Category Archives: Mom Tip of the Day

perspective (alternate title: H is for “hold me…24 hours a day”

H likes to be held.

24 hours a day.

I like holding H.

I wish I could do it 24 hours a day.

Sometimes I need to try to put him in his swing or on his playmat for a few minutes so I can do frivolous things like laundry or dinner prep or open a childproof bottle of ibuprofin to relieve my aching back.  On occasion, I go completely nuts and try to take a shower.

He doesn’t like that.

As a result, I have learned to do things one handed.  And I shower when there is someone else available to hold him or during (precious!) naptimes.

He is not a colicky baby, because if I understand correctly (i.e. according to the go-to medical source “wikipedia”), colic is crying that occurs for no reason.

H has a reason.  It is “I am crying because no one is holding me!  I like to be held!  Even when I sleep!”

Still, even though we are not dealing with colic (thank you, God!), when I read the following quote about colic, it meant a lot to me.  It is powerful, applies to our situation (I believe), and has made me appreciate hat H lets us know that laundry, dinner and even showers can wait.  I read it a few weeks ago, and I can’t tell you how often I think about it when he starts crying because I had the nerve to put him in his bouncy chair so that I could load the dishwasher (as if I needed an excuse to avoid the dishes…let me hold that precious baby!), and when I am nursing a sore back because I have to wear him in the baby bjorn all day to get anything (anything!) done around the house.

Not a picture of H, since I'm having camera upload issues.  Instead is a picture of Nana and S during her similar "hold me!" phase.  God bless you, Nana!

Not a picture of H, since I’m having camera upload issues. Instead an archived picture of Nana & S during her similar “hold me! even as I sleep!” phase. God bless you, Nana!

I don’t know if this quote is true or not, but it offers a perspective that I need, and I’m posting it in case it helps anyone else!

From Dr. Alan Green:

“I believe that colic exists in order to change deeply ingrained relationship habits. Even after the miracle of a new birth, many parents and families would revert back to their previous schedules and activities within a few weeks – if the new baby would only remain quiet and peaceful. It would be easy to continue reading what you want to read, going where you like to go, doing what you like to do as before, if only the baby would happily comply. Instead, the baby’s exasperating fussy period forces families to leave their previous ruts and develop new dynamics which include this new individual. Colic demands attention. As parents grope for solutions to their child’s crying, they notice a new individual with new needs. They instinctively pay more attention, talk more to child, and hold the child more – all because of colic. Colic is a powerful rite of passage, a postnatal labor pain where new patterns of family life are born.”

You have our attention, H!

Our love too!

You always will.

Love,

Your mama

P.S. I do realize that in the previous blog post, H was lying contentedly on the boppy.  That was part of his disguise : )  (and we do try to catch the rare moments on film!)

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a “priceless” day at the fair, while on a budget

If you read the last post (http://wp.me/p1Auii-cI), you know how much we love the fair.  Here’s a behind the scenes peek at how we make it work without breaking the bank.  (Sorry if some of the this advice is too late for this year!  And I hope this comes across as “here’s what we try”, not “we have it all together”, because I assure you, we do not have it all together!)

But with that in mind, here’s how we keep it (i.e. us and our budget!) from falling completely apart!

–       Buy advance tickets (discount admissions, discount rides, and we love that kids 5 and under are free…the online advance tickets also offer an opportunity to “click here!” for a $20 rebate.  I clicked it, so I’ll either get a check in the mail or a virus on my computer…stay tuned to find out which!)

–       Find the free parking

–       Buy favorite foods (including typical fair foods) at the grocery store before the trip and eat them right before you enter the fair (we had hotdogs, yogurt and granola bars in the car, and the kids walked through the gates carrying popcorn from home in quart size ziploc bags…full tummies and a treat in hand before we saw the first vendor)

–       Set expectations.  Our kids knew they would each get to pick 2 rides and 1 treat before they entered the fairgrounds.  They also knew we were doing the free stuff first (“I’m saving your tickets until we see everything we might want to use them for!”) and eating treats last.  That meant that as we walked from one free activity to another, we had fun conversations about “is that the treat you’re going to pick?” …  “is that the ride you’re going to pick?” instead of begging to do things right then.

–       Know where the fun free things are.  I checked out a local mommy blog and got the 411 before we entered the gates.

–       Take special candy as a special surprise for when your kids need a fix.  (For us this meant breaking out the “Jessie the cowgirl” pez dispensers E had gotten as a birthday present and reloading them.)  Also take suckers (which my kids love and can carry with them for a while.) These came in handy for us when the girls found out the “goody bags” at one tent contained pickles (not their idea of a “goody”, and I offered to trade them the pickles for a sucker).  Extra tip: hide these treats until the moment you need them, so they are a preventative tool instead of something else to beg for!

