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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!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Don't Call the Police!

I went to the post office today. More often than not I go for quick things like to pick up mail that I have to sign for or drop off a piece of mail. Most of the time my trips to the post office last 30 seconds or less. Lets face it, now with on line bill pay trips to the post office are greatly reduced. I tell you this for a reason.

Today when I pulled up to the Advance post office I had both girls in the car with me and we were listening to music. The girls we so into the music and so not into the post office that they did not want to get out of the car. I am a big proponent of picking my battles. Frankly, I just do not have the energy to fight all the time. The girls were listening to music so intently that I knew if I insisted they come inside the time and energy it would take would just be too much. Well, I was parked in such a way that I could see the car from the inside of the post office, which was literally one step away from the spot where I parked. Wanna guess what I did? You got it. I let them stay in the car.

The entire time I was inside I was nervous. I kept looking outside. So much so that the woman who was helping me finally asked “you got kids in the car?” I was so surprised that she knew exactly what I was doing! I replied, “Yes, what gave it away?” She then said, “I can tell you are looking outside waiting for someone to pull up who does not have kids and call someone.” We both then laughed in complete understanding of one another. That was exactly it. I was not watching the car to make sure my girls were alright. I knew they would be or I would not have left them. I was watching them to make sure that nobody else was doing the same so that I would not get in trouble for leaving them! And just so you know, both of them are perfectly capable of getting themselves out of their seats and out of the car.

I get that you are not supposed to leave a 6 month old in the car in 90-degree weather for half a day. I am not stupid. I just did not realize that there are other mothers out there who not only do what I did but more importantly understand just where I am coming from! It is nice to know that other parents have been where you are.

Friday, August 5, 2011

35

35 was hard. It has now been exactly a month and a half and I am just now able to express what it made me feel like in a way that others can understand and hopefully benefit from. I guess that I also owe it to you to tell you that 27 was hard too…I still have no idea why and looking back it seems really silly so let’s focus on 35, shall we?

I have an awesome, awesome life. Those of you who know me personally and even many of you whose only contact with me has been through Kidding Around know that. In case you are just tuning in I quit work (my cushy and very lucrative pharmaceutical/medical device sales career) 2 years ago to stay home with my then 19 month and 3 year old daughters. Now those lovely ladies are 3.5 and 5 years old and we all feel like everyday is a vacation. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely feel overworked and under paid  but I would not have it any other way. I digress.

So, I never wanted kids. Did you know that? I don’t mean to digress again but this is totally relevant. Of course, I am absolutely in love with my girls and would have it no other way but my point is that they were not in my “master plan” of how my life was going to go. You see, I LOVED work! Outside sales in the health care industry (pharmaceutical and medical device) was my thing! I started in the industry at the ripe old age of 21 and never looked back. I was whisked away into the world of corporate American and my ultimate goal was to be queen of it. Seriously, I had my eye on the “C’s” and that was where I was headed. Fast. But then things changed…dramatically…and it all came to a screeching halt.
What happened was that I learned what “love” in the purest and most unconditional sense felt like and I wanted that feeling to be around me always. I have also always been the “stay-at-home” type stereotypically speaking. I have three younger brothers who I always loved to care for when we were little. I would brush their teeth, bathe them, feed them, pack their lunches, etc. and I loved every moment of it. Still do. Only now I have three (honestly, do you think hubbie cares for himself now that wifey stays home??) of my own that need that kind of continuous care and I give it to them with pleasure. Another digression.

Ok so, after I had Inara (my second) I was literally crying every Sunday night. And my babies never even went to day care! My mother (bless her heart) used to come over every morning to care for my girls from the time my first one was born. It wasn’t that I felt guilty for leaving them somewhere that was subpar or that they were unhappy. It was that I wanted to be their mom and was only getting to do that after hours and on the weekends. So I cried and I cried for 19 months all the while getting more and more serious about leaving my six figure, very cushy and for all practical purposes fun job. It started out as just words “I wish I did not have to go to work,” and as all the great thinkers (Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Eckert Tolle) say those words were said enough and we (my old man and me) talked about it enough that one day it just happened. I turned in my 2-week notice 2 weeks before their school started exactly two years ago now and we have never looked back. The way things have worked out is material for a whole other blog post and then some but the fact is that I left my job. Just like that. A job that I was going to make into a life for myself by climbing so far to the top of the ladder that the bottom was just a memory. Now what?

