Friday, April 30, 2010

10 Little Things That Lead to a Happier, Healthier Me

I was presented with an interesting opportunity this week and it got me to thinking.

I received an email from a fellow mom blogger regarding a "Spring Renewal" blogging promotion with TwitterMoms and Tropicana Trop50 asking moms like myself to blog 10 little things that lead me to being a happier, healthier me. Thus, I became intrigued to think about what I have been doing lately to improve my personal health and happiness.

I struggled at first with this trying to think of the small things that I do. Then I realized that this list is my own and can include some ideas big, small and in-between. Here is my list below.

1. Writing / Blogging
Several times a week, if not more, I love, love, love to write on my site Mommy’s Point of View (www.mommyspointofview.com) and share feedback and insights on other social media sites about parenting topics that are both important to me and around what's happening in current events. Writing is something I have often liked, but not something I thought I was good at. After years in the communications field, and being inspired by my husband who loves to write as well, I have been able to establish this passion for writing, which has become a prevalent part of my life. This experience is extremely cathartic, vent-releasing and self-deprecating, allowing me to find my true self while helping others.

2. Making the Most of Family Time on Work Days
Going to the playground with my daughter and husband after work most days even when I am very tired is such a great way to end the day before dinner and bed time rituals begin. I highly recommend taking full advantage of the nice weather as much as possible as the fresh air is invigorating and the play time so much fun.

3. 10-Minute Daily Chats with Hubby
This seems odd to include especially since I talk to my husband all the time. We recently instituted 10-minutes of uninterrupted time for each of us to share what’s going on, address needs, wants and requests, update our shared calendar, discuss finances, share something nice from the day, etc. Our conversations often start at 10 minutes and likely last much longer than this. It's so easy to get caught up in day-to-day details in life, chores, parenting, etc. This time we create is our time, and time to communicate most what's on our minds. This has definitely been healthy.

4. Once a Week Mommy Time Off, At Least
It is very hard to be everything for everyone all the time. Yes, I know this sounds extreme. But, as a parent, it’s sometimes not too far from the truth. Therefore, with the support of my husband, I have one night, at least, during the week that is just mine to do whatever it is I want. It can be a girlfriend’s night out, an extra long work out at the gym, getting a manicure, etc. It’s necessary for me to have this time to relax, vent, and play.

5. Cutting Out the Junk Food
I am a junk food junkie and have been for a very long time. In November last year I committed to cutting out all soda, sweets and treats to help me get back on track and to my pre-pregnancy weight. I know that this seems extreme but for me I don’t do portion control well and that definitely goes for sweets. I am happy to report that I have finally lost my baby weight, and my daughter is just over two. My hubby joined me on this quest as well and it's been a great journey together helping each other to feel and be healthy.

6. Being Active
As a full-time working parent it’s hard to find time to carve out work-out time that doesn’t impact time away from family and work. So, in addition to my occasional work outs at the gym, I also take my daughter swimming, run around the playground with her and walk as much as possible. Beating myself up about not being active as much as I would like doesn’t do me any good. I make the effort and just try to find more time and other ways.

7. Don’t Be Hard on Me (trying)
Being a parent is hard work. Oh, wait. I said that. Yes. It is indeed. Being a full-time working parent is especially hard. Trying to get it all done is tough. Sometimes laundry takes a while to do or sits unfolded for a number of days. I have learned that it’s not good to beat myself up about it but to accept what I can do and what I can manage and let the pieces fall where they may. So long as my health and that of my family is good the other “stuff” will get done eventually.

8. Joining a Mom Group
Being around other moms who are experiencing what I am experiencing is such great relief. It’s nice to vent with moms who can relate, share tips, laugh, share playdates, etc.

9. Taking Notes
With so much going on in life it's sometimes hard to keep track or to remember. Carrying a small notepad with me, pretty much everywhere I go, provides me great opportunity to jot down thoughts, blog ideas, expenses I need to track, things to remember, etc. Not having to try to remember it all and put it down in one place helps to reduce the risk of me forgetting something that is very important.

