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Living Between Mommy & Me

Posted on Apr 4, 2014 by 2 Comments

I woke up this morning, an hour earlier than usual. It probably  has something to do with my recent push to actually get some sleep. I was beginning to feel that sleep deprived state where you feel like you are in a fog.

Speaking of which, I awoke this morning with the remnants of a bad dream lingering on the horizon. In this dream, my husband tells me that he “likes” my friend. You know like when you are in elementary school and you “like” a boy. This is not what any woman wants to hear from her husband about her girlfriend, especially when she is your complete opposite.

Dream or not, it stabs a little bit. The laundry list of what he liked about her went on for what seemed like forever, which I suppose it would if you had to listen to your husband list why he likes another woman more than you. It was all like a horrible, cruel joke; a nightmare really.

I woke up feeling mocked, flawed and insecure. I’ve never felt so vulnerable and raw in my entire life. I’m not sure if this sleep thing is for me, if this is the side effect of sleep. I don’t like feeling so exposed.

It’s made me think hard about some things. Sometimes we spend so much of our time as Mommies powering through life that we never take the time to actually dwell on things like we did before we had kids.

That is usually a good thing because it saves us from living like lovesick teenagers; worrying about every look, glance, hidden meaning behind every word or gesture, second-guessing our relationships. But maybe sometimes we need to be reminded that we are not just Moms, who have to be strong for everyone, we are women. Living, breathing human beings who have wants and needs of our own and that’s okay.

Sometimes we need to invest some time dwelling on our relationships with our spouses and ourselves. After all, they fell in love with soft young girls, who doted on their every breath and hung on every word. My husband met me when I was 25 and in the best shape of my life, physically. I used to turn heads when I entered a room. I was vivacious and full of life.

I know we don’t have time for such niceties as lingering looks and 2-hour tub soaks everyday with the house falling down around us, kids swinging from the chandeliers, bills to be paid, and laundry to be done, but I think my dream was a reminder that I need to make more of an effort to be just me when he and I are alone. I need to look at myself as a woman and not just a mother because if I don’t, no one else will either and that can’t be good for any relationship.

Mommy mode is too high powered to remain in 24/7; if we stay on mommy mode we will burn out our motors and then we will be of no use to anyone.

How do you make time for yourself and your marriage when you have young children?

Photo Source: Ali Edwards

Bedtime Rituals Gone Bad

Posted on Mar 12, 2014 by No Comments

I have two wonderful daughters that I adore. These two kids are my reason for waking up every morning, quite literally – I have to drive them to school. But figuratively, they are my sunshine. That being said, sometimes their behavior can be maddening. I mean, stark raving lunatic crazy.

For instance, when bedtime rolls around, my 6-year-old begins her “JUST 5 more minutes (of TV). Please Mommy!” chant. To which I answer, every night, “No, honey. It’s bedtime. You HAVE to go to sleep.”  And most nights she replies, “You are the WORST MOTHA EVA!!!!!” Wow, I didn’t see that coming. Oh, wait. Yes I did because its our bedtime ritual.

Some families like to read and cuddle at bedtime, not us. We like to have a full on drag out cage match. When the 6-year-old was 2-years-old, she got stuck on “no” mode.

“Honey, let’s take our nap. ”

“NO!!!”

“Come on, you need your rest.”

“NO!!!!”

“Get your butt in the bed before I hurt you!” (I jest. I never said that, not usually. I think it a lot but don’t say it).

The point is, no matter how combative my children have ever decided to behave or what craziness they decided to throw at me on any given day, which could truly be any thing, I have to maintain my composure. I’m the adult. Right?

Sometimes I feel like I am running through a mine field with crazed chimps throwing poo at me, that’s how bad it gets…some days! Then other nights, after their bath, before that first heavy lid drops, it’s all cuddles and kisses and “I love you more”s and that makes all the poo dodging worth it on the rest of the nights.

Finally, the good bedtime rituals are beginning to outnumber the bad bedtime ritual nights.

Here is what works for us:

  • Lots of activity during the day, to tire them out.
  • After dinner dance party to dance the sillies out; just wait 30 minutes after eating.
  • Consistent bedtime of 7pm.
  • Giving the children a warm shower and using lavender lotion to calm the fussiest babies or 8-year-old.
  • No electronics after 6 pm.
  • Water bottle on nightstand.
  • Temperature appropriate bedroom and bedding.
  • Quiet, calm reading together with cuddling.