–       If the kids can ride by themselves, let them.  We assumed we would have to ride with the girls this year (and budgeted accordingly, telling the girls they could each pick 2 rides).  When we discovered they were ok riding alone, that meant we had saved the tickets it would have cost for mom or dad to ride, and the kids could choose extra activities.  (Side note: if part of the family fun is doing it all together, then ignore this or find a balance.  Dad and I each did one ride with the kids.)

–       Do a “looking loop” before your kids pick their rides.  (Our kids are familiar with the language of “looking vs. buying trips” to the store.)  Our looking loop allowed for informed decisions and prevented later disappointments.  The way ours worked:  dad went to have our advance purchase passes converted into real tickets while I did our loop through the Kiddie Land rides with the kids.  Every time they said, “I want to do that right now!”, I could respond, “This is just a looking loop!  I don’t even have the tickets yet!  We have to choose what rides we want to do, then go meet dad to get the tickets.”  After we had seen lots of things to choose from, we had a conversation about what they wanted to do.  (Side note: we encouraged our kids to agree on rides, since it seemed easier and more fun to have them enjoy rides together.  This was pretty easy for us, since (a) they are close in age and (b) E’s excitement about a ride convinced S and vice versa.  When we realized we had a few extra tickets, they decided to spend them on separate rides, so mom and dad split chaperoning for that part and it was no problem.

–       Don’t forget an extra picnic meal with drinks!  We had a picnic dinner and included special drinks (the kids could choose a juice box or they could split the can of Sprite I had brought from home).  After dinner, they got to pick their one treat each at the fair.  They chose ice cream and cotton candy and shared with each other. (I overheard the cutest conversation between E & S about how if they chose different things, they would actually get a taste of two treats; they love it when they think they’ve outsmarted us!)  Note: budget extra if mom and dad are getting treats too.

–       If you can, splurge a little or find a way to make a special activity work.  The girls wanted to ride a horse.  E had been saving her birthday money from Grammy and Grandpa for that opportunity and the fair proved to be just the place.  E was thrilled, and Grammy and Grandpa were a big part of our fair day even though they were faraway (we called them in NY to tell them all about the horses!).  Thanks again for the pony ride, Grammy and Grandpa!

–       Dress in layers.  We threw fleeces under the stroller.

–       Don’t assume your “bigger preschool kids” will be able to walk the whole time.  We took our double stroller and were so glad we did.

–       Avoid the most crowded days if you can.  If you have preschool aged children, try for a weekday morning.  We went right after we picked up E from Kindergarten and had a blast from 3:30-7:30.  Weekends tend to be the most crowded.  (And although we love discount days, this year we decided that saving $12 was not worth the mayhem level crowds that our fair’s special day would save us.)

–   Set your own expectations for behavior accurately.  With young kids, there are bound to be “moments”.  Time it around naps, etc. where your kids have the best shot at success, manage when necessary, and focus on the positive.  At least if someone has a meltdown, you were in an area where the viewing public had lots of more interesting things to look at (the fair!) instead of on aisle three at Target, where we always seem to attract an inordinate amount of attention.

I think that’s most of it.  Bottom line: we had our fun fair day for around $50 (under $30 if I get the rebate…of course it will be over $1K if the rebate button was a hoax that actually opened a portal of doom on my computer…I’m choosing not to think about that…).

Anyway, I know there’s a mastercard commercial in here somewhere that ends, “a day at the fair: priceless”, but laundry calls so instead of writing it all, I’ll just stick with that punchline, and say that if you are so inclined, we hope you enjoy your well-budgeted/priceless day at the fair!

Mom Tip of the Day (re: game day buffet)

With three kids ages five and under, you can imagine what I look like trying to move our crew through a buffet line (like the one we were blessed to have access to yesterday while cheering on our beloved Tar Heels).  Now picture us carrying our food to a place where everyone needs to eat while holding plate in their lap (i.e. the stadium seats at yesterday’s game).

Are you picturing food everywhere except in the children’s mouths?

Ahh, then you’ve seen us . . . if not at the game, then in similar situations, such as (1) potlucks with limited seating, or (2) when the kids get their “movie night” treats (popcorn, M&M’s, etc.) from our own “kitchen buffet” and eat it all on the couch.

Our solution?

(1)  Sippy cups for drinks, and

(2)  Buffet food in a regular cup instead of on a plate.

Yesterday this meant we

(1) took clean, empty sippy cups with us to the game (can’t carry in liquids!), and filled those once at the soda fountain.  Viola, the kids can carry their own gameday drinks without spilling.

and

(2) used our big, no-lid, soda fountain cups to hold food from the buffet line.  Viola!  The girls are carrying their own hot dogs and grapes.

