Monday, August 31, 2009

Journey to the Center of Target

One of the most overwhelming tasks these days is my perpetual visit to Target. Target is one of the most daunting stores in The United States. You can buy pretty much anything there, which is why I dread setting foot in it. There are simply too many items that somehow make it into my shopping cart.

Today was the day that I had to brave the red bulls eye. My son and I geared up our energies and set out to Target.

At first when we arrived, he was not pleased.


But then his attitude completely changed when he realized that he could help with the shopping. His help consisted of holding (and intermittently playing with) boxes of things.

As usual, I purchased too many items to carry home, so they all had to go in the stroller; which meant that my son had the exciting task of pushing the stroller. He was thrilled. See for yourself:


video

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Baby Shower...With a Baby

Yesterday afternoon I attended the baby shower of someone I didn't know at all. It was a fascinating experience. I think this picture summarizes it best:

Truly, it was all a blur. I knew none of the guests nor the guest of honor. And I think the most surreal part of the experience was that I brought an actual baby to the baby shower. The whole time I kept thinking I wanted to stand up on a chair, point to my son and say "Exhibit A! This will be your child in one year!"

My boyfriend was my connection to this particular shower an he was off helping his friend (the male counter part of the guest of honor) during the majority of the event. So I was left to my own devices to people watch and eat West Indian and Spanish food.

My son entertained himself by attempting to collect all of the pink and purple balloons. I attempted to make conversation with women I didn't know at all. I think he had the easier of the two tasks.

The women wanted nothing to do with me. And believe me I tried. I was mentally and emotionally sweating by the end of this thing.

I asked the mother of a two year old if her daughter still threw tantrums. I offered up first that my son was still a tantrum offender. Her response was a monosyllabic:

"Yes." And then she turned away from me and started to talking to her friend.

I was getting desperate. My son smiled at a woman who happened to be sitting next to me. So I took this as a chance to make conversation. I casually joked:

"Uh oh. I think he's flirting with you!"
She smirked, and turned back to her food and began talking to her real friend.

Did I smell bad? Was I wearing the wrong shirt? Why wouldn't they talk to me?

In the end, I accepted the fact that I was an outsider at this event. And there was nothing I could do to change my status.

But I will say, the food was quite excellent.

The Musical Process


video

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"The Now"

Although I don't like to admit it, I like routine. I enjoy having a schedule; knowing what my plans are for the upcoming day, week and even month. Having a child has allowed me to foster a shameless love affair with my calendar.

Pre-child, I would have identified as more of a spontaneous person who occasionally dated routine; but never had a serious relationship with it. Well, times have changed and routine and I are officially in love.

Where am I going with this? Today I received communication that threatened the course of my routinized life. So I reacted in the most appropriate way I could think of: I panicked.

I promptly called my mom and asked her what to do.

"Mom! I thought I had everything planned out. But now XYZ just happened and I don't know what to do!" I exclaimed

My mom felt my fierce rays of anxiety penetrate through the telephone. She took a deep audible breath and responded:

"You can't worry about XYZ right now. You have to focus on that you are doing at this moment. XYZ is going to happen regardless of whether or not you worry about it, so why bother? Focus on the now."

"THE NOW."

From her response, it was apparent that my mother had just come out of a mediation session. But she did have a point. I was so worried about an event undercutting my tomorrow, the next day and the day after that, that I had totally lost sight of what I was doing at that very moment.

"Thanks Mom." I said. And breathed a sigh of relief. I hung up the phone, walked over to where my son was playing and I (myself) started building with blocks.



We sat there together (my son and I) creating indecipherable colorful structures and then it hit me:

My son is only concerned with this very moment. He is enjoying playing with his blocks. He doesn't care about tomorrow, or next week or even next month. All that concerns him is right now. This is "the now" that my mom was referring to.

So for today, I have put my schedule out of my mind. I am focusing on "the now."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fear Itself

When I was riding the subway today, I let my mind wander (as I tend to do on public transportation) and I began thinking about fear. As a child I was afraid of many things: roller coasters, big dogs, large social gatherings, my parents never coming home when I was left with a babysitter, just to name a few.

