Archive for September, 2013

Family Time

Monday, September 30th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:

Over the weekend we spent some time with my extended family to celebrate my favorite cousin’s 25th birthday. It was a really nice event. The best part of it was that my brother, who lives a few hours away, and one of my cousins, who is now a freshman in college, were both able to come home for the weekend so everyone was there. Haley wore inappropriately fancy clothes, but of course no one minded. She enjoyed running all over my aunt’s house and getting attention from so many people who adore her.

As far as I can tell, kids understand from a young age that their relatives are different from other people. Even if it’s been a long time since Haley has seen an aunt or uncle, she doesn’t have her usual level of shyness. She becomes comfortable much more quickly. She clearly has this idea of “these are my people.” I don’t think she completely gets how we’re all related, but I think in a year or so she will. It’s fascinating to watch.

Haley’s favorite part of the festivities was when she realized that there was cake involved. It was hilarious. My aunt set the cake on the kitchen table a few minutes in advance of putting it out to sing Happy Birthday. Haley camped out in a chair right in front of the cake as if she was guarding the Hope Diamond. She did not let it out of her sight as we set it up and lit the candles. She got the idea in her head that it was her birthday. My cousin was gracious enough to let her blow out the candles with him. Everyone cheered for her and she was on top of the world, and then she finally had her cake and ate it too.

When you first have a child, it’s nice to establish the customs and lifestyle of your new little family. But as the little one grows, it’s also fun to get out of your cocoon and show her that she has a bigger family, too. I’m so grateful that Haley has loving relatives on both sides. I wish we could spend more time with everyone, but with time and money constraints, it’s difficult. Which makes the times we do get to spend together that much more meaningful.

Some Time Away

Friday, September 27th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
I am writing this week’s blog from 30,000 feet over the plains en route to California for a brief, five-day mini-vacation with my husband.  It is our first extended trip away from Rory since he was born, though it has been on our calendars since Rory was only a few weeks old.  One of my husband’s dearest and closest childhood friends is getting married next to a mountain in the northwest part of the state tomorrow, and we opted extend the trip and fly solo for a few days.  We were able to accomplish this with the generous help of my mother and father, who kindly agreed to watch the kiddo for us while we were away.

I feel guilty admitting that when we first booked the trip in mid-February–when the nights were still short and interrupted, and when “routine” was not part of our lexicon– the thought of getting away from Rory for a few days seemed utterly divine.  In those early weeks, when the self-doubt was overwhelming and the anxiety of trying not to screw this whole parenting thing up too badly was in its rawest form, it was pretty easy to click “purchase” and book airfare for two.

However, in the week or so leading up to our departure, I felt myself wishing we had figured out a way to bring him with us.  Setting aside the hassle of packing for two separate trips and trying to pass along all the requisite instructions, I was simply sad to be leaving him behind.  As I sit here watching the new mom a few rows up struggle through the five-hour flight, I am feeling a little better about our choice. But, that doesn’t change the fact that being away from Rory is a great deal harder than I’d originally imagined.  He is at an age now where things change exponentially each day.  Last Friday night, he started crawling.  By Monday, he was apparently tearing across the room at daycare, pulling out toys from their storage areas, and exploring all the added benefits (and dangers) of his new-found mobility.  I’m curious to see what new milestone we miss while we are gone. Perhaps we’ll be greeted with cries of “mama” and “dada” upon our return. . .

As much as I know we both need some time away to focus on the relationship that brought this little wonder into the world, I have fallen hard for the little guy.  For the past few months, we have spent nearly every moment that we are not working spending time with him, and it feels odd to be going away without the third member or our tiny family.  Sure, our dancing shoes may still work just fine, and of course we cannot wait to celebrate with our friends; but, there is an equal though different excitement about our return trip home.   And it is in moments like this that the old adage “your life will never be the same” rings true once again.


Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Tate follows his big brother around the house, sometimes mimicking his every move.  It can lead to conflict when they argue over the same toy or game, but it can also lead to learning. Jack has recently begun to read some simple books. He also brings books home from the school library to read for homework. Jack would rather play when he gets home, but we encourage him do his homework shortly after arriving home from school, before he gets too tired from running around the back yard.

