Archive for February, 2012

Toy Storage

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

From Monday Mom: Janelle:
Living with three boys is a blessing and a challenge at the same time. I’m blessed because I love each of them to pieces and find so much joy in their sweet smiles.  One of the challenges is battling the mess. I admit I have my own messes around the house, but I am sure to clean them up or move them out of sight.  The piles of clothes, toys and crumbs I find on the floor seems to multiply hourly.  I can’t tell you how many times I have stepped on a lego block under my bare feet mixed in with other toys.  I try to clean up most of the mess when the kids go to bed, but lately it seems a bit overwhelming.

I remember when I was pregnant with Jack and I had his nursery organized and ready to welcome him home.  I had every tiny outfit, sock, hat, diaper and sheet folded so neatly or hung by size.  Within the first month, my beautiful room turned into a mountain of laundry.

Fast forward to today, and Jack’s room looks like a Lego bomb exploded.  I love that he has so much fun building the Lego sets and then taking them apart.  He also loves to build his own creations.  Luckily, we have the instruction booklets for each set so we can rebuild whatever was destroyed.  I’ve read several different blogs about smart ways to organize kids toys and I’m still trying to figure out the best solution for our mess.

Whether it takes a day, a week or a month I’m going to accomplish this task.  Jack will surely be helping me so he knows where every piece belongs.  Ideas and tips are welcomed!

PS. Happy Leap Day!

Career Opportunities

Monday, February 27th, 2012

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Before I was a stay-at-home mom, I was a consultant. The long-term project I was on ended while I was pregnant, and the timing worked out well for me. I was excited to focus on the baby and leave the demanding nature of my work behind. After a lifetime of striving to achieve academically and professionally, it felt great to focus on my personal life—for my family to be my full-time job.

During the past year of Haley’s infanthood, it became clear to me why women choose to work. For one thing, it’s the rare family that can utterly thrive on one income. Also, making a baby  one’s full time vocation is incredibly trying. While I feel happy to be able to spend this meaningful time with Haley, I think it would be good for all of us if I waded back into the workforce.

Yet it’s not easy. I can’t return to my former career as a consultant right now, because it requires lots of travel. So I’m looking at other projects. I’d love to get some freelance work, but in this economy there is an oversaturated supply, so it’s not something one can really count on.

Recently my friend from college mentioned that his client-load of high school students he tutors is overwhelming, and he asked if I would be interested in taking some of it on. It sounds like a formidable task—we are talking about the SAT’s here—but he assures me I would be prepared in no time. I like the idea of helping these kids, too.

Even though the time commitment would be small, I hesitate to take on the tutoring. On one hand, I’m excited to use my non-mommy skills and get out of the house. On the other hand, I will miss my baby! Even planning to spend just a few hours away from her feels strange. I think it will probably just be a matter of jumping in.

I don’t know what the rest of my career will look like or how I will get there, but I’m proud of the work I am doing right now.

Rules rule?

Friday, February 24th, 2012

From Friday Mom – Jaime:

Lawyers love rules.

I remember my first day training as a law clerk. My predecessor handed me a copy of the court rules and said, “The best piece of advice I can give you is READ THESE.” Apparently our judge was a very large stickler for the rules, firmly believing – rightly so – that they exist for a reason and life would be SO MUCH EASIER if people just learned to follow the rules.

The day my clerkship really started when I booted up the computer there was a document in the center of the desktop that screamed “READ ME” in big bold letters. The only thing the document said was “We live by the rules, we die by the rules.” (That also happens to be a line from my favorite guilty pleasure movie EVER, The Skulls) But it’s also something that has guided me throughout my career…

Earlier this week, I got one of those emails that tell you about stuff your kid is supposed to be experiencing developmentally at this age. It talked all about how 4 year-olds love rules.

What 4 year-old likes rules?
Isn’t their job to ignore rules, test boundaries, push the limits?

But then I remember all the times Andrew he smiled up at me and repeated back to me our rules. Even when he first started talking, he had “No coffee til college” down pat. He’ll tell me he knows he has to try something new before he gets to eat mac and cheese. As we walk up the stairs at night, he will tell me, “Okay. So if I change my clothes and brush my teeth and go potty, you’ll come in my room and read me a book, right?”

Andrew may not always follow the rules (particularly that pesky “sleep in your own bed” one), but he certainly knows them. And he wouldn’t be able to do his job of testing the limits if he didn’t know where those boundaries lay.

Who knows, maybe rules are even more important to little kids than they are to us lawyers…

Bases loaded

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
When Jack was little, he had a plastic mechanical T-ball and bat toy he would play with. So when we asked him if he wanted to play “real T-ball” he jumped at the opportunity. He likes baseball, but he was too young to play until this year. So we have signed him up for another sport.

