Archive for April, 2013

The Cat’s Away

Monday, April 29th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Yesterday, my husband Joe left on a business trip. He’s a three hour plane ride away. The conference he’s attending– and his firm is running– is three days long. Obviously this is not that long a period of time. When I was a working woman, I traveled a lot. I’d be away all week or if the project required it, for months at a time. Of course, I was single then so it didn’t matter in the sense that wherever I was working was right where I wanted to be. Joe, on the other hand, would rather be home with his family. And that’s where we wish he was too.

I hate when Joe’s away because Haley misses him, I miss his help with Haley and around the house, and most of all, I just like having him here to talk to. Anyone who’s been in a relationship knows what I’m talking about. Your partner is your person. There to listen to every detail of your day, no matter how meaningless. There to be a sounding board for new ideas, a support system for frustrations. When you are accustomed to being in a rhythm with someone, you miss hearing their thoughts as much as you miss sharing your own. Sometimes I can’t bring myself to make a decision for Haley unless I say it out loud to Joe first.

Fortunately, our world is more connected than ever and through text, email, and calling, Joe and I can be in constant communication. By the way, I’m completely discounting what’s really hard here– the difficulty of being a single parent for a few days– because my parents are helping me out with Haley. And I realize that missing a husband for half a week is in no sense a big deal. I would never want to minimize the kind of sacrifice and strength it takes to be a military wife like Wednesday Mom.

The brightest spot of this business trip is that I arranged to meet Joe in a few days close to his sunny destination! We are having a quick trip, just the two of us, to celebrate our upcoming five year anniversary. Then, we’ll be able to make up for this lost time.

Embracing Chaos

Friday, April 26th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
The past week has tested my resolve as a parent in new and challenging ways. First, my husband had knee surgery last Thursday. That meant that for the first 72 hours after his surgery I was taking care of both an infant and an adult. It also meant I was without the second pair of hands I was used to having to help with Rory in the evenings, and the second person to help with household chores such as doing the dishes, taking out the trash, etc. Needless to say, it was a long weekend.

Second, Rory decided that last week was a perfect time to change his eating habits and become a much fussier eater. After a week of screaming through feedings, rejecting the breast with no apparent pattern, and waking up two or three times a night, I finally determined that he is ready to stretch out the time between his feedings. I have also gotten really creative in searching for ways to burp him. We are still working to find a new balance, but it was a frustrating few days, especially since I felt like I was flying solo.

Third, we had our roof replaced this week. Just as my husband was getting more mobile and Rory seemed to be headed back towards a predictable schedule, the contractors began a day of pounding on the rafters. Naptime has been a carefully orchestrated effort, with varying degrees of success.

Fourth, and finally, we had a range of other tasks to accomplish against this backdrop: closing on our mortgage refinance, getting my husband to physical therapy appointments, hiring a summer nanny, and having our cleaning lady over to clean the house. Each day was a new adventure.

As I have said before, I am a planner, and I am not fond of the unexpected. However, rather than allow this conflagration of changes to frustrate me too much, I tried my best to embrace the chaos. I knew that being a Debby-downer about it all would get me nowhere. I chose to look at it as an opportunity to realize first hand that so much of parent is about learning how to adapt to and embrace the complete lack of predictability. I definitely lost my cool on more than one occasion. But, overall, I am proud of my ability to keep a positive outlook, and I am impressed by our little family’s developing adaptability in the face of new challenges.

Neighborhood Play

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
As you know, we move around a lot being in the military. So when we moved last year we looked for a street with less traffic so our kids could play safely outside. We live in a small cul-de-sac with fewer than ten homes on it. We have good friends who live down the street and they come over a lot, but their only child is an infant. Our boys love to play with other kids and up until now they have always played with our friend’s kids at social gatherings or organized play dates.

