Archive for March, 2013

Date Night

Friday, March 29th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
My husband and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary last week. My mom kindly agreed to come into town to babysit so that my husband and I could go out to dinner. It was the first time we had left Rory with anyone other than one of his parents. I was far more comfortable with leaving him because I knew he was with his grandmother.

Before heading to dinner, I tried to give my mom comprehensive instructions. I spent the better part of last week paying extra-close attention to his routine so that I would be able to give her detailed descriptions of what to expect. From advice to differentiating his various cries to instructions on how to placate Rory after he finishes a bottle, I erred on the side of giving too much information. I was also certain to point out all the emergency numbers, just in case.

Luckily, unlike me, my mother has raised two kids, and has plenty of experience with infants. All went well. I was the only one who had any trouble. I got a little anxious halfway through dinner because things were taking a little longer than I’d expected, but I sent a quick text to let her know our revised ETA and went back to enjoying myself. Although we spent the better part of the evening talking about our son and reflecting on our experiences as parents, it was fabulous to steal a few hours for ourselves.

This first foray into leaving Rory was a good experience for gauging how we may want to handle future outings. We would like to try to have regular date nights, if possible, as he gets a little older. Given my own comfort level, it may be a while before we take anyone up on the various offers for babysitting that we have received, but it was great to have a test run. Thanks again, mom, for making that possible!

Easter Fun!

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
It is hard to believe that Easter is already here.  Spring snuck up on our family and we are busy preparing for the holiday weekend.  Although the weather has been cool and overcast, we still have spring fever.  There are a few flowers sprouting. Maybe the sun and its warmth will follow suit.

Our spring calendar is pretty full. The boys both have school Easter parties. One pre-school mom is hosting Tate and his large class of 2-3 year olds at her home. She has planned a fun morning of egg hunts, crafts and lunch. It’s always fun watching Tate and his friends play in a different place with lots of new things to explore and discover. We have other egg hunts scheduled for the boys outside of school, and I am wary of the mayhem that competitive candy consumption provides.

We are hosting Easter brunch this year.  Our guests have two children the same age as our boys. We met them when we moved here three years ago and our kids have grown up together. They are a Navy family too, and their children get along great with ours so it works out wonderfully for all involved.  Unfortunately, they are moving to Italy in a few months so we’ll be sure to make more memories before they begin their next adventure.  We’re looking forward to great company, food (especially the Peep s’mores on the menu), and fun this weekend.

Happy Easter!


Missing the Newborn Stage

Monday, March 25th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
I have often heard moms say how much they miss the newborn stage or the baby stage of childhood. This is not something I could comprehend. When Haley was an infant, she was absolutely adorable and there was much about taking care of her that I enjoyed, but I also felt incredibly stressed out as a new parent. I always felt like I had no idea what I was doing. If I wasn’t worried about how much she was eating, I worried about how much she was sleeping. If her motor skills flourished, I was concerned about her cognitive skills. I scoured the Internet for information about what’s “normal” for a baby. As time passed, I learned to chill out. Rather than feel overwhelmed, I became more grateful for my healthy, happy child with every passing day—which is not to say that I itched for another one.

The other day I was reading a novel and the characters were enjoying playing with a baby who was just a few months old. The author’s description struck something inside of me. Suddenly I felt a pang. Remembering what it was like to have an infant around combined with Haley acting more like a kid than a baby lately made me suddenly think, “Oh, how nice it would be to have a cute little one again!”

Mere moments later, reality set it. When it comes down to it, I am not ready to have another baby in any way—mentally, physically, financially, or emotionally. But it did feel good to experience that urge. Many of my friends have recently had their second children, and I want to have another one, too. Yet I feel extremely happy in my life with Haley and her father. I’m not ready to stir the pot just yet, but I’m finally starting to imagine how things could change in the future, and just how much I might like it.

E.A.S.Y. Does It

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
I am participating in an eight-week long new mothers group that meets once a week. The program consists of twelve new moms and their babies. We have a facilitator who has participated in the program herself and has a background in psychology and early childhood education. There are set discussion topics each week, and the goal of the program is to provide helpful advice to first time moms while also providing a social outlet for mom and baby during the first few months of motherhood.

