Archive for December, 2013

A Merry Christmas, Indeed!

Monday, December 30th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
It might seem like Christmas was long ago at this point. That’s the way with a holiday so major and at the end of the year. Lots of preparation and anticipation, and once you’re done with it, you’re done with it. But this is my first post since Christmas, so I’m writing about it. Deal with it! 🙂

Haley is two and a half, a great age for celebrating Christmas. She doesn’t quite understand everything involved, but is almost there. She seemed a little confused when we put out cookies and carrots the night before. She woke up screaming “Santa’s here!” We had to gently correct her misunderstandings. Once she saw all the presents, she couldn’t have cared less what the rituals were—gift time!

Haley’s favorite gifts are a baby doll and a new scooter. She also likes a lot of the simple stuff—play doh, a coloring book, and an inexpensive princess toy. What I loved about this Christmas is realizing that starting next year, she will really understand why we’re doing things and I know she’ll get into it. Hopefully it will be many years before she questions the idea of Santa Claus. I’m always perplexed why there’s a big deal made of children finding out “the truth.” What is the truth? Has anyone proved there isn’t a Santa?

Tomorrow night we’ll ring in the New Year long after Haley goes to bed. When she wakes up, she’ll have no idea that it’s 2014. But she’ll see her family being excited and joyful, and that will make her the happiest girl in the world.

All the best to you and your little ones in the New Year!

Home for the Holidays

Friday, December 27th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
A year ago, my husband and I spent our first Christmas in our own home. I was thirty-six weeks pregnant and inside the “travel ban” period, as my physician likes to call it. He strongly advised against travelling more than an hour from the hospital where I intended to deliver. So, we stayed in town. My parents came into town to join us. We attended an annual cocktail hour, took in a show, spent lots of time with our feet up, and had a lovely, quiet holiday.

This year, we opted to stay put once again. When we sat down to talk about whether we would make the trip to Ohio to see my husband’s family, we both concluded that we wanted Rory to wake up in his own house on his first Christmas morning. It was also important to us to start forming the same types of memories that we both have about Christmas. Rory’s grandmother would come to visit, and we would have a nice, quiet Christmas at home once again. Unfortunately, given our tiny house and the growing volume of baby “stuff”—his grandmother had to stay in a hotel around the corner. Lucky for us, she was willing to do so, and, with that, our plans were set.

Neither one of us travelled terribly far for Christmas when we were growing up. We got to wake up in our own beds on Christmas morning, had rotating grandparents visiting, and the sometimes took the occasional trip out of town to visit en mass with a larger contingent of family. By and large, each Christmas began and ended very much like the last — early church on Christmas Eve, up before dawn to wait at the top of the stairs for mom and dad to wake up, then sneaking down the stairs to see what Santa had brought and survey the package count under the tree. Stuffing ourselves with coffee cake and passing the day away playing with new toys, answering phone calls from family near and far, and basking in the warmth of a house full of smiles, home cooked meals, laughter, and loved ones.

Although Rory probably won’t remember a single moment of this, his first Christmas, both my husband and I certainly feel blessed to be able to show him what Christmas is all about in our own home: a small child, two loving parents, and not enough room in the inn.

Our Christmas Poem

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:

‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a person was ready, not even my spouse.

The gifts are not wrapped, they’re hidden, but bare,

In hopes that my hubby will wrap them with care.


The children, with colds, are coughing in bed,

While visions of Legos dance in their heads.

And mamma in yoga pants, that came from the Gap,

Was hiding a scout elf the children named Zack.


When out in the driveway there arose such a clatter,

I got off the couch to see what was the matter.

Away to the front door I flew like a flash,

Another delivery to add to the stash?


The lights and decorations, covered in bows,

Gave a luster of mid-day to the front yard below

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a big brown truck, stuck in first gear.


With an overworked driver, so tired but quick,

I knew in a moment he was working two shifts.

Faster than mail his deliveries they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, each box by name!


“Now Amazon! now, Apple! now, LL Bean and Lands End

On, Target! On, Macy’s! and  jelly from friends

Straight to the door! Stay away from the mall!

Now click away! ship away! deliver them all!”


He sprang to his truck, to me gave a whistle,

And away he drove, like the UPS missile

But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

In Defense of Social Networking

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
It’s been done to death—blogs, articles, and stories dedicated to criticizing our “look at me” culture and pointing out the stunning realization that just because someone makes their life look perfect on Facebook, that doesn’t mean that it actually is. Parents are among the worst culprits here, often intent on seeming like the Cleavers—a life filled with children dressed adorably, behaving impeccably and eating elaborate home-cooked meals every night. The only problem with this is that if you have any other parents viewing these posts, your cover is already blown. By virtue of being a parent to young children, your life contains some element of uncontrolled chaos that cannot be denied. So don’t even try.

