Archive for November, 2013

Giving Thanks

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Every year, a partner with my law firm sends a Thanksgiving message to the attorneys and staff. Each year, I look forward to that message, as it has always embodied the very spirit of the firm to me: a familial enclave in an otherwise fast-paced work environment. I have described its author to others as a grandfatherly figure, the patron saint of yesteryear, and the stalwart advocate of perpetuating the same strong values and culture that have caused so many, like him, to spend their entire careers here.

This year, there was some uncertainty as to whether such a message would be coming, and what, if anything, it might say. I was, admittedly, disheartened at the thought that I would not be embarking on our Thanksgiving travels with the same reflective message I’ve come to expect, respect, and admire. Fortunately, late afternoon on Tuesday, we did, in fact, receive our annual message. Abbreviated as it may have been, he encapsulated in a brief paragraph the same gratitude and mutual admiration for our friends and colleagues.

As Rory grows older, I look forward to sharing these and future such messages with him. I hope to be able to teach him the importance of not only being thankful to have a job, but also to be thankful and appreciative of those around you. Fostering that mutual respect, whether in school, work, or community affairs, allows you to accomplish so very much more than you might absent those personal connections. Even at a mere ten and a half months, we are already seeing Rory become part of a humming community of activity.  I look forward to talking with him about Thanksgiving (like Wednesday mom), and watching him grow and understand what this holiday is all about.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Thankful Thoughts

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
I sat down with Jack and Tate and asked them to define the meaning of Thanksgiving.  Jack was quick to reply that Thanksgiving was a time to give thanks. We try to teach both of our boys say, “thank you” as a matter of habit to all the people who help them throughout the day.

For fun, I asked Jack and Tate to recite a list of ten things they’re thankful for.  The results are rather interesting. Here they are in no particular order.

  1. Corn – a healthy vegetable that I really like to eat.
  2. Toys – they keep us busy and out of trouble.
  3. Clothes – help our bodies stay warm, especially socks.
  4. Family – without our family, we wouldn’t have anything.
  5. School – learning is fun and it’s where I see my friends everyday.
  6. Van – it lets us travel and gets us to school on time.
  7. Water – it cleans up our messes and I like to drink it.
  8. Disney World- FUN, FUN, FUN
  9. Rubber bands – keeps all my cards together so they don’t get lost.
  10. Electricity – without it I wouldn’t be able to see in the dark, stay cool in the hot months and toast my bread.

Through the minds of a six and three year old, I think these thoughts are precious.  Jack and Tate are aware of the world around them and grateful for things they already have.  Things they thought just existed.

I’m thankful for many things.  Most importantly I’m thankful for my healthy family, the good, the bad and in between times we share together, finding joy everyday in motherhood and peace in unlikely places.

The Apple and The Tree

Monday, November 25th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Neetika:
When I was a little girl, I was painfully shy. Famously shy. In my high school yearbook, a classmate who had by then become a close friend of mine recounted that in the first grade, I spoke in a whisper and seemed scared all the time. I don’t know why I behaved that way. At home, I was a hyperactive young child—running, dancing, singing, laughing—but only around people I felt incredibly comfortable with.

Haley claims to be shy. If we tell her that we’re about to meet a new person, she’ll announce that she’s not going to talk to them or play with them. When the new person arrives, if he or she is the least bit friendly, Haley immediately shows them her painted nails, the shoes she’s wearing, and her room—in that order. Then she does not stop talking to them and engaging them until they leave.

It’s very interesting to see this facet of Haley’s personality developing. I’m constantly exploring the nature vs. nurture debate in my mind while I observe her. In some ways, Haley is just like her father or me. In other ways, we look at each other like, “where did this kid come from?” It’s thrilling to think that many qualities are Haley’s own—literally, she’s becoming her own person before our eyes.

I am excited to see how Haley will change as she gets older. Will she become more like us or less? Will she have talents that no one in her family has displayed before? Or will she be a chip off the old block—and if so, which block? If we have another child, we’ll have another trial experiment on our hands!

I love everything about Haley. And what’s fun is that as time goes on, there will be more and more about her to love. No matter where it comes from.

Paying it Forward

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
As the child of a public school teacher–and a gifted education teacher at that– I was raised with extreme appreciation of the importance of having the proper resources available to children to foster creative learning and independent growth. That is not to say I learned that every educational opportunity required substantial spending. Rather, I grew up realizing the impact a few generous parents or school board members could have on a classroom. Whether it was helping my mother scour the sale rack for stickers to use in her own classroom or seeing the look of gratitude on her face when thanking the moms who volunteered at the various district-wide events she organized and hosted each year, I grew to value the importance of parental participation in the classroom. And, even more importantly, I learned the importance of listening and responding to teachers’ requests.

As a working mom, I sometimes struggle with the question of how and in what fashion I will be able to contribute to Rory’s own classrooms over the years. I felt an extreme twinge of guilt this year when I chose, deliberately, NOT to sign up to be a “room mom” for his classroom. My reasoning was that I should not over commit myself in my first year back at work without taking the time to see whether I could handle the additional responsibility AND still do a good job at work and at home. Instead, I made it a goal to attend as many school events as possible, and I am making good on that promise to myself (at least so far).

