Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year: A Mom's Resolution


Happy (almost) New Year to you and yours.

How has your 2011 been?

For me, it has been an eventful, active, crazy and stressful year.

We have been settling into our new city, trying to buy a home (a painful process that has lasted seven months so far), spending time with friends, old and new, and being with family much more now since we are closer in proximity. It was especially nice this year too to become more involved with extended family, and being so welcomed by them to join for holiday gatherings and other festivities.

I also turned the big 4-0 this year. Ugh. That was a tough adjustment for me. I am still not so sure I believe that I am forty.

The most unfortunate and painful part of this past year for me is that I put on a whopping 30 pounds of unnecessary weight.  My mother is likely cringing when she reads this.

Its nuts. I know. I weigh more now than I did when I delivered Sarah. It's hard to believe, but the pounds just piled on while I was trying to get adjusted to a new way of doing things living in the suburbs especially since we have to drive mostly everywhere, versus walking, to get to where we want and need to go. It was also challenging to carve out time to workout at home as Sarah always got under my feet when I popped in a fitness DVD. I also joined a gym that was difficult for me to get to since we have been a "one-car family" living in the suburbs.  The latter is going to change in 2012 once we buy and settle into a new home.  We fully intend to get another car.

There are really no good excuses for my weight to get this out of control. However, moving to a new home, starting a new school for Sarah, not seeing my NY/NJ friends as much as I used to when we lived near New York City, trying to make new friends all around, and acclimating to a new job that I have now been in for over a year learning a great deal and flexing some new muscles (loving social media), has been a full plate indeed.

Now that we are settled and striving in our new jobs, enjoying new relationships with friends for Daniel, Sarah and I, and adjusting well to our new neighborhood, surroundings and local activities, it's time to take matters into my own hands and float only a few plates in the air at a time, if possible, versus the many that were in the air in 2011.

Thankfully, Daniel is doing great and Sarah is thriving and growing at an exponential pace.  Both of them are the light in my life and this year I feel even stronger and more connected to them.

So, as much as I have tried to take the weight off this year and make a dent, I have not.  I have decided to make a resolution, something I don't often do, and hope to G-d that I can stick to it.  I don't like how I feel in this body. And, my former clothes certainly miss being worn.  I have also been more self-deprecating about my body including in front of Sarah, and realize that this behavior has to stop. I don't want Sarah to become self-conscious in any way or become insecure about her looks or body type.

While this year will center much around my daughter and husband, as they are an integral part of my life, I look forward to finding more much-needed time for me especially for working out and eating better. This is not just for me. This is for Sarah and for Daniel.  As I get older my health is that much more important. Getting back on track is one of many goals for me for 2012, but a significant one I aim to achieve and maintain.

Wish me luck. I know what I need to do as I have done the weight loss successfully in the past.  It's that I need to stick to it, and stick to it hard. For example, before getting pregnant with Sarah, I wanted to start at a certain, healthy weight. By achieving that goal I felt in control during my pregnancy and gained only the required weight. After putting on weight while breastfeeding, as I felt ravenous all the time, I managed to get on track and lose nearly 20 pounds. I know I can do this. I just need to do IT.

What are your goals for 2012?  What do you aim to achieve this year?

Let's toast to a new year of life, love, happiness, and good health.

Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The FREE Gift of PJ Library

We received a really great holiday gift this year, and I wanted to share it with you here since it may be something you would like to get for your family, for free, as well.

Last year I wrote on my blog about an organization called The PJ Library (post available here), which happens to offer awesome reading and Jewish education materials that include sending books and music once a month to families in various cities around the United States and Canada, centered on Jewish culture. The story of how The PJ Library came about is a beautiful story, and it's included as well in my previous post.

This month, for example, we received a book about the Hanukkah holiday.

The PJ Library values the importance of reading and singing songs with children and helping to engage them in learning about their religion and culture. And, since much of this activity happens when kids are in their pajamas getting ready for bed and in the morning at wake up time, the "PJ" in The PJ Library actually stands for pajamas.

Very cool indeed.

When we received a letter a few days ago acknowledging the books and music they sent to us this past year they also happened to mention that they are gifting us with another year of wonderfully, valuable reads and songs. 

I yelped with excitement so pleased with this opportunity to continue to expose Sarah to their quality tools to provide entertainment and education simultaneously about Jewish culture that she has enjoyed to date.

One request the letter stated what that I share the opportunity, with others, you my readers, and friends and family, the chance to join PJ Library, at no cost, and become a recipient of these valuable materials to share with your children.

We have been so fortunate to be on the receiving end of this great gift, and on this holiday week, we wanted to share it with you as well.

To learn more about The PJ Library program, and how you can join in the awesome journey of Jewish education for children, visit them online at http://www.pjlibrary.org/. They can also be reached at 413-439-1981.

Enjoy this great reading and learning opportunity. You can enroll online, renew an existing subscription and also sign up to donate subscriptions to families who are not in a PJ Library community to give back to this great cause.

Happy reading in your jammies. Have fun!!! Happy Holidays!!!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas morning....

I wanted to take this time to wish all of you who celebrate Christmas, a wonderful holiday.  Here are some special Haiku for this special time.

A Merry Christmas
To you and your family
Time spent together

Santa on his sleigh
Traveling all around town
Delivering gifts

Lots of treats and eats
Hugs, kisses with friends, family
For your Christmas time

Lights on homes and trees
So colorful and festive
Bright and engaging

So many presents
Wrapped with bows, paper, sparkle
Kids eyes shine so bright

A time to give back
To help those in need, without
Opening our hearts

Enjoy this Christmas
With your friends and family
Fun, special moments

A special holiday wish to you and yours from Mommy's Point of View.

What are some of your family's holiday traditions?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Proud Parent Moment

Tonight, the fourth night of Hanukkah, Sarah blew my mind.  

We were getting ready to light the electric menorah candles for the holiday and Daniel and I heard her whispering under her breath the first Hebrew prayer for the lighting. 

At first, we thought maybe she was just making up words. But, then as we listened more closely to her, she was actually saying it. Sarah started with the first few words and we thought that would be it. Then, she proceeded to recite the entire verse word for word.

She said the prayer, which phonetically is Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam asher kideshanu b'mitzvotav, vitzivanu lehadlik ner shel Hanukkah.

Daniel and I stood there listening to Sarah with our jaws dropped and excitement in our eyes. I was jumping up and down too and we were applauding her for this amazing feat.  I don't think Sarah even realized how awesome this accomplishment was.  What's even more incredible about this is that Daniel and I have not sat down with her to go through the prayer word for word because she's only nearly four years old.