Our goal is to keep Jack active physically and socially with his friends. We aren’t sure exactly how the league is organized, nor the rules, nor do we really care, so long as he has a good time. Jack’s dad is excited to take him to the sporting goods store to buy his first baseball glove, bat and ball. Jack just has to work on catching, throwing, hitting and having fun. Luckily, I know how to do all of those things from my days playing softball.

Jack will do well with practice. His friends have older siblings who have exposed them to a range of sports and games. We are hoping to help get Jack up to speed while still having fun. A visit from Pappy soon will be a sure way to get in some practice.

Our schedule will be full with both soccer and baseball overlapping.  For a few weeks it will be a challenge.  I know both of my sisters are shaking their heads yes while reading this.  A few years down the road, adding Tate’s activities to the mix will be even a greater challenge.  I figure I have to live up to my minivan image, right?

Haley…No. Stop.

Monday, February 20th, 2012

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
If you were to follow me around the house lately, those are the words you would hear most frequently. Haley is mobile, curious and ridiculously grabby. Here is some of my running dialogue (feel free to imagine indignant baby shrieks throughout):

“No. Haley, We can read a book but we don’t have to throw all of them all over the floor.”

“What’s back there on the shelf? Oh, nothing. Stop. Stop it. Yes, you’ve found your vitamin drops. Great, we’ll take these a little later, ok? Ok, we’re putting it back now.”

“Yes, honey that’s where your clothes are, but we’re not opening the drawer right now. No. Stop. Here, look at this singing doll? Isn’t it so cool? Haley, leave the drawer. Stop.”

“Yeah! There’s your buddy Saint! We can pet him—no, Haley. Not the tail. Nice, nice. No!”

“Haley, no. That’s a plant. We don’t pull off the leaves. No, that’s not good. Okay, come over here. Stop it.”

“We don’t need to go into that cabinet. And we certainly don’t need to pull off the rubber band that’s securing it shut. Stop. Stop.”

All of this begs the question of why hasn’t there been more baby-proofing, and it’s a valid one. The answer is two-fold. My approach to baby proofing was that we would take it as it comes. I did not expect Haley’s motor skills, or her natural inclination toward defiance, to develop so quickly. I also feel that some parents baby proof to the extreme, so they can actually under-parent. It’s easier to take another look at your iPad or read a few more pages on your Kindle if your child is in what amounts to a padded cell. I did not want to be that way. It was important to me to be fully engaged.

And boy did I get what I asked for! Now that Haley is a more confident walker, I’m feeling like a boxing referee, and my job is to keep Haley from pummeling everything we own. Except I can’t blow a whistle to put an end to the melee.

Maybe since Haley reached the stage at which she’s getting into everything before age one, she’ll develop emotional maturity faster, too! Perhaps very soon, she’ll be done with the constant exploring and understand limits and obedience? Right, guys? That’s totally going to happen any day now. Right? Stop laughing.

Levels of Participation…

Friday, February 17th, 2012

I don’t do anything half way… If I’m actually going to get involved with something – whether it’s a file, an organization, or a hobby – I do it full out. There really isn’t a way to do it other than all in.

But after checking out Andrew’s Valentine’s loot, I’m feeling like a slacker mom.

Andrew picked out individual valentines for each of his friends. The girls got puppy valentines. The boys got Toy Story ones. He picked out which color each of their names were written in. He decorated each with stickers. We had a good time doing it.

One of Andrew’s friends decorated a construction paper tube, which housed not only a hand-made valentine, but a box of Toy Story posters that Andrew could decorate himself. Another one gave him a bag of homemade cookies as part of his valentine. A little girl gave him a bag full of chocolate hearts.

Really? Is that what I’m supposed to be doing? Am I supposed to bake four dozen cookies so that the 24 other kids in his class can take home baked goods? Is every kid supposed to get presents on MY kid’s birthday, even though there’s no party that they’re attending?

I don’t know… If that’s how things are supposed to work, then I’m clearly doing things all wrong. But maybe it’s okay to have varying levels of participation in this stuff. At least, I hope that’s the case!

What do you think?

Have a great weekend everyone

Valentine sweetness

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

All three of my boys made me feel super special this Valentine’s day.  I received lots of hugs and kisses as well as super sweet handmade cards.  I LOVE getting handmade items from anyone, especially my family.  In return, I wrote love notes back to each of my boys.  Unfortunately, Jack accidentally dumped his milk all over my note to daddy.  Jack felt horrible and quickly tried to make a new one for him.  How cute!

