Archive for June, 2014

Fun With Friends

Monday, June 30th, 2014

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
We just came back from our first summer trip, and it was a huge success! We stayed in a country house with some old friends. I was a bit concerned about how my city girl would handle a rural area, but she really thrived. She enjoyed everything about it.

Haley loved having a big house to run around, a porch to play games on, and fields of grass to roam free on. She had a few bumps and bruises by trip’s end, but the smile of her face convinced me it was worth it. There were other kids there, and Haley quickly insisted they were her “best friends.” She actually clicked with the seven-year-old girl more than her four-year-old sister, proving again that personality often counts for more than age does. They loved pretending their dads were monsters—they’d be so “scared” and shriek and run away. They sung the soundtrack to “Frozen” several times. Their favorite activity was catching fireflies. Haley had never seen them before in the big city, and thought they were pretty amazing.

It always amazes me how much Haley can handle when she’s exposed to new things. I admit I keep her on a regimented schedule most of the time—because I believe she needs it and actually craves it. But during our trip, she stayed up late, ate unusual things at unusual times, and had no discernible schedule. But it was okay. She seemed like such a big girl when I looked at her through the eyes of my adult friends, who were meeting her for the first time. Since she’s growing up and really showing me what she’s made of, I’m so looking forward to all of our upcoming adventures, this summer and beyond!

Black & Blue & Red All Over

Friday, June 27th, 2014

From Friday  Mom: Erin

At Rory’s 15-month check-up, his doctor warned us that Rory was smack-dab in the middle of being his own worst safety hazard. We chuckled at the time. Now, we’re coming to realize exactly what he meant.

So far, we’ve been fortunate, in that most of the scuffs, scrapes, and bruises have been fairly insignificant. But Rory’s pace and intensity have accelerated substantially over the past few months, so much so that an average weekend day involves doing everything in our power to stay one step ahead of the next big threat to life and limb. Okay– perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration. But he does seem to have a passion for testing limits, both of his own physical strength and of his parents’ tolerance.

This past week, for example, Rory has come home from daycare with more scrapes and bruises than ever before. Some are the result of running too quickly on the play ground, others are from poorly trimmed finger nails, and still others are unexplained. Then, last night, when running to the stairwell in excitement to head up to his bath, Rory tripped, failed to get his hands underneath him, and bonked his mouth squarely on the hardwood floors, giving himself a swollen lip and quite a scare.

Parenting a young toddler in these early stages of gross motor development can be tremendously taxing, but we try to walk the fine line between letting him press limits and keeping him safe. We know that his knees will likely be skinned from now until at least kindergarten, if not beyond. And I know that the next six months of Rory’s life will be filled with precisely such limit testing. I just hope he continues to do so with only minor repercussions.

Lesson Learned

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Last year, Tate took swim lessons and unfortunately, he didn’t like the teacher nor the cold pool. He started out determined, but quickly lost interest. Learning to swim is important to our family. At a minimum, we want our kids to be safe around water. Ideally, we want them to enjoy the water and be comfortable swimming like we both did as kids.

This year, Tate took two weeks of swim lessons with a local instructor who teaches swimming every June. She came highly recommended by friends. We were very excited to get a spot reserved for Tate. Right away she held Tate’s attention and helped him get over his fear of water. Jack and Tate even learned more advanced skills like diving. Jack was a return student from a couple years ago and he still remembered her phrase “paddle, kick, and blow bubbles.”

The teacher requests that parents do not watch the lesson until the end of the week. We drop the kids off in the pool area and go back in to get them when their session is over. Watching through the fence is off limits, as well. The children get distracted and it takes away their concentration, especially for the younger ones. On the last day, parents and grandparents are welcome to view what the kids have learned. I knew Tate was doing much better this year because after every lesson he told me how he was swimming under water. I was thrilled to hear this news and could not wait until the last lesson so I could see his progress.

I enjoy taking pictures of our kids’ milestones. I wanted to get some great photos of Tate swimming. So when I discovered I forgot the memory card to my camera, I was very annoyed at myself. I was so upset that I had missed the opportunity to document what is clearly a major life event for Tate. After a few minutes of anger, I forced myself to let it go and I cheered him on. It was actually nice not to worry about getting the “perfect shot.” I know there will be other opportunities to take swimming pictures.

Lesson learned: it’s not so bad to give up a little control every now and then and enjoy what is happening right in front of me. I’m glad I was able to see Tate jump in the water and smile as soon as his head popped out instead of always hoping I captured the right light, angle and focus. It’s the little things that make being a mommy so special.

Rolling With It

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Last week, my husband, Joe, had to go out of town for work for a couple of days. I thought, OK no big deal. It happens, and not nearly as frequently for us as it does for many families. I enticed my mother to come to lend her nanny services, ahem; I mean—have a nice visit, especially since Haley had her ballet recital on one of those days.

