Archive for June, 2015

Birthday Party Season

Monday, June 29th, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Haley hadn’t been to a ton of birthday parties as a toddler. I think a lot of her friends at that age were doing the same thing we did—a small gathering with family rather than a put-on “affair.” But now her playmates are turning four, and many parents we know have given in to the main event. Since we’re heading into summer, I think a lot of pals with summer birthdays have been motivated to have their celebrations before everyone took off on their vacations. Each weekend, we have to remember where we’re going and when, field lots of questions from Haley about whether this or that friend will be there, and most important, remember to get a present!

It’s interesting to see what each family chooses to include at a birthday party. I’m seeing a lot of Do-It-Yourself favors that are really cute. The universal party foods seem to be pizza and cake, though I’m relived that there are usually grown-up snacks and drinks, too. Attendance can be a double-edged sword at times. I’m usually glad that Haley has something somewhat exciting to do on a Saturday, is seeing her friends still even though school is out, and is learning that in life, we need to let someone else be the focus at times. But it’s not always convenient, depending on where the party is and the other plans we made for the weekend. I don’t always love splitting the family in half during what’s supposed to be quality time. But overall, it’s been really fun. I’m grateful Haley is being included—there are worse things than too many party invitations.

Haley is really excited for her birthday party now. She doesn’t have a firm concept of time, so it’s lost on her that April is very far away and a lot will change in terms of her friends and interests between now and then. Fortunately, her little brother turns one in a few months; I have a feeling that when I plan that party, I will have an experienced little helper on my hands who knows precisely how to make it great.

On the Move

Friday, June 26th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:

It’s official– Charlotte is no longer sedentary. And we are in trouble.

The little wiggle worm has figured out how to inch worm across the floor on her back. She is somewhat deliberate in her efforts, making it hard to leave her on the floor unattended for any great length of time.

It took a solid eight months before her brother reached this point, so we are a little overwhelmed that we got to this point so quickly. It is yet another way in which they are two very different children, despite some pleasant similarities. We are working on getting her to sit up on her own in hopes that we can buy a little more time, but something tells me this is just the first of many ways this little one is going to keep us on our toes.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
While visiting my parents, there are certain things I like to do that send me down memory lane. I don’t get a chance to visit very often, so when I’m in my childhood town, I make sure to carve out some time to enjoy those special memories all over again. The best part now is sharing them with my own children.

My husband and I often give Jack and Tate a tour of our favorite places while visiting PA. We sometimes drive around and show them our childhood homes, schools, and preferred places we frequented. We also like to do similar activities with them that we did as kids, for example, pick strawberries at a local farm, ride bikes, hike trails, eat ice cream, catch lightning bugs, enjoy family get togethers, and swim at the same pool we enjoyed as children. I love sharing our childhood with them. It’s nice to see the classic fun outings seamlessly flow from generation to generation.

Over the weekend, I was excited to sit down with Jack and Tate and go through photo albums, new and old. We looked at pictures of myself from birth until recently. Some were cute; others not so much…i.e. my middle school years. We also found some photos from the 1800’s of my great grandmother and great uncles, photos of my mom as a little girl and even photos of my grandmother when she was a toddler. Jack and Tate couldn’t believe the antiquated baby toys, strollers, and outfits. I can’t imagine living without the technology we have today.

I hope someday Jack and Tate can experience some of their same childhood experiences with their children. I try to take lots of pictures so someday their great-grandchildren can look back and see what they were doing and wearing in the early 2000’s. What a treasure those photos will be.

Unexpected Playdate

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:

Last week, Haley, Hudson and I took a trip to the library. I knew it would rain that afternoon, so I packed up the kids in the morning and headed out. I planned for us to arrive there immediately following the extremely chaotic Children’s Storytime, and my strategy worked beautifully. We nearly had the run of the place.

Fortunately, we weren’t quite alone. There was another mother with her daughter and son, around the same ages as my kids. At first we all stayed to ourselves, but then the other little girl, Cora, approached Haley to see if she wanted to play with her. It was really cute. I was so happy because often when we’re out, Haley seeks to make friends and unfortunately, not all little kids are receptive. Haley and Cora read books together and Cora continually resisted her mom’s attempts to leave. Cora asked if the girls could have a playdate and her mom said, ‘yes, we can do that one day.’ Since it was approaching noon, I told Cora’s mom that they were welcome to come over for lunch. I was thrilled when she accepted! I think it takes some blind faith, for both parties, to have an at-home playdate when you’ve only met twenty minutes before. Being that we met at the library with kids in tow, chances are slim that anyone is any danger, you’d hope! Worst that can happen is you discover that your families are not compatible.