As we continued to light our additional menorahs, the next one with actual candles and flames, and another two, pretend menorahs, one with Velcro-backed candles and one with rubber candles, it occurred to me that Sarah learned the prayer by repetition. With this many menorahs, we were saying the blessing at least four times each night for the first half of the holiday. Sarah actually caught on to what Daniel and I were reciting each time we lit, and pretend lit, the candles together.

It just proves that children do learn by example and repetition.  And, while I know that Sarah is a sponge and processes her information very quickly this experience with her tonight was an incredibly proud moment watching my little girl growing up.

Of course, for a moment, I thought, what it will be like when she's 12 years old and receiving her Bat Mitzvah and the feeling of being a proud parent and one of Sarah's biggest fans.

Children do learn by osmosis. It's important for us as parents to communicate with our children directly and use proper adult language and vocabulary, whether it be English, Hebrew, ASL, or any other language. Children do learn by watching and listening to us and we are their models for learning.

This proud moment has been brought to you by Mommy's Point of View. 

And, because I often feel that Haiku is an excellent way to sum up what I am thinking and feeling into as few words as possible here are a few poems to showcase this wonderful experience.

She recited prayer
For menorah candle lights
Four-year-old shines bright


Proud parent moment
Our child spoke Hebrew
For menorah lights


Awesome Hanukkah
Sarah owned the Hebrew prayer
Speaking easily


Children surprise us
When you least expect them to
Proud parent moments


What's a proud parenting moment you have experienced recently?  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Gift of Giving


With the holidays in full bloom and presents being bought, wrapped, and given to family and friends, one gift that sometimes gets forgotten is the one to those in need. 

Especially with this rocky economy and people we know, and don't know, are out of work, it can be a tough time of year, especially for children who are without the sparkle, shine and glimmer of gifts. The same holds true for adults who are without as well and struggling to make ends meat and to put smiles on their kids faces with presents for them to open.

This week I wrote a blog post to kick off the Hanukkah holiday here and how it is a reminder of the blessings in our lives and not just the presents that we give and receive.  

I don't know why this year should be any different than past Hanukkah's, but this one opened my eyes even more than before to understanding the meaning of Tzedakah -- the gift of giving.  It's very possible that as I teach Sarah about her religion and help her to understand as she grows, I have become more aware, in tune and sensitive to what matters most and helping to pass on these traditions and teach her valuable lessons that she will witness and act on in the future.

I was raised to be kind and mindful of others and to give where possible to help others in need.  Therefore, it became natural for me as a young adult to volunteer my time and efforts at hospitals, kid-specific education activities and fundraising for health care causes near and dear to my heart.  

Interestingly, it just so happens that reaching out to those in need is central to being Jewish as well. It seems that I was born into this way of being and fully intend to pave the way for Sarah as we share in this process together of helping others where possible.  

Today I rummaged  through clothes, toys, books, and shoes and managed to pack up five garbage bags full. I then dropped them off and donated them to Good Will.  As much as it would be nice to sell these items via consignment, yard sales and other similar events, to make some money, it seemed brainless to me at this time of year to think otherwise.  What made this gift giving even more special was the incredible appreciation and respect of the staff receiving this donation for their patrons.

Good Will is one of many types of organizations to donate used belongings to help others. Consider local thrift shops, hospitals and houses of worship who often value these items  to share with those in need.

There are so many people without this year.  If we are able to give of our time, money or even old clothes and other belongings let's please consider what we can do to impact the lives of others including families with children who are without.

What do you like to do to give back and help others?

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Hanukkah


Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, the celebration of the festival of lights in Jewish tradition.

With Sarah approaching the age of four it felt different this year for me to make more of a fuss about Hanukkah than what I was used to doing when growing up. It was my mission to help her see the beauty of this holiday, begin to learn more about its history, and to start to appreciate its traditions, especially those that we create together as a family.

Interestingly, today Sarah asked me if we were going to be putting up Hanukkah decorations inside or outside of our house. She likely asked this question because many people, including friends, relatives and neighbors have their homes emblazoned with colorful lights for all to see with Christmas in close proximity.

In years past, especially before Sarah was born, the only sign of Hanukkah in my home was the symbolic menorah (both electric and the one with actual candles for lighting). Otherwise, I rarely if ever hung up decorations as that was not what I experienced growing up as a kid, and not something typical in Jewish tradition.

It just so happens that while Hanukkah is an important holiday with much significance in Jewish culture, it is not the most important Jewish holiday of the year. Yet, Hanukkah has changed somewhat over the years mostly because of its timing being so close to Christmas.

As parents, it's our job to help guide our children, especially as far as religious and spiritual beliefs go. Therefore, when Hanukkah comes around, especially as Sarah starts to gain a better understanding of this holiday, it seems as if more needs to be done on my part, and Daniel's, to help her see its value, especially beyond the gifts and glamour.

I admit that this year I went overboard a bit on presents, and plan to institute a budget cap next year. It's so easy to get lost in the desire to want to provide our children with wonderful new toys and books and fun stuff. However, one of the biggest lessons around Hanukkah, and Jewish culture, is that it is less about receiving gifts but instead about giving to help others in need. This is called Tzedakah.

Sarah and I have both shared our belongings in the past to help others. That's why tonight, I told her that tomorrow we will go through some of her old clothes, toys, books and more and pack them up to share up with other children who are less fortunate. She agreed, and with a smile.  I will be doing the same of my things, and plan to begin the purge tomorrow.


On another note, this year, while shopping for presents I started to notice that stores were including a robust supply of Hanukkah decorations. It was really nice to see and it made me smile. I was tempted, and decided to begin a collection of items to pass on to Sarah in the future. I stocked up on beautiful decorative wall hangings and paper lanterns with stars and dreidels, among other things.  Hanukkah is indeed a celebration and one that deserves some decorative elements to add to the festivities.

Today, I decided to surprise Sarah with all the decorations set up in our dining room. After doing this I got an awesome feeling of wanting to invite everyone we knew to come over to celebrate in the joy of the freedom we have been given to live and choose for ourselves thanks to the Macabees for their sacrifices and risk taking efforts to help the Jews.

So, as the lights burn over these eight days and nights, dreidels spin, fried food gets eaten, and time is spent with loved ones, let's be reminded of the efforts made in our history to create the freedom we now experience today. And, let's celebrate with the lights of the candles as they flicker and be reminded of what has been done for us, and what we need to do moving forward to help others.

Last year, I wrote a blog post about Hanukkah including several haiku poems to celebrate this wonderful time of year.  Enjoy!

