Archive for October, 2013


Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Jack and Tate picked out their Halloween costumes months ago.  Knowing their star wars obsession, it did not surprise me when they chose Darth Vader and Yoda.  As Yoda would say, “A perfect pair, I thought.”

Our town celebrates trick or treating on Halloween, but last weekend we were invited to attend Halloween celebrations in housing on the Navy base. The housing community hosts their own trick or treating for residents and their friends.  Jack and Tate have several friends who live there, and my husband and I are friends with their parents.  We were all happy to try a new friendly neighborhood.  The boys were ecstatic to walk run all over the neighborhood and find as much candy as possible.  They had permanent smiles on their faces and made sure to knock on every single door.  They know exactly how to maximize their loot.  The boys managed to fill up their treat bags and immediately examine all their goodies.  Jack favors chocolates and Tate enjoys lollipops.

After roughly two hours of trick or treating, we attended the neighborhood potluck picnic.  The perfect evening was made up of delicious fall comfort food, a fire pit, adult conversation, and kids roaming freely in delight

Jack and Tate are already talking about what/who they want to dress up as next Halloween.  It’s funny listening to them plan out their costumes.   They’ve already changed their minds twenty times.   Whatever they decide on, I am looking forward to another year of Halloween fun.


Family Life

Monday, October 28th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
As a quick follow-up to last week’s post, I am glad to report that potty training is going much better. We don’t have it 100% down just yet, but we are almost there. What a relief!

We are really enjoying the Halloween season this year. Haley completely understands how it all works—costumes, trick-or-treating, decorations, pumpkins, candy—she is adorably excited. Today, her dance school is having a Halloween party with lots of activities and treats. My husband is even taking off the morning to accompany us. I can’t wait to see all the little kids dressed up and to experience the festivities through Haley’s eyes.

Witnessing Haley appreciating Halloween has got me really looking forward to the fall holidays not just this year, but in all the years to come. You sometimes wonder what having a child is really all about. I think this is it. It’s a tradition-filled, family-oriented way to enjoy life. Some folks like to travel or seriously pursue a hobby, or throw themselves into work. If that makes you happy, then that’s great. But for me, I love following the changing of the seasons, the same holidays coming every year. It might not seem thrilling to come up with new crafts, take another family holiday photo, or dig up an old recipe year after year after year. Yet it is! I love the life Haley and I are creating through these experiences. I love slowly discovering the ways “our family” does things.

And what’s also great is that the more things stay the same, the more they change! As Haley gets older, the aspects of our traditions that interest her will continue to evolve. I hope one day she’ll be just as excited to give out Halloween candy as she is to receive it. I hope she’ll be just as excited to donate Christmas gifts as she is to get them. I hope she’ll think fun, new rituals with each birthday we celebrate. I hope she’ll have decorating ideas, new recipes she wants to try, and many friends she’ll want to include. Most of all, I hope she’ll remember that the most important part is spending time with the people you love.

The Art of Redirection

Friday, October 25th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory is in full-blown explorer mode. In addition to teaching us that we have a lot more child proofing to do, his explorations are teaching us quite a bit about infants and boundaries. Namely, that infants are far too young to understand them.

I am a little embarrassed to say that when his father asked me when infants can actually start to understand discipline, I didn’t know the answer. The topic came up after a particularly rigorous wrestling match to get his shoes on before heading to daycare in the morning. I asked if we were “damaging” him by not saying no. Neither one of us knew the answer.

After some time with the “parenting” books and a little help from the internet, I confirmed that we have not broken Rory by failing to set boundaries. Instead, through our typical approach of trial and error, we have already begun to implement the widely-recommended approach of redirection. When Rory starts rolling over on his changing pad, we give him a toy, a burp cloth, a clean diaper, or whatever other distraction is within reach to try to keep him calm and on his back for the few seconds needed to finish the diaper change. When he starts grabbing at a necklace, tie, or other piece of parental clothing, we swiftly remove it from his hands and his line of site and give him a toy or other distraction. When he makes a bee-line for the bathroom or another off-limits part of the house, we step in front of him, close the door, inform him that bathrooms aren’t for babies, and plop him down in his room or on his play mat in an attempt to show him “his” space.