What doesn’t work:

  • Inconsistent bedtimes, anything after 7 pm and my girls are crying lunatics.
  • Sitting around with no physical or mental stimulation all day long. There is nothing harder to get to sleep than a bored child with a bunch of energy.
  • Television or use of any brain stimulating electronics before bed.
  • Sugary drinks or candy after 5 pm.
  • Having dinner too early because they get hungry before bed and get out of bed seeking food.
  • Last minute fumbling to finish homework.
  • Yelling at your children to go to sleep. It only winds them up and causes them stress, which keeps them up longer and in turn, stresses you out.

These are what we’ve found works for us at bedtime over the past 8 years. These rules are made to be broken. On special occasions and when we travel, the girls get a later bedtime but they also sleep in longer. The key to a happy child (and parent) is sleeping for enough hours each night, for my kid that is about 12 hours.

What is your best time ritual tip?

Photo Source: Nerissa’s Ring

Highly Effective Habits for Kids

Posted on Feb 6, 2014 by 2 Comments

Do your kids come right home from school and get started on homework? My girls like to play the dodge and weave homework game. They are the princesses of procrastination. I can’t say that I don’t know where they got it because I do, and I also know that this is not what I want for them.

I understand that they are children and preferring to play over doing homework is natural, but I need to start instilling these good study habits now before they are adults dodging deadlines and procrastinating putting together presentations.

Here is a plan to assist your child in developing successful homework habits that will help him throughout life.

Set aside homework time

In our house, homework is done immediately after my daughters come home, following a snack. They know that from 3:45-4:45, they will be doing homework Monday through Friday.

Schedule assignments

We know that our daughter loves doing her math and isn’t so crazy about rehearsing her violin, so violin is done for the first 20 minutes, followed by her reading log and we end with her math worksheet because it is short and her favorite subject.

Quiet spot to do homework

My daughters have a desk & chair in their room where they do homework. No, television, radio or any other electronic is allowed in this space unless it is directly needed for homework i.e. laptop or iPad. This is their designated study space unless it is on a day when we have ballet, in which case, they do homework at the dining room table while I prepare dinner. That way I am nearby if they need any assistance.

Be available

I am usually working in my office while they complete their homework so I am right around the corner in case of any questions. As they finish each piece of homework, they bring it to me to look over. I do not correct their incorrect answers, but rather ask leading questions to redirect them towards the correct answer.

Don’t do it for them

I know a lot of parents who just get frustrated and do the homework for their child. Not me. Why would I? That cheats them out of learning something, burdens me with homework when I’ve already finished my schooling and teaches them to give up because someone else will cover if they can’t handle it.

Help them. Be available but they have to learn that anything and everything worth having takes hard work and dedication. You can be there to guide them and support them but doing it for them is doing your child a disservice.

Reward Good Work

When my daughters bring home good grades, I praise them. I never belittle them if they are below what I might expect. Of course, like my parents, my expectations are always A’s, but I always try to stay positive.

If they bring home a B, I say great job, next report we will get it up to an A and if you do we can do something special. I have no problem using incentives to get my kids to work hard for good grades. Just like in the real world, if you work hard you will be rewarded with success.

I want my girls to learn a strong work ethic and not be afraid to work for the things they want in the world.

What is your best homework habit for your child?

photo credit: via photopin

Talking to Your Friend About Their Child

Posted on Jan 22, 2014 by 2 Comments

What would you do if you suspected that your friend’s child had a learning disability? Would you feel comfortable enough to bring it up to friend or would you just ignore it? Either way, it seems like a hard choice to make.

On one hand, you are telling your friend that her child is imperfect and no one wants to believe that , never mind, hear it said out loud by someone else. Your other choice is to say nothing but that helps no one and seems a little cowardice. Sure, it may save you an uncomfortable conversation with your friend, but you are doing the child no favors at all.

You bringing it up may be the only thing that will get this kid the help he needs.

You may have a friend or family member who has a child who you notice may be struggling with normal developmental skills. It may not be anything you can exactly put your finger on. It may just be a hunch. If  you notice it, the child’s parent probably notices it as well, but maybe they don’t.

Maybe they are too close to it. Maybe they are in denial. Maybe it’s their first baby and they have no point of reference and they can’t see it.

Always convey your concerns with care and support, never with judgment or pushy interference. Many parents are very sensitive about their parenting skills and will feel attacked. Sit your friend down in a non-threatening place, maybe meet for coffee, and just bring up that you have noticed a few things about little Johnny that indicate that he may have a slight delay.

Who knows? Maybe they are already aware of it and it is being handled. Maybe they have no idea what you are talking about. Maybe they feel it is none of your business or maybe they will be grateful that you said it out loud so that they don’t have to, and now they have someone to turn to for support through this situation. Or maybe they will be so mad and offended  that they will scream and yell and walk away forever.