Tate loves to have stories read to him, and he likes whatever his big brother is doing. Recently, Jack has started doing his homework by reading to his little brother, and so far it is working out great.  Jack is proud of his new-found reading skills, and Tate just likes a good story. As a mom it makes me happy to see them getting along. It is great to see Jack help get Tate excited about reading.

I noticed that Jack’s friends with older siblings seem to have a leg up on him at times. They perform better in sports and social settings because they try to keep up with their older siblings. Jack got a healthy dose of big kid play time with his cousins this summer, and I could see the benefits in only a few short weeks. I’m glad to know that Tate is going to benefit from his big brother’s good example both in school and in the back yard because learning happens everywhere.

Little Athlete

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
I am not an especially athletic person. I played sports growing up, mostly because I was a joiner and it was fun. I never aspired to win an athletic scholarship to college or pursue sports in any meaningful way. Nevertheless, I’m grateful that I participated in these activities because I gained a lot—not only the ability to understand how to play these sports, but to exhibit teamwork, perseverance, and sportsmanship.

Haley is only two, and I don’t think I can predict much about who she will be as a young lady. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it—she will like sports.

I see myself driving all over town, hauling gear, equipment and snacks to her various practices and games. Now I don’t know if Haley will take after her more physically gifted father or me, but I do know how much she enjoys any active game. She loves kicking, throwing and catching balls, running and jumping, climbing, and even dancing. It will be neat to see where she ends up—as a soccer player or a cheerleader? A swimmer or a golfer? There are so many possibilities.

I will encourage Haley to participate in sports no matter how successful she is with them. My only concern when it comes to extracurricular activities is that she doesn’t overextend herself. But it’s tricky. Already, Haley takes an art class and a dance/movement class. I’m tempted to sign her up for ballet next term, because she is obsessed with it. And the only thing that I’ve seen her display any true potential talent for is soccer. I’m reticent to sign her up for too much, but I don’t want to be that parent that fails to nurture natural ability! And what if it’s music she’s meant to excel at?

I’ll have to continue to listen carefully to Haley’s cues. Fortunately in no time at all, she’ll be able to articulate what she wants to spend her time doing more accurately than she does now, when everything sounds great. I will continue to focus on supporting her, encouraging her not to quit, and having the Gatorade ready.

Fall Is Here

Friday, September 20th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Cooler weather arrived this week, and our family welcomed it with open arms like an old friend returning home for a much-anticipated visit. We spent a cool, breezy morning swinging at a local playground last Saturday… realizing that we need to do a better job of grabbing an extra layer (and a pair of socks!) before rushing out the door with Rory. My husband and I watched a little league game from the distance while Rory ran his hands through the grass wearing an enviable grin of fascination at the texture of its green strands.

Sitting on the perimeter of the neighboring ball-field and listening to the steady din of cackling children on the neighboring playground to our left harmonize with the thwap-pong-thwap-pong of a father-daughter tennis game going on over our right shoulders, I found myself making mental lists of the various fall activities I look forward to sharing with Rory during his first fall: visiting the orchard to pick apples, crawl over pumpkins, and perhaps watch the firing of the local pumpkin cannon; tailgating at Ohio Stadium with Rory’s Pappy; decorating the house for Halloween, and dressing Rory up for his daycare’s costume parade; going for hikes surrounded by burnt orange foliage; and spending late Sunday afternoons drinking apple cider on the back deck and smelling fires burning in neighbors’ fireplaces.

Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons; yet, this year I am even more excited at its arrival than in years past. That excitement is due in large part to the fact that Rory is at the age right now where he is starting to truly react to and interact with the world around him. As a result, I am thrilled to get to expose him to so many of my favorite things about this time of year. I cannot wait to see it all again through his young eyes.


Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
This month marks four years since I’ve been contributing to this blog.  Four years ago I lived in a different state, cared for one child, just learned how to use my iPhone 3g; I was patiently awaiting the return of my husband who was on a seven month deployment; enjoying play dates with my friends, shopped at Target whenever I wanted (Target is ninety miles from me now); and would soon find out I was pregnant with Tate.  Goodness, that seems like a lifetime ago!

