Friday, July 31, 2009

A Toddler's Security

From the many books I read and re-read while pregnant young children many times will grow attached to specific objects to help provide them comfort. In these books, specifically where parent anecdotes are shared, I have been advised to have multiple, same objects on hand should it go missing, lost in a parking lot, or soiled by a nasty poop.

Over time, I had seen Sarah grow attached to many things including certain stuffed animals and specific blankets. Let's just say for select stuffed animals we have more than one and for specific blankets there are many to go around.

I would say be extra cognizant of your child's signals and requests and follow them as best as possible. Could you end up buying bulk for something that later on they may not find security in? Yes. At first we got a cute little blanket with tags that we had monogrammed. We then got a book with tags and a stuffed toy with tags. I hoped so much that Sarah would grow attached. Nope. Not at all. It's sometimes the things you least expect that they would become most fond of.

We have experienced the great benefit to these personal attachments Sarah has created for herself as they provide comfort for her in her time of want, and especially need. Whenever we go to the pediatrician, or heaven forbid the ER or out of the house elsewhere where comfort may be needed, these security elements have been critical to helping calm our baby.

Therefore, once your child is old enough, and if they want and need security and have established a special relationship with a stuffed animal, blanket or favorite book, carry them around with you and increase their supply to meet the demand when it's required. If that special stuffed animal is in the washing machine or drying over night, their twin sibling can come out and play and provide equal comfort.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Timeouts: Who Are They Really For?

I am sure that there are a plethora of experts out there who say that timeouts are not meant for children under the age of two. But, if they met Sarah they might make an exception. Don't get me wrong, Sarah is a wonderful child, bright and incredibly energetic. She's also going to be the next Erik Weihenmayer and likely climb Mount Everest.

Sarah at the very young age of 18 months has exceedingly exceptional ability to climb up slides and all over the furniture a gazillion times despite being asked to come down often. Let's just say, when this blog first began I was on crutches, on my semi-last nerve from having asked for the hundredth time for her to come down off the chair, which I then later dropped on my foot as I moved it out of the room.

So, you can imagine that with a monkey like Sarah there are many times our patience wears thin after asking her so many times to come down off the furniture or to stop throwing her food or cup off the high chair. Sarah now gets timeouts. I am not proud to say that I have raised my voice at Sarah but realize that I am human and she does rattle my nerves sometimes and I may loose my cool.

I have learned that it's important for timeouts to:


+ Be done in a specific spot such as a corner of a room, on a mat, or in Sarah's case, her crib since she doesn't sit still very well.
+ Be about a minute and a half to help her calm down (each minute for the age of your child)
+ Help your child know and prepare them for when a timeout it possible by giving them three chances to calm down and stop the activity.

As Sarah gets older she sometimes stops at one and sometimes stops at two. There have indeed been a handful of instances where when three is reached and she's still not cooperating, in her crib she goes. She doesn't like it and neither do we, but in the end we feel it has worked well to help discipline her or at least calm her down a notch and us as well.

Many times I wonder who the timeouts are really for. We all have bad days and sometimes we do things without thinking or do something hoping to get a reaction. All in all, sometimes we just need a timeout to help collect our thoughts, calm our nerves and settle us back into normal.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Reading with Toddler: A World of Exploration and Humor

It is such an incredible treat to spend time with Sarah and to see the world through her eyes. It wasn't until I had Sarah and started to watch and see her develop that I realized the amazing things she sees and learns that I can appreciate and take great part in. This is especially true when time is spent with her reading. As an avid reader myself I enjoy the time she and I read together helping her to foster an appreciation for something Daniel and I have great passion.

For the past 18 months, there have been many favorite books that we have read and continue to read together. Some are still favorites while others have moved on. One particularly favorite author is Todd Parr who we were turned on to by friends whose children also enjoyed reading his work. One book, "Underwear Do's and Don'ts" in our household has become the "do" book to which Sarah often requests. It tells you all the things you should do with underwear and all the things, most of which are silly, that you should not do. Yes. I know this sounds strange but there are some good lessons Parr offers along with his bright, robust designs and colors that make it a joy for reading.