The main thing is that you approach them with no judgment and only care and support in your heart. If you have tried to gently bring up the subject with a friend or family member and they did not want to listen, maybe you just need to wait and bring it up again at a later date. Be supportive, but don’t mention the subject again.

The bottom line is that you brought it up. You tried to be an advocate for their child and even if they walk away, eventually they will realize that you came from a place of love for the child. Hopefully, they will not take offense and instead take your words into consideration and bring up the concerns to their pediatrician.

If the situation were reversed, would you want your friend or family member to say anything to you?

Photo Source: X1Klima

How to Help With Homework and Not Be Overwhelmed

Posted on Jan 6, 2014 by 1 Comment

School is back in full swing and homework is coming home in droves. Lucky for me, my girls are only in first grade and third grade so I can still keep up.

It also helps that my previous day job for the past 15 years was working in the education/tutoring field, but believe me, I’ve seen the tweets and Facebook status updates of parents facing the challenges of new math and English above their heads.

There are a few things that you can do .

If you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t pretend you do.

If you don’t understand the homework or have forgotten how to do it, do not pretend you know what you are doing. It’s not worth it to confuse your child just so you can save face. In the long run, you will only be hurting you both.

Email the teacher and ask for clarification of assignment instructions. If it’s something simple that you can get a quick answer to, consult Google; if not, think about a professional tutor because no, you can’t relearn physics in a few minutes.

Google it, just a little bit.

The Internet is a wonderful and vast resource if you use it correctly, which means never use Wikipedia because it is not a reliable source. There a many university and state sites that offer magnificent resources.

For example, Purdue Owl is a fabulous resource for English homework and Sparknotes is a great resource to help you check your child’s literature homework. If they ever forget their book or you are a little rusty, Sparknotes offers complete manuscripts and quizzes with answers.

Phone/Tweet/Facebook a friend.

The Internet has made the world a smaller place and chances are, even if you don’t understand something, one of your friends will and the answer may just need a quick and easy explanation in layman’s terms.

Make sure there are no distractions.

If your child needs your help, don’t make it just one more thing on your list. It has to be the most important thing on your list. You have to help them with no other distractions.

Find a quiet place, turn off phones, televisions and radios and start by asking your child what they need help with or what they don’t understand. Listen and let them finish their explanation before you answer. Give them your undivided attention.

Invest in a Tutor.

If your child is really struggling with homework and you aren’t able to help him, there is no shame in investing in a tutor. There are several routes to go, like a teacher at your child’s school who wants to make some extra cash, a college student , a learning center like Sylvan, Kumon or, my favorite, the Huntington Learning Center or an online tutoring center like tutor.com based out of New York.

Online tutoring is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and you can sit in on the session with your child and perhaps help them along, as you refresh yourself.

How do you help your child with their homework? What works for you?

Photo Source: Steven Leith

JourneyBee by AngelCare: The Must Have Portable Crib

Posted on Dec 18, 2013 by No Comments

When I had my babies, I was so excited (and a little bit frightened) to take them home. I just wanted to make sure they were safe and that I did everything right. You should have seen us that first time we drove home to see the grandparents; we almost needed an extra vehicle just to carry all the baby stuff. There was so much stuff.

I thought pregnancy was bad on my back. Pregnancy had nothing on my monster stroller and that 40-pound pack-n-play. I used to carry that thing one-handed. I was like the incredible hulk with kids. But what were my choices? I had none but now, you do!

Like most parents, you are probably used to lugging the typical 40 lb pack-n-play around when you travel. But JourneyBee by Angelcare offers new parents some flexibility in their life with its new lightweight, portable and super easy to use pack-n-play.

The Journeybee is a traveling pack-n-play that weighs just under 12 lbs and literally opens and closes in seconds. It’s an awesome, go anywhere, fit anywhere, pop-up pack-n-play. Simply pop.play.stay.

Gone are the days of trying to hold the pesky sides up while pushing the center down and holding a fussy baby at Grandma’s house. How many times I spent my holidays crying along with my whiny over tired baby while my husband and I tried to get the pack-n-play to stay secure.

There is nothing quite so scary as putting your sweet little baby in a pack-d play only to have it immediately collapse on top of her.

Created for parents on the go, JourneyBee is an innovative portable crib that is safe, lightweight and easy to use. Not complicated with a lot of extra unnecessary steps. It is also amazing to travel with on planes, trains and automobiles because it doesn’t take up a lot of space.

