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Monday, November 21, 2011

Holiday Travel With Kids in 2011

I will say that the airlines do make travelling with children as easy as they can. What I am going to share is my personal experience and may or may not be what you experience at the airport. None-the-less these are things that I wish someone would have told me before I flew!

You can take as much in the way of solid food as you want so load up on goldfish and any other solid food snacks that you want.

You cannot take liquids unless you have a baby who is breastfeeding or getting formula. If your baby is less than a year old then the TSA are very nice and allow you to take whatever the baby needs in the way of breast milk, formula and baby food.

You can transport a breast pump but not breast milk unless the baby is present when you are traveling.

Don’t forget to take the car seats that you will need when you arrive at your destination. I have a special bag to put them in and it has been awesome. The airlines are not supposed to charge you for checking-in car seats which is something I wish I knew when we flew out of Greensboro on Delta in October. The person checking us in knew that they were car seats and sadly she charged us the fee anyway. On our way back at the curbside check-in in Dallas the man who worked with us made sure that we did not get charged.

Take an unbrella stroller! It is easy to stowe on board an airplane and well worth having it!

Scented dirty diaper bags are a life saver if you are staying in close quarters with other people and have a baby in diapers.

This portable pack-n-play type “Phil and Teds” has really been very useful for us over the years since it folds up much smaller than the other pack-n- plays and weighs next to nothing.

Buy one of these fold-up toilet seats and put it in your carry-on bag. You will be glad you did if you have a little one who is independent in toileting!

I also found a nice article containing tips for what to take for kids to snack on while you travel so you may want to check this blog out. There is a lot of other helpful information about flying with kids on this site as well.

You are planning to drive instead of fly?  If that is the case some will tell you to make sure there is a way for the kiddos to watch some TV.  If your car does not have a DVD player in it you can always bring a laptop and slide a movie into it.  Personally, I am old fashioned and still make my kids play games and talk to me.  When that gets old they LOVE their Leap Frog Tag Readers which I can't recommend highly enough.  Will say though that if you have more than one child and each one has their own reader I would recommend headphones.  I also have a friend, Rebecca Subbiah, who has written "101 Tips For Traveling With Children" which is a cute little handbook that you can get as an ebook for around 3 bucks.  It is money well spent.

The last thing I will say is relax! The lines will be long, there will be a lot of people and conditions will be right to make for a stressful time but keep your cool. Your family will thank you!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

No Peace Table in Sight!

My girls are sweet girls.  I know we all think our kids are sweet but mine truly are.  They are almost 4 and 5 and would never hurt a fly (other than one another, of course).  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t say they were angles but they are nice to people and in return they expect people to be nice to them.  And that my friends, is a whole different story.

My babies attend The Montessori School in Clemmons, NC and at the wonderful institution, among other things, the children learn “conflict resolution.”  It is wonderful.  Sally stepped on my art work and instead of hitting her, stepping on her art work or pouting the rest of the day and refusing to talk to Sally I am going to invite her to the peace table.  At the peace table I am going to explain what I am upset about, Sally is going to apologize or defend herself, we will “declare peace” and get on with it as friends.  Most adults could use a lesson in conflict resolution but I digress.  So the problem comes when my little, “peaceful” ones encounter another little not-so-peaceful one.

So, we were at Chick-fil-a on a Friday night having dinner.   The girls were shoveling food into their mouths with the ultimate goal of getting to that playground before it was time to go.  At the exact moment the last chicken nugget went into my older daughter’s mouth out came the words (mouth full) “mommy can we go now?”  I let her go ahead while I cleaned up; after all I could see her thru the window. 

As soon and my daughter entered the play area I saw a little, very different acting boy talking to her.  Whatever he said made her hang her head in sadness.  Infuriated I went into the play area and asked what happened.  She told me, tears flowing, that he called her a “stupid lady.”  Seriously.  I could not make this up.  “Stupid lady,” yeah.  Anyway, she was upset and there was no peace table in sight.  Her little sister told her to punch (she is all talk and very sensitive about her older sister) him because she was infuriated as well.  I struggled to figure out what to advise her to do but we got cleaned up and I sat there while she played and the little hoodlum whose father looked completely helpless left.

Over the next few days I spoke with some of my teacher friends who gave me some advice.  These were different teachers with different backgrounds but all know my girls from an educational setting.  There was an overwhelming consensus about how I should have my girls handle such a situations in the future.  You see, I wanted to tell her to walk away and just not care what the little shit said but I was told that if I do that then she will eventually get bullied because this is only the start of her interactions with such ill mannered children.  The teachers told me that I should have her stick up for herself.  If someone says something she does not like and that is rude she should respond with firm words.  Something like “do NOT speak to me that way,” or “get away from me” is completely appropriate.  I am the type of person who truly does not care one bit what people think of or say about me and that has served me well.  I was trying to make my girls the same way so that they can just walk away without hurt feelings.  The fact is that you can have both, a child who stands up for themselves AND one who is not hurt by what people think!  Who'd have thought?!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

“What is God?” by Etan Boritzer – a book review

My only qualification for writing this review is that I am a mother who believes in “God” (or whatever you call the force that animates the world) and who does not teach my children to subscribe to a certain group of religious practices.  I was raised Muslim and my husband was raised in the Christian faith.  As is typical in most marriages I am the one who encourages spiritual practices with my children.  The way we pray is less the focus of this review than is the fact that it is considered unconventional to raise children outside of a strict religious pattern.  This makes it very uncommon to find such a great supporting piece of literature.

