Archive for February, 2013

Heavy Heart

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Yesterday I found out that a dear friend’s son, Ayden, was diagnosed with leukemia.  He is only two years old and is unaware of what is going on, while his family is trying to come to terms with the disease.  Ayden was a happy little boy with no known symptoms.  He went to the doctor because of eye irritation from pink eye. But after a course of antibiotics and no relief, the pediatrician ordered blood work. As soon as the pediatrician got the results they were admitted to a major teaching hospital in the area.  Further testing confirmed Ayden had leukemia.  As I write this, Ayden is undergoing chemotherapy, and the long fight against cancer, and – hopefully –  a healthy recovery.

I learned of this terrible news over the phone from my family.  I was very upset and asked a lot of questions.  Jack overheard me and was concerned about why I was so upset.  When I got off the phone, I sat Jack down to explain. I told him that a friend of mine has a little boy who is Tate’s age, who is very sick. I explained that this disease can be fatal.  I told Jack to never take his health for granted and that not only old people get sick. It is hard to explain the severity of cancer to a child. I did my best to let Jack know why I was so sad and hoped it made sense to him.  I hugged both boys tightly and reminded myself not to fret over the little things in life.  I’m so grateful to have a healthy family.

Other than the results of the blood tests, you would never know Ayden is sick.  He is giggling and flirting with all the nurses.  He thinks he is having a sleep over at the hospital because he spent the night there.  I’m glad to know he is in good spirits and willing to fight this terrible disease. I can’t imagine the pain my friend, her husband and all their loved ones are feeling right now.  You hear these stories happening and feel terrible for these kids; but when it’s someone you know, it hits hard, very hard.  Please keep this sweet little boy and his family in your thoughts and prayers.  They would greatly appreciate it.

Urban Parenting

Monday, February 25th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
We live in “the city.” It’s a fact of life that complicates parenting quite a bit. When one imagines raising children, it’s usually within the confines of a somewhat idyllic community space, replete with green backyards, safe roads including bike paths, plenty of children’s events and activities, and like-minded neighbors.

Yet when you take a visit to my home sweet home, you have the distinct feeling that you are not in Kansas anymore.

For us, city living means a railroad-style apartment rather than a house with several bedrooms and more than one bathroom. Our green space is the city’s nearby park—lovely, but by no means our own. With a population as dense as it is here, safety is always an issue… which is not to say that a childhood in this neighborhood is an unfortunate one. Yes, kids here do not enjoy the standard amenities their suburban counterparts take for granted. But they do learn a lot about independence, other cultures, and what the world has to offer in a broader sense. They meet people who have all sorts of “back stories” and professions. The concept that not every person lives the way their families live is as concrete as the pavement they pound every day, to get absolutely everywhere. No city kid is going to scoff at a long walk.

Many neighborhoods of major cities have experienced a boom in their pre-adolescent populations. This has spawned all kinds of complications for city parents. From pre-kindergarten to summer camp to soccer teams, there are just not enough spots for every child who wants them—or more accurately, the parents who want the spots for their children. A friend of mine recently waited on line in the bitter cold in the middle of the night to get her kid into a local preschool. I use the word “local” liberally, as the school is a good thirty blocks form her home and was far from her first choice. Despite her efforts, she did not get the schedule she wanted for her son. He’s only three years old and if they stay in this neighborhood, this is only the beginning of the lines, the wait lists, and the exorbitant tuitions they—and everyone else in the area, including my own family—will have to endure.

In this mom’s opinion, this can’t go on forever. Paradigms shift. Things change. Urban parents want a cosmopolitan life for their child that’s also safe, simple and wonderfully community-oriented. Something has got to give. These neighborhoods may just become enclaves for the super-rich in a few years. The rest of us will surely conclude that this can’t be worth it. The suburbs are getting better restaurants, more impressive arts, and just maybe, some of those kids who swore that once they grew up, they’d never go back.

Mommy and Me

Monday, February 25th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Jaime:
Earlier in the month, I asked Andrew if he would like to have some special Andrew and Mommy time. His face lit up like it was Christmas, Hanukkah and his birthday all at the same time. “What can we do?” he asked, all excited. I had planned to take him to a cooking class at Kings (it’s a local supermarket, but they have a cooking studio with all kinds of cooking classes for people of all ages). So I told him about it and he thought it was cool that everything was heart-themed for Valentines Day.

