Archive for January, 2014

What a Difference a Year Makes

Friday, January 31st, 2014

From Friday Mom – Erin:
We had professional family photographs taken last week to capture Rory at the one year mark. Even though mommy’s iPhone is chock full of snapshots of the little guy, we wanted to be sure we had some nice pictures to look back at when he gets older. The photographer who shot his newborn pictures was unavailable, so I researched and located a reasonably priced photographer in our area who specializes in newborns and families.

Despite switching photographers, the juxtaposition between last year’s images and this year’s images is remarkable. Some of these differences are to be expected: he is taller, heavier, and older; he is more attentive to the world around him; and he is more active and more present in every moment captured with the open-close-open of the shutter.

Yet, in other subtle ways the photos are still very much the same. For example, because our house is so small, our new photographer did not have a lot of space to select from when selecting poses, camera angles, and backgrounds. That is not to say that the photos are identical; rather, there are certain similarities in composition.

Taken side-by-side, the photographs, together, reflect with eerie perfection the subtle yet enormous differences of a year’s time in the life of a child. Whereas Rory’s newborn photos capture the timidity of two parents fearful that they might “break the baby” and the awkward, yet loving care of a family of three still very much in the process of getting to know their latest addition, Rory’s one-year photos capture the excitement of three personalities united by the unbreakable love parents and children share for one another. The eyes that stared with somewhat empty newness last year are lit brightly with energy and spunk in this year’s shots. The timid, gentle, and uncertain embrace of last year’s images are replaced by warm, tight squeezes around a wiggly, wrangling toddler. And the visible silence of a soundly sleeping baby is drowned out by the visible laughter of Rory’s gleaming smile.

What a difference, indeed.

Snow Day

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
For the last several days, local meteorologists have been predicting a “dusting” of snow in our area.  This is a big deal in the South.  Everyone’s eyes – including my own – were peeled to the forecasts trying to get accurate information.  Schools sent home letters yesterday notifying parents to keep a close watch on the weather in case of school closings.

We woke up to very little precipitation, but horrendously cold temperatures. Within minutes, the snow started to fall and road conditions rapidly got worse.  Sure enough, I received a phone call from Jack’s school announcing it was closed.  The sheer excitement on my children’s faces was priceless.  They quickly scrambled to find their warmest clothes, jackets, snow boots, hats and gloves.  They saw pictures of snow at their grandparents’ houses earlier this winter and were so upset they couldn’t have snow of their own.  Well, their wish came true and today we took advantage of this rare snow day.  Even though only two inches of snow accumulated, this was a blizzard in the boys’ minds.

Jack and Tate were outside most of the day.  They caught snowflakes on their tongues, packed a few tiny snowballs, made snow ninjas (instead of angels), and attempted to make a snowman.  The temperatures were absolutely freezing.  With the wind chill, the highs were close to 14 degrees.  Did that stop them from playing?  No!  I couldn’t handle being outside quite as long.  Instead, I watched them play through the window.  I sipped some hot cocoa and couldn’t help but remember my childhood snow days and all the fun memories I made.

Coming up this weekend, the temperatures are to be near 70 degrees.  Only in the South do these wild weather patterns seem to occur in January.  One day you may get frostbite and the next day sunburn.  Whatever Mother Nature has up her sleeve, I’m happy my children were able to make their own memories of playing in the snow today.

Food for Thought

Monday, January 27th, 2014

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
For most of Haley’s life, she has been a very picky eater. It always worried me, but I tried to remind myself that the doctor wasn’t too concerned. I beat myself up about it, thinking that if I was more structured about meal times, better at offering a variety of choices, and gave in to her whims less often, I’d have a better eater on my hands.

I saw a baby at the story time the other day, probably around 9 or 10 months old. His mom offered him a banana for his snack. It was incredible. The baby held almost an entire banana, minus the peel, in his hand and began to devour it. It’s not that he ate it like he’d never seen food before. It’s just that he rhythmically bit, chewed, and swallowed with such gusto! Hardly pausing for air, he finished the banana within minutes and his mom didn’t bat an eyelash. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you Haley has never eaten food like this—ever.

We know all kids are different, but when a friend’s kid has no problem in an area in which your kid struggles, it’s hard to maintain perspective. Haley has many interests; food just isn’t one of them. I can’t blame myself for that. Sure, there are things that I can do to encourage her to eat well. But I can’t change who she is as a person. Nor would I want to!

I’m happy to report that Haley has made many strides in this area. She is interested in new foods and wants to try them. She eats more independently than ever. She tells me she’s hungry and asks for snacks. She still loves fruit and is relatively happy with the healthy choices I present her with. Maybe all my efforts to get her to eat better are finally paying off. More likely, Haley has gotten more “into” food and eating all on her own. Either way, it’s nice to see her eating. And nice that I can relax a bit, too.

