Archive for July, 2013

Summer’s End

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
All good things must come to an end. This summer has been more than good, but it’s definitely winding down. Soon we will put away our beach towels and go to bed earlier as the days get shorter.

Our summer has been a perfect mix of friends and family. Jack and Tate spent extended quality time with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. They visited farms, factories, pools, parks, and beaches. And they ate endless amounts of ice cream.  Our schedule has been booked solid for last several weeks.  My summer was terrific, too.  Our family helped care for my boys, and I even had some time to myself.  I am very thankful for all their support and hospitality.

This week we are headed back south, to Mississippi.  We’ve really enjoyed our stay in Pennsylvania over the last six weeks, but it’s time to pack up our belongings and make the long drive back home. We are sad to leave, but we miss our own beds and the familiar comforts of home.

The boys are excited to rediscover their toys and get ready for the new school year that is just around the corner.  At least I know that they will have lots about this summer to talk about when they see their friends on the first day of school.  Until then, we’ll be savoring our last few days of the summer.



Monday, July 29th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Apparently, once you start going to grade school, you’re a grade schooler. This is non-controversial. It’s what you’re called before then that gets some parents into a huff. I’ve been observing this phenomenon ever since I had my… let’s call her a “child”. Here’s a primer.

A “newborn” is a person who is alive and under 3 months old. If your niece is 4.5 months old, don’t you dare say “She sleeps so well for a newborn!” because the mommy mafia will be on you like white on rice. “She’s hardly a newborn,” they’ll chide. “She’s already an infant.” This of course is true. After all, she’ll be filling out her college applications in no time—don’t insult her as if she was born yesterday! (Even if she practically was.)

The trend continues. After 3 months old, a child is an infant. Depending on one’s philosophy, religion, party affiliation or zodiac sign, it’s proper to start calling a child a toddler when he either A) turns one year old or B) starts walking—usually whatever comes first. If you subscribe to this belief system, you’d consider my daughter Haley a toddler at 8 months old, which makes almost no sense. She was technically walking then, but still doing things like eating remote controls and trying to touch the adorable baby she saw in the mirror. Toddlerhood ends somewhere within a vast range of 18 months and three years old, at which point she’ll become a preschooler, then a kindergartener if you’re being specific, and finally a grade schooler.

For some reason, if you dare to call a kid something other than what he is according to this arbitrary code on youngster aging, people will jump all over you for it. I think the reason is that in this day in age parents are understandably sensitive to the degree to which their children are thriving. If someone makes their child seem younger or older than they really are, some parents take it as a personal affront—a way of exaggerating the child’s accomplishments.

I always thought putting them into these strict categories was kind of crazy, and another way that lately we’ve been trying to make kids grow up way too fast. I can understand if a child has an older sibling; the younger one might participate in an activity he wouldn’t have otherwise. But I see a lot of parents not let their kids just be kids and do only what they’re ready for: Newborn sleep training. Infants weaned off the bottle. Two year olds whizzing by on scooters on NYC sidewalks. Preschoolers in sports they’re not ready for.

At the same time, there’s a lot to be said for a calling a spade a spade. Haley is about two years and four months old. Until recently, I always lumped her into the category of toddler without thinking anything about it. However, she was a toddler a year ago and she’s a completely different person now who speaks much better, understands much more and can do so many things on her own. In some ways, I think actually it is more accurate to call her a preschooler. Who knew?

Please don’t tell anyone. I don’t want to get in trouble for violating the code.


Friday, July 26th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
This past weekend, my husband and I took Rory to the playground for the first time. He goes almost every day with his sitter, but we had never actually gone with him ourselves. We wanted to give him a little time in the infant/toddler swing because she had mentioned that he enjoyed it, and we wanted a chance to share in that excitement.

When we first arrived, the swings were all occupied. This was hardly a surprise given that it was a Sunday morning. Luckily, it didn’t throw off our plans. Now that Rory is sitting up on his own (or at least staying in a seated position), it is fun to take him places and let him watch everything going on around him. The three of us plopped down on spring-supported see-saw and bounced Rory up and down while we waited for our turn on the swings.

Luckily, the attention span of most kids at the playground is sufficiently short, so our wait was not all that long. And Rory’s reaction was well worth our brief wait. Once we put him in the swing and let him sway back and forth ever-so-slightly, Rory started grinning from ear to ear. The grin gave way to squeals of glee—the kind of giggles that you cannot help but smile back at.

It was a very simple, largely insignificant trip to the playground. But, to me, it was an affirmation of one of the big reasons my husband and I had always said we wanted to have kids: to have a chance to witness pure joy in the face of the most ordinary of experiences. After all, isn’t that what childhood is all about?


Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
I met up with some friends from high school earlier this week.  We try to keep in touch often.  Sometimes months go by without any communication, but we always pick right back up the next time we speak.  Social media also helps us stay in touch since we all live in different places making it difficult to visit each other on a regular basis.

