Monday, November 29, 2010

Mommy Moments

My baby brother and his wife are now 15 weeks into their first pregnancy. They live in Nashville, TN and since they had driven in for the holiday it seemed the perfect time for them to take back with them the baby stuff that my husband and I had decided on not ever needing again. Right?

Have you gotten rid of your baby stuff yet? I’m not just talking clothes, toys, books or anything else small that could conceivably disappear without leaving a noticeable empty space. I am talking about a crib, changing table or any other piece of furniture that, when moved, leaves weight marks in the carpet. I know that the time when they are in your house and not being used these things seem like big, huge wastes of space. You look at them and think “when will I be able to get massive hunk of a crib outta here?!” I certainly did the same thing so it came as a surprise to me that when I saw the crib dismantled and in my brother’s van I actually spontaneously started to tear up! Really, I took one look into the van, saw the crib lying there in pieces and started to boo-hoo. To make matters worse Inara (my baby) wanted something that she was convinced was in the nursery and so when I walked into the room, the nursery, where both my babies slept peacefully in their cribs at one time, the empty room sent me into yet another moment of inconsolable sadness. This was yesterday and I have to say that I don’t feel that much better today.

So what does this mean? I would want nothing more than to give my brother and his family any and everything that my own girls had because I know it was used and chosen with love and care. It is not that I want to hang on to the stuff forever. I have been told by friends that this is a normal feeling and that they too recall the very same sensations. I know I am not alone in this. The thing that I find alarming about is that right now I have two happy, healthy and growing baby girls ages 3 and 4.5 living at home with me. I really have nothing to be sad about. I am glad that there is no more baby because no baby=no sleepless night, not breastfeeding, no diapers, no baby food and a much, much easier time packing the kids up for a trip. I love my life! So, if I have all of this going for me now yet I can still cry about something I should objectively feel no sadness about then is it just going to be a really long life of mommy moments?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mother's Intuition

I have just gotten comfortable enough to write about this since it happened. During the last academic year and on a beautiful, warm day I decided to pick my 4 year old (Andira) up from school early. That morning before school she had made a passing complaint that her ear hurt so at 11:20ish I showed up at school to make sure she had had and ok day. When I got there the students had just gone outside to play. I walked into the class room where I found Ms. Suzanne cleaning the tables and taking the opportunity while the children were outside to do some straightening up. I was glad to see her so I could ask about Andira’s day and her ear. Suzanne said she had a good day and had not complained about her ear at all. Relieved I started outside to see my daughter.

Andira saw me from a distance and came toward me. As I looked at her she looked a little confused or disoriented and did not greet me with nearly the same enthusiasm I was accustomed to. I would never have thought anything of it had it not been for the events that took place next.

Sensing that she needed me to I picked Andira up into my arms and began to carry her into the building. No sooner did I pick her up then she started to heave and vomited a little bit. I took her into the bathroom to assess what was going on and she assured me she was ok. I just thought maybe she was over heated.

We got cleaned up and headed for the hallway. She said she could walk and was walking to her cubby when I looked at her and saw her fall to the ground. I literally saw her twitch one arm, then the other and then all of a sudden her feet came out from under her and she landed flat on her face. As I write this I feel the panic, fear, desperation and sadness I felt at that moment. I got to her in milliseconds and scooped her up to thankfully see no blood but a huge whelp on the forehead and a face as pale as a ghost. She was conscious but appeared lethargic and weak. I immediately thought it was a food and water issue since that has happened to me many times before and I wanted to get something with sugar into her body.

As it turns out I was right and Andira has been fine ever since. Now I am just way more careful to make sure she eats and drinks something before heading off to school. I suspect that her fussiness with eating in the morning is what caused the incident that day.

All of that said can you imagine if I had not decided to go in early and check on her? There have been many occasions that I have looked back on that day in amazement at how lucky we were that she was not on a swing, standing high on a platform waiting to slide or on the monkey bars. If she had been there is not telling what kind of injuries she may have sustained.

There is nothing on earth like a mother’s intuition. Trust yours always.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Insensitive Mommy

On Wednesday we started preparing for the big day. Daddy’s 35th birthday was tomorrow and the girls (a 2yo and a 4yo) had been agonizing for days about what to make. First they wanted to get him a SpongeBob cake so I thought I was going to get off easy. You know, shell out the 35 bucks for the cake and get on with it. Then Andira (my 4yo) remembered a recipe we had seen for ice cream cone cakes and that was it. She sold Inara (my 2yo) on the idea and the decision was made.

We began by actually making the cones on Wednesday. The girls carefully filled the cones with batter and we baked them in the oven. In the interest of allowing them to cool completely we did not decorate the cakes until the next day. On Thursday they carefully frosted and added sprinkles to each and every single cone. They were so proud of their master piece that it should not have come as a surprise to me that the girls were emotionally invested in the birthday masterpieces they had made for their father.

So, the family came over and we all ate and celebrated the occasion. When time for dessert came I had baked my husband’s dessert of choice, baked chocolate pudding, and his mom had made what she makes every year. Like the dessert loving fools we are we all tore into the dessert as though we had not just eaten 5 whole pizzas. Then with full tummies we all started to wind down our eating frenzy.