Jack’s classmate, Zoey, and her older brother live next door, but we do not know their family very well. Jack and Tate saw them riding bikes and scooters and begged to go play with them. I sent the boys out on their bikes and introduced myself to Zoey’s mother.  She was very polite.  Unlike Zoey’s mother, I am not comfortable with Jack or Tate roaming the neighborhood without watching, so I stayed out front and did some yard work while they played. All the children played well and they made the most of a gorgeous spring day. The kids ended up playing in our back yard later that afternoon.  Luckily, Zoey and her brother are very nice and well-mannered, which makes it easier for me to send the boys out to play.  Since I don’t know Zoey or her mother very well, I’m a little apprehensive about sending Jack over to her house to play.  This is another learning experience for both Jack and me.

When I grew up, I was outside all day-every day with my neighbors.  In fact, most of my childhood memories involve our swing set, playing games in a neighbor’s yard, sleep-overs, and riding my bike around the block.  I want my kids to have the same memories and ability to go out and climb a tree with their neighbor friends.  However,  it makes me a little nervous letting Jack roam around someone’s house of whom I don’t know very well.  I hope to get to know Zoey’s mother better over the next few weeks and for her to do the same.

Also, as summer approaches I’m sure we’ll have many knocks at our door asking if the boys can play.  I have no problem with this because I want my kids enjoying the outdoors with their friends, but at some point we need to have just family time.  It’s hard to explain that to my children because in their minds playing at their house with friends is so convenient and fun at all times of the day.  Allowing certain times of the day to play with friends will hopefully provide a balance of friend and family time.  I’m curious:  What do you do at your house?  Do you set limits?  Or is summer an endless free-for-all?




Time Out

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
When Haley acts up, my patience wears thin. She is the typical toddler who loves testing her limits—and she seems to kind of enjoy getting in trouble. After reprimanding her about twenty times in one half hour, it can get pretty frustrating.

I mentioned this to my pediatrician, and she suggested the good old “Time Out” strategy. I was to put Haley in a chair and set a timer for two minutes, since she is two years old. If she gets up, I neutrally put her back in the chair and reset the timer. Since I had nothing to lose, I set a toddler chair aside, bought an egg timer, and put the method to the test. The first two or three times Haley was in Time Out, she was not a happy camper. An enraged and distraught camper is more like it. I was shocked, but it actually didn’t take any longer for Haley to get used to it. Even more shocking is that Haley sits in the chair for the full two minutes. The threat of Time Out has even served as a helpful deterrent to bad behavior. Another thing I like is that Haley is learning to say “sorry” at the end of every Time Out. I realize she doesn’t mean it, but after a while I bet it will start to sink in.

We’ve also been working on Haley’s sleeping and although she still wakes up some at night, we’ve been firm about keeping her in her crib and out of our bed. Each morning we give her a sticker to show how proud we are of what a big girl she is for sleeping in her room. Soon, it will be time to potty train her, too. I’m looking forward to all of the new things she’s learning and I’m pleased with how patient all of us have been. For once, I am feeling emboldened by our recent successes. The challenges keep on coming, and I say, bring it on!

I Spoke Too Soon

Friday, April 19th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Shortly after I last addressed the subject of childcare, we learned that we were actually much higher on the wait list at one of the other daycare locations we had been considering. Just last week, Rory was offered a spot in the infant class at a childcare center four blocks from our house. We have heard only good things about the place, and have been impressed during our visits, so we accepted the spot. We’re very excited. We may end up shifting him to another school when he gets to be two or three years old. For now, it is a great fit for his current needs.

But, there is a slight catch. Rory does not have a spot until September. As a result, I am now starting the search for a summer nanny. Because we are only going to need a nanny for three months, we opted to get our own nanny for the summer (rather than a nanny share). We liked the other couple we had met, but once our needs changed we figured it was easier on all parties to part ways.

I started my search process this week by crafting a summer nanny job announcement and posting it on a range of websites. I also contacted the career services directors at local nursing and education graduate schools in hopes of possibly finding a student who might be interested in summer employment. I have also contacted a placement agency in the event that my own search comes up short. I have already received some positive responses, so I am encouraged at the moment. Our plan is to bring at least three different candidates in for an interview before making our decision.