My gracious friend offered her home as a meeting place.  We all brought our kids along so they could play together as well.  I was happy to meet my friend’s daughter for the first time.  Miraculously, all the kids got along very well.  The host of our get together has a house full of toys.  Needless to say the kids had an endless supply of entertainment.  While the kids played, my friends and I caught up on our lives and enjoyed watching the children play.

At this point, all my friends are married and have kids.  Most of us have more than one child.  It’s funny to listen to our conversations.  Ninety five percent of them are related to parenting while the other five percent is spent planning a girl’s trip in the future or sharing stories from our past.  One of these years a fun trip will happen!   Since we’ve all been a parent for several years now, it’s nice to get other views on parenting issues.  I’m always open to new suggestions about how to cope with lack of sleep, discipline, a strong willed child, and making sure my school aged son is right on track with his academics.

I’ve known my friends for many years.  One of them went to nursery school with me.  It’s so nice to reunite with them whenever possible even if it’s only once a year.  I crave the adult conversation and relaxing environment.  We make the most of our visit and joke about who will have another child by the next time we meet.  I hope we continue our visits well into the future.  Before we know it, we’ll be discussing college and who has a wedding to help plan.

Heat Wave

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
It’s a scorcher! Last week challenged my ability to remain a cool customer—literally and figuratively. The warm temperatures made Haley and me feel like prisoners in our own home. We’re used to being stuck inside when it’s raining, but the heat was different. It started early and did not relent until sundown.

Even though it was really hot I thought to myself, no big deal! Surely we can venture out a little bit. Let’s just pack some extra sun block and water and be on our way. Little did I know that would be the week my little walker decided she wants up. We’d be outside for mere minutes when I’d hear her small voice say “Mama hold me.”  The heat wore her out. I tried to avoid it as much as possible—the last thing you want to do when you feel hot and sticky is hold on to another person who is hot and sticky—but I just had to suck it up and do my mom duty.

Fortunately, we have a major cool down coming—temperatures are forecasted to dip into the 80’s! I think it will rain as well—you can’t win. Toddlers aren’t meant to stay indoors all day and neither are stay-at-home-parents. But one makes do. I’m certainly no expert, but here are some things we did to survive:

  1. Television—A no-brainer. TV is allowed anytime our sanity is in jeopardy.
  2. Art—Crayons, painting, stickers; whatever medium your little one is willing to utilize for twenty minutes, go for it!
  3. Old toys and books—Now is the time to pull back the stuff that’s been in the Goodwill pile. Kids love toys they haven’t seen in a while, even if the last time those goodies were out they were utterly ignored.
  4. Call relatives—All of those people who say “we should Skype some time!” Now’s as good a time as any.
  5. Spray park or sprinklers—We don’t have a yard, but Haley can get wet at the water features at our nearby park. Combine it with a treat from the ice cream truck and you have a happy and cool child—at least for a few hours.

Have a great week!

Down the Hatch

Friday, July 19th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
At his six-month check-up last week, Rory received the go-ahead from his pediatrician to begin solid foods. Our pediatrician is not a big advocate of rice cereal, the traditional “first food.” Instead, he recommended that we put Rory on a multi-vitamin with iron (to ensure that he is receiving the nutrients typically obtained from fortified rice cereal) and suggested that we move right along to pureed fruits and vegetables.

So, this week we have started introducing Rory to the joy of sweet potatoes. And this weekend we will move on to a new fruit or vegetable. So far, the sweet potatoes have gotten a luke-warm reception over all. On his first night, he was probably more tired than he should have been for a first feeding. He thrust his hands with excitement into his bowl. However, he was far more interested in playing with the food than actually eating it. Then, when I wrestled the bowl away and approached him with spoon-in-hand, he was content to chew on the wrong end of the spoon (and spill the sweet potato puree on the towel spread beneath his chair. . . ).

The second night we started the process a little earlier. We also did a little more modeling for him before we started. His daddy ate a few spoonfuls himself and showed Rory how to chew and swallow the pureed goodness. He also did a little “here comes the airplane” to try to entice him. Rory smacked his lips a little bit more, but was, once again, more interested in playing with the spoon.

I know that the exercise of starting solid foods is really about teaching your child to eat, but I don’t think I had really anticipated the difficulty I would have in getting Rory to focus on his food. We’re hoping that things improve this weekend when we are able to try solids at an earlier meal. But as long as we can both escape without wearing it, we’ll feel as though we’ve accomplished a lot.

Hersheypark Happy

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
I grew up close to Hershey, Pennsylvania, the home of both Hershey’s Chocolate and Hersheypark amusement park.  I remember riding my first roller coaster there and experiencing my first adrenaline rush.  Like any kid, I wanted to ride them over and over again.  I distinctly remember begging to go to Hersheypark every summer.  I loved the rides, fun atmosphere and the smell of chocolate in the air.  After a long and tiring day at the park, a nice cold chocolate milk shake from the famous Chocolate World was a refreshing treat.