My mom’s help once again proved invaluable, and at the end of the week, I drove to her house to take her back home and run some suburban-type errands. I looked forward to my Joe’s Friday night return until he informed me that he had to work the next day. Something came up he had to attend to right away, and I understood that. He said he’d join us in the suburbs as soon as he got done on Saturday. Well, he ended up working all day Saturday and had to go in Sunday morning as well.

Joe rarely has to work weekends, but the combination of the extra work hours following nights away was kind of a doozy. I’m starting to realize how much pregnancy can slow you down! I had a lot of help from my parents and brother, which is the only way I got through it. Still, Haley missed her dad, and it was disruptive to have our family unit out of sync. This was the last weekend we had before lots of travel, and it just made things a bit more chaotic.

I know; I need to put away my little violin now. Sometimes, life happens, and you need to roll with it. I remember when I was pregnant with Haley thinking, I can’t imagine doing this again while chasing after a kid. My premonition was spot on! I have just been so tired. Luckily, not too much time ever goes by until I get a chance to really rest, and I’m grateful for that. But I have months to go and a busy toddler to keep up with. It’s time to get my energy up and keep on moving!

Transition Time

Friday, June 20th, 2014

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory starts transitioning to his new classroom at daycare next week. I met with his current teacher, his new head teacher, and his new primary teacher on Monday morning to discuss the transition. I was pleased to see that they approach transition in such a structured manner, but I definitely have to say I’m nervous about the switch.

Rory is moving up to the younger toddler room, which ranges in age from 18 months to 2.5 years old. He’s in the absolutely correct cohort, so I am not worried about his readiness for the classroom. I’m sure he’ll thrive with the new activities they have in his new room, including a lot more opportunities for stimulation and a lot more focus on verbal development and vocalization. (They’ll even be starting Spanish come September!)

What I am concerned about is his overall comfort level with his new teachers. Rory is extremely attached to his current “primary” teacher (each of the kids is assigned to a single teacher who has primary responsibility for filling out the child’s daily report sheet, learning the child’s likes, dislikes, etc, and generally being in tune with the child’s needs as best as possible). Rory has had the good fortune of being paired with the head teacher in his current classroom– a darling woman with grandchildren of her own who has been working at the center for over twenty years. Needless to say, we trust her deeply and have loved getting to know her and watching her bond with Rory develop. We’re very sad to let her go.

Rory’s new “primary” is new to his new classroom and had previously been a “floater” (meaning that she worked in multiple classrooms throughout the day). She seems nice enough, and the head teacher is great, as well, but I didn’t have the same warm and fuzzy feeling I did when I met his current teacher. I know that some of that will come with time. And I also remember thinking that his current teacher was a little flighty when we first met, so I am sure that I will adjust eventually, as well. I just hope that Rory’s transition goes more smoothly and that he has fun with his new classmates. I’m sure he’ll adjust well enough, and I know he’ll be doubly excited when his other friends join him in their new classroom in August.

Frankly, I’m not certain which of the two of us will have a harder time with the change, but you can be certain I’ll keep you all updated.

Broken Record

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
I enjoy reading books with my children. I started reading to them the day they were born, and I continue to do so daily. Books are a special part of our day. Jack reads aloud for practice and Tate reads alongside with me. Books are also a special nighttime ritual to help wind the boys down for bedtime.

Tate received numerous books for Christmas and other recent holidays. They’re colorful, fun to read and tell a great story. For the last several weeks, Tate has become attached to one book titled, “ Cat in the Hat.” I’m sure you are familiar. He will only let me read this book and only this book. He requests to read it morning, noon and night and will accept no other option. He is obsessed. If I purposely change the words, he’ll know it and shout out the right word. I’m certain he has the entire book memorized (myself included). His book collection is overflowing off his bookshelf, but he is so set on this particular book.

I constantly try to introduce a new book or poem to Tate. He will listen to part of it and quickly interrupt and ask to read his beloved “Cat in the Hat.” After several weeks of this obsession, I started to wonder if this was “normal.” I remember Jack had his favorites and would ask to read them a lot, but would include other books, too.

While browsing a child-centered website, I came across a question where a parent was asking the same thing I was wondering… is this normal? It turns out it is normal. Some kids find a sense of power knowing what comes next on each page. Tate’s personality of always being in control makes this connection clear. Again, another phase of preschoolers, and one I’m hoping he’ll eventually grow out of.  For now, I think the repetition comforts him with a sense of security when he hears what’s anticipated. As begrudgingly as it is reading the same story for the 16th time in a row, I support him 100% if this is what he feels is needed. Regardless, I’m happy he loves to read.


Monday, June 16th, 2014

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Haley is going to be a big sister! We are expecting another baby in the fall. Our family is thrilled with this happy news. I wasn’t sure what Haley’s reaction would be to this development, or if she’d even fully understand it, but she’s been incredibly excited from the moment she found out. She loves caressing my belly, telling strangers about it (!), and making big plans to move around the furniture in order to accommodate the little one. Sometimes she starts moving her stuffed animals to make room for the crib, and I have to tell her that it’s just not time for that yet. It will be interesting to see how the reality of a sibling matches up with her anticipation. In the mean time, I’m taking her enthusiasm as a great sign and hoping for the best. She even has a great name suggestion for a girl: Elsa.