We’re working on limiting “no” to truly dangerous scenarios so that as he does start to understand boundaries more we won’t have desensitized him entirely.

I can’t say we’ve mastered the art of redirection just yet. And I know that he will almost certainly continue to have melt-downs when we put on his coat, try to change his diaper, or attempt to change his clothes for bed. But realizing that the best thing we can do is go with the flow has helped us stop worrying, which feels good, for certain.


Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Jack and Tate love to play with art supplies.  They like to color, draw, squish play-doh, finger paint and make crafts.  I must admit I enjoy it myself, as well as watching them create masterpieces.  When the boys appear bored or not getting along very well, I pull out our bin of supplies and tell them to make me something.  I am usually guaranteed a good thirty minutes of happiness and a sweet picture.

Sunday afternoon was an eventful day of crafts.  Our big project was carving pumpkins.  We lined our patio table with newspaper and gathered all of our tools.  My husband made the first cut.  I watched the boy’s faces as the pumpkin “guts” were scooped out.  They were a little grossed out at first, but quickly wanted to get their hands in it.  Seeds were dumping out everywhere and everything was sticky.  It was a messy scene, but very aromatic.

We decided to stick with the classic jack-o-lantern face.  The boys were armed with a Sharpie marker and drew their faces on the pumpkins.  I cut out the eyes, nose and mouth and revealed their jack-o-lanterns.  They turned out great and look even better lit at night.   Our fingers are crossed that our jack-o-lanterns last until Halloween.

After we finished carving our pumpkins, the boys wanted to make more decorations.  I handed them paper and they cut out and colored their own pumpkins, Frankensteins, bats, witches and ghosts. They are displayed all over our house.   Randomly, a sweet little three-year-old voice will shout “Boo” and try to scare me.   I love seeing my kids in the holiday spirit.  It makes ME feel like a kid again

And That’s Okay

Monday, October 21st, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:

Ah, parenting. That awe-inducing, mind-blowing journey we are on. It sure is interesting. The moment you start to get comfortable, to believe—“I’ve got this thing down”—children remind you that you are not in charge, you do not have all of the answers, and your patience will continually be tested.

I’m a bit exasperated at the moment, and I can explain why with two simple words: potty training. It’s not for the faint of heart. With potty training, I attempted to take a more laid back approach than I have with other toddler conundrums. I did some research but decided to mostly rely on common sense. How hard could it be? To keep a long and frustrating story short, Haley was very defiant about going on the potty. She was excited about her new underwear, but didn’t care too much if it got wet. “Put the child on the potty every forty-five minutes or so” does not work so well when the child refuses to sit down, let alone stay in the bathroom. There was literally nothing I could do, say or bribe her with to get her to sit. She decided over the weekend that she wasn’t thirsty—suddenly the parents who give their kids juice, which I don’t, seemed like the smartest people in the world. The rewards I offered quickly lost their luster. Sometimes she wanted a sticker and was happy to take a piece of chocolate. Other times her reaction was, “eh”.

The worst part of our potty training weekend was how poorly I feel I handled it. Rather than keep my calm and stay positive, I lost my temper a few times. Haley’s at a tough age where she knows what I want her to do and how to do it, but wants to push her boundaries. I think I may have had more success with training her a few months earlier or later. But I’m going to push through even though she’s in a—let’s say special—phase.

Haley’s a great kid and many aspects of raising her have been straightforward. Just the other day, my friend watched Haley while I was at an appointment. My friend marveled at how well behaved she was compared to her own often rambunctious little boy. I appreciate that everyone has different challenges. In parenthood, giving up is not an option. I need to face facts. I’m not going to be one of those moms who had an easy time with potty training. I won’t be able to recount to relatives: “Oh we just did so-and-so and we were done in three days!” I’m letting go of the idea of having to do everything the wonderfully brilliant and easy way. Haley will take a few extra days to learn the deal—so what! She won’t go to college in diapers… I don’t think.

The Little Things

Friday, October 18th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Since returning to work after Rory was born, I have found myself needing to take many more deep breaths than I used to so as to avoid losing my temper at the various goings-on of professional life that can grate on a person. When I first started back at the office, I let the little things get under my skin a bit too much. For example, a weekend email I wasn’t expecting would throw me for a loop. Likewise, a call scheduled for 8 am that required me to swap schedules with my husband would make me irate.

