Another crazy year!

crazy-829178_960_720So Christmas 2016 is around the corner and I am just guffawing at how quickly time is melting away. I am constantly looking at my “babies” (and I am using that term loosely since they are now 3 and 5) and wondering “What the heck happened?”

There is no end to my disbelief that time could possibly move that fast. It needs to SLOW DOWN. Seriously.

My baby, who I feel I just had and brought home yesterday is almost one year old! What?! I’m so saddened yet secretly relieved that he made it this far with his two crazy older sisters jabbing, kicking, poking and kissing the heck out of him!

This year was like so many before it, CRAZY! Is it me or do things get more insane each year you get older?

Let’s see, this year alone I sold my business, almost lost my mom, raised thousands of dollars to save my mom, helped two close friends through some tough times, reconnected with family that I didn’t know before, survived three grueling months of sickness that was passed back and forth between the members of my family, contracted some form of illness that gives me constant and intense bone pain throughout my entire body and I got rammed in the back of my SUV with all my kids in the car. And it is only the beginning of October- OY VEY!

I am grateful and so thankful to God that nothing really bad happened this year. Even though I keep waiting for something really bad to happen- there is, sadly, an ever-present sense of foreboding and doom that resides deep within my soul. I have to intentionally wake up each morning and suppress it like a dormant demon that is inflaming me and trying to steal my joy.

Talking about joy- I have more joy in my life than I can wish for. My children and husband, my family and friends. My brother and sister. My in-laws and nieces and nephews. I am so blessed with such amazing and lovely people in my life that I seldom fear the demons within. But there is one remaining phase in my life, I neither wish to face nor desire to imagine… leaving my children to return to work.

It is very difficult for me to acknowledge this but some days, like all other moms, I have a deep and seated desire to wake up, put make-up on and leave the house to go to a place where I can make money and talk to other adults about stuff other than poopy diapers, dirty dishes and the endless nagging of a threenager. Then almost immediately afterwards, I am plagued with intense guilt combined with profound sadness. I feel like I am giving up on my babies who are growing up too fast (hence the initial part of this post) and I am abandoning them in favour of adult conversation and income stability. I loathe the decision to return to work and I envy the ladies who can afford to stay home with their children but I know in my heart that I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home-mommy. I really don’t like house chores and I am quite tired of my kids by the time noon hits. If I am being very truthful, I look forward to missing them a bit – is that awful to admit?

We were looking at the childcare options available to us and we decided to go with a nanny. With three children (2 full-time and 1 part-time) this was our only option. The nanny will apparently help keep the house tidy and clean as well as  take care of my children. We interviewed many people and met many nice ladies in the process. We perfected our questions and made a decision. I will not jinx it yet because it is not confirmed but I do hope she accepts our offer.

I am not sure why I even wrote this post. I just needed to let it be known that I am going back to work and maybe seek validation from other moms who were in my shoes?

If you are that mommy- talk to me and tell me I am not insane and heartless because of my sporadic and intermittent fluctuations of wanting to play grown-up after my maternity leave is up some days and my intensely deep and mourning-like days of loss and pain for the future of my children without me for 9 hours a day.

Talk to me!

SMartignani

 

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New Year`s Resolutions

happy-new-year-2014-hd-wallpapers-1 Every year coming to a close is a reminder that we were ‘gifted’ with a new beginning. Many people have lost loved ones in 2014 and struggled through pain and personal battles that we cannot see or understand. In the same year, many others have reached the pinnacle of their careers, met their soul mates, married, became pregnant or birthed a child. Many children found a home whether with a foster family or through adoption. As for me… there are many challenges- some health related and some familial while others are professional. Any way you look at it, a year is a LONG time for things to happen and much of what we anticipate and fear can happen at any moment. So my post today is about gratitude and resilience.

Ever wondered how a person can go on after being struck by a horrible accident or injury? Ever wondered how people can smile through personal storms and battles? I have and I realized that resiliency is an inherent capacity to withstand all the bad and anticipate all the good.

I am suddenly aware of all the things and poeple in my life that are mortal and transient. Parents ail, children grow, jobs change, money is gained and lost, climates shift, friends grow farther away or closer together, circumstances evolve and my story is being written each and every day I breathe. My faith in God and His love does not fade nor weakens because in all of this I believe that there is a higher purpose for our lives and how we choose to live them.