I also decided, with new perspective, to write new Haiku this year. These come from an even greater understanding of this holiday especially as a parent and educator to my child on her future Jewish learnings.

Happy Chanukah
Thanks Macabees for freedom
Tzedakah, help others

Eight days and eight nights
The candles flicker and glow
Freedom and giving

Happy Chanukah!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Recycled Goods for Art Projects


There are many great things that kids can do with recyclable products and turn them into masterpieces.

Recently, Sarah and I found inspiration in a book that Daniel found at the Christmas Tree Shop in our neighborhood. The book entitled Disney Princess: Things to Make and Do, Dress Up-Fashion included a Castle Jewelry Stand made out of common household leftovers including toilet and paper towel rolls as well as boxes and paper. And, this unique craft is a great way for girls to hold their rings, bracelets and necklaces.

As you can see from the picture of our final product on the left versus the model in the book, we found the inspiration yet chose to create something a bit different based on the supplies we did have at home. As a result, our creation is a bit more gussied up and unique. I also felt that the way we chose to do it enabled Sarah to be more involved in the creation. For example, we chose to color the rolls with glitter paints that Sarah easily could do on her own.

That's the beauty of creation. Sometimes you just need something to inspire you and then you can take it in a somewhat different or modified direction to suit your interests and supplies.

Since we didn't have a small brown box but instead shoe boxes, I asked Sarah if we could use one she had that happened to have her favorite princesses on it. It was the perfect compliment. The nice thing about the shoe box too was that it included four pictures of princesses on the sides. So, after covering the bottom of the box with colored paper, which was the only plain part of the box, we then cut out the pictures and decorated the back of the castle to embellish it further.

After all was complete we dazzled it with Sarah's jewelry and her eyes lit up. She was so proud of this creation we did together. As a result, we have become more conscientious of the recyclable goods we have at home and do our best to store them away for future arts and crafts projects.

Give it a try and see what inspires you to create.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

To The Best Husband and Daddy

I am truly a lucky woman. And, Sarah is a lucky kid.

Not only did I marry a wonderful man who is also my best friend, but he also happens to be a super great dad too.

Since we have been together over nine years, Daniel and I have become a well-oiled machine. It took time for us to really get to know each other over the years, learning, understanding and appreciating our quirks and idiosyncrasies, seeing how each of us is as individuals and developing together like a fine wine aspires to be.

The same holds true for parenting. It sometimes has become an unspoken language between us where if one of us does one task the other person takes on another responsibility to help.

I feel it is important, and Daniel agrees, that Sarah needs to know and see that both mommy and daddy can make dinner, do the dishes, give baths, take out the garbage, go grocery shopping, and more, and that specific tasks are not just the responsibility of one parent or a specific gender.

It's also very important to help children understand that men and women play various roles in a relationship, and especially as parents, and that we share in the tasks and responsibilities of running a household, working, and parenting together.

Therefore, I really AM a lucky woman. Daniel steps in and helps and I greatly appreciate him for it.

When I became a mommy, I was so convinced that I could do it all, at least relatively speaking. Over time I realized that as much as I wanted to do everything with Sarah it just wasn't possible. I needed to let some things go and let Daniel play a part too.

Often times moms bond sooner with their babies, especially when breastfeeding is involved. Therefore, dads or partners have to find others way bond with their children and we have to help make that happen.

So, in order for Sarah to forge a bond with her daddy it was necessary for me to give up things, even if I liked doing them, and enable Daniel to partake in some parenting duties (e.g., drop off /pick up from school) to be a special part of her life.

As a result, I have gotten much better at asking for help from Daniel when I need it, realizing that I do need to share Sarah and our time. Daniel and I plan regularly to determine how we can carve out time for each of us individually, time with Sarah, and time for dates.

Parenting is a tough job. And, it is really challenging for parents who don't have support or need to find support with other family and friends. I am thankful for Daniel being such a wonderful husband and father. Sarah and I are both very lucky to have him in our lives and he makes us laugh on a regular basis.

I am truly blessed to have a man in my life who allows me to be me, quirky and all, who enables me to be independent too and helps me when I need it. It's these important qualities of our relationship that Sarah continues to witness so that she can learn that a loving relationship is partnership filled with respect, trust, loyalty, and lots of laughs.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Here is a special Thanksgiving craft made by Sarah for you to enjoy. She had a blast making it so that I could share with you.

I have much in my life to be thankful for.

Despite our roller coaster experience with buying a house, which has caused us much frustration, and, of course, sadly losing our sweet, adorable and loving Sammy cat, we have our health and are surrounded by existing and new friends and family since moving to our new city a little over a year ago.

I am incredibly blessed to have a wonderful husband who is supportive, compassionate, loving, funny and understanding. And, I am fortunate to be "mommy" to my sweet, bright, adorable, energetic and vivacious daughter who loves me unconditionally, giggles like rays of sunshine and keeps me on my toes.

Sarah continues to be my inspiration and I thank G-d everyday for her presence in my life.

Last Thanksgiving we were surrounded by boxes in our existing home settling into a new way of life in a new area with new people and friends to make. It has been a busy year for us all getting adjusted to suburban life, new jobs, new school for Sarah and so much more.

Yet, we have been incredibly blessed with wonderful neighbors who we now call friends, and have also been welcomed by extended family into their homes for holidays and more.

This has been a year filled with new opportunities and experiences, and adjustment as well, and I am very thankful.

I give thanks to my friends and family, and to you, my readers, and wish you all well this holiday season.

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy Thanksgiving and prosperous year.

Here are some special holiday Haiku.

Time to be thankful
For all of our blessings
Happiness, good health

Time with family
Hugs and kisses all around
Laughter, joy and peace

Surrounded by friends
And loving family too
That is what matters

Enjoy turkey time
Yams, stuffing, desserts galore
Sit back, eat, relax

Time for giving back
Important to help others
In need of support

Time to be thankful
For all that we have been blessed
Appreciative

Happy Thanksgiving
Taking the time to reflect
On what matters most

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Teaching Kids About Pet Loss

This past week our beloved 17-year-old cat Sammy passed away.

She was a sweet-natured, lovable, goofy, always hungry, sometimes stinky girl who grabbed your heart from the start. Everyone who met Sammy was instantly drawn to her. She was a beautiful creature.

Thinking back to happy memories of life with Sammy brings a smile to my face. While cats by nature are frequent sleepers, I really do think she slept more than the average. She also enjoyed catching a warm beam of sunlight while resting on the carpet staring out the window bird watching. Sammy also liked it when Sarah was a baby and ate in her high chair waiting patiently for Sarah to either drop food by accident, or on purpose, to devour.