Yesterday, my husband, mother-in-law and I treated Jack to a day at Hersheypark.  It was extremely hot, but we all had fun.  Jack has experienced the park several times in the past, but this year he was eager to try bigger roller coasters.  He rode one of their classic coasters, The Comet.  It’s an old wooden coaster with lots of hills and turns.  After the initial fear, Jack loved feeling the breeze through his hair and throwing his hands up in the air.  We were all proud of him for finding the courage to ride his first “real” roller coaster.  He also enjoyed many other rides throughout the park and, of course, the cotton candy ice cream.

Jack’s favorite part of the day was riding through Chocolate World  – where there was plenty of air conditioning. We hit this spot last and all four of us were thankful for the cold air blast.  Jack enjoyed watching how chocolate was made at the factory as well as how wrappers were placed on the candy bars.  I don’t think he’s ever seen so much candy in one place.

I’m glad we got to show Jack a good time yesterday.  Every time I go back to Hersheypark, I can’t help but remember the simple thrills of being a kid.



The Out of Towners

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
This week, my in-laws are in town to visit their granddaughter—and me and my husband, of course! It’s been so nice having them in town. Haley is finally at an age where even though she hasn’t seen them in a few months, she still totally knows who they are. She gets that these people are close family members. It’s really neat to see her register that level of recognition. It’s another part of her growing up into a fully formed person with a wealth of experiences.

So we didn’t have to waste any time or worry on Haley getting comfortable with her grandparents. From the time of their arrival, she was ready play, tell stories, and show off all her stuff. She loved showing her grandmother how well she could color and dance and all of her favorite spots in the neighborhood. Her grandparents were really impressed with how well she knew he way around and how she would strut the streets “as if she owns the place!”

Sadly, my in-laws are on their way out of town now. Trips like this are bittersweet. It’s wonderful to be able to spend time together as a family, but sad to realize how fleeting these visits are. But that’s life in the modern world. We have to remember that we’re lucky to have the opportunity to visit—it didn’t used to be so easy and for a lot of people, it still isn’t. Until we can all get together again, we’ll keep up with the video chats and look happily ahead to our next visit.

On the Road Again

Friday, July 12th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Last weekend we packed up our car and headed out of town for a long 4th of July weekend. Rory had a great time visiting with new people and trying his first swim in the pool. He did not, however, enjoy having his schedule disrupted.

In some ways, his inflexibility is probably a problem of my own making. I have been pretty strict about trying to keep some semblance of a daily schedule since he was around four months old. This has helped give some modicum of predictability to the ever-changing adventure of raising an infant. But it also means that neither one of us is particularly good at adapting when things are thrown off.

For example, we timed our trip to coincide with his morning nap-time. I thought this was a brilliant move on my part, given that he slept nearly the entire trip for the two prior car trips he has taken. But, rather than snooze the entire way, he stared at me with those baby blues the majority of our two-hour drive. He was fussy when we arrived and he stayed that way until he finally went down for his afternoon nap.

Then, the next day, we missed his afternoon nap almost altogether because we had a party to attend during that time. We tried to get him to snooze in the car again; still no luck. To top things off, he also woke up more frequently at night, meaning that none of us were particularly well-rested by the end of our stay.

I am learning (albeit slowly) that traveling with an infant sometimes means that the only certainty is that nothing is certain. Fortunately, Rory remained his generally happy self for the majority of the trip (with the exception of a few overly-tired melt downs). So I guess I should simply consider myself lucky and get over it.

Out and About

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
The boys and I have been visiting family in Pennsylvania for a few weeks.  We are thankful that we’re able to visit for an extended period of time while Daddy stays back home to work.  He will be visiting us soon, and we can’t wait to share in the fun together.

I grew up within minutes from most of my extended family.  My husband and I want to make sure our kids get as much time as possible to visit with their extended family.  We try to make an annual trip back to my childhood hometown whenever we can.  My husband’s family also lives nearby, which makes it easy to visit both sides of our family.  I’m grateful my kids can visit with their great grandmother and great, great aunt who are going strong in their nineties.

The town I grew up in has changed drastically in the decade we have lived away.  Everywhere I drive there are new residential and commercial developments.  There is a lot to offer here for my children, much more than where we live currently.   It’s very important to my husband and me that we expose our kids to lots of opportunities.  I am trying to plan several activities each week while we’re in Pennsylvania with the help of Internet research and personal recommendations.  We have done simple things like going to the library and more adventurous things like visiting the Crayola Crayon factory.  We’ve also picked fresh berries at a farm, fed ducks at a quaint lake, played at parks, and stuffed ourselves with lots of ice cream.  Tate caught lightning bugs for the first time a few days ago.  He loved watching the bugs land on his hand and glow.  Often, the best activities are free.    The boys love discovering new things and I love being able to show them a good time.