I want to leave an impact, a legacy when I cease to exist. I always tell my husband that I would like to be “remembered well” when I die. But how does that happen exactly?

Here, I have compiled 10 new resolutions I will endeavour to accomplish in 2015. No matter what happens, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

A-Prayer-For-You1) I will pray more, praise more, worship more. I will realize the frailty of life and how in a blink of an eye it can all cease to be. I will recognize my mere existence on earth and treat it as a journey. I will be grateful for every breath given to me and every morning I wake up- I will be revitalized. I will ensure that my constancy is in the knowledge that nothing else is constant. I will fill my heart and soul with gratitude to the point of bursting so that all can see how amazing it is to be alive.

imagesCAWJ7Y372) I will love unconditionally. This task is challenging due to its magnitude. This one resolution is one of my life’s missions. In order to truly love others you must forfeit your own self-worth and the perceptions you constructed based on your years lived here on earth. You must release all prejudice and choose to see people for who they are not what they are trying to be. To love unconditionally means to sacrifice criticism for encouragement and deliberately blind yourself from context and circumstance. Nothing matters and nothing should affect your love for others. I aspire to have love as my new drug to which I will become hopelessly addicted- no boundaries, no limits, no reservations. Period.

family3) I will see my husband and children again. I will yell less and smile more. I will make an effort to enjoy cleaning up the mess my three-year-old makes instead of chastising her for it. I will let my infant feed her hair and roll in the play-doh if that is her heart’s desire. I will listen more to my husband’s whispered words at night before bed and take a special interest in how he says what he feels not only what he is saying. I will see my husband and children for the blessings they are to me and I will share with them the wonders of God. I will love them unconditionally.

Chrysanthemum4) I will see nature. I will make more of an effort to count the stars and appreciate the sunshine. I will build snowmen and sand castles. I will listen for the waves and the rustle in the trees. I will smell the flowers and curiously observe the bees gathering honey. I will enjoy the sensation of being outside, in the outdoors and truly take in what our world is providing us. Beautiful blessings of nature. I will enjoy the silence more and ‘Be Still’.

1451377_10153467659090224_180124569_n5) I will be a good example to others. Integrity, honesty, positivity and respect- all traits that I truly admire in others. I will be a beacon to those who are not willing or able to uphold values. I will speak out when there is wrongdoing and I will be courageous to stand up to peers, friends and my superiors when these basic human ethics are not demonstrated. I will keep in mind that I am far from perfect and exchange judgement for encouragement. I will give more to those in need and stop my car to help the person on the road whose car has stalled. I will stop and ask a stranger who is crying if they need anything from me. I will assist others when they feel alone. All the time. No exceptions.

1463376_10153501465515224_1660866369_n6) I will see silver lining. Everyone struggles. Bad things happen to good people. You can’t avoid some sicknesses, accidents, tragedies or pains. How I choose to react to bad things is what matters. I will choose to be more positive and see the silver lining. I will work on my patience and endurance. I will attempt to see the big picture and appreciate that everything happening is part of a bigger plan that will make me stronger, more powerful and more resilient. I will selectively ‘like’ and read the updates and stories that inspire me on the various social media sites where we are constantly bombarded. I will stop over-analyzing, over-calculating and overthinking everything. I will just be in the moment and smile at what’s to come.

comparison_wise7) I will stop comparing myself to others. There is nothing more time-consuming and fruitless that spending time comparing yourself to others. There are a multitude of individuals who inhabit our planet and they are all at varying degrees of wealth, fitness, love, success and so on. Constant reminders on Facebook and Twitter of what we don’t have does not help in my pursuit of personal fulfillment. I will no longer envy or betray the blessings I have been given in exchange for petty concern and frivolous anger. I will be inspiring to others without boasting my blessings. I will congratulate more, empathize more and bless more. I will demote my base feelings of jealousy and elevate my humanity. I will appreciate by praise those who give of themselves, those who serve and those who are living their lives with humility and impact. Instead of wanting to be as wealthy or as successful as others, I will only seek to be the best I can be without comparison or compromise. (Thank you fellow wordpress blogger tom.basson for your article on this and the photo: http://tombasson.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/why-comparing-is-stupid-and-how-to-stop/)

laughing8) I will laugh. Not just the giggle or fake laugh that we demonstrate when our superiors say something funny… laughing as in my belly hurting. I will locate the people who I can share laughter with and just put that on the menu. I will play more board games that would make me laugh and I will read more auto-correct fails. I will find new ways each day to share a laugh with my children or husband because at the end of the journey, you remember the stories that end with “we laughed and laughed until our bellies ached…”