When we lost Sammy's sister Maggie four years ago before Sarah was born we knew we had Sammy to go home to, which in some instances, made the pain of loss a little less difficult since her presence was still there especially in the eyes of Sammy. This time around, with Sammy now gone we had Sarah to come home to to care for and love.

In addition to grieving myself, I also didn't have to explain to a young child what it meant to die or any discussion at all about the after life.

This time around, with Sammy, things were different.

With a nearly four-year-old to care for, things were indeed very, very different this time around, and more difficult as there was much more explanation needed.

Sarah knew for a while that Sammy was sick and also that she lived a very long life. Daniel and I conveyed that to her many times.

When Daniel and I knew that it was Sammy's time to go, the night before we sat down with Sarah to try to explain.

I digress for a moment.

A couple of years ago there was an incident at a local playground, which inevitably helped us to start communicating the concept of loss to Sarah. Who knows. It may work for you if you are ever unfortunate to be in this situation of explaining loss of a person or animal to a young child.

It all started with an innocent green balloon given to Sarah at a party. The details of this particular situation is here to read. It was something I wrote about in a previous blog post entitled Sarah and the Green Balloon.

The moral of the story was that the green balloon cast into the sky became a representation of lost loved ones who are no longer with us and who are up in the sky watching down on us. There is no discussion of heaven or G-d. Just a simple explanation that people and animals that once were with us here on earth are now gone and live in the sky, never to return.

We explained to Sarah's teacher the morning we dropped her off at school before taking Sammy to the vet about what was going on and be aware that Sarah may be sad, start talking about Sammy or green balloons, then they would understand. Her teacher seemed very appreciative that we informed her of this as it helped her to understand what Sarah was going through or may in the coming days, weeks, months.

That day, Sarah also knew that Daniel and I would pick her up early to buy green balloons to cast them into the sky for Sammy, Maggie and her lost loved ones.

At first, Sarah thought we were bringing home a green balloon for Sammy, and when we walked in the house she started to look for Sammy to show her the balloon. Interestingly, Sammy loved to nibble at the ribbons on the balloons.

My heart fell. I bent down on my knees to say to Sarah that Sammy was not hear anymore and that she was up in the sky. I further said that was why we got the balloons to put them up in the sky to share with her to let her know we were thinking about her, and that we miss her.

We then went out to the back yard and let each balloon go one by one. The first, for Sammy. The second, for Maggie. The third, for all of our lost loved ones.

Then, we went inside and dined on vanilla ice cream, one of Sammy's favorite treats.

In the days following it's been more difficult for Daniel and I especially. Sometimes I hear phantom sounds thinking I hear Sammy. I brushed my foot across a pillow and it felt like fur and was instantly stopped thinking it was her.

Loss takes time to cope with for adults and for children. There is really no exact way of helping kids, young ones especially, on how to handle loss. You can only do what you think is best.

For Daniel and I, missing Sammy is going to be a forever thing because of the number of years we loved her and cared for her. For Sarah it may be different. Nonetheless, it will take time. It's also okay to show our emotions to our kids so they know that we are affected by what has happened and can ask questions.

Every so often Sarah will mention Sammy and have needed to say to her that Sammy is not here anymore. As hard as it is telling Sarah this I am just thankful to G-d to have my precious Sarah with us for lots of hugs and kisses and someone to focus on while we grieve.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Goodbye Sammy Cat

Today is a very sad day. Our 17-year-old sweet, loving and adorable kitty cat, Sammy, passed away.

I know. She was old and lived a long life. It doesn't make my heart hurt any less, and my body is numb. I hurt for my husband too as he had Sammy from the very beginning of her life. She came along to the relationship, with her sister who passed before Sarah was born, as part of the package deal when I met Daniel nearly ten years ago.

Lucky me. You better believe it.

My biggest hurt is especially for Sarah trying to help her understand death, at least somewhat, the loss of her favorite furry feline and how Sammy is not here with us any more. This I know will take time. I even have prepared Sarah for this moment long before Sammy became sick. This I will share in a future blog post.

While I gather the strength in the coming days, and maybe longer, to write a special epitaph for our Sam-a-lady, and help Sarah to understand this loss, I want to share the following Haiku in memory of our beautiful, funny, dog-like (yes, she loved to roll over and get belly rubs), sometimes clueless, always hungry, often times stinky, yet absolutely hard not to love kitty cat, Sammy.

To Sammy the cat
We will love you forever
Rest in peace sweet girl

She's physically gone
But her memory lives on
Our special girl

Full of life she was
Sammy cat in our hearts
Happy memories

How lucky we are
To have had a love like her
We are truly blessed

Goodbye Sammy girl
We will love you forever
Always in our hearts

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Helping Kids Understand Pet Illness

This weekend I was convinced that we might have had to put to sleep our sweet, adorable, fuzzy 17-year-old, old lady, Sammy the cat. Having lost her sister Maggie before Sarah was born a few years ago was a time that's hard not to forget and one that was extremely painful. I just wasn't ready to feel that pain again. For a child I can only imagine what it would feel like and was also not sure how Sarah would react and the emotional upset that would come for all of us.

With Sammy's thyroid disease taking a toll on her she was not eating or drinking enough water and became dehydrated. She was not acting like herself. She was not responsive to her favorite foods and activities or even belly rubs. After a trip to the vet, Sammy was administered intravenous fluids and started to perk up again. Thankfully, she is okay for now but needs to get IV fluids from us at home and then go back to the vet next week for a follow-up visit.

The sad reality is that Sammy is an old kitty cat who has lived a very long and happy life with the occasional illness impacting her. She has been loved, cuddled, pulled at, petted and embraced for many, many years. She has impacted all of our lives, and especially Sarah.

Sarah has developed a special bond with Sammy. She kisses her, hugs her, pulls her tail on occasion, makes her arts and crafts projects, and shares her love for her on a regular basis.

This weekend I was not prepared for what might have happened to help her understand and accept the fate of her lovable kitty cat.

Watching the relationship that Sarah has developed with Sammy, and her appreciation for animals overall, I fear the day when Sammy will go up to Heaven and be with her sister and I will be left helping to mend Sarah's broken heart.

All we can do now is make the most of every day with Sammy and thank G-d for each day that we do have with her. It's a beautiful thing to watch the bond between a child and pet forge and foster over time. I know that the time will come when we will have to help Sarah understand that the people and animals in our lives do end and that they will always be in our hearts and minds forever.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a story on my blog called Sarah and The Green Balloon, to help teach Sarah that people and animals do go to Heaven and live in the sky after they have gone. And, while it's sad that those we love are no longer with us, they will forever be a part of us.