Then I thought about my son. What will he be afraid of?



I want him to be able to conquer his fears as I never had a chance to do with many of mine. Although I am no longer afraid of large canines, I still will not get on a roller coaster and parties continue to make me nervous. I suppose conquering one's fears is a process and is multifaceted. One thing is evident, parental encouragement to face one's fears can only help alleviate them.

What I realized (when I reflected back on my childhood) is that my parents were respectful of my fears; they validated the fact they were real (which was helpful and made me feel secure) but they did not push me to face them.

This is not to say that it was their responsibility to help me face my fears. I am the only person who can truly do this. I was mainly thinking about what a parent's role can be with regard to their child's fears.

Furthermore, I wonder what can I do to instill confidence in my son so that he has the tools to conquer his fears head on. I want him to experience life and take risks that I never took because I was too afraid to leap.

Sometimes being cautious is an asset, other times being too careful leads one to miss out on life experiences.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"The Passion of the Hausfrau" - My Sardonic Companion

After I had my son, I virtually stopped reading altogether. I was barely sleeping and eating, so needless to say reading went on the back burner. The only book I seemed to keep reading over and over again was "Goodnight Moon," and it wasn't for my own benefit. I will say, though, that my son starts to beam each time I say "In the great great room there was a telephone!" The first line of this classic children's book.

Recently, my friend Josina recommended a book to me that she really enjoyed.

"You must read this book, Sarah!" She said "You will love it!"

The book she spoke of was "The Passion of the Hausfrau" By Nicole Chaison


I finally got it together and requested the book from the Brooklyn Public library.

As soon as I started reading "The Passion of the Hausfrau," I fell in love with Nicole Chaison. She is the sarcastic yet sensitive and thoughtful voice that I could not find within the pages of "Goodnight Moon" no matter how many times I read it aloud to my son.

Nicole Chaison epitomizes how I feel on a daily basis. I particularly relate to this passage:

"The day started like any other. I awoke to the heaping piles of unfinished business and other people's crap that lay about the house, and so I rolled up my sleeves and made a big pot of coffee, drank it, and then became a jittery, scattered, overwhelmed shrew unable to deal with any of it." (Chaison, p. 169)

I love this woman. Nicole Chaison is not some generic mother who doles out boring parenting advice. She is a hilarious, intelligent human being who happens to have two kids that frequently appear in her anecdotes.

The headings of her vignettes are clever and often made me laugh aloud. Here are some examples of her chapter titles: "The Tale of The Dunkin' Donuts Drive Thru Debacle," "The Tale of Republican Man," "Home Renovation, or How it Came to Be that I Sat in Cat Diarrhea."

Chaison's book chronicles her life with her husband and two children in a brutally honest way. She admits when she makes mistakes with her kids, like when she decided to write a "love note" to her eight year old son and leave it in his lunch box. When he came home, he told her that she had embarrassed him in front of his friends.

There is a particularly funny section where she recounts how the events of the day surrounding her children lead to the depletion of serotonin molecules in her brain. Such events include her daughter peeing on the living room floor and her son refusing to eat tofu.

When I read "The Passion of The Hausfrau," I felt like I had found a book that portrayed motherhood as it really is; funny, challenging, maddening, rewarding and heartwarming.

For more information on "The Passion of The Hausfrau." visit Nicole Chaison's website here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Trip To FAO Schwarz Story Time With Mint

Although I am with my son the majority of the time, there are days when I have to work. Today was one of those days. Instead of spending the day with his mama, my son had the pleasure of spending time with my best friend, Mint, who I have known since I was 12 years old.


On this particular day, Mint took my son to FAO Schwarz for their Barefoot Books Story Time session which occurs at 11am, 1pm and 3pm on Tuesdays and is FREE! Actually, Barefoot Books Story Time occurs almost daily. See end of post for details.

Since I wasn't there for this excursion, I think it's only fair that I interview Mint, personally, about their day together.

1. How was the subway ride there?

It was fun. I was guaranteed a seat! I loved that every time the doors opened at a stop, Ari pointed and said "AAh!" And then I would say "Not yet." And he would relax until the next stop.