Fast forward to today- I have two precious boys, schedules that keep me busy, a husband who works hard to provide for our family, an iPhone 5, kids who can navigate said phone faster then I, lots of family time, a few hours of “me” time on weekdays, homework hassles, random tantrums, solo trips to the grocery store, and two kids who are potty trained.  Life has surely changed in the last four years.  It’s different, but a good different.  I truly miss the baby stages.  However, I love listening to my kids play nicely together, hearing Jack read Tate a book, watching Tate put together puzzles, and am proud of all their successes.  Each stage of growth is exciting to witness.  I look at my nephews who are several years older and wonder what my kids will be like at their age.

Today, I scrolled back through my previous blog posts over the last four years and shed tears of sadness and laughter. Posts I read include Jack’s obsession with Thomas trains, his first crush, school, sports, vacations, Jack shoving play doh up his nose, potty training, Tate’s time outs and his love of music.  Every now and then, I love to pick a month in the blog archives and see what we were up to back then.  I laugh at some of the silly quotes and word translations from the boys.  My kids are growing up so fast.  I know I say that a lot, but it’s true.  When I started this blog, Jack was learning his letters and now he is reading and writing sentences with those letters.  I look forward to the next four years (and beyond) and all of our future accomplishments.









Big Girl Rising

Monday, September 16th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Haley will be two and a half in a few weeks. In some ways that’s hard to believe, but it also feels like she’s been a part of the family forever. Before I had children, I believed that two year olds were basically “babies.” In some ways, Haley’s immaturity is palpable—like when she wakes up scared in the middle of the night—but mostly, she’s become this kid. She can speak pretty well and we understand nearly everything she says. Although she’s still learning how to express herself, there are far fewer miscommunications and frustrations, thank goodness. She brushes her teeth, feeds herself, and picks out her clothes. Despite moments of clinginess, she often plays independently. When you’re a stay-at-home mom, this is a skill you dream about for months and months.

In addition to new capabilities, Haley is also developing a unique personality. She loves to dance and sing but gets annoyed if Mama tries to sing along too. Her favorite color is purple. She is patient and cooperative during her art class, to a point. (Once a few other kids leave the table and start running around, Haley considers it a free-for-all. I can’t say I blame her!) She loves the park. She’ll go on the swings only if she’s in the right mood, but prefers to be climbing. She hates having covers on her at night and at the moment, is indifferent about sleeping with her stuffed animals—we’ll see how long that lasts!

It’s wild that our family has another little person around and not some defenseless little one. A lot of challenges come with having such an impressionable youngster around—one who can understand what you’re saying, has her own desires, and needs coddling at some times and a firm hand at others. Being a parent is just as difficult as it’s ever been, but I can really see and feel my hard work paying off. I could never imagine that we’d come to this point, and I’m excited to find out where we will be in the future.


Friday, September 13th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory and his daddy had some extra one-on-one time this week as I ventured out of town for my first overnight business trip since Rory was born. Luckily, my travel plans ended up being fairly simple—I flew out on Wednesday night for an all-day Thursday meeting and returned home very late on Thursday night. I had originally been scheduled to be in three states in two days for unrelated matters, so the single destination trip was a welcome—albeit last-minute—change.

Although the travel itself can be a little grueling, the logistics of getting myself to the airport on-time pale in comparison to making certain that everything is in order on the home front before heading out. Rory is still breastfeeding, so that means making certain we have enough frozen milk to sustain him in my absence. It also means that I needed to plot out how to fit in sufficient breaks to my schedule in order to remain physically comfortable during my all-day meeting (and hopefully be able to bring some fresh milk home for him, too).

Then there was the matter of making sure the morning drop-off routine went smoothly at daycare. He’s just finishing up his second week at daycare, and I am usually the one who handles the morning drop-off. His daddy is perfectly capable—it just meant we both needed to take the time to write out everything he needed to remember to do: bottles into the fridge, communication sheet into the folder, time for the next bottle onto the whiteboard, etc.