Luckily, we all got along great. Haley got a little frustrated with the younger Cora, but I reminded her that as the older girl, it’s important to be patient. The mom and I had a few things in common and had fun comparing notes on our kids. We look forward to getting together again.

I’m so glad we went to the library that day and made some new friends. There are so many times I’d rather not venture out or be social, but there’s a lot of fun to be had when we do. Never know who we might meet!

Daddies and Daughters

Friday, June 19th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:
I still remember the conversation with my father upon learning that Rory was a boy. Though obviously happy to learn that our little nugget looked healthy and well inside the womb, I could detect a slight air of sadness in his voice when we delivered the news of a third grandson. He was plenty diplomatic (in contrast to my late grandmother, bless her heart, who proclaimed how much she wanted a girl for whom she could make smocked dresses), but I could sense his disappointment.

“As a daddy of a daughter, I just wanted Blake to get to experience what I did,” he explained.

I was, admittedly, a daddy’s girl. Not the kind who has tacky t-shirts or bejeweled coffee mugs that proclaim that fact. The kind who share a strong, sometimes silent love, awe, and camaraderie with one another that never goes away (even after my husband took over as the central man in my life).

So you can imagine, then, my excitement when we learned that Charlotte was a girl. My daddy would have a granddaughter to dote upon, and my husband would have a daughter who would wrap him around her little finger.

Watching Charlotte look at her daddy, I cannot wait to see how that relationship develops. Rory already adores his dad, and I am certain Charlotte will too. Just as much, if not more.

Happy Father’s Day, All!!!

Dad’s Day

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Father’s Day is upon us. The boys and I are big fans of my husband for obvious reasons. He is the backbone to our family and works very hard to support us. With his current job, he isn’t always present, but he will take every opportunity to communicate with us any way he can. We are so grateful for the access to technology that keeps us connected.

Jack and Tate look up to their father. He is sometimes a big kid himself, but that is why they love his company. He is funny, playful, and always loving. Sometimes, it’s hard on the boys because their father is away a lot. When they were in school, and on a routine, it didn’t seem to affect them a whole lot, but now that the boys are out of school for the summer, they’re more aware of his absence.

Unfortunately, my husband will be working on Father’s Day this year. It’s a bummer, but we were prepared beforehand knowing this would most likely be the case. We love FaceTime for this exact reason and plan to let Daddy know just how much we love and miss him every single day. With my husband away, it reinforces just how much we appreciate all he does to support our little family. He is my husband, my best friend, and the best dad two little blonde boys could ever ask for.

To all the dads and granddads, Happy Father’s Day!

What A Relief

Monday, June 15th, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Since I moved to New York City with my young family, I have been so worried about embarking on the process to enroll Haley in public school. In a family-oriented neighborhood like ours, “not enough seats for all the kids” is a refrain you hear often. Figuring out if, and how, we’d need to place Haley in a private program has been stressful.

Haley turned four this year, making it the first in which she is eligible for public school. The city government made a big push for “Pre-K For All,” but as parents, we were unsure about how that would turn out. We knew there would be “new seats,” but how many? Where? What can we expect from these programs?

Though some of these questions are still unanswered, we’re on our way. A new, fully-public “Pre-K Center” is opening a block away from us, within another neighborhood elementary school, and that is where Haley has been placed. It is incredibly convenient—on the way to Dad’s morning train and close enough that I could eschew a stroller carry the baby if I need to (you have to think about these things when you live in a walk-up). The City assures us that the education will be of high quality, and I feel good about some of the other parents I know sending kids there. There will definitely be a lot of parent participation and interest at the school, and I think that matters a lot.

I can’t believe my baby girl is a big four-year-old and will be in school all day in a few short months. (The City is phasing out my first choice, half-day, which is a story for a different post.) For my all anxiety, things have turned out fine and continue to look promising.  I can’t allow myself to get too much more worked up. After all, I’ve got twelve more school years to go!

