Archive for February, 2015

Cardboard Recycles

Friday, February 27th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:
As I may have mentioned before, I am a huge Amazon Prime shopper. Sure, sometimes that limits the available options, but being able to buy things cheaply AND have them arrive at my house in 48 hours or less makes it a no brainer. Plus, avoiding spending time out shopping means more time spent with my family.

What this also means is a high volume of cardboard boxes at our house each week. Sometimes we reuse them to send our own packages, and other times we simply put them out for recycling. Recently, however, Rory and I have found a new way to recycle: building out of boxes.

Equipped with a pair of scissors and Rory’s crayons, our boxes become whatever we can imagine. Last fall, I made Rory a firetruck out of a fairly flat box. Sure, it was basically a fire truck caricature, but he gleefully donned his fireman a had and climbed on in. We only recently took it out to the curb with the other boxes; it was that big of a hit.

During last week’s snow day, I made Rory a “laptop” computer out of a box flap. He was bent out of shape that his daddy had to take work calls from home, so I made him his own computer so that he could send emails, just like daddy. We helped him type emails on its little keyboard, and he folded it closed when we finished.

Finally, over the weekend, I fashioned Rory a banjo out of a paper plate and some more box flaps. Now Rory and I play “gicktah” (guitar) together– he turns his popper toy turned upside down while I use the banjo. During yesterday’s snow delay, we had a good old fashioned jam session, with renditions of favorites such as old McDonald, BINGO, and Baa Baa Black sheep. The cardboard is growing weak from all the use it has received over the past few days.

Rory has a playroom full of toys that we purchased or he was given as gifts, but he always gets so excited by the novelty of our cardboard creations. He loves the new opportunity to pretend, and I love knowing that I am combatting his boredom AND showing him the value of creativity. Plus, a cardboard banjo and imaginary guitar are MUCH quieter than their real life counterparts. Thank goodness.



Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
It is hard for me to find time to spend with my friends. I used to have regular plans with several small groups. We would play games, meet for military spouse outings, or enjoy a glass of wine. Our time together was something I looked forward to. I love my children tremendously, but socializing with friends (sans children) really helps my sanity. Now that my husband started his new job and is often out of town, I’m having a hard time getting out on my own.

I see some of my friends when we drop off our children at school. However, the conversation is fleeting, and there is usually another child, event or appointment that is pulling us away. Oftentimes, when it’s convenient for me to schedule a time to meet up, it isn’t always the best timing for someone else. Everyone has busy schedules and unfortunately, that’s life.

So, when my friend invited me to lunch the other day, I couldn’t have been happier. The timing was perfect. I needed to socialize with a pal without any interruptions. My friend’s boys are the same ages as mine, our husbands work out of town a lot, and our extended families live far, far away. We have a lot in common, and it’s refreshing to listen to one another and learn how to be a better mom and a wife. It is nice to know that somebody else is going through the same challenges I am. Spending just an hour chatting with a friend made the world of a difference. I left the restaurant with a positive attitude and a smile on my face.


To Infinity And Beyond

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Haley is approaching the age at which it’s important for a parent to really pay attention. After the requisite hand wringing about whether she knows her letters and numbers, I realized that children don’t always learn in the most linear fashion. In our modern society, we make certain children hit the appropriate cognitive milestones. On the other hand, while I don’t want to encourage a free-for-all-style education, I do want to take the time to teach Haley what she’s receptive to learning. And for several weeks now, Haley has been receptive to learning about one thing—space.

Haley can tell you what all the planets are and their order from the sun. She knows many random facts about the Earth’s revolution and rotation, Saturn’s rings and moons (especially Titan) and lakes, why Pluto is no longer a planet, etc. We’ve shown her pictures, videos and books to nurture her interest. This has all led to her telling us she really wants a telescope! I think we’ll wait and see how long she holds this interest before we start thinking about such a major investment for a three year old.

Maybe this will be a fleeting hobby for Haley, but I love how much she loves learning about space. I can’t wait to take her to the planetarium and see her reaction to viewing all the stars and planets. What’s also neat is that space exploration is an area in which her dad has always shown interest, so this has truly been a family affair. Hopefully by encouraging her we will be able to foster a lifetime of learning, from inside the classroom to wherever her imagination takes her.

Battle of Wills

Friday, February 20th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory is a full-blown two-year old – and a stubborn one, at that.  We have reached a bit of a roadblock when it comes to morning and evening routines.  Getting dressed, whether for school or for bed, has devolved into an epic battle of wills and the front line is Rory’s bedroom.

The struggle varies based on the time of day.  In the morning, he often refuses to take off his sopping wet diaper and put on his clothes for the day.  We let him choose from a handful of outfits, and we let him help dress himself “like a big boy,” but, alas, he favors running away over cooperating.