Time has made me a bit more adaptable. Work (and life) are impossible to control in any meaningful fashion. I am learning to take it as a given that the days I am actually ahead of the game on my to-do list will be the ones in which four to five new tasks will land in my in-box, voicemail, or meeting request list.

But accepting the inevitable still doesn’t make days like I had on Wednesday night any more palatable. I had a very productive final forty-five minutes before leaving the office, only to find that the document I had been working on froze and the edits I had so painstakingly made were lost. Then, to top it off, I spent a solid twenty minutes fighting with my computer before I could leave, making me late for the few precious moments I get with Rory each evening. Finally, after putting Rory to bed, despite all my efforts to get my computer issues resolved before leaving the office, I was still unable to connect to our remote server to finish up the work I had left to do until late evening.

I took a great many deep breaths that night. And I am doing the same now as I recount the tale. And I am hoping that sometime soon I will learn that ruminating over such incidents is a waste of time. Until then, I will take comfort in knowing that my deep, visceral reaction is a good sign of how much I love and treasure this little guy.

Lunch Time

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Packing lunches is not one of my favorite tasks.  Jack’s school lunch options are horrendously unhealthy, and he doesn’t like what they offer, anyway.  Tate’s school has no cafeteria, so he has to pack. I pack both boys’ lunches everyday. For years, Jack and Tate ate PB&J along with yogurt, a piece of fruit and granola bar with either water or a fruit juice everyday.  I asked them if they were sick of the same repetitive meals.  They always answered no, but I would find large clumps of crust and unopened/uneaten food left behind in their lunch box.  I have a tough time packing a well-balanced meal that they will eat consistently.

Our family is trying our best to eat healthier.  It’s very hard when three of us have a serious sweet tooth, but making adjustments and substitutions help.  My kids, especially Jack, are willing to try new foods, which makes mealtime less of a fight.

I wanted to start making the boys’ lunches more appealing and fun.  They always came home and told me what this person had in their lunch box and what that person had in theirs.  I decided to buy some plastic divided containers that fit right inside their lunch boxes.  They seal tight and everything is right in front of them when they open up their lunch box.  I did some browsing on the Internet to find creative and healthy meal ideas.  There are TONS of recipes and daily menus. Most of them are pretty basic, but new ideas are always welcomed.  I’m not one for complex recipes, because who wants to put together a recipe at 6am, but things I can cut up and toss into the lunch box are right up my alley.  For example, turkey and cheese pita roll up, sliced cucumber, pretzels and a granola bar.  All things my kids like to eat.

So far, the boys really enjoy what I pack for them.  I am not finding leftover pieces of food inside their lunch box anymore.  I also believe a variety of foods will keep the boys excited about eating healthy.  Simply cutting their fruit with a small cookie cutter, or preparing it in a different way can really help make the same lunch more interesting.

Before I know it, my kids will be making their own lunches.  I want them to know there is more out there than just peanut butter and jelly.  I want them to learn and understand what is healthy and what should be consumed within moderation.  Exposing my boys to different meal options will hopefully stick with them to make good food choices in the future.


Monday, October 14th, 2013

Today I thought I’d talk about an issue many parents face at some point during baby/toddlerhood. If your child does not attend a daycare program and stays at home with a caregiver, you may wonder when he or she should start taking some sort of classes. Obviously, children don’t usually attend “drop-off” classes without an adult until they are at last three years old or so. But attending classes early on offer socialization that a stay-at-home-kid might otherwise not get. In that sense, it seems like a good idea. Yet you wouldn’t want to put your child in an art class, say, if he or she is going just run around, not pay attention and be disruptive. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Genre and Age. Music classes start pretty young, followed soon by Movement or Pre-Dance classes. Around two or so, a toddler might enjoy a rudimentary Art class. More advanced classes like Ballet or Soccer are usually best held off on until about three. If you’re eager to get your infant out, a great choice is “Baby and Me Yoga.” Another option is moms groups that do all kinds of meet-ups.
  2. Socialization. There are two kinds of socialization offered by classes. One type is for the kids and the other is for the caretaker—which can often be even more crucial! Sometimes babies don’t get much from a class that they wouldn’t get from a simple stroll or hanging in the park. But it’s nice for parents and nannies to meet with other adults and commiserate over childcare responsibilities or just talk about adult topics.
  3. Timing. Most parents like to enroll their kids in classes on the early side of the day, so that they can get their energy out and still have plenty of time to eat lunch before naptime. If your child is still taking two naps, it may be a little more challenging to find that perfect window. Luckily most children fall into a predictable pattern by six months.