I can’t forget to mention how much fun I had helping with Jack’s class Valentine party.  We all played “Cupid Says,” learned how to say “I love you” in several different languages and stuffed our faces with my red velvet cupcakes.  It was a fun morning, and I’m glad I was part of it.

When Jack and I got home, we went through all of his valentine cards.  He loved the Spider-man valentine as well as a few with candy included.  There was one little valentine  in his pocket.  I asked him who gave it to him and he said with blushing red cheeks his friend (crush) Kelsey.   I couldn’t handle the cuteness and gave him a big hug.

Hope you had a happy Valentine’s Day!

Bon Voyage

Monday, February 13th, 2012

At the end of last summer, my grandmother passed away. I was upset to lose her, but she had a long, happy life. Most importantly, she got to spend time with Haley. I’ll always be grateful that I have pictures of the two of them together.

Tomorrow, my parents are taking off for a trip to India. They are going to visit with family and settle some of my grandmother’s affairs. I haven’t been to India in a long time, but I decided Haley was too young for us to take this trip. I am really looking forward to showing her the country one day.

This trip will have a huge impact on me – even though I am not going – because we currently live with my parents. And to say that they “sometimes help out” with Haley would be somewhat of an understatement.

When we moved in with my parents to facilitate a sudden job change and move, I was nervous about raising Haley under the same roof as them, even temporarily. I knew there would be benefits to the arrangement as well as clashes, but what I worried about most was the feeling that I might not fully feel like her primary caretaker—too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak. I now know that was pointless.

My parents watch Haley in the mornings while I drive Joe to the train station, and they enjoy helping out with evening bath time, but they also work full time. Day in and day out, I’m faced with the reality of stay-at-home-parenthood. It’s extremely challenging, but I feel proud ownership of it. It’s hard to entertain a baby all day, especially one as active as Haley. And sometimes, you just want to be able to go to the bathroom! But at least I’m doing it.

And it’s mostly on my terms. Of course, my parents are from a different generation, and they can’t understand some of my decisions. No crib bumpers or blankets, making all of my own baby food, letting the baby cry, back sleeping- it’s all foreign to them. They love her so much, I’m sure it’s difficult for them to see me make what they perceive as mistakes. I know it’s hard for me to see her getting a little spoiled by all of their attention.

Overall, though, it’s been great. Even though the times they relieve me from baby duty are sporadic and intermittent, I have come to rely on them. Getting out the door in the morning and wrangling a slippery baby in the bath should be interesting for the next few weeks. And I’ll finally know what it feels like to be doing it entirely and unequivocally on my own. Wish me luck.

Moving Out… Fitting In

Friday, February 10th, 2012

From Friday Mom – Jaime:
We’ve been looking for a house for almost 2 years now. First down in this area, and then up north once I changed jobs. I honestly thought that we were never going to find anything and keep doing this insane commute every day… But the good news is that we’re getting close to being done with that!

The bad news is that we haven’t even begun to think about things like finding new pediatricians, new places to take Andrew on rainy days and – probably most importantly – a new daycare provider. It’s the stuff you don’t really think about until you REALLY need to think about it. I mean, we just got out of attorney review. Just did our inspection on Tuesday. We don’t close for another month, assuming everything continues to go well.

And if we don’t go check out the daycare place across the street this Saturday when they have their open house, they probably won’t have any spots left for Andrew – not just for April when we’re actually needing him to be in a new place – but for next SEPTEMBER. WHAT? People are booking spots now for September? I guess it’s the kind of thing I’ve had the luxury of not thinking about since we’ve had Andrew in the same place since he was 4 months old.

Which brings up another concern… He’s going to be somewhere new. Somewhere that is unfamiliar. Where everyone in the entire school doesn’t know and love him. Where he isn’t going to be the favorite kid of everyone in the classroom. Someone else will already have that role and Andrew will have to try to fit in.

I know. We all go through this at some point. And he’s still young enough that he should be able to do it easily. But I still feel badly that he’ll have to go through it.

Anyone have any ideas on how to make the transition easier on him?

Have a great weekend everyone

Spring Soccer

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Soccer practice has begun, and Jack’s next game is this weekend.  His league took a winter break and is gearing up for their spring season.  Jack and I have been practicing in the back yard in hopes of developing his skills.  Hopefully he will make a goal this season.

Last fall all the kids huddled around the ball trying to kick it in any direction.  Making goals for the opposite team and picking dandelions was the team average.  Now that the kids are aware of the rules and how the game is played I’m expecting some progression.

By practicing, we are trying to help Jack get more confident with the ball. He got a little frustrated last year when he was out played. I think he needs to be more confident to get better. We are happy so long as he is happy. Whatever the outcome of the game, I’m delighted to know Jack has fun playing.  He is a determined little guy.  Here’s to hoping for a winning season!