Still, when Rory’s “head teacher” mentioned last week that she was hoping that parents could keep an eye out at rummage sales or other events for a few additional toys for the classroom–namely shape sorters and ring stackers–I was thrilled to have an opportunity to help out. The toys she mentioned are some of Rory’s absolute favorites at home, so I purchased an extra one of each. Though she hadn’t asked for new toys, I knew that her request had come from a genuine desire for the kids to have the best resources available to them, and I was more than willing to oblige.

When I dropped off the new toys yesterday, his teacher was overwhelmed. So much so that she asked if she could give me a hug to say thank you. I told her it was the least I could do. And I meant it. After all– in choosing childcare, we trust a great deal to the folks who spend each day with our children. I was more than willing to help ensure that she had everything necessary to continue doing an excellent job fostering the creative and loving learning environment for Rory and his classmates.

Weekend Visitor

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Back in September, I attended Parents Night at Tate’s school.  Towards the end of the evening, I was introduced to Bubba Bear.  Bubba is a giant stuffed animal that sits in a fancy chair.  His job is to keep tabs on every student’s behavior throughout the week.  At the end of the week, he chooses the most behaved student and spends the weekend with them.  I’m thankful he is just a stuffed animal.  When I was in preschool, my class had a guinea pig we took home for the weekend.  Yikes!  (Sorry about that, mom.)

I’m fortunate that our preschool has a drive-thru pick up line where teachers walk the children out to their car and help buckle them in.  When I picked Tate up from school last Friday, there he was holding Bubba Bear, smiling, waving and pointing to Bubba.  I knew he had a good week.  Tate jumped in the van and immediately started talking a mile a minute about how Bubba thought he was so well behaved.  Tate has been in time out numerous times this year, so I was very happy to see Bubba.  After buckling Tate in his car seat, the teacher also buckled Bubba in Jack’s car seat and we were on our way.  Bubba is the size of Tate, so he is no easy task to carry around.

Bubba comes with a journal and a backpack.  I did my best at writing down everything we did over the weekend.  We must include pictures, too.  Needless to say, I was clicking away all weekend.  We didn’t have much planned over the weekend.  It was very rainy, which didn’t make for a super exciting time.  However, we did manage to play for a little bit outside during breaks in the rain.  We watched a movie, played board games, baked chocolate chip cookies, played with every single toy we own, went out for pizza and went over to a friend’s house for some yummy cheeseburgers.  Bubba came with us everywhere we went.  It felt as though I had three children.

Bubba’s backpack was filled with three days worth of clothes.  We dressed him every morning and put pajamas on him every evening.  He ate with us, bathed with us (not really), brushed his teeth with us, slept with us and even went potty.  I wasn’t lying when I said it felt like having a third child.

Yesterday, Bubba returned to school.  Tate was sad to take him back to his fancy chair.  Tate told me he wasn’t going to get any more time outs at school and he was going to share with all his friends.  You can’t imagine the elation I felt hearing those words come out of his mouth.  We all had a good weekend with Bubba.  It was so sweet to see Tate take such good care of him and make sure he was happy.  Bubba is a great behavior “tool.”  Perhaps I need to find Bubba’s friend and keep him at our house all the time.  I wonder how many behavior issues would be solved?

Santa’s Calling!

Monday, November 18th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Haley continues to be the very typical two-year old. She often behaves defiantly—sometimes out of anger, sometimes for laughs, sometimes just because she can. A fun way she’s been displaying that defiance is by refusing to put her pants back on after using the potty. Her no-pants-dance-party is sort of amusing, but when I want to get on with my day I find myself more quick-tempered than I’d like to admit.

So recently I tried a new approach. Threats of time-out and other punishments did nothing to improve the situation. The last time this happened—by coincidence—Santa called me, just to do a periodic check and find our how Haley was doing! Can you believe that? He asked what you would expect—is Haley behaving and listening—and wanted to go over her Christmas list with me. As Santa and I conversed something even more miraculous happened—Haley put her pants on! Which is lucky, because I was able to give Santa an excellent report and her toy deliveries are still on schedule. Whew!

I hadn’t planned on Santa calling. It’s amazing how resourceful a parent can be during difficult moments. You can’t rely on the same old methods. Your toddler is constantly changing—so you need to as well. I’m psyched that Haley is not only getting into the Christmas spirit, but it’s a source of motivation for her, too. I have heard that some parents think it’s not right to tie Christmas celebrations to behavioral expectations, and I can respect where they’re coming from. But when you’re trying to catch a train, prevent a pot from over-boiling, or just save your sanity, you’ll do what you need to do to get those pants on and move forward. Santa is only trying to help. I’ll take the assist.

