Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflecting on 2010

Wow! What a year it has been. So much happened in the past 12 months especially as Sarah grew and developed by leaps and bounds. Sarah is an incredibly smart, fun, energetic child and so full of life. She truly lived this year to the fullest. She was an integral part of my inspiration and motivation for much change that took place during this past year.

It's amazing how much change can happen with children between the ages of two and three.

It's unbelievable to me that this little person has such a robust vocabulary and a great ability to understand and have conversations. My little girl is indeed growing up.

As challenging as this stage of her life has been it's been the most fun, since we get to play much, read a lot, share interests and get to really know each other. This may sound silly, but it's true. Sarah, in my eyes, while still a little kid, is a grown-up kid. I am sure most parents say this about their children, so why shouldn't I.

While Sarah requires a lot more of my attention being an only child and one with a growing imagination and interest to play and explore, it's been a joyous process but a challenging one too. I will say it's been great to have free license to go on the swings and down the slides with her often and laugh as hard as possible. As a family we experienced many kids museums, zoos and farms this year. I especially enjoyed experiencing life through Sarah's eyes, and plan to continue to do so moving forward, as much as she will let me.

This was the year of "The Helper." This is likely an age thing but boy it has been great. We baked together. She helped rake leaves and shovel snow. Sarah enjoyed setting the table, making her bed and learning how to get dressed on her own. I have also been told she's very helpful at school. The list goes on.

Sarah has also become that much more in love with her books. Her coloring skills have also blossomed. She has also developed a super imagination for pretend play. I look forward to this activity being fostered further in 2011 and moving forward. Sarah has also established relationships with dear friends and family in a way that is so special to watch because they are all on her terms.

This year has also been a test of patience. I was told that the terrible twos would be challenging, and we did experience some of these moments. Daniel and I have also been given a dose or more of what's really in store for us with the unruly "threes." Therefore, one of the many things I need to work on in 2011 is developing greater patience and understanding as a parent. It probably doesn't hurt for me to brush up on some parenting tips and advice from various resources such as books like The Happiest Toddler on the Block and online parenting sites and fellow parenting blogs.

This was also the year of saying to Sarah, "please listen" or "you are not listening." Children have so much stimulus around them that it's so easy for them to be distracted and unable to concentrate. I know for certain that Sarah's hearing is good. Her listening skills on the other hand need much work.

There have been many major Sarah milestones in 2010. As a family we have also experienced several life changes. Having recently moved to a new city, new home, new job and new school including making new friends, there have been many plates flying in the air all at once. In some instances it was an overwhelming experience. But, now, with most of the boxes unpacked and settling in continuing, I look back on this year thankful for the many opportunities and experiences we have had and the journeys that lie ahead that we will take together as a family, and individually both personally and professionally. I am also appreciative to all my friends, family and followers who have played a big part in supporting me during this life changing stage.

While I am not one to really make New Year's resolutions, it can't hurt to jot down some thoughts on what I would like to work towards this coming year:

+ Spend more one-on-one time with Sarah doing imaginative play
+ Help Sarah to become fully potty-trained (we are so close)
+ Go to the gym a few times a week even if for short workouts to decompress and get healthy
+ Limit the junk food and soda (yes, again I have fallen off the bandwagon)
+ Establish a greater level of patience when parenting Sarah, and trying best to identify the signs before meltdowns occur

I think this is a good place to start.

I want to take this time to also wish you and yours a wonderful and prosperous new year and wish you love, happiness, patience, understanding and good health.

I look forward to sharing more parenting information, insights, tips and experiences here at Mommy's Point of View in 2011, and continue to welcome your feedback and perspectives and being part of this community.

Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tantrum of Epic Proportions

On Christmas Eve day, Daniel, Sarah and I spent time with my sister and her family at their house. Our children are close in age and it's so fun to watch and join them in play. The day itself was great. There was much pretending, dressing up, coloring, and of course, eating Chinese food, as Jewish people often do on this holiday.

Just after a late lunch, anticipating to stay a couple of more hours, Sarah started to get out of sorts. Only now do we think that maybe it could have been the monosodium glutamate (MSG) in the food, even though she didn't eat a lot of it, and likely more so due to a lack of napping coupled with all the excitement.

However, I was not buying the MSG link as Sarah has eaten much Chinese food in her life. So, we suspected that the food, excitement and lack of sleep turned her into a holy terror.