He also liked staring intently (menacingly?) at whoever sat next to me.

2. How did Ari react to all the toys?

He seemed perplexed and slightly frustrated by the many toys in boxes. It was like the possibility of toys without actually being able to play with them.




We did find some open toys which interested him briefly. He had more fun watching other kids and pushing the stroller.

**Please note, this video was taken after Ari had already pushed the stroller in a circular motion four times. By this point he was tiring of it.

video


3. Did he get to see the piano from the movie "Big"?

He wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. He was basically like "get me off this thing now!" I thought he might cry but he didn't. He was more interested in the large windows behind it overlooking 58th Street.




4. How did he like Story Time?

Since we went to the later Story Time, he was pretty exhausted by that point. He almost took a nap on one of the pillows that were put out to sit on. During the first story he was more interested in the babies and one of dads. He really enjoyed the songs and the guitar. And I know he was paying attention to the second story, because when an older kid sat in front of him blocking the book, he started pointing frantically at him until he moved.



6. Sounds exciting! Did he nap at all during the day?

Very briefly in the morning. And then (as expected) he conked out on the train ride home. Right before he fell asleep, I even used his sleepiness as a justification for why he would not smile at the lady sitting next to me no matter how much she waved at him in attempt to break his intense stare.


It sounds like a great day! Mint even brought back an event calender from Barefoot books. For more information about Barefoot Books Story Time, visit their website here.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Adiri Natural Nurser Giveaway!

A few months ago I had the opportunity to review the Adiri Natural Nurser, a bottle that is specifically designed for breast-fed babies. See review here. I know, it sounds like a paradox, a bottle for breast fed babies; but the Adiri Natural Nurser was created with the breast fed baby in mind. Many breast fed babies who have previously refused other bottles have accepted the Adriri Natural Nurser.

Adiri recently wrote to me and told me that they had made some improvements on the Natural Nurser. They offered to send me a sample bottle to use as a giveaway on my blog. I'm happy to report that it has arrived!


The bottle Adiri sent is the fastest flow: 6 month +. The improvements are as follows:
  • Improved bottle design that eliminates leaks
  • Free Warming Disc
  • Beautiful new package with clear, helpful instructions
Giveaway Contest:

Email your funniest baby story to oldschoolnewschoolmom@gmail.com. The winner will receive the Adiri Natural Nurser!

Good luck!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's Getting Hot in Here!

August 2009, Brooklyn, NY. The weather outside is 90 degrees or more. When I walk outside it feels like I am walking into a pizza oven. The sidewalk is emanating heat.

Inside it is just as hot. Our air conditioner is on the fritz and everyone in the apartment notices the intense wave of pure unadulterated heat. Especially my son.

We had to strip this perpetually zooming toddler down to his diaper in order to combat the intense rays of pure hot that invaded our apartment. I was having fantasies of taking my son and a sleeping bag and camping out in a movie theater for the exclusive pleasure of capitalizing on its powerful air conditioning.

Last night, my son was not having the heat. Even his best friend, Egreck the cat could not make him smile by the end of the evening.


Though he gave it his best shot, not even Rupert the infamous platypus was successful at invoking a smile on this hot toddler's face.


It was just too hot. In fact, it was so hot in my son's room, even with the ceiling fan blasting and a fan directly pointing on him he was still unhappy. My boyfriend and I racked our brain for a solution. We took him into the living room with us where the air conditioner was limping along. I tried to have him sleep on my chest. He would fall asleep for a few moments and then wake up when one of the cats moved or jumped over the baby gate.

We opened up the pack and play and stuck it directly in front of the handicapped air conditioner.


I put my son in the pack and play and rubbed his head. After much head rubbing and praying to Hashem, he finally drifted off to sleep around 10pm.

For those of you out there with small children and a broken air conditioner, I feel your pain. For people out there with no air conditioner, I am truly sorry. The heat can make anyone lethargic and potentially grouchy.

On that note, I'm off to share a cold glass of water with my son.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Stroller: Don't Leave Home Without it!