A Seat at the Table

Friday, November 15th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Now that Rory is ten months old, we’re supposed to be starting him on adult table foods. It is time to start giving him tastes of what we’re eating at each meal to start working on a more grown-up diet. What that has caused us to realize, however, is just how poorly we eat. I grew up with home-cooked, family meals each evening. Now, we eat a lot of frozen pasta meals, refrigerated pasta, frozen pizzas, and take out. When time permits, I sometimes cook a big batch of chicken chili or some other large-pot meal over the weekend. But, generally speaking, we eat pretty poorly.

To date, I have been feeding Rory organic baby food pouches, along with basic starter foods like yogurt, cottage cheese, rice cereal, toast, scrambled eggs, etc. These were easy. Now, it is time to actually start making responsible dietary choices for ourselves and our son.

I started this week with some basic first steps. I’ve purchased fresh versions of some of the fruits and veggies he has enjoyed in pouch form. I have purchased some new, baby-friendly foods like bagels. Unfortunately, I haven’t made it home early enough this week to test any of them out. I’m hoping that this weekend gives us a chance to start this newest eating adventure in earnest. Who knows, maybe I’ll cook up something healthy that we all enjoy. Here’s hoping. . .

Honoring Our Veterans

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Every year, Jack’s elementary school honors veterans – past and present – with a program presented by students and staff.  This year, a teacher contacted me and asked if my husband would speak at their Veterans Day event.  I volunteered my husband immediately, because I knew he would be happy to participate.  He is proud to serve in the military and delighted to help out at our son’s school.

My husband and I arrived several minutes early to meet with the principal and to gather his thoughts to prepare for the speech.  If any of you know my husband, he can wing most speeches and leave the audience impressed.  He did just that.  He spoke about what the military meant to him and his family.  He addressed all branches of the military and what each mission was to keep our country safe.  He spoke about the good times and the hard times.  Several students asked questions and he provided honest answers.  For example, “How does the Army fight?”  My husband replied, “hard.”  The adults chuckled.  Most importantly, he informed the students and staff how humbling it was to be a part of the school’s event and tell about his experience in the Navy.

As I sat and listened to him speak, I couldn’t help but think back to the last eleven years we’ve been a part of the Navy.  We’ve lived in several different states, and experienced numerous deployments and detachments away from each other.  It’s been a crazy journey, but one I from which have learned so much.

At the end of the program, each student who has a veteran in their family placed a flag in the ground to honor those who served.  It was the sweetest act of patriotism.  Jack was so happy to show his Daddy his flag and gave him a big hug while whispering the words “thank you” in his father’s ear.  Oh, yes I had tears streaming down my face.  It was an emotional moment for all involved.  Hundreds of flags lined the entrance to the school waving in the breeze.  What a special program the school presented and we were happy to be a part of it.

Happy Veterans Day to all the honorable men and women who serve this great country and to all the spouses/family members that show them unwavering support!



Mom Needs A Break

Monday, November 11th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Unfortunately, Haley and I came down with colds over the weekend. Mine was a little milder than hers. I have started to see more runny colds in children in our classes (never a welcome sight) and with the weather changing, I had a feeling this was coming. Hopefully we will be on the mend soon enough. We have a hectic week ahead.

In the beginning of the week, my husband has a busy couple of days at work. It’s hard enough to take on the reins of responsibility when you are feeling well; hopefully I won’t be too run down. In the middle of the week I get a break because we are celebrating my birthday, and my husband is taking the day off from work. Then, we get to enjoy the festivities we’ve planned—grown-up dinner at a nice restaurant and a professional basketball game. Our good friend and neighbor works for the sports team and offered us free tickets—it’s nice to know people in high places!

It feels like this fall/winter is going by at warp speed. Between dentist appointments, a holiday photo shoot, family obligations, preschool tours, etc. I know it will be Thanksgiving, then Christmas before I know it. Soon another year will be starting. When I had Haley, people told me how fast it would go by. I didn’t realize how right they were at the time, but I sure get it now.

Enjoy your week! Hope it doesn’t go by too fast for you.

Soft Landing

Friday, November 8th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory has started pulling himself up on, well, just about anything he can find. It doesn’t matter if it is stable or can actually hold his weight, he’s happy to give it a try. Among other things, he has learned that neither his laundry basket nor trash can give him the strong anchor he needs to pull himself to standing.

Rory’s attempts to stand have brought a new sense of anxiety. We’ve been trying to strike a balance between giving him the space he needs to test his new-found strength and making certain that we are there to cushion his fall. As his daddy pointed out this evening—this is just the first of many times on the parenting journey that we’ll want to give him a (literal or figurative) soft landing. We’ve taken a number of steps to stave off injury in this current stage. We’ve placed padding on the hard edged furniture and try to be certain to stay within an arms reach if he is playing near anything remotely elevated, such as the one-step landing at the bottom of our stairwell.

Even still, Rory is fond of getting up on his knees and pressing against whatever flat surface (wall, coffee table, door, etc) is nearby to help prop himself up. Typically, he gets excited and starts bouncing up and down on his knees. And, once excited and squirming about with glee, he will sometimes lose his balance and take a nose-dive onto the floor.

We are hoping he gets a hang of it soon. In the interim, we’ll keep working on our parent halos and hope we catch him before he lands.