Of course, these classes are not at all necessary. There are plenty of fun things to explore in your neighborhood without being wed to a strict schedule of classes. But being that there are many inexpensive options—such as classes at the local library, community center or place of worship—it’s worth checking out. Haley has been going to informal kid activities since she was about a year old, and she started structured classes around two. This has worked out well for us. I’ve met a lot of nice parents. Haley loves seeing the same kids each week, talking about her sweet teachers, and making art projects. She seems to crave the formal class settings. She really looks forward to it. And I feel better knowing that she will have a reference point when she starts preschool.

Keeping up with the Big Kids

Friday, October 11th, 2013

The age range in Rory’s classroom at daycare spans from 7-8 months to 18/24 months. I think the oldest are closer to 12 months at the moment.  Regardless, there is quite a range of physical development between and among his classmates.

Now that Rory is crawling very well, his teachers have begun to notice an increased sense of awareness of the other kids’ ability to move about the room freely. When the door opens to head to snack time or to get into the stroller to head outside, Rory watches longingly and crawls behind as fast as he can, as if to say “wait for me, guys!!” Likewise, when he is on the playground, he stares intently at the big kids on the slide and other equipment and giggles emphatically.  He really seems to be wondering when he might be able to join in the fun. I have witnessed this first-hand the handful of times I’ve picked him up lately and am always somewhat amused at the sight.

I am pleased to see Rory have such a focus on gross motor development and hope that he continues to maintain his generally pleasant demeanor about it all (as opposed to getting cranky because he can’t keep up). We are thrilled to see him taking in his surroundings so deliberately. Though we hope he doesn’t catch on TOO quickly.  At least not before we can get some more baby gates installed.

Fall Break

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
My children had their fall break last weekend through this Tuesday.  We originally planned to make a fun beach trip to relax and soak up the sun one last time this year.  Unfortunately, our plans got disrupted when tropical storm Karen was headed right where we wanted to go.  Although we were very annoyed with the circumstances, we decided to make the most of a fun weekend at home instead.

We wanted Jack and Tate to have a special weekend since they worked hard at school over the last nine weeks.  All of us deserved a break.  My husband and I thought of some fun ideas to do over the long weekend.  We let the boys decide what appealed to them most.

We started the weekend with a visit to our town’s fair.  We rode several different rides including a shaky kiddie roller coaster.  I had the privilege of riding with Tate, and I am pretty sure I was more scared than a three year old.  We also went to a petting zoo with some rather hungry animals.  Jack was willing to feed the animals with a little cup of food.  He quickly learned that goats, pigs, ducks and ponies would do anything they could to get food.  It was very funny to watch, and Jack thought it was hysterical how the animals were licking his hands.  Don’t worry, I immediately helped Jack scrub his hands three times.

After the fair, the boys requested to go out to dinner.  I’m always hesitant to go out to dinner with Tate because he is very fidgety.  I’m usually up running around the restaurant and or cleaning up spills.  Well, to my surprise, Tate behaved very well.  This was the first dinner out in over six years where I didn’t feel stressed or ready to leave ten minutes after arriving.  I guess this means our little guy is growing up…very bittersweet, but what a wonderful feeling to finally enjoy a peaceful family dinner outing.  Lets hope the next one goes just as well.

The rest of the weekend we did our best to relax and play outside as much as possible since the weather is finally fall-like here.  Jack and Tate invented a new backyard ball game, helped Daddy wash his car, rode their bikes, and hiked almost five miles at the park.  All in all, it was a great weekend.  Although we weren’t able to take our mini-vacation, we made our own “home” vacation that turned out to be a very enjoyable one.