It was really weird. Therefore, we picked her up and took her right home. Bummed to leave earlier than planned we did what we had to do.

Daniel and I are used to meltdowns with Sarah and know sometimes that just letting her ride it out on her own often works best. She sometimes gets so worked up that she needs a moment or two or more to come down from the high. At this moment, Sarah was completely out of sorts. Once home, she wouldn't let us get her undressed and into her pajamas, or lay her in our laps for comfort since she was so very tired. She also didn't calm down, as she typically does, after being left alone for a minute or two. She was inconsolable.

Eventually, after much kicking and screaming on her part, we got her out of her clothes, trying very hard to keep quiet and calm, as she really needed a pull-up change. I would have had no problem leaving Sarah in her clothes to sleep the night. But, because she peed much and had a full load I thought maybe this was upsetting her and wanting to give her a fresh pair.

After getting Sarah fully undressed she became unruly. We couldn't even get her into her diaper. It was then that I said to Daniel let's leave the room and leave Sarah to be for a few minutes. I knew I was running a big risk of her peeing or pooping in her room but at that moment I felt Daniel and I could do her no good and she needed to be left alone.

The crying did not stop. The upset for Sarah did not stop. Daniel and I were stumped. We did everything we typically do to console Sarah and at this time we really had no idea what was going on with her. We then started to worry. We felt helpless. It was then that we went back into Sarah's room and tried a different strategy.

I decided to try a different approach. Since Sarah is typically an awesome helper I got her into her helping mode and thought it was worth a shot. And, it worked.

I asked Sarah in that instant, while she was still upset if she would help me pick out a new sheet for her bed. Sarah came back. Happy, bubbly, helpful Sarah returned. It was the most bizarre thing. I then asked her to help me choose from two a pair of pajamas for her to wear. We then played together and read books for a bit longer until we felt it was then time for her to settle in for the night peacefully.

Once Sarah was asleep Daniel and I looked at each other dumbfounded. Seriously. It felt for a moment she was possessed by something because she wasn't acting like herself even when she loses herself.

The good news is that Sarah is fine. It must be what to look forward to as she approaches that age of three, another year I have been told is even worse than the terrible twos.

Oh, the joys of parenting. Ugh.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Never Too Early To Teach Kids Manners

Recently, Sarah told Daniel, who then relayed to me, that it was her teacher's birthday and that we needed to make her a card.

Right then and there I smiled and beamed, hugged Sarah, and experienced a proud mommy moment.

From the very beginning of Sarah's life we would send thank you cards and make phone calls to share thanks and appreciation for the gifts we received. As a crafty mom we started to do art projects that became sentimental cards of thanks, wishes for birthdays and anniversaries and sometimes just because.

My mother raised me to be very mindful and respectful of others especially when it came to receiving gifts for any occasion. I was taught to get on the phone or send a thank you note to show thanks and appreciation. To this day, I still do this and fully intend to have Sarah learn this valuable and important lesson as well.

Regardless of the type of gift or how much it costs a thank you should always be given.

Since Sarah is not quite at the developmental stage to be able to write out her name, instead we trace her hand as her signature. She loves to do this.

After hearing Sarah tell me that we need to acknowledge her teacher's birthday it made me realize that it's never too early to teach children good manners and the importance of saying thank you.

Over the years I have sadly experienced some times the lack of appreciation for gifts given or learned of experiences people I knew had that were not received with a thank you. I dislike this very much.

As we know, as parents, our children are sponges. It's amazing what they can retain and remember. Therefore, instill this important mode of appreciation early on so that children recognize its value.
Who knows, in ten years it may be tougher to get Sarah to send thank you cards but I hope that by continuing to reinforce how it makes people feel that she will want to keep sharing her appreciation.

Thank you my readers for joining me on Mommy's Point of View. You have given me many gifts by coming and visiting my site, sharing your feedback and being part of this community. Thank you very much.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Drop-Side Cribs Banned For Good

This week, in a unanimous vote by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a decision has been made to ban drop-side cribs in the United States.

It comes as no surprise considering that there have been so many recalls (as many as 1.5 million since January 2010) of drop-side cribs and, after as many as 32 confirmed infant deaths and 14 suspected other fatalities over the past nine years. The CPSC has confirmed that they are instituting this ban on manufacturing, sale and re-sale of drop-side cribs everywhere in the United States.