This week we discussed the wide spectrum of studies and books on the subjects of sleep training for infants. On the one end are those who advocate a very parent-driven schedule for baby. On the other end are those like Dr. Sears who suggest that your child’s demands should drive everything about the baby’s daily routine. Rather than extoll the merits of either school of thought (or the range of opinions in the middle), our group leader walked us through the key areas where each of the “experts” agree.

One of the things we discussed was the E.A.S.Y. formula for ensuring better-quality sleep for your child. The acronym stands for Eat, Alert, Sleep, and “You time.” I learned that allowing for a period of alert time after each feeding during the day increases the quality of the sleep your child will have after that feeding. (which, in turn, helps train the child to sleep well at night).

As luck may have it, I have been following this pattern with Rory since he was about three weeks old. After each feeding during the day, I change his diaper and try to engage him in some type of activity. He plays on his play mat or I read him a book. Then, as he loses interest in that activity, we transition to sitting together on the couch, going for a walk, sitting in his bouncy seat, or putting him in his crib so that he may nap until it is time for his next feeding. It is in these few blissful moments that I am able to either nap myself or take care of various tasks around the house.

The discussion made me realize just how much parenting is about trial, error, instinct, and dumb luck. I had been doing something recommended by the experts without even realizing it. So far, Rory seems to sleep reasonably well both during the day and at night as a result. Hopefully that pattern continues when it comes time to get him on a more regular “nap” schedule!

Helping Hands

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Yesterday, Tate and I babysat my friend’s son, Cade.  It was a last minute request, and we were excited to have the opportunity to play with him.  He is almost five months old and rolling around all over the place.  He was full of smiles and non stop giggling when Tate would make silly faces at him. He did shed a few tears, but quickly turned his frown upside down.  The interaction between both Tate and Cade was too cute.

Tate was a wonderful helper while we played with Cade.  He helped change a diaper, put on a new bib, played peek-a-boo and sang the Alphabet song to Cade.  Tate asked several questions.  For example, “Mommy, why is he crying?”, “Mommy, why can’t he run and play?” and “Can I share a cracker?”  All things a two year old would wonder I guess, but I simply told Tate that he is just a baby and still learning how to do everything you can already do.  I also explained how it takes lots of practice to master things like running and climbing.

This was a perfect opportunity to teach Tate how it takes practice to master things like dressing yourself, using the potty and writing/drawing.  These are things Tate is working on so I tried to relate Tate’s questions to something specific to his level of learning at the moment.  Tate shook his head and at least half understood what I meant.

It was a great experience for both of us.  I was able to get my baby fix and Tate was exposed to how babies are very dependant and in return learn new things by watching “big” people like us.  We had a fun morning and look forward to babysitting again.



Monday, March 18th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
We are currently wrapping up a lovely vacation in the American South. We ventured down here to see my in-laws, and we’ve had a wonderful time. There was nothing major on the agenda—which I think makes for the best vacations—except for resting, reading and bonding. We picked the perfect time to go. It’s been balmy and sunny here while the Northeast is somehow still getting snow.

Haley had a great time hanging out with her grandparents. Her favorite activity was going outside. She fed the fish in the lake (while chomping on some of the bread herself—a girl’s got to eat, after all), played with her ball and bubbles, and repeatedly threw her Baby Doll and Elmo into the briar patch; don’t ask me why. Haley is really an active, outdoors kid, so it gives me pleasure to see her in her element in the midst of such a long and unforgiving winter.

Before we know it the weather will turn warm. I’m sure days when it’s too hot to go out are fast approaching. I have my fingers crossed that we get some temperate spring days in New York. If not, we may just have to head out on another vacation.

Childcare Conundrum

Friday, March 15th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
The halfway point of my maternity leave is fast approaching. I am planning to return to my job as an attorney in early June. I work for a large law firm in a large East Coast city. From a financial perspective, my staying home is really not an option, so our plan has always been for me to return to work full-time. Deciding to return to work has been the easy part—figuring out how to get childcare is a different story.

My husband and I have a house within the city limits. Although living in the city is great for minimizing my commute, living in the city also means that childcare options for an infant are extremely limited. I had always figured we would end up needing a nanny or a nanny-share (where two couples share a nanny between the two families, thus reducing the cost to each).

