Archive for August, 2014


Friday, August 29th, 2014

From Friday Mom – Erin:
One of the reasons we were excited about moving into a new house was being able to create a playspace for Rory and any potential future sibling(s). He had some room to run around in our first home, but not nearly enough to get out all the wiggles that come with little boys. His boundless energy NEVER ceases to amaze us.

We were extremely fortunate to find a house that has a perfect playroom space right off of the family room. Over the course of the past few weeks, I have been slowly outfitting that space (which the former owners used as an office) to be better suited for a play space. We’ve purchased soft tile floors, assembled storage units and fabric drawers, added some floor pillows for reading and lounging, and, just this week, introduced a small children’s table and chairs set as well as a little collapsable play house. We also painted the walls to better fit the overall color scheme of our house, and finally feel as though the space is “done.” Sure, there are some finishing touches to add, but we have created a safe, child-proof room where Rory and his friends can play to their heart’s content.

Standing back and looking at the space, we clearly have invested a little bit in making a bright and child-friendly space. Both of his grandmothers have commented to that end– comments that got me thinking and wondering if we’d done something “wrong.” It’s not overflowing with toys (frankly there are more books than anything), but it is definitely clear that we made his growth, stimulation, and learning a priority.

There is a part of me that wonders if we went too far– would he have been okay with a basic room and some shelves? Probably. Does having the perfect playroom guarantee him admission to Harvard? Absolutely not. But did we value making certain that he had a place to play and grow in the coming years? A place that he could color, pretend with friends, and eventually use to do homework or other things? Yes. Most definitely. I know that every family addresses space and toys and “things” differently. We’re still working through our overall approach. But having created a space where learning by play is encouraged every day, I’m hopeful that we’re striking a good balance, and glad that I have a comfy floor pillow to sit on as we mull these things well into the future.


Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Last weekend, I got together with a bunch of my girlfriends. In one of our conversations, we discussed getting our kids back in the school groove. Most of my friends are military wives, so our summers usually include travel to visit family in home towns for extended periods of time. It’s a hard adjustment coming back to reality after weeks of family fun for both kids and parents. Some of my friends have strict schedules for their kids, and others seem to make it up as they go. I would say I’m in the middle. I have a plan for my kids, but I can adapt to change.

School has been in session for three weeks and my kids are easing back into the daily routine of meals, school, homework and bedtime. My family thrives on routine. It’s reassuring for the kids to know what’s next in their day, even those tasks they don’t like. It also keeps me focused on my duties for the day and week ahead.

Over the years, our routine has changed for obvious reasons. Now that the boys are a little older, their schedules are more synced.   We all work together to help each other stay organized. We have developed habits that help keep us moving along, especially in the morning. I hope if I can set these habits early in my kids lives, it will only benefit them in the future, as it did for me.


Weekend Chaos

Monday, August 25th, 2014

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
My husband was away this weekend, so I was looking forward to having some quality time with Haley and doing more baby prep—it did not work out that way! She was cooperating with me, giving me an easy Friday morning when I noticed something curious—she was warm. I’m always nervous when it seems like Haley is developing a fever, but I was more so this time, because she had been coughing for about a week. The cough was minor and infrequent, and I had thought we were almost out of the woods. As soon as it was accompanied by a fever, off to the pediatrician we went.

The doctor said she thought the fever was unrelated to the coughing—not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, really. She did a strep culture and said to look out for signs of a virus, but I don’t think it will end up being either. In the meantime, there’s not much to do expect keep Haley comfortable, hydrated, and hold her down when it’s time for meds—a fun moment for all involved.

Once again, I was not all alone in my duties, because my father stepped up to help in a big way. But being really pregnant and dealing with a sick preschooler without her dad around was still tough. I definitely recommend avoiding it, if possible!

Haley has not had a fever for several hours and I’m hoping she’s on the mend. Either way, Dad is back in town to help, and I’m relieved that her period of contagion is probably ending. Being sick while eight months pregnant would put the situation over the top! My fingers are crossed that this will all be behind us by Labor Day.

Have a fun and healthy end-of-summer!

Quality Time

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory’s daycare was closed this week for teacher development and training. We’re excited to hear what his teachers learned, and we’re looking forward to the changes they apparently made to his classroom during the week.

Luckily, my mom agreed to come down and take care of Rory during the week this week. They’ve had a wonderful time so far. They’ve taken walks in various directions, played on the playground, attended story time at the local bookstore, had lunch out and about, and played A LOT in Rory’s newly outfitted playroom.