10. Dates with my Hubby
I love time with my daughter but also know that one-on-one time with my husband is necessary too. Whether it is on the couch watching our favorite TV shows, playing a game or inviting family or friends over to baby sit so we can catch a movie, see a band or spend time with friends, we do it. Relax, unwind and play together. Happy, satisfied adults make happy parents.

I shared this list with my husband and asked him what was on his list as well. I look forward to re-approaching this list next month to see what more can be added, modified, changed, etc. Sometimes it's important to sit back and find ways to simplify life, find its joys and solutions to help us cope, manage and enjoy.

I recommend you give it a try. Have fun!!!

Please know, “I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Tropicana Trop50 blogging program to be eligible to win 6 free Juicy Rewards points and a $30 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kids Have Boundless Energy

After returning home from a short and successful business trip last night, and missing my family very much, I got to enjoy hearing my husband's stories of his fun, yet exhausting experiences with our daughter while I was away.

It was so sweet and endearing to hear his enjoyment and excitement sharing his fun-filled full-time Daddy day. I could tell he was relieved I was home after such an action-packed day. He also said that as tough as it was to do it all on his own he looks forward to many more times now and in the future to have this special one-on-one time with her.

Warmed by this discussion, and after having to finish more work that needed to be buttoned up, I looked so forward to crashing in my bed and sleeping for at least six or seven hours.

Unfortunately, thanks to a cold and seasonal allergies kicking my butt and Sarah's, my hopeful, restful night was anything but.

Having woke a number of times myself during the night with a sore throat and stuffed nose coupled with Sarah waking up too left for a less than cozy night's sleep. Daniel got up to help with Sarah too and still I slept terribly and woke up feeling like I got hit by a bus.

Eventually, I stayed on the futon couch in Sarah's room as she was fussy. She then climbed out of her bed, brought over her her pile of blankets and hopped onto the couch with me and we tried to sleep some more. She kicked, she moved, she rustled around. By the time 6:00am rolled around I had enough of the accidental kicking and moving that I decided to leave her on the couch and move to her toddler bed a few feet away.

Yep. Uh huh. You betcha. The floor was not very appealing.

I stayed there maybe for a half hour while Sarah slept some more hoping, keeping my eye on her. I also hoped and prayed that I would not break her bed. I know it seemed silly but knowing that Daniel and I had sat on her big girl bed many times before for blanket tucking, back rubbing and bed time story time it seemed okay. And, it was. Go ahead. Laugh. Fatigue and illness makes us do silly things.

Later in the morning lying on the living room couch Sarah pet the cat and played with her toys. It's amazing the incredible amount of energy my "funny monkey" has. While I feel terrible and tired she is energetic and enthusiastic running around.

Thankfully, Grammie and Papa are coming for a visit today. Yeah!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy Memories of Sarah's Birth

While in Washington, D.C. today for a business trip this weekend taking a break before dinner, on my laptop and listening to my iPod, the song Ave Maria, the acoustic version, started playing.

In a previous blog post on my birthing story this song was a significant part of my daughter Sarah’s delivery.

Well over two years later since Sarah’s birth this song still gets to me, and always will. Despite my labor and delivery being somewhat different than what I had planned for and expected, and getting a great and amazing child as a result, this song will forever be branded in my brain as a happy, constant reminder of when my life changed and she entered this world.

Of course Sarah being born should be enough for me to feel this overwhelming joy, and I do. It's just nice to have constant reminders not just when I am with her or see her photos or videos, etc. but to also feel it when I very much least expect it. I could be out shopping, driving in the car, or watching a movie and this song would come on and automatically I would be transported back in time to that amazing warm winter day.