Finding a qualified caregiver is a lot of work, but that is not what has struck me the most about the process. The more striking realization is that I have found the process to be a lot more emotionally daunting than I had originally anticipated. As I had mentioned before, our plan has always been for me to return to my job as an attorney once my maternity leave was over. But now reality has set in—I only have a month and a half of this precious full-time mommy time left. Luckily, Rory keeps me busy enough that I can’t really dwell on that realization for long. However, I am savoring each and every moment a bit more than I had before.

Family Time

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Last week our family traveled up north to visit with our extended families.  Since it was a brief visit, we decided to fly and make a total adventure out of it.  Jack and Tate had both been on airplanes before, but this was the first time Tate could really get a sense of what it was like to fly.  Although Tate had a few setbacks while traveling, both boys did very well for being constrained in a seat for two and a half hours.  Tate loved to look out the window and find swimming pools or “little blue dots.”  He also thought the clouds looked like marshmallows.  Opening and closing the window shade kept him entertained for awhile.  Luckily, our flight was very light and no one sat near us to hear the plastic on the shade going up and down.  I was willing to deal with any sort of noise as long as it kept him entertained.

At long last we met our new nephew/cousin on our visit.  He is such a sweet little guy.  The boys liked meeting him and playing with him.  I liked holding him and watching him smile and talk.  We celebrated his baptism and are thrilled to have him as our godson.  Jack and Tate were able to spend lots of time with their aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.

While we were in PA, my family organized a large party to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday. My grandmother’s family and friends also attended the party and I visited a lot of people I haven’t seen in decades.  Jack and Tate met a lot of their extended family as well.  I was happy to hug my grandmother on her actual 90th birthday and be there in person to celebrate such a wonderful milestone in her life.

The trip was short but we made the most of limited time. We couldn’t have fit another family activity in if we tried. Our return trip was a long day but we made it back to our home safe and sound.


Let It Slide

Monday, April 15th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
At our local park or indoor play space, there’s a lot for a toddler like Haley to navigate. She explores, and my job is to keep her safe and having fun. A major part of the playing experience is interacting with other children and their caretakers. I try not to underestimate the importance of this, as it serves as Haley’s first taste of what social interaction should look like.

It’s interesting to observe what goes on and how children and their parents or nannies react to the myriad different situations. An event that occurs very often is confusion over the slide. Some kids are slow to slide down. Some simply stand at the top. Some want to move quickly, but they’re just too little to keep up with the other kids. Sometimes kids stand at the bottom of the slide after they’ve gone down and they just won’t move.

I don’t always know how to talk to a child who isn’t being closely supervised. I try to be nice but firm when they’re being unfair or causing the area to become crowded and therefore dangerous. It’s a lot better when the guardian is right there, and the vast majority of the times, everyone is polite.

However, I’ve noticed that parents often place a high priority on making sure their child is treated fairly. The concept of “advocating for your child” seems not be lost on most modern parents—and that’s great. I want to make sure Haley understands to take her turn and not hold things up, but I’m slow to have her pounce on every opportunity. Even if she’s been waiting, even if the cut another kid makes in the line is especially egregious, I encourage her (at this age, I’m forcing her, really) to take a step back and wait a little longer.

I want Haley to understand that the vast majority of the time, nothing will be lost from being gracious. It doesn’t hurt her to wait. It doesn’t hurt her to give. I’m not trying to raise a doormat—but there’s not much risk of a child of mine turning out that way. She will learn self-respect from my example. And I think there’s time for those lessons. But it’s never too early to learn kindness. Teaching a toddler empathy is definitely no easy task, but it’s a skill she needs to be equipped with to navigate not only the playground, but the world.

On Family

Friday, April 12th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
I was growing up, I lived fairly far from both sets of grandparents after age five. I saw my grandparents a few times a year: at Christmas and perhaps one or two additional visits spaced out during the year. We usually visited each set of grandparents for at least one non-Christmas visit a year, and they may or may not have come to town to visit another time.

My husband, in contrast, lived thirty minutes from both sets of grandparents, and saw his grandparents almost weekly. As a result, I have felt a tremendous amount of pressure to give my in-laws ample opportunities to see their first and only grandson. I send pictures as feasible during the week, and we have tried using FaceTime on a few occasions. Unfortunately, this has involved quite a few technology lessons. Moreover, I know that pictures are a poor replacement for being in the same place.