When Andira noticed that things were winding down and some people were clearing their plates she got kind of quite. Then I walked over to her and explained that her bedtime was approaching so she needed to get ready to say “goodnight.” This was when it was waterworks for me. Andira looked up at me with her gorgeous, big, brown eyes and said “but mommy, nobody ate the dessert I made.” It was all I could do to turn the other direction before I burst into tears. I had not thought about it because I thought the girls just wanted to do an activity, eat some cake and have something to show their daddy they did. It made perfect sense once I used my brain. They worked so hard and put so much love into their food that they wanted it to be included in the birthday meal their dad had and they wanted their loved ones to enjoy it too! Duh!

Needless to say all of the ice cream cone cakes disappeared within seconds. They were good too…

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mama's Back to School Blues

My back is killing me and I have cried all weekend. Make you wanna read more? Well drama sells these days so I thought I would try and see where it got me. Allow me to explain. My husband was gone all weekend and my two year old was really acting like a jerk. I know that sounds mean but it is the best way I can explain her behavior. It was like she was on a mission to piss me off if she did nothing else all weekend. The harder I had to work to make her behave the more my back hurt. Then there was a spider on her doll and an ant in my hair and I flat out lost it. Thankfully when the breaking point arrived the door opened with my husband standing on the other side of it or I may be writing this from behind bars.

Upon Tyler’s arrival I promptly burst into tears and proceeded to tell him about the ant, my back and the myriad of other things that had gone wrong in the less than 48 hours he was gone. Thank heavens he handled this perfectly because if he had not it would be yet another time over the course of the weekend that I could have landed myself in the Big House. Tyler listened, I cried (sobbed really) and then when he was certain that no more words were going to come from my mouth he held me and said “oh honey, this is about school starting tomorrow isn’t it?” I had no idea how to respond.

Let me back up for a second. If we go back and examine my history with my girls, particularly since I quit work and particularly when Tyler is gone, it looks pretty flawless. When I have my girls and they have me everything is usually all butterflies and rainbows. They are my thing and I have to say that I do the mom thing rather well. So Tyler coming home after a short weekend away to a sobbing Shazana is a little strange to say the least. Given all of those things, I had to consider what he said. It sounded right. It felt good to cry about it. I cried about it every time I thought about it. Yep, he was right. It was about school starting.

While it was nice to find the cause I could not seem to shake the sad. And lemme tell ya it is even harder to shake the sad right now because as I write this I sit on my empty couch, in my quiet house and fight tears. I am a mess! Lord help me when they are at school for full days!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Staycation With a Twist (SWAT)

So, a “staycation” as defined by the experts at Wikipedia is “a neologism for a period of time in which an individual or family stays at home and relaxes at home or takes day trips from their home to area attractions.” Since I like Wikipedia I will go with this definition. What I am about to suggest does not fit this definition so I will call it “Staycation with a Twist” or a SWAT.

Now that semantics are square let’s get on with it. I have discovered the most wonderful way to affordably vacate for a short period of time, please the entire family, boost the local economy and just flat out enjoy your summer. A couple of weeks ago I, the hubs and our girls decided that it sure would be nice to enjoy an indoor pool! With temperatures soaring into the 90’s daily an outdoor pool seems more like a death wish that a fun outing.

Well, that idea turned into why don’t we rent a room at the new hotel down the street since they have an indoor pool. When I found out that the rate to stay at the Hampton Inn in Advance, NC is $109/night my first thought was “wtf.” Really, I swear, that is the correct rate. Anyway, if I am paying that I am going someplace way cooler and I’m not just talking about the temperature. So, we ended up in a room at the Embassy Suites in downtown Winston-Salem, NC for $20 more and with an indoor pool as well. Now you’re talkin.

Let me back up. This is a Saturday morning and we are looking to make fun for that day so we decide that before we hit the hotel since check-in is like 4 anyway why don’t we make a day of it! We will go the The Children’s Museum and out to eat downtown first! Then will rest, dive into the indoor pool, shower and go out to enjoy Summer on Trade for the evening. And that is exactly what we did!

Can you imagine how much fun the girls had? And the cool part is that we were thoroughly enjoying ourselves too. When we got home on Sunday afternoon it felt like we had been gone on a great weekend vacation and we were gone just 24 hours. For a fraction of the cost and the effort it would take to go out of town for a whole weekend we spent 24 jam packed, fun, on-the-go hours and really got to do things in our own home town that we would not have otherwise explored. It turns out that Summer on trade is an awesome summer concert series that we had been missing all summer!

Even if you don’t live in my wonderful hometown I am sure that your own hometown has something similar that you could do for a really fun and inexpensive day with your family too! If you just rent a hotel room that has access to a pool it will be a really nice outing for all of you. Plus it is nice to be in a hotel room with your family because all the distractions of home are gone and you get time to just focus on one another. You really have to try it!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Parent's Guide to the Crib Recall

So, while it is not necessarily new news about the safety issues surrounding the “drop-side crib” you may have been reminded of the issue in the last week. On Wednesday the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted to ban drop-side cribs and tighten safety standards for other kinds of cribs, following a rash of deaths linked to faulty cribs over the past three and a half years. When I first heard this I was slightly scared so I decided to delve into the details.

First of all, you should know that 82,000 drop-side cribs sold at Pottery Barn Kids over the past 10 years have been recalled. The specifics of which you can find here Those recalled models can be found at It appears that if you find that you have one of these cribs in your home Pottery Barn has offered to send you a kit to be able to “convert” your crib into one that is safer and whose sides no longer drop… I find it a little annoying that they issue a “recall” and then make the customer do the work of fixing the problem, but maybe that is just me.