The stroller was invented to make the lives of parents a little bit easier. Here's how it all began:

England 1733: William Kent, a garden architect, was asked by the Duke of Devonshire to design a portable device to carry his children around in. Kent came up with a baby carriage.*

United States 1889: William Richardson improves on Kent's idea and copyrights the "reversible stroller," a bassinet that can face inward toward the pusher or outward to see the surrounding world.**



England 1965: Owen Maclaren, an aeronautical engineer, inspired by frequent trips with his daughter from England to America, designs a portable light weight stroller which is ideal for traveling. This stroller is called the the "Maclaren Buggy," or the " B-01." Though they have been modified over the years, Maclarens are still popular today.***


Which leads me to today's story. I am the proud owner of a Maclaren. My sister-in-law gave it to me when her daughter out grew it. Thank you, Rosa! Today, however, I made the mistake of leaving it at home.



I thought to myself, my son is finally walking (at 15 months), I'll let him have a chance to practice his new found skill. I left the house around 9:30am. By 10:00am I was regretting my decision to go stroller-less.

9:30am: We leave the house and jump in the car sans stroller. We drive.

10:00am: Get to Josina's house feed her cat (She and her brood are away on vacation)

11:00am: We leave Josina's house and drive to the bank.

11:30am: After a half an hour of looking for parking, I illegally park at a parking meter and do not insert any money into it because I have no change. I take my son out of the car seat and head into the bank.

11:35am: While carrying my 22 lb baby into the bank, I spot a giant white and blue cake that reads "Chase Bank" and appears to have chocolate pudding the center. I steal a piece. I shovel the majority of the cake into my mouth at warp speed hoping that my child doesn't ask for some. Sugar + toddler = hyper. He does. I give him a very small chunk at the end.

11:40am: While waiting in line to make a deposit, my son decides that he wants to visit each and every Chase worker in their cubicles. One of them takes pity on me and offers to take my cash and deposit it personally so I don't have to wait on line. I sit in his cubicle (which conveniently has two chairs - one for me and one for my perpetually roaming toddler). Miraculously, my child sits in the second chair, while the banker tells me about his 10 month old girl named "Sage."

11:55am: I carry my son out to the car and breathe a sigh of relief when I find I didn't get a ticket. I can't decide whether or not I should go to Barnes and Noble and buy books for my class or get them from the library. I drive around aimlessly while I am in the midst of vacillating between the two choices. In the mean time my son falls asleep.

12:15pm: I simultaneously find a parking spot and a library. I take my son out of his car seat, which wakes him up. I carry him into the library. While I ask the librarian if he has any of the books I need for my class, my son wiggles out of my arms, runs up to a stack of children's books and begins throwing them one by one onto the floor. I am too tired to stop him.

12:30pm: The first library did not have any of the books I need. The librarian informed me that the Central library only carries one of the zillion books that I have to read. I drive to the Central library. I park in the parking lot at the Brooklyn Museum. I take my son out of his car seat. As soon as we exit the parking lot I put him down on the sidewalk so he can walk. He turns around and walks in the opposite direction of where we have to go. After several attempts to get him to walk in the right direction I give up and carry his 22 lb body to the library.

12:40pm: By the time we get to the library, both my child and I are drenched in sweat. As soon as he sees the shelves of books he runs up to them, and pulls a book onto the floor: Lewis Carroll's Jacberwocky. I determine that this means he wants to borrow it. I oblige.

12:45pm: I approach the reference desk to ask for my book. As I am asking the kind and patient librarian for his help, my son (once again) wiggles out of my arms and runs out into the library lobby shouting "Da da da da!."



Each time I almost tell the librarian the title of the book I am looking for, my son runs away and I have to run after him. This happens at least five or six times before I manage to blurt the title out successfully.

12:50pm: We get to the stairs that lead up to the second floor mezzanine where my book is waiting for me. My son climbs the stairs and as soon as he is done, he attempts to go right back down them. I turn him around in the correct direction and off he goes running. Library patrons are sitting at tables reading and furiously jotting notes down, all the while my child is screaming "Ba ba ba ba!" and searching for things to destroy.