Just like my last pregnancy, I am not finding out the baby’s gender in advance. It’s incredible how much this annoys people! I like not knowing, though. The way I see it, it’s fun, it doesn’t matter, and I’ll know soon enough! Though I can understand why knowing the sex would make a few things easier—buying clothes, picking a name, preparing Haley, etc.—but I know we’ll figure it all out in the end.

Haley and the new baby will be three and a half years apart in age, which is the same difference between my older brother and me. I always felt it was a good spread, so I’m glad to have a family of my own with the same set-up. I think that Haley’s level of independence will make the whole enterprise a lot easier—not that it will be easy!

I’m eager to share the experience of the rest of my pregnancy with you, as well as the journey of being a mom to two in this urban jungle. Stay tuned.

A Moment Away

Friday, June 13th, 2014

From Friday Mom – Erin:
We’re headed out of town this weekend to celebrate the wedding of two dear friends. Rory’s grandparents have generously agreed to watch him for the weekend, and we are busily preparing for a hand-off as we begin our journey.

I know that I’ve mentioned it before, but it never ceases to amaze me how different my priorities are now that Rory is such a central part of our lives. Sure, I am looking forward to celebrating with friends and catching up with other guests who are in from out of town. But more than that, I am looking forward to sleeping past 6:15 am. And to not changing a diaper for a couple days. And to possibly sitting in complete silence for a brief moment.

Most of the times I have traveled since Rory was born, I find myself missing him almost instantaneously. Hotel rooms seem too quiet without the hum of his sound machine echoing through the baby monitor, and I tend to check in with home more often than I ever thought I might.  Bedtime is the hardest, because that is my special time with him each day, and I feel badly when I am not there to share it.

But this trip comes at a much needed time for me and my husband. We’ve been running at full tilt since early May with a number of life changes (jobs and otherwise) and have failed to take the time for date nights or other “to-do” list free moments. We are very much looking forward to having a brief moment by ourselves where we can put all of the chaos of the past month or so aside and enjoy the quiet of our mountain retreat. Marriage without kids is hard work, in and of itself. Marriage with kids can be a downright exhausting. But we’re looking forward to refreshing ourselves this weekend and then reuniting with our little man on Sunday to celebrate Fathers’ day together!


Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Daddy has been away for the last week on business, and we miss his company.   Weather permitting, he’ll return very soon and we look forward to spending a relaxing Father’s Day weekend together. In honor of Daddy’s special day coming up, Jack and Tate wrote a list of 10 reasons they think their dad is awesome.

  1. He makes us laugh so hard our cheeks feel like they are going to fall off.
  2. He protects us from scary monsters and ghosts.
  3. He cooks yummy meals for us.
  4. He plays all different games in the backyard with us.
  5. He flies jets.
  6. He camps in the backyard and we get to eat s’mores.
  7. He tells us funny jokes.
  8. He reads us books.
  9. He always tells us to work hard and do our best at school.
  10. His cannonballs make a humongous splash.

There you have it, ten reasons my kids are fond of their father. I’m proud of my husband for being so active in our kids’ lives. He is very busy and often away, but when he is home he maximizes his time with the boys. I am lucky to have such a great husband, father to my children, and best friend. I’m also thankful to have a pretty cool father myself. To all the dads and grandads out there, I hope you have a fantastic Father’s Day!

The Turbulent Three’s

Monday, June 9th, 2014

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
My quest to uncover a phase of childhood that’s simple and straightforward and easy remains unconquered. It’s interesting to see the changes in Haley—certainly she matures in many aspects even as she becomes more challenging in others. It seems the second an area in which we were struggling becomes a non-issue, there’s a new so-called problem to deal with right behind.

Haley can handle a lot more—being out of the house for longer stretches of time, adapting to new settings, and doing things in a much more independent way. It’s really nice and encouraging. However, she is also testing her limits like never before. The other day, she got a hold of the powdered laundry detergent and flung it all over the kitchen. Needless to say, I was not pleased. Over the weekend, she managed to unlock a tricky back door at my parents’ home and go outside without permission. I was right there and saw her do it—thank goodness—but she knew she wasn’t supposed to. I guess she wants to see what she can get away with. The moment I walked into the kitchen and saw the detergent everywhere, she looked right at me, smiled and said, “I’m sorry!”

These incidents are not fun to deal with—and can be very scary—but I know it’s my job as a parent to deal with them as they arise. I try to be firm about what the rules are and why, and hope that it’s all slowly sinking in. I’m not proud to say that I sometimes have to resist the urge to tell Haley she’s being “bad.” Of course she’s not being bad. She’s being three.