Even if you just want to sit outside and get some fresh air or take the older kids to the park for a mid day picnic, simply grab your JourneyBee in its easy to carry case and take it with you. You can also purchase mosquito netting and a sunshade to help keep the bugs  and bright sun off of baby while she sleeps or plays outside.

It’s perfect for both indoor and outdoor use on the beach or at Grandma’s house, creating a safe, comfortable environment for your little one while sleeping or play time. It’s easy to take along with you. Just fold it up and slide it into the carrying case, sling over your shoulder and off you go.

The entire breakdown process takes about 2 minutes, if that.  You can see how to assemble and breakdown your JourneyBee here.

Product Features:

  • Weighs under 12 lbs
  • No tools or complex assembly required
  • Easy-carry bag with two strap options
  • Large mesh panels to see your baby
  • Storage pockets on the crib and carry bag
  • Washable and waterproof fabrics engineered to last
  • iPhone pocket for lullaby music and storage
  • Soft mattress pad and inner fleece sheet

The JourneyBee by AngelCare is perfect for parents on the go. I only have one complaint about the JourneyBee by Angelcare: I wish it was available when my girls were babies. But, it works out great for all the other babies in my life that come to visit.

Disclaimer: I was provided the JourneyBee portable crib for review but all opinions are my own.

Photo Source: JourneyBee

Has Cursive Writing Gone Extinct?

Posted on Nov 19, 2013 by 3 Comments

As many of you know, many schools are not even bothering to teach our children the skill of cursive writing. I don’t know about you, but this bothers me a lot because for me, penmanship is a sign of sophistication and intelligence. It’s a right of passage. It is adulthood.

When I went to school, first we learned how to write the alphabet, in caps and lower case, then to hand-write words, sentences, paragraphs, and then we learned cursive. Today, everyone uses a computer so keyboarding is what many schools are teaching.

Standards no longer require elementary students to learn cursive and most think it has gone the way of the dinosaur. I think it is to the detriment of civilization if our children don’t learn cursive penmanship.

Our society is one that is highly digitized and technologically advanced. Who needs to write pretty in cursive if no one is writing, just texting or typing on a keyboard, right? Wrong!

What happens if there is a blackout in a 100 years and no one is alive who remembers how to write? Then what? As a society we become collectively mute? We may as well be cavemen. It is effectively going backwards in evolution because we are lazy.

Luckily, scientists are discovering that learning cursive is an important tool for cognitive  development, particularly in training the brain to learn in a capacity for optimal efficiency. When learning cursive writing, the brain develops functional specialization that integrates both sensation, movement control, and thinking.

To write legible cursive, fine motor control is needed. Students have to pay attention and think about what and how they are doing it and practice to get better. Parts of the brain work that do not need to engage during keyboarding.

For me, keyboarding is like learning sight words versus learning how to read phonetically. One is teaching you a skill that will help you develop your ability; the other is mimicking an action without truly soaking in how it works. It’s cheating and it cheats the student.

To write by hand, a child’s brain must locate each stroke relative to other strokes and learn and remember the detail characteristics of each letter.

Cursive writing, compared to printing, is even more beneficial because the movements are harder and more detailed. It’s faster and more efficient to write and allows students to develop a sense of personal style and ownership of their penmanship.

Cursive writing helps train the brain to integrate visual information, tactile information and develop fine motor dexterity. School systems are becoming more and more concerned with testing scores rather than teaching skills that will later develop a better capacity for acquiring new knowledge.

Our children need to learn cursive writing. It will be to their detriment and the detriment of civilization as a whole if we cease to teach and learn cursive writing. My daughters are learning cursive at school and at home because I refuse to live in a society where my children grow into adults who have the penmanship of a 5-year-old and cannot write love letters to their own children one of these days.

Do you think cursive is still relevant, or has it become extinct?

Photo Source: Muffinn

Best Baby Shower Games

Posted on Nov 18, 2013 by No Comments

We recently threw a baby shower for my brother-in-law and his wife, who had their first baby this Halloween. I’d almost forgotten how much fun it is to throw a baby shower. I must admit, aside from buying baby presents, my favorite part is choosing which games to play.

There is just something so great about everybody who loves you coming together to shower you and your baby to be with gifts and lots and lots of love. My absolute favorite moment was watching my daughters help their great, grandmother understand what was going on in each game. There is just something very special about a 6 and 9-year-old who can split their time between explaining a game of Just Ask Mama to an 85-year-old and making sure their pregnant aunt had a cold beverage and was comfortable at all times.

I was a proud mama and thanks to the games I chose, I was a laughing one too.

Here are my three favorite baby shower games.

Just Ask Mama

You’ll Need : Note cards 
and pens.