Please know that this ban does not take effect until June 2011.

For those of you who may not know, a drop-side crib is where one entire side of the crib can be raised and lowered to reach a child more easily. What's been happening with these cribs is that the side that drops down can come apart and trap a baby in the openings created. It is not recommend for parents to create their own remedies to fix these cribs.

Therefore, in the meantime, if you are expecting a baby please choose a stationary crib with no drop-side feature. If you have an infant at home who is currently sleeping in a drop-side crib please find other arrangements if you can for your resting little one. If you are not able to make a change quickly or due to cost (as cribs can be pricey) please first check to see if your crib has been on any of the previous recall lists available on the CPSC website. Also, most manufacturers of drop-side cribs are providing free and simple repair kits so please research your crib further to confirm that it is indeed safe.

To find a list of recalled cribs, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website included below.

If you or someone you know has a drop-side crib that has not been a part of a previous recall, it may be possible to continue using it. For example, many crib manufacturers are offering repair kits to disable the drop-side feature and lock it in the upright position. This eliminates the danger of the side becoming detached and trapping the infant however it’s not a guarantee.

This ban also means that drop-side cribs will not be allowed in child-care facilities such as daycares as well as places that provide cribs for convenience during travel (e.g., hotels). Cribs will need to be replaced by all these places with safer options.

Furthermore, drop-side cribs will not be allowed to be resold anywhere including consignment stores, EBay, Craig's List, etc. Please be weary if you find a drop-side crib at any of these or other locations including yard sales, swap meets. Please remind and advise the owner trying to sell these cribs of this news and your concerns with them selling it to help keep other babies safe.

While it's good news to know that more rigorous safety testing will be done for cribs it's frightening to think that this was not done already. Then again, that is how we improve upon products. With more detailed protocols and benchmarks to test products our kids use we can hope for even more safe products for them in the future.

I am extremely thankful to the CPSC for finally deciding issue this ban to halt the creation and sale of drop-side cribs. I am also thanking my lucky stars and G-d too, for watching over my Sarah as she slept in a drop-side crib for nearly a year.

Here's to providing comfortable and safe sleeping spaces for our kids.

City Mom Becomes Suburban Mom

When you have lived in a major city a good part of your life and are used to walking from place to place and riding on public transportation versus driving in a car, it can certainly be a big adjustment when you relocate to the suburbs. It's here in the suburbs that you must rely on a car many times to get you from place to place.

However, there are indeed towns we are looking into as well with somewhat of an urban suburban feel and possibly with a main street and are close to the train station for me to easily get to and from work. In the meantime, since we wanted to be closest to family and reasonably near the train station and Sarah's school we chose a suburb with less of city-like feel to it.

Therefore, this has certainly been an adjustment for me since our move. Much of this could also be because we searched for a home and packed up in record time and went very fast, as we expected it likely would. I knew this would be the case but still it's taking time to settle into the change.

The same holds true for when you have kids and live in an urban environment and then move to suburbia. Moving from a major metropolis to a suburb can be a dramatic change for all involved especially when what you have been most used to is convenience.

As a city mom I spent much time carrying Sarah around in a sling or baby carrier walking around the neighborhood, running errands and also during jaunts on public transportation in and out of the city. When Sarah got older and a bit heavier for me to carry we did all these same things on foot with her in her stroller. Then, as she advanced we did the same things with her on a push car, scooter and tricycle. We also would frequent the playgrounds near our home often and daily, pending weather, and would see as many as ten to twenty kids at a time to play with.

Having moved to the suburbs much of this freedom for transportation on foot and getting around town is somewhat and completely limiting. And, the ability to make friends and meet new playmates has been slow and seems to require us to join either a house of worship or sometimes expensive kid-specific classes (e.g., The Little Gym, dance classes).

Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining (not exactly). I am just trying to adjust to a new way of doing things that I knew was going to be different. It's just taking me time to get used to this all. I knew what we were signing up for moving to a neighborhood with tree-lined streets with homes and backyards versus apartments and distances further away to doctors offices, school, grocery stores, playgrounds, etc.