End result: Each kid carried her own dinner; mom carried the baby; baby carried a pacifier (it came out of his mouth as soon as he saw the hot dogs), and everybody wins (including the Tar Heels, 28-17!)

What goes up, must come down (alternate title: the wisdom of Nana)

T has entered the climbing phase of childhood.  Today, I walked into the living room to find him standing on top of the ottoman.

It reminded me of the day, almost four years ago, when E learned to climb on the same ottoman.

I called my mom, “Nana”, in a panic.

You can imagine this conversation:

Me (in an exasperated frenzy): “Mom.  It’s crazy!  We got rid of our glass coffee table because we couldn’t childproof it and bought this soft ottoman just so E would be safe.  And now – here she is – standing on top of it!  She could fall!  So I keep pulling her off, but she keeps climbing back up there and screaming.  I am absolutely at my wits end.  We’re going to have to get rid of this too… or I’m going to have to put a gate around it… or …

Nana (very, very calmly): “Or you could just teach her how to climb down.”

Hmmm… 

If only Nana’s genius were hereditary…

(I am her oldest daughter; wouldn’t you think I would have inherited some part of it?)

Oh well, at least I have had the opportunity to learn a lot from Nana – at that moment and since then…

And she is still, always, only a phone call away.

Thank you Nana.

(E thanks you too.  By the way, she helped me teach T to climb down!)

Mom tip of the day (re: Class Lists)

We just returned home from our beach vacation (details coming soon!), but had to pause our unpacking for one quick, time-sensitive post.  Credit to a mom friend for sharing this tip at yesterday’s neighborhood back-to-school social.  (Can you believe E starts Kindergarten on Friday?!)

Class lists are posted today, so we’ll find out who E will have as her teacher and who her classmates will be.  I know this will be a bigger deal in future years (when we actually know all the teachers and she is more attached to specific friends at school), but even now we are hopeful that her class list will have at least a few familiar names (i.e. kids we have met at summer school socials, etc.)

Anyway, the lists are posted on the school doors at 3pm, and apparently it is a mob scene. We won’t go right at 3, but have been advised that whenever we go we should take a camera, snap a quick picture of the list, then have it for reference once we get home.

The lists are not posted online, and having a photo copy sure beats copying it down by hand or meeting someone tomorrow (at our final summer school social) and not being able to remember if they’re in E’s class or not.   And I would never have thought to take a camera to snap a photo of the list if the mom-friend hadn’t shared the idea.  (She has an older child and says many parents do this every year.  Who knew?)

Keep E in your prayers this week.  She has a big transition coming up.  (As do her siblings and mama, who are really going to miss her during the schoolday!)

Mom Tip of the Day (learned from a friend) Re: School Shopping

(disclaimer:  this is a “niche” post, likely only relevant to parents of pretty young kids with a certain type of school shopping list!)

E is entering Kindergarten in the fall, so this is the first year we have been given a list of supplies that we are required to send with her to school.  I had not yet purchased the supplies when I ended up in a conversation with several girlfriends who had just returned from the stores.

One of the ladies reported that what she had hoped would be a wonderful shopping trip that would help get her rising Kindergartener excited about school (exactly what I was envisioning experiencing with E before this conversation) had actually turned into a difficult trip full of explanations about how Kindergarten was a place where certain things were required.

Her analysis of what went wrong:

Her school gave her a very specific list of things she was supposed to purchase (i.e. the “black-and-white composition notebook”).  A lot of the super exciting things her child saw in the store’s school section were not on that list (i.e. the spiderman notebook!)  End result: a frustrating trip and a (temporarily) unhappy child (emphasis on “temporarily”… she is a master mom and she fixed it…)

But despite her ability to enact this damage control, she wished aloud that she had just gone to the store on her own, purchased the required items, and then celebrated unpacking all the items with her rising Kindergartener at home.  (“Look at this stuff for school!  Crayons!  Pencils!  A new notebook!  You are going to have so much fun!”)

E’s school supply list is less specific (i.e. we can purchase any notebook we want…), but states that all items will be placed into a community pile (i.e. could be assigned to any child).  That is a different scenario than my friend’s, but one that another mom with older kids pointed out should require a similar mindset.  E shouldn’t get attached to a specific notebook unless we can help her become excited about contributing it to the classroom, because she will likely spend the year watching it go home with another child.

So I took my friends’ advice, went shopping while the girls were at camp, and had a very fun interaction with E showing her the very fun supplies that would be part of a big pile in her Kindergarten classroom.  We focused on what these “clues” could tell us about life in Kindergarten instead of getting attached to specific items.  Who knows how it will play out, but for now she is excited about school and about her contributions to the classroom pile.

Meanwhile, I am excited to have such great friends who love my kid enough to let me learn from their experiences. Their kids are truly blessed to have such caring mamas.  And I get to learn from – and be around – them, so how blessed am I?!