Distribute note cards and pens to the guests. 
Tell each guest to write down a question a new mom would have, such as “How do you breastfeed a baby?” or “How do I take my baby’s temperature?” Then, have everyone turn the card over and pass it to the guest to her right.

Have each person write down the answer to her original question on the back of her new card, without ever turning over the card and seeing the new question. When everyone is done, have them take turns reading the question-and-answer combos out loud i.e. question: how do I take my baby’s temperature? Answer: Stick nipple in baby’s mouth and leave until they are full.

The guest whose Q&A combination gets the most laughter, wins the game.

Dirty Diapers

Place several types of melted chocolate candies in newborn-sized diapers (I like to mix with baby food to make it look even grosser and more real. A Payday and peas look way too real to be believed.) Make sure you have many types and consistencies represented: milky, creamy, nutty, caramel-filled, and the like. Number the diapers.

Give each player a note card with corresponding numbers. Pass the diapers around and have each person sniff and even lick ( if they prefer) the gooey ‘poo’ centers in order to guess which brand of candy bar is in each diaper. The person who guesses the most correct poopie diapers wins the game.

This game is hysterical. Make sure to take lots of photos of the guests; the faces are priceless.

Diaper Derby

Divide your guests into teams and hand each team a roll of toilet paper. Give the teams three minutes to wrap a team member up in a mock diaper. The team with the most creatively/best diapered ‘baby’ wins. As I said we had some elderly women in attendance, so I had to step in and play this game to avoid anyone breaking a hip.

I have to say, it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever done. My sister was the “baby” and all of my years of being a mommy paid off. Apparently I am some sort of diapering savant because I wrapped her up in a matter of seconds. Where the other players diapers were ripping, I kept wrapping and we won.

The photos are hysterical. This is a must play for all baby-showers that I throw from now on.

What is your favorite baby shower game to play?

Photo Source: The TRUTH about Motherhood

The Mom-to-Be Bare Necessities

Posted on Nov 15, 2013 by No Comments

What are the bare necessities when you are a new mom? Who knows, right? I remember when I was pregnant with my first child, I was convinced that I needed absolutely everything that I saw. Trendy new 17 function baby swing that had a simulated heartbeat and womb heat function? I.had.to.have.it.

To say I was excited to become a new mother is an understatement. The only thing was, I had no idea what I needed to do so. I mean I had a baby in my belly so I was off to a great start, but there are so many products on the market; what did I actually need versus what was a luxury or even just a complete waste of money?

Well, let me start by saying anything that has 17 functions and simulates a mother’s womb is probably overkill and unnecessary. Little secret, in those first weeks your little one will spend most of his or her time in your arms so no need for high tech gadgets to simulate mommy’s touch because mommy’s touch will be on hand and available.

Here are a few things that I think every mom needs to have on hand before leaving for the hospital to give birth:

Love—Every baby needs a whole lot of unconditional love. This is your job for the rest of your baby’s life so Mommy and Daddy get some sleep. You need your sleep to keep your patience and wits about you and to not overreact when things like jaundice, colic, the first up the back blow out or the breast milk comes in slowly.

Things will not always go as planned but that’s ok; plans are made to be broken. Move on. No point in fretting over things you cannot change. Deep breath. Carry on.

Safe Ride for Baby – Get yourself a brand  new car seat. Why new? Because they are frequently recalled and you need one that is safe and up to date on the technology. You can’t leave the hospital with your newborn without it so it should be first on the list.

Hygiene Necessities for Mommy—You will need Dermaplast in triplicate to soothe your inflamed and possibly stitched nether regions, a couple big boxes of mega maxi pads, granny panties, nursing bras, comfy nightgowns and yoga pants.

All Things Diapers—Newborn babies soil a diaper 8-10 times a day, so have yourself a lot of newborn baby diapers on hand. I don’t care if you use disposable or reusable diapers, just make sure that you have plenty of them, wipes, a wipe warmer (I swore by mine for not completely waking soiled sleepers) and a bag to keep it all in.

Bassinet—If you are anything like me, your baby will live in this movable bed until they no longer fit. Get a good sturdy one and make sure it is not around any cords. You would be amazed what little tiny fingers can grab and pull into the bassinet with them. Make sure there is not any loose bedding, bumpers or stuffed animals shoved in the crib; they all increase the risk for SIDS.

Baby Emergency Kit—A bulb syringe, baby nail clippers, diaper rash cream, nursery water for mixing formula, a digital thermometer for taking temperature and plenty of water for breastfeeding mothers.

What do you think is the must have item before bringing baby home?

Photo Source: The TRUTH about Motherhood

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