The book “What is God?” by Etan Boritzer is an outstanding way to teach children about “God” in as nondenominational, unbiased and non-threatening a way possible.  This is the perfect find for a parent who believes that all religions are right and that they are really all pretty similar.  If you want to teach your children to be accepting and understanding of all religions and that no religion is wrong as all of them teach love, peace, kindness and the like then you must get your hands on this book!  Awesome job Etan!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Kid is Better Than Your Kid...

Why is it that we as parents spend so much time comparing our kids to other people’s kids?  If you actually think about it you see that it really does not make much sense.  We put so much thought into everything we do to and for our little ones.  The clothes we buy, the lunches we pack, the activities they participate in and even down to the length of their fingernails.  You would think that once your put so much thought and effort into something you could trust that it is the best it could possibly be and then maybe you could get some enjoyment out of it.  But no, parents really struggle with this.

I was at one of the activities that one of my girls participated in this week (vague enough for you?) and I overheard another little girl’s father as he spoke to his wife (the cutie pie’s mom).  I swear I was not eves dropping but they were just standing so close to me that I could not help but hear.  He said “she is by far the skinniest in the class, I mean by far,” and then he continued with other comparisons of his little princess with those other little princesses in the room.  I realize that not everyone goes to the extreme but it is kind of like the parents who end up in a fight at the ball field or in the audience of a beauty pageant.  Instead of being there to support your child you become the parent who is there to defend or to push your child.  The one who is looking for what is wrong rather than what is right. 

I am not judging or saying that I have or have not done this I am just saying that I think that instead of comparing our kids to every other kid in the room we would probably all be better off celebrating our own children for whatever they are or even for whatever they are not.  In the end this is the way to healthy children, healthy parents and most importantly healthy relationships between the two.  I think it is certainly worth a try. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Man=Chaos

Why do men always seem to come with some degree of chaos?  The girls and I can be sitting perfectly peacefully at the table doing a lesson in the most organized fashion and having a good time and their dad can walk into the room and the energy completely changes.  I have no idea how or why but for some reason when Tyler gets home it is time to horse around and play.  And its not just kids either mind you.  Animals are affected by the male presence as well.  I can remember when our Doberman, Khan, was a puppy and I would be at home working with him and the same thing would happen.  Tyler would enter the room and all of a sudden manners went out the window and it was time to play.  What is this phenomenon?

The funny part about it is that when he is playing with the girls it is like he is a kid too.  You know how when one child annoys another they tend to shout out “mommy, so and so did such and such to me!”  Well, the hubs is no exception.  He is fine playing and wrestling around for a while but when things get out of hand, and they tend to pretty quickly most days, it is “Shazana, can you help me get them to stop?” or “Shazana, how do you make them listen?”  Or better yet is my favorite “do you let them act like this all day?”  Oh dear, it looks like I have 3 kids now doesn’t it??

Friday, August 12, 2011

The TerribleTwo's? or it is The Terrible Three's?

As much as I hate to say it there was a time when I did not like my baby.  I always loved her but I just went through a phase (thankfully it was just a phase) when I just could not relate to her and it seemed that her primary purpose in life was to make sure I was in constant hell.  My husband said that our oldest did the same thing but that I just could not remember.  It is certainly possible as my memory is not at all what it once was but nonetheless I was at a loss.  I used to pray for God to shield my poor baby from my frustrations toward her.  Do you get the picture?  It was pretty bad.

I am writing this to tell you that this phase started when she turned 2.5 and I now know it ended at 3.5.  It is a phase and it does end!  I promise.  Whew!  What a long year that was!  I seriously thought at times that I just had a bad kid.  She would look for things to do to annoy me and then she would relentlessly repeat the action until I would be in search of a window to jump out of.  But the conclusion has been delightful.  Inara and I got out of this phase in our lives unscathed and better for it.  I now see the wonderful, kind, sensitive, loving and disciplined little lady that I looked for for 12 long months.  She is our pride and joy and the cutest little thing ever!

This is for all you parents out there going through the same thing.  You are not a bad person.  The way you feel is natural and I have been there too.  And even if the timing of your child is different form mine your baby is not a bad kid.  It is just a phase so hang in there!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ants in My Hair Make Me Cry

They really do. As you probably know we were gone for the entire month of July. I did not publicize this as much while we were away because believe it or not everyone who reads this blog does not love me. I know it is hard to believe but it is true. Some people (and I know who you are) who read my blog actually do so because they believe in the old cliché “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” So, in the interest of keeping my beloved home safe I kept it as quiet as possible. But anyway, we are home now and of course, just like this time last year, we have ants! Effing little black, annoying ants. The kind that you kinda just have to fight a day at a time all the while praying that this day is the last.

This bout with ants has shaken me to the core. Ok, maybe I am being a bit dramatic but they have really messed with me this time. I am even dreaming about them! In my dreams, which are really nightmares, they are getting into my beautiful cakes and breads and ravenously tearing them apart until all that is left is a pile of crumbs! And if that is not bad enough remember last year when I found an ant in my hair?! Well, guess what. I found an ant in my hair yesterday!!
AAAAAAHHHHHHH, HELP!