The other thing you need to know is that the recall is based upon issues that could potentially arise when a drop-side crib breaks or when the hardware used to raise and lower the side wears out. So, if you are like me and do have one of these (drop-side, not Pottery Barn) cribs the powers that be are recommending that you stop raising and lowering the side in the interest of reducing the amount of wear-and-tear you put on it. This should help to maintain the integrity of the crib.

As a little side note, are you wondering how in the heck we made it? I am. I vividly remember a high chair that was unstable and would pinch my fingers, a crib with springs that would do the same and possibly my fondest memory is of a “walker” that my little brothers would run over my toes with and that I am almost positive one of my brothers actually went down the stairs in. We are all still ok as far as the eye can see.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What Parents Need to know About High Fructose Corn Syrup

We have all seen the commercials. The question “what is wrong with high fructose corn syrup?” is one that has gotten many of us moms, including myself, thinking. Since I could not intelligently answer the question either I looked to some objective “experts” for help. What I found is that the truth essentially lies somewhere in between the worst public opinion and those pesky commercials.

As stated by Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, “high-fructose corn syrup just doesn't exist in nature" making their claims for being “natural” untrue but aside from that there is not a lot else actually wrong with the substance according to sources. “The American Medical Association recently announced at its annual policy-making meeting in Chicago that high-fructose corn syrup does not contribute more to obesity than sugar or other caloric sweeteners” (,8599,1841910,00.html). These statements are very different from the very negative public opinion that currently exists about the sweetening substance.

So where did all the bad publicity start in the first place? Well, it appears to have originated with an article written by Barry Popkin, a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina, and Dr. George Bray of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge who suggested that a rise in obesity may be somehow related to an increase in the consumption of high fructose corn syrup which could be because the substance may be metabolized differently than sugar. That was all they said and these were not facts but a theory. A theory that led to much bad publicity and resulted in parents like you and me avoiding foods with this sweetening substance. I found in the same article that “Nutritionist, author and food-policy doyenne Marion Nestle has blogged and written extensively about the issue and says in response to the commercials, "Lots of people think high-fructose corn syrup is the new trans fat. It isn't. ... Biochemically, it is about the same as table sugar (both have about the same amount of fructose and calories) but it is in everything and Americans eat a lot of it — nearly 60 lbs. per capita in 2006, just a bit less than pounds of table sugar. High-fructose corn syrup is not a poison, but eating less of any kind of sugar is a good idea these days and anything that promotes eating more is not."’

So the takeaway? Realize that high fructose corn syrup is like sugar. And like sugar it should be consumed in moderation by our children. Read the label of everything you buy for your children because high fructose corn syrup resides in places that you may not expect…like your children’s vitamins. Count this consumption as though it was sugar consumed by your child. Personally, I would rather buy something with plain, wholesome sugar instead of the chemically altered corn starch but there is no evidence that this is better for my kids.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

5 Point Harness vs Booster Seat

My oldest girl is now 4 and is still sitting in a full on car seat (convertible car seat with a 5 point harness) in my car. Recently many parents have asked me why I have not transitioned into a booster seat given that it is so much easier to operate and transfer from vehicle to vehicle. I thought I would write about this in the interest of reaching as many parents as possible and to answer the questions about why Andira does not sit in a booster seat in my car. You can only do the best you can for your child but I will be keeping mine in their 5 point harness seats for as long as possible!

The benefits of a 5 point harness are irrefutable. “Child Passenger Safety experts agree that the Five-Point Harness is the safest, because it provides the snuggest fit and is suitable for the widest range of children” found on the CPSafety web site. The definition alone tells the story. A 5 point harness attaches at the shoulders, hips and between the legs of the child keeping them as securely strapped in as possible which reduces the risk of injury and even death in a car crash.

Many parents transition into booster seats much too early. The information I found on states that “Booster seats are for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing car safety seats. Children should stay in a booster seat until adult belts fit correctly (usually when a child reaches about 4' 9" in height and is between 8 and 12 years of age).” If the child does not fit properly into an adult seat belt then the booster seat will not protect the child in the unfortunate event of a crash. The most common recommendation for appropriate weight necessary for a booster seat is 40 pounds. While it may not be possible for your child to fit into their car seat until they are 8 years old the longer they can stay in one the safer they will be. I also found out that there is actually a seat that you can use after you child has outgrown their convertible seat but is not ready for a booster seat yet. It is a “combination seat.” “A combination seat is normally for use after the child has grown too tall for a forward-facing convertible, but is not yet heavy enough (40 lbs) to move into a booster. The harnessed mode is used until the child weighs 40 lbs (or 50 lbs for the Car Seat Specialty Airway), then the seat is converted to booster mode.”

Lastly, I would like to draw your attention to this very sad video so that you can see a real life testimonial about using a 5 point harness seat . There are numerous such videos out there expressing the same sentiment. My heart goes out to this family and the video they share sure does drive the point home.

Monday, May 3, 2010

McNeil Product Recall

McNeil Consumer Healthcare Announces Voluntary Recall of Certain OTC Infants’ and

Children's Products
Fort Washington, PA (April 30, 2010) – McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc., in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is voluntarily recalling all lots that have not yet expired of certain over-the-counter (OTC) Children’s and Infants’ liquid products manufactured in the United States and distributed in the United States, Canada, Dominican Republic, Dubai (UAE), Fiji, Guam, Guatemala, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, and Kuwait. (SEE RECALLED PRODUCT LIST BELOW).