We had a lot of fun making heart shaped pancakes, love potion (fruit punch), hugs and kisses cookies (think sugar cookie, with a Hershey hug or kiss in the center) and other goodies. He held my hand on the way back to the car and asked whether we could have more special Andrew and Mommy time.

So we made a deal. (Yeah, he’s the kid of 2 lawyers. We do deals and negotiate…)

Anytime Andrew wanted to have special Mommy time, all he had to do was ask. I might not be able to drop everything I was doing right that second, but we could have our time together as soon as we could. He claims to have understood that I couldn’t always stop working to hang out or that wanting Mommy time couldn’t be an excuse not to go to sleep… But he still tries to get out of bedtime with begging for special Andrew Mommy time. (It is cute…Sometimes it works. I’m such a sucker for this kid sometimes!)

We’ve continued to create our Mommy and Andrew time. Sometimes we go out to dinner. Sometimes we head upstairs and read books or watch Sophia the First before bed. (Andrew likes it. Hubby doesn’t. They don’t usually watch it together). It always makes me feel good when Andrew asks me for time together and I’ve enjoyed every second of it.

Tonight we made cookies together. We did both oatmeal chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin. He freaked out because we got cookie dough all over our hands. I tried not to laugh. Getting messy while cooking is half the fun! The cookies are awesome, by the way. I considered it a major success that I got him to eat one of the raisin cookies – and he liked it! (“The raisins are kinda squishy…but they still taste yum!”)

I should jump off the computer. I have a little guy asking for some Andrew Mommy time before bed.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Rough and Tough

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Jack and Tate have a great relationship when it comes to playtime.  Jack is very laid back and doesn’t let Tate’s “two year old” fits get to him.  Over the last several months they have been interacting more and more.  They both have certain things they don’t like the other one touching, but for the most part they share pretty well.   Jack has always been gentle with Tate and I have been so appreciative of his manners… until recently, when our house all of a sudden became a WWF wrestling wring/Spartan battle ground.

It seems to be a constant trend around here where the boys always find a way to wrestle, jump on or pretend to battle with some sort of play sword or weapon they create.  I grew up with two older sisters, and I’m not used to this type of play.  My husband tells me it’s what boys do, and my sisters, who each have two boys, tell me to get used to it, it doesn’t go away.  I love that my children play together and laugh while doing so, but why all the physical play?  As parents, we do enforce rules like no touching near the face or hitting with any sort of object, but that doesn’t always get obeyed.  After numerous explanations of the rules, my frustration level rises.

After reading a few articles on this topic, I’ve learned that it’s actually proven that boys need this type of interaction.  Rough play creates empathy as well as trust, which allows children to grow up and live in ever-changing environments.  It allows them to take risks and eventually know where to draw the line at real violence.  As mentioned in an article, if you look at the way animals interact they have a way of horsing (excuse the pun) around, too.  I remember our dog we once had loved to play rough and would chase after balls with other dogs in our neighborhood.  It’s a part of life, and lessons we learn from childhood only make us a stronger person.

Jack has a full day at Kindergarten.  I have a sheet listing every minute of the day of every activity he does from the time the first bell rings (7:40am) until I pick him up (3pm).  I’m thankful his school still encourages and allots a time for recess.   Giving the children time to release stress and/or give their brains a little break I believe is necessary.  When I ask Jack what he did at recess on any given day, it usually involves racing, swinging and some type of battle.  Not surprised.

I feel after reading some articles and asking around to other friends/sisters about this topic, I am learning that whether my children are playing a dodge-ball game or pretending they’re part of a battle are all things that will teach them competence, trust and a good understanding when playing rough has gone too far.  It’s completely normal for boys (and girls) to play rough; it’s only natural.  I’m sure it will take some time for me to adapt, but I’m willing to watch my children learn by play of any kind.


Winter Blues

Monday, February 18th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
I thought I liked living in an area that has four seasons, but winter feels a little longer than I feel like dealing with. Here in New York, there hasn’t been too much snow overall, aside from Nemo, but it has been cold. I look wistfully at the ten day forecast each day, hoping to see that the tide is shifting and we have temperate days ahead. But I’m always disappointed. The high rarely creeps close to 40.