The Fallout of Two

Friday, June 12th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Our house, my clothes, and even my waistline are a testament to the fact that having two children and being a working mom (or any mom, for that matter) is exponentially harder than having only one child. As with many, many other things about parenting, this is one of those things I understood in theory, but am only recently coming to appreciate in reality.

One of the best pieces of advice I received before either Rory or Charlotte was born was to teach myself to be happy with “good enough.”

Despite being wildly successful during my maternity leave at checking items off the “to-do” list, my efforts since returning to work have flatlined. There is an extra leaf in our dining room table that has been there since mid-April, a can of paint on the floor of our laundry room that has been there for a month and a half, a dead ceiling fan that is longing for an electrician, countless stacks of papers to file, piles of outgrown children’s clothing to donate, and at least a half-dozen empty frames to fill and hang. And that’s just a start.

Perhaps it is a function of our desire to spend what little time we have each day with our children focused on our children. More likely it is the fact that having two children means a lot more man-on-man defense. Our tendency to take the divide and conquer approach means that there are fewer opportunities to duck away and tackle household chores. Heaven forbid that it might be a task that requires two sets of adult hands– those rarely come to fruition.

The fact of the matter is that once the kids are finally in bed for the evening, our motivation levels are usually at their lowest levels. We are usually far more inclined to get some much-needed rest and/or relaxation before starting the gauntlet all over again the next day. And so the chores stay untended another night, which turns to a week, which turns to a month, and so on.

But the kids are healthy, fed, and happy. And we’re employed and exhausted, but usually happy. And that, for now, is good enough.

Road Trip

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Over the weekend, my family loaded up our minivan and started our northbound journey. We have made this trip many times over the years, and we’re finally starting to perfect the process. We’ve learned how to pack the van efficiently, snacks to bring, entertainment, and where to make pit stops along the way.

When we made our first long trip, Tate was an infant and Jack was in preschool. We had no way to know how they would handle a 15-hour drive. Much to our surprise, they did remarkably well given the need for frequent stops to change diapers and feed the baby. We carved a diaper changing area out of the mountain of baby gear in the back of the van. I told nursery rhymes and played patty cake to keep the boys happy. I did anything I could to keep the boys from crying.

These days the boys are more self-sufficient. We pack 50% less gear and can even recline our seats without banging into a suitcase or cooler full of milk and baby food.It is another reminder of how quickly my kids are growing up. Jack and Tate talk about what they see out their windows. We saw the sunrise over the Appalachian Mountains. Jack explained how mountains are formed and Tate talked about how the sun is a star. Jack liked all the different scenery and they both had countless factoids to “teach” us about. We played the alphabet game numerous times and listened to Jack’s knock-knock jokes.

I guess I’m willing to trade longer naps, diapers and nursery rhymes for not having to constantly entertain my kids for 15 hours in a row. We all know how overwhelming that can be.  Now, the kid’s stories, songs and games provide the entertainment.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Monday, June 8th, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
This weekend we flew with Hudson for the first time! Of course I was nervous to take two little ones on a plane, especially since one is an infant. Traveling with kids is so different from going solo. The sheer amount of stuff you have to organize and contend with makes you feel exhausted before you even start your voyage. So many things can go wrong—tantrums, spills, delays, air pressure inner ear discomfort and the resultant screaming—the list goes on.

I’m so pleased to report that it went very well. Hudson really rolled with it, and Haley always listens carefully when she knows Mama’s not messing around.

We flew to Atlanta, where we boarded two trains before we got to our rental car. The gear we were carting included a stroller and infant car seat, a convertible car seat, a baby carrier, a diaper bag, a duffle bag and a large rolling suitcase. Oh, I forgot to mention Haley’s sparkly poodle purse, which she often decided that I was carrying. Once we finally got settled in the car, we contended with Atlanta rush hour traffic—the rumors are true—and drove two hours to our final destination. Luckily the kids were so tired by then they passed out as we drove!

We visited with friends and did some sightseeing, but the best moments were the simple things we did as a family. The kids were hyper when we got to the hotel, so we let them stay up late, play, watch shows and snack. They were in heaven! The rest of the weekend, we swam at the pool, ate at different family restaurants, and chatted as we explored the town. In a way, the four of us leaving home together and going out into the world made us feel truly forged as a complete family. I’m so excited for our future adventures, especially now that I know we can handle it.