During my career in sales I was always very competitive and I rarely ever lost. If there was a goal I set my eyes on it and achieved it every time. And I was handsomely rewarded for doing so with money, praise and recognition. Now that I have been staying home for the last two years I have turned this “job” into something similar. I set goals, standards to measure myself by and then I am rewarded with either happy girls, a compliment from an outsider or nothing other than another successful day. But alas, there is no extra bonus to be paid, no trip to be won and there may even be some blame to claim. You know for the forgotten snack or water bottle or for the fact that my Andira does not like soccer since “you let her act like a baby at home so it is no wonder she only cries on the soccer field.” And so how do I make peace with now being 35 and being nowhere that I thought I would be and everywhere that I never considered? I traded my suits for sweats and my money for puke. And while I would not ever trade my life for anything else and I do not want to go back to work. I do sometimes wonder where I am. It seem that yes, I am enjoying my life and I can certainly see the benefits of my staying home for all of us but the clock is still ticking. I am getting older and all of the things I thought I would be doing at this age are none of the things I am doing now. Let alone that I am in my mid-30’s and now there is a new box to check. Sometimes I wonder, “what now?” am I done? So, I am going to raise my two girls while turning old and gray and then at the end of it all there is no “C” awaiting me? Different. From what I planned for I mean. 

So I decided very simply, eff that! I gave myself my own “C” title that day.
Chief Mother in Charge J And now I feel better.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Adidas Kanadia TR 3 Shoes - - I Heart Them!

Have you found your favorite, favorite gym shoes?? I have been looking since high school, when I was in love with my Adidas Ozweego shoes, for that special pair again. And guess what...I finally found them! And I wrote about them under my "reviews." I technically reviewed the shoes but I wanted to mention it here also since this is where you can find my personal opinions and learn more about me :-) Please read this!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Take Care of Your Own Kid! :-)

I know you have been at the pool playing with your kid/kids when another little one decided to join your bunch. You know, the kid whose parents care more about their beer or their tan to actually get into the water and play with their child. For that matter you have also probably been at the playground pushing your child on the swing when another child asked, “can you push me too?” while his or her mom was on her cell phone. It is not that the kids necessarily annoy you. They do me but you are probably nicer than I am. It is more about the fact that dammit I want a tan too! And it has been ages since I caught up with my sister why don’t YOU push MY kid while I make a call??

I know it sounds sad. And maybe it is but that does not make it less true. So many times I feel like other parents kind of really rely on those of us who actually do give a shit to pull their weight too. If is was not bad enough that your kid came over to me and my two in the pool while I am trying to not only trying to keep mine entertained but more importantly safe, then what makes it worse is that they then look up, smile and lay right back down as though if I am not complaining then everything must be OK! Seriously?

Am I the only one who feels this way??

Monday, June 20, 2011

Need to Renew You NC Driver's License?

So, last week I celebrated my 21st birthday for the 14th time...catch my drift? Neither here nor there is my age for as my eloquent 5 year old put it "mommy you don't feel any different when the day of your birthday comes." God love her. Along with my new age (and new box to check) came the responsibility to renew my drivers license. Yikes! I don't mind telling you this now since I renewed it today, but I drove for almost a week with an expired license shame-shame...

Since I failed my first NC drivers test in 1998 (shhhhh, it's a secret) I am slightly scarred and now prone to studying in the interest of avoiding further embarrassment. You will be delighted to know that I past with flying colors today though (yay!!) but more importantly I have some tips for you.

First, go to the DMV in Mocksville. I don't care how far it is for you it is totally worth it. I was in there for less than 15 seconds before they took me back and I was completely done in 10 minutes including an very pleasant conversation with one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life who incidentally works there. Second, here is where to find the signs to study. You need to review both regulatory and warning and know that some of the signs you will be tested on will not have the pictures (I had the school crossing and the RR ones today with no words) or words on them so pay attention to the shapes. And lastly, all you need to take with you is your current, or in my case expired, license and either a $32 check or cash. Just as a side note, when I got my first license in GA in 1992, ahem, I mean 2006, it was only $15!! Boy they gecha on these things!

Feel better now?