10645270_10154814270765224_4395918206427828164_n9) I will be present…in the present. Nothing is more frightful than the inability to recall memories. Memories only become so because you remember the present. People who are struck with amnesia are afraid and lost because they can’t remember who they are or who the people they loved are either. So being present in the present is a blessing and a gift. We cannot move forward into the future without knowing where we are right now. The past is the past and it’s a great lesson in history. Now is amazing because we can still re-write history. We can make a change effective immediately. We can give of ourselves now. I want to stop looking at the future because I don’t know what tomorrow brings. I want to live now, laugh now and love now. I will put away my phone at home and when my daughter says “Mommy, look, see?” – I will not reply with “Eh, hmmmm, ok dear, that’s great” – no, I will ask questions and be sincere and say “Wow… what is that? Can you explain it to me? Do you like it? Well done. You are so smart!”

1909559_5032225223_5452_n10) I will make time for quiet reflection. Life is busy. Incredibly, unforgivingly, incessantly busy. I have learned that peaceful moments where I can contemplate, reflect and reassess can afford me the ability to make sound decisions and impeccable choices. I can regret less because I have given matters clear thought before proceeding. I am the most impulsive person you would ever know… so this resolution will be very tough for me. I will need to implement it though if I have any hope of making the other 9 come true.

Happy New Year to all of you. May 2015 bring you wholesome joy, endless blessings and a year of wondrous discovery and limitless hope.

Until Next Time,

Smartignani

Every season has a reason.

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Change.

Constant and continuous. I can’t explain how I feel except to say there is constant change in our lives.

We decided that the existing home daycare was not working because the lady is done at 5 pm. No exceptions. So I returned to my maddening search to find another suitable environment for my two little girls. Found another home daycare but this one has an ECE who is strict and all about routine. Far cry from where they came from- namely an amazingly loving lady who allowed for their personality to emerge and for them to set the pace of when they sleep and when they play. So we are transitioning and set to start tomorrow.

We were supposed to hire a live-in nanny. With our work hours (after-school care), it made sense. We found one. She was great. We gave our three weeks’ notice to their daycare and the same day in the evening I was texted by the nanny… she received another opportunity.

Wasn’t meant to be I guess.

I have accepted a small short-term assignment with my old work. We own two businesses and on top of it all, I am itching to have another baby. WHAT? I know, right. Well, my thinking is, if you are on a ride for your life, might as well do what you have to do so you don’t regret doing it- get me?

I have not blogged in ages and I miss it. I will have to do this again because it helps me verbalize my thoughts. I am sure other families out there are equally busy and I know that I am grateful for every millisecond of my life. I think I just need to do one thing routinely so that it can counterbalance the constant shift in circumstance and endless need for decisions.

I will start to exercise. I already pray incessantly. I will do something different that is both calming and healthy. I will give my man a hug. Hold my children a little tighter. I will do all these things…

…right after my nap.

Until next time,

Smartignani

When did that happen?!

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There is nothing more painful or exhilarating than successfully potty training your child. You feel like you won an Oscar or climbed the highest mountain. The sense of achievement you felt the day you graduated or obtained your first real promotion is no comparison… as if you did this all on your own. Then the stark realization smacks you upside the head that this is what your parents must have felt like when you did something great growing up.

I don’t think I can be a prouder mommy than when my little toddler goes – “Mommy, I nee’ to Pee pee now”. We rush over to the toilet, we pull down the pants and then… the sweet sound of freedom- aaahhhh. No more pull-ups, stinky messes, nasty blow-outs or wet pants. Sooooooooo exciting!!

I look at my toddler and see the little preschooler emerging and ask – “When did that happen?!” – hence the title. But seriously, when did she start talking in complete sentences? When did she start empathizing with me (“Awww, mommy, you are so cute- are you hurt?”) When did she turn into this inquisitive, intelligent, insanely happy child?

These past few months have been challenging but fun. I have been busy trying to re-energize my business and manage my staff that I forgot to see the little changes in my big girl along the way. This morning she woke me up a little earlier and I spoke with her and played with her. She surprised me with how much she’d grown in the past three weeks. She knows which mitt goes where. She can put her boots on the right feet on her own. She understands that letters makes sounds. She know how to sing “A,B,C,D,E,F,G, next time sing, A,B,C,D,E,F,G” (and repeat) and she counted to 20!

