Archive for March, 2015

We’ve Got An Eater

Monday, March 30th, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
We recently introduced solid foods to Hudson. I’m happy to announce that it has gone very well. So far, he has enjoyed bananas, pears, apples, sweet potatoes, avocados, oatmeal, and even homemade meatballs! He has quite an appetite. His doctor recently told me to feed him until he stops eating. I don’t think that’s possible! He has yet to refuse to eat. I’m getting flashes of what his teenage years will be like. I’ve heard of moms putting locks on their refrigerator doors to prevent their teen boys from eating all the food, and I always thought that was hilarious. Now I can imagine doing that!

I really hope Hudson keeps it up. Haley was never that enthusiastic about eating. And I have to say, I often wondered what it was that I was doing wrong. But kids are who they are. There’s only so much you can do. I wish I hadn’t gotten so stressed about her eating habits. She’s at a good place with eating now—usually not too picky and often trying new things. I feel confident that she is getting the nutrition she needs. It’s comforting to think that Hudson, at least in this area, will give me an easy time from the beginning. But I don’t want to speak to soon. Who knows what lies ahead?

I made all of Haley’s baby food from scratch, and so far I’m doing the same for Hudson. I make batches and freeze them into cubes for convenience, but I have to tell you—he goes through them quickly! I’m relieved our doctor recommends a “baby led weaning” approach, meaning you feed the baby pretty much whatever you are eating, mashed to an appropriate consistency. It’s extremely convenient and takes some out of the stress out of providing adequate meals for such an insatiable little guy.

The People Behind the Pictures

Friday, March 27th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Our stairwell is decorated with a massive framed collage of professional photographs. There are pictures from our wedding, Rory’s newborn pictures, Rory’s one-year family photo shoot, and Charlotte’s newborn pictures. As I mentioned in this post, they capture slivers of time and each new year shows just how much has changed and yet how much stays the same.

Viewed as a whole, the photographs make my heart swell with warmth and gratitude for being blessed with such a loving family. And both my husband and I beam with pride when Rory gleefully identifies each of the people in the pictures.

“Grandaddy and Mommy!”

“Daddy! Mommy!”

“Mommy, Daddy, and Rory!”

“Baby Charlotte!”

Yet, there is one picture on that wall that elicits a different emotional twinge as of late. It is a picture of me and my husband with each of my then-living grandparents at our wedding. My dad’s father preached the homily during the ceremony, and my mom’s mom was there, too. In the flurry of activity after the service, we forgot to get pictures with the grandparents at the church, so the photograph is taken in front of the fireplace at the reception venue in somewhat of a snap-shot fashion. Both of my grandparents pictured have since passed away. One before Rory was born, the other very recently. This past week, when walking past, Rory yelped: “Hackie! Grandaddy!”

We explained to him that that was not, in fact, Granddaddy, rather, it was Grandaddy’s Daddy, who we affectionately called “Oompah.”

“Both Oompah and Hackie are in heaven,” we explained.

Rory and Charlotte will never get to know my grandparents—their great grandparents. My mom’s mother, my grandmother and my last living grandparent, Hackie, passed away just over a month ago. She made it long enough to hear about the birth of her first granddaughter, and to dote over the pictures. But unlike Rory, Charlotte will not have the opportunity to meet her in person. Though many children never have an opportunity to meet their great-grandparents, in my own grief, I find myself wondering what snippets of my own relatives Rory and Charlotte will come to know.

Sure, they will recognize the faces in photographs and will come to identify them in family albums. But they will know them only through stories, memories, and recollections the same way I came to learn about my parent’s grandparents. Whether it was the story of my great grandfather’s trunk in which we stored our board games when I was growing up or the tales my own grandmother shared of her parents’ work as missionaries, I learned my own ancestry bit-by-bit, picture-by-picture, story-by-story over the years.