I admit I’m on the side of the cynic, choosing to stay on the sidelines of the “look at me, and now look at my kids” phenomenon. But today I seek to defend the practice. Why? Well, the world is changing.  You may not know your neighbors, and being a member of a caring, interactive community is more a commodity than a given. Once upon a time, people really did lean on their friends down the street and almost always had their family close by. Unfortunately for many that’s becoming a rarity.

On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, we can connect. Sure, it’s silly to insist your routine is spotless and you don’t feel stress, or more accurately, only share the good stuff so that it seems that way. But when you want to share pictures with relatives or you’re hoping someone knows a cure for your kid’s persistent ailment, online is the place to go. I don’t know if technology is preventing human connection, or it’s the reaction to a loss that already exists. Either way, it’s filling the gap.

I’ve seen a mom post a happy video of a kid roller-skating moments after he had a huge meltdown: “Fun in the park!” the caption read. No mention of the tantrum. I know this happened because I was there. The whole thing seems pretty silly. But if sharing the good moment made the mom feel like her family is thriving, is she really hurting anyone? I don’t think so. We cynics just have to remember that we’re all trying our best, and throwing back a “thumb’s up” is the way we can support people we care about.

Bath Time

Friday, December 20th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
A few weeks ago, we decided it was time to retire Rory’s infant/toddler bathtub and start letting him have free reign of the bathtub each night. I have no idea whether we are ahead of the curve or a little late, but my guess is that we were a little on the late side in transitioning to the full tub. After all, he has been sitting well since he was seven months old; yet, we waited another four months before making the switch.

So far since making the switch, bath time has become a much more hands-on experience. I thought I had figured out a trick to getting him to sit still when, on Monday night, I left the water running. He was absolutely fascinated by the faucet and sat, eyes transfixed on the flow, for a solid ten minutes as I sponged him down. Tonight, however, this new trick backfired completely. He was so thrilled by the faucet that he started bouncing up and down on his rear-end and crawling back and forth in the tub, almost as though he was swimming laps in his bathwater.

None of this would seem that extraordinary were it not for the fact that our bathtub has sliding glass doors instead of a shower curtain. As a result, I can’t really reach him well when he takes off splashing to the far end of the tub. Cute as his newfound glee is, I found myself fearing for his safety far more than usual. Bath toys and soap suds distract him somewhat, but I am also likely going to need to start wearing shorts so that when he does steal away to the other end of the tub, I’ll be able to swim along after him if necessary.

Mommy’s Getaway

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
When my boys were infants, I couldn’t leave them for more than a couple of hours.  It just didn’t feel right to be away from them when they were so tiny.  With the exception of an occasional date night with my husband or a military function with friends, I rarely left their sides.  Instead, I wanted to be home, albeit overwhelmed and exhausted.

Fast-forward several years, and the idea of a getaway has become almost a necessity. I’ve mentioned before in past blog posts that taking a mommy “time out” reminds us we are our own person.  We deserve time to ourselves or time with family/friends out of our normal routine.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to explore New York City with my mother and two sisters.  We braved the snowy weather and made the most of our short time together.  We took in all the sights, sounds, flavors and the Christmas beauty of the great city. After all the exercise we had sight seeing and shopping, we also found time to sit back and chat without any interruptions. Although it was a quick getaway, it was the perfect weekend I’ve been dreaming about for a long time.

It was also a time for my husband to get some quality time with his boys.  He works very hard and travels often for work so he doesn’t always have a chance to witness what the boys do on a daily basis as I do.  For example, school morning/afternoon routines, helping with homework and preparing every meal.  They had a great weekend together and managed to keep the house fairly neat.

Yes, I always miss my boys when I’m away from them. I think about their sweet smiles and words, their creative minds and how they ask for kisses from mommy every night. With those happy thoughts in mind, I came home a happier and rejuvenated person who is ready to be a better mom and wife.

School Daze

Monday, December 16th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
I noticed that a local preschool was holding a meeting for the community about entering public Kindergarten. It was run by a local non-profit that specializes in the New York City public school system. You might wonder how a school system could warrant a non-profit like that, so let me tell you a fun fact: in this fine city, there are more than 1,900 public schools.

Haley is several years away from entering Kindergarten—she’s not even in preschool yet—but I’m glad I attended the meeting, because I was clueless about how the system functions. Now, I have half a clue, so I’m getting somewhere! For some reason, there is a narrow four-week period in early winter in which you register your five year old for Kindergarten for that fall. If you want to go to your “zoned” school, you probably can. If you don’t, you are in for a windy road that includes ranking at least twelve school choices and being rejected by most of them.