1pm: I find the book and miraculously manage to check it out, but not without some dramatics. My son tries to cut at least five people in line.

1:05pm: We stop at the library cafe for some snacks (pretzels and goldfish), half of which my son eats and half of which he decorates the floor with.

1:10pm: We leave the library and make a sweaty trip back to the car. I alternate carrying him and letting him walk in the wrong direction. An unhelpful stranger points out "He's very independent!" I want to kill her.

1:20pm: We arrive at the car and drive to the grocery store. We enter the grocery store, and all hell breaks loose. My child zooms down the bread and crackers aisle. He promptly throws five loaves of bread on the floor. I quickly pick put them back. He does the same with six boxes of Townhouse crackers, I put them back. He grabs a box of ice cream cones and runs throughout the store chanting "Aya ya ya ya ya!" I finally manage to distract him with the grocery cart which he insists on pushing.

We get the the dairy aisle. He grabs a container of light yogurt and chucks it on the floor with such force that it explodes. I apologize to the grocery store employee who is stocking the shelves and offer to pay for it. He says "It's okay, happens all the time!"

1:25pm: We finally get to check out, thank goodness. We see my son's girlfriend Cynthia. She loves him and always asks when he is going to take her out on date.




1:30pm: After stopping to share a banana with my son, I manage to carry both him and the groceries to the car. I don't know how.

2pm: We arrive home and with the help of my dad, who graciously opens the door for us, we make it back to the apartment.

Folks, this hectic day was made even more hectic for one reason; I had no stroller with me. Everything I had to do took twice as long. Had I brought the stroller, the destructive incidents involving books, bread and yogurt could have been prevented.

A word to the wise: if you have a toddler and you are going on an outing, bring your stroller. William Kent didn't invent it for nothing.


*Preliminary information obtained from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Kent
Further verified by the book: William Kent, Architect, Designer, Painter, Gardener By Michael I. Wilson.

**Preliminary information obtained from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_transport
Further verified by http://www.google.com/patents?id=SqBYAAAAEBAJ&printsec=abstract&zoom=4&source=gbs_overview_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q=&f=false

***Information obtained from http://www.maclarenbaby.com/gb/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=137&Itemid=479



Saturday, August 8, 2009

Will You Go Out With Me?

Ah the single life! I remember those days well. When I could sleep in on Saturdays and stay in my pajamas all day long. Those days are gone. Today, sleeping in is an urban legend.

As far as staying in my pajamas all day, this is not a viable option. The main reason is that my son wants to go out. I'm not sure what happened, but he hit 15 months and all of a sudden he is obsessed with leaving the apartment. He finishes breakfast and as soon as he gets down from the high chair, he walks over to the front door of the apartment, points to it and babbles in his alien baby language. He wants out. I haven't even had my coffee yet, I can't even fathom leaving the apartment.

Usually, I'm pretty good about taking him where he wants to go; out. We leave the house when I am properly caffeinated, relatively clean and dressed. But the other day, I had a paper to write for my graduate level education class. My dad graciously offered to take my little man to the playground.


I accepted, but with one condition; he must take pictures. Here's what he came back with:









It looked like my son had a great time. On the one hand I was glad he got to spend time with his grandpa. On the other hand, I felt guilty that I handed him off to my dad and that I wasn't with him to experience to the playground myself. Instead I was stuck inside comparing and contrasting the educational philosophies of Booker T. Washington and W.E. Du Bois.

The next day, I faced my mom guilt and took him on a playground excursion of my own:




I have realized that my child is at a point where he needs to get out every day. It is non-negotiable. He can no longer sit with a bunch of toys and play in the house for long periods of time. He is ready to get outside and run around.

I must take his energetic nature into account when planning my day:

Coffee= Check!
Playground Time= Check!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What Not to Wear - Baby Boy!

In the spirit of Stacy London and Clinton Kelly from the TLC hit show "What Not to Wear," I would like to address the issue of baby boy clothing.