Last fall, we decided to look into our daycare options, just in case. We quickly learned that the waitlists for infant classes were borderline insane. I checked with one school this week, and we are eighteenth on the list for a class of nine infants. I have e-mails outstanding to check on our status at the other two schools we applied to. Apparently women put their names on lists the moment they learned they were pregnant. I wish I’d realized that sooner. . .

Luckily, we met with a very nice couple last weekend. They are expecting their son in April and we are in the process of following up with them to discuss moving forward with a nanny share. We spent Saturday afternoon chatting with them about what we all wanted in a nanny and discussing our collective ideas on how to go about selecting a nanny. While there is still a lot to do before we can say that we’ve got things squared away, taking that initial step made me feel like we had at least made some progress. Now I am just crossing my fingers that the rest of the process goes as smoothly.

Spring Break

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
We are currently in the middle of spring break.  Both Jack and Tate are off of school and love spending time in their pj’s.  It’s nice to have a relaxing several days where we aren’t rushed to get out the door.  Jack is catching up on some sleep, but Tate (as always) is up bright and early.  I tell myself he just wants to make sure we are making the most of our day.

I have kept our schedule busy on purpose in order to steer clear of disagreements and boredom.  Like most kids, Jack and Tate need constant interaction with something or someone.  We’ve been to a birthday party, played at the park, ridden our bikes, exhausted most of the indoor toys, and pretended to be robots using my food storage containers.  The weather is to warm up the second half of the week so possibly a scavenger hunt will be in the works.  Unfortunately, Daddy is out of town on business.  So… these boys are keeping me on my toes for sure.

I try to get all my shopping done while the boys are in school.  I’ve learned too many times a quick trip to the store turns into an hour as well as twenty extra items in the cart.  Well, since Daddy is out of town and the boys are out of school that means they go where I go.  A trip to the grocery store with two growing boys whose eyes spot every junk food item in every aisle is a bit stressful.  A few quick errands here and there turn into wandering boys who like to hide in between clothing racks and tell clerks embarrassing stories.  They have reminded me once again that it’s better to go shopping while they are in school.

I love having some “me” time while the boys are in school.  I can always count on having a few hours a week to myself without a child clinging to my leg.  However, the boys and I have had a lot of laughs, a few cries, and overall lots of fun this week.   I hope this is a glimpse of what our summer will be like.  Only nine more weeks!

Division of Labor

Monday, March 11th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Fatherhood seems to have changed as a concept over the last few generations. Dads are involved in their children’s life in a much more hands-on, intensive way. When I’m on the playground with Haley, I see lots of fathers — stay-at-home-dads or those lucky enough to have flexible work schedules — running around with their little ones. They play with the kids actively, give them their snacks, and instruct and admonish their behavior as appropriate. At home, I’m lucky to have a partner who is incredibly involved and invested in our child’s life.

The mentality that once existed in our society held that men had responsibility for earning money for the family, so domestic affairs should be left to “the wife.” Some people in this country may still live this way, but for many this concept is one of the past. Yet opinions are mixed. For example, when Haley is up a lot at night, I tend to her, not Joe. Since he has to go to work in the morning and be “on” in a way that I don’t, we feel the arrangement makes sense. Also, after a particularly bad night, I can always nap when Haley does. So I take on more than Joe does for that task. There are some people who think that’s ridiculous– that I have a full, difficult day just as much as Joe does, so we should split nighttime responsibilities. To each his own.

I can count on Joe to spend almost all of his time away from work caring for Haley and giving me a break. But he’s more than a babysitter. He’s really a parent who takes ownership of her care. At the same time, we can’t escape that I am her primary caregiver. I’m the one who knows how to adjust Haley’s dining and sleep schedule, her latest tendencies and how to cope with them, and ultimately make the big daily decisions.  It’s stressful to always be worrying about those things, even when I’m “off-duty”, but it would be too complicated to cooperatively make every single parenting decision. I put an enormous about of pressure squarely on myself, but I am happy to do it. It’s what makes sense for us.

Depending on the day and time, one of Haley’s parents may take on more responsibility than the other. But we love her exactly the same.