Unfortunately, quality varies wildly when it comes to elementary schools here. Living in a nice, middle-class neighborhood does not come close to guaranteeing a good school in New York City. In fact, I know of a neighborhood not too far away from where I live that is downright posh—and the elementary school there gets failing grades. It’s one of the most expensive places to live in the country and you would not want to send your kid to the corresponding zoned school. Most people buy multi-million dollar homes there, and then send their kids to a private school. Consequently, students are bused in to the public school from a lower income area. It’s a self-perpetuating, no-win situation for everybody and quite sad.

As anyone who has sought a house to purchase knows, it’s important to get the 411 on schools before buying a place. Complicating matters in New York City is that re-zoning is a reality. It’s pretty disheartening to imagine that something like that could happen to you. I feel lucky that my zoned school is a good one, but who knows what the future holds?

One of the most important take-aways from the meeting is that responsible parents should do a lot of research to make sure they are making the best choice for their situation and their family. A progressive school that emphasizes diversity might be right up your ally, while a charter school that values academic success might not. I’ve been very focused on Haley’s learning as a preschooler, but now I’m starting to consider what her formal education should look like. I wish it were as simple as signing up at the district office. But it isn’t, and now it’s Mom’s turn to get educated.

Feeling compassion

Friday, December 13th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory’s daycare teachers informed us this week that he has started showing a more intense emotional reaction to the reactions of his classmates. Our ordinarily even-keeled kiddo apparently gets very upset when his classmates start to cry, and only really calms down once his friends have calmed down, too.

So far, we haven’t seen this carry over at home much. In other words, he doesn’t seem to be crying simply because he is entertaining himself nor because he is mimicking others. Instead, he really seems to be trying to rallying around his friends and asking his teachers for help on his friends’ behalf.

I have no idea if my characterization of the situation is at all accurate. But I have been enjoying daydreaming about his apparent personality and the little boy (and then grown man) that Rory will eventually become. I hope that he remains intent on speaking up on behalf of others in order to prevent injustices. I hope he is always willing to raise his voice for those who may not be heard. And I hope that he remains a little leader amongst his peers.

I know that my wants and desires will go only a fraction of a way towards shaping Rory into that type of boy. He has a long way to go towards developing his own actual interpersonal skills, even if he is planting the seeds every day. I also know that by nurturing and encouraging his new-found compassion, we can foster in him a sense of deep appreciation and respect for others. And that is precisely what we intend to do.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
If you have set foot outside lately, you know that it is winter.  The entire country is covered in snow, ice, and/or extremely cold temperatures.  Unfortunately, winter in Mississippi only offers bitter cold rain and rarely any snow.  In a state where average summer high temps are in the upper nineties, a winter low even approaching freezing is front-page news.

Living in states with generally warmer climates over the last decade has made our family very “soft” when it comes to coping with winter weather.  We find ourselves shivering when it’s fifty degrees out.  Our kids do not own a true winter jacket.  They’ve never lived anywhere that required one.  They wear fleece pullovers or lined raincoats.  This week ‘s temperatures have made me reconsider. Even in the forty-degree weather we can barely stand getting to and from school, and any outside play is limited.

My husband laughs at the people around here that wear jackets, hats and gloves when the temperature is in the fifties.  But even he admits he is not as tough as he was when he lived in Syracuse, NY.  One day, our idea is to plan a family trip to the Rockies where the kids can get a feel for real winter and snow-sports.  This country has all kinds of climates to enjoy and we look forward to playing in the snow as a family. Who knows, maybe next Christmas will be a white Christmas by choice.  Stay warm, everyone!

Daddy Time

Monday, December 9th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Breaking news: being a stay-at-home-mom is hard. It’s worth it, I love it, and I don’t want things to be any different. Yet sometimes the only thing getting me through a long day of toddler insanity is knowing that in the evening, I’ll have someone to hand the reins to in my husband, Joe. As it turns out, there are many days when Haley’s had enough of me, too!

The last few nights, busy with work and social engagements, “Dada” has not been around at bedtime. Haley seemed okay with this, as she’s quite the Mama’s Girl. But on Saturday night Haley had had enough. Maybe it’s because it was the weekend and she spent the whole day with him only to have him disappear after dinner. When she realized that he was gone—even though he said goodbye—she had a fit and a half. She cried hysterically, screaming, “I want my Daaaddee!” at the top of her lungs. I could not get her in the bathtub and I had to placate her with an episode of Daniel Tiger! (I do not ever let her watch TV right before bedtime!)

The next day, Joe put Haley down for her nap. As she was winding down, she quietly said, “I wanted you.” Joe said, “You mean last night, at bedtime?” She said, “Yeah.” He felt awful! Sometimes a girl just needs her Dada.

I’m so happy that Haley is so fond of her father. She is close to me in a way that seems obsessive—and I’m guilty of that with her, too—so there were times that I wasn’t sure how much she’d take to him. It was like Mama was her world and everyone else was just there. But as she’s growing more mature, she’s appreciating having another parent who has different things to offer her and loves her just as much.