When I was pregnant and found out I was having a boy I was thrilled. I was also a little relieved. I was relieved because of a superficial reason; the clothing. I figured if I were having a girl and told my friends and family the news, I would have an influx of pink clothing that I could not control. I don't care for frilly pink dresses myself, and I certainly would not have liked to see my daughter clad in such attire.

So I embraced the testosterone coming my way. Little did I know that there are also issues (albeit different ones) associated with baby boy clothing.

My boyfriend's parents recently sent me some clothes for my son. I have to say I was impressed. They selected some really nice items.




These are great and rare. They are atypical of baby boy clothing you might find in any store USA.

The truth is, most baby boy clothing usually has one of the following items included on the fabric:
--A reference to a generic sports team
--Cars and/or trucks
--An animal of some kind; i.e. bear, dog, dinosaur etc.
--A silly quote that the company wants the baby to "say" i.e. "Don't Mess With the Best!"

I'm okay with the dinosaurs and some dogs and bears, even a few cars and trucks sometimes. But the generic sports teams gotta go.

For example, these pants are pretty neat


But if we look a little closer...we find this:

As far as I know, babies are unable to play basketball. Therefore this logo makes absolutely no sense.

I would like to make a statement to the manufacturers of baby boy clothing in the form of a rhyme: Baby boys don't need all this hullabaloo. How about some stripes or a solid or too?

I'm not opposed to text on baby boy clothing; but how about some text that has some meaning? For example. My mom saved some of my old nursey school tee shirts. My son now wears them:


These are retro and cool looking.

My friend Josina and I were complaining to one another about the baby boy clothing issue yesterday. She has decided to take matters into her own hands. She is tired of the generic sports teams, the cars and trucks and even the dinosaurs. She is in the process of creating custom made baby boy overalls for her son Nelson. I'll keep you posted on those.

Baby boys deserve to have clothes that represent them for the cute kids that they are. Now here this baby boy clothing manufacturers everywhere: No more ridiculous sayings and sports teams that don't exist. Let our boys go out in style!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Write it Down!

Taking a break from technology, I would like to focus on something relatively simple; writing. I am literally referring to the process of taking a pen into your hand, forming letters that eventually become words and words that eventually become sentences. I am about to disarm many of you with this statement:

I cannot remember the last time I wrote something down!



I've been using a computer for so long that I barely have the opportunity to use paper and pen. This scares me.

What scares me even more is the fact that our kids will write even less then we did when we were children. I remember working hard to learn to hold a pencil. Then it was on to learning to construct letters in print. Finally, the dreaded cursive. I hated writing in script because it was so difficult to loop letters together in a fancy way. 

Today, schools (public and private) are filled with computers. Children still learn the fundamentals of reading and writing, but as soon as they are able they are typing away. Where does this leave the old paper and pen?



Will our children still be as proficient writers if they are using computers 90% of the time? Look at our world: nearly everything is computer-based. From writing an email to checking your bank balance, it's all done  on the computer. 

So what do we do as parents? We create activities with which to use paper and pen with our children. Since our society is computer-based, we must re-introduce the paper and pen. This means we sit down with our kids and write real letters (with stamps and all) to send to relatives who live out of town or even in town! We draw with our children. Find an excuse to get off the computer and use some ink and tree carcass!



Ball point, felt tip, blue, black or red ink; It doesn't matter which one you choose. Just break it out and start writing! 

The Cat Chronicles

I have mentioned in previous posts how much my son loves Egreck, my gregarious and surprisingly malleable black cat. I have several pictures of the two snuggling together. But now there's even more tangible evidence of my son's love for his feline friend, Egreck. It is documented on video!
Align Center
The Cat Chronicles

video

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Video Diary of a Toddler

Adults lead busy lives, but so do children; especially toddlers. There is a lot on the agenda for a toddler. Whether it's collecting office supplies and then promptly destroying them, chasing the household pets, or finding out what's inside a box and then eating it, regardless of whether or not it is objectively edible. All of these are part of an exciting day in the life of someone who recently began walking and talks in their own alien language.

Here are three videos of my son doing what he does best; being a toddler:

1. Reinforcing the Importance of Office Supplies

video


2. Getting Ready For Vegas

video


3. Appreciating a Cold Beverage

video