Archive for January, 2017

The Coffee Table Buffet

Monday, January 30th, 2017

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Sometimes Hudson is an extremely enthusiastic eater. Other times, it’s sort of a wonder he still manages to exist, and so wildly, on the few calories he consumes. This seems to be normal 2-year-old behavior. One day they’re loving life and will eat absolutely anything you out in front of them. The next, they’re throwing a chicken nugget in your face. As with most parenting challenges, you’ve got to roll with it.

I have my “safe bets” when it comes to preparing food for Hudson. Pancakes, hardboiled eggs, and spaghetti are some of his absolute favorites. But I want to expose him to different foods, and I have no interest in short order cooking. What’s peculiar is that Hudson will often reject a food, only to pick it off my plate later.

A friend told me that experts are now saying that the best thing to do with these grazers is to give in to their style. Leave a bunch of healthful snack foods, like raisins, crackers, etc. on a low table where your toddler can access them all day long. Has anyone out there tried this approach? It takes a certain laidback quality I think I’m lacking. I worry about the spills and the inability to keep track of what exactly his food input would be. I’m just too Type A.

On the other hand, if it gets more calories in him, it may be worth exploring. And who knows? Maybe I can throw some sushi and asparagus on the table and at some point, get a taker.

Dishing It Out

Friday, January 27th, 2017

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory told me the other morning that he hoped his friends liked his new shoes so they would let him play with them on the playground.

I was floored.

I asked if his friends excluded him often.  He told me they did, and proceeded to share a lengthy story of how three of his classmates had precluded him from playing in the treehouse with them.  Except he didn’t use words like “preclude.”  He just said they told him that he could not play in the treehouse and that it made him very sad.  I asked if he told anyone else, like his teachers, or if he’d told his friends how their actions made him feel.  He said he did not.

He seemed so forlorn when he told me that I mentioned it briefly to my husband, who promised to ask his teachers at the end of the day.  Actually, I said I’d ask, but we were delayed in getting to school that morning and, as a result, I wasn’t able to pull his teacher aside to ask quietly in a way that wouldn’t embarrass him in front of his friends.

So Rory’s daddy asked at the end of the day, and learned that we have nothing to be concerned about.  Rory’s group of friends apparently has quite a habit of teasing at least one friend on any given day.  But the “honor” of being left out/teased/excluded rotates with regularity, is never long lived, and, at least according to his teachers, never truly ill-spirited.  And, more often than not, Rory is on the giving, as opposed to the receiving end (although that didn’t make me feel a whole lot better, either).

Hearing about Rory’s power struggles, even if entirely fictitious, engaged a new level of parenting concern that I hadn’t really felt before.  Every parent wants to think of their child as well-socialized and well-liked.  While my concerns were a bit over-blown in this particular instance, I am certain it won’t be the first time that I feel compelled to intervene in a situation where I really ought not insert myself.  Thankfully, having felt my heart break in response to this first instance, I’ll be better prepared to stay strong and help my little man through it the next time.

Kindness Matters

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
This week, Jack and Tate’s school is celebrating and demonstrating how much kindness matters. As a parent, I do my best to teach them how important kindness is on a daily basis. With so much bullying going on in schools, this is such a fabulous reminder to all children how important it is to treat each other with respect, not only in school, but in life.

Jack and Tate were both new to school this year. We had a chat before the school year started about how people might treat them, and what was a respectful way to handle the situation. Not everyone is kind, and unfortunately that is life. I hope Jack and Tate continue to show their kindness and manners towards others always. Of course we have bad days, but being respectful is something I try to consistently remind them about.

The boy’s school has lots of activities planned for the week. They’ll not only learn more ways to show kindness, but learn it in fun ways including magic shows, parades, donations, and volunteerism. I hope my kids and their peers buy into the idea. I hope kindness becomes “cool.”


Brain Power

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Since Haley is in Kindergarten, she is learning to read. She is doing so well! She has made great progress with her “sight words.” She is very comfortable with letter sounds, so she’s also able to sound out words she doesn’t know. These skills, plus looking at the corresponding illustrations, allow her to read early learner books totally independently. I’m amazed! And very proud.

At first, getting Haley to review her sight words was no easy task. But once we made a routine of it, and the “Haley Knows” pile starting getting taller and the “Haley Needs To Learn” pile started getting smaller, she came to look forward to it. Haley is also doing well with her math problems. She can count pretty high and do simple addition.