McNeil Consumer Healthcare is initiating this voluntary recall because some of these products may not meet required quality standards. This recall is not being undertaken on the basis of adverse medical events. However, as a precautionary measure, parents and caregivers should not administer these products to their children. Some of the products included in the recall may contain a higher concentration of active ingredient than is specified; others may contain inactive ingredients that may not meet internal testing requirements; and others may contain tiny particles. While the potential for serious medical events is remote, the company advises consumers who have purchased these recalled products to discontinue use.

The company is conducting a comprehensive quality assessment across its manufacturing operations and has identified corrective actions that will be implemented before new manufacturing is initiated at the plant where the recalled products were made.
Consumers can contact the company at 1-888-222-6036 and also at Parents and caregivers who are not sure about alternative pediatric health treatment options should talk to their doctor or pharmacist and are reminded to never give drug products to infants and children that are not intended for those age groups as this could result in serious harm.

For additional information, including affected NDC numbers, consumers should visit our website or call 1-888-222-6036 (Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Time, and Saturday-Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time). Any adverse reactions may also be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Program by fax at 1-800-FDA-0178, by mail at MedWatch, FDA, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852-9787, or on the MedWatch website at

McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Division of McNeil-PPC, Inc. markets a broad range of well-known OTC products.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Other Mother

They walked into the Mexican restaurant a little bit later than your typical lunch time just like they did every Saturday. With a 2 year old and a 4 year old this was the best time since the restaurant was not so crowded. She had broken a sweat and was winded from getting the 2 girls out of their car seats and into the building in the 90 degree heat wave they were having. Of course they both wanted mommy to get them out of the car for some reason. As she mopped the sweat from her brow she caught a glimpse of a woman across the restaurant. The woman was sitting with two girls who appeared to be as close in age as her two but much older. Maybe they were 14 and 16.

As it would happen the other mother looked over right at the same time and their eyes met in the commencement of an almost magical dialogue. Mary, the mother of the two toddlers went first. “You have no idea how good you have it right now. You probably take it for granted that your girls actually walk into the restaurant by themselves! I mean, look at me! I am always winded and sweaty when it is this hot outside. Do you know what I would give to be able to sit down at a table in a restaurant and not have to catch my breath?” The mother of the teenage girls, Emily, answered with this, “they may be able to walk into the restaurant on their own two legs but they could at least allow me to walk beside them, or even beside one another. They are so afraid to be seen as ‘un-cool’ by one of their friends that they don’t dare allow that. When we walk into a restaurant it is usually in a single file line and by the time we sit down I may not be winded physically but my soul feels suffocated for some acknowledgement from my girls.”

When they arrive at their table Mary puts the 2 year old down while she gets the 4 year old situated. In the 5 seconds she has her hands full the beautiful 2 year old baby girl has decorated the table with the salsa that the server had just delivered. The four letter words start flying through Mary’s head as she does her best to keep her composure and clean up the mess without further upsetting her already irritated husband. The fact that neither girl wanted daddy to get her out of the car had gotten him off to a slow start on the happy train as it was. “What would you say now? Are you actually envious of me having to clean this shit up? I mean I turn my back for one second and look what she does! Not to mention that I am starving and now there isn’t even any salsa for me to eat with my chips! I wish my girls sat so quietly and ate their food without such a mess!” Emily replied with her eyes with “well you are right they do eat neatly and no I usually do not have to clean up messes like that anymore. But boy would I trade cleaning up a mess like that every meal if I could just get them to talk to me. They eat so neatly and quietly that I feel like I am by myself. Instead of pouring a jar of salsa on the table to show me she is feeling rambunctious I spend most of my time guessing what my 16 year old daughter is thinking. Is she mad or sad or hurt? How can I craft a question for her that she won’t think is stupid and may open up a dialogue with her?”

The mess is finally cleaned up and the clock is ticking. How long will the girls behave? It is a constant game of keeping their attention moving in the direction that you want it to instead of where it is naturally drawn. Mary pulls out a sticker book and a coloring book and the girls proceed to want one another’s activity. “Why?! Why in the world does one girl always want what the other one has? It is just not possible to always get two of the exact same things. You would think that they would enjoy sharing so that they can get to play two different things. When is our food going to get here??” As Emily looks at the 2 toddler girls and then at her own she recalls, “ I remember the days when a sticker could buy me anything. From a clean room to a kiss on the cheek and anything in between. I had a sheet of stickers stashed absolutely everyplace so as to ensure an easy access ticket to a smile. In fact, I think I still have some in the glove box. I wonder if I will be able to exchange one for a smile today…”

Both meals end at almost the same time since Emily and her girls stayed for dessert. As both families rise from their respective tables the mothers exchange one last and prolonged glance.
Here is what they said:

Mary: “I hate to say it but most days I feel like I can’t wait to get to the stage that you are in with your girls. My favorite time of the day is bedtime. Everyone tells me to enjoy where I am but between the cooking and cleaning for, the whining and crying of and the threats and scolding to I am still trying to figure out when to enjoy.”

Emily: “How I wish I could feel the tickle of baby-hairs on my nose in the middle of a good, long hug. How I miss their sticky faces and immature voices. The way they smelled right after a bath. The indescribable softness of baby-skin. We mothers are so much the same. I have been there and I remember feeling the way her face tells me she feels. How I felt like everything required so much effort. The difference is that you will one day have what I have; I can never have what you have again.”