So, at this time, when I pray for Sammy to be around for many more years and for the bond between her and Sarah to continue to grow, here are some Haiku to remind us of the impact our pets have on us and our children and the place in our hearts they will forever hold.

To Sammy the cat
We all love you very much
To infinity

We are so lucky
To have you our sweet Sammy
Cute and lovable

Sarah and Sammy
A bond that is forever
Kisses, hugs and more

Our time with you
Sweet, adorable Sammy
Thanks for loving us

Pets capture your heart
Affect you more than you know
Constant love from them

Monday, October 24, 2011

Instilling Healthy Hygiene Habits

How many times do we have to tell our kids to wash their hands? And, as much as we explain why it's important for them to do it, do they sometimes still try to get out of doing it?

As parents, not only do we have to continue to engage with our children on healthy habits including reminding them to wash hands regularly, as many as five times a day, but we, as their role models, have to exhibit these very same behaviors for them to follow suit.

Hygiene habits are a global issue. We all can benefit from a reminder on what to do to help keep germs at bay.



As a result, over 12,000 people in 12 countries including the United States were studied as part of the largest ever study of hygiene behavior called The Lysol® HABIT Study (Hygiene: Attitudes, Behavior, Insight and Traits).

The results of this study were recently announced and they provide valuable information showing how personality traits and good manners affect health and can help stop the spread of germs.

Fortunately, as part of my job doing public and media relations on health care topics, I have been given the opportunity to help share this important news with you so we can be armed with the knowledge and know how to take action to be healthy and raise our kids to practice healthy habits and behaviors as well to reduce exposure to germs.

Highlights from the study include:


  • If you’re conscientious, dependable, nervous and sensitive - - you may experience 10 percent fewer colds and less diarrhea than others

  • People who have good manners have better personal hygiene, and are almost two and a half times more likely to have good health

  • Tidy/orderly individuals are more hygienic than messy/chaotic people

  • Women and older people tend to be more hygienic than men

  • Younger people and homemakers display highest level of personal and household hygiene

  • Students and office workers display worst level of personal and household hygiene
Experts estimate that between 5 - 20 percent of Americans will contract the flu this year. So, understanding the determinants that drive different hygiene behaviors can help us to break the chain of infection transmission and protect our health and that of our children.

As a parent, it was interesting to learn that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 22 million schools days are lost each year due to the common cold alone.

That's a lot of sick days. And, that's a lot of us staying home from work to take care of our kids.

"Adopting good hygiene habits is a responsibility we all share. It is important for families to integrate regular hygiene practices at home, school and work throughout the year to keep germs from spreading, especially during cold and flu season," said Dr. Laura A Jana, board-certified pediatrician and award-winning parenting book author.

Therefore, as much as it seems obvious on what we need to do to maintain better hygiene habits visit the Global Hygiene Council's website
here where tips are available to help prevent the spread of germs at home, school and work.

Let’s continue to help keep our kids healthy and guide them to establish proper health habits for them to grow with.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

ADHD Awareness Week

Starting today (October 16) through October 22 is ADHD Awareness Week.

I have been fortunate through my job to to have the opportunity to work on a very important project with five organizations comprising The ADHD Awareness Coalition. These groups, listed below, are helping to raise much-needed awareness about Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as it impacts nearly 13 million Americans including children and adults.

- ADDitude Magazine
- ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO)
- Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA)
- Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)
- National Resource Center on AD/HD (NRC)

Many adults, interestingly, can go through a majority of their lives and remain undiagnosed with ADHD yet experience symptoms of the disorder, which impacts their lives both personally and professionally. It's often when these adults become parents and have children and witness symptoms in their kids that they then start to recognize their own symptoms, as there is a fifty percent chance that if a child has ADHD that one or both parents has the condition as well.

This is one of many reasons why ADHD awareness and education is so important to help people of all ages living with this condition to better understand symptoms and its impact on various aspects of life including relationships, work, school and more.

To help address some of the issues associated with undiagnosed or under managed ADHD the Coalition recently commissioned a survey of their members to identify some interesting insights about life with the disorder. The survey of over 2,000 individuals included both parents of children with ADHD and adults living with the disorder.

The survey, recently revealed, shows that there is especially an impact of ADHD on both children in school and adults in their work environments. The latter included job loss, too many jobs or ongoing issues at work. Further, according to the press release "parents of children with ADHD reported additional diagnoses such as anxiety (29 percent), depression (19 percent) and sleep disorders (14 percent). Parents of children with ADHD who have not been diagnosed with a co-occurring condition reported they suspect their child may have anxiety (35 percent), depression (15 percent) or a sleep disorder (38 percent)."

"The theme for ADHD Awareness Week this year is 'Get the Facts,' because our goal is to ensure that every person in America understands that ADHD is a real brain disorder with real consequences," said Ruth Hughes, CEO of Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), a member of the ADHD Awareness Coalition. "We know that undiagnosed and/or untreated ADHD can have a tremendous negative impact on individuals with the disorder, as well as their families, friends and colleagues. The purpose of ADHD Awareness Week has always been to help the public and policy makers understand that the key to improving the lives of those individuals is education and awareness."

The ADHD Awareness Coalition urges all of us to "Get the Facts" and take action to manage ADHD symptoms. More information about ADHD Awareness Week, the supporting organizations, and treatment and strategy options for managing ADHD, is available at http://www.adhdawarenessweek.org./

Together, let's help to raise awareness and attention for ADHD to help our children have more satisfactory school and social life experiences so they can grow into adults with their condition under control and managed to help them lead more effective and impactful lives.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Inspired by Fall

With the beautiful change in seasons and great time spent with Sarah outdoors, here are some special, traditional Haiku.

The leaves are falling
And trees are changing colors
Red, yellow, orange

Time spent on the farm
Picking apples and pumpkins
Laughter and giggles

Sweet smell of cider
Yummy and delicious taste
A warm sensation

Much time at playgrounds
Running, jumping, climbing too
Spending time with friends

Scarecrows and pumpkins
Witches, goblins, and costumes
Soon to say trick, treat

Cool and brisk weather
Fun time riding bicycles
Enjoying the breeze

Riding swings and slides
Leaves beginning to fall down
Celebrating Fall

Creative arts, crafts
Decorate with leaves, pine cones
Great masterpieces

Nature inspires
Leaves of all shapes and sizes
Rocks, hay and pine cones

Wishing you a great Fall season. Hope you are enjoying the beautiful weather and crisp temperatures to enjoy many great outdoor activities including apple and pumpkin picking, playground play time, bike riding and many great and fun art projects inspired by nature.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Way to Help Kids Out of a Tantrum

As individuals, not just parents, we experience meltdowns, breakdowns and tantrums that get out of control and we stop thinking, and just react. It's usually during these times that we are feeling more than we are thinking and our emotions get the better of us.