Snowed In

Friday, January 24th, 2014

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory and I had lots of quality time this week. After being closed in honor of MLK day on Monday, Rory’s daycare was closed Tuesday and Wednesday as a result of inclement weather here in the Northeast. My work schedule was a good bit more flexible than his daddy’s so I was largely in charge of toddler entertainment.

On the weekends, we usually don’t engage in too much structured activity with Rory. We get so little time with him during the week that on Saturdays and Sundays we try to enjoy our time with him and not focus too much on any specific learning activities. When I’ve stayed home with him in the past few months, he has usually been ill and not entirely himself. So this week was one of the first chances I’d had in a while to spending full days with a healthy kiddo.

So, over the last two days, however, I tried to mix in a few of the activities that  he is used to doing at school to keep him entertained. We did some coloring with jumbo crayons. Rory waved a few crayons back and forth on the coloring book before trying to eat them. We read a lot of books, played peek-a-boo with juggling scarves, built towers with foam blocks, knocked those same towers down, built a lot of Lego houses, and picked those houses apart piece by piece.

We also played with a lot of his favorite toys and worked on walking with assistance. Rory made some great improvement to his ability to stand on his own, and I was very happy to have been around to see those advancements. And we also got to play in the snow, of course. Overall, I think Rory had a great time and enjoyed the personal attention and snuggles we gave him over the snow days. I certainly enjoyed the unexpected time we got together this week.

A Bit of Jealousy

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Our friend from New Orleans visited us this weekend and he brought his two-year-old daughter, Olivia. We are long time friends and he was in town on business so we invited them to stay with us. It was great to visit and catch up with them.

I have two sons and five nephews so I rarely get to interact with little girls. I am always surrounded by boys’ toys and aggressive play. I was one of three girls as a child, so it has been a long time since I got to play with pink toys and dolls. I love my sons dearly, but it was refreshing to play with a little girl.

Jack and Tate were not happy with the amount of attention Olivia got from their mommy.  We tried to all play together, but it wasn’t the same wrestling, sports and Lego-mania they were used to.  I tried to explain to them Olivia wasn’t as physical and was more interested in brushing her doll’s hair instead.  Of course, the boys wanted nothing to do with a doll.

I know it is selfish of me to play ponies and princesses with our young female guest, but we BOTH enjoyed it and the boys learned that not all play involves light-sabers and mayhem. Eventually, Jack and Tate dealt with their jealousy and welcomed Olivia into their lives.

By the end of the visit, Jack and Tate were protecting Olivia from imaginary monsters and finding new games she liked, too. It is nice to know that my boys can tolerate a female guest and I really enjoyed reliving a little of my childhood. It turned out to be a great weekend for everybody.


Monday, January 20th, 2014

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
We had the scariest day last week. When I woke up in the morning, I sleepily shuffled as quickly as possible to get myself and Haley dressed so we could attend to our weekly ritual of moving our car for street cleaning. Once the sweeper comes through, we need to sit in the car for roughly an hour to secure a decent parking spot and avoid a parking ticket. This is New York City! What can I tell you?

Life’s so funny. What I was mentally lamenting became a literal lifesaver about twenty minutes later. I heard a nearby construction worker yell, “that building is on fire” about my building! I was worried and dazed as I exited the car. I tried to call my good friend in the building but had so much trouble locating my Contacts because my hands were shaking. When I finally did get through, it went straight to voicemail. I prayed she wasn’t home. Within a minute, my friend ran out of the building, crying, and the fire department arrived.

The first started on the first floor and was contained to one apartment, though my apartment and my friend’s apartment sustained some smoke damage. After what felt like an eternity, we were allowed to re-enter our homes. The smell wasn’t too good—to say the least—but everything was basically fine. We are currently in a limbo of trying to determine when we can go back home (in addition to the smoke, the gas that controls our stove and dryer has not been restored), but we are so thankful that we are all okay. It’s a terrible feeling to see your home in such a vulnerable state, but there were no injuries, thank goodness. We are especially lucky for our options. There are worse places to be than hunkered down at Grandma’s.

The night before the fire, I found out that Haley was admitted to the grotesquely competitive preschool of our choice. I was so anxious to hear that news and concerned about her potential rejection. Funny how mere hours later, my main thought about preschool was “who cares!”  I think she’ll survive even if she skips a “three’s program.” The universe has an interesting way of pointing out our foolishness.

Three Musketeers

Friday, January 17th, 2014

From Friday Mom -Erin:
Some of Rory’s friends from daycare came to his birthday party last weekend. He had a blast running around with them in the new environment of the indoor gym where we hosted his party. (As a side note-apparently his party was the talk of school on Monday morning. I am still trying to figure out whether that is a good thing or not. . . .)

Rory’s daddy and I found it fascinating to watch him chase his classmates around the gym. His two apparently closest friends are already walking—one is three months older, the other is three weeks younger—so Rory has made it a practice to crawl as quickly as he can to chase after them. We’ve seen it a little bit when we pick him up from school, but Saturday was the first time we were able to see the three of them in action for any extended period of time. They had a blast chasing bubbles, climbing padded stairs, navigating tunnels, bouncing on the trampoline, and sliding down the slide.