Friday, March 8th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:

Editor’s note:
With this post, we say farewell (or more precisely, “See you later…” ) to Jaime, who has been our faithful Friday Mom since this blog began several years ago. We are delighted that Jaime’s voice will reappear in a few months in a series of parenting articles on our newly refurbished TeachersAndFamilies site. We also welcome Erin, who takes over the “infant mom” slot that has been vacant for the past year. We’ll say no more and let you learn more about her in the following introductory post.

My husband and I are two months into our adventure in parenthood. Our son will turn two-months old next week. In reality, our adventure began last spring when we first learned we were expecting our first child. It is difficult to characterize the range of emotions we felt on learning that we would soon be parents. While my pregnancy was very much planned, the news was surprising, nonetheless. We both felt a combination of excitement, apprehension, and anxiousness, all at the same time (albeit, perhaps in varying degrees).

You see, I have always been a planner. To a fault.

I make lists, obsess over details, and am a control freak. My attention to detail and my time-management skills have always been assets in my personal and professional pursuits. However, as we began telling our family, friends, and colleagues our big news, the one remark I heard over and over again was that no amount of planning or preparation would prepare us for the change we would experience once our son arrived.

In those initial months, we dealt with the range of jitters by reminding ourselves that we had nine months to reach a point that we felt truly “ready” to be parents. Nine months seemed like plenty of time to read all the books, ready the nursery, have a baby shower, plan for the grandparents to come visit, buy the clothes, pick out the right equipment (car seat/ highchair/ playmat/ bouncer/exersaucer /etc), interview pediatricians, and sign up for day-care. Nine months was also plenty of time to check off the things we wanted to be certain to do while we were still just a two-some: movies to see, vacations to plan, and college football games to attend. Ever the planner, I made lists for each, and began checking things off, one-by-one.

Our focus in those early days was on making certain our little nugget was healthy, and ensuring that we were doing everything in our power to ensure he/she/it received the best possible prenatal care possible. Then, as the initial shock wore off and we learned that I was carrying a little boy, we found ourselves wondering just what kind of parents we would be to our son. Would we try to fit our new child into our own routine? Would we shift our lives entirely based on his routines? Would we still go out? How long would I breastfeed? How would we deal with my transition back to work? What would we do for childcare? What would our parenting philosophy be? How would we handle holidays—would we still travel? How would we make certain our son got to know his relatives? How would we know whether he was progressing properly—socially, intellectually, physically? How would we know whether we were doing things “right”? And whom should we trust to know what “right” is?

I thought that by the time the little guy made his debut, we would have come to some conclusions or felt “prepared.” Basically, I thought that if I read enough books, attended enough childbirth/child safety/child care classes, scoured enough websites, and loaded my iPhone with enough apps, I would prove all those people wrong who told us that nothing would prepare us for the pending monumental shift in our lives. After all, if hard work and preparation had gotten me this far in life and in my legal career, those things should work here, too, right?


I could try to make excuses about the fact that our son, Rory, was born ten days early (thereby cutting out the final two weekends before my due date and precluding my ability to read those last few books), but the truth is, as much as I had visualized, planned, studied, and reviewed, there really was nothing more I could have done to prepare myself. I know that I may be stating the obvious to my fellow bloggers, as well as those of you who started your parenting journeys ahead of me: being a parent is hard. Each day comes with remarkable highs and lows. It is, almost by definition, a lesson in learning to deal with the unexpected. Parenting is often a barrage of self-doubt, concerns, struggles to try and figure out what each cry means, and the emergence of new cries right when you think you’ve finally got it under control. And the exhaustion—oh, the exhaustion.

I take comfort in knowing that, as poorly prepared as I may feel some days, some degree of self-doubt is natural. After all, I’ve never done this before. And, importantly, my husband and I are surrounded by a phalanx of supporters ready to assist should we need it. So far, in addition to relying on the books, websites, and advice of friends and relatives, I try to remind myself that each day is just as much about my own learning experience as a parent as it is about monitoring my son’s early development. Like any learning experience, it is a process—a skill one develops and refines overtime. Indeed, parenting is more of an art than a science, if you will. Right now, I am still very much in the early days of honing my craft, learning how to work my way through, and I look forward to sharing my journey with each of you in the weeks and months to come.