Another particular favorite, "Good Night, Gorilla," was a find I came across at a children's swap meet. When I first saw it I was less interested in it as a bedtime book but instead for its oversized nature as Sarah loves to turn the pages of board books. Well, I am pleased to report that Sarah indeed loves this book, turning its large pages, and reading it before bedtime. The best part about it is that she has developed some hilarious expressions when reading it. I can't say "gasping," for example, would be a word or expression we would have taught this early on but this book helped to reinforce it. Sometimes, it is tough to read this book at night with out me laughing. The expressions and animal sounds Sarah makes are priceless. And, the lady in the book, with what I thought at first had scary eyes, gets Sarah so happy and excited and exasperated.

All in all, reading is a journey that many should enjoy with their kids how ever much or little you can do makes a great difference. I look forward to the many, many new authors, educational retreats and funny reads that will grace our lives in the years to come and the many journeys with words and pictures that we will take together.

Happy reading!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Toddler's Taste for Art

I like to consider myself somewhat of a creative person and rather crafty. So, with Sarah, you can imagine how excited I was to get her started on the path to the plethora of fun art projects and future masterpieces.

Now, rewind. Since birth, Sarah, now 18 months, constantly mouthed everything in sight. She still does. This now includes crayons, paint, paper, and paint brushes. Let's just say this makes for somewhat challenging art projects. Many times I get frustrated because I want for her to have fun. Truthfully, she's having a blast. It's me who's stressed out or sometimes loosing my cool to try and keep it all together while keeping it all off the furniture.

Many times I am either chasing after Sarah covered in paint to avoid touching to furniture or to try and prevent her from grabbing a crayon to take a bite out of. Even this morning, I tried another painting project, and to no surprise, Sarah took a handful of paint and licked it off her fingers.

The funny thing is that I have tried a number of tips and tricks including the following to help make art projects fun and manageable, yet Sarah still manages to want to get a true taste of what she is working on and with:

+ Tape down the paper or paper plate
+ Strip toddler down to just the diaper
+ Strip yourself down at least to your under garments
+ Keep toddler in a high-chair or booster seat to help reduce running around when covered in paint

I will say that Sarah enjoys art projects and loves to make a
complete mess, but many times directing her to the paper versus the floor, table, couch, dresser, etc. is often work for me. Sarah has made some beautiful memories with paint and crayons and I just need to be reminded that while now it's a bit more challenging to do it in a controlled manner she does deliver beautiful results that put smiles on many faces of friends and family. There are many, many more years of art and creation in the making for Sarah, and I just need to take a deep breath each time we sit down expecting that I will be running around, grabbing crayons until the day Sarah is ready to fully embrace art without ingesting the supplies.

To everyone who received and will receive a Sarah masterpiece in the future please know that these treasured keepsakes are the product of a very happy baby who truly gets into her work. She just likes to feel and taste her way to these special creations.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Monkey's First Zoo Experience

This weekend was Monkey's (I mean Sarah's) first ever visit to the Zoo. I went with the hope that it would be a fun experience for her but also the realization that there was a chance she may not like it or not want to be bothered with it since she was still only 18 months of age and possibly not yet at the age to fully appreciate.

As we neared the Zoo, to also meet up with Grandpa Tom who was a volunteer, Sarah became sleepy in her stroller from the train and walk commute. So, already our Zoo experience was starting off in a different direction then as planned even though I worked hard to coordinate arrival so as not to impact nap and lunch time.

Fortunately, Sarah was able to stay awake long enough to see a snow leopard, penguins, polar bears and, especially, monkeys, which she didn't really care for but I was so excited to see. In fact, I felt more like the kid at the zoo than she.

Further, by the time we made it to the children's zoo, Sarah was passed out. As we walked through the exhibit I kept saying how much Sarah would enjoy this crawling into turtle shells, through logs, petting the sheep and goats, etc.

When Sarah did wake up, from a shorter than usual nap, she did get to experience a sea lion show taking place directly in front of her. She seemed interested at first but then became more aware of the massive crowd around her watching the show as well. When the show was complete, Sarah seemed more thrilled to walk and run around the perimeter of the sea lion tank.

We did eventually go back to the children's section where Sarah did proceed to crawl through and climb just about everything she could get into or on to. Just glad she didn't fall in to the water as another child unfortunately did. Knowing Sarah she might have tried jumping in but we managed to steer clear as best as possible.