Watching one-year olds interact is comical, to say the least. They alternate between paying a great deal of attention to one another’s every move and being totally oblivious and enthralled by the toy/ball/ride-on in front of them. So far, Rory tends to spend more time doing the former than the later. And, of course, babbling at his buddies. As I witnessed each of these interactions over the course of his one and a half hour party, I couldn’t help but smile wondering whether he and his buddies could understand one another. Soon enough he’ll be able to start telling me what he is thinking—for now, however, I will enjoy imagining it.

A World of Letters

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Over the last year, Tate has shown interest in writing the alphabet.  Whether it’s with paper and a pencil or forming a letter with objects around the house, his skills are progressing.

Tate likes to use different materials to write letters, for instance, sand, play-doh, Popsicle sticks and pebbles.  He also likes to point out every letter he sees on billboards, cereal boxes, and road signs.  He especially likes to tell us about every letter “T” he sees. I encourage his love for letters.

Tate’s teacher works hard with her students on basic writing skills, especially their names.  Many mornings, Tate and his classmates practice writing their names (and other small words) on lined paper.  His teacher sends each paper home to the parents so we can see our child’s progress.  Tate is doing really well and I’m already seeing improvement.  His letters are neither spaced well nor straight, but legible.

At home, Tate and I are practicing writing with a pencil.  I’ve printed several tracing sheets from different educational websites that help him learn each stroke of each letter.  Recently, he’s been writing on lined paper and getting the hang of it.  He will get a little frustrated at times, but overall he is catching on.  I even downloaded an app on my phone that demonstrates the proper strokes with a tracing feature.  It is a great tool to keep him occupied when he gets antsy at his brother’s soccer game.

I don’t expect Tate’s handwriting to be perfect at age three and half, but I know with lots of practice he’ll be on the road to success.  This is just one, of many, skills showing how fast he is growing up.

Time Flies When You’re Raising A Child

Monday, January 13th, 2014

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Earlier today, I went into the bathroom to take a shower. It always takes a while for the hot water to get going. Instead of standing there impatiently, I decided to wipe down the bathroom mirror and sink while I waited. Lo and behold, it seemed like the hot water in the shower came out instantly rather than “forever,” which is my usual estimation of how long it takes.

They say “time flies when you’re having fun” but the reality is, time flies when you are engaged in a meaningful task. And there is no task more meaningful than raising a child. (Apologies to anyone who thought this post was going to provide tips for cleaning your bathroom. Please, for your own health and safety, do not hold your breath.)

Everyone tells you it’s going to go by fast but when you’re dealing with a tricky developmental stage, it’s hard to believe that. As soon as you’ve solved one conundrum— or more likely, your kid outgrows the issue— it seems like another one pops up right behind it. You start to micromanage your child’s development and upbringing so much that you lose track of all the time that has slipped by. Then one day, you see your child reaching a shelf that was previously unattainable, or using words you did not know she knew and it shocks you what a big kid you have on your hands.

So far the time hasn’t gone by so quickly that it makes me melancholy. I feel like I’m fully appreciating each stage Haley goes through. But check back with me when she starts school next fall. I’ll probably be a mess, wondering to myself “Where did all the time go?”

On Your First Birthday

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Dear Rory:

Tomorrow, you will turn one year old. We’ll be celebrating with cupcakes, friends, family, presents, and hugs. We cannot wait to see you smile and watch you bounce with jubilation at all the attention that is paid to you tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll catch a few minutes of your jubilant laugh on video so that we can replay it for you years from now when you ask what we did to celebrate your first big day.

A year ago—we were so excited to meet you. After carrying you in mommy’s belly for nine long months, we were so ready to be your mom and dad. When the doctor first placed you in mommy’s arms, we were instantly smitten.

We have loved watching you grow in so many fun and different ways over the last year. You entered the world as a tiny little nugget, and you are bounding into your first year with chubby cheeks, muscular little legs, and the same tenacious twinkle in your eye we saw when you smirked your first smile.

You are becoming such a charming little boy, with a fierce determination and a definite mind of your own. You are daring and bold, loving and playful, friendly and sometimes even frenetic. I can see the gears moving in your mind as you observe the world around you, absorbing lessons almost as if by osmosis. There are many days I wish I could glimpse for a moment into your brain to try to understand precisely what you are thinking and to see each day with the same newness and awe that you do.

When you were born, your daddy and I could not truly understand the extraordinary highs and lows of parenthood. One year in, I am certain we have probably only brushed the very surface of the lifetime of ups, downs, and in-betweens that we will all experience together. But one year in, we are so tremendously proud of the little man you are becoming, and we cannot wait to continue to learn with you in the coming year. We love you Rory.

Love, Mommy and Daddy