Being Jewish, Ave Maria is not exactly a song I expected to become part of my listening repertoire. It’s part of a favorite relaxing CD that I listen to often, and did so much during my pregnancy. It didn't really mean much to me then, but boy that has clearly changed. I strongly believe that G-d entered the room during my emergency c-section and shed light while Sarah was safely being born when this song filled the air in the room.

This song reminds me too of at time when Sarah was a few months old. Daniel, Sarah and I went out to dinner with my sister and her family and I met a woman whose child's name was Ave Maria. At first she told me that she thought I would think that the name was silly. I then shared my story with her and she cried happy tears. It was a beautiful moment.

Let's all look forward to beautiful, happy, life moments.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Impromptu Playdates Rock

This has been the week of impromptu play dates for Sarah and me too.

Working during the week and with Sarah in school during these hours I only get a few hours at most for us to spend time together including playtime, dinner and getting ready for bed.

However, with the warmer weather Sarah loves to be active and outdoors going up and down slides, riding the swings and climbing up and down everything. And, now more than ever she really enjoys time with other children too playing, especially those her age and older, playing with each others toys, running around, etc.

Last week I forgot one of Sarah's cups at a friend's house a drive away from our home. So, with the help of my hubby, he met me at Sarah's school with the car and I then took Sarah to our friend's house for a short, but very fun, and impromptu playdate. A playdate on a Monday early evening seems crazy for a working mom but I have to say it was kind of nice doing this on the fly and winging it. All in all, it was a good time. It's nice when things like this are not planned and work out.

As a Type A personality, I like it when things are structured, especially when it comes to my schedule. With children you really do have go with the flow. As a result, sometimes great fun comes from it.

Just the other day, after school, in the playground with Sarah and her best friend, the friend was just not ready to go home and we were still playing. I offered to Sarah's friend's mom (someone who I am friendly with as well), who also had her second child in a baby carrier, to go home and relax and that we could offer to keep an eye on her daughter while the girls played and bring her back home. We played lots of hide-and-seek and enjoyed the time the girls giggled together. It was a fun experience for all.


Sometimes I say to my husband that instead of having another baby it would be great to adopt an older child, or one close to Sarah's age, as her time together with these children is fun for her and us too inevitably. It's nice to see the relationships and strong bonds Sarah forms with these same age or older children and many times wish for a sibling for her.

Who knows...only G-d knows what comes next. I am just enjoying the incredible moments with Sarah now and making the most out of her being this age as I know she will grow up so fast before my eyes and it will happen so quickly before I know it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Letting Little Ones Help

In follow-up to a recent blog post where I mentioned my unfortunate experience with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), I have something incredibly cute to share, if you can believe it that came as a result.

A few days ago my husband needed to be in the City for an event and I was picking up my Sarah from school. With daylight savings this also meant time in the playground before heading home for dinner. However, plans changed. I was hit with an IBS attack on my commute home from work and was desperately in need a finding a bathroom, and to be near one for the next few hours. On top of it all, Sarah got upset that I told her we needed to go home and that she wouldn't be able to play at the playground as mommy had a tummy ache.

Once home and settled into the bathroom I pulled out as many reinforcements to keep Sarah occupied and content. At one point I was really not feeling well and asked Sarah to bring me a pillow, which I like to rest on when there is pain. And, pillow she brought me.

Here's the cute part coming up.

Since this day, every time I am in the bathroom Sarah says “mommy pillow” and brings me a pillow from the couch. I tell Sarah that I don't need it at the time, but still she brings it. I let her bring it over to me, use if for a minute and then ask her to put it back.

Sarah never ceases to amaze me. I love that she is so caring and compassionate and interested in helping. She loves to help. As often as I can, I ask for her help. I believe it truly makes her feel special.

You may not think a two-year-old can help but they really can. Give it a try some time, many times. They will feel great reward in taking part. The fact that Sarah has this past request from me built into her memory it’s amazing to me that she remembers. It just makes me love her more and more every day. The cuteness, despite the crazy temper tantrums on occasion, is so rewarding and makes parenting by far the best job in the world.