I know that cold weather itself does not cause illness, but you may want to tell that to the kids in my neighborhood. Taking Haley anywhere to play lately runs the risk of unwanted contamination. We wash our hands as soon as we come home and she leaves her gloves on at the playground. I don’t allow her to share sippy cups with other kids. Yet it’s hard to avoid the germs. I feel so bad for Haley when she gets sick. Her illnesses often overlap with my own and it makes for a somewhat depressing winter season.

Another thing I dislike about the weather is how complicated it makes getting out of the house. It’s hard enough to get it together with a busy toddler. When Haley is in a mood and I know getting all of the gear on her is going to be a battle, I really don’t want to deal with it. If I give up and we stay in, she’s won’t get her energy out and I’ll go crazy. And I never know when or where she’s going to pick up that cold.

Maybe I’m meant for warmer climates. I’m starting to think that balmier days make parenting a little less complicated, but I know that we all have own set of challenges to deal with. For now, I’m looking forward to a long Spring.

Wild Weekends…

Friday, February 15th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Jaime:
As a follow up to last week’s post, Andrew came home today with a massive shoe box full of valentines. Not one single valentine was ONLY a piece of paper. We had boxes of truffles. Baggies of stickers, candies and other treats. It was insanity. Like another Halloween.

When did valentines day become all about the goodies instead of simple expressions of love or friendship?

Anyway, Andrew is totally psyched to spend the weekend with Nana while Hubby, Papa, Unc and I head down to Maryland. University of Maryland is playing Duke on Saturday and I’m excited, not just for the game, but also to be back down in the place I called home for 4 years during college.

Nana will have the fun of a Saturday full of soccer and swim lessons. I always said I wouldn’t be one of those parents who got their kid involved in so many activities that life was just a constant shuttling of kids from one lesson or practice to the next. I don’t think we’re QUITE that bad… but I’ll admit that there are some Saturdays I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.

So to my mom, thanks (and good luck)! And to everyone, have a great weekend.

New Cousin!

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
There is no bigger event in our family than a new member. The boys already have four boy cousins on my side of the family but now they have their first on their father’s side. The healthy baby boy was born last month, far away, in Washington, DC. We have not met him yet, but we are planning a trip to meet him in a couple months. For now, video chat is the only way we can welcome our new family member.  We’re thankful we have the technology to keep in touch until our next visit.

Jack and Tate both love babies.  We have several friends with infants whom we see often.  Anytime they see a baby they love to go look at them and talk to the baby, especially Tate.  Tate tells them it’s OK if they’re upset and asks if they want to play on the playground.  I love his humor, although at times it can be a bit overwhelming in public. The boys are regularly exposed to babies and I’m anxious to see what they’ll do when they meet their new cousin for the first time.  Jack is aware infants want to love and cuddle, but Tate expects them to be running around, which pretty much sums up their personalities.

My husband and I are also excited to meet the new little guy.  I already have baby fever just seeing pictures of him.  I love newborns. I love their smell, their coos, their cries and their faces when they dream.  It brings back sweet memories when my children were newborns.  I look forward to holding my new nephew and I’m delighted to call him my godson.





Amazing Talents

Monday, February 11th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Haley is going to be two in a couple of months. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone by. In some ways, it feels like she was always here. In others, it seems like she just arrived. Not long ago she was a helpless newborn. Now, she’s a feisty girl who tears up the house, helps with chores, and wants to pick out her outfit! She’s no wallflower.

I used to think that I knew Haley so well. I had tight control of what she was exposed to, followed her every move carefully. Things are changing. She spends more time with other kids. She watches a few TV shows. She enjoys long afternoons out with her Dad, weekends with her grandparents. She says and does things that I didn’t know she had any clue about or exposure to. Yesterday, we were looking out the window at the snow and she matter-of-factly said, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.” I had no idea she could count at all, let alone to ten! We used to say to her, “Haley can you count?” And she would hold up one finger, and we thought it was so cute. I have no idea how she went from that to counting to ten effortlessly.

