Archive for September, 2015

First Crush

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
A new family moved into our neighborhood recently. My husband works with the father, and I know the mother from social circles. She and I decided to get our kids together for a play date. Tate is a very sociable young boy so he was excited to go to our new friend’s house. The only thing different about this play date, is that it was with girls.

I planned to drop Tate off for an hour or so, but ended up chatting with the mom for longer than I was planning to. We know a lot of mutual military friends so we were catching up over the last five years or so. Tate and his new friend, Livi, seemed to get a long well. Every time Tate would pass by me while playing, he had the cutest grin on his blushing face. I think he felt a little shy playing at an all girls house. Livi has two older sisters who were relaxing and doing their own thing. He quickly learned that girl toys aren’t always dolls and princesses. He built a huge tower, played soccer out back, did tricks with their dog, and even attempted roller-skating.

Since our play date, Tate hasn’t stopped talking about Livi. Everyday I pick him up from school, he tells me about what they played on the playground and how they sat near each other at lunch. Everyday we drive by Livi’s house, Tate begs to go back to play. Jack likes to tease Tate about having a girlfriend. Tate can’t keep the smile off his face when Livi’s name is brought up. It’s so innocent, and I find it adorable. I hope it’s a long time before he brings home his first serious girlfriend. For now, I love that he is making new friends and learning to play well with others.

It Never Gets Old

Monday, September 28th, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:

We celebrated Hudson’s first birthday over the weekend with the traditional family dinner at Grandma’s house. As always when a little one of mine has a birthday, I hem and haw about whether we should throw a “party” party, complete with little friends running around, a bunch of decorations, catered food, kids activities, etc. We stuck with our old standby, and I’m so glad.

All of my relatives are moving in a million different directions—that’s modern life, I suppose. It was great to catch up with everyone. It’s too bad. When a lot of time goes by without all of us hanging out, and when kids are involved, the changes in our lives are that much more pronounced. My aunts and uncles got a kick out of Haley’s pre-K-style antics as well as Hudson’s mobility and general adorableness.

We opted for a Mickey Mouse theme, the one show and song Hudson seems to consistently love. Our simple décor looked great, and if Hudson was a bit indifferent, his sister really got into it. She loved making everyone wear the party hats with Mickey ears! Hudson made out with a lot of cool gifts—a little scooter/push toy, a plush ball that plays music, and a dump truck he can roll around to his heart’s content.

These parties really remind me of a simpler time, before kids’ parties got out of control and when families made time for each other, no matter what’s going on. It’s good to know we’re able to get back to basics once in a while.

No! Daddy!

Friday, September 25th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:

Rory has decided he doesn’t particularly care for me lately.

That’s probably an overly harsh characterization. But Daddy is definitely Rory’s parent of choice. What’s odd is that for the first two years of his life, he really looked to me for some of the pivotal parts of his daily routine– getting up, getting breakfast, getting bath, and reading his bedtime story. Now, with the exception of breakfast, Rory is vocal about expressing his preference for his Daddy.

I do my best not to take it personally. After all, many of those tasks fall to Daddy each day out of necessity. For example, I had to work late two different days this week, so Daddy was on solo duty for all of bedtime. Having Rory comfortable with his Daddy taking such a very active role as what is sometimes characterized as the “primary” parent, is a key component to making our daily juggling act work.

But, at the same time, I fear that perhaps my business, task-focused approach has overshadowed my love and affection and makes me come off as less fun, less caring, or otherwise less approachable than his Daddy. I think that is probably reading too far into it, but I have started to try harder at just going with the flow a bit more, even if it means I’m five or ten minutes later to the office than I might have liked.

Negotiating with toddlers is daunting. Combine that with the stress of trying to “have it all,” and you can go nuts. So, as with everything parenting, I am trying to take it in stride with the hopes that “this, too, shall pass.”

Summer Bonus

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
One of the advantages of living in the south is that summer weather lasts a few weeks longer than our neighbors to the north. We took advantage of sunny weather in the 90s this past weekend by accepting an invite to visit with friends for the day.

Our friends live on a larger property with lots of things for young boys to do. The kids drove go-carts, explored the woods, had a squirt gun battle, and spent lots of time in the tree house. The boys played all afternoon with our friend’s two boys and it was fantastic to watch them get along so well. When they got hot, they just jumped in the pool. Tate even jumped off the diving board for the first time. The older kids’ influence definitely helped him overcome his “deep end of the pool” fear.

It was a great day for our family. My husband was home to enjoy it with us and the boys loved having him around all weekend. I’m really enjoying these last few summer hurrahs, but I’m definitely looking forward to fall weather and all the fun activities that come with it.