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Caretaker in Me...

“It’s hard babysitting everyone around here!” I blurted out this morning as I was preparing the girls’ things for school. “You don’t babysit me,” answered my husband. Really? Who made your breakfast and has made sure you have something for lunch? Who made the coffee for this morning last night and set the timer so that nobody had to wait? I don’t babysit you huh? Well then who it is that does all of these wonderful things that make your life so much easier?

It started as defensive giving. The kind of stuff that you do and give so that you don’t have to listen to what will come when everything is undone or done late. Over the last almost 10 years (yikes!) of marriage I have taken note of the things that make us happier as a couple. It was not until I became a career “stay-at-home-er” that it mattered what I had noticed since I had no time to use any of that information. And it only matters now because I care and actually like to do things for my husband and girls. I am a nurturer. No idea why, maybe because I am the oldest of my own three brothers or because I am the only girl but whatever the reason I really like taking care of people. Since I have a husband he and my girls are the beneficiaries of most of my cooking, organizing, cleaning (when it gets done) and caretaking in general.

Because I like to do stuff around the house I think it gets taken for granted a lot more then when some of my friends do housework. Most of my friends either work full time or they hate house work and cooking so when they do occasionally do something around the house everyone really takes note. My family only seems to notice when things are a wreck around here! I can hear their thoughts “gosh, mom is really off her game these days” or if it is my husband then he will just make an offensive comment like “maybe we should think about getting a house keeper.” Maybe I should take a lesson and go on strike for a while!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Teachers Make All the Difference

As I walked down the hall this morning on my way to my almost 4 year old daughter’s classroom I knew something was different. I felt her grip on my hand tighten almost as if she knew what was around the corner. Kids have a certain sense about these things. As we turned the corner her tight grip on my hand changed into a choke hold on my leg. That was when I knew we had a problem.

“Where is Ms. Suzanne?” I asked the perfectly nice substitute teacher. “She was not feeling well so she is at home today.” Now I knew. As I knelt down to look into her eyes I could see the tears welling up. I said in as normal a tone as I could muster being fully aware of the impending doom “OK honey, I will pick you up at lunch with a nice surprise in the car waiting for you.” She blinked and the well of tears in her eyes became a stream of tears running down her face.

After about 20 minutes of failed negotiations , and I was offering the good stuff you know like mommy’s handbags, lip gloss and toenail painting type stuff, Andira was finally peeled from my leg in hysterics and I walked away feeling torn myself. I could hear her crying for me all the way down the hall and all the while I wanted to go back and get her and take her home with me. I did not do that for obvious reasons.

Andira is already a homebody who could be with her dad and I all day everyday and be perfectly happy with that. Then we met Suzanne and all that changed. Now, there are still a lot of long hugs and lingering kisses but every morning I leave her smiling in her dear teacher’s arms. This is the magic her teacher has in her possession. Somehow Suzanne knows exactly how to relate to and bestow peace upon my very sweet and innocent little girl’s heart. Not to mention the peace she gives me.

The early childhood experiences our children have with their teachers are so very important. I don’t think I realized until this morning that if it was not for our beloved Ms. Suzanne I would probably not be sending my darling daughter to that school again next year. I wonder if that goes unnoticed more than it should. What special people our teachers are. How one sick day can literally throw our children into such a tizzy that they are inconsolable. We as parents need to be more appreciative of the job our teachers do and that is a given but I especially think that administrators of our schools need to realize how invaluable their personnel resources are. The bottom line is that I pay tuition to the school because I love my daughter’s teachers and if I did not love them then I would not be paying. I hope people think of this more often!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Right Time to Get Married

When is the right time to get married? I am not talking about the right time between two people. My question is about when it is the right time for a person to get married. When is someone ready? I used to think I had this all figured out but now I am not so sure.
I got married “early” by today’s standards. At the ripe old age of 23 I took off down the aisle escorted by both my parents and was placed into the arms of a man I had met only a year and a half earlier. After eight long months of dating we made the decision to take the plunge into the life of married-dom and we have never looked back. Well, maybe we have looked but we have not stepped…

My point is that looking objectively at my life and marriage one would say that this is indisputably the path of someone who will wind up a statistic. What is it now, more than 50% of marriages end where they started? I too spent time after our wedding telling people that I recommend waiting until they have reached an age closer to 30 before they decide to take their vows. My reasoning was simple. A person typically does a lot of “growing up” in the years between 25 and 30 and to me it would be easier to grow up first and then get married instead of doing what I was doing which was growing up with my husband. Makes sense right?

Now that I am older and my once young husband and I are preparing to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary my views have changed. Unless he cheats on me or goes berserk and starts abusing my girls and/or I (very extreme cases I know) our marriage will end in death. We certainly do not have a fairy tale marriage, trust me, but the fact that we came together with nothing, emotionally and financially nothing, gave us the same baseline so that where we are today is neither mine nor is it his. It is technically and figuratively ours.

The flip side to this the couple who does not get married until later. At some point after they have acquired things, both emotionally and physically, they decided to share these things, these previously acquired things, with one another. What I have seen is nothing better and in some cases there can actually be too much to share and if these people did not learn good lessons in preschool they may not know how to play well with others. So, while two people can grow up together in this case they may actually need to grow down. To undo or unzip some of their individual togetherness in order to make a shared togetherness.