Well, the same happens with our children.

For young children, especially, those not fully able to communicate clearly or have developing vocabularies, sometimes, many times will struggle to convey what it is they need or want, or think or feel and instead cry or shout it out.

When children become so caught up in a emotional breakdown they sometimes don't know how to stop, and may continue to cry or scream and be completely out of sorts until we come in to help them out of it.

I have experienced this behavior with Sarah where there are times she may just be tired or not get her way that she loses all mental strength to stay on track and has a meltdown of epic proportions.

As a result, I came up with an approach that I wanted to share with you, and something you may want to consider for your own kids. This process sort of came about on its own, out of desperation to help calm Sarah, but I believe it really works.

I call it RESTART.

R each out to
E ffectively
S tabilize
T antrums
A nd
R econnect with
T rust and support

How it works is you get down to the level of where your child is at, likely on the floor crouched over or in a corner on the couch or elsewhere. Once your child senses that you are there, and they are not lashing out or trying to push you away, which sometimes they might do, then get close enough to them and say to them "do we need a RESTART?"

At first, your child clearly won't know what this is. You then will begin to explain it slowly and in a low and calm voice. You will say to them that together we will say 1-2-3 and the word RESTART to start fresh and settle down. Children may grunt or turn away. Wait. Sit quietly. Then, try again.

Like Sarah, your children may stop the tantrum and try to figure out what it is your are saying to them. That is step 1. Their focus is now diverted.

Just the fact that you are next to them, at their level, trying to soothe them, helps to calm them down, eventually. If your kids are still crying and are out of sorts it may take a bit longer to get them engaged and for them to respond to RESTART.

Patience (which is not my strong suit) is important here especially if your child is accepting of your being in their close personal space at this moment and not yet ready to turn the tantrum off.

What I have realized with Sarah is that she gains the comfort from me being close to her, quiet and still, and knows that I am there to help and soothe her and to get her back to center.

If at first you say 1-2-3 RESTART and your child do not respond, try again after a short, quiet period, remaining next to them. Then, try it again and say, "Let's do this together. Let's say 1-2-3 RESTART and we can start fresh." Count with them and say the word RESTART with them as well.

There are times when I do this with Sarah and I cannot hear her as she says it really low, maybe sad for having gotten to this point. I then turn it into a game. I say things like, "I can't hear you. What was that?, Please say it with me, Let's say it louder."

Most times, after Sarah and I have reconnected with trust and support through the RESTART approach sometimes, many times, I can get a giggle or laugh out of her after the questions, such as those above, are applied.

Then, once we are back to center, with a kiss and a hug, I tell Sarah that I am not upset that she had a tantrum and thank her for letting me be there to support her when she needed me.

Where this RESTART concept works best is when children get caught up in their emotions many times due to fatigue that they don't know how to stop the tantrum in its tracks and need our help to get out of it and back to start.

Please know that where this RESTART concept does not work is if a child is having a meltdown after a negative behavior such as pushing, punching or doing something completely inappropriate. We should not dust under the rug bad behaviors and have children learn that we can just ignore them if we RESTART.

Using RESTART has become a habit in our house where if Sarah has an emotional breakdown either because she is tired, confused or sad about something, this process works beautifully. Sometimes, I am amazed at how well it works. It also works as a way to discuss the reason why our child was feeling so upset and sad. It can help to ignite a discussion that is more calm as a result.

Again, this approach will not work if there is a negative action that a child committed that led to the meltdown. It's when a child doesn't know which way is up or how to get out of how they are confused and feeling because they are emotional. As parents, we can help to bring our children back from their emotional setbacks by checking our emotions (e.g., frustration, anger, annoyance) at the door when these tantrums take place and be focused on being calm and in the moment with our child.

I have learned all too well (as I have been known to be a screamer and shouter telling Sarah what to do and not do) that yelling gets us nowhere. Sarah and I both become emotional and control of the situation is out the door.

Just the other night, Sarah was at the dinner table refusing to eat. While I don't condone this behavior I did realize that the day itself was packed with much activity and a she did not take a nap. So, knowing that Sarah was likely very tired her actions made sense. When given a choice whether to eat at the table or to go to bed she lost it. She went into a full on meltdown.

We let Sarah act out and get out of her system what she was feeling. Watching her and hearing what she was saying it was obvious that she was out of sorts and not sure what to feel because of fatigue. She really needed our help. After a short while I got close to her. At first she told me to go away. So, I stayed but remained quiet. A few moments later I asked her if she needed a RESTART. She said no. I accepted her response. She then became quiet. She rolled over to face me. I connected with her. I then asked her again if she needed a RESTART and she nodded yes. Together, slowly, we counted 1-2-3 and said the word RESTART. We ended with giggles and hugs. If you can believe this, Sarah came back to the dinner table devoured her food, played some more and went to sleep easily.

Unlike adults who have a greater ability to manage their emotions, children, especially young ones, sometimes need our help.

Give 1-2-3 RESTART a try. Contact me if you want my help to go through it by discussing it or role playing it out. I think this concept really works. Let me know how it works for you.

Good luck!!!

Yom Kippur: Time to Remember, Cleanse & Grow

For all who observe Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, I want to take this opportunity to wish you an easy fast.

For this time of year, we are closest to G-d cleansing our souls and also reflecting on life and remembering loved ones lost, and the millions of others who have sacrificed their lives over the years from devastation and destruction to pave the way of freedom for us.

How, as a mom am I to explain this to my nearly four year old daughter?

I think that it is still hard to do. If you have any insights please certainly share them with us all. If anything, I think that we hug our kids as tight as possible, cover them with kisses, tell them how they are loved and that their loved ones who are not with us anymore are watching down on them and revel in the joy their life brings to us.

It is this powerful time of year we ask G-d to accept our repentance, forgive the sins we have committed (including the ones against ourselves), and seal our verdict for a year of life, happiness and good health. We also ask for a sweet and abundant new year. At the commencement of Yom Kippur when the sun sets on Saturday evening we then eat a festive meal and spend time with family and friends.