Go, Go, Go

Monday, September 21st, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
I know I probably sound a bit silly to some people when I talk about how nervous I am to be apart from Haley, especially to working parents who put their kids in all day care with fantastic results. Haley and I are used to being with one another, no doubt about it. I’m really glad she’s thriving without me, and I love the break we get from each other—but there are limits.

Haley is four and attending pre-kindergarten. I didn’t start full-day school until I was in first grade, so I feel like things moved a bit quickly for her. What amazes me still is the amount of extracurricular activities some of her peers participate in. One of her classmate’s mothers told me about a (somewhat expensive) drama class Haley would just love. Another mom told her daughter that since she had school every day this year, she could only do two extra classes this year—she chose gymnastics and “movement.” The same mom doesn’t work and sends her daughter to After-Care on the days she doesn’t have classes.

I realize I am being judgmental here, but I really wonder, is all this activity good for the kids? Haley is sort of remarkably mature for her age, and even she seems like she’s teetering on the edge of a meltdown after school if we don’t get her home with a snack quickly enough. I don’t know what will come of these classes, but in terms of talents being discovered, I can’t imagine that this early instruction is actually useful. I hate to be a hater, but what about some rest? Time spent with siblings? Dare I say it—watching a TV show while unwinding?

Maybe these parents know what they’re doing. They know their own children, after all. Maybe the kids just adore these activities and they’d be really sad without them. If so, that’s good for them. But I feel like Haley has a lifetime of scheduling ahead of her. For now, I’m happy to give her some time to veg out.

And We’re Off

Friday, September 18th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:

Charlotte is crawling.  Everywhere.

She actually started crawling for the first time while we were out of town last weekend.  My mom sent us a video as we were waiting in the security line at the airport.   It showed Charlotte chasing Rory around the upholstered ottoman in our family room, slowly but surely.  She would scoot her knees forward one at a time, then flop to her stomach, reach forward, pull herself to seated, and start all over again.

She’s still in the early stages of her mobility.  On slippery surfaces, for example, she sometimes has difficulty getting traction.  But on the carpet of her classroom at school or the padded tiles of our playroom floor, she is swiftly picking up speed with each passing day.

In addition to bringing with it the beginning of an even more chaotic time period as the parents of two young children, Charlotte’s newfound mobility is giving us a further lens into her personality.  I am never bored watching her amazement as she creeps over to a new toy, picks it up, and examines it closely.  The intensity on her face when she sets out to crawl across a room reminds me of pictures I’ve seen of myself as a young child– eyes focused steadfast on a goal.

Rory isn’t entirely sure how he feels about Charlotte being able to creep over and steal his toys.  It’s definitely launching a new era in their own sibling dynamic, as a result.  So far, he’s just as excited as we are to see her move.  Here’s hoping the novelty doesn’t wear off too soon.

A Good Report

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:

Yesterday was the day for parent/teacher conferences. I’ve been on the edge of my seat all school year waiting to hear what Tate’s teacher had to report about him. I know he understands his academics, but I question his behavior. One minute he can be the sweetest, kindest, caring soul, and the next minute he can be downright rude.

Over the last five weeks of school, I’ve noticed Tate is having fewer and fewer fits. He is using words to relieve frustration instead of cries or screams. He is understanding of consequences and learning to make better choices. I’ve been praising him on his good behavior, because it is making him a better person and making me a calmer mom. I can only hope it continues.

I briefly chatted with Tate’s teacher about how he is doing so far this school year. She informed me he is doing wonderfully. I mentioned some concerns I had about him, and she hasn’t noticed anything of that nature in the classroom. He still needs to learn how to wait his turn before speaking, but I’m not at all surprised about that. Our little chatterbox loves to let everyone know what he thinks. Tate’s teacher also mentioned that for being one of the youngest in his class he is moving right along with the older students in his grade. This was something else I was concerned about, and am happy to know he is meshing well.

Overall, I’m extremely satisfied with Tate’s teacher’s report. I obviously was not expecting to hear anything terrible, but I had a few concerns that turned out to be unwarranted. I breathed a sigh of relief. I don’t have to worry (as much) about whether or not he is showing good behavior at school. Sending Tate to kindergarten was the right choice. I don’t know if it’s our bedtime chats, peer influence, or just growing up, but I’m elated to see Tate is maturing and becoming a great student. It’s been a long five years, and I think we’re both ready for a new phase of life.