I look forward to sharing those same vignettes with Rory and Charlotte as they grow older and begin to understand death and their own family tree. For now, every time Rory points to that picture of the two of us with my late grandparents, I’m always certain to share a little snippet about each of them. His two-year old brain can only process so much right now, but I look forward to telling him more and more as the years go by. The photos capture their faces at a single moment in time, but the people behind the pictures live on in the stories we tell and the memories we keep.

Farewell, Friend

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Jack met one of his best buddies, Ethan, in Kindergarten. Since the first day of Kindergarten, Ethan’s name has  been mentioned in most of our conversations about school. Jack and Ethan have been great friends through first and second grade as well. Ethan is a great kid and one I don’t mind coming over to play. Eventually, I got to know Ethan’s mom and really enjoy their company.

Last week, Jack mentioned on the way home from school that Ethan was moving. I was startled because I hadn’t heard anything pertaining to this from his mom. I didn’t think much of it, because sometimes kids think or say things that aren’t always accurate. Then Friday came. I picked up Jack from school and he didn’t seem his happy self. He climbed in the van and immediately told me he was sad and upset. I could see tears building up in his eyes and I was very concerned. Well, sure enough that was Ethan’s last day of school. He was moving over the weekend.

I know what it’s like when friends move away and it isn’t easy. I can’t imagine what it’s like for a 7 year old. Several of Jack’s friends have moved in the past, but Ethan was one of Jack’s first best friends, and I knew it was hitting him pretty hard. I did my best to talk him through it and made sure we would be in contact with Ethan in the future. By the time we arrived home, Jack was feeling better. I don’t know if it was the pep talk we had or the distraction of his toys.

I immediately called Ethan’s mom when we arrived home. She informed me it was a quick decision to move, but they would be living about an hour and a half from where we do now. We promised each other if we were ever in the same area we would try to get the boys together. Ethan invited Jack out to dinner that evening to ease his emotions and have a proper farewell. Jack was very excited to know he would get to have one last play date with Ethan. He even wanted to use his own money for his big dinner out.

When Jack arrived home from dinner, he seemed in much better spirits. Jack and Ethan gave each other a high five and promised to keep in touch. As a mom, it breaks my heart to see my son’s best friend move. I know Jack is strong and will make many new friends along the way. He’s learning through these experiences, and so am I.

Divide and Conquer

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
I felt morning light pouring into my room, but was optimistically hoping for a little more weekend shut-eye when I heard an adorable, familiar voice announce clearly, “I’m going to China today.” Now kids say all sorts of cockamamie things, but sometimes you just know they’re dead serious. So it took me a few moments to make sense of the declaration. Apparently, Haley’s dad told her that they were going on adventure—a subway ride (a treat within itself) to Chinatown, here in New York City.

I was jealous because I knew that I would be staying home with the baby. Winter has not yet left the party in this area, and Chinatown is an all-day, outdoor excursion involving a ton of walking. But I figured Hudson would take a good nap like he does every afternoon, which would give me a chance to clean up and do some organizing, if nothing else.

Of course that didn’t happen. Hudson refused to nap and squawked angrily whenever I tried to put him down to get something done. I accepted this and spend a good chunk of the afternoon nursing him while watching a movie. Sounds relaxing, but there’s something particularly frustrating about being prevented from fulfilling simple household tasks you just want to get over with. Although I spent most of the time sitting, I was incredibly tired by the end of the day.

It’s sometimes hard to predict how a day is going to go when you have kids. Despite planning, resolve and the best of intentions, things are going to unfold the way they do, and you have to go with the flow. And you have to be willing to take one for the team. Parents often employ the tactic of man-to-man coverage, so your assignment might not be the most riveting. Yet each age group has its own advantages, so it’s wise to look the bright side. As the days get longer and warmer, I’m determined to strap the baby into the carrier and have him nap on the go, so we can enjoy more adventures all together.