A lifelong educator, my mom arrived prepared to have a fun week with our little man. She brought new books, a few new toys, and lots of creativity and passion for children and teaching. They sang, laughed, cuddled, and played lots and lots of pretend. Luckily for me, he also slept much better at nap time, meaning that I was able to steal away a few extra moments each evening with a happy, rather than overtired, kiddo.

We’re thankful that our family is close enough to be able to help out in these situations. And we’re particularly thankful to have family that not only help out, but actually help him develop and grow even more. After a mere five days, Rory’s language is already showing signs of improvement based on the one-on-one attention he had for the past week. Granted, he’s a bit of a sponge for new information, but still, it’s been fun to watch all week long.

Star Week

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
As I mentioned in prior posts, school is back in session here in Mississippi. The year started off on a great note, and we’re hoping it continues throughout the rest of the school year. Jack and Tate enjoy their new classrooms and teachers. Jack is still adjusting to the increased amount of homework, as am I. On the other hand, Tate is ecstatic about his first homework assignment.

Each student in Tate’s class gets a chance to be the “Star of the Week.” Tate was chosen to be the star for this upcoming week. This popular back-to-school project is “all about Tate.” It’s a fun assignment for each student to share some facts about themselves. It also gives their fellow classmates a better idea of their unique likes, dislikes, and hobbies with pictures and descriptions. Luckily, I remembered doing this same project with Jack when he was in pre-school, so we were prepared with supplies the first week of school.

I enjoyed making the star project with Tate.  A few highlights included on his board are his favorite color, food, place, and hobby. We also attached pictures of him, his family, his favorite games, stickers, and what he wants to be when he grows up.  This week it was a fireman.  Next week it will probably be something different.

It was fun working with Tate on his assignment. We worked together to talk about what things he finds important and enjoyable in his life. I’m just happy to get some extra one on one time together.



Falling Forward

Monday, August 18th, 2014

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
In New York, school starts after Labor Day, so we still have a few carefree weeks of summer to enjoy. However, I have many Facebook friends from around the country who have already sent their kids off with a backpack full of supplies, a cute new wardrobe and hopes for another great year. I can’t believe that that group will soon include Haley, entering her first year of school ever as a preschooler.

I know it’s time—Haley can’t wait. Even if she is a little apprehensive at first, I know her nerves will quickly dissipate. I hope mine will, too! I’m sliding into my final month of pregnancy just as she starts school, so it will be an emotional time.

I find myself wondering how to make the most of these final weeks of summer. It’s kind of funny, though, because Haley will only be in school two mornings a week. That doesn’t really stop us from doing fun family activities, and the weather should stay temperate for a while. But mentally, once school starts, I think we’ll fall into a certain pattern. Plus, college football starts soon, and then there go our Saturdays!

I have always loved the Fall, but this time its approach is bittersweet as it means my baby girl is becoming more independent. I know all of the “first days” of school will start to accumulate quickly, and I’ll be wondering where all the time went. I’ll cope by doing what any mom would do—taking a ton of pictures before we leave, waving goodbye assuredly at drop-off, and staring at the clock, waiting for it to be time to pick her up.


Friday, August 15th, 2014

From Friday Mom – Erin
Rory has been showing a very strong “I can do it myself” attitude lately.  Whether it is trying to climb into his highchair (which is far too tall for him to do on his own), turning the pages of his books, or stealing the sunscreen stick away from me as I try to put it on his face each morning before daycare, Rory much prefers doing it on his own (or at least trying too).

I am somewhat fearful that this new-found independence is early onset “terrible twos,” though, at a mere nineteen months, I know it is probably a little early to be too worried.  That being said, we are certainly starting to see more obstinance emerge, especially when he is tired or when he is intensely focused on a toy/book/safety hazard that he picked up off of the floor and insists upon playing with.

In some cases, the independence is perfectly welcome.  For example, last evening he spent nearly fifteen minutes playing with his mini basketball hoop over-and-over-and-over-and-over.  He was perfectly content dunking ball after ball after ball.  The only time he actually got upset was when I tried to put an oversized ball through the hoop on my own instead of letting him do so himself.  Watching him entertain himself was a joy; and being able to sit back and watch was a welcome relief at the end of a long day.

In other cases, the independence can be quite the obstacle.  Heaven help us if we try to take away a book at bedtime that he is in the middle of reading, if we try to make him leave his toy of choice behind when we head out the door to daycare, or if we don’t have dinner ready exactly when he wants it with the precise utensil he’s looking for to eat it with.  We’ve been testing out our most creative redirection skills with some success.  Just last night we moved on from post-bath play time and toward toothbrushing by taking the book that we couldn’t pry away from him into the bathroom with us and reading it while he brushed.