We will be seeing my husband’s family this weekend for the first time since Rory was born. I am looking forward to having Rory spend some quality time with his grandparents. My husband and I are also planning a few additional visits from his mother later this spring so that she can enjoy these early moments with us, as well. She would like to visit monthly, if possible.

This is a good idea in theory. However, it is harder to envision how often we will be able to entertain visitors once I am back at work. I worry that I may want the little guy all to myself on weekends, though I feel guilty admitting that. For now, we are taking the planning one step at a time and trying not to over commit during the first few months I am back at work. And rather than being stressed, I am trying to remain thankful that Rory has so many loving relatives that want to spend time with him. Here’s to a fun weekend with family.

5K Race

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
This past weekend I participated in a 5K race.  One of our local hospitals sponsored the race and the proceeds went towards the Pediatric Therapy Department.  Tate was born in this hospital, and he has received great care from many doctors and nurses there.  I also attend the gym in this hospital and have befriended many people who volunteered to make this race a success.  I thought it was only right to compete and challenge myself.

A 5K is 3.1 miles – nothing too strenuous, but surely enough (for me) to get a great workout.  Race day was a crisp morning so I stretched really well and made sure to warm up before the start.  I ran with a friend and we were able to motivate each other while running up hills and trying to keep up pace.  Half way came and I was feeling really good.  I thought I’d be in the clear and have no worries about finishing on my timeline.

Although I looked at the race map and knew exactly where the course went, running up a hill for the last half mile was a burden on my body.  I pushed through and didn’t stop.  I could see the end in sight.  I thought about Jack’s comment right before I started the race, “You can do it, Mommy.”  As I turned the last corner of the race, my husband, Jack and Tate were there to cheer me on.  All three of them where shouting “Go Mom!”  Jack and Tate made a special sign for me they were waving back and forth.  It was so sweet I almost cried when I ran past them.

With great pride, I finished the race in the middle of the pack.  It was fun, challenging and a great motivator to participate in a future race.  Even though my muscles are still a little achy, I’m happy I had the chance to prove I could set a goal, reach the goal and show my kids anything is possible when you work hard at it.

A Toddler’s Idea of Fun

Monday, April 8th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
It’s been unseasonably cold so far this spring in New York City. For Haley’s second birthday, I nixed my plan of a casual cookout in the park over the weekend, because I just couldn’t count on what the weather would do. That ended up being the right course of action, as Saturday was quite chilly. Instead, I planned a family fun day in Midtown Manhattan.

We’d take the subway, which Haley had never been on before. Then we’d go to the biggest toy store in the world (I guess)- F.A.O. Schwartz and Haley could pick out whichever toy she wanted. For lunch, we’d go to a famous midtown hotel and eat at the food hall, a restaurant directed by celebrity chef Todd English.

In the subway, Haley sat wide-eyed in the stroller as I expected. She repeated back “subway train” a few times, so I knew she understood that this was something exciting. The trip took about forty minutes and naturally at some point, the novelty wore off. Haley kept saying “out” and stared wistfully at the station platform every time the doors opened. We kept her calm with stickers. When we eventually made our exit, she was relieved.

The toy store didn’t go as I expected. She didn’t care about the toys. She cared about riding the escalator and jumping off of steps. She observed with some interest a remote control flying helicopter and walked on the giant piano popularized in the movie Big. She lost interest in that pretty quickly To Haley the biggest attraction was Spiderman. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that her friend Nolan wore a Spiderman costume during their play date the previous day. We spent $24 on a commemorative photo of her with Spidey—the only thing she wanted from the store!

Lunch was really nice. We got fresh pasta, wonderful flatbread pizza, and all sorts of fancy “grownup food.” Haley was relatively cooperative. It was nice to be out with her at a somewhat fancy eatery and enjoy the meal as a family.

Our New York City birthday celebration didn’t go the way I’d imagined it would, but it was really nice bonding time for the three of us. Maybe we can make this a tradition, and she’ll appreciate it more in the years to come.