Friday, March 20th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory is a somewhat soft-spoken toddler. He all but shuts down when confronted with his family on FaceTime, and it takes him quite a while to warm up to them. Although some might find this annoying, I have come to treasure his quiet nature. He has taught me the importance of slowing down and really listening to my child in order to truly understand him. I know that developing this skill early will stand me in good stead when he is a mumbling middle-schooler and/or teen, so I try not to lose my patience and have, instead, worked hard to train my ear to understand his whispered musings.

For example, we spent this past weekend on a fairly lengthy car trip. During the course of the over seven hours each way, I found myself craning my next to hear Rory’s tiny voice from the back seat. On occasion I had to ask him to repeat himself, but, on the whole, I was able to keep the “conversation” going for as long as he was willing to engage me.

Luckily, his teachers are equally attentive to his quiet voice. In chatting with his teacher earlier this week, his father learned that he has gotten much better at requesting that his classmates give him a turn with particular toys, and he similarly has learned to speak his desires around the classroom. I’d been somewhat concerned that his quiet voice might go unheard in the organized chaos of a group of two-year-olds. Thankfully, that has not been the case.

Sure, like any two-year-old, Rory has raucous spells in which he belts out his words with volume and conviction. But, for the remainder of the time, I am glad to continuing honing my listening skills and am thankful for yet another reminder that raising well-balanced children requires easing off the gas pedal and savoring the moment.

Late Start

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Once Jack started sleeping through the night, we developed a bedtime routine that worked for our family. Our target bedtime is 8:00pm. It’s worked for 7+ years, and I don’t want to change it anytime soon. Occasionally, that bedtime slides to the right a bit for special instances like, a weekend movie, travel, or a child who loves to stall their bedtime routine.

In the past, we had a few games or practices that started late. This year, the sport schedule is filled with late games and practices. It’s very frustrating for me because I like to keep my boys on schedule, especially during the school week. When I say a late start, I mean games START at the time the boys should be falling asleep. It gets even more challenging when my husband is out of town, because then I have two boys who are up way past their bedtime and are expected to be productive and well behaved the following day. I might be crazy for feeling this way. I might need to wake up and realize this is part of playing sports. But it still seems ridiculous to me that a 4 year olds soccer game starts at 8:00pm on a Monday night.

Mostly, I’m just venting about this situation. I know the board/coaches have to configure a schedule to make sure all teams play their assigned games. I know it’s not easy to please everyone, but perhaps keeping the little ones to the earlier games would be beneficial to the children and their parents.

Mommy Fittest

Monday, March 16th, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
We all know that the acts of birthing and raising children can have lasting effects on our bodies. Since I’ve had two kids, I’m in… interesting shape. I’m eating extra calories to breastfeed, and they aren’t always the healthiest. I’m sleeping very poorly, given that I’m still up with Hudson several times a night. Even if I had the energy to incorporate exercise into my daily routine, I don’t really have the time. So you can imagine what the physical manifestation of these patterns is.

Well, over the weekend I decided enough was enough! I just felt I had to do something to make myself feel better. Given that I’m starving and pinched for time when grabbing food, and there’s no forcing a baby to sleep well, I opted to focus on something I could control— working out. With Hudson down for a nap and Haley playing with her dad, I pounced on my opportunity and hit the treadmill. It felt great to get my blood going and my body moving.

I was pleased to discover that I could maintain pretty much the same speed and intensity as I did before I was pregnant. So I went with it. Unfortunately, I paid for it later. Into the evening my legs slowly grew sorer and sorer until I finally took a pain reliever. I wish I could say it was a good kind of hurt, but without continuous sleep, my body didn’t recover the way it used to.

However, I’m undeterred. It would be a shame if this incident turned me off from running and jump-starting my quest to return to healthfulness. I feel like I can get away with making excuses until Hudson is older—no one would blame me for slacking. But I don’t want to make excuses. I want to be healthy and whole. I want to provide a good example to my children. I want to feel good about myself. The time is now.