So when is the right time to get married?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Does Your Toddler Have Sleeping Issues?

I thought that everyone knew how to deal with sleep issues with a toddler but just that since it can be difficult (time consuming and tear-jerking) parents were hesitant to be hard-core about it. The truth is however that so many parents really do not know what to do to get their child into a healthy nighttime routine and that they just think they have to suffer with what they are dealing with. I have dealt with my share and as far as I am concerned your share of sleep issues with my girls. Here is my “foolproof” method for getting back into a healthy sleep routine with your child. It works every time and with any kid but you have to be committed and diligent. I cannot stress that enough. This is my own combination of various methods (disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer….) Ok, so here goes…

Step one is decide that the result you are striving for is to get your child to sleep for an entire night in his or her own bed. Period. And that you will accept no less. Got it? Do not read anymore until you have taken this vow because you are getting ready to embark on an emotionally and physically tiring journey.

Now that you have taken the above vow you will need to choose a start time. Ideally I would start on a Thursday night since typically it takes no more than three nights to get the job done and it is easier to deal with work when you are tired and it is the end of the week instead of increasing the amount of stress you feel on Monday morning.

On Thursday night put your child in the bath tub a little earlier than usual and if you do not bathe your child at night I recommend starting to because this really does help to soothe them. I used to start the day talking about how tonight she is going to sleep like a big girl by herself and get her excited about from the morning but this has backfired and can also cause unnecessary stress over the course of their day so just judge by what you know about your child. If you think you can get them excited about being a “big” girl or boy then start talking about it in the morning.

After bath tell your child how the rest of the night is going to go. Tell them how many books you will read, songs you will sing and that then they will get a kiss and you will leave. Then do exactly what you said. Depending on your child the crying may start right away. Whatever the deal is the next things are simple but must be consistent.

Leave the room. If your child follows you put them back into bed with a “goodnight” and maybe a few kind words like “I love you,” “you can do it,” “don’t cry,” etc. Only use words the first time you put them into bed. Now for the rest of the night sleep someplace that you all will not wake your spouse (no point in both of you being up all night) and keep putting your child in bed. No matter how hysterical they are put them back in bed as gently as you can but with no words for the entire rest of the night.

My daughter had puked, she has come out of her room 20+ times and she has even been physically resisting me before but the first night is the worst for us. When she pukes I clean it up with as little fuss and light as I can and then continue on with my plan. This can also vary according to the child but by the third night you will have a different kid and if you continue with diligence you will have your nights back in no time!

This really works so try it if you like to sleep…

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Your Newborn Baby

This is to all you new moms out there who are trying so hard to do the right thing for your little, tiny newborns. If your heart is in the right place and your only problem is that you are worried for the well-being of your baby then I have one word to say to you. Relax. Really, just relax because everything will work out. Those little tykes are so resilient and really need very little from you other than love. Let me explain.

It wasn’t until this week when my 40 year old best friend brought her new baby home from the hospital and called me in a panic about all of the things that were concerning her about her baby that I realized that I had something very helpful to share. I thought back to those first days at home with my second daughter and began sharing everything in an effort to relieve some of her stress about the fact that she thought someone had to sit in the backseat of the car with her baby to make sure he was still breathing because how could he get any air being slumped over like that?? Oh boy did it take me back…

My second daughter was born on 12/20/2007 and being so close to the Holidays it was a wonder I even survived. First of all she was so terribly jaundiced that the whites of her eyes were bright yellow. My first daughter had no jaundice at all so this was alarming enough. If that was all however I imagine I would have been in better shape. She also had two ingrown toenails that I was informed I had to get out myself or she would have to be sent to a podiatrist for surgery. So three times a day I had to first soak her feet in Epsom salts (ever tried to soak a newborn baby’s feet? I can think of more fun things to do) and then put on gloves to literally dig her little toe nails out all the while puss is oozing everywhere and did I mention she was completely hysterical? Yes, she was and the first 100 or so times her cries made me cry so I was trying to do all of this through a curtain of tears. She also came home with pink eye in both eyes. I am telling the truth. In both eyes so two times a day I had to pull her eyes open and line the inside of them with this cream and pray to God that I did not poke her eye while I was doing it! This is why I think that all mothers should carry an honorary “M.D.” behind their names but that is the topic for another post. And lastly, poor little baby also had an oozing bellybutton that I swore was going to make the ugliest “outie” anyone had ever seen. I could not make this stuff up. And as I told Anna these things I could feel the tension dissipate and a calm start to settle over her. I wish someone would have said to me “you can’t hurt her, just do your best and don’t worry so much about everything.”

A few days after you bring your baby home you will start to notice things like maybe they are constipated, maybe they cry what you think is a lot, maybe they are not eating as often as you had hoped or any number of other things that you deem noteworthy. Rarely is there a problem that is serious or does not work itself out. By all means call and visit your pediatrician often but at the end of every day take time to relax and remember that it is all going to be OK. Newborn babies are made of a material comparable to titanium in their durability so try not to stress so much!

Look at my second daughter! Is there anything about her that is not perfect?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

For a Title

What are you willing to do for a title? I don’t mean a title in the sense of a status symbol the title I am talking about is one you are born with. “Brother” or “sister,” “mom” or “dad” how much are you willing to put up with, help out or even forgive someone because of their title in your life? I was speaking with a very good friend of mine yesterday who I have a lot in common with and we were talking about family issues and she made the comment “I would not do that just because she is my sister, she is an adult and can make her own decisions and live with the consequences.” This is a valid point.