Finally, we had to talk through all the things I tend to do each evening to recap how to get things ready all-over again the next day since I was going be gone for two full evening routines.

Although it is no fun to be away from home for a night, I had a much easier time of it than I was expecting. I am extremely fortunate to have such a good teammate who had no problem picking up the added responsibility for a few days. We both juggle every day to balance the competing demands of work and parenting, but, so far, we’re managing. And that feels pretty good.

“Try Outs”

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
We signed Jack up for soccer again this year.  He’s really enjoyed playing soccer over the last two years.  In the past, each player was assigned a team upon sign-up. The team coach organized the practice schedules based on player needs and games were held every Saturday morning.  The soccer season was a few weeks during fall and a few weeks during spring.  It was really about the kids learning the basics of how to kick the ball and aim it anywhere near the goal.  The players usually grouped around the ball and tripped over each other, even scoring goals for the opposing team. It was very comical to watch and cute to see them in their little uniforms and gear. They did learn some basic skills as well as teamwork. Most of all, it was great to watch them have fun.

This year Jack has moved up an age group. Players are now a little more experienced and “try outs” are mandatory. Jack had three practices working with coaches from the United Kingdom.  It is great to see these talented men share their expertise with these young children in our little town in Mississippi.  The kids are practicing the same skills they learned over the last few years as well as learning new techniques.  The try outs aren’t the usual “ make it or not.”  It’s more like a way of grouping the kids onto fair teams.  Every child registered for soccer will play, however, teams are grouped by skill level.  Jack is learning that hard work pays off in the end and will get you where you want to go.

Jack has been doing a great job at all three practices.  He enjoys the drills and we love the exercise he’s getting.  It’s still extremely hot down here so just being outside is a workout on its own.  The “competitive” environment is definitely pushing these kids to work harder.  We are still waiting to hear which group Jack selected and which team he’ll be assigned to.

No matter which group Jack ends up on, we’re proud he did the best he could do at his practices.  He has really improved over the last few years of play and that makes us proud.  Of course, we’d be delighted if he made the top skilled group, but we’re more concerned whether or not he has a good time.  Fun is the most important element of the game. In our minds, Jack will always be a star.

Weekend Help

Monday, September 9th, 2013

From Monday Mom –  Neetika:
My husband worked late almost every night last week. There was even a day when he realized at the last minute he had to leave very early and thus not get up with Haley and allow me sleep to in. He was sure he’d get to come home early that day—but he ended up with a late call and returned much later than usual! The early mornings and late evenings Haley spends with her dad are great fun for the both of them—but an absolute lifesaver for me. Haley comes to me with random problems in the middle of the night, so I relish the hour I sleep while Dad fixes breakfast for her. And by the end of a long day, I cannot wait to turn the reigns of responsibility over to my co-parent. But last week it felt like I was “on” all the time with almost no breaks.

Needless to say, I was really looking forward to rest on the weekend, and I’m pleased to say that I got some. After a terrible night, Haley went out with her dad for a few early morning adventures on Saturday. When I got up, it was time to head to a nearby arts school’s Open House to get a sneak peak of the dance class I signed Haley up for. The people there were so nice and the class was wonderful—right up her alley in that it offered loose structure but allowed her to do her own thing as well. Then we had an early lunch, and Haley actually behaved at the restaurant. During her nap, I managed to catch a Zumba class at the gym. We ended the day with a lovely meal at our neighbors’ place. Their son and Haley are two peas in a pod. They have so much fun together when they’re not busy trying to kill each other.

On Sunday, my husband went to a football game, so I was on my own again until my parents conveniently mentioned that they wanted to come by. No complaints here! Haley was thrilled to spend the day with her grandparents (on Grandparent’s Day, no less). Even though Haley was in prime toddler mode, it was manageable with the extra adults around.

When you have a baby, everyone reminds you to ask for help. But it’s true even as your kid grows older. Parenthood is taxing, so use all the helping hands you are lucky enough to have around you.