That’s My Sister

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:

Rory held his little sister for the first time last week.  I know what you may be thinking– she’s TWO months old, what took so long?!  Well, for a variety of reasons (namely, the high volume of germs Rory was bringing home from daycare on a regular basis) we had largely avoided the subject with Rory until recently.

But a week ago, after watching Rory mimic me for the duration of the snow day by “caring” for his toys (including changing Thomas the train’s diaper, swaddling his other trains, and consoling his “crying” stuffed animals) I asked Rory if he would like to hold his baby sister.

Rory let out an enthusiastic YES and high-tailed it to the couch where he plopped himself down with open arms.  I propped up a pillow under one of his arms and placed Charlotte gently against him.

I don’t think I’d ever seen him beam with pride quiet like that until that moment.

His daddy just happened to walk in the door just as Rory and Charlotte were getting settled, so we were able to capture a somewhat blurry picture of the moment.  Charlotte has a somewhat non-descript expression, but Rory’s eyes speak volumes.  In a matter of seconds I saw what we once believed to be a largely indifferent toddler melt with love for his little sister.  And his mom and dad melted right along with him.

I can’t say the adjustment to a family of four has gone swimmingly.  Nor do I think simply holding his sister will make the future adjustments perfect.  But I do know that Rory is undeniably proud to be a big brother, even if he doesn’t say so all of the time.  And that is enough for now.



Spring Break

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Hello, spring break! This week, the boys and I get to hangout in our pajamas until late morning. We get to play board games we don’t always have time for. We read each other books, and the kids made me some new projects with their art supplies.

Last weekend, we kicked off our spring break with warmer weather. It was beautiful. We played sports in the backyard, cooked on the grill, and toasted marshmallows over the campfire. We hiked and biked and wore ourselves out. After two gorgeous days, the floodgates opened and it’s been rainy, gray and depressing outside ever since.

Some of the boys friends’ are out of town, but a few are hanging around. We ventured out to a fun arcade and met up with some of their friends. The boys had fun playing ski ball, whack a mole, and other loud games that spit out tickets. It immediately turned into a competition of who got the most and whose prize was the coolest.  I was able to chat with the moms and enjoy myself in their company.

As much as I would love to be vacationing on the beach right now, we’re enjoying our time together at home. It’s nice to slow down the pace and relax with each other. Although there are bouts of boredom, we eventually find something to make, watch, bake, or play. Jack and Tate’s little minds are full of creativity, and I love watching it all come to life.

Evening Blues

Monday, March 9th, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
When Haley was a few months old, we instituted a nighttime routine to get her prepped for sleep. Each night, we gave her a massage and bath, put her pajamas on her, sang her the same song, and I nursed her before she went into the crib. It was a great way to signal to her that the day was winding down. It was good for our whole household, actually. We love our kids, but it’s often comforting to know that the chaos will in fact end at some point! I think most parents can relate to that.

Unfortunately, things have been a little different with number two. I had had a preconceived notion of what bedtime would be with children, plural. I thought Hudson’s routine would be similar to what Haley’s was as a baby, and that they’d both go to bed around the same time. Well, I’ve now learned that setting a baby and a preschooler who A) wants to help do everything for the little one, B) acts especially nuts closer to bedtime, and C) needs her own bath, teeth brushing, story time, etc. is the opposite of a calming bath routine.

So I’ve had to let go of my intentions. Hudson has sensitive skin and it being winter, does not get a nightly bath. It’s easier to bathe him during the day. Sometimes I need to let Haley watch a show, alone, while I nurse him before bed, which is not at all what I intended. While her antics entertain him, they are not conducive to him settling down for the night. I find myself whispering a lot, trying to speed things along, and feeling anxious that one will wake the other up, depending on who went down first, rather enjoying their cuddliness and bonding as much as I’d like.

As with every other recent challenge, I’m reminding myself to be patient. All of these phases are fleeting, Hudson is still very young, and Haley is getting more mature and—knock on wood—easier to deal with each day. I’m sure a more functional routine will develop over time. And that there will be many more leisurely cuddles in my future.