I am the oldest of four and my three younger brothers are some of my very favorite people and my best friends. Each in their own right is a truelove of mine and before I had children they were the most adorable things in my life. Now we are all grown and those of us who are going to get married have done that. Even though we are older now there is still not a lot I would not do for any one of them. Maybe this is not “normal” but the first time I even recognized another way of thinking was on the phone yesterday. And I cannot argue with my friend either. She is right, our siblings (all 28 years old and up) are responsible for their own lives so we do not owe each other anything just for a title. And while there are times when a brother will aggravate me to the point that I have to just walk away from him because I do not agree with decisions he is making I would still not ever refuse him help. To take it even one step further I still wish that my brothers have every joy and pleasure in life and it would be enough for me if they did even if I did not. I love them sometimes because I like them and sometimes not.

Any one of my brothers could call and ask for anything and I would give everything I could. I feel the need to add the caveat that unless of course he is a threat to one of my children but my brothers are saints to their nieces. There was never a better uncle. I would not ever put my little girls out for them but I will always be there for them to lean on. I guess that I am lucky that my brothers are my soul mates because that makes it easier but for a title I would do most anything.

Monday, January 18, 2010

All For a Nap

I will roll down a car window in the rain in a heartbeat to keep a kid awake. And you know, I have realized that I am not alone. The more mothers I speak to the more I realize that we all do that. How hard are you willing to fight for a nap? Me, I will fight to the end. If my little girls (either one) fall asleep in the car you may as well call it a day. There is no way you are going to get them to take a nap after that. Even just a five minute cat nap will suffice for a long and energetic rest of the day; at least for them.

God intended children 4 years of age and younger to nap. Do you know why? It is because the care takers of children in this age group are tired. We are so very physically and often emotionally tired after even just a morning with our energetic and curious little people that we need to sit down. We need to sit down and we need to eat. Maybe we even need a nap too. So before calling CPS on me for opening the car window during a down pour consider the fact that it is their nap that actually keeps you from having to call CPS in the first place!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Have Fun With The Kids!

Some assumptions like the fact that you love your children and are happy to be a parent must be made here. If you are still reading then I assume you have affirmed that. Now what? They like to run around in circles and play with everything in sight and I can only spend so many minutes saying either “no, don’t touch that” or threatening to leave knowing that would be more of a punishment for me then for them since I would have to figure out some other place to go. Pretty much the only place that a kid can run wild and you don’t have to worry is a place like the Children’s Museum. I know they won’t hurt anything by running around a place like Funigan’s or Chuckie Cheese but I personally do not allow my girls to run free at those sorts of places because I am afraid of the other, more “assertive” (or something like that) children. I hear complaints all the time from moms who are trying to find ways to entertain their kids that they themselves can tolerate. There is a good balance between being a parent and still having fun. I think that some of what you do does obviously need to change upon the birth of a child but it does not all have to be the pits for you. Especially if you stay home with you children and so do everything with them. Now granted you probably should not be taking your children into the bar at happy hour or expecting a 3 year old to wait patiently while you get a manicure but there are so many fun things you can do with your children that are fun for both you and them. You don’t have to give or take everything in order to continue to be a happy person who enjoys life.

My favorite is to get a group of 3 or 4 parents who enjoy each other’s company together and let the kids play while you sip on a glass of wine (careful if you are driving). Don’t get hung up on whether the kids are best of friends because I guarantee you that if they are put together for long enough with some toys they will eventually play once they realize that they may be there a while. So when selecting your play group make it people you would want to be around. Really, I wish there was a place like a Children’s Museum that would offer such a setting. Of course the drinking should be taken seriously but if we could just for the purposes of my pretending assume that all parents are like you and me and would never put their kid’s lives in harm’s way by drinking and driving then this would be perfect. Have a Children’s Museum type setting along with perhaps a little area with music where the kiddos and their parents could cut a rug or shake it a little if they so desire and of course some type of food you would be in business!

Monday, January 11, 2010

No More Waiting in Lines

On Thursday I spoke to a good friend of mine and we decided to have dinner together on Friday night. Do you know the first thing I did when I got off the phone with her? I made a reservation at a “Fine Dining” joint in town, that’s what I did. You know, so that we don’t go somewhere and have to wait in line. That was when I realized that these days, these mid-30’s, two children, stay-at-home days, the ones when a chance to sit down let alone have a good conversation accompanied by good food days are oh so very rare that I will not spend a single second waiting in line for a seat. Really, there is not a time when I will stand in line to eat anymore. In fact there are few things that I will stand in line for at all anymore. The necessary grocery store and Costco line aside there is nothing that I can think of that I want bad enough to wait in line for it! Can you? I mean with the advent of on-line shopping came a whole new mindset about how best to spend your time. If you can do it all with the click of a button and then a day ( or several later your desire materializes at your door step while you are folding laundry and the girls are napping then I am sold! And waiting in line to wait in line to buy something? I don’t get that at all. Like when everyone wanted a Wii or a “Tickle me Elmo”. I remember people standing in line for hours and some people even having altercations about who would get one first. Seriously? If I can’t either get it at Costco or order it on-line then I don’t need or want it bad enough.