I am in awe of how like her father she is becoming. It is really a good thing I love him so much because she reminds me so much of him. Her mannerisms, her thoughtful moments, her sweet affection and even her expressions. No surprise since she spends majority of her time with him instead of me.

I must confess that I am also tremendously enjoying my baby too. She shows me affection in her own way. She likes to be held at night and to sleep in my arms. Sure, it makes it tough for daddy to put her to bed when he is alone with her, but there is no stronger bond and no better feeling that having her fall almost instantly asleep when I carry her and rock her. She likes to hear me whisper to her and sometimes she just strokes me with her little, tiny fist. I feel especially blessed in those moments.

In the mornings, she is the happiest little baby I know. She just plays and rocks herself and flaps her little arms like wings. Her smiles and giggles are so contagious that she just subliminally compels me to pick her up so we can snuggle and play. Her demeanor is so different than her big sister. Her moods are so much milder and she is patient, calm and very stubborn!

I love them both 100% but differently. I can’t live without either of them and I am just so full of emotion when I see either of them hit a milestone or learn something new.

Between the one baby rolling and the other one peeing in the toilet, I feel like my heart can just burst with pride right now.

Until next time,

SMartignani

Choosing a Daycare- helpful advice for residents in Ontario, Canada

imagesI graduated from Early Childhood Education and I went on to Teacher’s College. I worked in several different daycares and since then, I have accumulated some knowledge in this area. So here is my list to help you when searching for the right place to leave your child.

Before I begin, I want to remind you that this is a very serious decision and it is often underscored or underestimated. Just think you are leaving your child at this other place for majority of the day. The daycare will be the main caregiver because their hours will outlast yours. So when you decide to hand your child over, you must know that this is a commitment of at least three years. Think of all the changes that take place in our life cycle between the ages of one and three; everything from potty training to emergence of self and cognitive pre-speech development. Most parents need to start thinking about childcare even before the child turns three months. For the really good places, there is usually at least one year waiting list. Start early in your research because this is one of the most important decisions that will affect your child’s earliest development and shape their formative years.

I am splitting this article in three distinct sections: Preparation, Processes and Payments.

 Section 1: Preparation

You will undoubtedly do a considerable amount of research in order to find the right daycare. Equip yourself with basic knowledge about what you are looking for and educate yourself with questions to further decipher whether it is a good fit. Ask yourself:

1)      Will I need full-time or part-time care?

2)       Do I want to send my baby or babies to someone’s home instead of a big centre?

3)       Do I need to see routines and activity plans?

4)      Am I looking for a formal setting with a licensed outdoor/indoor space?

5)       Is it more important for the daycare to be close to my home or work grandparent’s home?

6)      Is it important that the daycare has insurance coverage?

 Section 2: Processes

Please know that there are laws that govern childcare but they are not as extensive as the laws that govern the public school system. These laws are encapsulated in the Day Nursery Act (DNA) and you can access all the minimal conditions for licensing online. Inspectors ONLY inspect daycares that apply for licenses through the government. There are many daycares operating without a license and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Just like everything else, there are positives and negatives to a home daycare versus a formal childcare centres. However, the main three differences are the ratio of caregivers to children, the price and obviously the environment. I will split the next few questions you should ask while touring a potential childcare in two- Formal versus Informal (home daycares).

 Formal Childcare Centre:

1)      Are all the caregivers Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECE)?

2)      Is your outdoor space inspected annually or every 5 years?

3)      How often do you sanitize toys? (should be at least four times a week in infant room and twice a week in toddler room)

 Informal Daycare:

1)      What is your ratio? (Should be one adult to five full-time children- if there are two adults there should STILL only be five children because laws stipulate that it is the ratio set for the SPACE not the number of caregivers, many use this as a loophole but it really is not meant to be misinterpreted)

2)      Is there a separate dedicated space for food preparation? Naps? Toilet training? Outdoor play? Indoor play?

3)      What is the qualification of the caregiver?

4)      What happens when they are sick and unable to care for your child?

5)      Do they allow the children to watch TV? (that should be a “no no”)

6)      Do they accept cash discounts? Offer receipts?