Bring out your little helper.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dressing Up Kids Cups

At the daycare where Sarah attends it is required that her drinking cups, bowls and utensils be labeled with her name and date. I am totally in support of this and agree that it’s necessary since it’s easy to mix up cups and such when many children have some of the same items.

I am a label freak. Go ahead. Laugh. It’s okay. I am the proud owner of a label maker and use it often to mark Sarah’s food and beverage containers, amongst other things. For example, with Sarah’s cups, the caps are labeled with the label maker tape while the base of the cup holds pink reusable, washable plastic bands with her name on them. These forms of labeling tend to last a while and wear well with each washing.

However, since each of the cups needs to have a date on them too, it’s not cost effective to print out labels from the label maker and then rip them off daily. Instead, I use masking tape for this function. The challenge with tape for her straw cups though is that the designs on the surface have been getting pulled away by the tape.

Also, a few months ago Sarah didn’t fuss about her cups. She liked them. She drank out of them. But, when I bought some cups with her favorite characters on them for outside-of-school use there became greater interest in those cups then the one’s she used daily.

The good news is that with some great stickers that Grammie and Papa found that are more like decals Sarah’s cups have been brought to new life and with it came great excitement from Sarah. Each cup is different from the next and emblazoned with characters that Sarah loves. She will drink from anyone of these cups.

I am also happy because these cups have an even longer shelf life then I planned. Outside of replacing the straw parts when necessary I now can add and replace the stickers based on Sarah’s interests over the next year or two.

There are indeed great ways to save money and re-purpose what’s old with new personality.

Have fun!!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Kids and Stickers

I don't remember much of what it was like as a kid to love stickers the way I see kids appreciate them nowadays. Seeing my daughter and her fascination for them is rather amazing. What I do remember as a kid was being at the doctor's office and being given a lollipop and like that today’s kids sometimes now receive stickers as reward for not only good behavior but for bravery in surviving the doctor’s visit.

Also, with many yard sales, swap meets and Good Will finds I have found over time it's no surprise to me that the appreciation for stickers is great all around. The reason I say this is because some of the toys, desks/tables, books, etc. I would find would be covered with stickers.

Seeing this I realized that I didn't want to have this sticker obsession get out of control in my home. While I know this sounds unrealistic and possibly impossible, it's a goal I have been working towards, and, so far so good.

However, where can these stickers possibly go, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

I noticed at my sister's house last year a large piece of paper on the inside of the bathroom door for her daughter to put up stickers while my sister was in there to keep her child occupied and entertained, and within her mother's eye.

It gave me an idea.

We live in a one-floor apartment and found a wall conveniently close to my bathroom and also to many other rooms in our home. The reason for this location too was that I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and sometimes, if Daniel is not home when Sarah and I are, and I experience an unexpected IBS attack and need the bathroom the wall for sticker postings is close enough where I can keep an eye on Sarah, manage her, and have her play, which is a great help to me especially during these times.

This wall became known as, and still is, The Sticker Wall. I often joke that it's the most expensive piece of paper in our home since well over a hundred or more stickers are stuck on it. This sticker wall has been great for other reasons too. Anytime Sarah has gotten stickers from family and friends, for special occasions and just-because situations they go into a special drawer that she knows of. When the time is right, together we go to the drawer, pick out stickers and play, play, play she goes.

Stickers are wonderful for children but they can also get out of hand. So, in addition to cards, art projects and notebooks that stickers can be added too, which Sarah does much of as well, a sticker wall is a good concept if you are trying to keep sticker management under control.

I am happy to report that Sarah does keep her stickers to the wall and art projects and notebooks. Every so often a sticker from the wall may come off and stick to the hard wood floor as Sarah likes to pull them on and off too. Also, every so often Sarah will wear stickers on her shirt; and I am perfectly okay with that.