The scene in the evening is largely similar.  He resists the diaper after his bath;  he has even peed in the corner of his room rather than sit down to be diapered.  We let him choose his pajamas and tell him that it is time to help put them on, but he much prefers swinging them above his head like a lasso.

We are pretty close to wits end.  His antics make it very hard for either of us to manage solo.  Our current approach is to leave the room and ask him to come get us when he is ready to be helpful.  Unfortunately, this usually ends in a fit of tears and can prolong the routine well beyond his normal bedtime.  However, until we can show Rory that we will not give him the negative attention he so strongly desires, we are caught in a vicious cycle of giving in to his desires each time we lose our cool.

I know we’ll outwit him eventually, but at the moment, these battles can seem endless.

Lazy Day

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Jack and Tate had the day off from school on Monday in observance of President’s Day. When they let me sleep in to 7:30am, I knew it was going to be a lazy day. The weather was cold, grey and rainy. The boys were up playing, but the morning rush was absent this day. I had good intentions of getting some things done around the house, running a few errands, and spending extra time playing with the boys. However, I knew by the sound of the rain on the roof, it was not going to be productive.

The best thing I did on Monday was spend some extra time with Jack and Tate.  We all cuddled on the couch and watched a movie. The boys presented an extraordinary puppet show for me, and of course, we built lots of Legos.  The highlight of our day was a much-needed afternoon nap.  Extra sleep is always a refreshing blessing, especially when my preschooler wakes up around 5am everyday.

I usually feel guilty on the rare days when I have a lazy day.  I like to be productive every day.  However, Monday just felt right to be lazy. I felt zero guilt and knew that I could pick up the slack the next day.  We have a very busy week ahead with soccer games and school events.  This lazy day was the day of rest we needed to get through the week together.


Weekend Vent

Monday, February 16th, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Isn’t it nice to have a relaxing three-day weekend? I wouldn’t know! The last few days may have been fun for Hudson, but for me it just felt like work. As soon as I would clean spit-up off of him and put on a brand-new outfit, he’d have a massive blow out in his diaper. Just as I’d have him calmed down after a fussy fit, his sister would nearly dive on top of him and have him worked up again. Yet he was happy because the vast majority of the time, he was nursing. I don’t know if it’s a developmental “leap” or a growth spurt or what, but the boy is breastfeeding like it’s going out of style.

And that would be fine—I could deal with it all—if I were just getting some sleep. After several blissful weeks of sleeping through the night, Hudson now gets up frequently. I know he doesn’t need to eat every time, but it’s just easier to put him on the breast until he passes out again. Only it’s not that simple. Lately I’ve been so tired that I fall asleep while he’s still in my arms. Fortunately I’ve ensured that he’s secure on all sides when this happens. But what’s crazy is that I’ll sometimes wake up an hour later still holding him! The arrangement’s been a killer on my back.

Yet for all of the difficulties of child rearing—and perhaps this is the difference between raising your second child and your first—I’ve mostly taken it in stride. Despite this venting post, I was actually in a good mood even as I was completing seemingly endless, impossible tasks. I never lost sight of how lucky I am to be the mom of this beautiful, bouncing baby boy. Comparing him with his older sister—who seems like a giant—I’m acutely aware that this time is fleeting. Before I know it, I won’t need to change diapers and clothes and burp and rock him all day long. Maybe I didn’t get to relax but when it comes right down to it, there’s no more meaningful way to spend a weekend.

Mommy Time

Friday, February 13th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:
One of the topics of conversation during my mom’s group last week was the suggestion that we each make a concerted effort to spend one-on-one time with our older children each week. Although, in my experience, it may be difficult to find an extended period of alone time everyday, I have been making an effort to steal away with Rory for at least a little bit each day. With the exception of a particularly obstinate morning on Thursday, I am already seeing progress in my relationship with my “big boy.”

Most days, our alone time is spent in Rory’s playroom before he and his dad head out the door to daycare/work. About half of the time Charlotte will go back to sleep in the mornings, allowing me a few moments with her older brother. These moments are fairly fleeting, but we have been able to get in some good conversations and have read a few books. The cries of “daddy do it” still persist, but we have made some headway.

Sometimes we are able to sneak away for longer periods of time. For example, on Saturday, Rory and I took a walk around the neighborhood in his new stroller. We chatted a bit before he fell asleep. I talked about how I had a big brother, and how my parents (his grandparents) loved us both equally. I explained how much fun siblings can be, and explained that without siblings, he wouldn’t have the cousins he adores so much. I think most of this was lost on him, but he thanked me for the walk, nonetheless.