All in all, the Zoo was a fun experience. While it was not the best reaction I hoped Sarah would have seeing new animals up close and personal it could have been a lot worse with screaming, crying and being out of control.

We look forward to many more zoo experiences in the future and hope that each time gets better and better, we hope. If anything I have learned as a mom, especially at this early stage, try not to have too high expectations and hope for the best. Make the most of moments and build from there and all will be happy.




Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sing Mommy Sing

I had another really fun moment recently with Sarah surprisingly while she was on the diaper changing table. Normally, the diaper changing table can be somewhat of a challenging task for my husband and me with Sarah as she wiggles all around or flips out because she doesn't want to lay down. Let's just say, when possible, she gets changed standing up.

Nonetheless, in this moment, she was relatively calm so I decided to start signing, while not well, but for Sarah is was like hearing Mozart. Anyhow, I chose an easy diddy one many parents know, "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."

Shortly after I started singing Sarah did too in her own little voice, and let me tell you, she was singing "Row, Row, Row, Your Boat" right along with me. I was so taken aback by this that I couldn't help but start laughing hard because she and I were really communicating and signing together.

While, of course, I think Sarah is the most amazing child in the world, no surprise here, this was by far an emotional and special moment watching her grow and learn and communicate. And, something as simple as a little song connected us.

Sing mommies, sing to your babies how ever well you can or can't sing. Your voice to them, while you may not think so, is magic to their ears. And, for me, this moment in time with Sarah was magical.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mommy's Favorite Sarah Words

Today, while Sarah was eating dinner in the high-chair, we were playing a word game and I discovered that when I asked her what a pig says she blurted out the words oink, oink, oink to my amazement. I shrieked in excitement because this sound has been something we have been working on for a while and today she said it.

I have often heard that around 18 months of age toddler's vocabulary becomes much more expansive. Well, I decided in this instance to expand the word game further, and she started to repeat the name of colors one after another. A very cute version of the word "yellow" passed her lips and it was the most adorable thing to witness. Watching Sarah's tongue get wrapped around the "l" sound in yellow was precious to watch.

Each day I am so amazed to see the growth that Sarah has made and how much more fun lies ahead. I look forward to tomorrow to hear what new words will come. It also reminds me how much more we need to be careful about our words around Sarah as she is soaking up words like a sponge more and more. In fact, Sarah has taken to calling Daddy by his first name, Daniel. So, now she says Mommy and Daniel.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hubby Snatches Snoogle to Snuggle

When I was pregnant and my burgeoning belly made it difficult to sleep I found great comfort with a long curvy pillow called a Snoogle. Nearly 19 months after my daughter arrived the Snoogle still lives in our room being used for reading, resting, playing with Sarah and, yes, sometimes still, sleeping.

Well, last night, my hubby, all tucked away in bed after a long hard day was snuggled up with the Snoogle. It was cute. As much as I was looking forward to snuggling with him he looked to cute to wake all snuggled with the Snoogle.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What Child Wants Child Gets?

We were in the grocery store last tonight with Sarah riding in her toy push car. As she was getting ready to put groceries in the trunk an aggressive and older toddler felt that it was necessary to run up to her car and honk the horn. At first, we thought this no big deal and said sure he can honk the horn and shrugged it off. But, then we realized that his real agenda was to move Sarah out of the car to get his turn. His mother swooped in, pulled him away, and shared her apologies. Then, the toddler decided that he wanted to go at it again and try to take control of Sarah's car. Again, his mother swooped in and gave her apologies.

At first this was funny, second time not so funny. Anyway, we chuckled at this realizing that this will likely be us in no time pulling Sarah away from some other child's toy.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dance, dance, dance and dance some more

For those that know me know I love to dance. In fact, I used to often say that if Ricky Martin was looking for a back up dancer he should choose me. Hey, what can I say, I have hips and know how to use them. So, when I got pregnant and after Sarah arrived the dancing dwindled a fair bit due to my burgeoning belly and mommyhood fatigue, amongst other responsibilities. While I am not frequenting the techno clubs or Latin hot spots like I used to tearing up the floors, dance has once again resumed in my life.