There are many reasons why we chose to relocate to the burbs besides a great new job and to be closer to immediate family. Most importantly, we are setting up ground and foundation for Sarah. Her future is what's most important to us and so is establishing a home base where the schools are really good, where we can have more space in our home to spread out, be near by to family, and the cost of living enables us to provide a good quality of life.

The good news is, we are renting a house versus buying at the moment so that we can gauge where we really want to live in the coming year as we explore and discover neighborhoods and learn the lay of the land.

Change for some can be challenging. For me, once I get comfortable I don't typically like change. However, once I get settled in to something new and establish a routine then my comfort level increases. What can I say? I am a Type A personality. Yet, when it comes to Sarah and the life Daniel and I want to create for her, and possibly another sibling (no, I am not pregnant) moving to the suburbs was what we wanted and needed to do.

For the past two years Daniel and I have had this dream to come down to this neck of the woods for the various reasons mentioned above. Starting out in a new area without all that is familiar to us I knew would be tough. I need to be patient, continue to unpack, enjoy the quality time with my family and just know that in time we will feel more at home in our new city.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday: Mommy Moments in Haiku

This weekend was the first since our move to the burbs where we didn't have to drive too far to do anything and instead got to stay local.

Saturday playdate
Spending time, making new friends
A fun time by all

More unpacking done
Second hand kitchen set found
Getting settled in

Happy that it rained
Good excuse to stay indoors
Playroom all set up

Backyard work is done
Man for hire helped us out
Leaves gone before frost

Time to run errands
Readying house for winter
Welcome to the burbs

City to the burbs
This mommy is adjusting
Patient during change

Getting used to life
Being a suburban mom
Need time to adjust

Knew change would be big
Taking each day one by one
Tomorrow, new day

Loving our new home
Enjoying quiet and trees
Meeting new neighbors

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Setting Up Kid Space In Our New Home

Since moving into our new house it should come as no surprise that the two most important rooms to get fully settled and done are Sarah's room and the family room, as these two spaces are where she will be spending most of her time.

Having grand visions for what these rooms should look like and function as has caused me some angst. Let's just say that despite living in apartments most of my adult life I still happen to have some very large furniture. Some pieces are working while others are not. And, others we are just making work. Since this home is temporary until we decide when and where to buy we are making the most of what we have.

Let's just say that the family room has been switched around a lot so far. I am especially thankful for my hubby for amusing me and helping me to make these changes and understanding my need to make them. He knows me so well that he often jokes to remind him to tell him where things are since he knows I am likely to move them again.

I am; however, pleased to say that as I am typing on my computer in the family room with Sarah in here playing I stare at the space and am currently very happy with the layout. This room used to be my favorite. But, then once all the toys entered the stress began to fill.

After Sarah went to sleep last night we moved furniture around and agree that it's likely the best format. And, the toys are placed around the room and it seems a more calming and friendly space for kids and adults to play.

For Sarah's room we had to be a bit more creative. First, her room was a fair bit smaller than her previous room and there was somewhat limited space for all the furniture, decorations and books we hoped to keep included in there. The great news is that this room has an enormous closet. So, I decided to do something my sister did in her kid's rooms, and removed the closet doors. Since Sarah kept opening and closing the doors anyhow in the mornings, it was a no brainer to decide to take them out. So, out they went and in went a bookcase and baskets to maximize the space for her clothes, books and loads of stuffed animals.

Despite Sarah's room being a bit small, we have used the space efficiently and effectively. And, Sarah really likes the cozy feel of it. At the end of the day, she spends most of her time in the family room playing so it's best at this young age to keep the items in her room to a minimum so that rest and sleep are more likely and distractions are less.

More unpacking to do. More settling in to do.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Celebrating Chanukah

Today's Mommy Moments of Reflection from the weekend past mostly center around the Chanukah holiday celebration that started mid last week and well through this weekend. More fun to be had this week.

It was a fun and busy time with family and friends.

Enjoy this week's Hanukkah Haikus.

Celebrate with lights
Chanukah gelt and presents
Toasting happiness

Dreidel dreidel spin
On nun, gimel, hay or shin
Chocolate gelt and fun

Shalom Sesame
Big bird, Cookie, Elmo too
Hugs, photos, movie

Lighting menorah
Starting with shamash candle
Eight days and eight nights

Time with family
Cheering festival of lights
In our new home

Much fun partying
Celebrating Chanukah
Fell to sleep quickly

Happy Chanukah!!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Children and Separation Anxiety

As you know, I have since made a major move and relocation with my husband, daughter and geriatric cat to a new city, new home, new job, and new school.