Other times my husband and I trade off on primary care responsibilities. On Wednesday afternoon, I handed Charlotte off to Rory’s dad and took the lead in feeding Rory dinner and playing with him afterwards. Charlotte is sometimes too fussy for this role-swap to work, but when it does, it helps give everyone some welcomed variety to the day, and allows both my husband and me time to bond with the child we generally see less often during the week.

Regardless of the format my time with Rory, I am glad to have a chance each day to hear about his day in his own words. His communication skills continue to grow by leaps and bounds each week, and having the opportunity to chat with him one-on-one is a true gift.

Open House

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Last week, our elementary school held their open house for prospective students. Tate has been to the school for various events for his brother, but I wanted to make this a special night for him, since he’ll be entering Kindergarten in the fall.

Our whole family took a tour of the school, met with teachers, and asked some questions. Tate was very curious about everything. He inquired about learning how to get around and know where to go, as well as what books he could check out. There were lots of other questions, but these stuck out in my mind. He was very intrigued at the new school, but clenched my hand tightly as we walked around.

The evening was very emotional for me. I had similar feelings when I toured the school with Jack three years ago. I remember thinking “how can it be time for kindergarten?” Those same thoughts ran through my mind with Tate last week. This is my baby about to enter Kindergarten. This is my little guy who was just waddling around with his stuffed animal tucked under his arm. This was my little peanut that couldn’t go to bed without his pacifier, and wanted to be rocked to sleep.  Those days seem like yesterday.

Soon, Tate will be starting his own academic career. He’ll be learning a plethora of new things, meet new people and quickly learn how fun homework is. I’m confident he’ll do well. I’m sure it will be a hard transition for both of us. This one-hour tour of the school made me realize how quickly time passes.  I’m sure I’ll be emotional on Tate’s first day of Kindergarten, but until then lots of play and snuggles will be had.


Monday, February 9th, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
It’s about that time of year—when I am so sick of cold weather that I just can’t take it anymore, despite that there are many, many more weeks to go. Luckily, I have a solution for winter grumpiness—planning for sunny days ahead.

My motto when it comes to vacations is to plan early and often. Looking forward to a trip is one of the best parts of travel. Never-ending days of the usual, humdrum activities are so much more bearable when you’re thinking that soon, you will have a break from it all. I had hoped we’d get away in early spring, but given Hudson’s recent illness I decided to put the brakes on air travel until flu season is completely over. But I still have plenty of plans from late spring into summer.

First up is a grad school reunion that I could not be more excited for. Grad school was one of the best experiences of my life and I can’t wait to see the friends I made there. I just can’t believe it’s been 10 years! But then I take a look at my kids and I’m quickly reminded how old I am. Next, I’ll be going to a dear, dear friend’s wedding. I’m so excited to celebrate with her and be there for her like she was for me when I got hitched. Lastly on deck is a trip down South to visit the grandparents, which is always tremendously fun for Haley and for us. I’m so excited to take Hudson to my husband’s hometown. All of his family friends are just going to go crazy for the baby!

Taking trips with the little ones can definitely be a challenge. But sometimes it’s necessary for everyone to have a little change of scenery.

Have a warm and cozy week!

Making Connections

Friday, February 6th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:
One of the most difficult things about being on maternity leave is finding other women to commiserate with. There are only a select few people who actually want to hear/can relate to your trials and tribulations with feeding, sleep schedules, post-partum recovery, etc. Sure, my mother and my best friends are happy to listen and may have some helpful advice, but there is something nice about being able to trouble-shoot in real time with someone who is confronting the very same things. As I mentioned when Rory was only a few months old, I participated in a new-moms’ group geared at providing guidance on a range of topics. This group also proved to be a tremendous forum for venting about all things newborn. It was a lifesaver.

As luck would have it, I have stayed in touch with most of the other no-longer “new” mommas, and four other women from that prior group have had second children over the past few months. We met up earlier this week to meet the newest additions and to catch up. The general consensus was that we had all learned (largely by necessity) to relax our type-A personalities with the second kiddo and that our tiny newborns seem loads easier than our active toddlers. It was a pleasure to chat with other women who are dealing with the same toddler-parent power struggles and struggling with the same frustration stemming from the lack of “me” time due to the newest addition.

Because the timing of our collective leave didn’t line up perfectly, I’ve also signed up for a “second-time-around” group with the same organization. The group is focused on the various trials and tribulations of juggling two kiddos, and, once-again, aimed at providing a forum for discussion on the issues facing each newly-grown family. I’m looking forward to sharing my most recent parenting trials during this week’s session, and am hopeful that some of the friendships forged during those discussions will remain as lasting as those from my prior group. If nothing else, I am thankful to have a place to vent, to cry, to share, to learn, and to engage in adult conversation at least once a week (even if that conversation is heavily baby-focused).