Here are some special Yom Kippur Haiku:

This time of the year
We remember loved ones lost
Memories live on
...
Time for reflection
As we stop eating, drinking
Fasting and mourning
...
To an easy fast
And time for remembering
Lives of many lost
...
As we close the book
Let us take time to reflect
Open our hearts
...
To many lives lost
Your memory lives with us
Through eternity
...
G-d, please cleanse our souls
Of spite, gossip, bitterness
With hearts wide open
...
Time for forgiveness
To reflect, remember, change
Begin a new year

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Kids and Helmet Safety

There is no good excuse for why children should not be wearing a helmet when riding their bikes, including tricycles, scooters and skateboards.

And, when our children do wear helmets, they need to be worn properly. Just having it be on their head is not good enough. Helmets need to fit snug with the brim of the helmet on forehead and straps taught versus loose. For a helmet to work well, and to keep our kids safe they need to be worn the correct way. Here is a visual and tips on proper helmet fit.

I have been especially sensitive to this cause after seeing too many children riding or whizzing past without helmets on at all or them worn improperly.

A child may wear a helmet for years without ever falling off their bicycle or scooter. However, the one time they don't wear it something could happen. We may not think that the distance from a child's bike to the ground is high enough for them to injure themselves, but they can indeed. It's not the space between the riding object and the ground but what they may hit or ride over to cause a fall or take a turn too sharply.

To help provide tips on proper helmet safety, I have invited my brother, Brian Wagner, uber cyclist who rides hundreds of miles monthly to share with you important safety information available here, which he wrote for Examiner.com as the Hudson Country cycling writer.

My brother knows first hand the importance of proper helmet fit and safety. This past year, he was the victim of a terrible accident in which a moving vehicle faulted and hit him while he was riding his bicycle. Had it not been for helmet properly on his head, which took a beating in the accident, he might have suffered even greater injury than he already did, or worse, died. (This was such a scary time for all of us).

Another, very important point to know, which Brian addresses in his story, is that once a helmet has either been involved in an accident whether it be serious or not, or even falling on the floor especially from a high place, or wear and tear the old helmet should be discarded for use and a new helmet be secured in its place.

As parents, we do everything to protect our children from harm. Therefore, making sure they wear helmets while riding their bikes and scooters is certainly one way of doing this.

Even the most skilled cyclists and skate boarders wear helmets to protect their heads, which can sustain serious injury if not well protected.

Having heard of too many instances personally or seeing stories about other's experiences online where a child was riding too fast, took a turn too quick, or rode over a branch or rock that caused a fall over the handle bars are all reasons why children need, and should, wear helmets.

Even for our pickiest of kids, there are many helmet options to choose from that can keep our kids looking "cool." And, since kids in general can be feisty about being told what to do it's best to really institute this important behavior early on in their lives so they don't know any other way as they get older.

Sarah has been wearing a helmet since her first year when it was safe to put her on the back of a bicycle. She wears her pink helmet with Snoopy and Woodstock on it every time she rides her bike, scooter or big wheel. We soon will need to get her a new one as her head is getting bigger.

We may not think our kids need a helmet for a short ride or scoot, or because they are so skilled and careful. Anything can happen. Anything is possible. An analogy to consider, it's like driving a car. You can be the best driver and extremely cautious, but can still become victim of an accident due to unplanned variables or other careless drivers.

One other thing we need to do to help remind our children of the importance of wearing helmets is to wear them ourselves when we are riding our bikes, skate boards and more. We are to be good models for our children and showing them by setting the right example.

Let's continue to keep our kids safe.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Jewish New Year - L'Shana Tovah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is the beginning of one of my favorite, impactful, and challenging times of the year. It is a significant time dedicated to reflection, thoughts for change, memories of the past personally and historically, and commitment and plans for fresh starts personally, professionally, and in local, national and global communities. It's also a time for family gatherings, special meals and sweet tasting foods, especially apples and honey.

Rosh Hashanah is the start of a ten day period of celebration through Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement -- a solemn day that involves fasting, reflection and prayers.

Somewhat like the world's New Year, which takes place at the start of January, Jewish people commit to resolutions, but don't call them resolutions. For example, wanting to lose weight, quit smoking or start exercising are important life-altering behavioral changes, but on this holiday our commitments run deeper and involve change that centers around righting the wrongs we have done to others, and to ourselves, and to establish new paths for growth, change and Jewish learning moving forward. It's as if we get to the meaning behind how we feel, the anger we have against ourselves and the emotional and physical commitment to make a change.

Another example for me would be the importance of teaching Sarah now that she's getting older about Jewish heritage and culture, and to help her learn and understand history and traditions.

What I find even more special about this time of year is that it's a chance to look back over the last year, and truly reflect, and see what life has been like not just for us as individuals but as a world, and what has impacted us all.

It's this time in the year that many of us identify our accomplishments, which sometimes get dusted under the rug due to the busyness of life. It's time to look at the wrongs we have made and how to make them right. It's also time to learn ways in which we want to get more involved in local, nationwide and global communities to help make a difference.

With Sarah approaching the age of four, Daniel and I have a great responsibility to help educate her about Jewish life, traditions, values, and our religion's history. This is where I make my second commitment to learn more about Jewish history in a way that I can help explain it to her so that it ignites discussion and interest.

I look forward to educating Sarah on the traditions I grew up with and have fostered into adulthood, and creating new memories with her to have for years to come.

For those of us, where religion is an important part of our lives, it is our responsibility to help guide our children to understand what it means to BELIEVE, have faith and learn that there is a higher power beyond us in which we connect with emotionally and spiritually.

To all of us who are Jewish and celebrate this New Year, I wish you a sweet and joyous year, prosperity, love, happiness and, most importantly, good health.

Happy New Year. L'Shana Tovah.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stop Calling My Child Shy

If one more person tells Daniel or me that Sarah is shy I am going to scream. It's amazing, because the people who say this are the complete opposite of this temperament and; therefore, judging her because she is not as talkative or outgoing as they are.

For people who know Sarah, really know her, know that she is plenty loud and boisterous when she is comfortable with the people she is with. I consider her approach with people to be her defense mechanism kicking in early. She is not openly accepting of people, especially strangers, right away until she feels comfortable with them or the other person's eagerness to hold, hug, kiss or play with her dissipates. (The New Yorker inside of me is happy that she is like this. In many instances, I am completely fine with this demeanor and somewhat relieved by it too.)

It's interesting to see children be able to sense another person's discomfort. When this happens, in the case of Sarah, she will not gravitate to these types of people, until they become more at ease or stop trying too hard.

According to parenting expert Amy McCready, Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time (Tarcher/Peguin, August 2011) "we should never label our children as being a certain way." She further emphasizes that by labeling our children they will grow into these temperaments and may strongly start identifying themselves with these traits, when in essence they may not be an accurate depiction of who they are and how they act.