I have taken on a new appreciation to a whole new kind of dancing - dancing for Sarah's entertainment, while she's in the high-chair eating or dancing around the living room, especially after a long day at work and release is necessary. Dance has and always will be an outlet for me to self-express and have a good time. I am working hard at instilling this passion on my daughter, at least now by osmosis, and she seems to love it too. There have been a number of times where a song will come on or a moment will happen where there is just a great need to break out into dance. Recently, my husband even got in on it and what a show it was.

I highly recommend incorporating dance into your lives, the good, the bad and the awkward. Dance is all about fun, self-expression and freedom, and to appreciate what your body can do. I love that I can continue to do what I love, especially in the presence of my daughter. Sometimes I just need to look down every so often to make sure I don't step on her feet or knock her down since I can certainly get carried away.

I will admit, at first when I started high-chair dancing with Sarah, I shared with my husband saying how all parents should give this a try. Then he directed me to YouTube where there were many high-chair dancing mommy's. I am very glad to know that I am in good company.

Continue the dance. :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Impossible to Keep Her Shoes On

What's a mother to do when her child, my child, constantly feels the need to want to take off her shoes, and inevitably, her socks too? There are many times I joke that I am going to duct tape Sarah's shoes to her feet but clearly we know that I can't do this. Still, many times, I continue to say this. Even my husband, as part of the joke, says we should staple them to her feet. Well, we all know we can't do this either. Oh well.

Sarah loves her feet and I love her feet. I can't get enough of them. I kiss them, tickle them, play with them. They are just so darn cute. They won't be this small for long and I am trying to savour them for as long as possible.

Maybe I created this obsession with her wanting to take her shoes off, but nonetheless, it's a problem we often have to deal with.

Even though we have tried a number of shoes, I guess we are going to have to just hope her next pair of shoes stay on long enough. And, my husband also reminded me that when I was a baby I rarely liked to keep my clothes on. Oh well. Guess the apple didn't fall far from the tree.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Baby's First Time at the Beach

This weekend, Daniel and I took Sarah to the beach for the very first time. We decided on a whim to check out the public beach in our local area as we figured, worst case scenario, if Sarah didn't like it then we didn't invest too much time traveling to and from or too much money as parking and beach entry were free.

The great news is that, and I guess this should come as no surprise, Sarah loved the beach. She loved the water more than she liked the sand. I am even more thrilled to say that Sarah did not eat the sand. This was my biggest concern as she still mouths a lot of things being the age that she is at.

We also expected that going to the beach with a young child meant there would not be much relaxation. And this, was indeed right. There was much running after Sarah who loved to make a bee line for the ocean, and especially the waves.

This experience did indeed impart a number of lessons for future beach visits:
+ It will indeed be great fun watching your child discover new things, playing in the sand and frolicking in the water
+ Expect to laugh hard and out loud at many of the things your child will do as they discover
+ Unless you have family and friends who join you for your beach visits and become active participants in your child's play, it will not be relaxing as far as sitting still and soaking in the rays + Our child is not one to sit still very long so get a restful night's sleep as you will be on your feet a good part of the day
+ Definitely get to the beach early before the sun's strongest rays arrive and because parking is easier to find and closer to your destination
+ Expect to pack everything including the kitchen sink (e.g., umbrella, tent, extra towels, food, beverages)
+ Extra towels -- these help with diaper changes as well because if you didn't think sand could get in every crease of your child don't be mistaken. Towels, better than baby wipes, help to remove the sand while the wipes just move it all around
+ I have also been told by a fellow mom that powder helps with getting off sand as well (Thanks Monique)
+ Sun block yourself just as much as your child as you would be surprised by the angles your body can be exposed to sun

We are looking forward to our next beach visit with Sarah and the new adventures that come along with it.

Happy beach going this Summer!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Caffeine: One Mother's Fuel

I barely drank coffee before my daughter was born. If anything, it was sometimes an iced decaf coffee that was more milk than coffee and more a treat than a caffeine fix.

However, once I stopped breastfeeding and pumping milk over a year later I came to realize that coffee was a new must-need staple in our household. Starbucks runs just became too expensive and we couldn't justify. Now, our kitchen has a coffee machine that has gotten quite a bit of mileage, more than I thought it ever would.

Some of my friends have children who sleep really long hours at night and nap well during the day. I often would think that Sarah felt like she was missing something if she stayed asleep too long. In fact, as a little baby, because her naps were so unpredictable as far as when and for how long I used to call Sarah the "kitty crap napper." She did not sleep long and she was up often. Not really sure how she functioned during the day.