Sometimes I feel a little bit as though we’re giving in to his demands a bit too easily.  Other times we simply endure the cries knowing that he’ll get over it eventually.  As with any phase, I am sure this one will pass and another will emerge, so rather than spend too much time searching for the perfect solution, we’ll just do our best to look for the positive aspects of this most recent developmental shift.


Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:

My husband’s cross fit coach is our neighbor. He is married with two young children and a dog. He is a small business owner and Navy veteran. But what makes him really unique is that his wife is completely blind. She is very independent and athletic. As a lifelong blind person, she has found amazing ways to cope with her lack of sight. Also, she is determined to give her kids a “normal” life.

When I learned this nice family had two children, I couldn’t help but wonder how they went about their daily activities. This really made me curious, because some days I struggle to be a parent with all five of my senses. Imagine watching a toddler without the benefit of sight. I am impressed at her abilities and the challenges she overcomes.

This year, their oldest child started kindergarten at Jack’s school. Despite their situation, the school will not provide bus service on account of the school’s close proximity. With her husband’s business, this left a blind woman and a five year old (and three year old sibling) forced to walk to school. When they informed us of the predicament, we immediately offered to take their son to school with us.

We are turning the situation into a reason to teach our kids the value of stepping up and lending a hand. My boys got to meet her service dog, a beautiful German Shepherd. They also got to ask innocent questions about blindness, and she has been very accommodating of their questions. Their son is understandably nervous, but he is a happy little guy. We are glad we get to teach our kids a little about disabilities and even more happy to teach and show them the value of helping others.


My Big Girl

Monday, August 11th, 2014

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Haley is about three and one quarter years old now. It’s such an interesting age. In some ways, she seems very young. She has temper tantrums, she still has some baby fat in her cheeks, she doesn’t understand the adult conversations around her (as long as we use a few choice code words), etc. But more often than not, I’m astounded by how mature she seems. She gets dressed entirely by herself, waltzes into the bathroom to do her business like it’s no big deal (sometimes not even altering us to the fact), and often makes sophisticated statements. She told my aunt the other day that, “Mommy has a baby in her tummy. She walks too slow.” When I told her she had to go to bed after she finished her puzzle, she held the last piece in her hand and said with faux-confusion, “Hmmm, where does this go?” over and over. She knew darn well where it went!

Obviously we are enjoying Haley’s precocious side. It’s amusing how quickly she can turn from confident and self-possessed to a small girl who needs her mama immediately. It’s like turning a switch—one second handily using scissors to craft, then crying loudly because a bug bite itches her. I’m learning to be prepared for anything.

I’m so curious about where Haley will be in her personal growth when the baby arrives in two months. I’m comforted by the fact that she will obviously be older, so in a way it can only get better. I’m prepared for some regressions, but overall I think I’ll have a wonderful helper by my side. The first few months may be a blur, but before I know it, I’ll have a four year old on my hands! By then I’m sure Haley will relish her ‘big sister’ role—at least that is what I’m telling myself!

Have a great week, everyone.

Toddler Speak

Friday, August 8th, 2014

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Before I was a parent, I used to listen to my friends and family with children and wonder how in the world they understood what their kids were saying. To me, the babble that came out of their mouths was hardly coherent and a far cry from actual English. Now that I am a parent, my ear has become accustomed to deciphering the cobbled-together syllables and translating them into true verbal communication.

Rory has shown a marked improvement in his vocabulary development over the past couple of months. He now speaks his first words much more clearly (ball, up, momma, dadda, dog, etc), and has really started parroting a lot of new words back to us as we read them. Reading his books is a joy for all of us– we never know what kind of surprises it will bring. Some days, we will point to pictures in his books and he’ll shout out words we didn’t even know he could say. Turtle is a particular favorite (as are butterfly, helicopter, and airplane). We can tell how much he enjoys showing off his knowledge, too. He lights up when we acknowledge his proper word selection (and then usually repeats himself at least 3-4 times for good measure).

In addition to simply reaching an age when language starts to “click” for toddlers, Rory has definitely benefited from being around older children in his new classroom at daycare. There is more structured learning in his new room, including thematic weekly activities, daily circle time, story time, and other activities that provide far more opportunity for verbal stimulation than his prior classroom. That’s not to say he didn’t receive that stimulation previously, it is simply a more regular and consistent focus in his new room. And the results are evident.

The only think more impressive than listening to him talk to us at home is seeing him chat with his fellow classmates when we arrive at school. The enthusiasm tugs at my heartstrings, for sure. Although I am sure there will quickly come a time when he’s telling me things I don’t want to hear or articulating his dissatisfaction, for now, I am enjoying listening to the little boy he is becoming and love helping him find his voice.