*Please note that childcare payments are tax deductible.  (Do your math, because discounts gained on cash payments may not outweigh the benefit of the tax deduction)

All Daycares (observations and questions):

1)      What is their stance on discipline? On Soothers?  On Christian Holidays like Christmas and Easter? (You will need to continue whatever they teach at daycare to maintain consistency and ensure optimal results so you better be on board)

2)      How do they potty train the children? (In the potty or on the toilet or both)

3)      Do they take the kids outside every day? When do they NOT go outside? (Research shows that infants and toddlers should NOT be outside for longer than 15 minutes at a time in below zero weather. It is not good for their tiny frames no matter how covered up they are!)

4)      Are they able to keep a daily journal to keep you apprised of bowel movements, eating patterns, general behaviour and newly acquired skills and developmental milestones?

5)      Are they able to take photos throughout the day for you so you can keep them for memories?

6)      Can you log in and access the childcare surveillance equipment to “check-up” on your child? (I have mixed feelings about this because if you can log-in, imagine all the sick hackers out there that can also hijack the system and watch your child).

7)      How do they reinforce self-esteem and confidence? How do they teach children to be independent without being too detached?

8)      How do they teach children speech? Reading? Writing? Cognition? Self-feeding? Self-dressing?

9)      Is the space neat, age-appropriate, stimulating? Are there clear sightlines for the caregivers to see the children at all times?

10)   What are the policies on Disease control? Lice and other Contagions?

Payment:

1)      Always get a sibling discount if you have more than one child. What is the discount if you pay upfront for the entire year?

2)      Always ask how much it will cost if your child is unable to attend or is sick or has appointments? How much is it if you are late to pick up? Which stat holidays do they open/close? Will you pay if you book a vacation?

3)      Read the contract carefully, like anything else, this is a major investment but instead of money on the line, it is your own precious flesh and blood.

Just so you know, home daycares range from $750 to $1000 per month while formal childcare centres range from $1000 to $1500 a month for infants – be weary of the overly expensive centres that have a “unique” rationale for being too expensive. Honestly, not worth your time because children learn fast and more if the caregiver is loving and attentive than if the daycare is made of gold and gimmicks.

E-mail me if you have questions I have not covered – sylviamartignani@gmail.com

Until next time,

@Smartignani

 


I hate burping.

Burping_Calvin_by_R2Rtist723

I don’t think there is anything more exhausting than waiting for my two-months old to burp after a feeding at 3 am. The actual feeding takes about a half hour and then comes the pat-pat-patting and cajoling until I hear the soft or sometimes loud expulsion of air from her tiny body. Sometimes she sleeps half-pat and then waiting for a burp can take upwards of one hour or so. Then there is the occasional spit-up or gas that agitates her and causes us grief until it is resolved. She is so sweet and accommodating otherwise but in the wee hours of the morning with very little sleep and even less patience, it is very challenging to accept the whining. Truthfully, I think it is quite the show when I am awake and waiting for her because it is so funny when you can see that she is visibly fighting with her burp. Sometimes, while attempting to expel gas upwards, out escapes a little fart. Too funny.

Taking about farting, no one told me how tough potty training my little toddler can be.

Whopotty training (2) knew the fear of the toilet that would embed itself so deeply in  my two-year-old’s brain or the irrational anxiety that rears its ugly head every time we ask her if she pooped.  At daycare, she sits on a small potty and plays while waiting for her bladder or bowel to move but at home, she is in instant denial when asked if she needs to go. It’s almost like she is ashamed to go around us, what’s up with that? I understand there are many ways to potty train and one effective method is taking the weekend off and just putting her in underwear where we can expect many accidents to take place until she gets it. Between you and me, I am not looking forward to asking her every two seconds if she wants to go to the washroom and I am definitely not looking forward to the bed wetting accidents and the nasty bathroom seats we have to experience afterwards. Most of all, I am not looking forward to letting go because once she becomes potty trained, she will truly be a child and no longer my baby. My heart is aching every time I see her growing up which is every day! Each day she comes home from daycare and each day I notice a difference. If you are a parent you will agree that this is a tough pill to swallow no matter how bittersweet it is.

I know I said this before, but I appreciate my mom a lot more now. Every time I see her, I understand a little more how good she was to us. And my daddy of course. I also appreciate my husband a lot more. He does so much for our family.

I am glad that the holidays are here because I can’t wait to buy the tree and decorate our house. The older one will definitely understand a little more this year and maybe even appreciate some of the presents while the baby can be just that this year… the baby of the family.

Until next time

SMartignani

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