I should just be happy that Sarah sleeps at least close to 9 hours a night when we are home and not traveling and takes a nap or two a day at about an hour each, sometimes more, sometimes less.

All in all, I just have to accept that parenthood, with this baby, requires me to be up with the need for a caffeine fuel to get me through the day. Now I completely get how some people need caffeine to function in their day. I am normally a high energy person so you can imagine what I am like on caffeine.

Another day, another cup of coffee.

What's your fuel?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Now This Makes "Cents"

As a first time mom, I often get wide-eyed and excited to purchase new fun finds for my daughter especially as she continues to grow and learn. And, as many parents can likely attest to, children can indeed be costly. Further, being a new parent is like being a kid in a candy store often wanting to get everything, or close to it, for our developing children.

Thanks to my sister, she helped me realize that I could parlay my passion for bargain shopping by finding some valuable finds for a fraction of the cost and still get some quality needs and wants without breaking the bank.

What I like so much about bargain shopping is that sometimes, not always, it feels like some finds are one-of-a-kind then become sentimental in value.

The following are great places to bargain hunt: local yard and garage sales, salvation army surplus stores, consignment stores, Craig's List, Ebay and local community swap meets/flea markets. Further, these places are nice way to either make some money or share your wares with others in need.

Word of caution: be extra alert and inspect your potential new purchases. Certain things are not recommended to be purchased used (e.g., cribs, pajamas). While this is a bit more challenging, but necessary, be sure to check online about your new, gently used purchases to determine if there are any recalls, etc. to provide you comfort and peace of mind.

We have been fortunate through selective bargain hunting to save a bundle on clothes, toys, and our favorite, books for our daughter. We believe that one family's trash is another family's treasure, and sometimes our new treasures.

Happy Bargain Hunting!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Take Advice with a Grain of Salt

One of my husband's colleagues and wife had a baby recently (many congratulations) and reached out today saying, "does it get any easier?" My husband and I both chuckled, obviously not at the expense of his colleague and wife, but rather at the fact that we still say that with our nearly 18 month old daughter, Sarah.

I remember back when I was pregnant reading as many books as possible to prepare for the arrival of our child. While much of the information was helpful, once Sarah arrived it was as if the information left my brain completely. Okay, maybe not completely, but boy did it feel that way when we had to figure it all out on a moment's notice.

In the beginning, it felt like I was doing a crash course in reading (Breastfeeding Sucks by Joanne Kimes, Girlfriends Guide to Surviving The First Year of Motherhood by Vicki Iovine) to get better versed once we were in it. This helped. We also realized that advice we sought out helped us greatly. As any new parent knows, many people with and without children will offer unsolicited advice. Take it with a grain of salt. I know this is much easier said then done. Some of the information you hear about may be helpful while other information you can store away or choose to forget about.

One forum I have found to be a great resource for advice, outside of mommy friends of course, is that of a mommy support group. There are many support groups available through hospitals and online. Meet Up (www.meetup.com,) for example, has groups of all different kinds that can be centrally located to where you live. I will say, personally, the Meet Up group has been a tremendous source for great information from moms and a wonderful way to make friends, coordinate playdates and commiserate about live as a new parent. It's also a nice place to vent, let out frustrations, gain some advice that I can choose to act on and share my advice for others seeking information.

Feel free to not take this advice. :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Summer Sun Fun

Today I experienced pure, unadulterated joy watching my daughter, Sarah, frolic, play and get soaking wet in the sprinklers at a park close to our home. Living in an apartment building without a backyard or pool we are fortunate to have a space close to our home where Sarah can play in the water on a warm or hot summer's day. And, the great news, it's free.

Sarah has not yet been to the beach, something definitely on our to do list that we look forward to checking off soon. Yet, in the meantime, for others who don't have access to a beach, pool or backyard consider checking out your local communities for public access areas with pools, sprinklers and such that are safe for kids to play and enjoy during the climbing temperatures.

I will say this, at the end of a long work day it's nice to have a place to go, close to home, where we can all unwind, watch Sarah have a blast, and not have to pack the kitchen sink.

Halloween Candy for the Troops

While we all recover from over indulging in too much candy during Halloween, still the candy is in our homes staring at us willing us to...