For Sarah, especially, this means new friends and new teachers too. And, much of this can be a bit overwhelming for a little kid to handle.

As previously written here at Mommy's Point of View, these first couple of weeks of daycare drop off have been somewhat challenging helping Sarah to get adjusted. It has been getting better as each day progresses. I know. I know. This all takes time. However, one day in the car getting ready to go to school Sarah said something to me that just about broke my heart.

I will tell you more of this shortly. You need to hold out for just a little bit.

First, let me mention that typically when I drop Sarah off at school I help to get settled in with dropping off her school bags at her cubby, going with her to put lunch in the fridge and helping to get her set up for breakfast. It's after all of this that I then try to leave after getting my hugs and kisses from her. Then, the tears and howling begin and "noooooo mommy, don't leave" begins.

So, back to the car.

Sarah said to me, "Mommy I don't want to have breakfast anymore because when I do you leave."

I just nearly teared up at that moment hearing her say this to me. I did my very best to help her understand and remind her that mommy or daddy would definitely be picking her up at school at the end of the day and that we will indeed be having breakfast together during the weekends and that school days are just a little bit different.

I am pretty sure it's an age thing. Research shows that children at this age go through feelings of abandonment and separation anxiety.

So, I just continue to do my best to help Sarah know that mommy and daddy love her very much and that at the end of each school day one or both of us will indeed be picking her up. Ironically, tonight Sarah said that she said she knows now that we come to get her at the end of the day and that that's her favorite part of the day.

What has your experience been? Any insights or thoughts you want to share?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Helping Kids Appreciate, Understand Hanukkah

Last night and tonight after picking Sarah up from school, we drove around our new neighborhood to look at all the holiday decorations.

I was bummed not to see any menorahs for the Hanukkah holiday in windows at least as far as where we drove around. :(

We did indeed; however, see many homes bedazzled with lights some white and others including various colors of the rainbow. We also saw one home with the big blow up balloons featuring Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger including a lit up choo choo train.

This certainly was enjoyable to see compared to what I have been used to seeing for the last twenty years in NYC where most homes are apartments with few windows and the decorations were not as grand.

During the drives I did my very best to explain to Sarah how these colorful lights are for people who celebrate the Christmas holiday and remind her that we celebrate Chanukah.

It also brought back memories of when my mom and stepfather drove my sister and I around our hometown at night looking at some of the elaborate home decorations some including menorahs and most others with lights of all different colors and decorations of various kinds. Nonetheless, I was always appreciative of Hanukkah growing up thanks to my parents helping by teaching me the significance of this holiday.

I then started to realize that at Sarah's new school the decorations on the walls included paper wreaths, snowmen and trees looking very Christmas like. There was little to no representation of the Hanukkah holiday and I was disappointed. I then approached a teacher who told me that the trees were not for Christmas and that they were just pine trees. For the snowmen she said they were not Christmas-specific despite their green and red hats. She tried to explain to me too that the wreaths were not for Christmas either regardless of them being wrapped with red paper bows.

In that moment I decided that instead of getting upset I would instead take action. It was my job to help bring Hanukkah for Sarah to her school to help her be excited for the holiday and for her to also be proud of who she is and her religion. Therefore, I was sure to send Sarah to school the following day with a child-safe felt fabric Hanukkah menorah to share as show and tell. I was told by Sarah's teachers that the kids liked the discussion and Sarah was excited talking about it. One of the teachers even decided to pull out her Hanukkah books and bring them to school to share with the kids.

After bringing some Jewish tradition to Sarah's school her teachers said that they really appreciated it and that I can continue to do stuff like this moving forward. They like it very much when parents get involved and for us to feel free to do as we hope to keep this important education present in our children's lives. They even encouraged me to bring in dreidels for the kids to play with too. I plan to do that for early next week. I'm excited.

As a Jewish parent raising a Jewish child I know I have a big responsibility to help my child see past all the glitz and glamour of Christmas. It will be my job, along with her daddy, to help her understand the appreciation and importance of what Hanukkah is all about and why we celebrate this occasion called the festival of lights for eight nights and days and celebrate life as Jewish people.

Happy Hanukkah!!!

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...