There are other habits Haley is picking up, and even though I now where they come from, that doesn’t make them any less hilarious. Haley will pick up her pretend phone as if it’s been ringing and say “Hello?” then pause and say “Hi!” As if she has no idea who’s calling, and then is greeting an old friend. It is so funny. When you give Haley her cup of milk or a banana, she reflexively says “thank you.” She’s likely picked up on that more from my example than my instruction, but I feel proud either way.

Haley is learning and growing and such a startling rate, I can’t imagine what the next few months will bring. The more she knows, the more defiant she becomes, too, so it should be interesting. Stay tuned.

Be My Valentine…

Friday, February 8th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Jaime:
So Valentines Day is coming up next week. Andrew’s class is making a special art project with shoe boxes (probably creating “mail boxes”) for all their valentines. They’re having a special ice cream sundae party. (He’s bringing the red juice, because “that’s cool and EVERYONE likes fruit punch!”)

Here’s the thing about Valentines Day… I can’t figure out if I’m doing it right!

Andrew’s first one in daycare was when he was a year old. The kids were all still eating paper – they certainly weren’t into what was ON it, nor were they old enough to safely pop any candy into their mouths. He didn’t do valentines that year. I didn’t think anyone would! But there were a couple parents who did.

The next year, Andrew was out sick. Like for a week. I HAD valentines for his class. But a week later? It seemed a little silly to me for him to bring them in a week after the fact. So we didn’t do them.

So last year, we did Valentines. Andrew picked out special ones for the girls and different ones for the boys. He picked out stickers he thought each kid would like and decorated the envelopes with them. Personally, I thought we were doing really good handwriting each kid’s name on the envelope (instead of doing the generic “to my friend”) and we even did it a whole day in advance!

Yeah… There were kids who did valentines with lollipops attached. Ones who attached ENTIRE BAGGIES of Hersey’s Hugs and Kisses. Ones who had basically a goodie bag of pink (or the far more manly red) pencils, heart shaped pencil sharpeners, lip shaped erasers, plus the obligatory box of candy hearts. Entire sheets of stickers. Handmade valentines, like with glitter and lacy doilies and the whole nine yards.

It made me feel like a total slacker mom with the valentines I had been so happy with only hours before.

So Andrew’s at an age now where he looks at what the other kids are doing. “Mommy! These five friends play soccer, but THEY do it at school. And I don’t.” Or “Mommy. Only I get to do ice skating. No other friends get to ice skate. Except Will, but he’s not from school.”

I don’t want him to look at everyone’s valentines and think HIS aren’t good enough because they didn’t come with candy. But, quite frankly, my kid doesn’t NEED any of that candy! I have a hard enough time keeping him away from candy when Hubby and I are the only ones bringing it into the house. Why should I give it to other kids when I don’t really even want my own to have it? Just as karmic payback for getting my kid tanked up on sugar?

I don’t think so…

Going on my fifth valentines day as a mom, I still haven’t figured out how to do it right. If there is a “right” way to do it… I was talking to another mom at work, who happens to be my boss, about this. She laughed at me. Her response? “Jaime! We work so hard, we’re lucky that we even realize it’s valentines day! I thought I was doing good anytime I REMEMBERED to buy valentines!”

Maybe she’s right… I certainly had to set a reminder in my phone to tell me to pick up that very important red juice for the party and to bring in the valentines!

Have a great weekend everyone. And have a happy Valentines Day next week with the ones you love.

Guest Speaker

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Each month Jack’s class has a learning theme; such as the human body, animals or plants.   Parents are encouraged to come and speak to the class if they have any expertise to share with the students.  Last month the theme was space and weather.  I thought it would be great if my husband, the pilot, could share his knowledge.

Pilots must be on top of the weather to plan their flights. My husband spoke with Jack’s class and taught them the basics of weather, including the troposphere, temperature, humidity and precipitation.  He even explained how clouds are formed and the different types of clouds. He explained how he avoids thunderstorms and tornadoes. The children were particularly interested in how he flies around the clouds like superman.

Jack was proud of his dad, the guest speaker for the month.  The students all enjoyed the conversational learning and asked pointed questions.  Jacks’s dad even had to explain how airplanes fly to a room of 5 year olds. In the end, they grasped the basic idea of how airplanes and weather interact and learned something new.  Jack’s teacher was impressed with my husband’s ability to translate everything into 5 & 6 year old minds as well as all the questions her students asked.  All in all a great experience for Jack and his daddy.