Despite her academic accomplishments, Haley is like any other five year old who simply wants to play in the afternoons and evenings. Homework is nowhere on her agenda. She has a lot more homework than I did in Kindergarten (which, now that I think about it, may have been nothing). Haley learns well and is decently behaved, which makes me wonder how on earth the parents of more rambunctious children get through the assignments.

I can already tell I’m going to have my work cut out for me when Hudson reaches Kindergarten. Haley always had a bit of a studious streak to her, but he’s just a wild man. I guess I’m lucky to have the more compliant child first. Or maybe he’ll surprise me. We’ll just have to wait and see. I’ll be open to however each of my children learn and grow.

On Hope

Friday, January 20th, 2017

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Schools are closed here in our nation’s capital as we usher in a new administration and await what these next days, weeks, and months will bring.  As much as I would like to isolate Rory and Charlotte from the rancor and divisiveness that has permeated the news cycle in the past months, as those of us in urban bubbles lick our wounds and wonder if this is all a dream from which we will soon awake or perhaps some innovative reality show in which we have all been cast, I intend to show them both the days events from the comfort of our home and the safety of our own couch.

Charlotte, I am certain, will spend all of five minutes (if that) before insisting that one of the two of us assist her in baking, clothing her baby, or otherwise catering to her demands.

Rory, however, may be more interested.  Consistent with my remarks in September, my aim is to use the day as a lesson in civics–a foundational discussion on the peaceful transition of power, and a focus on the institutions that our founders have created for us.  I will resist the urge to sour his young mind with my real views, or my true fears.  I will, instead, encourage him to join me in watching the pageantry and speak with him about the great responsibility that rests in all people in a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  We’ll see how long it lasts before he asks me how this all relates to the Rebel Alliance or Emperor Palpatine (his most recent obsession).  And I will, again, resist.

Parenting, after all, is a constant exercise in framing reality in a way that is accessible and understandable to the youthful audience.  It does him no good to lament the future of American politics or regale him with my thoughts on how we are living in the thick of the factionalism predicted all too well in Federalist No. 10.  We cannot control the times at which we are forced to teach our children hard lessons.  We do not hold that kind of power as parents.  Deaths, disappointments, bad days, or hard losses.  They happen.  Try as we may to shield them, I view my job as a parent as filtering those lessons through an age-appropriate, yet honest, lens.


Healthy Choices

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
My husband’s gym is in the middle of a fitness/diet challenge. He wants to lose a few pounds by eating healthily. So he decided to accept the challenge for the next six weeks. Since my husband is participating, that means the entire family is along for the ride.

We were sent a PDF file with grocery lists, meal prep, and a guide to various meals each day. Although it’s a lot of prep work, there is really no excuse when it’s all laid out in front of us.

For ten years, I have struggled to convince my children to love vegetables. There are a few vegetables they like, but more that they turn their noses up at. This is a great age to teach my boys a few things about cooking and working in the kitchen. If they help prepare it, they may eat it. Jack helps a lot with some of the basics every evening. He is learning about different veggies, how to cut them for different types of cooking. Tate will watch and ask lots of questions, sometimes getting his hands involved.

To our surprise, the boys have tried and liked almost every meal we’ve made so far. I don’t know if it’s because they’re involved, or the flavor is that much better. Either way, this momma is ecstatic. I’m not saying my kids will only eat vegetables now, but hopefully this little change of diet will remind them that healthy food can taste good, too.

There have been a few cheat meals, but so far, I think we’re all doing pretty well and enjoying what we’re feeding ourselves. Motivation is key in exercise and a healthy diet. I hope we can stick to our goals for weeks to come.

Winter Memories

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

From Monday Mom – Neetika
It’s not easy to beat the January blues. The holidays have passed. School is back in session. Low temperatures mean much less outdoor time. The packing up of the ornaments and décor relates what we’re all feeling—the party’s over. And what is there to look forward to? Valentine’s Day? Eh. Springtime temperatures? Still months away.

As Haley grows up, she understands the calendar and the concept of time better and better. It’s adorable, funny, and a little sad that she seems to realize that this time of year can be a bit of a dud. She tells me how she can’t wait for it to be warm and asks how long it is until Halloween. Don’t hold your breath, kid.