It seems silly to waste money on something like stickers that get stuck up on a wall. However, since these sticky little pieces of paper bring such joy to my daughter, and others who receive her art work, I keep an eye out for affordable options, which are indeed out there. It doesn’t hurt that Grammie and Papa love to buy Sarah stickers and have found some great, affordable fun finds to give her. And, think about this, by creating a sticker wall for your growing toddler, the stickers can not only be a great activity over time but turn into a wonderful masterpiece to treasure.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Daycare Dropoff

Just when I thought morning drop-off with Sarah at daycare was getting easier, things changed. The past week or so Sarah has been crying when I leave her despite all efforts to comfort her, and it breaks my heart.

She and I actually had a great thing going for a while. We often walk to school together, now that the weather is warmer, playing games. Once we arrive near school I ask her to show me where the front door is, which she likes to direct me to. She first tells me where the baby room is and then where the front door is. Then, she runs towards her classroom door pulling the handle down to get in right away.

Once in the room things change.

Some of the kids have gotten into the habit of running up to Sarah, sometimes several at a time, upon her arrival, and she becomes overwhelmed. I can totally see why this could be upsetting.

I love that Sarah is liked by her classmates but I guess I need to just try to get them not to crowd around her once she arrives. Daddy has experienced this as well and gotten into the habit of carrying Sarah on his shoulders, which she loves to do, and this has eased her a bit. I guess despite age children also need their personal space.

When it comes time for me to leave once I have settled Sarah into class I have worked out with her to go to the classroom's full-length window where we say our final "see you later." Most of the time Sarah brings along a few or more friends to the window to join in what has become our ritual. In fact, I think the other kids really like this as well.

I always focus my efforts on Sarah especially when she is surrounded by the other kids at this moment as I can see her get easily upset by the other kids enjoying this too. Some days Sarah blows kisses and smiles saying “that’s my mommy.” Today, she cried. My heart broke. I had to walk away seeing her be sad and cry.

The good news is that I have been told many times that within a few minutes after I depart she adjusts well and is happy and content.

What can I say? I hate it when I leave Sarah sad or in tears but have to remind myself over and over that she has a fun time in school and is developing well there. Let's just say that pick-up time is awesome. Sarah jumps up and down so excited to see me and it makes everything okay.

I often feel sad when I have to leave Sarah for work for many hours in the day, despite knowing she has a good time at school. Yet, I am always amazed at her excitement upon pick-up, and her not holding a grudge, but instead being so enthusiastic and happy to see me.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I've Been "Fooled"

This morning I was fully aware that today is April 1 and; therefore April Fools Day. I was convinced, and you know where this is going, that being alert to this I would not be baited.

Well, boy was I wrong.

Running late this morning, once we arrived at Sarah's school, signed in, dropped off; about to leave her classroom I hear over the loud speaker that school was closed today. I thought in that instant, wait, they must mean tomorrow since school is closed for the holiday. Then I realized, despite not having had my morning coffee yet, that I did indeed hear correctly. In that moment I did not think prank but instead, I can't be off today, too much work to do and, oh no there must be an infection or disease outbreak at school.

Go ahead; call me a crazy, anxious parent. But, working in health care with a fairly decent knowledge on vaccines and infectious diseases I thought, oh no there is some type of outbreak, which is not really unheard of with so many children in our country unvaccinated.

The good news is school is not closed today for Sarah. The great news is there is no virus spreading around.

I have experienced that this is not unheard of because many parents push beliefs or concerns about vaccines to not vaccinate their kids but what needs to be realized is that these treatments help stave off serious life-threatening illnesses that protect our children and all those around them.

Much more than a funny April Fools joke, don't you think? I did tell the school director that she "got me" and she also realized that she had to be careful how far she took the joke for the very reasons I was concerned.

Be safe, and laugh it off today.

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...