Parents multi-task, I am talking about the Crock pot, dryer and writing all going at once. I will certainly never use my time to wait in line for a table at a restaurant again so yeah, maybe I will pay more for my food but I will also spend more time sitting and enjoying my meal and my company. Worth it? Yes! To me it is!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hold That Baby!

Really. One of my very best friends is at the end of her first pregnancy right now. If she has not given birth herself by next weekend then she is going to be induced. I was talking to her on the phone yesterday and she said “I am just ready to go ahead and have this baby,” and I thought “Whoa sister! Enjoy these last few days! Go to the movies, get a massage or a pedicure or just sit in a silent room and relax for a while. Do things that you will not be able to do with children.” I know, I know you are big and fat and can’t breathe or sleep and at this point there is not even any enjoyment in activities that are typically quite fun like eating and sex but listen, these are the last days that you will ever be able to go out to eat or get a pedicure without having to think about what you are going to do with the kids. I love nothing more than being a mother. Really it is my favorite thing! But when I want to do anything besides be a mom I, like all other mothers, have to make sure the kids are accounted for and that is something an expectant mother does not always realize. So my advice to you is enjoy these last few days because your life is getting ready to be shaken up a bit…to say the least!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Second Child

This morning I had coffee with several girl friends of mine when I was inspired to write this post. The four of us all had one thing in common. Two kids. My second child, at two years of age, was the oldest of the bunch making me the most familiar with the sensations that come with the birth of a second child. The youngest was a newborn baby who accompanied his mother and was 4 weeks old. Then there was a 6 month old who was with his mom and a nine month old who was with a sitter. The conversations we had about our various experiences made me realize how common some of the feelings that come with having a second child are and even more that I should share them in the interest of providing comfort to anyone else in those same shoes who was not fortunate enough to be sitting with us.

For me it started during the second pregnancy when somehow everyone seemed to forget I was pregnant. Since I already had another one running around I was not really treated with the same type of careful consideration as when I was first pregnant. Then the nine months were up and I went to the hospital where the standard of care seemed to somehow transfer over and, in comparison to the first birthing experience, I was essentially ignored. I do not blame the hospital (maybe I should?) but the point is that they knew that this was my second child so I guess they did not think that I needed as much help as I got the first time. In pretty much every area from checking me physically to caring for my newborn they performed significantly lower. Measured on a scale from one to ten and ten being the best and the type of care I got the first time I would give them a 4 at best the second time around.

Now I leave the hospital. I get home to a house with a 21 month old, a husband and now my newborn baby. The next six months to one year are essentially a blur with the exception of the emotions I felt. I was breastfeeding so that meant no sleep. Then when I did have a chance to even just sit down in the quiet I felt like I needed to spend time with my older daughter since her care had been taken over by grandparents and I feared she would forget who her mother was or even worse that she would stop loving me. I used maternity leave this time around more as bonding time with my almost two year old than I ever thought I would. So I did not ever rest at all. Well, I went back to work 4 months after having my baby and cried daily for several months to follow. I hated leaving her, it hurt me not being a part of my older daughter’s (Andira) life anymore and on top of all of that I was piecemealing childcare together based on who (which grandparent) had which day free in the name of avoiding daycare which put me at the mercy of everyone else’s schedule. At the time I felt like my husband was not even supporting me but as I look back now I see that nobody could have helped me with the state I was in except myself.

I wish someone would have told me back then what I am telling you now. About these feelings and that they are OK, about the fact that it is expected for you to feel the way you do but that it is not forever or that you are just going to have to wake up everyday and decide to be happy and the rest will fill in. Don’t allow your happiness to depend on some vision of “perfect” that is unattainable with a newborn baby and another young child. I would have been in better shape had I known these things. We need to be there for each other especially in times of such massive transition when a mother is literally the food for another living thing as well as the shoulders for the rest of her family.

If you have or are having a second child rest assured that if you are feeling it I most likely have too and if I have not I guarantee you that one of the four of us girls who met for coffee today have. And know that you are just fine and many women have sat right where you are sitting and are better for it. There is no need to waste your energy on sadness, worry or any other negative emotion. Just pray for strength and do the best you can without expecting everything to fit into a mold you have built for yourself. “Perfect” is not the same for everyone. That is what will define “perfect” for you.

Enjoy that baby because although it may be challenging, they grow up so fast. We love you and you are going to be great!

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Secret

In the spirit of starting the week following a Holiday off on the right foot I would like to offer some advice. As a mother (and this goes for any parent) I have found that I benefit greatly from getting a “head start” if you will, on my day. When I was working outside of my house I found that when I was awakened by the calls of one of my young girls as the call to my day I felt like I spent so much time just trying to catch up. One girl would wake up and then shortly after that the other one and then somewhere in the middle of that my husband would start his day and all the while all I wanted was a cup of coffee! Not to mention the fact that I too needed to get ready for my own job which required me to wear a suit daily. Before I knew it I was in a bad mood and wanting to be or just flat out being snappy to the entire family toddler and all!

I want to share my secret with you since it has been a saving grace in my life. Get up early. I mean early and I also recommend getting your exercise out of the way if you are an exerciser. If you are not an exerciser I recommend you start but that is the topic for another post. I have found that the extra minutes I get to myself when I get up early (I get up a lot earlier than I probably “need” to but I love the time) make me feel like I am heading off the day instead of being catapulted into it. I am happier and more peaceful since I have exercised, showered and had a few quite moments to myself and everyone knows that when mommy is happy so is everyone else!