I’ve tried to combat the dreariness the best I know how. I took the candy canes off the tree and used them to make delicious peppermint hot chocolate. We’ve thrown a few snowballs at each other, which always results in fits of laughter. Haley and Hudson have both become master builders with their Legos and Magna Tiles—and master wreckers, as well.

Thankfully, my kids are homebodies just like me. They love to curl up with a good book under a cozy blanket (my favorite!) or try a new recipe on a lazy afternoon (especially if baked goods are involved). I’m trying to teach them something that it probably took me to long to realize—that each day is a blessing, and you have to make the most of it. Even if it doesn’t involve swimming, fireworks or picking out a costume, it’s a day that’s lovely and beautiful and meaningful. We ought to be grateful.

Happy Birthday

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Dearest Rory and Charlotte:

It is hard to believe you are now four and two.  I can still remember almost every hour of the days you were born (and the weeks leading up to it).  I remember the first hours of your lives, and the first harrowing days at home with each of you.

It is true what they say about parenting.  The days are long, but the years are short.  And here I am, living it.

You are each at the threshold of pivotal years.  Charlotte-  you will continue to find your voice, develop your independence, and cross over from toddler to little girl.  Rory- you will continue your hunger for learning, start to read, and begin your final year of pre-school.  You will both change schools, and you will both make new friends and try to keep up with old ones.

My wishes for you both in this coming year are simple.  I hope you are able nurture your boundless curiosity each day with new lessons, sights, and experiences.  I hope you continue to be selfless and give of yourselves to those in need, whether through thoughtful hugs or listening ears.  I hope you observe and embrace all that is good and caring and carefully reject and avoid hate and animosity.

I hope you continue your ability to make both me and your father want to be better people.  And I hope that I am able to be the best mom for each of you, almost every day (because let’s face it, EVERY day may be hard).

Happy Birthday, kiddos.  I love you both to the moon and back.


Life Lesson

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
We all know that predicting the weather is not an exact science. Last Friday, we were forecast to receive 1-4 inches of snow in suburban Atlanta. In typical southern form, the schools let out early. The local news teams went into special weather coverage mode, and the national weather service made up to the minute updates on the storm. The forecast of snow left the grocery stores wiped clean of the basics.

The “storm” was projected to hit during the night. At bed time, Jack and Tate were literally crossing their fingers and toes for snow. They even asked their magic 8 ball if it would snow. When it said “yes,” they got their winter coats and gloves ready for the morning. They had their entire day planned, to include sledding down our front yard and snowball fights with dad.

We awoke early the next morning to a cold, damp yard… and no snow. Only cold rain had fallen, then frozen overnight. The boys were extremely bummed, almost in tears. I had my doubts about the forecast, but I felt badly they were let down.

My husband and I took this situation and turned it into a learning experience for Jack and Tate. Some things in life, like the weather, are out of our control. There is nothing we can do about it. More importantly, there is no point wasting emotional energy over things we can’t control. Adapt to the challenge and overcome was our point.

Eventually, the boys got over their frustrations with the help of some pancakes and morning matinee of Star Wars. We’re still hopeful we’ll see snowflakes this winter, even if it means we travel north.


Monday, January 9th, 2017

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Everywhere you look in “modern parenting”, you see comparisons between what life is like for a parent now compared to what it was a generation ago: “I stayed out until dinnertime and Mom had no idea where I was.” “We never had rear-facing car seats.” “We drank all the soda we wanted!” The implication is clear—mothers and fathers of today put a lot more care and concern into raising their little people.

For the most part, I think it’s true. We sometimes hover. We sometimes obsess. And obsession can be a bad thing. On the other hand—is it such a bad thing to care? Given my nature, I’d probably take my concern for my kids to an extreme no matter the era. I’m happy being a helicopter. It’s who I am. I own it. I wish others would, too. At times the parenting culture/media makes us feel like we should be ashamed that we’re not more laidback.

When you know better, you do better. It’s good to keep extra eyes on your kids in an unsafe world. It’s good to cut down on processed foods. We know so much more about car safety than we once did. Parenthood is always evolving, as it should.

I look forward to the day Haley or Hudson tells me I don’t “get it” when it comes to take care of my grandchild. Chances are, I won’t.