Just because a child is not as talkative or sometimes hides behind someone familiar (i.e., mommy or daddy) doesn't fully mean he or she is shy. Just because Sarah may hide behind me on occasion when she meets someone new or hasn't seen a family member or friend for a while does not make her shy. She needs time to adjust, and to process her surroundings. She takes her time to acclimate to the environment around her on her terms and not on the terms of others.

As a parent who often worries about the safety of her child for obvious reasons, it's this behavior that I admire much about Sarah. She is cautious and not one to run into everyone's arms with hugs and kisses right away without time in between to settle in and get acquainted.

Large gatherings and groups of people can be an overwhelming setting for children, adults too.

I think of an experience Daniel brings up every year around the holidays when family gets together for dinners and gatherings. He jokes and says, "at your family's house there could be 10 people and 20 conversations." He's right, as I grin writing this. It's true. What can I say? In instances like this, people like Sarah, and Daniel as well, don't feel the need to be part of the conversation and much rather prefer one-on-one communication in a much more intimate setting. They also don't feel the need to add yet another conversation to the mix or compete for the attention and; therefore, tend to appear more quiet and reserved. Sometimes this behavior is perceived as disinterest by others.

Once the playing time begins and another child is involved, then Sarah gets more involved, but on her terms and when she is ready. I have learned not to push her to do anything. I try hard to encourage her to try news things but at the pace that is acceptable for her. As parents, we want to motivate our children but certainly cannot push them to do things they are not comfortable with or which may cause them great stress.

Through McCready's Positive Parenting courses and books she provides valuable tips and approaches to help guide parents. She recently sent out an email tip sheet, to her members in which I am one of them, with the following information specifically about not labeling children and the timing was apropos for this blog post. I asked her permission to share that very information here with you.

What McCready is emphasizing is that we need to be understanding of our children's needs to help them establish coping skills so they do not feel pressured to step into situations that may cause undue stress or anxiety when pushed. It's certainly important for parents to work with their children, as Daniel and I have been doing with Sarah, to help them gain comfort.

We have heeded much of McCready's advice.

The following are McCready's exact pointers on how to help our children to successfully reduce anxiety in social situations:
  • Don't "label" your child as shy or let others label her. When we label children as “shy”, they are more likely to “assume” that label and act “shy.” When Mrs. Jones asks your child a direct question and she hesitates to answer, don’t say, “She’s just shy.” And don’t let Mrs. Jones label her by saying “Are you shy today, dear?” When others try to label your child, simply say…”No she’s not shy, just not terribly talkative today.” Or better yet, role play with your child what she will say… “I don’t care to talk today.” While this may be embarrassing for you, it’s better than having your child hide behind you or having you label her as “shy.”
  • Practice social skills. Role play talking to people and looking into their eyes. Encourage your child to focus on the color of the person’s eyes, as this makes your child appear more interested and confident. Practice using a “big” voice when you meet someone new and extending a hand for the other person to shake. Practice the words to use when meeting new friends... “Hi, I’m Emily – what’s your name?” Some children don’t feel comfortable in new situations or with meeting new people, but role playing these important social skills can increase their confidence – even for very young children.
  • Arrive early for parties or gatherings. This gives your child time to warm up and connect with one or two people before others arrive. (WE PRACTICE THIS ALL THE TIME ESPECIALLY WITH KID PARTIES, AND IT REALLY WORKS)
  • Don’t rescue. When your child refuses to answer, don’t coax or answer for her. Just continue on with your conversation and trust that your child will jump in when ready.
  • Don’t pressure! If your child feels that you are pressuring him to act in a certain way, it will likely escalate to a power struggle. He may “act shy” just to prove that you can’t “make” him talk.
  • Don’t over-protect. Expose your child to as many new experiences as possible. – but don’t pressure him to “perform.”
  • Use Family Meetings as an opportunity to get outside the comfort zone. Kids as young s four can take the role of “Meeting Leader” which offers practice speaking up and taking a leadership role in a safe, comfortable situation.
We have to remind ourselves as parents that we certainly don't like others telling us what to do. So, for our children, we need to be extra mindful of this as well for them. Kids don't need to be involved in lots of activities or have an abundance of playmates to have a good time.

For those who know Sarah and spend quality time with her know that she is incredibly bright, boisterous, energetic and playful, and more responsive to get involved once she is comfortable.

Sarah decides who and what makes her comfortable. What can I say? She knows what she wants. I can't argue that. I just have to be mindful of what makes her comfortable and not assume that she will gravitate as easily to situations as other kids might or as quickly as I would hope. She needs time to adjust.

I am not suggesting that we let our youngsters dictate what they want to do and who to do it with but instead to give them the necessary space to keep them comfortable but also with encouragement to get involved, make friends and meet new people.

I am always so impressed by how well Sarah can read people and their emotions or feelings. She's extremely empathetic. However, if a person were to try too hard to get Sarah's attention or affection she may be, and most likely will be, apprehensive. Some people have a calmer, less requesting nature that Sarah is more likely to gravitate too.

Being with Sarah is an investment in time for her. It's as if her trust needs to be earned. This is not her being shy. This is her being smart and cautious. And, I am very well okay with this.

I know that I am being defensive here when I say this, but the more that people call Sarah shy, the more she is going to start seeing herself that way. and I really want it to stop. I need to help make it stop.

Daniel and I certainly continue to work with Sarah to help her become more comfortable with people and in certain situations. We cannot force a child to do something they don't want to do, such as hug or kiss someone or expect them to go play with a certain kid or adult when it is requested of them. They have to do it on there own at their own pace.

How many times have we as parents experienced the beginning of a playdate or visit with friends or family starting off a bit awkward with our children taking time to get comfortable and settle in to then find later in the visit that it's impossible to tear them away from the fun they are having?

Children make their own choices as to what makes them comfortable. As adults, we many times do the same thing. We have to respect that. So, let's please be cognizant and mindful of the next time we see a quieter than usual child or one that is seemingly more cautious and not say he or she is shy. Let's instead give them the space to get comfortable, acclimate and settle in to the situation.

Think about how we feel when we go to a party or unfamiliar gathering. Some of us have no problem going up to people to introduce ourselves and mingle. Some of us do struggle with this and sometimes, as adults, need a drink or to see a familiar face to ease into the situation. The same holds true for kids (at least not the drinking part) at family gatherings and big events with lots of people and extraneous noise.

So, rather than labeling a child that seems quiet, reserved or who takes time to adjust as someone who is shy, instead give them their space to settle in and get comfortable and they will shine through.

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...