Bye Bye Baby

Monday, September 14th, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Yesterday we reached another important milestone when we left Hudson with a non-family member caretaker for the first time. We’ve been attending a neighborhood church, and they just opened up the nursery for the fall season. Hudson was fussy and bored when we had had him in the pew with us during services, so I was excited at the prospect of having him be stimulated and entertained while we adults focused on the sermon. Of course, I was nervous to leave him with new grown-ups, as he’s pretty clingy to his dad and me. But I told myself that it would be okay because Big Sister would be in the nursery too.

It went pretty much as I expected. I stared at my phone during the hour-long service, but no frantic call came in. So far, so good. As soon as it was over, I bolted to the nursery. Hudson seemed reasonably happy at that point, but the caretakers did say they he cried, and upon pressing, revealed that it was kind of a lot. But they said he did calm down at some point, and that his sister was very helpful in that regard. I knew she would be. Especially without her parents around, Haley tends to take responsibility over her brother. It’s really sweet. I heard that her wearing a green wig and shaking maracas did nothing to help Hudson feel better, but jumping around did. I’m really proud of her.

It was hard leaving my baby, but I’m glad I did it. Since it was in a church setting, I felt pretty comfortable with his level of care. I’m fortunate that his first experience being sat for out of the home included his sister. Now, I feel more confident to leave him in the gym nursery or with a sitter for a date night. Actually, I may still wait a bit for all that. One step at a time!

I Go With You?

Friday, September 11th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:
My husband and I have been fortunate over the past three years to get to take a few child-free trips. This is due, in large part, to the generosity of Rory’s grandparents (my parents), who have graciously agreed to watch Rory—and now both Rory and Charlotte—in our absence. This weekend, we are traveling to Texas for the wedding of my husband’s best friend (a mutual friend of ours from college and the best man from our own wedding).

On prior occasions, Rory was too young to truly appreciate our absence. He was only nine months old the first time we were gone for an extended period. We left him again at around fourteen months for a brief overnight. We were gone briefly when Charlotte was born, as well, though it was for three nights, and he still saw at least one of us during the day each of the days we were gone.

I’ve had my share of business travel this summer. Those trips are disturbing to the overall routine, but with Daddy around, there has been some degree of consistency. Charlotte is pleasantly oblivious, and, frankly, too laid-back to care.

Rory, in contrast, knows something is up. This week was the first time Rory showed signs of truly comprehending what it means for mommy and daddy to be away. My work travel had prepared him reasonably well to understand what it meant for grown-ups to be gone and for his grandparents to be around. But when I explained that we would be going on a trip without him, I was met with resistance.

We planted the seeds over the weekend, letting him know that his grandparents would be coming to play with him. I looked him in the eye on Wednesday morning, reminded him that his grandparents would be coming to stay for a few days, and that they would be taking him to school each day and playing with him each night. I explained that mommy and daddy would be taking an airplane on a trip to celebrate his “uncle’s” wedding.

“I go with you?” He asked, with equal parts confusion and excitement.

“No, sweetheart. Only mommy and daddy are going. But it will only be for a few nights, and we’ll be back on Sunday to play with you and tuck you in. And you’ll have ALL weekend to play with your grandparents.”

“You go on a trip? Without Rory?”

“Yes, sweetheart.”

“OK mommy.”

I could tell he was disappointed, but we moved right on to our breakfast that morning without too much protest. We talked about it periodically that day, as well as the morning of our departure. There was some continued resistance and frustration with the idea. But, in the end, he agreed to wear his listening ears and be a big helper for his grandparents. I am sure everyone will be a-ok and have a wonderful time, even if there are some emotional outbursts through it all. He’s a very perceptive kid, and his ability to vocalize his thoughts only further reaffirms that fact. We’ll be certain to shower him with praise upon our return for being such a big boy, and I’m sure there will be lots of hugs and kisses, too.


Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
About ninety percent of our friends traveled over the holiday weekend. Unfortunately, we did not. My kids asked why we couldn’t go to Disney World on their day off. They are adorable, but they don’t understand how much planning is involved for that kind of trip. I want to travel too, but it is hard for our family of four to do so without breaking the bank.

In an effort to appease my boys, I planned a “stay-cation” for them. It’s definitely not Disney World, but a perfect way to unwind for a few days after the hustle and bustle of the last month. Prior to the weekend, I planned some activities to keep the boys engaged so that they didn’t get “so bored.”

One of our favorite activities of the weekend was some abstract painting. I found a tutorial on Pinterest, and thought we would give it a try. My kids like to paint, and this kept their attention. After the art dried, I framed their pieces and hung our new (free) wall art. They may not be gallery worthy, but their paintings turned out much better than I anticipated. The boys feel special since their work is now hanging on our wall.

As much as I would LOVE to have spent some time on the beach this weekend, I’m happy to know that relaxing at home is a treat, too. It gives us time to recharge and appreciate the extra time together.