! Ask anyone who's met her and they will tell you she is one of the best kids ever. She is pleasant to be around, has an awesome sense of humor, is extremely smart and "with it", and most of the time, is very cooperative. She is super independent and social, which I love! I guess that it's only right that we have these issues come up or she'd be perfect. Ok, enough bragging!

So, the latest book I am reading is "The Successful Child" by Dr. William Sears. Anyone who's read about parenting probably has heard of Dr. Sears and his wife Martha (a nurse). They have 8 children of their own (almost 30 years between the eldest and the youngest) and he has been in practice as a pediatrician for over 30 years. I think he and his wife have written on almost every aspect of parenting. The first time I heard of them was when my sister-in-law lent me her copy of "The Birth Book". It was life changing. Really. That's when I decided to not go for the epidural or anesthesia during labor, one of the decisions I am most proud of as a mother. After that I stayed away from their other publications because they are proponents of attachment parenting and at the time I was not prepared to even consider walking down that path.

Anyway, I picked up "The Vaccine Book" by his son (also a pediatrician) and finally decided to check out some of the family's other books. I borrowed The Successful Child" from my local library and am waiting for "The Discipline Book" to arrive so I can pick that one up as well.

What I love most about this book so far is how he talks about success is not being rich because that is not what makes people happy. "We believe it's the depth of relationships we sustain, not the accomplishments we tick off, that makes our lives successful and happy: the relationships children have with themselves, as well as the other lives they touch". I love it! Given that his two older sons are both doctors, it's safe to say that he is not going to give advice to raise underachievers. I also love how much emphasis he places on the importance of teaching kids empathy and compassion. These are things that you don't commonly find if "success" book that focus on me, me, me!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Ok, so I started taking general biology at a community college. I took the class at Rutgers about 7 years ago but I am amazed at how different it is to take it at a small school. The Rutgers class had about 400 students in the lecture hall and the class I'm in now has about 30 students. The direct interaction with the professor is really making a difference in my in-classroom learning experience. Overall I am enjoying this time around. I guess, since it's the only textbook I have to pickup, everything is a lot more interesting now.

Taking a class while working fulltime and being a parent is definitely hectic. I am thankful that my job allows some flexibility and I am not stuck taking a night one. If I had to be in school from 6:40-9:40pm I would be passed out! At 8:30 in the morning I am able to retain a lot more information because I am wide a wake.

I got my first exam back yesterday and was pleasantly surprised that I got all the questions correct. I was expecting to do well, since I had studied, but I did not foresee the 100%.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'm Back!

Ok, so I have a feeling that this blog will bounce between English and Portuguese posts. Not in any particular order but more dependent on the mood I'm in. Right now for example, I am exhausted!I had class and later work today and this evening I have been making dinner for the weekend and also studying for tomorrow's biology exam. The thought of writing a blog in Portuguese tonight is almost painful. I guess some topics are just easier for me to write and express myself in English. I also think that my English grammar is better. Not that I claim to have great English grammar, but the Portuguese one has many more rules and details that just take to long to accomplish using my keyboard. I normally have to write the Port. post on a word doc and then copy & paste it onto here (since I can easily add accents in Word). So yeah, my blog will be "like a boxf never know what you're going to get".

As I mentioned before, I was cooking this evening. I decided to make lasagna because I will be leaving for a work conference tomorrow and will be gone until Sunday. This way, Lucas can have something that is ready to eat as a choice for dinner. There are other easy to make stuff in the freezer and I sincerely hope he doesn't eat lasagna 3 nights in a row!

I was telling my coworkers how much easier it is for me to go to the conference this year. Last year was my first time and Gaby was only one. I hurt so much to leave her for over 24 hours! Thankfully Lucas drove down to Long Branch and stayed over family friends on Saturday and I was able to sleep over there with them instead of at the hotel that one night. This year though, I know I'll miss her but it's not as overwhelming. She can speak very well and let her wants be known. I'm also no longer nursing and that makes a huge difference! I remember having to pump at the hotel lol

So today I bonded with Gabs over dinner preparation. From time to time she insists on giving me a hand which normally just means helping mommy make a bigger mess than usual :-) I've noticed she is especially fond of garlic. It was one of the first few words she learned in the kitchen. She normally just sits in her booster seat and plays with them as I peel. Today, however, she was determined to really help. She actually peeled 5 cloves all on her own! It was s o adorable! Each day I am amazed at how muh she is growing, she is such a girl now! It's also amazing, and equally scary, how much she takes after me lol